Wednesday, July 27, 2011

piece of lake

On Wednesday mornings just after 6am you'll find me at Rigby Lake with my suit, goggles, cap and, just because I'm lucky like that, friends who are a little bit crazy, just like me.
And it is beginning to be my favorite part of the week.
Sure, biking on Monday morning out to the country, speeding past farms and cattle and cricks (yep. that's how they pronounce that word here.) was wonderful.
And yes, my new Asics (!!!lovesofmylife!!!) took me down to and around the greenbelt again on Tuesday morning.
But I think I am hooked on open water, freezing cold and a quite intimidating though it may be. There is just something about the quiet and calm contrasted with the power I feel slicing through the lake.
And you can't beat the scenery. Campers aren't awake yet. No families out swimming. No one but us. And nature-y critters, too. This morning I literally swam past a huge bald eagle perched on a tree on the lake's edge. It was like he was cheering me on.
Or maybe he was deciding what to eat for breakfast ("Hello Mr. Eagle. Please don't try to eat me.")

Sunday, July 24, 2011

let me count the ways

Is there anything better than a backyard bbq? There seriously isn't, right?
Friends, food, drinks, games, laughs.
It's all there.
The menu:
Grilled Flank Steak
Green Salad
Blue Cheese Soufflé**
...I don't know who makes soufflé for a bbq.
I mean, I do. I guess.
Anyway, it was delicious and lovely and I hope to repeat the experience again soon (the soufflé and the bbq-ing with friends.)
**If you are impressed (Shoot, I'm impressed!) and want to try this recipe, I implore you to watch this before you do. It is incredibly enlightening and will put you at ease. Julia is my hero.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

where's willy?

Confession: From ages 8 to 13 I wanted to be a marine biologist. But not just any marine biologist: I wanted to be a trainer with the killer whales at Sea World.
For real.
I went to sea camp and dissected fish and squid, I was a strong swimmer, I had a Free Willy poster in my bedroom: I was ready.
Although none of my riding-on-the-back-of-a-whale-while-waving-at-a-packed-crowd-of-Asian-tourists dreams came true, we still managed to have a great time at Sea World a few weeks ago. That is, except for when we waited in the hot sun for an hour for the Shamu Show, which is now super lame and touchy-feely (Save the Whales meets Beauty Pageant meets Haight-Ashbury) and totally bizarre. A few interesting facts:
+Intervention. Carter is terrified of big fuzzy characters who try to hug and kiss her. Go figure.
+Eight. That is how many coats of sunscreen it takes to keep K and C from turning into quite convincing lobster impersonators during a day at Sea World.
+36. That is Avery's current approximate height in inches.
+42. That is the height in inches that you must be in order to have any fun at Sea World that doesn't involve poking a mollusk.
I could have been best friends with a whale.

follow one simple rule

Just thought you should know that I had a hot date up to the Playmill Theater in West Yellowstone last month. The play was... well, it was High School Musical. We should have known better. But the company? Outstanding.


I am hosting a dinner party tomorrow evening, and this morning I am wondering if my guests will ever know that
+This morning my kitchen looked like this because I had a Bloomsbury meeting last night, then I went to the 9:45 showing of Harry Potter with K, Camie and Wyatt instead of doing the dishes and picking up the house...+The flank steak I am going to marinate and grill is locally raised, free-range, grass-fed beef (mmmm)...
+I have been dying to try this Blue Cheese Souffle recipe for nearly a year now...
+They are going to be my souffle guinea pigs, since I have never attempted anything like this before...
+And however much I love cooking for friends, I would rather be here crying over this. Again.
I hope they don't suspect.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

oh fudge!

Yesterday I made Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice cream. You know, to go along with this.
Okay, not really.
But I did make it because I promised my sister-in-law, Mandy, that I would bring a treat up to Rexburg yesterday to celebrate the end of my school year, and this is what I decided upon.
AND I made it because we are both PBChoc Enthusiasts. We get together often to talk about the heavenly combination of rich, creamy peanut butter with smooth, decadent chocolate. We discuss at length how it is a match made in heaven. How chocolate without peanut butter, and vice versa, only reaches a smidgen of its full potential. But together they can do no wrong...
Shoot. I did it, didn't I? I went to my happy place and creeped you out just a little bit, huh?
Anyway, this recipe is a bit too rich and almost ice cold chocolate-pudding like. When I make it again I will cut out some of the chocolate and sugar, and maybe cook it a little bit less (in the directions when she says the consistency will be like chocolate pudding, I think she means BEFORE choc pudding sets. Like when you are still cooking it. And not like the finished product pudding.) and I think it will be perfect. However, as is it definitely still did the trick.
Is there an ice cream recipe that you love? I have made ice cream four times since I acquired this beautiful machine (thanks mom!!), but I am always looking for the perfect recipe. My favorite so far has been this Buttermilk Ice Cream. Holy cow is it good! It is creamy and tangy and rich and... yeah. I am going to go make some right now. I think I have a new food obsession.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

