Saturday, November 12, 2011

Warrior Dash

We, along with some friends, are going to be competing in the Warrior Dash on April 21, 2012.  The Warrior Dash is a 5K interspersed with obstacles... like a wooden fence to climb... and a field of "mines" to weave through... and a waterfall that beats you down as you swim under it... and a mud pit where you have to crawl under barbed wire... all culminating in a pile of hot coals you have to run over followed by a crazy fella with a sword who tries to knock you down. 
Needless to say, we are going to need to train for this.  Unlike the 1/2 marathon in 2010 which we were COMPLETELY unprepared for, we want to be prepared for this event because Chris and I are looking at it as my birthday present (my birthday is April 26). 
Our training plan is this: get into shape.  We plan to do this in the following ways: on days we are both at home before nightfall (a difficult feat these early-evening days) we will go walk/jog/run in the neighborhood; on days we are home after nightfall we will work on our muscles for the obstacles (P90X, weights, tower, yoga, etc...); we will also eat SUPER healthy (vegetables at every meal, fruits, and minimal to no sweets). 
I am posting this on the blog because hopefully if people know our plans, we will be forced to follow through for fear of embarassing ourselves.
Hopefully a positive update-post will be coming up!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Persian Carrot Soup

This soup may not sound too appetizing, but it is very good (and dangerous... I burned myself THREE times making it!).  It comes from my Congressional Club cookbook, and it is the recipe of the California Representative Henry Waxman.
Note: I 1/2d the recipe, and it was a little lemony, so I'd go light on the lemon juice.  I also used canned carrots, which worked just fine!

Persian Carrot Soup
2 t olive oil
2 large onions, diced (onion powder)
12 cloves garlic, minced (garlic powder)
10 cups chicken broth
2 pounds frozen carrots, 1/4" slices
2 bay leaves
5 T lemon juice
2 t sugar (I didn't have "regular sugar" so I used brown sugar.)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. (I just added the oil and powders, then moved to step 2 without cooking for 5 minutes.)
2. Add the broth, carrots, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer 35 - 45 minutes, until the carrots are tender.  Discard the bay leaf.
3. Blend.  Add the lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper.
4. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 8

This soup was very rich and creamy.  Most creamy soups are unhealthy because they are thickened with, well, cream.  This one was thickened with the blended carrots, though, so it was healthy.

(There are no pictures.  As mentioned earlier, I burned myself while cooking, and I was almost going to be whiney enough not to eat, but Chris finished blending the soup.  I felt really bad not eating it when he had been sweet enough to finish it, so I ate under protest.  There are no pictures because I was... protesting...)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Soup Round 2

Last night we had tomato soup and "grilled cheese sandwiches."
Tomato soup is probably one of my favorite soups, and this is one of the easiest recipes!
It came from my mom; I do not know where she got it.

Hot Tomato Punch
1 qt Bloody Mary mix
1/2 c tomato paste
1/4 c vinegar (I did not use this)
2 1/2 c tomato sauce
1/4 c lemon juice
unsweetend whipped cream (note: You can not whip fat-free cream... Trust me... I've tried it twice.)
1. Mix all ingredients except cream together; heat over medium.
2. Serve topped with the whipped cream (This soup really needs the cream because the Bloody Mary mix is VERY spicy!)
I added: basil, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, and liquid smoke.  It was delicious!

For the "grilled cheese sandwiches" I put Pam and liquid smoke in a pan.  I put in a tortilla topped with cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder.  I then topped it with another tortilla sprayed with Pam on the outside.  After the cheese melted I cut the tortillas into quarters to dip in our soup... YUMMY!

(We were eating in front of the TV because our favorite shows were on - "The Middle"
and "Modern Family!")

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's Soup Weather!

I love fall! - Halloween, bonfires, cool crisp weather, fewer mosquitoes... and soup!
Tonight was the first time that I deemed it "cool enough" to make soup.  Sometimes I don't want to stand over a hot pot for a while or eat a bowl of something piping hot... But this evening it was officially okay in my book!
One of my favorite soups is chili... but my gallbladder doctor and Chris's cholestrol doctor do not like for us to eat red meat... SO... chicken chili is a wonderful option!  This particular recipe is all my own... I didn't take somebody else's and add/subtract stuff.  I looked at two different recipes and made my own.  I did things that were in both recipes, I did things in one recipe, and I did things that weren't in either recipe... and it actually turned out more than decent... actually pretty good!! =)
The two recipes I "used" are Robert St. John (of Purple Parrot/Crescant City fame)'s chili recipe and Colorado House Rep Joel Hefley's (Don't get all jealous thinking I know a fancy politician... I'm just own the "Senate Club Cookbook"... a very prestigious, select group in Washington, D.C....).

