December's Goal: 3 miles/day

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

In preparation of Turkey Day, I made some home made cranberry sauce. I wanted to make it well in advance because it refrigerates well and I can forget about it until Thursday (leave time in my busy schedule to panic over other things.)

Cranberry Sauce

What you will need:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
12oz bag of cranberries

optional- any other kind of fruit or nut- raisins, apples, pecans, etc

I doubled the recipe and added 2 satsuma oranges

Prep (important!): Put cranberries into a bowl, wash and pick out the bad ones. If they are squishy, you probably don't want them.

Step 1: Bring water and sugar to a boil

Step 2: Add cranberries and bring to a boil again. It will look like there isn't enough water, but there is...

Step 3: When it gets to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. The cranberries will begin to pop. Cook the pop-berries for about 10 mins.

Step 4: Add your optional additions (I added diced orange wedges). I lost patience and popped the rest of the cranberries against the wall of the pot.

Step 5: Let cool a bit then put your sauce into a jar and refrigerate.

Don't forget to use your family and pets as guinea pigs:
Murphy was indifferent

The humans said it was a bit too tart, but I'm hoping that the flavor settles after it cools.

Riley likes it, but he also likes lemons, sea salt vinegar chips and cat poop

I'll give it until Thursday morn, if its too tart, then I'll be at Safeway's door... But I will report back.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dear Paula Deen,

The holidays are here, in some ways it came too early

^That was my parkinglot at work. I don't recall Pierce County ever getting this much snow in November, in fact, its rare for us to get snow at all before Christmas.

With the sudden cold weather and an email from the school stating that they will be closed due to "inclement weather", looks like I won't be going to work tomorrow. Wha hoo! Lets celebrate!

With 2lbs of butter!

Hot Buttered Rum Mix
Makes approximately 16 cups, serving size is 2 tbs (translation- enough drink mix to swim in..)
I made a large batch of this so that I can gift it out just in time for the holidays.

What you will need:
2lb butter
2lb brown sugar
2lb powdered sugar
1.5 quart vanilla ice cream (softened-ish.., consistency of yogurt)
Tbs cinnamon
tsp nutmeg/ginger or equally yummy spice

^can you tell I estimated?

Step 1. Melt Butter, remove from heat
Step 2. Add sugars and spice, mix until smooth
Step 3. Fold in soft ice cream
Step 4. Pour into containers and freeze

That's it! pretty simple huh?

For whatever reason (on sale!), I used "no sugar added" ice cream...

As if it makes a lick of difference... but its awfully hilarious that I added it to 6lbs of collective evil. >:)

I got about 16 cups worth of mix from this

The blue lid in front is ours, the red ones are subject to giving away (maybe).

When ready to drink, follow these directions:
In a coffee mug mix-
1-2 oz dark rum (we used bourbon tonight)
add 2TBS mix
top off with boiling water

This is certainly an indulgence drink, best after a cold day. Kids can also enjoy the mix by simply excluding the alcohol.

Please forgive me Paula Deen...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Eating Healthy in the Workplace

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments on my last post. My headache has gone down and my throat is recovering. I didn't exercise- mostly due to a busy schedule, but if I get my way, I plan to get back on the pavement.

Eating Healthy in the Workplace

I work in an environment that is not very keen on the idea that employees who are healthy will work harder, with less sick days and with less risk of injury. They really should because the work most of the guys do here is rather unsafe and around very old and dangerous equipment-and out in the elements.

Yes, I am dubbed the health freak by my coworkers

We have vendors who come through to meet with the engineers and buyers almost weekly. If you know anyone in the field of sales, you know they like to put their 'target' in a good mood (for buying) by using food. We all know that food, especially as a reward or a gift, initiates a pleasure receptor in us. (which is why I ask my man to gift me with chocolate and not flowers- hint hint)

We have a particular vendor who knows the best(worst) doughnut shop in town. I won't even begin to try and explain it with words:

^That is bacon on a maple bar (next to a smores doughnut)... I actually took that thing home and gave it to my hubby (because I know he likes to be gifted with bacon and not flowers).

