Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Travel Food Kits

We are going to the beach! Hooray! I am so excited I can hardly wait.

We leave Sunday and will return on Thursday and that equals A LOT of eating out. A. Lot! But we are trying to watch what we eat which is pretty difficult if not impossible when eating three meals/two snacks a day at restaurants. Restaurants = sugar + sodium + more sugar in amounts more than should be ingested in a month, let alone one meal.

So, to help my family make better decisions food-wise, I have decided to pack along some healthier options. Our hotel provides a refrigerator and microwave in our room which will help immensely with healthy dining/snack options. Here are some kits I plan to put together for the road trip and hotel. I have linked to recipes and products where applicable so you can see exactly what I plan to pack/make.

Basic Breakfast Kit
(Stored in a lidded plastic tote)

Shelf-stable milk
favorite healthy cereals
instant organic oatmeal
Soft Baked Fig Cereal Bars
organic instant coffee
small container of organic raw sugar
bananas


Snack Food Travel Kit
Popcorn Trail Mix
Chocolate Earth Balls
Granola Bars
Fruit Leather
dried fruit
whole grain crackers
small jar peanut butter
all-fruit preserves
aseptic Horizon Organic milk boxes
water bottles


Cooler Travel Food Kit
100% Whole Wheat Bread
Deli meat
small squeezable bottle of mayonnaise
sliced cheese
sliced cucumbers
baby carrots
sugar snap peas
baby spinach leaves
greek yogurt cups - plain/lowfat
blueberries (to add to yogurt...yum!)
peaches (to add to yogurt...my fave!)
strawberries
apples
string cheese

Monday, August 27, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Is it Monday already? Where did the week go? Sheesh. Time flies when your cooking up a storm. (and cleaning the kitchen.)

We are traveling to the beach next week. Hooray! Time for a much needed family vacation. I am so excited! My menu plan will be shortened this week due to said travels and I will write another post with what foods I plan to pack along with us for our trip.

Also, I realized after I wrote last weeks plan, that normally I make a plan and then we end up not eating all the food I originally intended. So I push the meals to the next week. If you see repeats, that is why. We don't literally eat the same things every week. Unless, of course, you are talking about steaks with homemade macaroni and cheese. That is a weekly staple in this house. A girls gotta do what it takes to make her man happy. And steaks with mac and cheese makes my man very happy.

Thursday - General Tso's Chicken served with Ramp and Swiss Chard Dumplings and a garden salad

Friday - BBQ Chicken Pizza on Whole Grain Flatbread

Saturday - Grilled Marinated Chicken served with garden salad and roasted asparagus

After that we will be hitting the waves.

Oh...but wait. The soup for the week will be Cumin Roasted Cauliflower Soup. (More on my recent addiction to soup in another post, very soon.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Neighbors Cruelty to a Certain Runner

Hi Ya'll! Happy Tuesday to you and many happy returns of the day. Today is a good day. A very good day. I ran three long miles.

I am all pumped up now and ready for bed. HA!

No. Really though. Running has caused my insomnia to disappear completely this past month. I sleep like a rock now. Literally. A few nights I do happen to get up to use the restroom (I am drinking TONS of water lately too) but for the most part I am sleeping straight through the night. Every. Single. Night. It's fantastic!

I have yet to see a major increase in my energy levels though. Still waiting on that health benefit to kick in. But at least I am getting better sleep. It's a start.

I don't know if you know this or not, but we don't live in the greatest neighborhood. It's not the worst...definitely not the "hood", (that would be up the street.) but it sure makes for some interesting times running,

For the most part people are pretty nice. I've had a teenage girl shout, "You Go Girl!" at me from where she was sitting on her front stoop while I ran past. Nothing like some postive encouragement to motivate me to pick up the pace a little bit. Just a little bit. (Slowed it down again once I rounded the corner.) Another night we (James and I) had two ladies comment, "Wow. You guys are fast! We just saw you when we parked the car and now we are getting out of the car and here you are again!" (Okay...it must have taken them a good five minutes to get out of the car because we are not THAT fast. Seriously.)

We see some pretty interesting people. Most of the time it is just people walking down the the liquor store at the corner. I often see them walking back home with a brown paper sack on my next round. I never say hello though. People walking around at night carrying brown paper sacks with liquor in them scare me just a little bit.

Sometimes though, people are just cruel to runners. Absolutely cruel. I've almost been run over...twice...in one night...by a mini van. (I walked home after the second time in fear for my life.) James had a cup of ice and soda thrown on him while running under a bridge once. And not just any cup either. The super duper Big Gulp variety. (He refuses to run under bridges now. And this happened like 4 years ago. The hurt runs deep.) I've run by the sides of parked cars and looked the drivers dead in the eyes only to have them blow cigarette smoke in my face as I run past the window. This has happened numerous times. Too many to count. THEY MADE EYE CONTACT! You can't tell me that wasn't on purpose. I am going to die of lung cancer now because I took up running. I just know it.