Chicken Chili
3/4 frozen chicken breasts (cooked according to package directions, sprinkled with worstershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and italian seasoning 1/2 way through cooking)
2 1/2ish cups boullion (I used beef because that's all I could find in my cavernous cabinets)
garlic salt (however much you pour out)
onion powder (ditto)
liquid smoke (same)
dill (I used lots because I relly like it.)
fresh herbs (I was outside watching Chris plant some trees and I got distracted by my herbs, so I decided to grab the tops off of the oregano, basil, and rosemary... who knows how much I ended up with...??)
1 15 oz can white beans, drained (kidney? canoli?  I don't know...)
couple of tablespoons of flour
corn (whatever is leftover from the night before cooked by a sweet husband with who-knows-what seasoning, but it was very good...)

1. Chop cooked chicken into cubes.
2. Mix boullion, chicken, onion powder, garlic salt, liquid smoke, dill, and herbs in a large pot over medium heat and stir occassionally until it boils.
3. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for a while (10/15 minutes?) while stirring to prevent sticking.
4. Add the beans and enough flour to make a thick liquid and continue to cook on low for a while (10 more minutes...).  You made need more/less flour depending on how you like your chili... I do not like liquidy chili, so I added 4/5 tablespoons of flour.
5. Add the corn as an afterthought when you see it in the fridge while getting drinks out.  Cook for 5ish more minutes, stirring occassionally, to make sure the corn heats up.
6. Serve over chips or crackers with cheese.

This made about 4 servings for us (I ate small servings, Chris's were a little larger.)

Chili pre beans and thickening

Chili pre eating

Friday, September 16, 2011


The same blog that posts the {pretty, happy, funny, real} pictures I like also posts a set of "Monday Musings" each week... Her's are usually done at 6AM Monday mornings... That's not going to happen here, so I'll do mine on the weekend when I have time/energy.

Right now... I am waiting for my broccoli to steam, my potatoes to boil, and Chris's porkchops to grill.  Lou is outside barking at a squirrel 20 feet up a tree.  It is sunnyish with a pink/purple sky.

This weekend...  I am giong to do some Christams shopping (to finish up everybody except Chris!), do some yardwork (my goal is to clean out tornado debris from flowerbeds and plant all of my bulbs), go for a bike ride, finish some work for school, and bathe Lou.

Some plans for the week: Play tennis, walk each day, clean up the kitchen each night, stay up-dated on my grading during the week, and eat healthy. 

In my time for myself, I would like to... read... I'm working on Silent Spring which is kind of scientific, so there can be no distractions as I try to read.  I usually fall asleep at night, too... It's not exactly a thriller, but I enjoy it.  I bet my sister would call it a "paranoia book"... all about how pesticides are poisoning our food and water

I am grateful for... the wonderful people I work with who make a long week seem not quite so long and awful.

Something that makes me smile: Chris being happy when he comes home from work! =)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real

A clean, organized work area!

Olivia and I both wore our jeggings when we went out to eat!


5 months ago after the tornado
(a house right behind ours)

The new house going up this week!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

One blog I like to look at puts up a series of pictures once a week - something pretty, happy, funny, real.  I thought this was a neat idea.  Here's round #1.

Indian Summer sunset.

The weather this week was good enough for me to go out every afternoon and read. 
Since Monday I have read 2 books!

This was during Tropical Storm Lee... Lou had to be "walked" in the front flowerbed....
As soon as we came around the corner from the carport there was a cat.
Lou goes CRAZY over cats.  We came back inside and Lou sat at the door whining.

Lou LOVES to dig holes... I looked up one day and saw just her tail.  She was IN this hole.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Outer Banks

