Thursday, October 2, 2014

Farm Food: Week VIII

Half share week VIII included:

frying peppers
hot peppers
yellow beans
summer squash

Eat a rainbow. Turns out I don't like the yellow beans, the scallions went slimy before I cut them up to freeze them and I gave away the jalapenos. I didn't take pictures of the veggie tacos and curry I made, and the beet chips I promised to try turned out crappy. Look.

I did, however make a delicious tomato sauce with meatballs. So yum.

And in an effort to 'use up all the bits' I threw together this little dish of onion, eggplant, garlic, parsley, chicken, tomato and feta. The feta made a melty sauce. This would have been better if we'd had some sort of carb with it. Like maybe quinoa or noodles or just good bread.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Review of T25: Part Three

If you are curious, here's Part One and Part Two.

What I did.

I ordered Focus T25 and didn't looked back. The first package came with two phases: Alpha and Beta. I eventually ordered the third phase, Gamma. What happened to Charlie, Delta, Echo and Fanta? I'm not sure.

I began Alpha back in November just before Thanksgiving. It. Was. Rough. I made it through all five weeks sweating the whole time. I didn't follow the nutrition plan...those changes came later. Baby steps, people. During those first five weeks I only changed two things with my nutrition: no more sugar in my coffee and I stopped stuffing myself sick with food. Those are some pretty big changes, folks!

While completing the fifth week of Alpha I was unsure whether I was ready to move on to the Beta phase, which I expected to be more difficult. I repeated Alpha. This time I started counting calories. Womp, womp. I know, I know. Who wants to count calories? It's actually easier than you might think. I used to help me, but I'm sure there are lots of options out there.

I was focused and I really made exercise and better nutrition a priority for the next many months. Thinking about how I fueled my body was a definite game changer for me. I finished up Alpha (for the second time), and then I moved on to five weeks of Beta and four weeks of Gamma (hybrid version). It turns out that I really like lifting weights, which were part of both the Beta and Gamma workouts

All I can really say is that I LOVED this program, and I definitely saw results. Do you want to see my results? Ok. Here you go...

The top is the before from November 2013. The bottom is the
after from July 2014. This is after T25 and 21 Day Fix,
which I didn't talk about in this post.
Although I'm not completely comfortable having this picture on the blog, I decided to show it for three reasons: I don't get many readers, everyone likes a good before and after and maybe it will inspire someone else to take control of their food, fitness and health. I could not have done this without the inspiration and support of my friend and coach Michelle at Michelle is Living Well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Farm Food: Week VII

Here's last week's haul from our CSA pickup at Dancing Roots Farm:

summer squash
yellow beans

Chocolate beet cake...not as good as it sounds. To be fair, I messed with the recipe a little by reducing the sugar (which I do for most sweet things) and switching out some of the flour for almond meal. I don't keep bakers chocolate in the house, so I also subbed in a cocoa powder/butter mix. I could re-make this cake to taste really good, but it would require more butter, sugar, chocolate and eggs. So basically a whole different recipe. Womp, womp.

Now this pasta dish was divine. Whole wheat spaghetti, sautéed veggies (onion, garlic, eggplant and summer squash), steamed broccoli, quick homemade tomato sauce, a sprinkle of mozzarella and more than a few cracks of pepper. YUM! So good. All we were missing was bread.

I'm gonna' give baked beet chips a try tomorrow. I hope they turn out tasty.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Neighbor Trimmed a Tree

Never in 8 years have I seen the sky from here. As a consequence, many of my new shade plants are receiving late afternoon sun. Some are having tantrums (dogwood) and some might be dying (snowberry). Gah.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Farm Food: Week VI

What did we get in week VI from Dancing Roots Farm?

summer squash
Pretty little vegetables.
Fresh salsa. With Juanita's tortilla chips. And beer.
Fried rice. Well, it was closer to a biryani rice. With coconut-peanut chicken.
Like Mindy always says, this didn't suck at all.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Farm Food: Week V

I neglected to take a picture of just about everything before eating it, but here's what was in Week V's pickup from our Dancing Roots Farm half share:

uncured garlic
green beans
summer squash/zucchini
fingerling potatoes

Lettuce makes great salads. Y'all don't need a recipe for that.