run, don't walk

Nothing makes pushing hard on that last mile easier than knowing that you are running home to this.Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread.
At 100 calories per slice.
Well, a teeny bit more if you eat it hot and covered in Smart Balance Spread, like someone I know.For real, you guys.I love this for breakfast after a run with a glass of milk and a piece of fruit. After all, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, peanut butter has protein, bananas, potassium.
I also replace one cup of the whole wheat flour with some flax seed meal and ground wheat germ, which ups its protein and omega-3 quotient.
I dare you not to make this today.
Good luck with that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

alice cooper, eat your heart out

I finished my last final of the semester this morning! It feels amazing to be done until January!! Now I can finally say that School is indeed Out for the Summer.
But not forever. And I am okay with that.
Because I know after a few fun-filled months with these two I will be recharged and ready to delve back into classic literature and analytical essays. Until then, however, all I hope to delve into is a swimming pool and a box of Big Sticks.

course angels

My amazing friend Livi sent me a link to this video after reading this post and I just had to share. Mostly because it has an amazing message, but also because I would love for someone out there to tell me that I am not the only one who bawled through it.
I love Sister Dalton's message and believe it with all of my heart. A good friend of mine, Camie, taught me as I was training for my triathlon about "Course Angels". She described them as people and circumstances that would help me to cross the finish line, and she promised me that if I looked closely enough I would be able to see the hand of God in my course. She was right, and I have tried to apply that knowledge and advice in my daily life. After all, the Lord did promise us this help. He said, "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." Our Heavenly Father is over all, and he usually helps us through other people put in our path to make the burdens we each carry easier.

never knewd

I can't believe I forgot to tell you! I guess between school and kids and training and insanity it slipped my mind. Well, it's time you knew.
I ran a 10K last month.
That's right. Not a 5K. 10 whole K's.
Since my triathlon (see here, here, aaand here) I really wanted to challenge myself. And since running is definitely my arch nemesis, I thought I would really try to push in that area. Leading up to the race I trained in four and five mile increments, but I had never gone the entire 6.2 miles. The morning of my race I was so nervous that I was not going to make it! I could hardly talk to the teeny tiny nineteen-year-old marathoner next to me (Not necessarily a bad thing. Had my wits truly been about me I may have had thoughts of tripping her or even trying to trick her into a Freaky Friday scenario in which we would trade bodies/lives/stamina). Around mile four, in fact, I had the strongest urge to stop. That's when I started praying. I count it a tender mercy from the Lord that I was able to find the strength to keep going, that the wind chose just that moment to pick up and blow a nice cool breeze at me from the river. The last couple of miles wound up being the most enjoyable of the race. I finished in just over an hour (one of the slowest!! like you had any doubts) and couldn't stop smiling the rest of the day.
**The picture is of me after I had changed out of my top and into my race day shirt. I really earned those red cheeks, baby!!
Next month I will be competing (I hope!) in the Rush Triathlon in Rexburg, ID. I added the I HOPE part in because, honestly, I have been SO LAZY since the 10K. I need to get back into it!! ...riiight after I make another batch of homemade ice cream (post to come!!) and catch up on some Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (also known as Diners, Drive-Ins, Dives and Douche Bags in my house. I love Guy Fieri, but the guy is a major tool. Don't look so shocked. You know it's true.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

orange you glad?

It's recipe time, boys and girls!! And I've got one for you that will do as diet food and doubles as a beautiful side for a fancy dinner party! Don't believe me? Just wait.This one has very recently become a big family favorite at my house. Got it from Jessica Seinfeld's book about hiding veggies in things. I have never seen my family gobble up veggies this quickly, and it is a super cinch to make. Go figure.
I serve it in individual quiche dishes to make it look special for company alongside Adobo Grilled Chicken (best spice rub for grilled chicken I have ever tried. Hands down. Period. The end) and a green salad.Cauliflower Gratin

1 medium head of cauliflower
1 TBS Smart Balance Spread (or Butter)
2 tsp Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese (I use whatever I have on hand)
1/2 cup butternut squash or carrot puree (usually carrot b/c it's so easy! Makes it orange and smooth and creamy - just steam 1/2 cup of chopped carrots [mini carrots from a bag are easy!] until tender, then puree in a food processor til smooth- use a bit of the steaming water to get them super smooth)
salt and pepper to taste
2 TBS grated Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blanch bite-size cauliflower pieces in boiling salted water for 2 or 3 minutes, then drain in colander, rinse in cold water (to stop cooking) and set aside.
2. In same saucepan then melt spread/butter, whisk in flour and cook over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the milk to prevent lumps and bring to a boil. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add cheddar, puree and salt and pepper.
3. Add cauliflower to cheese mixture and transfer to greased baking vessel (9in baking dish or individual ramekins). Top with grated Parm. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the gratin is bubbly and the top begins to brown. Serve immediately.

