Thursday, April 29, 2010

April Running

April miles: 71
2010 YTD miles: 237.5

I know April is technically not over yet, and I know I still *could* run today or tomorrow, but let's be realistic. It is miserably cold and rainy, and I'm a self-proclaimed wimp. If I happen to go for another run in April, I'll come back and add in the miles. I might even give myself double-credit for running in such crappy weather. I'm pretty happy with my April mileage considering one week in April I only ran a whopping 3 miles all week! Plus I can't wait to see my May total (my goal is 100+ miles) since I have lots of motivation - my half marathon training schedule and Colorado Mama's 175 miles in 7 weeks challenge (It starts Monday - come join us!)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chickpea Recipes

A few of our favorites, as promised. I know I have more chickpea recipes, but I can't think of them. I also throw chickpeas in salads and soups (usually chili).

(Matt & I used to eat this ALL the time pre-kids)

- Indian Chickpeas
(Matt gave me this recipe when we were dating. It is from his friend Neil's mom)

3T oil
few cumin seeds
few mustard seeds
1/2 onion, chopped
3T ketchup
2 cups water (or a bit more if dry)
1 can chickpeas
1/2 tsp curry powder
pinch turmeric
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp ginger
few pieces of green pepper (I use dehydrated if I don't have fresh)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
salt
1 chopped tomato
yogurt
rice

Heat oil, add seeds, let it pop & brown, add chopped onion and cook for 5 min until light brown. Add ketchup, cook 5 min, add water, let it boil then add chickpeas, curry, turmeric, garlic, ginger, peppers, sugar and salt. Let cook 30min or until chickpeas are tender. Add tomato and cook 5 min. Serve over rice with a dollop of yogurt.


- Chickpea Patties

1 4oz can mild green chilies, chopped

1-2 crushed garlic cloves

1 19oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ small red pepper, seeded and chopped

2 tsp cumin

½ tsp salt

2/3 cup bread crumbs

olive oil

In a large food processor, place all above ingredients up to bread crumbs, pulse until mixture forms a course paste. Add breadcrumbs and pulse until just mixed. Shape into 8 patties. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over med heat. Cook the patties for about 4 min per side until golden. Top with a fruit salsa.


- Chocolate chip cookies with chickpeas

(modified from Deceptively Delicious - these are thick cookies, not chewy)

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup butter

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed and mashed

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup oats

1 tsp bakiing soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup mini chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350. Beat sugar and butter together. Beat in egg, vanilla, and chickpeas. Mix in flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Mix in chocolate chips. Drop onto baking sheet, bake 11-13 minutes. Do not overbake.

Earth Day Outing

We went to the Pike's Peak Earth Day celebration today.

Of course, we rode our bikes to the event (although someone seemed more like a circus performer than a cyclist!). Just seemed all wrong to drive to an Earth Day event. Our biking was rewarded with free bike valet and coupons for free beer from Bristol Brewing (which Matt pocketed with a big smile!).

Once there, we saw and did a lot. Jack made a one-eyed spider out of partially recycled materials
while Kate got her face painted.
Both kids make rock necklaces and Earth Day buttons.
We had lunch at La'au's which is a local restaurant around the corner then went back to the expo for more fun. Kate got her hair cut (all proceeds were donated to Earth Day).
And the kids planted seeds.
Maybe I'm a bit picky, but I was a bit disappointed at the amount of "stuff" being handed out. As soon as we walked in the door, we were handed a piece of paper with the schedule of events. I looked at it and then gave it back. I told Matt that I didn't want to pick up any business cards. If there was something we were interested in, we could make a note in our iPhones. We still came home with 3 business cards (one business card was from an acquaintance Sarah who has opened a store called InteriLife with eco-friendly interior finishes - and at least her business card was on reused paper with old printing on the back). We were pretty good about not picking up much else. We did get a couple freebies for the kids - Earth Day coloring books, some temporary tattoos, and some pencils. Jack wanted one of everything on each table, so I explained over and over that we only pick up what we need and would actually use (and that does NOT include a plastic box of disposable wet wipes!).

