Sunday, February 20, 2011

Grey skies are going to clear up!

Today started out with a bang. Well more of a smash really. It was one of those mornings where everything I touched turned to crap. So a smashed and shattered glass, spilled juice and broken egg later it seemed there was very little hope for today. The house looks like a moderate explosion went off in each room which normally I can overlook but having to clean up, in order to clean up the broken glass was causing me great irritation and a dark cloud formed squarely over my head, complete with steam coming out my ears. Why can't I keep the house clean? I could make a lot of excuses for myself but basically...I had to embrace the fact that I'm lazy and hate cleaning.
However my kids really seem to have a knack of pulling out a word of encouragement at the right time. Today they were able to take the little black rain cloud hanging over my head and turn it into, well, hilarity.
The kids have been cheering me through the Jillian Michaels 30 day shred workout DVD which I do on the days I don't run. 3 days running, 3 days shredding, and one day of wondering why I'm doing the other 2.
At first I was thinking Jillian was soft and easy, that was level one. Proceeding to level 2 really kicked my butt. Sometimes I have to stop, though stopping is usually because I can't do that and laugh at the same time, it's just not possible. There's a team of us working on the 30 day shred. "Extracising" as Nadine and Ryan call it.

"You've got to swing your knees if you want to see results mom. Keep going mom. That''s it, shake it out. Really swing for your arms for those flap jacks (also known as jumping jacks, it was bittersweet when they started saying jumping instead of flap)"
So today amidst the glass, juice, and all the rest of the chaos I received an encouraging "shake it out mom, you're doing great".

So after an attitude adjustment (my own), and an adequate starter amount of coffee I decided 5 miles on the treadmill was in order. I wish there was a way to simulate running outside on the treadmill. Really it's just hard to want to stay on there for very long. I decided to add an element of danger and had a near drowning  today when I accidentally sprayed my water bottle straight up my nose. Sheesh who knew running could be such a dangerous sport.
When I emerged from the basement it was time for lunch and then to hit the creek bank for the celebratory birthday snow shoeing extravaganza. Ryan turned the big 4 yesterday, and though it was FAR too cold to snowshoe yesterday, today seemed to have had the weather custom ordered for it. The snow was perfect, the temperature was a-ok, and off we went. The kids are really good at show shoeing. They float along on top of the snow, flop down in the snow, eat a LOT of snow, and love all of the above. Oh and Nadine kept stopping to chew on tree branches because she heard rabbits like to chew on branches and she'd like to be known from here on out as "princess Gunther the bunny" although that changes daily (I dunno).

Oh, and Braeden hangs out in the backpack and loves anything to do with being outside.

My fur family is made up of two tremendous athletes and one dog who is getting a bit too old for our snowshoeing shenanigans (it makes me want to cry when I type that)
Bert tolerates outings like this. Not without a bit of whining, and I sure don't make him come. He did make the entire loop with us. I love him.
Cleo has more energy and athletic ability than I've ever known in a large breed dog, especially a Newfoundland. She goes, and goes, and goes, and goes, and would still go some more.
Oliver currently has the added benefit of often being able to stay afloat on top of the snow. From the size of his paws I'd say he's going to be a contender for largest dog we've ever had and consequently may find his efforts increase exponentially next season.

After all that some popcorn, hot chocolate and a dry set of snow pants or "salipats" as they're known around here, Tim (who according to Nadine "ew your air smells like coffee" <3) took the kids down to the skating rink to try out "Honkey" also known as hockey. 
The kids haven't exactly mastered skating. Truthfully Ryan won't even try it at all. He appreciated the idea of being given a "honkey stick" but no thanks to the skates and skating. Whatever, they'll get there when they get there.
Braeden and I stayed home so he could beep Cleo's nose and both of them could take a nap.

All in all this turned out to be a pretty successful day once I "shook it out" got past my poor start and chose to embrace the chaos.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Guanaco can spit distances of up to 6 feet.

A few days ago, I didn't even know a Guanaco was a land animal. Now I know far more about them than I could have ever dreamed. If my oldest son comes to you and says, "hey, I'm a Guanaco" your most appropriate response is, "you're not to spit on me".
Did you know "Guanaco's can spit distances of up to 6 feet. Guanaco's live in the deserts and forests of South (or souse) America." Ryan has been sharing these nuggets of information with me over the last few days. He can tell you an Asian Elephant from an African Elephant. He can tell you that "Giraffes are the tallest of the land animals...they have dark blue tongues." and so much more. Great to know wouldn't you say? He's becoming a walking encyclopedia, a ryanopedia of land animals.
More about Guanaco's

We bought the kids Leapster Explorers for Christmas
I had NO IDEA when people said they were educational games how much smarter the kids would be than me by February...I better tinker around with this thing after they go to bed for a bit and brush up on my land animals...