Serves six people. And each serving is only around 100 calories!! No. Joke.
Try it out and you will thank me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

like a weed

I dreamed of this back in February of 2009 when I decided to garden. But it never happened. This year, however, I was determined. And knew I would fail. But when I mentioned to my friend Laura that I had ZERO plant experience and TONS of space, she sighed with longing. Alas, Laura lives in a basement apartment with little yard and no private outside space.
"I will NEVER use up all of the room I have out back," I promised. "You can have whatever space you want!"
"Let's do it together!!" she said.
And I am so grateful.
Have been just about every day since that conversation back in late April. It has been so much fun to plan things out and work along side her. And our garden is growing BEAUTIFULLY! We have peas, lettuce, spinach, beans, radishes, onions, carrots, corn, pumpkins, zucchini, yellow squash, funky pretty squash (you know, the witch-warty kind that you put on the table in September), tomatoes (roma, slicing and teensy orange and red ones), jalapenos, tomatillos, cucumbers, Anaheim peppers, flowers, aaand... I think that's it. I head out to the garden just about every morning, noon and night just to watch things grow and get dirty and feel so proud. Avery LOVES to help, too! She built a bird nest back there and we have planted around it. See those teensy plants behind her? Yeah, those are our squash plants. Check them out! They were just babies!! And that picture was taken just about one month ago! Incredible.
We have been harvesting lettuce for quite a while, and our peas are just about ready to pick. Soon we will have way more food than we know what to do with.
Which leads me to my next adventure.
This may sound like hard labor to you, but to me it is wonderful.

muggles and wizards

Thursday was Harry Potter Day in my house, and we tried to celebrate it right! Glen came over, I made English meat'n'potato pasties, Butter Beer, and Acid Pops. K wore his evil Slytherin shirt while I donned Harry, Ron, and Hermione on mine, with Hogwarts Castle in the background. I even popped the lenses out of some old 3D glasses to make some Mrs. Harry Potter specs. Glen slept over at our place (wonderful boy!) so K and I could attend the midnight premiere and it was, for lack of a better word, MAGICAL. ...okay, fine. I'm cheesy. Like you didn't know that already. The point is that the final movie was wonderful and we had a great time with all of the other nerds in Idaho Falls.

Harry Potter means a lot to me, and it was pretty special to get to go to the final movie at midnight. I was grounded my freshman year in high school and, instead of doing my homework like a good girl, I went looking for a distraction. I found it in the form of a little paperback with a boy on a broom on the cover. After the first sentence ("Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.") I was hooked. I started reading underneath the table in biology class by day and listening to the incomparable Jim Dale read to sleep at night. I made countless arguments to friends and family that the books were ageless (NO I AM NOT WAY TOO OLD FOR THEM!!) until they finally conceded and read for themselves. I even made my brother-in-law read the first book as paying "rent" for living with us not too long ago! He was so skeptical, but go ahead and ask him if he stopped after just one book.
Anyway, seven books, eight movies, almost as many midnight releases/premieres, t-shirts, notebook doodles, Halloween costumes- you get the picture- later and I still call Harry (and Ron!!) my first (literary) love(s). It was wonderful to watch the culmination of years of enchantment come to a close on screen. Though I wasn't sobbing (like the 19-year-old girl in the seat behind me who LITERALLY could not get control of her wracking sobs and grating sniffles for the last forty minutes of the film), I may have shed a few tears for Severus and Harry and Lilly and James and Sirius and the twins and Lupin and on and on (oh, and one huge WAAAHOOOOO!! for Ron and Hermione). And then a few more as we sent James Sirius and Albus Severus off to school. It felt like saying "Goodbye" to old friends. Well, not so much "Goodbye". Maybe just "See you soon". After all, I have a couple of children of my own that I hope to send off to Hogwarts someday soon.

Monday, July 4, 2011

her majesty's a pretty nice girl

CarterMania was a huge hit! We had homemade pizza with Beatles song names (i.e. a buffalo chicken pizza was the Hey Buffalo Bill Pizza, pepperoni and sausage was Srgt. Pepperoni and Piggies Pizza, etc.), the Sprite was labeled For the Benefit of Mr. Sprite, the juice, BeatleJuice, and on and on and on. Stacy even made Strawberry Fields Forever Cookies and sent them with us!! In an air-pillow encased package and everything!! They were super delicious. Party favors were CarterMania Mix CDs, peace sign necklaces and wax mustaches. Her cake was homemade Eaton Mess which we called Goo Goo G'Joob Trifle. The decorations are not the best, but, hey! I was on vacation!! My favorite part of the party was the little book I made for everyone to write birthday messages to Carter. I hope she'll like it. You know, once she learns how to read.