But that is not the cruelest thing I've had happen to me in my neighborhood while running. Not by a long shot. Tonight, I was running along...minding my own business...thinking happy running thoughts (don't ask. I can't really explain. It's sort of like "I am going to enjoy running so much someday" and "boy, wouldn't James be surprised if I came home and told him I ran 5 miles today instead of 3?" and "I can't wait to try that wonderful soup recipe I just pinned on Pinterest this afternoon." Those kind of happy running thoughts.) when I got smacked right in the face.

CINNAMON BUNS!

Yes. The smell of cinnamon buns hit me right dead center in my face. Talk about cruelty!

Who bakes cinnamon buns at 9:30 on Tuesday night in August? (Never mind that this is totally might be something I would do if I hadn't given up sugar for a month.) It's wrong. Just plain wrong? Don't they know I'm running here? How can I continue with the smell of cinnamon buns wafting through my nostrils every time I pass that house?

Well, continue I must. I pushed on. I finished my 3 mile run, no thanks to those cruel neighbors who bake scrumptious delicacies in the middle of the night and now I must have something yummy. My new love is Greek yogurt with peaches. I am out of peaches so I will substitute cherries. It's all good.

And remember my lesson from today. There are two. Never bake yummy treats while people are running in your neighborhood (especially if they have given up sugar for a month) and please, please, please, exercise extreme caution when running (or walking for that matter) under bridges.

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Day of Second Grade

Journey to Ladyship second grade school year has begun. Sadly, I am a little late in posting about our first day (considering that we just started our sixth week of school today) but better late than never, right?

July 16, we began our day with our traditional sundae for breakfast.

secondgradesundae


Oh yes! We are bad like that.

secondgradesundae2


The first day of school breakfast sundae would not be complete with a cherry on top.

secondgradesundae3


It was a sweet start to our second grade year. We are going to have so much fun this year. We made some changes to our routine that I will share with you in another post. I also have almost decided to take down my separate homeschool blog and mix everything back into one again. I am having such a hard time keeping up with two blogs and really...school is such a major part of our lives and permeates through everything we do that I struggle to divide the two.

Anyways, more on our changes in another post. I also have some incredible books to share with you in another post as well. I actually have so much to share that I don't know how I can get it all in. I guess that is what I get for taking a two month hiatus between posts.

firstday2grade

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday to you all. I hope today has found you content and well. We said goodbye to James for the week (He'll be back Friday) and so it's just us girls for a few days. (Can anyone say PAR-TAY?) Just kidding...we will miss him. Desperately. Although Chloe is quite thrilled to be able to sleep in my bed with me. A luxury she only experiences while James is away. Spoiled child!

Anyways, onto the topic at hand. Since I made the decision to eat healthier and use whole foods as much as possible, I contemplated maybe joining in on this blogging food menus craze I've noticed around the blogosphere.  (That word is so funny. Spell checker wants me to use heliosphere instead.) I thought maybe this would be a way to get my blogging juices flowing and produce a steady stream of posts...once a week...about food. Okay. So, I know. That sounds...well...a little boring, if truth be told. But hey! A girls gotta start somewhere when she hasn't blogged more than a handful of posts the entire year and all she's been able to think about for the past 3 weeks straight is food. Give a girl a break, why dontcha. And so...without further ado, I present to you my menu for the next week. (My shopping day is Thursday so my weekly plan starts that evening)

Thursday - Grilled Marinated Chicken served with garden salad and corn on the cob

Friday - BBQ Chicken Pizza on Whole Grain Flatbread found in my copy of Healthy Kitchen Summer 2011 (this is the same magazine I got my Swordfish Skewers and Thai Lettuce Wraps from)

Saturday - Grilled steaks served with Macaroni and Cheese and steamed broccoli

Sunday - Sunday Pot Roast served with Roast Potatoes and Sweet Dinner Rolls

Monday - Black Bean Tostadas served with Amusement Park Cornbread, Mexican Rice and Savory Green Beans (adapted...I'll have to share my updated recipe with you when I am done)

Tuesday - General Tso's Chicken served with Ramp & Swiss Chard Dumplings and a garden salad

Wednesday - Grilled Salmon served with eggplant fries and a garden salad

And our soup for the week is Tilapia Corn Chowder.  Chloe mentioned a couple of weeks ago that she was a little tired of sandwiches for lunch and asked if I could make something else. I decided that soups would be a great lunch. They are not filling enough for James to eat for dinner and if I make one soup a week, Chloe and I can eat on it everyday for lunch. It will be a great way for me to try all the soup recipes I never seem to get around to making.

