Archive for the ‘challenge’ Category

Time to chime in on this New Year’s Resolution.  It may be tooting my horn, but it doesn’t feel like it.  In fact, it feels a bit like good news/bad news

2. To shape up physically.  I’ve never been petite and won’t pretend to be.  I am 6 ft tall, big boned, and have put on weight on top of that.  I am as clumsy as they come and want to run and hide when a ball starts flying around.  Yeah, I’m a sissy when it comes to sports.  I did start Yoga, though, and plan to continue it a minimum 2 times every week.  I also would like be on a bike for 30 minutes minimum each week.  I have no idea if this will get me into shape, but I have to start somewhere and it certainly can’t hurt.  The Y is less than 2 blocks from our home and we are members…shame on me for wasting the resources available to me.  They even have a child-watch center that is free!  This (like all of my goals, now that I think of it) is not just for me, but for my children.  I want to model a healthy lifestyle and want to be able to romp on the floor with grand-kids in the very far off, distant future.  Nothing like planning ahead, right?

Good News: I have lost and more importantly, kept off 15 pounds.  Hooray!  Bad news: My ideal body weight is still 20lbs away.   I please but want to lose more,  knowing it will take work to take off more weight.

Good News: Thanks to Yoga, I can now not only touch my toes, but can place my palms flat on the floor (no bending the knees!)  I am also much more stable and feel more sure footed.  Bad News: I am still a klutz…some things are just not fixable.

Good News:  I can do 30 minutes on the bike no problem  Bad News: I got the notion to run instead.  Wait, is that bad news…depends if you ask me on a day I ran.

Let’s stop there for a minute.  I want to preface the rest of this by saying I am stubborn.  I get it from my dad (hi dad, just kidding, I get it from both of you!)  I also want to say that I have not one single bit of athletic experience in me prior to this year, and it shows.  Marching band was as close as I got to exercise growing up (and it wasn’t at all intense.)  The most exercise  I would have gotten the last couple years would be waiting on tables or chasing kids.   It’s not that I am lazy, just not athletic.  I hate sports that involve a ball coming at me and I do not like to sweat. 

I want to run.

I can’t quite explain it, but I want to be a runner in a very stubborn sort of way.  So stubborn that I think if it took 5 years to get there, I would still be wanting to do it.  Stubborn enough, that the only thing stopping it is a doctor saying I can’t and even then I’d likely not pay good attention.   Perhaps it is a quest for time that is just mine.  I know body shape and weight has something to do with it.  I also know instilling healthy habits in my kids is part of the desire.  It is a very stubborn feeling though.  Similar to my feelings on the way we eat.  It just is what it is.  I want to be able to run a 5K (3.1 miles), no walking…run.

Some would say I already am a runner, but I don’t feel like it.  In four weeks time, I have myself up to about a half mile running before my body screams for mercy.  It sounds so pathetic to say, there are people running marathons for goodness sake!  I keep reminding myself that it is a half mile more than many could or would run, but it isn’t good enough for me.  I mainly walk/run… I can do that for 3 miles.  I want to be able to run those 3 miles, though.

Why do I get stubborn about the oddest things?  Why can’t I get stubborn about cleaning the house, weeding, or losing another 10lbs? 

So here is the thing.  Next Friday I am signed up for a local 5K.  I know that I won’t be running the entire thing and I am good with that.  My husband is running with me to support my new habit.  Bless his heart, I don’t think he realizes how frequently he will be walking and have given him my blessing to keep on running.  I will see him at the finish line regardless.  I am determined to run more than half of it, though.   He has been athletic in the past and has ran in the past.  I will likely finish last and that is okay, so long as I finish.

I am starting in on a program to help me with distance (okay, distance for me) running.  It’s called the Couch to 5K …any of you heard of it or done it?  Everywhere I look it is recommended so I figure what have I got to lose.   I don’t want to injure or damage myself, though, so I am taking days of rest as recommended.  Taking care of this household with an injury would not be fun.

So, anyone want to join in with me on the Couch to 5K?  

