Saturday Madness

A Saturday full of non-stop action!

I woke up this morning to a balmy 47 degrees (I hope you picked up on my sarcasm there) and decided to post pone my bike ride for this afternoon when it was a bit warmer.

Instead I warmed my hands with a pot of green tea.

Pot of Green Tea

And warmed my soul with a bowl of banana chocolate fruit cereal.

Banana Cereal at Desk

Zak had plans this morning so I schlepped the girls into the car and we ran off to run some errands late morning into the early afternoon.

I hit the Thrive jackpot at the natural food store today!

First, a new foodie toy that I’m totally freaking excited about. Gonna sprout my own beans and seeds! Brendan would definitely approve.

Aww yeah gonna grow my own sprouts

Who wants to do the Bean Sprouting Dance with me? You’ve got to ball one arm up into your arm pit (like a seed) and hold the other arm up in the air (like a sprout) and then you jack the lower half of your body around like a you’re working hard to keep a hoola hoop circling your hips and you can’t let it fall to the ground lest it burst into flames and kill 100 small children in South Africa.

Got it? Good. Now let’s dance!

Next up, I’m excited about “Raw Cacao Nibs” as I’ve read about them in recipe after recipe in Thrive. (I feel like I’m very proper saying “Cacao Nibs”.) I also scored a smallish bag from bulk of raw hemp seeds to try baby! Yes, I’m totally doing this to please and impress my new boyfriend Brendan. I’m That Girl.

Raw Cacao Nibs Hemp Seeds

I also got some amaranth seeds (used in quite a few Thrive recipes) and a bag of alfalfa seeds too. I practically did the Bean Sprouting Dance out of the store to the car.

Post Thrive shopping success, we came home to unload groceries and I threw together a fast veggie sandwich.

Veggie Sandwich

Toasted Ezekiel bread, mustard, tomatoes, green leaf, pickles and sprouts. You might also call this a salad between two slices of sprouted grain bread.

Passing the child-watch torch to Zak, I left on my bike for a 50 minute, 13 mile ride – home just in time to get started on a birthday feast!

Did you know that Ava was born 4 days after my dad’s birthday and Maxine was born 6 days before my mom’s birthday? It’s a fact. I planned it that way. Or at least that’s what I like to pretend.

If you couldn’t tell, that would be my segue into a birthday dinner here tonight for my mom.

She requested vegetarian lasagna for her birthday meal. I’m on it! Veggie lasagna made to order – her vegetables of choice would be zucchini, green pepper, spinach and portobello mushrooms.

I decided to let the portobello mushrooms steal the show and have a layer all to themselves. I peeled two portobellos and sliced them about a 1/2 – 1/4″ thick and sauteed them in extra virgin olive oil until they released their water.

Portobellos

Mmmm mushroom water.

The spinach got promoted from the sauce as well and was transferred to the cheese layer. Congrats spinach! You’ve worked hard and totally deserve that promotion. I used about 4 oz of frozen, thawed spinach in stirred it in with the ricotta (15 oz container), 1 egg and some shredded mozzarella.

Cheese and Spinach Layer

Garlic, diced green pepper and shredded zucchini sauteed in extra virgin olive oil. Once soft I added a 4oz can of tomato paste, a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes and about a cup of water. A little S&P, dried oregano and basil to taste.

Sauteed Veggies Sauce

A sauce layer, a lasagna noodle layer and a cheese layer, per usual. Then I added my layer of prepped portobello mushrooms.

Portobello Layer

Back to the standard layering of sauce, noodle, cheese, sauce, noodle, sauce, parm, done.

The birthday girl and my step dad came bearing WINE! My mom asked if I was going to be a party joiner or a party pooper. i.e., was I going to embibe or not. I opted for what was behind door number 1. Someone get mama (and granny) a glass!

Cupcake! How perfect for a birthday party.

Wine

And my mom made and brought her own birthday cake! Doesn’t that rock? She just finished reading A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan and a Sock it To Me cake is not only part of the story but the recipe for it is included in the book too, and she was inspired to make it. I was inspired to eat it!

We admired the cake while waiting for the lasagna to finish.

Her own Birthday Cake

Time to eat! Our birthday dinner spread.

Birthday Dinner Spread

A heaping salad with a square of veggie lasagna.