Basil and garlic make great pesto. I use whatever nuts and hard cheese I have on hand. Usually I don't add lemon juice, but you could if you like that sort of thing. This pesto went on pizza. It was AMAZINGLY delicious. (Did you notice that 'amazingly' was both capitalized and italicized? Yeah, it was that good.) I wish I'd had the foresight to take a picture.

Steamed green beans go with everything, and basil-scallion-potato salad goes great with either sausages or grilled chicken. We prefer a room temperature, vinegar, oil and mustard type potato salad (German style, maybe?). However, I also made a cold potato salad last week that had fava beans and a small amount of mayo. It was good, but not my favorite.

I ended up wilting the chard and eating it with fried egg, tomatoes and sriracha.

There were only two cucumbers, and one never made it to the car - my kid ate it while we bagged the rest of our goodies.

Some garlic and cilantro went into a fantastic cold orzo salad of corn, black beans, tomatoes, lime juice, plain yogurt and S&P to taste. It was served with grilled, barbecued chicken. It was pretty - I wish I'd taken a photo.

Garlic and scallions were involved in the best marinade for pork tenderloin. I will NOT neglect a photo next time. I promise. It included broccoli and a quinoa salad of feta, cucumbers, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and S&P to taste. So ridiculously good.

Lastly, summer squash/zucchini found it's way into three easy meals. One was a plain old-fashioned summah dinnah of grilled chicken, green beans, grilled squash, grilled corn and watermelon. Next up was a ground turkey hash that included zucchini, fennel, garlic, tomatoes, corn, black beans, spinach and cabbage. I basically threw in all the little bits and pieces of almost rotten leftover veggies we had. It was not a photogenic meal. In fact, I purposely didn't photograph this one. However, it was really good and a great way to use up some food that would have ended up in the compost bin. The third meal containing squash was tofu curry.

The best curry I've ever made.
Folks, I finally figured out how to make a curry at home that is not disappointingly bland. All my previous attempts taught me what I didn't like, so I tried some different things. Maybe you already knew these curry secrets, but I did not. The secrets are: full fat coconut milk, fresh ginger and garlic, extra curry powder, sweet chili sauce, pre-cook the potatoes separately, pre-crisp the tofu separately, chopped fresh cilantro and chopped cashews for sprinkling on top. I happened to include kale and garbanzo beans in this version. It's easily the best vegan meal I make.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Farm Food: Week IV

Thanks to Dancing Roots Farm for our half-share CSA pickup week four:

twelve ounces salad mix
two fennel bulbs/fronds
three large beets
bunch of scallions
head of cabbage
pound of green beans
two pounds fingerling potatoes
one summer squash
six cornflowers

Sadly, I did not store the salad mix appropriately. I had a few meals from it, then it went limp and eventually crispy. I should have shared some with our neighbors or stored it in a plastic bag. Oopsie.

I love beets. I tried some raw thin slices on greens but ended up with some thunder down under. So the rest were roasted. Did I mention that I love beets?

Fennel is new for us. I decided to caramelize one bulb by slicing it very thin. It looked sort of like fried onions. I used coconut oil rather than butter, but I wish I'd gone with the butter. Next time...

The scallions were sliced and placed in the freezer. The green beans were steamed here and there and eaten within a couple of days. A few potatoes were a side dish, some were a potato salad and the rest are awaiting their torture. The summer squash was chopped and added to a stovetop "lasagne" meal that I made up. It wasn't pretty, but it tasted good. The cornflowers were pretty but flavorless. I suppose the same could be said about many pretty things...

Lastly, I grill-roasted half the cabbage to eat with cod. Next time I'll hide some minced garlic in it's ruffles and add a squeeze of lemon, drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of sea salt. We ate the other half of the cabbage in some fish tacos. Cabbage and fish, it's what's for dinner.

Friday, July 18, 2014

My Review of T25: Part Two

It all began before I even knew that it had begun. It began when I invited positivity into my personal Facebook feed by 'liking' Michelle is Living Well. I know, I know...that sounds kind of cheesy. But it's completely true. Here's how it went...