The program is 9 weeks, running 3 times a week, working up to being able to run a full 30 minutes.  I would love to have a bit of support and would like to be able to talk about it with others.  Regardless, I plan on starting tomorrow with the hopes of finishing up by Labor Day.  I will update after each run as a type of log.   I hope to not whine so much, but feel like I need some place to keep myself accountable.  I have people I know in real life that read, so putting it here will keep me at it. 

Don’t everyone comment all at once, there is no limit to the number or people who can join me on this!


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I made Ricotta Gnocchi about a week ago for dinner.  It was this months challenge for the Daring Cooks over at the Daring Kitchen.  I am not sure that I have ever had the traditional potato gnocchi before so I have little to compare it to.  This was so very tasty.  It was easier to make than I thought it would be. 

If you remember, I had a surplus of milk around that time and made my own ricotta.  If you do try this recipe, I would recommend finding a very good, fresh, ricotta…not the prepackaged processed stuff you buy in the store (it is too wet and just isn’t the same.) 

The gnocchi recipe was very straight-forward, but flexible…I like flexible recipes.  They were very light tasting as well as light in texture.  It is something I very much look forward to making again.  There is a quick homemade tomato sauce I make in a pinch that I think these would taste wonderful with.  For some reason I am liking tomatoes and cheese together right now.

The sauce was a simple butter sauce (butter and a bit of water) with whole sage leaves from the garden, I have tons of sage right now.  There is a bit of sage in the gnocchi, so I figured why not carry it through to the sauce.  It worked wonderfully and tasted so good that we drizzled the leftover sauce onto some shrimp and served it all with a nice salad.

The recipe we used is from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook.

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The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

  Did I mention I am participating in a monthly baking and cooking challenge?  Oops, well now I am mentioning it.  Head over to the Daring Kitchen for more info and to join for access to the recipes.  We all are supposed to reveal on the same date, this one is a day late, though.  For some reason I am off a day…hazard of staying home so much.  Wonder how long I have been off and if I have post-dated any checks?

Most of the recipes I will alter to our way of eating (when possible.)  This one I did not.  I could have swapped out rapadura for the white sugar, found or made some sort of soaked/sprouted flour cookies for the base, figured out the chocolate or some other option, etc.  But when it got down to it cheesecake sounded good and why mess with such a good thing.  It knew it would not all be consumed by us, so it was our treat for the week.

This is a wonderful base recipe for a solid, creamy cheesecake.   I altered  (as we were encouraged to do) by adding cayenne to the crust and using chocolate graham cookies.   I made the cheesecake itself with cayenne and melted dark chocolate.  So very rich and yummy.  It baked up beautifully in a small water bath (pan triple wrapped in foil to prevent seeping.)  There was no crack on top, and it tasted best the day after baking.  I know this is common of cheesecakes, but who could resist cutting into it once it had cooled?

I took it to my parents house and we celebrated a milestone for Brie.  No more pacifier for almost a week now.  She was so excited to have a cake when CeeCee didn’t.  She still asks for the paci every now and then but there isn’t one to give her.  It went fairly smooth with only one time (so far) of her showing up with one from who knows where in her mouth.  She had started getting to where she was walking around with it all day and it was causing her to snore so much we were turning the monitor down so we could sleep.  What a big girl she has proved to be!  Of course, it’s a good excuse for extra cuddles during the day to help offset any insecurities the change may have caused.  Love celebrating milestones with my girls and passing cheesecake out to others, otherwise it would sit in my fridge and tempt me something awful.

Speaking of milestones, do not ask about potty training.  For some reason potty training twins is so hard.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but really, this is not fun. 

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I have a few “UnFinished Objects” hanging around here.  Let’s start by talking Christmas cards.  For years I sent handmade cards out to my entire list of people.  Then 2006 came along and this is as far as I got.

Keep in mind this would be the December I spent in Hanoi adopting the second half of our family, so I had good reason.  The following year I had high hopes.  Instead of designing my own I bought a kit.  It was a cute easy card that would take no time at all.  Here’s how far I got on it before deciding to buy a box of card for close friends and family:

This year, I would love to finish either set of cards.  I used to make lots of paper crafts and miss doing it.  Of course, I look at the calendar and see that Christmas is less than a month away, I’ll be on the road starting this weekend for about 10 days, and that there is still Christmas sewing to do.  Who wants to take bets on me using the last half of the box from last year for close friends and family?