My Dinner

Post-dinner and presents, it was time to sing to Granny!

Sing to Granny

The cake was cut and served and it was then time to sing to Ava and Maxine too. This has become a tradition in our house – at every birthday dinner, we end up singing happy birthday to the girls too. They understand that it’s not their birthday, they just love blowing out candles. Why not?

Sing to Ava Sing to Max

I know what you’re thinking: it’s cute now, but what’s going to happen when they are 80? What kind of precedent am I setting? A non-screamy precedent, that’s what.

Now I’m off choreograph a Bean Sprouting Dance routine so you can all do it awith me. In fact, I think I smell a new work out DVD in the making. Move over 30 Day Shred, there’s a new bean in town.

One Armed Carrot Jokes

Who doesn’t want a little AliSUN in their day?

AliSUN

Anyone who doesn’t read this blog, apparently.

I ran to the soothing sounds of having New Moon read to me. Finally someone who reads TO ME!

New Moon - Visitor

I set out to run 5 miles and was back in about 40 minutes. I was ready to be done running but not ready to head back inside yet so I hopped on my bike for a 20 minute cool down ride and took advantage of the opportunity for a slightly longer work out today.

Home in time to be joined by a one armed carrot for lunch.

One Armed Carrot

What do you call an elephant with a carrot stuffed in each ear?

Anything you want, he can’t hear you!

I’m sorry. I googled one armed carrot jokes but I got nothing.

Google Carrot Jokes

At least the next person who googles “One Armed Carrot Jokes” should wind up here. Too bad I’ve got nothing. FOOLED YOU!

(If you are reading this post because you googled one armed carrot jokes, please report back with any good one armed carrot jokes you come up with so I’ve got one for next time.)

Moving on.

After listening to the sound of a one armed carrot clapping I enjoyed a giant salad and sound of Jillan yelling.

Jillian

Oh Jillian how I’ve missed you!

The phone rang tonight during bathtime and it was Zachary Green Juice Lover calling to report his motorcycle was out of juice and he needed to be rescued. I pulled my two prunes out of the tub and off we went on a rescue mission.

Rescue

Can you make out Zak in that pic? Are you making out with my husband?? *slap slap slap*

Words from the Weeds on the car ride to save dad?

Ava: Look! A wishing star! I wish I was a princess who never burped or farted! Isn’t that a good wish, mom?

Why yes, that is a good wish. I can’t say I haven’t wished that one myself. For both of us.

After rescuing the man I rescued the leftovers. Can we say bean soup and hummus? I think I just did.

Post Rescue Meal

Do you like that bite missing from the hummus on Ezekiel toast? Are you admiring how perfect my bite is? Two years of orthodontia baby! All leading up to this moment. You can thank my mom and dad in the comments for that.

It’s late and I’m feeling punchy (in case you couldn’t tell) from googling one armed carrot jokes and rescuing men and leftovers and wishing I was burpless fart free princess. I’m wishing that for you tonight too. You’re welcome.

Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right

Immediately after I hit Publish this morning we were off for a homeschooling meet up with some friends at a playground.

Tube Crawlin'

Do you remember being a kid and running without wondering when it was time to stop? Running to try and catch a bird or running like you were being chased by a monster in the basement that was going to pull you back down if you didn’t get to the top of the basement stairs before the door closed at the bottom of the stairs behind you?

Run Ava Run!

(See her out there running like it’s nobody’s business?)

No?  I guess that last one was only me.

Watching Ava run like she was being chased by a swarm of bees after her honey reminded that kids don’t worry about their form, their stride, their pace or their heart rate. They run just to RUN.  Too bad she won’t appreciate it until she’s 30.

Despite a chilly and windy day, we managed to spend the whole afternoon at the playground.  This was the perfect set up for another soupy dinner, so it was worth it.

Tonight I made Black Bean and Salsa Soup, one of my all time favorites. Not only is this soup fast and easy but it’s delicious too.

I made some changes tonight to my usual recipe for Black Bean and Salsa Soup, but the changes made even it easier.

I sauteed a little garlic in extra virgin olive oil and added two 15 oz cans of rinsed and drained black beans with a couple cups of water, a cup of vegetable broth and a 16 oz container of medium salsa.

