"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philipians 3:13b,14

Monday, February 28, 2011

Homemade Energy Bars

Around our house, these are called "Candice Bars" because my friend Candice was the one who showed me this recipe :)

I started looking for a homemade energy bar recipe when I was doing more intense training for a race, because store bought bars are REALLY expensive. Also, Wade likes taking a bar for breakfast every day, and both of my boys like them for snacks.

Here's what you need to make them:

Rolled oats (old fashioned regular oatmeal), Rice Krispies, dry roasted peanuts, dry roasted sunflower seeds, dried fruit (I used dried cranberries and golden raisins, but you can use whatever you like/have), wheat germ (optional, but good), peanut butter (I use creamy because I think crunchy is gross), brown sugar, vanilla, and honey

First, you want to get a large mixing bowl, and put in 2 cups of rolled oats, 2 cups of Rice Krispies, 2 cups of dried fruit (I only use about 1- 1 1/2 cups), 1/2 cup peanuts, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, and 1/4 cup wheat germ:

See how many good, healthy, yummy ingredients are in these suckers??

Then you want to mix it all up- I used my big spoonula, or you could use a spatula or your hands:

Next, you need to make the topping. Now, you have two options- I use double the topping ingredients, and the bars are more like a cliff bar- all of the ingredients are coated with the topping. Or you can use the regular amount, and it's a little more like a chewy granola bar. Your choice.

So in a microwave-safe bowl, you'll put either 1/2 cup (for the chewy granola bar-type bars) or a full cup (for the cliff bar-type bars) of each; peanut butter, brown sugar, and honey:

Microwave it for 1 minute, then stir, then microwave for another minute. Then add the 1 tsp of vanilla, and stir until smooth:

Then you want to pour the topping into the dry ingredients, and mix it until it's all evenly coated:

Then dump it all into a 9x13 pan that you've lightly coated with Pam spray and push it all in so it's even and packed into the pan:

At this point, what I like to do it throw some foil on top and stick the pan in the fridge for an hour or so. This makes the bars easier to cut and to wrap. (I like to wrap mine individually in saran wrap because I think snacks that are easier to grab and go are more likely to be consumed )

Ok, so while the bars are chilling, let me tell you what I've been thinking about. My workout routine. So below is my current routine:

Tuesday- swim
Wednesday- trail run
Thursday- bike, and usually afternoon tempo run
Friday- road run
Saturday- long bike
Sunday- long run

I'm thinking about adding a weight lifting workout 3 times per week (and maybe dropping the swim. Oh how I would love to drop the swim), so I've got to look at my schedule and see where I can fit that in. I found an awesome full body weight lifting routine, and a great app on my phone (I have a Droid X- love it!) where you can enter your weight routine and then keep track of your reps and sets. My thinking is that I will add this routine 3 times/week for the month of March, and then evaluate at the end of the month whether it's something to do for April. (if I look all buff and awesome by April, I'm TOTALLY keeping it! hahahaha!!) After I do the workout a few times, if I like it, I'll post it here so you can try it too if you want. :)

(we now return to our previously scheduled program..........)

So then I cut the bars (I make 16 per batch) and wrap each in a square of saran wrap (or you could put them in sandwich-sized ziploc bags):

I like to store them in the fridge in a plastic container. They are great for biking or hiking, good for lunch box snacks, and nice to have on hand for a quick, easy breakfast! :)

I LOVE when I can find ways to make things we would normally buy at the store at home. They usually taste better, save money, and you can make them how you like them! :)

Dinner Tonight-
~Chicken, Cashew, and Red Pepper Stir Fry (from Cooking Light Magazine)
~Brown Rice (steamed in a rice cooker)

Do you work out? If so, what is your usual routine? If not, what would you like to do?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rocky Road 100- crewing and pacing

Yesterday morning started with me sleeping in in my nice, warm, cozy bed! Not so for my friend Justin... he laced up his shoes in the cold morning and started running. With plans to KEEP running for 100 miles!
So we met up with him at mile 45. He was looking great!
It was a beautiful day, despite some rain early on. I took the mile 45-60 pacer job, Ron took the 60-75, Willem took the 75-90, and Candice took 90-100! Kristin came out too, and she ran with a gal that needed someone to help her stay awake from mile 90-100, and Kristin was PERFECT for the job! She ran the  lady in to a 3rd place spot in the ladies division!! As the day wore on into night, Justin had to fight fatigue, knee pain, and some gnarly blisters, but he kept a good attitude and kept putting one foot in front of the other! His wife Candice was an awesome support! Several friends came out to pace him, cheer him on, and crew. We were all extremely proud of him and were so thrilled to see him cross the finish line and colllect his belt buckle! We had to help Justin to the truck, his legs and feet were totally spent
Seeing Justin complete his first hundred is such a great reminder of how self-imposed most of our limitations are! It inspires me to find things that challenge me and tackle them! :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Housewifery Part 1- Creating a Routine

So, I have to tell you something.

I am lazy.

It is something I've learned to overcome (most of the time), but deep down, it's always there.

And here's something else.... I'm a housewife. That term doesn't bother me at all. Actually I kind of like it. I know it conjures up all kinds of stereotypes involving bon bons and soap operas, but that's ok, I don't fit any of those. So ha.

When I quit my job to be a housewife in 1999, I knew within a few weeks that I needed to create some kind of structure for my day, because I would often sleep in really late, watch a lot of TV, and then scramble to get all of my chores done late in the day. (at this time in our life, we actually go rid of our TV for about 3 years!)

I read a few books on the subject, and began to realize that I needed to see my time as a commodity to be scheduled, planned with, and budgeted, just like money. I couldn't just decide whether or not I would have time to do something based on how I felt, I would need to put together a basic framework of the things I had to do so that I could see how much time I had left over for discretionary activities.

I understand that some people are naturally organized, and may not need such a structured schedule, but if you are constantly feeling like you get to the end of your day and still have a million things to do, and if you feel overwhelmed by the basic chores of running your house, a scheduled routine may be just what you need!

After I put together a structured schedule, it was so freeing!! I could no longer claim I "didn't have time" to do certain basic things, because I saw how much time I did have, and how wastefully I was spending that time.  It allowed me, instead,  to choose how I was going to use my hours and minutes, as opposed to just attending to the problem that was howling the loudest for my attention. Charles Hummel calls this the "Tyranny of the Urgent", this way of spending your time. You don't have a plan, so you just address the activities that seem the most urgent each day. And you and I both know that these things will press in on your time. Things that seem urgent.

So how do you go about creating a schedule or routine? For me, I started with 15 minute blocks of time, and almost immediately went to half hour blocks of time. I found a template, like this:


Then I filled it in! I would start with the things that you NEED to do first. I made one copy of the schedule for each day of the week, because there were some days that had certain activities that weren't an every day thing, like grocery shopping, or bible study, things like that. This was particularly helpful in establishing a home school routine, and an exercise routine. I would review the next day's schedule before I went to bed the night before, this way I was prepared for what was ahead! And if someone called wanting to have lunch, or needing me to take a meal to a family, or wanting me to go to the park, I could easily look at my schedule and tell if; (1) I had the time to do that thing, and (2) how much time I could commit to doing something. I could also move some chores and responsibilities around if I had time slots available to do so.

I don't follow a strict schedule anymore, mostly because it has become almost innate after doing it for many years. I usually create a schedule at the beginning of the school year, for the purpose of seeing what activities will fit, and where. Writing this though, makes me think I should pull out my schedule and follow it strictly for a few weeks and see how much more I could get done!

If you are married, I would really encourage you to block off a few half hour segments each week to do things that would help your husband. It's really nice to be able to ask him, "hey, is there anything I could do today that would make your life easier?" Sometimes there won't be anything they need, but often they could benefit from some errands being run, looking up information that they need for work, certain articles of clothing being clean, or just making something special for dinner! I have used my "Wade" blocks of time to pick up his favorite magazine and a nice card for him to find in his lunch pail, or on the counter when he gets home. It's nice to have some time specifically set aside to care for your husband. :)

I would  also encourage you to think (really get alone and think) about your time, and how you spend it. Sit for awhile and figure out what things are important to you. Is it time with your kids? Exercise? Cooking more? Having some down time to read? Make up your schedule, and see, realistically, how you can fit the things you want to do around the things you have to do. One thing I decided a long time ago is that, to me, relationships with other people are a priority. You're not just going to magically have time to invest in relationships with others though, so for me, I started out with picking one day of the week and trying to purposefully spend an hour with someone I don't see very often. Lunch, or coffee, or whatever. It was really eye opening how I could EASILY do that with a little bit of planning! I picked some time, didn't schedule other things during that time, and I had the freedom to call friends and see if they wanted to spend an hour together!

I am definitely NOT perfect at keeping my routine every single day. No one is (even if they seem like it). But it's just like starting to budget your money- establishing what your goals are, and making a plan to accomplish them, IS important.

Elisabeth Elliot talks about time, in her book, Discipline and explains that there are two ancient concepts of time,
"One, expressed by the Greek word chronos, refers to "the minutes of our hours" or the notion of duration and succession. The other, kairos, is what Dr. James Houston calls "time evaluated," signifying instrumentation and purpose. "Man needs to see himself significant in the light of events, of kairos, seeing himself hopefully in the context of a greater reality that his own temporality, of chronos."

In other words, we need to spend the minutes and hours of our lives doing something meaningful, something with purpose and with lasting value. We shouldn't fritter away our days putting out the next fire that stems from our own poor planning. (ouch, that hits home with me- I have so often been guilty of this!)

We only have so much time in our lives. We should make every effort to spend it doing things that matter.

Grilled Chicken
Homemade tortillas

Thursday, February 24, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza, Leaks, and Blooms........

This pizza is good.

Really good.

You should make it, because you already have the crust made, right?? :) You DID make whole wheat pizza dough already, didn't you? (check out yesterday's post if you missed it!! )

(so I showed the kids all the pizza photos, and they declared this one to look the most delicious) (poor them, having a crazy mom who makes them look at photos of food) :)

So here's what you need to make it!

Pizza dough for one crust (either half of the recipe from yesterday, or you could buy ready-made dough or a ready to bake crust), 1 chicken breast (mine's in the container chopped up because I already had it cooked when I took the pic), 2 tomatoes, your favorite BBQ sauce, mozzarella or monterey jack cheese, and cilantro. If you live with people that like red onion (and if you do... LUCKY!) red onion is great on this pizza!

So first, you want to cook one chicken breast. I just throw mine in a pan, slap some BBQ sauce on top, cover it with foil, and bake it at 375 for 45 minutes:

Then chop it up and it's ready to go!!

(also, I usually chop up the tomatoes and grate the cheese earlier in the day so that when it's time to make dinner, it's all ready to assemble. You don't have to do that, just an idea...)

Ok, so now you want to get out a pizza pan or a pizza stone and spray it with Pam(and also preheat the oven to 400 degrees):

(ok, am I the only one who is entirely sicked out by pizza stones?? They look gross after you use them ,and you can't scrub them with dish soap..... but whatever. They make great pizza, so I use one. It still sort of gives me the heebeejeebees though)

I thawed my pizza dough on the counter for about 5 hours, then stuck it in the fridge until right before I was ready to use it. So plop the pizza dough on the stone or pan, and roll/pat it out to the edges of the pan. If it doesn't stay put (like, it keeps shrinking back up) let it rest for a few minutes, then try again.:

Then take your favorite BBQ sauce (this is my favorite I LOVE it!)

(you are getting hungry...... veeeerrrry hungry.......)
Then I put it in sort of spiral pattern around the pizza and spread it all over. I don't like tons of sauce, but do it however you like it!

Then I put half the cheese, then the toppings, then the other half of the cheese. I would say I do about 3 cups of shredded cheese, one chopped chicken breast, two tomatoes (if they're a decent size). I save a few tomatoes to put on top of the last layer of cheese. The cilantro goes on after the pizza bakes.

(My cheese grater is so old and broken. I should really get a new one.)

So now you want to bake it for about 25-30 minutes....just keep an eye on it after 25 minutes. Don't let the cheese get too brown but you want the crust to brown slightly.

Ok, I took a ridiculous number of pictures. Hilarious.

By the way, I think the kitchen sink is fixed. My husband crawled under there last night after dinner and started taking apart the garbage disposal (that is SUCH a guy thing- nothing would posses me to take apart something like that) and  he was like, "oh, clearly it's the blah-diddy-blah flange and the do-hicky thingy here!" (ok, ok that's not what he actually said, but that's what I heard) So now I just have to leave all the kitchen stuff out on the floor until tonight to make sure it's really fixed and then I can put it all back. Whew!!