Sunset watching.
Last Labor Day weekend we were invited, along with another family, to a friend's family vacation home in Sunriver, Oregon. We had never met the third family. Can you hear the ominous music and shrill screaming?

Since I am me, I had some nervousness and anxiety about hanging out all weekend with people I didn't know. Would they be nice? Would their kids be brats? Would my kid be a brat? Would I be the fattest one there? Would I get sweaty-nervous?

Would I be the fattest one there? What a horrible thing to wonder.

Just a few minutes after we met them I sighed an enormous breath of relief all the while thinking "Ahhh! They are normal!!" Judgy? Yeah, I be judgin'. It turns out this third family is amazing and friendly with delightful children. I'm so thankful that we met them.

Deer watching.
Chicken watching.
Homesteader watching.
People watching.
After a great holiday weekend, I decided to be a supportive new friend and 'like' Michelle's Facebook page. Other than sharing healthy recipes and fitness information, I wasn't sure what the page was all about. I soon learned that Michelle's goal is to share and spread positivity and encouragement. I assure you it is 100% authentic - it's not just a schtick to garner more 'likes.' And, it was exactly the motivation I needed.

Me? I was active and on my feet most of the day, but it wasn't enough. I felt tired all the time. I felt...old. If I felt this terrible at age 37, how would I feel at 47 or 57? It took a few months for everything to sink in, and this was my conclusion:

I like a sweaty workout. 
I like a challenging workout. 
I like to be outside. 
Exercise clears my head. 
Exercise is as important to my mental health as it is to my physical well-being. 
I like running.

Well, there. That narrows it down. I took a good look at my typical day and admitted to myself that the only realistic time I had to go running (by myself with the dog) was pre-dawn. Honestly, I was still reeling from three very bad years of sleep (thanks to having a baby/kid who wasn't a natural sleeper), and the idea of interrupting some of my early-morning sound sleep wasn't my favorite. Neither was the idea of running in the dark and most likely the rain, too. Ultimately it was the dark and rain that deterred me from running outside. So I proposed that we get a used treadmill for the basement. I felt bad that it wouldn't be fun for the dog, but I needed to do something.

Nate wasn't thrilled with the idea. He thought a gym membership would be better. Ahem. I hate the gym. Doesn't he know that? "Just make a commitment to a time and type of workout," he said believing that it was a helpful, supportive comment. Isn't that what I just did by analyzing my day and narrowing down my options to a treadmill?

Another week went by of no exercise and me feeling discouraged. Then I remembered Michelle, who is a mother of two, works full time and commits herself to exercise and being a Beachbody coach. I was a stay-at-home mother of one who didn't seem to have time to even brush my hair. I asked for help from Michelle, and I got it.

I didn't know anything about the workouts, because I was hung up on the name 'Beachbody.' I didn't want a beach body, I just wanted to lose a few pounds. Who is this Shaun T person and why should I care? Beachbody?! That's just for people who want a quick fix to get skinny and wear bikini's. Besides, do workout videos even get results?

Yes. Yes, they do. And it is in NO way a quick fix. It's months of a lot of hard work.

*See My Review of T25: Part One for my results. Part Three (coming soon) will cover my experience with the program itself.

** Also, this is not a sponsored post...I'm just sharing my experience.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Farm Food: Week III

Let's see what we got in the third pick-up for our half share:

head of butterhead lettuce
half pound of sugar snap peas
head of broccoli
pound of beet greens
seven carrots
six garlic whistles
six sprigs of marjoram

The lettuce, maybe obviously, became salad. The peas and carrots have been quick-grab snacks. The garlic and marjoram have been tossed into everything from pizza to pan fried chicken. A few of the beet greens were wilted to top off a fried egg and veggie burger. The rest of the beet greens and broccoli went into the tofu dish below, along with a tasty ginger citrus dressing.

Ginger citrus dressed tofu with brown rice, veggies and chopped cashews.

