A Few Hints

We had a great day at the children’s museum today, despite having all the children of the city there to join us. It rained all day and apparently we weren’t the only ones who had the brilliant idea to find something fun to do indoors today.

I’ll spare you the 100 photographs I took and instead share just a few of my favorites.

First up!

Guess who tied this shoe?? (Hint: NOT ME!)

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I practically fell over this morning when she tied her own shoe. She’s been working on it for weeks now. No pressure here, this is all her. She finally got it this morning and has told every stranger on the street “the big news”, as she put it.

Yes, those are her exact words. The BIG news.

Guess who didn’t listen to the “5 items only” rule? (Hint: someone who is just learning how to count.)

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Guess who’s moving to Alaska? (Can’t think of a clever hint, but that’s what Ava said this post card said as she read it to me.)

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Guess who can’t get this song out of her head? (Hint: someone old enough to know the slinky song.)

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And guess who had a fun flash from the past at the Videotopia today? (Hint: 1988 called, they want their video games back)

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I heart Super Mario.

After such a busy day, I still managed to scrape together enough energy to make dinner.

Veggie Spaghetti Pie

The Crust: Half a pound of whole wheat spaghetti, cooked and drained. Stir in a splash of oil, 1 egg (beaten) and a few shakes of parm.

crust

The Cheese: 1 cup 2% cottage cheese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 1 egg (beaten) and a few shakes of parm and frozen, thawed spinach.

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The Sauce: diced onion, garlic, mushroom, shredded carrots, zucchini sauteed in olive oil. Crushed tomatoes stirred in once veggies are soft.

sauce

Layer spaghetti, cheese and sauce into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake 20 minutes at 350, uncovered. Top with parm or mozzarella and bake an additional 5 minutes. Allow 5 – 10 minutes to cool and enjoy!

This could also be called “Lazy Man’s Lasagna”.

I was ready to eat when I put this in the oven, so I put my salad together and chowed that down while I waited for it to bake.

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The best part about eating a huge salad before the entree is that by the time the spaghetti pie was ready, I was no longer starving and ate a smaller piece than I probably would have otherwise!

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I’ve recently learned that using cottage cheese in place of ricotta is not only a huge calorie saver, but is not at all gross like I fully expected it to be. I also am not usually a fan of whole wheat pasta but in a dish like this, I don’t even notice it.

So yes, a rainy day… but there’s always a silver lining!

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Definitions

Today is a rest day, as promised to myself yesterday. And what perfect timing, the old man was totally snoring when I woke up at 5:15. (i.e., it was pouring rain, did you catch that?)

Please note that I do usually NOT wake up this early in the winter. Or even spring or fall for that matter. When the sun is up and the children are sleeping I can’t help but bound out of bed and soak up the peace and quiet while it lasts. I love the extended daylight hours in the summer.

A rest day in my book is defined as such:

Rest Day (noun)

1. No cardio or resistance training
2. Yoga is acceptable

So as you can see, yoga still falls into my rest category. Today was Gentle Hatha Yoga #1 and #2 from YogaDownload.com after I spent some time online and had a chance to wake up a bit.

I love these Gentle Hatha Yoga sessions. Nothing too challenging, but still a great stretch and a chance to start the day feeling alert and centered.

After yoga it was time for cookies and coffee.

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Near the window, for the lighting.

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But let’s not kid ourselves.

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Today we’re heading to the Museum of Play with some friends for some serious playing!

Play (verb)

1. To have fun
2. To employ freedom of choice in activity, amuse oneself while using imagination
3. No dishes, cleaning, cooking, laundry for an entire morning and afternoon

Off to pack a lunch and get my gang put together and out the door!

Pot Luck

Meal prep was pretty low on the totem poll today. It’s been a random, lazy day. Dinner was no exception.

The highlights of our pot luck dinner.

Bean burritos.

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American Flag grilled cheese sandwiches.

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with locally grown snap peas.

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And of course, the Grand Finale. Chocolate Banana Whip.

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This morning I cut two bananas into smaller chunks today and my food processor had a much easier time with the small frozen pieces. I threw in about two tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder to give a nice chocolaty touch! It did not disappoint.

Speaking of American Flag Grilled Cheese sandwiches, the winner of the Flip It Pan is:

Julie!

Julie wrote:

I love making and eating pancakes (blueberry was a childhood fave), but am terrible at flipping them! This pan is answer to my prayers.

Email me at mamasweeds@gmail.com and we’ll get you hooked up to flip some pancakes! 😉

A small riot ensued after dinner, probably due to all the food randomness.

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Balls were thrown.

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There was hooting.

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There was hollaring.

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OK OK, I’ll make a real dinner tomorrow, I promise.