I also told myself that we weren't going to buy anything while were were there. Didn't happen. I wanted some new glasses from Rocket Glass Company but didn't want to ride home with them. We purchased fair trade, organic coffee from Grounds for Change to support the local high school PeaceJam, and I couldn't resist the Banner Bags from LyziWraps. They are made in Colorado from old banners. I *had* to buy two bags for myself because they were giving away a small bag where the graphics weren't *quite right* with each bag purchase. I *needed* two so Kate and Jack could each pick out their own small bag. Jack just loves his and looked like a little urban dude riding home.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Running Weather

Remember how I said I was going to go for a run yesterday because it was an "absolutely beautiful Colorado spring day?" Well, then I linked to Athleta and got side-tracked (surprise, surprise) looking at all their sale stuff. By the time I got back on track and ready to run, there were dark clouds looming over the peak.

Reminded me of that saying, "If you don't like the weather here, wait 5 minutes and it will change." (Which, BTW, is a very annoying saying to me because everyone thinks quickly changing weather is unique to their location. Everywhere I've ever lived... Iowa, Texas, Minnesota, Indiana, Colorado, and I'm sure almost every other place uses that darn saying.) I decided to start out anyway because one thing I've learned that is fairly unique about Colorado weather is that rain clouds and even thunder rarely mean rain. Sure enough, those clouds lingered over the peak for my full 7 mile run (it was a tempo run which I thought I was going to despise the most about this training plan but come to find out they've been my favorite runs so far!)
The peak looked just amazing with the gauzy rain, the sunlight, and the pale trees just leafing out. Of course, my iPhone couldn't quite capture the lighting so you'll just have to trust me on that. I sorta wish I had my regular camera except I still don't know enough about lighting to really capture it. I did get caught in a short cloud burst on my walk home. Ducked into the bushes as I knew it would pass quickly. Here I am hiding out in the brush... not the most flattering photo, but you aren't supposed to look good after a run, right? I've also come to accept that no matter how thin or how old I get, I will probably always have those darn chubby cheeks...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

I'm about to go out and enjoy a run on this absolutely beautiful spring Colorado day! First I wanted to wish you Happy Earth Day. I should have something enlightening to say today, but I don't.

I did stop by Natural Grocers this morning on the way home from the gym. They are giving away free reusable bags with purchase for Earth Day.

Old Navy is also giving away free reusable bags if you use your Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic card (which I admit to having & loving... Matt buys most of his work clothes at Banana Republic and then I get to use the "rewards" for shopping at Athleta for me!). Plus you get 20% off anything you can fit in the bag.

Enjoy your day!

(And I'll try to post some of our favorite chickpea recipes tomorrow or this weekend!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chickpeas

When I titled this post, I couldn't help remember that I originally wanted to name Nina Sprinkles "Chickpea" when she was a teeny, tiny puppy... but that isn't what I intended to blog about...

I started cooking my own beans last summer after reading Mark Bittman's book Food Matters (as recommended to me by my sister-in-law who happens to be celebrating her birthday today - Happy Birthday!). He emphasized the importance of beans in our diet, and I started making a conscious effort to eat more. I started buying heirloom quality beans from Rancho Gordo (also recommended to my by my sister-in-law & their boxes make fun gifts), and wow! there is a big difference in "good" beans vs. regular old grocery store dried beans!

The only problem is that I live in the same convenience world as everyone else, and the process of soaking and cooking beans every time I wanted some seemed a bit much. It was much easier to pull out a can of beans from the pantry, open them, and dump them in whatever I was making. So I started making big batches of beans and freezing them in individual containers about the same size as a can of beans. Just as convenient, less expensive, healthier (no BPA from the cans!), and no more work than making a single batch of beans.