I brought everything to a boil and reduced it to a simmer. I ladled out about half into the food processor (instead of the blender, which is harder to scrape out) and pureed it until smooth.  I poured the pureed beans, broth and salsa it back into the pot with the unpureed soup. This is my absolutely FAVORITE way to make a base for soup!

Black Bean and Salsa Soup

With the base ready to go, I added about 8oz of frozen corn. I took a cue from my new best friend Brendan and decided to replace white rice with quinoa. I love to add rice because it makes it feel more like a meal. But the addition of rice means I have to cook the rice in a separate pot, dirtying another pan (BOO!) and more time too. To add quinoa I just rinsed it and then added it to the pot with everything else.  it cooks up in 15 minutes or so and VOILA. Ready to go, extra protein to boot. (YAY!)

The quinoa was perfect and honestly seemed no different than it does when I make with rice.

I added a couple shakes of cilantro, cumin and a smidgen of roasted red pepper for a little spice.

Why does soup taste better out of a mug? And why does soup taste better with big chunks of avocado on top? Why does anything taste better with big chunks of avocado on top?

Soup in a Mug

I’m going to leave you tonight with a special post from the first runner I ever knew. My dad. But a little background first.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has run on his lunch hour at work. He runs every day, with out fail. Like a mailman, he braves all kinds of weather. People say “You’re not going out TODAY?!” and look at him incredulously as he heads out to run on a 100 degree day with 99% humidity or 30 below and it’s snowing so hard you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

He runs Every. Day.

The other day he calls to tell me a story.  A story that gives new meaning to the word dedication.  A story that had me wiping tears from my eyes.  I asked him to write it down so I could share it on the blog. This was too good not to share.

Like most runners, I have a closet with more than a few pairs of running shoes in it. Some still in service, some awaiting the end of the road as lawn mowers or painters. We feel good about squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of ’em.

So a couple of dark Monday mornings ago, I was too rushed to simply hit the light and see what I was grabbing. After all, I know where my bag and trusty Nike summer trainers are. Feeling around, I grab my shoes, shove ’em in the bag, load in the togs and towel, out the door.

Now, I run at lunch. Have for 30-plus years. You can forget a thing here or there but you are not getting it done without shorts or shoes. Open the locker, start getting ready, shorts on, shirt on, pull out the shoes. You idiot. Two different shoes. Two different LEFT shoes. One Nike summer, one Asics trail. Both lefts.

Panic.

But wait, I can always just go to the weight room, shoeless, but at least I can get that in anyway.

Hold on here, I muse. How bad can it be? I mean, what if I were getting my shoes out of a dumpster?  It could be worse.

OK, let’s see. I try the left Asics trail shoe on the right foot. My foot looks like it was caught in an elevator door. It feels like walking in a brick. But now the left Nike on the right foot…hmmm, kind of unstructured, a little softer. I unlace the whole thing, slap it on. It actually looks believable, feels a tick weird, but OK. I figure to hit the weight room for twenty minutes and see where I come out with this idea. Oh, the idea? Why running in two lefts, of course.

Nobody has noticed at this point. Maybe it’s just that we are all so used to each other. Maybe it’s because they wouldn’t DARE say anything. Well, I assure you that I have running companions who live to torture, deride and insult each other, me included. But they are nowhere in sight.

By now I’m actually comfy! I decide not to look down. If I can get even a paltry three miles in, I’ll be happy. Off I go. Past the bank, out the front door. State Street. Noon. Nobody notices that I look like I play in Green Day.

Two miles. OK, I’m a little crampy. I look down. Even I have to start laughing. What am I DOING? Should I turn back, heck it’s going to be four miles!  No way. Point of no return straight ahead. I vow for six. I mean hey, there’s this guy who runs mega in bare feet.

At mile five, I’m almost home free – well on the way back. No. Can’t be. The King of Insults, Mikey with Paul and John in tow. I decide to just act natural as we pass on the venerable river trail. Mikey spots the two misfit shoes immediately and starts to heckle…then I stop, hands on hips, posed like black and white TV Superman. Then they realize that it’s two lefties.

After they get Mikey back on his feet and stop him from convulsing in laughter we are off on our separate ways, echoes of “idiot! moron!…” fading.