Keeping it Simple

This morning’s run was 4.76 miles in 39:09. That makes my pace 8:13/mi which is a lot slower than a normal morning run. That tells me I need to dial it back and tomorrow should probably be a rest day after a 10 mile run on Saturday and 15 mile ride yesterday. I felt fine but my pace is telling me I need to back off a bit.

Breakfast was simple. Simple in my book anyway.

Coffee (black! I’m feeling like a badass) and blueberry chobani with some flax, Heart to Heart and strawberries with hemp milk. GASP no nuts? No almond butter? What’s this world coming to?

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No bananas either. Instead of putting them on my cereal I cut them up and put them in the freezer. I’m saving my daily banana dose for dessert tonight.

Life will never be the same after banana whip last night. It’s now a point of reference in my life. Anything in the past is now something that happened before I discovered whipped bananas and everything from here on out is after I discovered whipped bananas.

Leave a comment on this post by tonight for your chance to win a Flip It Pan from DuPont. American flag pancakes are too cool for school.

I Will Never Make Banana Bread Again

Oh yes, this post has definitely changed my life.

I saw this post yesterday from Gena at Choosing Raw and immediately went down and cut up two of my last three bananas and put them in the freezer.

Tonight after dinner, it was time to take them for a spin.

frozen_bananas

Holy banana whip.

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Seriously. This was SO good. SO amazingly simple and so UNBELIEVABLY delicious and creamy words can’t even describe. And what you see is what you get. It was just frozen bananas in the food processor for about 3 minutes. Banana magic.

I did a little googling to see what else I could find before I got started. Turns out Banana Whip is also in the Urban Dictionary… if you are modest and easily embarrassed don’t click here.

All I want to know is… what is a “Van Dell”? Or maybe I don’t want to know.

I found more (appropriate) info here and here too.

banana_whip

It tastes like soft ice cream, I am not kidding. I can now scratch “ice cream” off the list of reasons why I’m not ready to go dairy free yet. There a million different fun things you can do with this too if you felt adventurous. Adding nuts, peanut butter, coconut, cocoa powder, pour into popsicle molds… oh the possibilities!

Ava sampled it, immediately asked for a bowl of it and then came back for seconds. I ate my dish, and then with the little bit that was left in the food processor I put in a small scoop of peanut butter to make PB banana whip. It was great good but honestly I think I liked it better plain!

The only thing I have to add would be that if you don’t have a beast of a food processor, you might want to chop them up into small pieces before freezing them. Or let them thaw slightly to soften up a little before starting the food processor.

I have a heavy duty full size Cuisinart and these frozen bananas made my food processor DANCE across the counter when I first turned it on. It eventually settled down but it made me realize smaller chunks probably would have been better.

Thank you Gena for sharing this recipe and turning us on to this fabulous raw dessert!

I will never again look at an over ripe bananas and think “hmmmm, maybe I’ll make banana bread?” And I’m already wondering how I can incorporate this into breakfast. 😉

Flip It!

As usual, I was up before the rest of my crew this morning. I jumped on my bike and enjoyed this beautiful morning on a 70 minute, 15.3 mile ride. I am so grateful the warm air is here again.

Back home to find the house was still quiet. Ahhh. I enjoyed my breakfast cookie and coffee in peace. The silence was broken just as I was finishing up.

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Little did they know I had a fun surprise in store for them this morning!

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This a called a Flip It Pan. DuPont and Teflon sent us this pan to try out to see what we thought.

The bottom part of this pan is interchangeable, and the one we were sent definitely has a 4th of July theme with the American Flag!

Part of the reason I agreed to do this was because I knew the girls would LOVE it. Not only because it made pancakes, but also because of the American flag! This could not have been a better dish option for us, the timing was perfect. Ava is currently OBSESSED with the American flag. She loves spotting the American flag when we are out and about, in front of stores, homes, in books, magazines, anywhere!

It’s amazing the things you take for granted as an adult. She points out every American flag she sees. And oh boy, let me tell you it is everywhere! Even Maxine can recognize it now and points it out too.

Since Ava will be “missing the bus” this fall and we’ll be officially homeschooling, it’s always fun and reassuring to see the things they take an interest in and we try and take full advantage of these teachable moments whenever we see them.

Ava always listens and remembers the little tidbits I share about the American flag… I keep it to things a five year old will find interesting and understand. Red, white and blue, 13 stripes, 50 stars, why there are 50 stars, what’s the name of our state, states we’ve visited, states we have friends and family in… it’s easy to see how one little thing can lead to talking about so many other things.

But back to our patriotic breakfast this morning and our fun American flag Flip It pan, we got out the ingredients for pancakes and got to work.

I prefer homemade pancake batter, and it was only a year or so ago that I realized I could make pancakes at home, from scratch, without pancake mix. I’d much prefer to do it this way. I can control the ingredients, there’s no added preservatives and chemicals to keep the mix stable on the shelf.