Oh my goodness! Is it time to eat yet? I'm getting awfully hungry.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Adventures in Cooking

Wow. It's been so long since I have felt like making anything. Food included.

Why?

Well, it seems I've been suffering from a case of depression again. Sigh.

Yes. I know. Sigh again.

Anyhoo. About a month ago I decided to kick it in the rear end. For good! I started running every day (or almost every day) and I changed up my diet. I am eating a TON of fruits and veggies every day, limiting my meat (namely red meat) intake and really focusing hard on portion control.

James came home about 3 weeks ago and said, "Let's give up sugar for a month."

To which I replied, "Okay."

And I've been sticking with it ever since. I haven't even had a speck of sugar in my morning coffee. YIKES! I know. I know. Hard to believe. But true.

I have started to see some results. WHOOPEE! Big cheer. Happy dance and all that jazz. One of the biggest changes I've noticed is my desire to cook. It's back! And it's exciting! I've been all over Pintrest pinning recipes to try. I've cooked some amazing food and tried some delicious (and not so delicious) recipes.

I thought I would share a couple of recent one with you, if you don't mind.

First up are some Swordfish Skewers I tried from a Healthy Kitchen magazine I picked up last year from Whole Foods.

swordfishskewers1


I rubbed the fish pieces with ground coriander and then stabbed them onto the skewers between lemon and red onion. After drizzling some olive oil over them I grilled them on my gas grill for about 8 minutes, turning often, until the fish was done.

swordfishskewers2


Now the magazine recipes stated the grilled lemons are perfectly edible. James nor I could manage to try.

Swordfish is expensive. We paid $18.99 a pound. YIKES! We ate it and it was good. Not $18.99 good though. We didn't notice anything incredibly special about it. But it sure was fun to try a new fish. Now we can say we ate swordfish.

Earlier this week I cooked up some Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps and some Sugar Snap Peas from the same magazine.

Asianchickenlettucewrap1


Yum! Okay. So, I was a little nervous using Sriracha for the first time. I was unsure how hot this sauce would be. Well, as we ate the lettuce wraps, I decided I could have used a little more. The chicken just didn't have enough "kick" to it. I like "kick".

Asianchickenlettucewrap2


We would definitely make this one again. Although I think I am going to try to find a P.F. Chang style chicken lettuce wrap recipe to try first. Like maybe this one. Or this vegetarian one made with tofu. I've never tried tofu before and if Pioneer Woman says its good than it certainly must be.

James mentioned to me about a week ago that he would like to try age-dried ribeye steaks. He heard that they were quite delicious. Age-dried steak. Once you eat it, you can't go back. Especially when the cow was grass fed and raised organically. Talk about delicious.

Steakbeetgreenbeans


Tonight was our second time grilling this steak. I rubbed it with olive oil and then sprinkled some garlic pepper all over it. James grilled it for a minute or two each side. I served the steak with some Savory Green Beans and Roasted Beets.

Both Chloe and James liked the green beans. Next time I will decrease the salt by half. I will also turn the temperature down to med-low and cook for 10 minutes instead of 20. It was James and Chloes first time trying beets. They both liked them.

Well, that has been enough cooking adventures for now. I hope to have many more to share with you soon. Have a fabulous Sunday everyone.

Friday, August 17, 2012

About Blogging

Hello Dear Readers. Thank you for reading my humble blog. If you are still here, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

A few months ago (well...more like many months ago) I felt this nagging in my heart. A nagging that I couldn't shake. Somehow I felt that through my blogging I was, in all actuality, bragging. GASP!

Oh My! NO!

Bragging you say?

Why yes. That is what it felt like to me. Showing off. Presenting what I made to the world so I could hear (read) praise for how wonderful and creative I was.

I also found myself living my life for my blog. Can you believe that? But its true. I would plan events or games or even witty conversations that I thought would be blog worthy. (Most of which actually never made it onto the blog...ironically enough.) I got tired of living like that. I wanted to get back to actually LIVING my life. For me. For my family.

So, I haven't blogged much since. I have taken a step back to ponder reasons why I might continue to blog or even if I should. There have been moments when I half decided to shut this blog down entirely. Then there were moments when I realized that writing/blogging is something I love and how could I do that? How can I just up and quit?

So, now the question remains rattling around my head. Why blog?

What is my purpose in blogging? What message do I want to convey to my readers?

Quite honestly, I have not come up with an answer yet. I just don't know where I want to go with this blog. It appears that I am at a crossroads and I am unsure which direction to take. I have thought about a couple of options. I have read around a few blogs and looked into what makes a good blog. A blog worthy of my daily (or weekly) reading. (I don't actually read very many blogs regularly for lack of time. I am doing my best to limit my screen time and spend more time actually living life with my family.) There seems to be one thing that draws me to a blog. A theme. A purpose. Something I can gain by my reading. Something in it for me.