*We bought a half-share at Dancing Roots Farm, a CSA, this summer! Check out Week II.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Farm Food: Week II

We bought a half-share at Dancing Roots Farm, a CSA, this summer! We missed the first pick up because we were on the east coast visiting family. Luckily, my sister-in-law was able to go get and use up the food we missed. Here's what was in our second pick up:

half pound of spinach
head of lettuce
pound of snap peas
head of broccoli
ten leaves of chard
pound of new potatoes
bunch of parsley
ten garlic whistles

I took a picture of everything (it was a lot of food), but it's not a pretty picture. I'll do better next time. The potatoes became potato salad to complement grilled sausages, and I made pesto with some of the garlic and spinach, along with some nuts and basil I already had on hand. I could have just eaten a bowl of pesto and been happy.

We were invited to a solstice party so I made one of my favorite recipes to take along. It used up all the chard, the rest of the spinach, some garlic and some parsley. I loosely followed this recipe for A Galette of Winter Greens. I say loosely because I've made it many times and have adjusted things along the way. I use a stickier dough so that it's not quite as crumbly, and I no longer measure the filling ingredients instead preferring to eye-it. The result is always a little different but always delicious. Honestly, this most recent making could have used a bit more salt. I was experimenting with the rosemary sea salt I got for my birthday and was worried about over salting. I under salted instead. Whoopsie.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Birthday Loot

I had a birthday, and I made out like a bandit. Say, like 38 bandits. I mean, look at all these goodies! What's not showing is a picnic blanket and a nice lightweight sweater, as well. So, what have we got here?

Portland Nursery Gift Card: $100 oh my! I'm so happy to have received this card. Now I get to go to the nursery and just wander. I get to buy a few things that would normally be above my price point. I get to pick out something that I've maybe wanted for a while, but chose a less spendy alternative. This will be great fun for me.

White Mini Butter Dish: This was a perfect gift. It's one of those things I wouldn't buy for myself, but that I would look at often. Many moons ago I stopped buying spreadable non-butter (EarthBalance) and started putting salted butter in a small lidded pyrex on the counter to keep it soft. This butter dish is so much prettier to look at, and it's white. Double score.

Glass Float: Completely unexpected but right on target. It'll look great with the collection of driftwood and sea rib I dragged home in our suitcase from Cape Cod. What's a sea rib? A rib bone of a big fish found in the sea. That's what.

Rosemary Sea Salt: Who said "yummers in my tummers"? Anyway, yummers in my tummers pretty much sums it up. I sprinkled some on my fancy salad of arugula, watermelon and balsamic vinegar last night. It's good stuff. I'll use it on the next batch of pretzels I make. You didn't know I make pretzels? Oh, yes. I do. And they are wicked good with a Boston accent.

And last, but not least (and not last, because I will 100% buy it again),

F by Locations: This wine is so very good. It's complex/jammy, so if you don't like fruity wine I'm guessing you'd better try the E (Spain) or the AR (Argentina). The F is my new favorite. Sorry Erath, you've been moved to second place for now.

I'll be a francophile for the next year or so as we plan our trip to FRANCE!!! I'm so excited and it's still 11 months away. We'll be earning miles toward flights with every swipe of the plastic. Good thing we've got an ER bill on the way. Ahem, not a good thing. That there was sarcasm. I'll not go on a rant about the disgusting big-business nicknamed "healthcare" in our country. Let's just say we're all getting screwed.

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Review of T25: Part One

I started writing this review, and it quickly became a book. So I'm breaking it down into three parts: the results, the beginning and the process.

The results:

I'm SO happy that I tried T25! 

This exercise program worked really well for me. I was consistent in my commitment to 25 minutes a day, and I met my modest "weight loss" goals. I wanted to lose 2" from my waist and fit into a size 8 comfortably. I have no scale, but I've gained so much muscle mass that the scale wouldn't give an accurate account anyway. Here are my numbers from 11/12/2013 and 4/19/2014:

@ chest: 35" before and 32-7/8" after
below chest: 31" before and 29-3/4"
arms:12" before and 11" after
waist 1" above belly button: 31-3/4" before and 27-3/4" after
waist 1" below belly button: 35-1/2" before and 31-3/4" after
hips/butt: 40-1/2" before and 36-3/4" after
thighs: 24" before and 22-1/8" after

I lost 4" from my waist...

rather than just the 2" I was hoping to lose. My legs will always be a work in progress - that's where my body happens to hold on to fat. As for the clothes, well, it's been a long time since I shopped. Sizing is more cuckoo than ever. The things that are fitting best right now are size 4's and 6's! Crazy town!