Here’s the recipe we used today:

1 1/2 c flour (I use 50/50 white flour and whole wheat flour)
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (I use kosher)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 c milk (I used organic 1% cows milk)
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp canola oil

My girls, like any other little kid I know, LOVE to help in the kitchen. There’s so much opportunity in for learning in the kitchen. Math, science, hygiene, health, sharing, cooperation, and today, a little American history. 😉

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girls_cook_3 girls_cook_4
girls_cook_5 girls_cook_6

Once our batter was ready, the girls watched as I poured 1/2 cup of batter (per the instruction for the Flip It Pan) into dish of the pan. Cooked until it started to bubble and the sides looked a little firm, and then FLIP!

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flip_it_3 flip_it_4

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This pan made it so easy to make pancakes, plus the pancakes turned out very soft and fluffy, better than they usually do when I make them in a frying pan. I didn’t even have to use a spatula, the pancake falls onto the skillet part of the pan once you flip it and then it easily slides on to a plate from there. I swear that I made much less of a mess today than I usually do when I make pancakes!

The results?

breakfast

Disappearing pancakes!

I’d already had breakfast of course but I did try a couple bites and these were so soft and fluffy. American flag or not, this is a great pancake making pan!

I see in the instructions that you can also make omelets, grilled cheese, french toast or even crepes! I smell American flag grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch this week. 😉

Lucky for you, DuPont wants to share the Flip It Love and I’ve got the opportunity to do a giveaway! If you want a chance to win one of these pans, leave a comment on this post with something you love about pancakes, the 4th of July or the American flag. 😀

I’ll announce the winner on my Monday evening post, hopefully leaving plenty of time for your pan to arrive for any 4th of July pancakes or grilled cheese sandwiches you might want to make. 😉 Kids or no kids, this is a great little pan!

Bottomless Pit

I’m happy to report that my questionable run this morning was fabulous! 10.8 miles in 1:37:54, a 9:00/mi pace. We did a 6.5 mile loop and stopped back at the running store for water, and then went for another 4.3 mile loop.

Between loops, my friend Shawn and I snacked on a couple of these guys.

sport_beans

My pace group went on to do another 4 miles after that but given my last long run a couple weeks ago was 9 miles, I decided that even though I was feeling good, I wasn’t going to push my luck.

The fastest pace group they had was 9:00 miles. That’s definitely slower than I wanted to go but knew that slowing down a bit was probably a good thing. I kept feeling like I wanted to take off and run faster during the first mile but then I surprisingly settled easily into our pace. I think my boat load of green veggies and my slower pace are both responsible for how amazing I felt today. I had tons of energy and felt great through the whole thing. It was also really nice to have some company too, those solo long runs can get lonely!

On my drive home I ate half of this Clif Bar, and decided I’d run a few errands too since I was child free.

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Once home, I dove head first into lunch.

Lunch Sandwich sammy_2

A veggie sandwich on whole wheat bread. A laughing cow wedge, romaine, cukes and roasted red pepper.

Then I put my feet up to drink some green and read!

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I swear these green smoothies are like dessert. So sweet and creamy! Today’s was made with the last of the spinach, a big chunk of firm tofu, banana, mango and a few splashed of hemp milk.

An hour later I was hungry again. Must. Eat. Something. Another hour, hungry again. Eat. Hour. Hungry. And on and on for about the next 4 hours or so.

banana_granola brownie
apples abdates

I forgot how relentless my hunger can be after long runs! And that isn’t even everything. There were there were also unphotographed pretzels, heart to heart, fage…. bottomless pit is a good way to describe how I was feeling.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around the house together. Around 5 we headed out on a family walk/ride to the playground. Maxine and I fell behind and we let Zak and Ava go on ahead.

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Our playground ride soon turned into a playground walk (and tricycle carry).

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Then a playground hop.

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Eventually the blue eyed ones managed to catch up with the brown eyed ones.

caught_up

just_max anz

Time to head home. Is that a salad on my head?

shadow just_maxine

No, just a tired Maxine.

Dinner tonight was a pair of His and Hers crack wraps. I whipped up some garlic hummus and promptly smeared it into a flat out wrap, wrapped up and grilled lightly with olive oil until heated through. I usually add cheese but left it out of the wrap today today because we were having avocado on the side. I didn’t even miss it.

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The photo shoot took place in the dining room for the light, but we really ate dinner at the table in the kitchen where all the cool kids hang out.

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That would be Zak wondering why there was Parmesan cheese on my steamed veggies and not his. He’s even saying “Cheese!” as I snapped this pic.

I think Zak said “This is so good” about 10x during our meal. Sometimes the best meals are the simplest ones.

And a happy ending.

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But even sweeter than that is two sleeping children and Season 1 of 30 Rock on DVD on a Saturday night. Suh-weeeet!