Being the good little office health-nut I am, I have succeeded in graciously declining these goodies (and put in a request that the vendor bring a fruit basket one day).

Its easy to tell yourself that you will bring in a healthy lunch everyday and eat a healthy breakfast every morning but the reality is that you won't all the time. There will be a day where you miss breakfast and you will tell yourself that your only option is the fatty-mcfat-fat doughnut. And there will be a day where you 'forgot' to pack a healthy lunch (or left it in the fridge at home) and tell yourself that Mc D's is closest and all you have time for in your lunch hour.

I expected these excuses- so while back, I dedicated a shelf in my office to some healthy options. I make regular trips to the market and buy fresh produce. In fact, this was on my 'food agenda' today after my yogurt-

I took some saladmix from home to eat for lunch before it turned, tomato and bell pepper to add to lunch, the lemon I squeezed the juice out and used in my second water bottle (first water bottle was a fizzy drink with 1000mg of vitamin C- take THAT cold!), The plum I got from the farmer's market and a kiwi for a mid-day snack.

Aside from produce, I also have a dedicated section of my own office for non-perishable health food.

(My office is still a mess and was primarily used as storage before I came onboard)
I keep some dishes, waterbottles, and at the bottom shelf (not shown), I even have a change of workout clothes in case I ride my bike in and get all wet.

Here's a closer look the food I currently keep 'on tap'

(From left to right- the jar or nuts is actually spare change) instant oatmeal (plan to switch to buying in bulk when supply runs out), granola cereal and a starbucks perfect oatmeal fruit packet(to top my yogurt & oatmeal), Cheerios!, chia seeds, dried apriocots

Dried Figs, tea (in the back), a container filled with red quinoa, coffee mate (in case we run out again and I panic), instant soup

And there you have it folks, an unadulterated, untidy look at my emergency food stores at work. If I ever produce a great healthy-living tip, this would be it- Keep healthy food options in your office just in case you forget breakfast or lunch at home.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Don't Get Sick, Don't Get Sick..."

I'm not sure if I'm getting sick or if last night's run in cold/dark is making me feel this way...

*Headache that started last night
*Throat feels tight
*If I look upwards, my neck hurts but can't feel any swollen lymph nodes

I want to blame it on running in the cold, but I dunno if runners experience this sort of thing. Could the cold air entering my lungs cause a tight throat the next day? We had a severe wind storm the day before (which caused us to lose power) and it was still windy last night, could that have given me a headache? Again, I don't know.

just in case...

Does running in cold/windy weather make you feel like you are getting sick? Or am I likely in denial?

Is it safe to continue running if feeling a little sick or will it make it worse?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Taste Review: Nile Spice Minestrone Soup

If you're like me, you are a lazy office slave and don't always bring home prepared meals for lunchtime. It can be a hassle to try and shove your food into a fridge that a couple hundred people have access to. Not to mention, you have to plan ahead (pray it still tastes ok post-nuker) and find time to cook a single-serving meal after working all day, after having dinner, helping kids with homework, battling the mess monsters, fitting in workout and beer-drinking sessions... who has the time?

I'll admit that convienience (sp?)food is... well, convienient. Unfortunately, most are unhealthy and packed in salt & preservatives. I'm not too picky about every statistic on my food labels (ignorance is bliss?).

So this is what I had:

It had good flavor and tasted like minestrone soup but it seems a bit salty to me. I added more water, then I lost the flavor... It was a hard balance. Then I saw the back of the package- 140 calories gave me 25% of my daily recommended sodium. Well. Now I know why it tasted salty. I guess that is the dilema of soups, broths are supposedly good for you but salt isn't. I was expecting more spice from my Nile Spice... I should have had the soup along with some vegis or something, I wasn't feeling full after my allotted lunch time and downed a cereal bar and fruit leather... Looking around for more now...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Santa Runs Tacoma- Part 1

You may have noticed that I have a countdown going for the Santa Runs Tacoma 5K Race. (Unless you are viewing this from Reader, in which case its there... trust me.)

This will be my first race. In fact, I'm brand new to running... Even in school, I was the kid who walked during P.E. runs and flipped my gym teacher the bird if they complained.. I think I ran once, got that pain in my sides, screamed "EFF THIS!" and never tried again.