I can’t wait to tell my daughter, I call her right away…basically repeating the story you have so kindly indulged me in telling. She is such a good sport, and nothing is as sweet to me as the sound of her giggles or uncontrollable, stomach holding laughter…which I assure you, she provided.

I told her that NEVER again will I tell my granddaughters that they have their shoes on the wrong feet.

Two Left Feet

I don’t know about you, but if I showed up at the gym with two left shoes, that would totally would have been my sign that it was a day to go out to lunch – not my sign to figure out which left shoe was a better fit on my right foot! Chipotle here I come!

Water Snacks and Pink Shoes

We had an errand to run this morning, and fortunately it landed us very near the library, so we stopped in for a visit. First stop: the bird cages.

Checking Out the Birds

Be sure to check out Maxine’s self selected ensemble. I just got those shoes for her at a thrift shop ($2!!) and no other shoes have been worn since. I kid you not that she threw a complete fit last night when I told her she could not wear them to bed.

Maxine's Ensemble

Home from the library, I was thrilled to get the mail and find the new Runner’s World waiting for me!

Runners World Oct 2009

I’m especially excited about this issue though because yours truly is mentioned in one of the articles this month! Do you get Runner’s World? Be sure to check out the article “Run for All” article by John Hanc. When I attempted to train for the marathon in 2007 I had to stop because I wasn’t ready, but I still volunteered at the race that year and it made me more determined than ever to do it in 2008. The article is basically about how running can do much more for you than just shedding some pounds.

Breakfast was so late this morning that I wasn’t really hungry for lunch, but I felt like I should eat a little something and cut up a (Washed! TWICE!) apple for a mid day snack.

Big Apple

Later in the afternoon while I made a late lunch for myself the girls were ready for a “snack”. This would be Ava’s recipe, hold on to your hats.

Water popsicles.

Water Popcicle

They were so excited for ice cubes on a stick it made me wonder why I ever buy them cookies. Ava made these a while ago but found them today when the snacks I offered (an apple, a banana) were unappealing to her.

Someone remind me why I spend so much money on organic food.

Magenta Popcicle

During water popcicle fun, my I enjoyed a sun filled salad with the left over white bean dip smeared on a piece of Ezekiel toast.  My beast of a salad was comprised of red leaf, spinach, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts, mushrooms, broccoli and carrots.

Sunny Salad

After water snacks Ava and I sat down on the couch together to read a book about volcano’s and Maxine crawled up into my lap to listen, but apparently we bored her to sleep.

Sleepy Max

Tonight for dinner I was in the mood for something new. I was going to try one of Brendan Brazier’s pizza recipes but when I realized it was getting kind of late and the pizza recipes in his book take 45 minutes just to BAKE (not even including prep time) I decided to save it for another night and went with a new spin on black bean burgers instead.

Tonight’s All Star Ingredient? Why sun dried tomatoes! Thanks for asking!

Sundried Tomatoes Mini Prep

I put about a 1/2 cup of jarred sun dried tomatoes packed in oil into my mini prep and chopped them up to mix into the can of rinsed black beans that I had mashed up. I then chopped up about a 1/2 cup or so of sunflower seeds in the mini prep and stirred it all together. I added a little minced garlic on a whim, formed into patties and cooked on each side for about 4 – 5 minutes.

New Burger

Sun dried tomato burger on an Ezekiel roll with pickles, mustard and red leaf lettuce.  This turned out so great and held together the best of all my veggie burger experiments yet!  Served with steamed broccoli topped with Nutritional Yeast. I usually use parm but Brendan talks about the benefits of nutritional yeast in Thrive and I’ve had some in the cupboard for a while now, not knowing what to really do with it.   I whipped it out tonight for a broccoli topping and it was good. It’s got a very nutty, almost cheesy flavor and is a good source of protein. I liked it and will use it again.

And now I better prepare myself to fight the Pink Shoes Bedtime Battle again tonight, I’m sure. Wish me luck.

It Was Ladies Day

So if Saturday was Ladies Night, that must make today Ladies Day! My same group of girls from Saturday went to the zoo together today – except we had the little ones with us and were therefore double the number. 4 adults and 4 kids. 1 : 1 – always a good kid : adult ratio in my book.