There are other odds and ends of projects; a free-form quilted jacket, various home decor, and even the trim in three separate rooms of the house.  The thing that bothers me the most, though, is a quilt I un-earthed awhile back.  It was a quilt I was making for myself, the colors are so pretty and the fabric is super soft.  The quilt top is done.  I have the backing fabric.  I have the batting.  It needs quilted and there lies the problem. 

I can do small bits of handwork, but the thought of quilting and entire quilt by hand makes me feel a bit panicky.  I do not want to tie it as it is just not the right look for it.  I am scared to even think of machine quilting it.  Not that I do not have a good machine, but I have no clue where to start!  I think I need to sit down with some scraps and see what I come up with.  When it boils down to it, though, I just need to start and get it done.  My goal is to have it done by New Year’s….a little year end “gift” for myself three years in the making. 

I would show you a picture, but to be honest, the last couple days have been way to cold to hang a half finished quilt on the clothesline for a photo.

Which brings me to a challenge for you.  Find that one item you really want to finish and make some plans to finish it.  Do this one little thing for yourself this year.  Your worth it, aren’t you?  So, tell me, what object is it that you are going to finish?  I expect a full report on January 1st!

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CSA (oops)

For the last two weeks I have not posted a CSA report.  I am so sorry and am not sure where my head is.  Well, I do, my FIL is in his last days and fielding questions from the girls is nearly a full time job.  Death is so hard, even when you are “prepared” for it coming. 

For the last two weeks our boc has been nearly the same.  Here is what was in each box:

  • head of cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • 8 tomatoes
  • 2 butternut squash
  • 12 turnips (not big ones)
  • 6-8 sweet potatoes
  • 3 eggplant
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 12 apples

Needless to say we have enough squash to fill a whole freezer and ours is full.  Thankfully, they store well in our unfinished basement in milk crates.  They will keep nicely down there for months on end.  When I manuver my way down there (ick, we have a low ceiling, through the end of the garage, trap door, yucky (but dry!) basement) I get 2 or 3 of them.  They get cooked all at once and the extra frozen for in pancakes, soups, etc.  1 cup at a time works well as that seems to be the smallest quantity I use. 

I am pretty sure we will get a CSA tomorrow as well, but I do expect it to be the last or next to last.  We had two nights this week that dipped below 30.  I feel completely un-prepared for winter and it seems to be knocking on my door.  Food-wise I am good.  It’s more the garden, boots, coats, mittens/hats, etc. that I really need to get cracking on.

These next two weeks, I am once again going to be “boycotting” the grocery again with all my might.  Things are so tight, too tight and I can either whine about it or do something.  Since the food budget is the only  flexible one it is the one that goes on a diet.  Tomorrow I’ll head there for cheese, bananas, and other odds and ends necessary for the next couple weeks, but I plan on spending less tham $50.  Other than that I plan on buying my produce/eggs/milk from the farm and that is it.  I find in doing this that I pull things out of the back of my cupboards to use as well as planning ahead more.   If I am able togive our budget a $100-$200 cushion it will be well worth it.

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This is the second update in my Grocery Challenge series.  I have no idea how many updates there will be, but they will last for approximately two weeks.  If your interested in using up some of your stores in order to re-direct funds join me.  I would be happy to link through to anyone else doing the same.

I made a super-duper cheap meal tonight and it was at minimum half-way nourishing!  I just had to share it with you all.

First, a month or so ago I was at the store and saw they had bags of split yellow peas on markdown for $.25 so I bough 6 bags of them.  I have never cooked with dried peas, split peas, or yellow peas.  I was clueless, but figured they had to have some nutritional value (there were also cans of organic tomato paste for $.30 that I bought a bunch of too but that’s for something else.)  Tonight’s supper took 1/5th of one bag.  I have a feeling I bought enough for a year or so.  Any good split-pea recipes anyone?