I've officially practiced running twice now, where I run the length of a block, then switch to walking, back to running, repeat. Last night was super-uber-dooper proud that I finished my session by running a full 1k without stopping to walk. I felt really well, did 3.01 miles and then ran out of time (otherwise I'd have kept going!). I'll keep practicing until I can run the full length without stopping, then will work on getting a competitive time.

The race is Dec 18th. Here is the course:

The kids want to do the 1k kid's course so they can win a present from Santa's bag, so I see some practice days for them too. >:)

They have a costume contest too. I DO love dressing up (any excuse to look like a dork just gets me all giddy!). But it will be mid-December and I really want to remain practical. (sorry Scotty, no naughty elf for you) My sister is a craft guru and has volunteered (forced into slave labor) to help make up the costume for me. :)

My hubby is a huge Android enthusiast/evangelist. And the next release expected is called 'gingerbread', so it suddenly clear that I would be an Android Gingerbread girl. I found a brown hoodie, leggings, and stuffs, then went to doodling... here is what I came up with so far:

I wanted the white stripe on the seams for the gingerbread icing effect.

I'll update more as we get closer to race day.

How to Juice a Fruit at Work

Hurray, my first 'How to' I feel like such a genius for figuring this out too.

I picked up a few mini lemons on my way to work. Lemons are great because you can use them on salads, in your tea, make sugar-free lemonade when you're sick of plain water... (and this time of year they are CHEAP!)

But how do you squeeze the juice out without getting lemon squirts in the eye, or having your hands smell like lemon all day?

Simple- Just watch.

What you will need:Lemon, knife, plastic baggie, pent-up rage.

1. Take your cheap plastic that your work provides in the lunch room and make lemon wedges.

2. Cram the lemon wedges into the baggie

3. Let out your frustrations to soften them up a little. (I highly suggest you massage them instead of pounding them like the Incredible Hulk or else the ziplock may pop open and you will have made a lemon rocket instead of juice)

4. Use the edge of your nail or the blunt end of the plastic knife to dig the pulp out (You can skip this stip if you aren't a crazy pulp monger like me)

5. If the bag is as full as mine and hard to manage, pull out the naked wedges.

And there you have it! The lemon juice of 1 mini-lemon!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Farmer's Market

Here in Washington, our farmer's market continues well into the fall, rain or shine. We just go from weekly markets to monthly or bi-monthly. There is one close to home in the Proctor District of Tacoma.

Thumbs up to beets the size of my head!

I saw these girls and thought of Murphy at Carrots n Cake.

Buying potatoes for dinner

Bought some honey from blackberries, had an herby/spicy aftertaste that was satisfying.

mmmm, plums

My sister bought some foccacia, I think

Scotty picked out a treat


Tiny candy shop about the size of your typical bathroom

This was my sister's first time visiting a farmer's market (aside from the famous Pike Place in Seattle)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taste Review: Fuyu Persimmon

I'm going to keep this short & (not so) sweet...

On my bike trip into work, I stopped by the Metropolitan Market and got a few things to go with my lung- Salad & Bagel. I needed some tomato, then I saw this little thingie that looked like a tomato called a fuyu persimmon. I've never had one, so grabbed it for a mid-day snack.

Enter, the persimmon:

Its cute, looks like an orange tomato with an elf hat on. (hey, I'm getting festive here...)

The label on the bottom said to eat like an apple. Google suggested using a spoon and eat it like pudding.

I DO like pudding... so I cut the persimmon in half. I'm sure I cut it the wrong way.

Spoon didn't work, I guess it wasn't ripe enough, so I ate it like an apple.

By. God... this is the worst tasting thing I've ever eaten. The texture is slimy, the taste isn't sweet, its more like a mix of squash, eggplant and slight hint of ginger. After about half of it, my gag reflex was setting in and I could feel my throat closing in... I made it 2/3rds of the way and began to panic so I just threw the nasty thing away...