If they teach the kids that Guanaco's spit distances of up to 6 feet, is it possible that they may also teach that Howler Monkeys coax you to the bottom of the tree their sitting in, in order to pee on you. I'm really going to have to check this leapster out. I don't want to have to change the name of the blog to "no trying to spit distances of up to 6 the house" if it's outside I'd be ok with that, I'd probably compete. Or "no peeing off the stair railing on your siblings AND no climbing up trees to try and pee on your siblings, or anyone else for that matter"
It's possible my "No barking in the house!" mantra may be about to shift, luckily for me they seem to like playing giraffe and playing Giraffe is MUCH quieter than playing dog. All I'll have to do is stock up on lettuce and tuck it in the doors of the lower cabinets so they think they're reaching for vegetation...bittersweet the magic of leapfrog learning.
I'm going to encourage Giraffe, and discourage Guanaco, at least in the's a lot damper and has a way higher eeewwww factor.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Culinary success #2 for the week

When we got married, my sister gave me one of the best cookbooks ever. Written by Leanne Ely, Saving Dinner has probably been the cookbook I've reached for most for the last 6 years.
She lays out week by week meal plans and grocery lists for you to follow. I've worked through her whole recipe book. Fabulous by the way. Since doing so I've become an avid meal planner, I've had to switch it up a bit though based on what meat we raise, what is locally easy to get. She gave me the tools to do that though, and for that I will be forever grateful to both my sister for the wonderful cookbook, and Leanne Ely for writing it. She's also got a great website
Here's my plug for meal completely negates the "crap what in the heck are we going to eat" syndrome I used to go through every day at 3:30ish. It saves money, time, and headaches.

Spicy Honey-Glazed Chicken
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate (I've used 1/4 cup actual orange pulp smashed up)
2 cloves garlic pressed
1/8-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
mix this in a bowl and we'll use it in a few minutes

brown on both sides in
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp olive oil
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (I slice mine a bit thinner just for the kids sake and cooking time's sake)
salt and pepper to taste

When they're browned add the honey, orange mixture to the skillet and cook thoroughly turning to coat the chicken
Place the chicken on a plate and add to the honey mixture

chopped cilantro and chopped green onions (however much you like really, I love cilantro and could eat it by the bunch)
stir it around and spoon over the chicken
I served it over brown rice

I've had a couple culinary successes this week

and yes it's only Wednesday and supper hasn't happened yet but Monday and food was fantastic if I do say so myself. So much pressure tonight for a 3 for 3 success :)
Thought I'd share the recipes as they're SO easy, very fast, and the kids even gobbled it up.

This may well be the best received vegetarian meal I've made for my kids. This recipe was posted somewhere by a friend of mine online. I can't find the source again or I'd give them huge thank-you. I wrote it on a little scrappy piece of paper and thought I should try it sometime and shoved it in the recipe cupboard...I found it week or so later and decided to give it a whirl before purging the scrappy bit of paper, you know to see if it'd make the loved recipes notebook.

White Bean Cheesy Pasta
1/2 onion chopped
2 tbsp butter
saute, and when the onion is almost finished add
2 cloves garlic minced

2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp pepper
cook for 2 minutes

1 1/2 cups whole milk
stir on medium heat until thickened

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (seemingly any kind will do really)
stir to melt

1- 15 oz can white beans (I used white kidney beans but I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a "white" bean, or if a chick pea can would qualify...)
1 can diced green chilies OR 1 chopped jalapeno

I threw some cooked veggies in at the end, mixed it with some whole wheat rottini and YUM. It's a whole meal in one bowl. So fast and super-yummy.

Bread day

Wednesday on my chore chart, which someday I should write out, is bread day.
I LOVE bread day, as long as everyone else co-operates. Sometimes it is a bit of a miracle of timing, or a dance the kids and I do to hope for a successful outcome. It's really weird for me to like a day that is based on needing to get things done in an order and with specific timing, but long story short, it smells really good :)

A couple years ago I couldn't find whole wheat flour in any of my normal grocery stops. How in the heck could an entire town be out of whole wheat flour??? So I stumbled into a grocery store that isn't on my normal hit list. Low and behold they had one bag of Rogers whole wheat flour on the shelf I grabbed it as though it were made of solid gold and headed to the till.

I didn't realize until a few batches of bread later that there was a recipe on the back of the bag. I decided to give it a go and have never made any other kind of whole wheat bread since. It's works so so so well.
Now I make my bread with the sponge method of bread baking. I've never done it any other way and I find it really here goes my attempt to describe that.

First let me sing the praises of my bread bucket. I am not sure I would make bread very often without this bucket, and I have no idea where to get them...real helpful hey?

So as far as the picture goes, try and ignore the tea towel for a second, it's basically a big bucket with a hand crank. I don't end up touching the dough until making loaves. When it's time to kneed it I just spin the crank to do so.

