Monday, July 23, 2012

Ski-wee Herman

Trader Joe's continues to impress me.  Last time I was there I found this "European Style" yogurt and thought I'd give it a try.  I haven't been able to get enough of yogurt lately (for breakfast, for snacks, for dessert) and when I studied abroad, I absolutely loved the yogurt in France, so the European description definitely appealed to me.  And it didn't disappoint - I will definitely be getting this yogurt again.

Sometimes when it's so hot, I just don't have a big appetite.  Or I'm just too lazy to chew.  Either way, smoothies for lunch are great options when that happens.  

This smoothie was SOOO good.  It had 1 cup of milk, 1 T chia seeds, 1 scoop of vanilla Sun Warrior protein powder, 1 T natural peanut butter, rainbow chard, 2 small peaches, strawberries, cherries, and a frozen banana (plus some ice cubes).  I cut the peaches over the blender so that the juice would drip right into my smoothie - they were too good to waste a drop!  The smoothie was super tasty, and I felt good that I was able to sneak some greens in there without it affecting the flavor at all.  

It didn't even all fit in that huge cup!  I had some leftover which I put in the fridge - I'd never done that before because I was afraid the texture would be ruined, but that wasn't the case at all.  It still tasted good the next day!

I put my ice cream maker to use again - this time making classic vanilla bean ice cream.  My dad said it was probably the best ice cream he's ever had - I'll take it!  

With some fresh cherries on top... swoon.  Perfection.

Another delicious way to enjoy vanilla ice cream: in float form!  I used Zevia root beer, which is sweetened with stevia and doesn't have any calories.  I also love the black cherry soda and ginger ale - they're all yummy, and I think they're much better than diet soda or regular soda.  My grandma used to make me root beer floats pretty much every time I went over to her house, so this took me back.

You know what's great?  Getting a freshly baked cookie at work!  :)

You know what else is great?  Fun summer activities with family.  My family and I didn't get to go on our usual summer vacation this year, so we did a few local things together as a family.  We went to an Indians game, and had awesome seats.

And I didn't get to see any fireworks on the 4th of July, so I was excited for the fireworks show after the game!

We also went to a water ski show.  I am completely in awe of these skiers - how amazing are they??  This was a father-daughter team.  Unfortunately I couldn't convince my dad to try this with me.  Ha!  I would never be able to do that.  

One of the fearless, daredevil skiers was called "Ski-wee Herman," like Pee-wee Herman - it only took me about halfway through the show to put that together, haha.

Check out this FOUR tier pyramid.  What?!  Insane.  I can barely stand up on a pair of water skis and make it around the lake once.  I am totally blown away by these talented skiers.

Now for a critter update - check out this hummingbird!  It got trapped in our screened-in porch so my dad and I propped the doors open and it flew out, but it must have been really tired because it just sat on the top of this door for quite awhile.  

Can you see me in that reflection?  I had to stand on my tip toes and reach way up to try to get a better view.

And check this out - my dad actually got to hold the hummingbird.  Crazy!!!  The hummingbird eventually flew away and seemed okay.  We've seen quite a few buzzing by and eating at the feeder since then, and I think he's one of them.

Oh hey little buddy!  I looked out of my bedroom window to find this deer walking up the creek.  Look at his cute little antlers!

In other news, I'm still working on painting my table and chairs.  It's a long process, but I'm making progress.  

Are you still reading?  Sorry, I know this is a long post.  If you are, you should go here and enter Gena's juicer giveaway!

Song of the day:

"Heartbeat" by JJAMZ.  I posted another JJAMZ song before ("Never Enough" - also my inspiration for the title of my last post) and now that their full album is out, I can officially declare Suicide Pact as my favorite album of the summer, and possibly the year.  I'd definitely encourage you to check it out!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Never Enough

Since I usually write about food, working out, and random things going on in my life, I debated whether I should write about a serious topic.  After much thought, I decided that I wouldn't feel right going ahead with my usual postings without writing about something major that happened in my life, even though it is sad.

Last Friday, my grandpa on my mom's side of the family passed away.

He was 88, and just celebrated his 62nd wedding anniversary with my grandma.  

I can credit him with my love of vegetables - he had an amazing garden for a long time, and his vegetables were incredibly delicious.  As my dad said, we haven't had a good lima bean since my grandpa stopped gardening in 2005.  

Grandparents are pretty special - they love you unconditionally, and aren't embarrassed to have their picture taken with you even when your fashion sense has much to be desired.  

My grandpa always let me know how proud he was of me, which means more to me than I can adequately express.  

He was diagnosed with lung cancer last November, even though he never smoked.  And his diagnosis came about a week after my grandpa on my dad's side of the family passed away.  

Losing one grandpa was heartbreaking, and losing another one so soon just seems unfair.  

But I am so lucky to have grown up with such great grandpas.  They played board games with me (and, I suspect, let me win), pushed me on the best tree swing in the world as high as I wanted, and showed me how to catch frogs down at the creek.

I'm so fortunate to have had them in my life for as long as I did.  They got to see me graduate from high school.  

And then from college.  

But it's never enough time, really.  

I wish they could have seen me graduate from law school.  I wish they could have seen me pass the Bar.  I wish they could have seen me get married and have a family one day.  But I am so grateful to have them as role models, and I strive to raise a family of my own as well as they raised theirs, and to have even a fraction of an impact as they had on so many people.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cooling Down

Hey guys!  Can you believe the 4th of July has come and gone?  I can't.  The summer is flying by!

This was my patriotic breakfast for Independence Day:

Plain yogurt with half a banana, strawberries, and blueberries.  Like most of the country, it's been super hot here lately.