Although our nasal passages weren’t pleased with us, we visited the birds upon our arrival this morning. I was a little shocked to find these guys RIGHT THERE, feathers and all, not held back by any cage or fence, just a couple of free birds.

No Fence

Maxine wouldn’t stop saying how stinky it was and asked to leave, so we did – but we were followed!

Bird On the Loose

This picture was taken from the other side of a glass door. I would not stand there like a dope taking pictures while being stalked by a giant lunatic bird. Oh sure, everyone in the back there is smiling in that picture, but smiles turned to nervous laughter as they worked escape without letting this renegade bag of feathers reenact The Birds.

Maybe that’s why they weren’t caged? The zoo is hoping he’ll eventually follow someone home and they’ll be rid of him? Well I’m not falling for it.

Moving on.

Ava was impressed that this rodent ate popcorn like she does.

He Eats Popcorn Too

Speaking of eating, before we knew it kids were crying and we realized it was time for lunch!

Picnic Lunch

We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the sun, brought my salad – To Go style.

Salad Profile

A little dressing…

A Little Dressing

And tossed! I’d like you to believe that I’m winking and flirting with you but really I was squinting from the sun. The flirting sounds much more interesting though so let’s stick with that.

Not Winking

Tossed and perfectly coated!

Tossed Salad

After lunch came playing in the Zoo Animal Clinic for Kids.

Dr. Max observes an x-ray and thinks things are looking sort of grim for this little bugger.

Looking Grim

More zooventures, waiting for orangutans.

Waiting For Orangutans

Waiting for orangutans makes me hungry! Fortunately I had a lovely concoction of dried apples, raisins and walnuts to tied me over.

Trail Mix

A long day at the zoo – and Maxine is done.

And She's Done

But there’s always a little energy left for a quick playground stop on the way home.

Zoo Playground

Why yes she is wearing a different dress, thank you for noticing. That’s what happens when you drink too much water and mom doesn’t double check if you have to go potty before we leave the zoo. Now we know.

Tonight for dinner I had Mary and Tina’s Black Bean Chili with Bulgur on the brain! They both gave it rave reviews and once I realized that I had almost all the ingredients for this recipe I knew what we’d be having for dinner tonight.

I didn’t have any bulgur so I subbed the fabulous psedo-grain that I happened to have on hand; Quinoa!

I diced and sauteed a small red onion and some minced garlic in extra virgin olive oil until soft. I added two 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes, 2 cans of rinsed and drained black beans and then about 3/4 c of rinsed quinoa. My spices were oregano, paprika, chili powder, roasted red pepper and cumin. The quinoa cooks pretty quickly and this was ready in about 20 minutes.

Cooking Quinoa Chili

It turned out great! I topped mine with diced avocado just like Mary Girl and Tina Baby. A perfect topping.

Black Bean and Quinoa Chili

Now I’m off to have nightmares about stinky bird attacks while the giant popcorn eating rodents use my air popper and don’t even try to save me.

Tears in My Throw Pillow

Thank you all for your warm, sweet comments on my post this morning. I was feeling pretty groovy about it after I posted it but as the day wore on I started feeling less and less groovy and more and more stupid.

Have you ever gone to a party and had too much to drink and then danced around like you thought you were God’s gift to dancing, only to wake up the next morning with a banging headache wondering what on earth you were thinking and where did these weird ass blisters on my feet come from?

Yeah, me either.

Except instead of wine my drug of choice this morning was apparently an exercise induced endorphin rush and a memorable sunrise. My morning-after began here.

Toys R Us

Yes, she’s wearing those pants again. I promise they have been washed since she wore them on Monday.

We had a bunch of plans today that were flushed down the toilet when Ava woke up complaining of a sore throat. Homeschooly art thing? Cancelled. Swimming this afternoon? Cancelled. Enter: errands that ended with a quick trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. Oh wait. I think that’s Disney World. OK, scratch that. The Second Happiest Place on Earth.

Wondering about lunch? Did I skip a meal? hahahah not quite. Lunch consisted of rummaging the fridge for all of my favorite side dishes before we danced our way to the car.

Salsa and carrots? Check.

Dates and Almond Butter? Check and check.

Green and Black 70% Dark Chocolate? Triple check.

So back to Adventures at Toys R Us.

We got lost in a sea of pink.