So how does that translate into my own blog. How can I leave my readers feeling as though their lives have been enriched by reading what I write?

1. I could combine my homeschool blog with this blog (which I used to do, but then thought it easier to separate them...which is NOT easier, I learned) and just use this blog to write about my life...as was my original intention when I began. Just to have a space to write about me.

Can I do that without bragging or showing off? Hmmmm. Would it enrich others lives and draw them into a closer relationship to the Lord Jesus?

2. I could focus solely on crafting and "how-to's" and tutorials.

Can I come up with enough of my own original ideas to warrant a blog devoted to that?

3. Photography. My newest passion. I want to learn all I can about photography. I could devote my blog to photographing my life and hobbies.

4. Food. I love food. I could devote my blog to cooking and eating good food, rating recipes I find on the internet, photographing food.

5. I could offer some conglomeration of all the aforementioned topics...which is not really different than I have done in the past.

I will continue to think and pray about these options and what direction I should take. For now, my main concern is to not turn my blog into my own bragging forum. The bragging must desist.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Alive and Well

Greetings!
I've been to Never-Never Land, or so it would appear, and have once again returned to write about my adventures. Okay. Maybe I haven't actually flown to the third star and on to morning, but I sure have kept busy this summer. So busy, in fact, that I have not had a spare moment during which I felt like blogging. You see, blogging takes an incredible amount of effort. I don't know if you realized that or not. I know there are some who think you just sit down at a keyboard and type and it all magically flows out. Sometimes that can happen. But most of the time, it takes work.

1. Remove pictures from camera onto the computer. (You would be surprised at how daunting that task alone can be. Just ask my sister. She just buys a new memory card instead of deleting the pictures.)

2. Brew a cup of coffee.

3. Find blog site and write title (or leave blank in case a better title comes to mind later).

4. Add creamer and sugar to coffee and take first sip. (This step can take quite a while...especially first thing in the morning.)

5. Type witty first line. Every blog post needs a witty introduction to draw the readers in. Without it they will just click away to a much more sophisticated blog worthy of their attention. (Keep in mind that this step could take anywhere from 1 minute to 1 hour....depending on how long that first sip of coffee took and how much caffeine has entered the bloodstream at this point.)

6. Drink more coffee.

7. Fix child breakfast.

8. Drink more coffee.

9. Type first paragraph.

10. Delete first paragraph because it had nothing to do with witty line.

11. At this point you notice that your pictures have finished transferring to the computer. Its time to browse through the file and pick the ones you need to use in the post.

12. Open photo storage website.

13. Drink more coffee.

14. Upload pictures to photo storage website.

15. Clean spilled cereal from floor before cats lick up the milk and leave tongue imprints on the dark wood laminate.

16. Edit pictures for post.

17. Write post.

18. Brew another cup of coffee.

19. With the increased mental boost additional caffeine produced, edit the post using a thesaurus. (This is the most critical step in the writing process, beneath coffee of course. Words like "spawned" or "fabricated" just look way more cool than "made". You don't "make" a cup of coffee...you SPAWN a cup of coffee. Oh wait...that doesn't work. Delete. Retry. Brew? That works. Think action verbs here, people. Action!)

20. Drink more coffee.

21. Add pictures to post.

22. Read through entire post 2 times to check for final edits. (Like misspelled words or run on sentences or incomplete sentences....or overuse of parenthesis in every other sentence...or improper use of the dot, dot dots trailing off the end of sentences...)

23. PUBLISH!

24. View blog as a reader and read through post again. It's okay to chuckle at your own cleverness of sentence structure. Those dot, dot, dots really are quite funny, no?

25. Suddenly remember that blank title form and hastily edit the post to include something last minute so no readers will happen upon your blog before you remedy the situation.

26. Publish again.

See what I mean? A LOT of work!

So, all this to say that I have been too busy (or lazy as the case may be) to post lately. We are all doing well though. Happy and excited for the future. I promise I will have that Ruffled Garden Apron tutorial up soon that I spoke of the last time I wrote. I just have to find those pictures, edit and...well...you get the point. I also hope to get you all an update on our adoption process soon. A lot going on and so much to catch you up on.

Meanwhile, I promised a little someone I would play Lego Pirates of the Caribbean for her today. I just have to say, I rock at Lego games and she thoroughly enjoys watching me play. It's like watching a movie for her. A movie that I control and totally rock at. Okay. So that might be construed by some as bragging. I hope not. I was merely stating the facts as I see them. Oh well. Can't please everyone. I CAN please her (and save the poor kitty who is suffering patiently through many afflictions) by ending this post and heading downstairs.

Have a wonderful day everyone! Enjoy each and every moment, even if you can't blog about it!