After leaving Williamsburg, we drove through the armpit of Virginia - Newport News, Hamilton, etc... We were trying to take scenic backroads again... All we saw was ports, railroads, and ghettos... We drove on 3 Martin Luther King, Jr. streets.... + side: We got to drive into a cool, long tunnel... We didn't know at the time it was a cool tunnel, just long.  Later that night we saw on news (it was a story about the horrible traffic, which we experienced) that the road goes on a bridge, then just disappears in the middle of the bay into a tunnel.  It was pretty cool!
We spent the night in Virginia Beach.  We LOVED it!  It was so different than any other beach we had ever been to.  The ocean and beach are lined with a boardwalk and the hotels and restaurants are on the edge of the boardwalk.  On the boardwalk was a HUGE statue of Poseidon.  We searched for a restaurant that had an open area to look at the water.  We found one that had a huge deck up top, so we sat right on the edge overlooking the beach and people watched (Kathryn's favorite!!). 
We left V.B. and drove all the way to the tip of VA (getting lost only once... NOT THE NAVIGATOR'S (Kathryn) FAULT... the roads literally were not labeled) to take a ferry to North Carolina.... or so we thought... after driving through miles and miles of fields and farms and huge farm houses and random cemetaries in people's yards (we saw this a lot!), we get to the ferry... to find out that it is closed!!  One of the ferrys broke, and it was taking a few hours to get a replacement up there.  SO... we re-routed and took the land through Virginia to the North Carolina Outer Banks (represented as OBX on everything). 
We stopped at Kill Devil Hills and visited the site of the Wright Brother's flights... it was really windy, and there were crazy sand cactuses everywhere (they had super long, sharp spikes like western cactuses, but they were tiny and hidden!). 
The OBX are beautiful!!  The road stretches through sand dunes with the ocean on either side.  At one point we stopped and climed a sand dune to explore the beach.  It was EMPTY!!... We couldn't see anyone/thing for miles!  We marked the spot where we entered the beach by noticing a shoe someone had left and some markings in the sand, and we took off down the beach collecting shells.  When we decided that we better head back, it took us much longer to get to the shoe and scribbling than we thought it should... Finally we climbed to the top of a dune to see where we were... and realized the car was about 1/2 mile behind us!  Apparently the tide had washed away the writing and shoe.  Oh, well, no big deal, and that was the one adventure for the day... NOT REALLY...
On the OBX you can drive on the beach... Pretty cool, right?  There are some rules to follow - let a certain amount of air out of your tires, stay in the tracks of other drivers, stay on the packed sand near the water, and you must be in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.  Pretty simple... Unless you 1. don't let enough air out of your tires 2. aren't at the packed sand yet and 3. don't have any tracks to follow in... all of which happened to us!  So it was an adventure to get un-stuck from the sand.  Luckily there was nobody around to see our drama.
We drove down Hattaras Island to Cape Hattaras and spent the night.  The island is full of cute little towns with icecream shops, seafood restaurants and cute little beach houses all separated by stretches of barren beach. 
The next morning we went to the Hattaras Island light house - the tallest one in North Carolina. It was beautiful!  All the light houses on the OBX are painted black and white.  This one had diagonal stripes, and the bottom was painted bright red.  The stairs going up were not very steep, so it was a pretty easy climb.  From the top you could see the sound, the ocean, the maritime forest, and the town.
After the lighthouse we took the free fairy over to Ocracoke Island.  It was a short ride and it was neat to see the spot where the ocean and sound meet.  The waves just stoppped suddenly.  Ocracoke is empty and all state park except for the village of Ocracoke, which was really neat... We wish we had more time to spend there.  You can walk or ride bikes all over; most people had golf carts.  There are small shops and restaurants all along the bay.  Ocracoke is the island that Blackbeard the pirate used as a hideout, and he was killed in the ocean just off the island... is there buried treasure there?! 
The ferry from Ocracoke to the mainland is a 2 1/2 hour reservations-required ferry.  We took the latest reservation 8:30 so that we would have a lot of time around town.  Since we had a while, we decided to drive on the beach again after eating supper (Where we had conch... you know, the huge twisty shells you find on the beach?... it was delicious!).  This time we let more air out of the tires and there were tracks to follow... simple, right?!  Ummm... NO!  The tracks were so deep and the SUV sat so low that it dragged on the sand between the tracks... and got stuck... for good!  Chris had to get out and pick up/push the car while Kathryn drove... He had said "Do not stop or slow down once the car gets unstuck"... SO... I did not stop when it got unstuck.... I took off down the beach, turned around when he hollerd at me to turn, and kept going full speed.  Chris tried to jump in, but that did not work.  After fearing that we would miss our ferry, we managed to make it in plenty of time.  We took the ferry over to the mainland and drove to New Bern where Jamie (Kathryn's sister) lives.
The OBX were lots of fun and beautiful.  We did not get to see some of the upper islands, so we are absolutely going back!

Poseidon statue on Virginia Beach boardwalk.

Virginia Beach

Our seats at the restaurant.

Fireworks from our balcony.

The 1st ferry we tried to take...

View of Kill Devil Hills (where the Wright Brothers flew) from the hill.  When the Brothers were here, the area was a barren desert wasteland for miles around this spot.

Wright Brothers memorial.  It is designed to look like a star from the air, and the top of the monument is a beacon for planes and ships.

Replicas of the Wright brothers' hanger (left) and shack (right).  These are in the exact spot where they were originally built.

Original running strip for the plane.

Flight #4 (the furthest one) site
Picture of Kill Devil Hills from the memorial.

The first block is where they took off, the next 4 are the different landing spots for their first flights!
These four blocks are the 4 landing spots.

Bridge connecting one Outer Banks island to another.

Duney beach we got lost on.

Long stretch of road surrounded by dunes... ocean on the left, bay sound on the right.

Getting stuck #1...

Tallest lighthouse in NC.

View from the top.  That is the sound.

The lighthouse was moved down this clearcut path because the beach where it was was eroding.

Waiting to get on the ferry.

Some HUGE houses... Houses like this were ALL OVER on Cape Hattaras.

Ferry ride

See where the ocean stops and the sound starts?  The waves just end.

Ocracoke Island

We wanted to walk to the end of the island where the ocean and sound meet, but we couldn't because there were birds nesting.

The ocean off Ocracoke Island where Blackbeard the pirate was captured and killed.

Ocracoke Village

Ocracoke Lighthouse.  You'd think the house was the lighthouse keeper's, rigth?... Nope!  It's a huge, beautiful private residence.  The lighthouse is still a functioning one... Imagine how bright that is!

Going onto the beach for failed attempt #2 to drive on it.

Ocracoke Island as we leave on the ferry.