Holy Pink

Maxine got so excited she laid down right in the middle of the floor to make dirt angels. I made her get up but not before taking a few pictures.

Dirt Angel Dirt Angel
Dirt Angel Dirt Angel

Naturally.

After groceries (I think I grocery shop just about every day. I need an intervention.) and a couple other stops we were home and was having a big case of blogger remorse. I was in desperate need of tall frosty one. Tall frosty green lemonade that is. And then I cried tears into my throw pillow.

Tears in My Throw Pillow

OK, I didn’t really cry. I’m just picking on myself a little bit. I make it so easy.

That was dinner. Well, that and some banana whip to round out a day of randomness.

Banana Whip

I’m very eager to hit publish and move this morning’s post away from the top of the page. Backing away… slowly… slowly…

Souper Supper

This morning I had a meeting at Ava’s homeschooled school. That’s right, my homeschooled kid will be going to school. Just once a week for 3 hours with a bunch of other homeschoolers, but still – we call it school.

Aunt Ellen stayed with the girls while I went to the meeting. I snacked on an apple on the drive there.

apple jocalot

And ate a Larabar mid meeting.

Home and more than ready to eat, I went with fast. Just your run of the mill everything-but-the-kitchen-sink gigantic tossed salad.

Big Salad salad

Topping with homemade Italian dressing post-photo shoot. And then enjoyed my favorite date and almond butter treats, all in a row.

Three Little Dates, All in a Row

The afternoon was lazy and low key, until snack time that is. I was delighted to find Organic Popcorn the other day!

Arrowhead Mills Organic Popcorn

The snack that keeps on giving. It’s entertaining to pop – and fun to try and count as it’s coming out too.

counting popcorn

It’s high in fiber, low in calories (even topped with a little melted butter!)

popcorn_snack

And what do you know? Ants like it too!

We had an impromptu homeschooling adventure when we spotted some ants coming up between a crack in the sidewalk and Ava put down a couple pieces of popcorn. We watched in amused amazement as these ants went crazy for these white puffs of popped corn. They actually rocked the popcorn around while the worked to dismember it.

Ants on Popcorn

I left them on the porch while I went into to get some peppers for additional snack-age. They took it upon themselves to get right in the middle of the action while I was inside for a few minutes.

Snacky Peppers

They went from ant observers to ant trappers.

Ant Trap

I’m afraid I can’t promise that no ants were harmed here.

But enough with blood and ant carnage, tonight was one of those I-don’t-know-WHAT-to-make-for-dinner-what-can-I-come-up-with-from-what-we-have-in-the-house nights. You know the kind.

Veggies abound and there was no avoiding a produce drawer full of carrots. I came up with my very own recipe, Curried Carrot and Cauliflower Lentil Soup. That’s quite a mouthful. In more ways than one.

I shredded about 5 to 6 large carrots in the food processor and shredded one large red onion as well. I usually shred veggies by hand but if I’m doing a lot at once then I use the food processor shredder piece. I threw the whole shredded bundle into the pot with some garlic and sauteed it all in until extra virgin olive oil until soft. Once everything had softened up I added about 8oz of rinsed and drained red lentils and a couple cups of low-sodium vegetable broth and a few good shakes of curry powder.

Curried Carrot and Cauliflower Lentil Soup

I added about a cup of water and brought it all to a boil. Reduced heat to low and then simmered until the lentils were cooked. Probably 20 minutes or so?

I ladled out about half and put it into the food processor to make a a thicker base.

Souper Scooper Processed

I poured the pureed soup back in with the unpureed half and added a few chunks of cauliflower and cooked on low for another 15 minutes or so until the cauliflower softened up.

Mean while, back at the other side of the stove, I decided it was a Soup-er Sandwich night and made something I haven’t had in ages – grilled cheese and tomato!

Sprayed the pan with EVOO with my favorite olive oil sprayer and laid two slices of sesame Ezekiel bread into the pan with a little shredded Colby Jack cheese and tomato slices.

Grilled Cheese

Gettin’ hot and melty in there!

Melty

Mmmm… melty!

Grilled Cheese and Tomato

Soup and Sandwich. Go together like a horse and carriage?

Curried Carrot Soup

The soup was good but that grilled cheese sandwich? Now that was super!