Whole wheat bread
mix in a large bowl...or for me it's my bread bucket.
4 cups warm water
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp yeast
4 cups whole wheat flour
mix well and let stand while you

mix together
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
whisk with a fork and microwave for 15 seconds 3 times (a total of 45 seconds) whisk well with a fork in between 15 second intervals so your eggs don't cook.

at this point your mixture in the bread bucket should be starting to raise and bubble, if not, give it a couple minutes. It's forming a sponge...hence the name of the method.
When this is the case, the bubbling that is add the egg mixture to the bucket or bowl as well as,
7-8 more cups of whole wheat flour
4 tsp salt

Mix well and let raise in a warmish draft free area for 15-20 minutes kneading in between.

When that process is complete form dough into 4 loaves and put into 4 greased bread pans.

Puncture loaves several times with a fork, right to the bottom of the loaf (this helps get more air out so you don't have big air pockets in your bread)

Cover and let raise for 50-55 minutes...or until it looks loaf-ish

Bake at 375' for 35 minutes.

Enjoy the smell! and the wonderful bread. I always get rave reviews of this recipe :)
See how sweet they look all cooling and yummy smelling :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

My treadmill is fraudulent

My treadmill is a Leisure Works Preformance Treadmill...what a lot of crap. There has been nothing leisurly about training for a 1/2 marathon. It's actually a lot of work, both to fit in, and then to execute the miles as laid out by Hal Higdon
But I know it is worth it, the days I want most not to do it, are probably the days I get the most benefit out of it. Benefit by way of getting the snot out of my brain as Nadine calls it.
I have just about finished week 2...again...I don't actually have a half planned until May so I went back to the beginning to incorporate some heart rate training into my plan.
Heart rate training has been really interesting. Mark Allen writes about it in this article Basically you calculate a heart rate that is your maximum aerobic heart rate. It increases your endurance dramatically, or so I'm told, and your legs give our before your lungs! FAB!

Two weeks into it and I've noticed a few things.
1. It takes A LOT of patience. Running, if you can call it that, far slower, and then having to stop for walk breaks to bring my heart rate down to where it should be!!! Sheesh, how humbling. I'm not as fit as I once thought!

2. It really seems to work. I had to holy moly slow down to "running" a super slow pace to keep my heart rate below the level I had calculated, but in a few days I was able to maintain that heart rate at a full MPH more than when I started, and could run for longer before my rate would elevate past the point I was working at AND it would recover faster...hmmmm maybe there is something to this. I'm still far from where I'd want to be but definitely seeing improvement

3. It's winter here and I'm basically religated to running on my treadmill. I have a love/hate relationship with this thing. I love to be able to run somewhere in the dead of winter but it's SO BORING. With heart rate training I've had to cut out having spontaneous dance parties and playing air guitar and air drums while I run. If I do it, my heart rate elevates past where I want to, if I don't, I wanna poke my eyes out from boredom...I gotta get a TV down there.

So there you have it. A 1/2 on the horizon and a treadmill that lies to me...but I love love love love love my new Garmin :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My top hurts.

I had high hopes of achieving a few things tonight. The truth of the matter though is my top hurts. That's my new favorite way to say I have a headache. My 3 year old taught me that, "mom, my top hair".
This job does that to me sometimes, leaves me with a hurting top. But now, while they're all sleeping peacefully it's amazing how much my top suddenly feels better, maybe not better but lighter.
Despite the best attempts at drama, bedtime stalling, and undoing of any cleaning I may have accomplished during the day, they are pretty darn sweet, and I love them like crazy. My house is a mess, I can't even begin to think of where to start or when I'll be able to address that but at the moment, I'm going to look at the ceiling to avoid gazing upon the mess on my way across the house to bed  (a path that could potentially be dangerous to life and limb to walk it blind) and hope that my sock doesn't stick to the floor...or at least more than once...

What have I done!?

I don't know what on earth has possessed me to start a blog. I really have enough to do in a day without enhancing the cyber time-suck factor.
I'm struck many days by how simple my life used to be. I used to be able to leave the house in 10 minutes from shower to car. Now it takes me about an hour to execute a departure and I probably haven't fit in a shower in several days if I were honest. We do some interesting things though so, may as well give blogging about it a crack :)
I'm a purist really. I like to grow our own food, cook from scratch, I've taken up canning??!!?!? (who woulda thought). I am a rabid meal planner, I'm very cheap, and I created a chore chart for myself in hopes that in a week each part of the house will be cleaned once. That said I should really be vacuuming.
We have 3 kids ages 5, 4, and 1, and live on a little piece of heaven.
We currently raise chickens.

We have two Newfoundland dogs
One of whom is a perfect (Bert),

one of whom is a bit of a nut (Cleo).

We also have a Great Pyrenees/Lab cross puppy...Oliver.

We plan to raise cashmere goats come the spring, and I hope that doesn't mean I'll never see my uncle again. I'm already treading on thin ice with the chickens...
There are days when I want to pull my hair out, but I really have no tangible thing to complain about.
See...what was I thinking starting a blog???
oh, and I don't know how to hyperlink things yet, but the info is interesting :)