I can see this could taste good with the right recipe:
1 fuyu persimmon
2 heaping cups of brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
5 sticks of dynamite

catch fire, hide in a bunker approximately 4 seconds until mixture is thoughouly exploded, go find something else.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

writer with a capital W

I love experiencing new 'first's
First time trying a new food, first time trying a new sport or exercise, first time visiting a new place, the list goes on.. The experience of trying something new gives me a rush. It can be clumsy and awkward at times, and whether or not I enjoyed it, I can still add it to my list of experiences.

Last night, I attended my first book signing. (forgive me, I didn't bring my purse and didn't buy a book...) The event took place at a local university and it was two books by Shauna James Ahern, also known as Gluten Free Girl.

She has two books which she spoke about: Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes and Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back...& How You Can Too

Most of the people in attendance were either English students of the college or similarly have celiac disease. I am neither. I came with the intention of learning (from another blogger) where she finds inspiration for writing in her blog. Lets be honest, there are health & fitness blogs too numerous to count. Most will have similar content.

Her answer was quite simple. She sits down with a blank slate (but maybe with a vague idea or topic), then lets the writing come from her heart. Can it really be that simple? Will it interest readers and get me more hits?

Yes, it's that simple. I'm not writing to 'be a writer'. With a capital "W" as Shauna put it. I never even began my blog hoping to get lots of readers or attention so I wonder why it entered my mind... I'm not a writer (failed English all through highschool-I'm sure it shows), I just seem to enjoy keeping track of my experiences.

This is my journey. The purpose of my blog began as a way to document the steps I'm taking in beginning an active lifestyle. So long as I get out in the world and try something new, I will always feel that refreshing rush which inspired me to keep an ongoing document. I can come here and write from my heart. These are my memoirs of living life, if it interests anyone to read, then great- I love the exchange of ideas and similar experience readers may share in the comments.

I love experiencing new 'first's
Last night, I experienced my first book signing and my first time trying gluten-free baking.

^I saw the little yellow round thing and ate it whole... yeah, that's butter...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Joined a Bowling League...

I'm not a bowler, but I do enjoy the game. My sister and her husband are on a team and needed another player for the so I signed up. I enjoy that I get to do something active and gets me out of the house at least once a week.

On Sunday, we took the kids for practice.

They had a blast and Little Duder kicked their butts (he had help)

Afterwards, we went to my sister's house to watch football and munch on chips & ugly dip (probably the tastiest yet unhealthiest concoction known to man)
Oh, and taught the kiddos Battleship

Monday nights are League night. I know very little about the game to be honest, so with new stats and rules in league, I just grabbed on to my little sis's coattails and was along for the ride.
One of our teammates didn't show, so we had a floater join for the day. A floater is a player who isn't on a team, so they fill in on any team for the missing player. This guy was GOOOD- he threw 7 strikes in a row then finished with a 258 score.

My brother-in-law grew up around bowling, so he is a natural.

He carries 3 bowling balls with him. Each one is weighted different so he can change the curve and spin. I want to compare the reasoning of it to golf, but its not the same as me throwing a 9-iron down the lane.

I was told that "If I were to pick a day to play poorly, this would be the day" Reason for it: to establish my handicap. So if I sandbag, my handicap would be lower and I can finish the league strong... Do I follow advise well? Nope. My first game ended up being my best score of all time... 113. I think before that, my highest was 86 or so. (Told ya I'm not a bowler) At the end of the night, I had a 95.6 AVG.

They bring cutest-baby with them to games and of course he is still perfect and doesn't cry or throw fits.

Seeing my sister and her husband at the bowling alley is similar to seeing me at The Ram. Everyone knows them there- EVERYONE. 24 lanes with 5 people on each= a lot of love. People were hugging, high-fiving the people they competed with, laughing, throwing back drinks, and passing the baby around. We almost lost him a few times.

Then there is me, no one knows me. But everyone knows me. huh? My sis and I got the 'twin-sideshow' reaction all day. Being shy, it was hard having people study our faces in wonderment, but it was also rather funny to see the reactions.

We have a few theories on why I played my best last night, because its certainly not because I practiced the day before...
Theory 1: Feeling the competitive pressure of being around seasoned players
Theory 2: