Sunday, October 8, 2017

No wheat = 8 pounds

So, I gave up wheat in July.  Well, I started to give up wheat in July.  Honestly, it was a bit of a tough journey.  Because: I love bread.

But I was having some health issues and I traced them to (possibly) pizza, and I don't want it to be cheese.

Over the space of July I gradually decreased my wheat intake.  I had a few slips.  On vacation, my friends said "well, you will probably have to give it a few months to see if it really helps."  Which, yuck.  I was hoping for 2-3 weeks?

Anyway, I dedicated myself to it, with a caveat...I didn't read too many labels (I'm looking at you, Costco meatballs) for the first bit.  And...I felt better.  Very gradually, so the "wait a few months" was a good suggestion.

I happened to give up wheat at the same time I started training for my Pier to Peak uphill half marathon.  So, I started to lose weight.  I didn't actually notice - I don't get on the scale often.  But a neighbor said something and I shrugged.  Then my officemate said something and I said "hmm".  Got on the scale, and I'd lost 4-5 pounds.  Hey hey hey, that's why I needed that belt.  This happened in about 6-7 weeks, so mid-August or thereabouts.

Fast forward to the race (which sucked, of course) and then the next month.  When I had this goal to maintain my 3x a week running, and at least 6-8 miles for my long run.  It didn't happen.  In the first month I only ran 4 times, once a week, on a weekend.  The "big" run was a 10k the week after the half.  The other runs were 4.5 miles or less.

On a whim I got on the scale and it's dropped more!  I made a comment on FB about the 8 lb loss.  Of course, this results in the resident expert on my health, fitness, and body mansplaining to me (at work, no less) that of course it's the running.  Nevermind that I actually live in this body, and have for 47 years, and track myself pretty well - my exercise, and food, etc.  Anyway, with the eventual "half the weight loss was after the race, and no I'm not training anymore" he sort of shut up.  He's just lucky I didn't have PMS that week.

(Seriously, what is up with that?  I was so effing cranky and sarcastic at work this week, that I think I scared the "new guy" who has been there 9 months.  I told him I think I have PMS.  Turns out, I was right.)

Anyway, I'd like to try and reintroduce wheat/ gluten.  The first attempt did not go well.  Same issues.  This weekend, I ate those Costco meatballs, same issue.  And I had a beer.  Boy, that was a mistake.  I guess I'm going to give it a longer bit of time before I try again.  And I bought some ingredients to attempt gluten-free baking (like Xanthan gum).  I was holding off on that, hoping it was temporary.

So if you have gluten free recipes, hit me with them!  Now what to do with a half a bottle of soy sauce in my fridge.  Kids will eat the meatballs no problem.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Less Waste Wins / Losses + Salad Dressing recipe

In my quest to implement some of the strategies for generating less waste (from the book Zero Waste Home), I started going to stores with bulk bins more often.

I haven't quite gotten the energy to ask if I can bring my own containers and have them weigh them to subtract the tare.  However, I did realize that I tend to buy the same things over and over.  So there's another way!

Instead, today I went to Sprouts.  One of the things I regularly buy there is bulk oats (on sale 0.69/lb, regular price 1.29/lb).  The last time I bought the oats, I simply saved the plastic bag and the twist tie with the number on it.  I put this bag inside a container in my cupboard.  Today, I reused the bag and the twist tie.  I am hoping to do that with, well, everything.  At least until I figure out if I can bring my own containers.  I bought a large amount of 4-cup soup containers from Amazon a year ago, and they really would be perfect for bulk bins.

I also bought quinoa and pinto beans (in new bags that I will reuse).  I may or may not have saved the chocolate peanut cluster bag too...you know, for future needs.

The final "reuse" of the day was the olive bar - I saved the plastic container from last week, washed and dried it, and reused it.  Of course I carried the groceries out in my reusable grocery bag.

As far as "refuse" goes, I refused to buy strawberries in a plastic container.  Instead I bought a cantaloupe.  I also didn't get a bag for the red bell pepper.

I'm eventually going to let the cantaloupe rind rot...aka, I'm going to start composting again.

This weekend I bought eggs at the farmer's market - I can return the egg container to the vendor and they will reuse it.

On the negative side, the baby cucumbers came in a bag.  They didn't have any loose ones.  My weekly veggie delivery was accidentally short this week, and we are running out.  Next week will be HUGE, which I was excited about.  Until I just found out hubby will be gone all week.  Oh well, lots more for me and the boys.

Finally, the bread came in a bag.  I really need to figure out if I can regularly make a sandwich bread at home that my husband likes.  We get so many damn bread bags.

After dinner I made another batch of salad dressing.  Making your own dressing is easy, healthy, and generates less waste.  While I haven't quite figured out how to get vinegar or olive oil in bulk (as in, bring your own container), I do buy 2L bottles of olive oil at Costco and buy vinegar in glass jars.

This salad dressing is my favorite.  It's so tasty, and this time of year, I get parsley and garlic and lemons every week.  Instead of buying bottled salad dressing and "recycling" (downcycling), I just reuse the same glass bottle every week.

The dressing started from this recipe from Beachbody.  I've altered it.  Because I get a lot of parsley.

Lemon-Parsley-Garlic Vinaigrette.
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 large cloves garlic, pressed
1 bunch parsley, washed and de-stemmed (a pain, but worth it)
1 tsp or so of honey or sugar.  I use local honey.  And I just scoop out some with a regular spoon.
1 tsp of mustard (you know I eyeballed this).  I use brown mustard, but dijon works too
pinch himalayan salt

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend!  It comes out creamy and delicious and very very green.  The vibrant green goes away over a week or two, but it still tastes great.  I don't skimp on this either.  I eat a large bowl of salad for lunch every day, and believe me, I'm not measuring out 1 TBSP of dressing.  I think my dressing container holds at least 2 TBSP.

Sometimes I use the immersion blender to make the dressing.  It's not as smooth.

This dressing will harden up in the fridge because of the olive oil.  Let it sit at room temp to thaw before you use it.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Vegetarian Bean & Rice casserole with sweet potatoes and peppers

So, how did I avoid plastic and trash today?  Today I ran a race.  I took a water bottle, left it in the car.  I skipped the water stations (10k, didn't need it).  No cups.  At the end, I eschewed the burrito bowls, burritos, and plates of tacos.  Instead, had a few slices of watermelon, no trash!

For our weekly Potluck in the Park, I made a fruit salad (the raspberries came in plastic), and I wanted to bring a main dish.  At Costco samples day yesterday, I tasted their stuffed peppers.  Delish.  Instead of buying, I thought "I can make these!"  But I never did like stuffed peppers as a kid.  I googled "unstuffed peppers".  First I found this recipe from Budget Bytes.  And they linked to this recipe.  And of course, I combined the two and edited, because I had "stuff" to use.  And I didn't have any beef or chorizo.  So mine were vegetarian.  I love one skillet meals, but I did pour mine into a 9x13 and bake with cheese on top - it's just easier to transport that way.  Served with guac...delish!

Also, have I mentioned I miss bread?  I tested the waters this weekend with a couple of slices of pizza on Friday and a small donut hole today.  It didn't go well.  Sigh.  I had to pass on the homemade pizza at the potluck.  And the brownies.  I've been pinning all sorts of gluten free brownies and bread recipes.  This weekend, in fact, I made oatmeal banana waffles.  They were pretty good.

So here's the combo recipe, thanks to Budget Bytes for the inspiration:

Bean & Rice & Veg casserole
Olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 to 1 cup bell peppers, diced (I had baby peppers)
1 jalapeno, diced (I keep touching my face, argh!)
1 lb (approx) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 cube vegetable bouillon
1 cup salsa
1 cup uncooked white rice
2 cups black beans
1 3/4 cup water (or more)
shredded cheddar cheese

Saute onion, pepper, jalapeno, and sweet potatoes in a large nonstick skillet until the onions are nice and soft.  Add the garlic, cumin, oregano and saute for 1-2 minutes.

Add the salsa, black beans, vegetable bouillon cube, rice.  Stir until well mixed.  Slowly add the water and salt.  Stir well. Bring to simmer, reduce heat and cover.  Cook 30 minutes or until water is absorbed.  My lid doesn't match my pan, so I needed a bit more water - after 30 minutes, some of my rice was still not fully cooked.

Scoop into a 9x13 pan.  Cover with shredded cheddar, as much as you like.  I put mine in the fridge, and reheated later for 40 min at 395.  The cheese got a little too brown.  Next time, I will lower the oven to 350 (hard tho, our oven runs cool).

Serve with guac, yum!  The good thing about this recipe is that you can really just use whatever the heck you  have.  And now I'm wondering if I can make it in the Instant Pot.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Plastic plastic everywhere

Pardon me as a ramble.  I've been thinking a lot about plastic and packaging lately. It's no secret that California has a lot of tree huggers.  It's one reason I love this state!  And a lot of decisions that I make are based on the environmental impacts - today and in the past. Some of those things I have lapsed on, because they are hard.

In any event, I've been reading a bit more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  I've also been reading more from Bea Johnson at Zero Waste Home.  Her book has been on my wish list forever, so I finally just bought it for myself for my birthday.

I took it all the way to Colorado on vacation and brought it back, unopened.  I finally started reading it.  The trip to Colorado was interesting.  We were meeting friends there who are definitely more environmentally conscious than we are.  We were all a bit disappointed in the lack of recycling in town (it's there, in some places...just not very many places).  As our friends drove there, they simply tossed all the cans and bottles in the trunk to take it back home to recycle.

We were relatively green there.  We ate breakfast at the hotel (which has real dishes).  We had our water bottles with us.  I packed lunches in reusable tupperware.  But there are some things that are just harder.

To start, I've been thinking a lot more about the packaging in food.  Which is probably what you'd expect, as this is a food blog.

In my own life, this boils down to a few big things:
- Gallons of milk
- Plastic bread bags
- Frozen veggie bags
- Plastic egg containers

All of this plastic just gets tossed.  The milk containers and egg containers get recycled, but it's really "down-cycled".  It's just better to avoid stuff in the first place.

What we DO do correctly
- Use reusable water bottles
- Buy wine in refillable growlers (yes I get bottles too)
- Drink bubbly water that we make using a soda stream
- Get most of our fruits and veggies from a subscription box, which means they just come in the box, no containers.  (We store them in ... our old bread bags.)

But there are more things that we can do.  I have to think about this more.  It's no secret that I try to keep the food budget down, and budget and environment will war with each other.  For example, I also buy boxes of lettuce heads to supplement our delivery.  You know, in a plastic box.  I also eat a lot of beans and rice, that we buy in bulk.

By "in bulk" I mean, in 5 to 10 lb bags. Plastic bags.  I could use the bulk bins at one of the many stores that have them, and simply reuse the bags.  Of course, the cost per pound is often double.  A little googling tells me that one of the stores will, for sure, let you bring your own containers if you measure their weight/ tare on the way in.  That may just be the way to go.

Then there are things like cheese and tortillas and salsa and marinara.  Frozen veggie burgers.  Meat. And those pesky eggs.  I'm not interested in getting chickens (my neighbors have them though.  And maybe we should get them.  We eat a lot of eggs.)  I could get 2 doz with our box, but then the cost for 2 dozen goes from $5 to $16.  (Of course the eggs from the box are local and of much higher quality.  And better for the environment.  But that's still 10 bucks a week, just on eggs.  $520 a year.) On the other hand, it's only $520.  What am I saving it for?  Oh yeah, college.  2 kids.

Stay tuned for my attempts at reducing waste!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The BIG RACE report

The race report!  As a reminder, this was an up hill half marathon.  Ya know, approx 4000 ft of elevation gain over 13.1 miles.


So, we got a heat wave.  It was supposed to hit on Tuesday and break on Thursday.  Well, it hit late (Weds) and didn't break until...afternoon of race day.  Boo!  In fact, the hottest day all week was race day.  No fog.

So remember those goals:
- Plan A (stretch goal) 3:30
- Plan B (totally do-able) 3:45
- Plan C 4:00
- Plan D - just finish! (This was the result.  I came close to Plan C, but couldn't pull it out).

So the weather: It was hot and muggy - about 75F at the start (6:30 am), and by the time I finished, it was 95F at the top. Most of the race was really really hot. It was easily 85 at mile 4. I melt in the heat.  Peak temp in town that afternoon was over 100, then we had a freak wind/rain storm that did a heck of a lot of damage, but cooled everything down 20 degrees.

It was interesting to see how it affected everyone.  My coworkers all did great...but they were probably off their goal paces by 1:00 per mile. My training team was similar.  Our leaders were off by 1:00 to 1:30 per mile (slower than normal).  One woman hit her goal dead on (sub-3:00).  The woman who usually runs a little faster than me beat her goal finishing time by 30 minutes.  In the heat. That's crazy. (She did a sub-3:00.)

My finishing time was off by about 2:00 per mile from what I might have been able to do in better weather.  But one of our group was off by 3:00 per mile.  She was having a worse day than me (still finished ahead of me though!)  There were several times that I didn't think I was going to finish.  After mile 9, it was really just "finish".  I drank a ton of water and electrolyte, but it was still miserable. Those last 4 miles took me >80 minutes.  (Of course, the two steepest mile-long sections are in there.)  I wasn't going to be a DNF.  It was so hot I didn't even know how hot it was.  Not until we got into the car to drive back down.  The other issue I struggled with was the tight hamstrings.  I usually do a run/ walk.  I had a strategy on the mountain for the spots when I would run.  But it was too hot to run in most of them.  Too much of either (running or walking) makes my hamstrings unhappy.

Am I going to do it again?  My neighbors up the street (husband has done it 2x) brought pina coladas that evening and asked me that.  Maybe.  If you had asked me last week I would have said "heck yea!"  The training program is great and I feel SO STRONG.  But I cannot help but be disappointed by the result.  My husband is super proud (and I am too), but it's still disappointing to look at that finish time and realize that it doesn't reflect the training I put in.  And honestly, that's because life sucks. Sometimes the weather sucks, or you get sick or injured, or you are just having a bad day.

Maybe my coworkers who always slept in later (and thus, did most of their training later in the morning when it was hotter on the mountain) were the smart ones!

The next day, aside from chapped lips and really sore toes (everything swelled up, including my feet - I shouldn't have sore toes from an all uphill half!), I felt great.  Still haven't lost any toenails, so win!





Tuesday, August 29, 2017

5 pounds

So what has been new in my life? The last few months I've been deep into training for the Pier to Peak half marathon. It's pretty much a half marathon up hill.

It starts at sea level... The pier. And ends at La Cumbre Peak, at 3997 ft. Because I'm only a little bit insane, I joined a paid training group specifically for this race. It's awesome to have support, knowledge, and cars to drive you back down the mountain. The race is this weekend, eek! But I'm ready. My estimated finish will be between 3.5 and 4 hours. That's a big range, but it depends a lot on the weather. It can get really hot up there.

I use the run/ walk method.

The other big thing has been my diet. I've been suffering with health issues for several months, and it came to a head in July with too much pizza. So I decided to give up wheat. I've had a few slips but have been mostly wheat free since early July. The goal here is to see if I feel better. It took awhile, but I definitely do. I wasn't sure, really, if the pizza problem was wheat or dairy or the combo. And I really didn't want it to be dairy.

After the race, I will reintroduce wheat and see how it feels. A side benefit of these two things is that I've lost 5 lbs. I was perfectly happy before, as was my doctor. I haven't weighed this in years, as I'm below my second pre pregnancy weight. I do miss bread and pizza.

I wanted to record for posterity the type of foods that I am eating right now.

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with milk, banana, peanut butter
Overnight oats with milk, yogurt, banana, chia seeds, peanut butter
Fried eggs with sliced tomatoes
Fried eggs with tortillas and cheese
Chocolate protein powder smoothie with pb2 and fruit
Gluten free muffins ( superhero muffins from Run Fast Eat Slow)

Lunch
Salad with veggies, lettuce, homemade vinaigrette, cheese, olives. Sometimes beans, meat, sunflower seeds.
Sometimes leftovers

Snacks
Fruit, nuts, dark chocolate, string cheese, veggies and hummus, salmon salad, hb eggs

Dinner
A carb (rice, beans, quinoa, corn tortillas, potato, polenta), usually 1/2 to 3/4 cup.
A protein ( meat, fish, veggie burger, beans, cheese)
Cooked vegetable with olive oil

So dinner might be stir fry, Thai curry, Indian curry, tacos, salmon with potatoes and green beans, burrito bowls, spaghetti and meatballs (I use veg or polenta or rice for my base.)

Mostly I'm eating carbs for breakfast and dinner. Seems to be working.

But I still miss bread.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Meatball Marinara with Carrot "spaghetti"

So, veggie noodles are all the rage, I'm sure you know. I've had a spiralizer on my wish list forever.  Haven't bought one yet, but someday.  Need more kitchen space first.

In any event, a few months ago, I found carrot noodles in the freezer section at Trader Joe's, and put them in my cart.  They went in to the freezer.  And sat there.  And stared at me, every time that I opened the freezer.  One of the reasons I bought them is because I thought they'd go well with marinara and meatballs, or Asian style dishes.

I'd seen bolognese with carrots on Stone Soup, and it got me thinking.  But not doing.

Fast forward a few months, and I decide to cut out wheat.  I haven't been feeling all that well, and from the google, and friends, and relatives - I start to suspect that my issues are either with wheat (gluten), or dairy, or both.  I've never had an issue before, but I realize that these things can develop as you age.  Anyway, I decided it was worth a try.

Given the choice between giving up wheat or dairy, well, I don't really want to give up cheese.  So I started with wheat.  This has caused some difficulties.  Namely: no pizza, no regular pasta, no bread.  Some of our regular meals are easy - beans & rice, tacos, lentils & rice, meat and veggie stir fry.  I can always skip pizza night, but pasta became a problem.

My husband makes a lot of one-pot pasta in the Instant Pot.  My option on those nights was polenta.  I buy the tubes and fry them up.  That is kinda of messy, and it adds a difficulty in that we can't make the pasta in one pot.

Today I decided to dig out those carrot noodles and give them a try.  So I made a 3/4 batch of one pot pasta - basically, I set aside 1 cup of the marinara for myself and used the rest for the family dinner.

Today's sauce recipe:
1 T olive oil
1/4 c chopped red onion
1/2 c shredded zucchini (leftover from making muffins)
1 cup marinara
8 meatballs
a handful of sun dried tomatoes
salt, pepper, dried basil, garlic powder.

Cook up the onion and zucchini in the oil until soft.  Add spices and cook 30 seconds more.  Add remaining ingredients, bring to boil. Reduce heat, and simmer till warm.

The carrot noodles recipe called for heating in olive oil in a pan on the stove.  4 minutes covered, 4 uncovered.  It took me a bit longer.

It was delicious!  I topped a cup of the "noodles" (which were very mild) with meatballs and sauce (half) and parmesan.  It felt like eating spaghetti.  I saved the rest for later this week.

I may  have to either get myself a spiralizer to make my own carrot noodles, or buy more of these.

This is what they look like:

http://www.whatsgoodattraderjoes.com/2017/05/trader-joes-carrot-spirals.html

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Exercise Goals Update

Since I need to update my totals for the year so far!

1. Exercise: as of  Sunday 8/6/17

Running: 300 miles: To date: 243.2 miles  So, I'm training for this crazy race.  I'll definitely blow past this goal.
Biking: 500 miles: To date: 48.44 miles (been mostly running)
Swimming: 50 miles: To date: 12.51 miles (the morning swim crowd probably don't remember what I look like).
Walking: 150 miles: To date: 147.13 miles (going to blow past this too)Weights/ yoga: 30 minutes a week (1560 this year): 603 minutes - way behind here

So, I joined a (paid) running training group for this crazy-ass uphill half marathon.  Boy, it's gonna suck.  My challenges are:
1. nutrition. I bonk.  Need to figure out how often to do the gu
2. hydration.  How much water to carry and how often to drink.  Did I mention that it's going to be fucking hot?
3. hips.  7 miles is when it starts.

I'm hoping to beat 4 hours.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The cost of eating out

I recently found this link on a message board (MMM), about Americans and dining out:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-26/first-time-americans-spend-more-eating-out-food-home

The graph shows that for the first time, Americans are spending more eating out than on groceries.  This doesn't surprise me at all.

I'll demonstrate:

I just got back from a week of vacation in Colorado.  We were in 2 hotels in 2 different cities.
- We got free breakfast at the hotel every morning.
- We had a mini-fridge in one hotel, and an efficiency kitchen at the other, so we had fruit, veg, and sandwich makings.
- We ate out 1 meal/ day or fewer.

- So meals out: 1. takeout pizza dinner.  2.  food truck Middle eastern sit-down lunch.  3.  Dinner out tacos/ burgers (only thing cheaper was the pizza)  4.  Dinner out pizza with friends.  5.  Very late lunch at a bistro.  6.  Ice cream.  7.  Burgers on the drive home from the airport

- Meals in: lunches: 6.  Dinners: 4  (there were 2 days we didn't eat out at all, had sandwiches for lunch and met our child-free friends at a park for a potluck so the kids could play).

So: 8 days. 6.5 meals out (ice cream is more of a snack), 10 meals "in" (groceries) and 7 meals free (breakfast)

Cost for 6.5 meals out: $292 = $45 each
Cost for 10 meals in: $100 = $10 each

That's more than 4x the cost to eat out than to eat something in the hotel room.  It doesn't take very many meals out for the cost of eating out to surpass the cost of groceries.

Total cost for the week for food: $400

The question is: what percentage of meals are "out"?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Lemon bars

1.  Start with the crust from America's test kitchen lemon bars.  But don't use their foil sling, that is useless.  They come out easily if you use an ungreased glass dish, but the crust is a little thick.  It's a better thickness in our slightly larger metal pan, but I don't know if they will come out.  Bake it

2.  Move on to the filling in Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and Betty Crocker.  Basically, 2 eggs, 2T flour.  And lemon.  Both of them are too light on the lemon.  Use 4 lemons worth of zest and juice, which is approx 1/2 cup lemon juice.  Follow instructions on beating the eggs and such, and pour over the warm crust once it's baked.

3.  Bake for about 25 minutes at whatever the cookbook says.

Sorry if you are a real person reading this.  We've made it twice and I didn't want to forget the specific combo that worked!

Friday, June 9, 2017

I live and die by my Google Calendar - even in the summer

Ah, the halcyon days of summer.  (Yes, I had to look that up in the dictionary.)  Lazy days in the park, at the beach, by the pool.  Impromptu trips to get fro-yo.  Setting up the sprinkler in the back yard.  Blowing bubbles, coloring, playing catch.  Running through the woods, only going inside for lunch.

If you think that I'm describing my summers as an adult, I have a bridge to sell you.  It's not far off from my summers as a kid though.  No beach, but the occasional pool.  And lots of time in the woods. Those were the days before Lyme disease.

Now, as a full-time working mom of 2 kids, I live and die by my schedule, which is kept on my Google calendar.  I've got two - one at work, and one at home.  During the school year, it's always a delicate balance.  Thanks to full time preschool for the young one, and after school care for the elementary kid - it's not terribly bad.  Until you add in:

- Sports
- Music
- In service days
- School holidays
- Norovirus

Then what is a difficult, but do-able schedule goes south and all hell breaks loose.

The good thing about having two engaged parents with reasonably flexible jobs, and the ability to work at home occasionally for a few hours (when the kids permit) is that we share drop-off and pick-up, and we work those around our schedules.  I have late meetings with Asia 2x a week or more, husband has early meetings on some days. So those days he goes in early and I got in late.  I do drop off and he does pick up.  On other days, we switch. We make it work.  Until.  That day when it all falls on the same day:

4:10 meeting
4:00 - 7:00 big kid has to be at baseball for a game
4:15 to 5, little kid has soccer, and parent must be present
5:15 pick up for kid #3, who is not our kid, at music practice.  Because we each take a day and that's our day and they don't get out of work until 6:15.

It probably goes without saying that *most* of our (relatively generous, because we are old and have seniority) vacation time goes to sick kids, or in-service days, or school holidays.

With all of that, I have to admit we all look forward to summer. But really, summer is no different when it comes to the schedule.  Summer is full of "summer camp Tetris". I have a spreadsheet.  Because: of course I do.

The weeks are laid out from week 1 to week 10.
The columns are laid out with 
- kid name
- camp name
- camp start and end times
- camp location
- cost

And of course, I have two kids.  The camps are first listed as "ideas" on the side.  When we've booked and paid for it, I highlight them in green.  Then, I have to put the camps into my all important calendar.

The calendar is important because for *some* reason, the vast majority of summer camps consider "full time" to be 9 to 2.  I'm not sure who YOUR boss is, but MY boss doesn't consider 5 hours a day to be "full time".  Sure, some offer extended care for a fee, generally $30-35 a day extra.  That can easily take a $200 or $250 camp to $350 for the week.  Times two.

When you overlay these crazy hours with your own work schedules, you can see why the calendar is so important.  An example:

Week 2: Baseball
8:30 am, Parent A leaves home with kids.  Make sure both kids have lunches packed.  Baseball kid must have his baseball gear and lunch and snack and water.
9:00 am drop off kid #1 at baseball camp
9:20 am drop off kid #2 at preschool
1:30 pm Parent B leaves work to pick up kid #1 from baseball.  And then goes home with said kid and works from home a few hours before picking up kid #2.

Which parent is Parent A and which parent is Parent B varies by the day.  Fun times.

Week 4: Morning sailing camp and after noon lego camp
Sailing camp is 9 to 12
Lego camp is 1 to 4
Shoot me now

Week 5: Chess
Chess camp is from 10 to 2 pm.  WTF

Week 7: Full day camp at the university.  7:30 to 5:30 baby!  Lather them up in sunscreen, pack lunch, water, and swim gear.  Whee!

All in all , we have 9 weeks of camp for a 10 week summer.
Big kid:
Full day camps (or at least close - 9 to 4 is what I consider "close enough") - 5
Fun but PITA partial day camps - 4

Little kid:
Half the summer in preschool, 3 weeks of camp, everything is full day.

Now, I do realize that the reason a lot of summer camps are short is two-fold:
1.  It mimics the school day
2.  Not enough "stuff" to do for more than a few hours.  I mean, who besides my kid wants to play chess for 8 hours?

I'd like to argue that the typical school day and school year is antiquated.  I mean, it was created decades ago when most people lived on farms.  The kids had morning and afternoon chores, and they never went to school in the summer because they were busy in the fields and at harvest.  Mom AND Dad were usually at home.

Now that it's 2017, I wonder if we might want to -ahem- adjust the school schedule to make more sense with how society lives TODAY.  More than 70% of kids live in homes with 2 working parents.  Companies are not often understanding of the need for flexible schedules.  I'm not suggesting we have our kids in school for 40 to 50 hours a week (shoot, I don't like working those hours either!)  But maybe a large-scale review is in order.

Who else lives and dies by their schedule?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

2017 Goals, weeks 14-19

Yeah, getting a little behind.

1. Exercise: as of Saturday 5/13/17 

Running: 300 miles: To date: 138.5 miles  So, I finished the half
Biking: 500 miles: To date: 48.44 miles (been mostly running)
Swimming: 50 miles: To date: 10.08 miles (only 3 times in a month and a half).
Walking: 150 miles: To date: 68.56 miles
Weights/ yoga: 30 minutes a week (1560 this year): 403 minutes - way behind here
So, yesterday was the half marathon.  I had four goals:

1.  Finish
2.  Under 3 hours
3.  With a smile on my face
4.  Not in pain

I managed the first 3!  Here's a recap.  First, I ran with my Moms in Motion training group.  I am the slow one.  But really, I like to think of it like this: I'm faster than everyone on the couch.  It's very hard for me, as a type-A competitive person, to do these things. 
- Most of my running friends are just fast.  Some of them are tall.  Some of them are slender.  But most of them just have the build and ability to run - run faster without injury.  It's VERY hard to accept your body's limitations. But I've learned that I have to.  I know one woman who started training 4 weeks ago and finished in under 2 hours, coming in 2nd in her age group.
- The last time I ran this race was 7 years ago.  I finished in 2:11:04.  This time I finished in 2:52:20. (#155/189 in the 45-49 age group)  I decided that I didn't want to be in pain. Last time I was injured with sciatica/ piriformis so badly that I couldn't run for a year.  When I started up again, I ended up with achilles tendonitis. So, how to run without pain?
- I use a pretty strict run/walk Galloway method now (reduces injury and fatigue because walking and running use different muscles).  I start off at a 4:1 run:walk (though this race I ran the first 9 mins).  I maintain that as long as I can.  But this method - in the book that I bought - basically says "walk before you need to".  (I started running a year ago, with a 2:3 run:walk ratio.)  My run pace is around 10:30 to 12:00, and my walk pace is 17:00 to 20:00.
- My hips tend to ache at mile 7.  Especially going up hill.  It's a bummer.  This is why I am now remembering that I don't like half marathons.  They are not my jam. I like 10Ks.  My body likes 10Ks.

On the actual race -
- It's beautiful. Rolling hills of ranches and wineries.  This is important.  It comes into play later.
- The start was pretty good, if a bit slow.  Cold and windy.  I ran the first 9 minutes (with my friend Cheryl, who is in her 60s and was aiming for a sub 2:30.  She did it!)  When I took my walk break she looked back and I said "go!"  Our group carpooled up to the start, and I was PRETTY sure that I told everyone my goal was sub 3-hours, and 2:50 would be awesome.
- The first half is up hill.  At mile 6, there's this massive hill called "Corkscrew hill".  I remember it well from last time.  At the bottom of the hill is when I could *just* start to feel my hips.  I walked up the whole hill.  I also took a picture.  It's the only "mid-run" picture that I took - but I took it because - this is supposed to be FUN.  What difference does a couple of minutes make?  I wasn't going to PR.

- For this reason, when I had to go to the bathroom at the transition point, I used the porta potty. I stopped my Garmin. So when someone asks me how long my race was?  Chip time: 2:52, watch time: 2:49.  Why suffer for another 6.5 miles if you have to go???
- I also started up my iPod at mile 4.5.  Usually I'd make it until 7 miles.
- The second half is mostly downhill.  I ended up running with another couple of ladies doing the run /walk, but we weren't quite on the same schedule.  They were still doing 4:1, but after mile 7, I couldn't manage it.  I switched to more of a 2:1.  It's okay - the vast majority of people around my pace were doing a run:walk combo.  I felt like I found my people!  In my training group, I'm the only one.
- From miles 7 to 12, the hips were a definite issue.  It's rolling hills course, and I found that there were times (gradual downhills) where my hips actually felt BETTER running than walking.  So the last half of the race, I would run until things started to hurt, then I'd walk until it didn't hurt.  2:1, 2:2, 2:3, 1:2...it really varied. During all of my walk sections I made sure to enjoy the scenery.  It's the whole point I signed up for this thing again anyway.
- Right at mile marker 11, there was a steep downhill.  Even walking, it hurt.  That's when my knees decided to join in with the hips.  There's a steep 1/2 mile hill at 11.5 miles.  At mile 11, I decided to take an ibuprofen.  I never do that.  I stopped and stretched.
- I remembered what the finish line was like.  I was able to run a bit more near the end - 1 min run, 1 min walk.  I set myself up for being able to run the last few blocks, so I could have a strong finish.  Most my team was already having wine/beer (they thought they'd missed me?  At 2:30?  You must have mistaken me for someone else). But my hubby and kids were there to cheer me on, and Cheryl was at the finish.
- So then I gave my post-race treats to the kids.  Drank water.  Walked around a bit.  Found my beer and wine drinking friends. I seriously don't want to drink after a half.  Went to the toy store with my family and ran into an old friend.  It was great.  She told me that she's pretty sure a young woman died at the finish line. Not so great.  Sat for awhile, limped off to the bathroom, and started the long drive home.  (I don't feel particularly social after a long race, I guess.)

- I retrieved my car from my friend's house and did the grocery shopping.  And then?  Well, the rest of the day, and today - the only things that hurt are my right toes and a spot that got chafed from the bra.  Which I didn't notice until I took a shower.  So, was it the grocery shopping?  Was it the ibuprofen?  Despite the pain during the run, I'm pretty much unscathed. That's a abnormal for me for a long run.


2. Grocery bill: Keep it under $7000 ($134.62/wk)$2679.56.  $141.03/ week.  These last 2 weeks were really big, compared to the prior 3.

3.  Weight: I have no idea.

4.  Family:
Go on 12 family hikes: Um...run run run run.  And it's allergy season.
Do game night once a week: Not much of this.

5.  Crafts:
- Crochet a blanket - DONE, and little guy has claimed it.  I decided that I felt way to beholden to the day's temperature to continue on this trend for the next blanket.  So now I'm doing something else.


- all the other crafty stuff: nothing

6.  Sleep: ugh.

7.  Food: eat vegan 2 days a week. I'm not sure when or if I'm going to jump back on this train.

8.  Cookbooks: Try 1 recipe from every cookbook I own.  Ditto.  See #7. I'm making a lot of things over and over again.

9.  Work:
     a. Skills: Learn enough programming to automate the data pulls for problem lots (which requires pulling data from 2 different databases).  Haven't worked on this yet.  REALLY need to.
     b. Personal:  Don't engage.  Really.  

10.  Home: Contact contractor/ architect on adding a second bathroom. Need to get moving on the fixing of the plumbing first.

11.  Garden: need to plant stuff.  And more stuff.

12.  Spouse: I don't think we got a date in April.

13.  Beverages:
- Drink less coffee and more tea (one cup coffee per day): doing okay here, but work is KILLING me because our ice maker is broken.
- Do not buy any wine aside from my two wine club memberships.  

- Drink two 24-oz bottles of water a day, minimum.  I managed this on my running days.

14.  Mom's nights/ dad's night once a month: Jan, check.  Feb, fail. March, fail.  April: fail.

15.  Host friends.  Jan, check.  Feb, fail.  March, fail.  April, success on day 1!!  May - need to get on this.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lentil Curry

This is an offshoot of Red Lentil Curry.  I decided to play around with the tried and true recipe.  Because I had tomatoes, and I ran out of red lentils but had extra brown.

It was delish, I think.  I have a bad cold.

Lentil Curry:
1 small onion, diced
2 T canola oil 
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1/2 tsp coriander 
1/2 tsp cumin 
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp garam masala 
1/2 tsp fresh garlic, minced (3 small cloves)
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 c. red or brown lentils (I used a mix)
2.5 c. water
1/4 c to 1/3 c coconut milk 
1-2 Tbsp tomato paste  
1 tsp salt

Saute onion in oil until soft. Add garlic and saute one more minute. Add spices and saute one more minute. Add tomatoes and cook 5-6 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft.  Add lentils and water.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover, simmering for 15-20 min. Check periodically.  I needed a bit more water.  Once it looks done, use the immersion blender if you like it a bit creamier. I still wanted a few chunks.

Add coconut milk and tomato paste and cook 5 more min, or until desired consistency.  Add salt.

This was good with my Indian roasted cauliflower and Trader Joe's garlic naan, found in the freezer section.  My big boy goes NUTS for that stuff.

Monday, April 3, 2017

2017 Goals, weeks 12 & 13

1. Exercise: as of Saturday 4/1/17 

Running: 300 miles: To date: 62.9 miles  So, six weeks till the 1/2 marathon. And I'm only up to 6 miles.  Hm.
Biking: 500 miles: To date: 48.44 miles 
Swimming: 50 miles: To date: 7.96 miles (only once in two weeks).
Walking: 150 miles: To date: 51.99 miles
Weights/ yoga: 30 minutes a week (1560 this year): 368 minutes - nothing in 2 weeks eek!

Starting to stress about the half marathon.  Especially since they've changed it since I last did it. Now they are "nickel and diming you".  Like, you have to drive up (45 min or so) to pick up your race packet the day before.  If you want to pick it up here in my own town, it's $10.  (used to be free).  If you want to pick it up the morning of the race, it's $15.

So, just to kind of screw them, I was going to go with the "free" option. Except it will cost $10 in gas ($9.60 actually), even in my tiny car.  However, if I carpooled, or got several other people's packets at the same time, it would pay for itself.  Anyway.  I have time to decide.  But I won't be doing this race again.

2. Grocery bill: Keep it under $7000 ($134.62/wk)$96.77 & $83.69.  My produce box was missing something this week too.  Hopefully I'll get a  credit.  $1735.95 so far, or $133.53/ week.  This was a BIG week post vacation.  And party.

3.  Weight: I have no idea.

4.  Family:
Go on 12 family hikes: Well, we went on 3 family hikes on our trip last week.  They were very short. About 3/4 mile each, took an hour (you know, 4 year old pace, with snowball fights).
Do game night once a week: Not much of this.

5.  Crafts:
- Crochet a blanket - less than 30 days to go

- crochet a purse: nothing
- participate in my quilting group's exchange: I cut a bunch of blocks.  We are all making 20 half square triangle blocks for each other.
- make 12 snowflakes: nothing
- attempt to make socks: I've pinned a bunch of instructions?  I did make two pink "pussy cat hats".  One to donate to the Yarn Bomber.  One for a friend.

6.  Sleep: Been a pretty good week, though vacation - not so much.  Got kicked out of bed by the 4 year old.

7.  Food: eat vegan 2 days a week. I'm not sure when or if I'm going to jump back on this train.

8.  Cookbooks: Try 1 recipe from every cookbook I own.  Ditto.  See #7. I'm making a lot of things over and over again.

9.  Work:
     a. Skills: Learn enough programming to automate the data pulls for problem lots (which requires pulling data from 2 different databases).  Haven't worked on this yet.  REALLY need to.
     b. Personal:  Don't engage.  Really.  

10.  Home: Contact contractor/ architect on adding a second bathroom.Nothing. But we did talk to the plumber about (finally) replacing the sewer line.  Nothing like $8k bill!  Haven't gotten the written estimate.  But he did just come by this weekend (again) because our neighbor's backed up (again).  Yuck.

11.  Garden: need to plant stuff.  And more stuff.

12.  Spouse: we did manage March date!

13.  Beverages:
- Drink less coffee and more tea (one cup coffee per day): Uh, lots of coffee this week.
- Do not buy any wine aside from my two wine club memberships.  Been hitting the wine more the last few weeks.

- Drink two 24-oz bottles of water a day, minimum.  I managed this on my running days.

14.  Mom's nights/ dad's night once a month: Jan, check.  Feb, fail. March, fail.

15.  Host friends.  Jan, check.  Feb, fail.  March, fail.  April, success on day 1!!  It was a no-baseball weekend.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Vacation Post

This is just going to be a short compilation of our quick spring break (quick, because the kids were sick so much this weekend we had to only go for 1/2 week.  Not enough vacation time left.)

What did we do: Went to the snow
How did we save money:
- Winter gear - we have some from forever ago.  Bought the kids new boots ($20/each).  Which will probably never be worn again.  Will donate.

- Lodging - got sticker shock looking at Mammoth Mountain ($1280/ four nights, 1 BR condo, cheapest I could find.)  Googled, opted to go a little north to sleepy town of June Lake.  ($672/ four nights, 2 bedroom cabin duplex.)  Reverse Creek Lodge.  We really enjoyed this place.

- Food - took food and grocery shopped.  By far, the cheapest food was what we brought with us - mac and cheese, raw veggies, bagels, cheese & salami.  Next cheapest was shopping at the Vons in Mammoth (do NOT go at 6 pm on a Saturday!!)  But most of my shopping is NOT done in large stores, because they don't have the best deals.  Finally, when really out of something - the June Lake general store.  $5.49 for a loaf of bread, whee!!  But we needed to eat.  And they were really nice.

Approximate cost for food for the four days: $90.  Seems like a lot, but less than eating out for sure.  Plus way less pain and suffering than eating out with a four year old.

- Entertainment.  June Lake has a ski spot, which is much less populated and much smaller, and more family friendly than the southern neighbor, Mammoth.  It was also < 1 mile from the cabin.  It's also quite a bit cheaper - kids 12 and under ski for free.  And...we saved even MORE money by...not skiing at all.  People who ski regularly probably: 1. have their own gear.  2. Know how to get cheaper lift tickets on-line, or at Costco.  People like us, not so much.

We priced out skiing for 1 day at June Lake, and it looked like it would be approximately $600.  That's rental and lift ticket for hubby (who actually knows how to ski), rentals and lessons for the kids, and a lesson for me, who last went skiing in  1998.  The cost to do the same at Mammoth would have been quite a bit more expensive, at least $200.  We thought about it, but the June Lake website went down the night we were thinking about booking, so that sealed it.  

I realize that I'm not too old to learn a new skill. But...do I want to?  I mean, in the best of times, skiing is like golf - expensive.  And I live at the beach.  If I want to learn a new skill, shouldn't it be something like stand up paddle boarding, or rock climbing?  Something that doesn't require a 5 hour drive to accomplish?  Maybe if we go some day where we would ski for more than one day, it would be more worth it.  Cheaper cost per day.

In any event, the area is surrounded by the Inyo National Forest.  Our cabins had sleds that you could borrow.  The owners of the lodge directed us to a nice little spot with lots of places to sled.  And no snowmobilers!  So, our days went like this:
1.  Wake up.  For me, that usually meant "wake up on the couch".  Because the upstairs was HOT.  I would wake up at midnight sweating, and move downstairs where it was cooler.  I usually woke at 5:45 or 6.  Kid #1 woke up at the same time.  Kid #2 always ended up moving from his twin bed in the kid room to the king bed in the parent room.  So daddy and Kid #2 woke up at 7, and not always well rested.

2.  Drink coffee (instant, because we had it).  
3.  Make and eat breakfast - bagels, eggs, toast with nutella, toast with almond butter and bananas.
4.  Go for a hike.  There was a snow-filled hill behind the cabin area.  We climbed it, including some rock climbing.  At the top, we wandered through another cabin's yard (more than 50% of the homes here are second homes, usually only inhabited in the summer).  This got us to a road, and we wandered down some streets back to the cabin.  The hike usually took an hour, was about 0.75 miles (you know, hiking with a 4 year old) - and involved a LOT of snowball fights.

5.  Watch TV, make and eat lunch - sandwiches and raw veggies, or grilled cheese and soup.

6.  Do the dishes.  Go sledding (which involved a drive).  We sledded for an hour in the afternoon - more snowball fights, made a snowman one day.

7.  Go back to the cabin.  Warm up, have cocoa, make and eat dinner, watch more TV, maybe play a game, read.  Bed at 9.

Pics below!