When it came time for planning tonights supper I searched online and found this recipe and had all the ingredients I needed on hand.  I made it and while it was a tad-bit lacking it wasn’t bad.  I started by soaking the split peas for 5 hours like they suggested with a pinch of baking soda (they really would have benefited by a longer soak, 10 hours perhaps?)  Then I followed the directions and ended up with a well cooked dish full of onions, millet, split-peas, and spices.  I wished I had some cilantro or something to throw in with it for a bit of green and flavor.  Oh, I added butter as well…I just can’t do that low-fat of a dish.

That dish with prices rounded up (millet $.50, split peas $.05, onion $.25, garlic $.05=$.85 rounded up to $1) as not to have to account for spices was about $1 and we have enough left for the girls and I to lunch on.  The best part, however, was that it wasn’t $1 out of my pocket as it all came from my cupboards.  I served it with roasted chicken.  A friend had chickens for 4-H and when the fair was over had the Amish butcher them all.  She just wanted rid of the birds and was charging $5 a bird…I bought $7 (would have bought 10 but again we are out of freezer space.)  It got smeared with butter, pepper, a bit of cayenne, and some garlic.

My whole meal ended up totaling around $6 and we still have enough for the girls and I a lunch as well as chicken enough for one other dish (curry, stir-fry, chicken salad, etc.)  To be more nourishing I really should have included a fermented veggie or a salad with a tasty home-made dressing.  Mondays are tough, though, with swim and soccer both falling on this night (for the last time this week as soccer is almost done.)  I am very pleased with my accomplishment.  

Other things I am going to try to tackle this week and would love advice on: making crackers, split-pea recipes, salmon for supper tomorrow night,  cabbage ideas for my family who does not like sauerkraut, and changes in nutritional needs for kids in sports.  An odd mix, but it’s what is on my plate.

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Scroll down to learn a little bit about my real-time apple preserving day tomorrow!

This is the first update in my Grocery Challenge series.  I have no idea how many updates there will be, but they will last for approximately two weeks.  If your interested in using up some of your stores in order to re-direct funds join me.  I would be happy to link through to anyone else doing the same.

I went to the store to get a few things for this week.  I had to buy a box of diapers.  I didn’t want to, but the twins are still wetting about 2 a day each and I expect this to be out last box….hooray!  That alone took $13 out of my pocket, though.  I went in the store with $52 and came out with $2 and change.  Here is what I bought:

  • carrots-$2.50
  • celery-$1.58
  • string cheese-$6.22
  • shredded cheese-$2.22
  • sour cream-$1.97
  • 3 dozen eggs-$7.59
  • canadian bacon-$3.36
  • 2 packages of bagels-$2.96
  • flour tortillas-$2.02
  • lunch meat (turkey)-$2.98

TOTAL: $33.40 in food (and $14. 63 in diapers) 

I see already a few of you shaking your heads on a couple things.  First I’ll address the eggs.  My farm can not handle our egg intake (3-5 dozen a week.)  I know this time of year they start to have less and less eggs so I need to buy them.  I’m  looking for an Amish farm or other farmer that will have a steady supply…until then it’s the rather pricey cage free, organic, non-soy eggs that aren’t near as good as the farm eggs.

I have to first honor my husband and the thought of living off whatever I create from the cupboards set him into a panic.  So, I needed to honor his required needs and compromise on what I could.  Instead of dry boxed cereal, he has decided a whole wheat bagel with a slice of cheese, canadian bacon, and scrambled egg would be okay.  I’m thrilled. Though it isn’t that great  on the budget, it is better for his health than Frosted Flakes and a stepping stone to even better choices.  The idea of not having lunch meat to fall on for lunch panics him as well (as though I would let him starve!)  So one package of all natural, organic, and thankfully on sale lunch meat…hope it lasts him a good while. 

Also, tortillas.  I’ve  tried a few times to make these.  I can manage the corn as I fry them crispy in the end for tostadas.  The flour ones, however, I always flop on.  I am thinking a tortilla press would help, but again the budget.  So while it would be healthier to make my own, I can’t quite get the hang of it…someday.

I also will include in update one a reference to my CSA post for the week.  I spend $57.50 on two boxes of produce (not so much by my choice, but you’ll have to read the post) and our 3 gallons of milk.  And, wow, was it a haul of produce!

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