We go through a lot of chickpeas in this family (Jack is crazy about them. Picks them out of any dish to eat individually.), and it was time to make another batch this week. Thought I would share my process (I should have taken more photos... it never occurs to me until I'm halfway through the process!)
  • I get my dried chickpeas from our local Natural Grocer (I now get heirloom beans locally at Extraordinary Ingredients, although I still order occasionally from Rancho Gordo) and usually make 2 bags at a time.
  • I sort and soak the chickpeas for at least 24 hours (no scientific reason I soak them so long, I just think they are better soaked longer).
  • Dump them into a big pot, cover with a few inches of water, bring to a boil, then simmer for several hours (it takes about 6 hours at this altitude!). The chickpeas will be edible but may not have that creamy taste. Turn off the heat and let the chickpeas cool slowly (I usually put the pot in the fridge to cool all night). That's when mine turn creamy.
  • After they are cooled, I put 2 cups (that's a tad more than a can of beans but a few extra beans never hurt, right?) along with some pot juice in ziploc storage containers and freeze.
  • When I need a can of chickpeas, I pull out a container, defrost it, rinse the beans and use!

Monday, April 19, 2010

No Rest Days

Between the spring clean out, the new sewing machine, the new training schedule, and family events, I haven't had a whole lot of spare time this last week. The email, voicemail, laundry and dirty dishes are stacking up pretty quickly!

It has been good for me to be back on a plan for running (not being on a plan was not working so well!). I'm using workouts from Run Less Run Faster since their 3 runs a week plus 2 cross-training days works well for both another half marathon and a triathlon. I also got to do a bonus run last week when the Colorado Running Company hosted Dimity on her Run Like a Mother book tour. Got my book signed and even got my photo on their blog. :)
Matt took me shopping last Wednesday and bought me my first road bike (unless you count my Schwinn ten-speed that I had when I was 8ish). I was going to be happy with a cheapie bike, but Matt loves to road bike and wanted to pick out a tad fancier one. We went for our first ride (about 10 miles for me - Matt took a long route home) on Thursday morning. Since I haven't even been on a road bike since my friend Marc took me in college (and had to push me up the hills while continuing to ride his own bike!), it felt a bit wobbly to be on such thin tires. We have a date night ride planned for this week.

We spent the weekend in the mountains with one of Matt's college friends and his family. It was probably our last weekend of skiing this season. It was a beautiful weekend - look at my snow babies skiing in just their sweaters! And hardly enough snow to ski all the way down!
Lots on the schedule today. A little sewing in between loads of laundry. Meeting my friend Kristen at the gym late morning then grocery shopping. Promised Jack that I would take him to the skate park after preschool, and tonight is my weekly swim during the kids' swim lessons (Looking forward to using my new swim cap). Phew! Might have to sneak a nap in there somewhere...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Tax Day

Just for the record, I strongly dislike paying federal taxes (I don't mind paying state and local taxes as much).

However, if you bring your own mug into Starbucks today, you can get a free cup of coffee! Too bad I'm not a coffee drinker...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Back in Training

As of today I am officially "in-training" for my next half marathon in mid-July. Although my goal for this half remains the same as my Austin goal (just to cross the finish line. Which you would think would be easy since I've already done it, but I'm a little nervous as the last race was at sea level and this one is at altitude), my approach to this half marathon is going to be a little different. I'm going to have to add in a lot more cross training. And why is that?? Because I'm also registered for a sprint triathlon the end of August! Ack!

Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to use for biking.... just don't think my daisy cruiser is going to cut it...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Matt is working evenings this week which means he is home during the day which means I get to use him to get things done around the house. We are doing a massive spring clean out this week. All the clutter has to go! Usually I just pack stuff up to donate to charity, but since we are cleaning out some big items, we'll participate in our neighborhood's garage sale in 6-ish weeks.

This weekend, I came to terms with the fact that there will be no more babies in this house and cleaned out all remaining baby clothes. I was brutal. The only items I kept were coming home outfits, handmade items, and a few other favorites to eventually pass down. The cribs and strollers and jogging strollers (we have 3!) and stroller accessories are all set aside to go. Even the maternity clothes are packed to go. Whew!