....and also.... LOOK!! My apricot tree is blooming- it's SO gorgeous!!

Have a nice day!!

P.S.- I cannot get the "dinner tonight" box thing to cooperate so I will just post the dinner tonight at the end of each blog entry!

Vegetable Chowder (from freezer cooking day!)
French Bread

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

EASY Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (FREEZABLE!)

I like pizza.

I know it's not as good for you as, say, brussel sprouts or cod liver oil, but still.....

.....I like it.

My family's favorite is BBQ Chicken Pizza, which I am going to show you how to make tomorrow!

But first, here's how to make pizza dough (this is the dough we made on freezer cooking day).....

This recipe will make two crusts, which you can either bake the same day you make them, or you can freeze them for later, or put them in the fridge if you're going to use them within a day or two.

Here's what you need:

Whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil, and warm water

First, put 1 1/2 cups warm water into the bowl of your Kitchen Aid mixer, and sprinkle 4 1/2 tsp yeast over the top (if you're using packets of yeast, that's 2 packets). Then give it a few minutes until the yeast looks nice and foamy:

Then you want to pour in 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tsp sea salt, and 2 TB sugar, and give it all a quick whisk:

Then you need 2 cups of whole wheat flour, and 2 cups all purpose flour, then put the bowl on the mixer, and knead with the dough hook for 4 or 5 minutes (you can tell it's the right consistency when it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and climbs up the dough hook):

Then you will take the blob of dough out and put it into an oiled bowl (I used olive oil) and turn it once to coat it so the top has oil on it too:

While the dough is rising, I have a confession to make.

I thought about doing a blog for a while before I actually made one.

And I used to think- if I make a blog, I want to be REAL. I want people who know me in person to think that the blog sounds like the real me. I want to seem like a genuine version of myself (does that make sense?)

So in the interests of that, I am going to show you the mayhem that was my kitchen last night. (we have time, don't worry, the pizza dough has to rise for like 40 minutes).

So my dear husband, whom I love with all my heart, asked me to make him some iced lemon pound cake yesterday. So I got all the ingredients out and planned it into my dinner cooking time. So then he texts me several times during the morning asking if I can bake a Key Lime Pie for his boss. I considered saying no, but I have this problem. I have a really hard time saying no to Wade (mostly because he is cute and also he is the love of my life) so I went and bought key limes (which, amazingly, was the only ingredient I needed to buy in order to make the pie). So I am cooking iced lemon pound cake, BBQ chicken pizza (which I was taking photos of for tomorrow's blog entry), key lime pie, and THEN.....

...water starts leaking out of the cabinet under the sink!!!!!! AAAHHHH!!!!!! Here's a photo overview:

...soooooo long story short, the pound cake still got iced, the key lime pie got baked and whip creamed, the dinner got made and was eaten, and the wood under the sink dried out and Wade is fixing the leak. But there were a few moments when I had to take a deeeeeep breath (and then laugh, because really, what else is there to do? Plus I knew I could eat cake in a few hours....)

Wow, huge digression...... but all of that to say- stuff happens. It's ok. Just keep at what you're doing and laugh a lot. Life is better that way.  Ok, ok, back to the pizza crust. :) .......

Then let it rise for about 40 minutes, it should about double in size:

Then you want to divide the dough into two balls(sort of squish all the air out of the dough as you make the balls):

Ok, so now at this point you have three options!!

Option 1- make two pizzas now. So you would take the dough right now and pat/roll it onto two oiled pizza pans, top the crust with sauce and toppings, and bake (most pizzas bake at 400 for about 25 minutes)

Option 2- put the dough into two Ziploc bags, take all the air out, and stick them in the fridge to use later today or in the next day or so. The dough will still rise somewhat, you may need to put it in its place a few times so it doesn't blob its way out of the bag. (in other words, squish the air out of it and reseal the bag :)

Option 3- put the plate with the two dough balls into the freezer until they're reasonably frozen, then put the two frozen dough balls into two Ziploc bags and put them back into the freezer. When you want to use the dough, either put it in the fridge a day or two before you want to use it, or I've just stuck it on the counter the morning I want to use it and it's ready to go by dinner! (this option is what I did today)

My freezer looks scary and UFO-like!!

Yay- two pizza crusts waiting to be made into future dinners!! :)

Have a great day! :)