It hasn't been easy, but my head was in the right place at the right time and it all came together for me. I'm a proponent of finding what works for you and finding support that empowers you. If you are on Facebook, you might find some extra motivation from my friend Michelle at Michelle is Living Well. I definitely did and can't thank her enough!

Note: Although I do have terrible cell-phone before and after pictures, I just can't bring myself to post them here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Family Trip

We went away for two weeks and now we are home. We were lucky to visit so many peaceful places.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mystery Plants: Solved!

Mystery A: penstemon pinifolius

Mystery B: difficult to tell prior to blooming, but...

Mystery B: freesia (I wish you could smell this plant!)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mystery Plants: Help!

What are these plants? Anyone??

I bought this plant last summer. Although there were many on the table with name tags, I somehow grabbed one without a tag. All last summer and through the winter it remained small, feathery and green. This spring it began growing outward and upward...and then it began blooming with these sweet little 1" blossoms. I can't quite describe the color - it's not red and it's not orange. It's kind of a fluorescent coral color. I really like it. Do you know what it is?

I did not plant this, and I don't remember seeing it any of the last eight summers we've lived here. When I first saw the sword-like leaves I just assumed some of my crocosmia bulbs were moved by a squirrel. But these are very short, maybe about 12" off the ground; and the buds do not look like the crocosmia that I have. What could it be?

Friday, May 23, 2014

May: New Plants

So many new plants to share! I feel like I spent too much money and now have a self-imposed "no more plants this summer" rule. Unless I conveniently get a nursery gift card for my birthday. Hint, hint. By the way, that "no more plants" rule doesn't apply to food plants.

Boxleaf honeysuckle - planted in the back shade garden.
Aster - planted in the front part-shade garden.
Lingonberry - planted in the front part-shade garden.
Pineapple sage - planted in the front full-sun garden. I had one of these
plants last year, but it didn't make it through our harsh-for-Portland
winter. I love this plant!
Asiatic lily - planted in the side part-sun garden. Although I don't like the smell
of lilies, I have a soft spot for this one. It's orange and as a kid I always called
them tiger lilies. This one was 1/2 price because it was nearly past bloom.
Another type of boxleaf honeysuckle - planted in the front full-sun garden.
I bought two of these, and they are a bit of an experiment. They may prove to
be too big. We shall see.
Sweet woodruff - planted in the back shade garden. I planted two of these and
have high hopes that they will spread. 
Canna - planted in the front part-sun garden. This is another test plant for me. It's
been on my plant-want list since last summer and was more affordable than I thought. 
Dogwood - planted in the back shade garden. My own personal splurge this season - $25!
However, I've been wanting a red-twigged dogwood for a while, and I've got lots
of nearly full shade space to fill. It seemed like a good idea.
Hooker's Fairy Bells - planted in the back shade garden.
Dead nettle - planted in the back shade garden. For some reason lamium has been
on my plant-want list. I do like the variegated foliage. We'll see how this does.
Hydrangea (Annabelle) - planted in the side part-shade garden. I bought two of these,
and I'm beyond excited to watch them grow over the next couple of seasons. I love
hydrangeas, but never had an appropriate place to plant them until I gave myself
 permission to remove several inherited (and hated) rose plants.
Lithodora - planted in the side part-shade garden. I see this everywhere and it's rather
ordinary looking. However, the promise of spreading to around 3' wide, being
evergreen and tolerating part-shade sold me this year. I bought three.
Another type of Hooker's Fairy Bells - planted in the back shade garden. Another experiment.
Redwood sorrel - planted in the back shade garden. This will spread and might
become a nuisance. However, I really love it and the kid likes to pick it.
Foam flower - planted in the back shade garden. The kid picked this out,
and I'm eager to see what it's cycle is.
Red creeping thyme - planted in the front full-sun garden. Apparently I
can't have too much thyme - I've got eight plants now. 
Alysum - planted in the front full-sun garden. Although I usually don't buy
annuals, I picked up three of these this spring.
Do you see what I see? Lots of green on green with varying textures. It may seem a little subdued, but that's how I like things. Let me know if you'd like any specific botanical names.