Moving on to other areas today.

Coincidentally, Simple Mom is doing a Spring Clean this week also. I think I'll follow some of her leads to getting it all done.

Podcast

I'm a podcast junkie, and it is even worse since I got my iPhone. I listen to quite the variety of programs (the ever changing list is for another post). I like listen while I cook, clean, sew, work on the computer, etc. This morning while trying to organize some of my recipes, I listened to a show called Green Mama on the Christian women's Midday Connection podcast. An interesting perspective on going green. I especially liked how they ended with the social impacts of going green.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Another Jackism

Tonight as we were getting ready for bed, Jack came walking in with his PJ bottoms sliding down to his knees and says, "Mom! These pants are too big for me. They keep leaking down my legs!"

PS - it is very lucky that the little devil is so cute or he might not be alive... this afternoon he cut a hole in the middle of the quilt I am piecing together... argh!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Thinking

Conversation with Jack after dropping Kate off at school this morning...

"Mommy, can I please watch some TV when we get home?"

"Let me think about it, Jack."

Pause, Pause

"Okay, Mommy, but will you just think about the times I was fun, not the times I was whining?"

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Love Choices

"Mommy, which do you love better? Your new sewing machine or your computer?"

Yup... that was the question my daughter asked me yesterday evening. And I'm not sure how I would answer. In fact, if the house was on fire and I pull 2 things from the flames, I'd have to ponder whether it would be my sewing machine and my computer or my 2 kids...*

I'm just about done with my first project. I just have a little hand sewing left. It is a simple but cute little doll quilt. I'll post a photo when I'm done. And I'm already on to my second project! So don't be surprised if I disappear for awhile. I will probably be far to busy sewing to blog (or cook or do laundry!)

*In reality, this wouldn't be a difficult decision at all. The kids could get out on their own while I carried my machines. Maybe the kids could even carry some of the accessories for me!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

March Reading List

I have so many books on my to-read list that it is almost overwhelming! I feel like I need an entire summer by myself at a lake house or the beach where I have nothing to do but read all day...

The Velveteen Principles - Not enlightening and a bit silly, although it did cause me to pull out our copy of The Velveteen Rabbit and read it to the kids. One of my favorite stories.

The Doctor's Wife - eh... extramarital affairs, abortion, murder. Just didn't connect with the characters.

The Imaginary Girlfriend - John Irving is one of my favorite authors, and like all of his books, I enjoyed this one. Even with all the wrestling descriptions.

Run Like a Mother - co-authored by my friend Dimity. Fun book. Sorta like a cross between reading a magazine and talking to good friend. Full of practical tips and advice. Acknowledges the universal challenges of motherhood and running. Gave me assurance that I'm doing okay (sometimes I feel blah that I run so slow!) and inspiration to keep running.

Love Among the Ruins - Another book based in Minnesota (is it a popular setting or am I just unconsciously drawn to them?). I really enjoyed this book. The authors descriptions of emotions could make you feel them deeply. I found quote after quote that resonated with me, but it was a bit of a slow read as I read some paragraphs over and over. (I also admit to having to use the dictionary on several occasions!) A few of my favorites...
"But in love - and what else is there to call such regard, such attentiveness, such constant mindfulness? - everything is a sign, an augury that demands interpretation. Nor does it brook any gaps in its knowledge: A silence is not a silence but a message; an absence is not an absence but a reminder of presence elsewhere; the failure of something to occur does not suggest that it is as yet undone, but that a different thing altogether has been willed."

"He marveled at the recurrence of this sensation in himself after so many years. It struck him that it was almost exactly like the feeling he had when he recalled something from the past that was lost to him and the combination of sweetness and futile longing catalyzed into something that went uncomfortably beyond nostalgia or sentiment; that if gone into deeply enough could turn to grief and even despair, not so much for any one person, but for everything he had wanted and that had failed to be. Not pangs of love, but of mourning, the one pretty much indistinguishable from the other, except by the time of life in which they struck you."