I haven't been in the mood for hot oatmeal, so I've been having lots of yogurt for breakfast.  I love to add some granola to plain yogurt and fresh fruit, and last week I tried out a new granola recipe from Angela at Oh She Glows called Power House Glonola.

It has a stellar ingredient list:  almonds, sea salt, flax seeds (I used ground flax seed), chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, pumpkin pie spice (I used a maple cinnamon mix because I didn't have pumpkin pie spice on hand), dried apricots, oats, cacao nibs (I omitted these), pure maple syrup (I subbed in agave), and coconut oil.

I baked the granola a bit too long - I should have watched it closely for the last 5 minutes like Angela suggested - but it's still pretty tasty and I'm enjoying adding it to regular yogurt for breakfast, and sometimes to Greek yogurt for dessert!

Sometimes yogurt for dessert just doesn't cut it for me, though.  The hot weather has been the perfect excuse to finally try out my ice cream maker and some recipes from Jeni's book.  If you live in Ohio, there's a good chance you've at least heard of Jeni's ice cream, and hopefully you've had the chance to try it!  Her ice cream is unbelievably delicious.  My favorite flavor (so far, at least) is her Salty Caramel - probably because sweet + salty = perfection.

These ingredients are not for the faint of heart.

Pretty darn rich, but that's why it tastes so darn good :)

I was a little nervous to caramelize the sugar, but it worked fine and the results were definitely worth it.  I'm a fairly messy cook, though, and the kitchen turned into quite a disaster zone in the meantime.

Churning away:

Look at that creamy texture!

Ready to go in the freezer (after I taste-tested some from the ice cream maker, of course - someone had to scrape the bowl clean!).

Frozen and ready to be scooped.


Along with yogurt for breakfast and ice cream for dessert, the hot weather has meant the need for cooler clothes.  I ordered a pair of white lace shorts and red tennis shoes from Land's End Canvas (on sale + free shipping, of course).  I love the scalloped edge of the shorts.

Another hot weather staple - watermelon!  I got a juicy, sweet watermelon that tasted so delicious and refreshing.  Eaten with half of a leftover baked sweet potato (with butter and cinnamon) and a slice of whole grain oat bread topped with leftover smashed chickpea and avocado spread.  Great lunch!

The heat finally broke today, so I spent a good portion of the day out in the garage working on painting my kitchen table and chairs.  Thank goodness for my NPR app - it keeps me very entertained!  This afternoon, one of the shows I listened to was the Cleveland taping of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me, which I actually got to attend a couple of weeks ago!  

My mom got tickets for our family as a Father's Day present for my dad.  It was so much fun, really hilarious, and also interesting to see the "behind the scenes" part of what goes into recording the show.  And we all got reusable bags - score!

I hope you're all staying cool and that you're getting the most out of your summer!

Song of the day:

"Stutter" by Maroon 5.  I was listening to their newest album the other day and of course I know the song "Moves Like Jagger" but I think "Stutter" is even catchier.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dark Green Thumb

Hello friends!  

In an effort to change up my lunch routine, I tried out a new recipe today:  smashed chickpea and avocado sandwich.  It's simple but delicious.  

The recipe calls for chickpeas, avocado, fresh cilantro (I subbed in basil), green onion, lime juice (I used 1 T bottled instead of fresh), salt and pepper.

Woops, forgot the green onion in this picture.  
I opted not to rub the skins off the chickpeas (I didn't want to take the time).  You just smash everything together and mix it up, and voila:

I put plastic wrap right on top of the leftover mixture before I put the lid on the container and stored it in the fridge - this should somewhat help to prevent the avocado from oxidizing and turning brown.  
That's it!  Pretty easy and straightforward, but a good way to switch up lunch.  I've never liked mayonnaise so I kind of felt left out of the egg salad-type options for lunch.  But I think this is a great alternative, and I also plan to try making egg salad with Greek yogurt.  

I spread some of the avocado-chickpea mixture on whole grain oat bread and added some lettuce for a delicious sandwich.  Baby carrots and hummus on the side.

So remember when I started growing some herbs?

I planted basil, lavender, rosemary, strawberry, chives, and forget-me-nots.

Well, I used some of the basil that I grew in my chickpea and avocado spread!  

You can probably tell there aren't quite as many pots in the "after" picture as the "before" pictures.  My BFF said I have a dark green thumb - not quite black, but not green :)  I have two pots of rosemary, two pots of basil, two pots of chives, and a pot of forget-me-nots growing.  The lavender petered out, and the strawberries never grew.   But that's okay!  I especially hope that my rosemary keeps growing - between rosemary and basil, I'd pretty much be set.

This morning I took one of my recent favorite exercise classes with my mom - TurboKick!

It's basically kickboxing, as far as I can tell.  I think it's a lot of fun, and very challenging - it's great cardio.

After the class, I tried out coconut water for the first time.

I picked it up the other day, but unfortunately I'm not a fan.  I've read so many things about how hydrating coconut water is because of all of the natural electrolytes, but I don't like coconut... so I think that has something to do with it :)

In other news...

Yep, that happened.  And it was glorious.  Two dollar bills up.

I stopped at the grocery store before the movie to pick up movie snacks.  I tried out this new drink:

It was pretty good, but I prefer Synergy kombucha.  And I had some unpictured Reese's Pieces :)

Lastly, I had to share this audio clip (discovered via Mama Pea).

So hilarious and adorable.  

And on that note, have a great night!

Song of the day:

"Even If It Breaks Your Heart" by Eli Young Band.