"That is not wistfulness or nostalgia or sentimentality. It is grasping the hard fact that time runs in only one direction, that we have already died a thousand deaths and will die a thousand more, and that there is no remedy for it but love, though we are sure we have never seen love except in the rearview mirror, in the sad and tawdry puddle at the bottom of the glass."

Monday, April 05, 2010

Sew Excited!

Didn't I just blog that I needed a new/different sewing machine??

I have been looking at sewing machines for well over a year. I've gone to lots of quilt and craft stores in town to try out the various brands and models, I've researched sewing machines online extensively, and I've asked everyone I know who sews what they like/don't like about their machines. Last fall I demo'd the Bernina 440 Quilters Edition. Big mistake. I loved it, but it cost double the most what I had mentally budgeted for a machine. I couldn't justify spending the money, so I sorta quit shopping for sewing machines. I continued to look on Ebay and Craig's List for any used machines, but nothing worked for me.

Last week I was reading this blog post about thread. I clicked to the company's site and looked at Colorado dealers. I found High Country Quilts which is the only quilt store in town that I had not visited (no particular reason why, just hadn't been there). I saw that they carried Bernina machines and decided I needed to go look. If couldn't get my dream machine, I could still get something significantly better than what I currently have (a Riccar sewing machine that I purchased 15 years ago with my first paycheck after college - they don't even make bobbins for it anymore!).

I was in no hurry but one afternoon I just felt a pull to go look. I immediately liked the lady helping me (Karen). Not intimidating at all like at some other places I had been. But the best news of all? She had just returned from a quilting cruise where they used the Bernina 440QE and were selling these barely used machines for just over cost. I listened to all the info and practiced a few stitches. Then I tried the BSR. Done. Sold. I bought one! It was still a bit more than I had planned to spend, but I feel like it is completely worth it.

I feel like the planets aligned for me. All the delay and waiting and procrastination was for a reason. Coincidentally, I'm reading 2 books right now both titled "Everything Happens for a Reason." This isn't any life changing event, but I can still feel that energy. Or maybe it is just my giddy excitement.

I even went to an intro class over the weekend. Now what to sew first...

Saturday, April 03, 2010

2010 Personal (R)evolutions Review

April. Can you believe that 2010 is a quarter done? Here's where I stand with my resolutions...
  1. Run a 1/2 marathon DONE!!
  2. Run a 5K in my goal time The 5Ks are eluding me. Just a matter of time before I fit one in.
  3. Go to yoga 1-2x/week I did great going to yoga in January, slacked off a bit in February, and haven't been at all in March. I'm already wondering how to go this summer when the kids are out of school. The studio I like is adding a room, so maybe the new schedule will miraculously cure my attendance issues.
  4. Check off two more states towards my goal of visiting all 50 This is NOT going well. My big Lake Michigan summer plans are patoot, and I haven't come up with a good reason to see any other states yet. But the year is still young.
  5. Visit 2 new national parks with the kids Scheduled. Canyonlands NP in June and Acadia NP in August. We might even sneak in a 3rd park visit.
  6. Make a quilt. I started cutting pieces, but now I need a new (or different!) sewing machine.

Friday, April 02, 2010

House Plants Love Easter

Save that water that you use to boil your Easter eggs and use it to water your houseplants. The eggs leak minerals into the water that plants just love. I do this at least twice a week as Jack LOVES hard-boiled eggs (We call them Utah eggs in our house. Jack started calling them that after learning to love them in Moab. The hotel we stay at every year has the eggs on their breakfast buffet). I'd probably forget to water my plants if the pot water didn't remind me! Just make sure the water has cooled down first!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Back Together Soon

I was gone with the kids last week for spring break, we returned Saturday afternoon, and Matt left for a conference in DC early Sunday morning before we woke up. He's been away all week and returns today, but I am heading up to the mountains this morning to take care of some issues. I won't stay long, and finally our little family will be back together after 2 long weeks apart!