Friday, January 31, 2014

And winter is cranky this year!

I can just hear winter saying last spring- (you know, the spring that never came) HA!  They have NO IDEA what I have in store for them.......  MUAH HAHAHAHAHAHA.  (Did you notice the nice, icy, blue font I used for that?? )  

I wish you could see the true size of this snow bank! Hard to see the scale.
Anyway, you guys, I don't know about you, but I am trying to hang on to my optimism.  But man it is tough,  It is only the end of January and somehow feels like March, without the long days.  We've had a lot of winter shoved into the past few months.  AND I have never seen so much snow sitting around. The horse's life has gotten smaller, as he is kinda stuck in an area right around his barn.  He can't even get out to his little sunny corner- which is ok, since it looks like he could step right over the fence!  The snow is right up to the bottom of the door of the horse barn, and is almost as high as the window on the new side door!  Good grief!

Tomorrow is a great adventure- some friends and I are heading up to the northern most part of Wisconsin (I know, this is not all that great of an idea, but we have our reasons!) I will post about it tomorrow.  Tonight I went for a snowshoe, as someone in the house left the batteries for the screwdriver/drill doodad back at the cabin last Sunday.  So I volunteered to walk back to get it.  It is astounding how much snow is sitting around - sorry how repetitive this is, but it surprises me all the time.  

This is about 2 ft of snow on the cabin roof
I was recently asked how much we have sitting on the ground, and I said - oh you know a few feet, maybe 18 - 24 inches.....  WELL, we have apparently gotten 54 inches of snow here!!  54!  Color me corrected!  and we got about 5 more inches yesterday, so yay us. The horse's water bucket has disappeared under the snow.  I cleared out some snow from under our furnace vents and the MA chipped some built up snow off the entrance to the garage.  The mail man left a message indicating that there was too much snow in front of the mailbox, which resulted in a rant about junk mail from the MA- apparently tax season is in full swing.  Time to keep the beast soothed with some chocolate chips cookies or something similar.  

Lola is rapidly losing ground here- this was BEFORE the last snowfall
Poor Lola girl is really looking stranded out there!  The snow is only about a foot below her bird bath bowl.  I am hoping the poor girl doesn't get completely covered, she will not be amused.  I am think some sort of decoration on her needs to be done- I just need to get over by her.  This could be a challenge.

Anyway, at least we had some nice sun, even if there isn't much warmth associated with it these days.  Gotta get better- it is staying light past 5 and really looking brighter at 7 when I leave the house in the morning.  WHEW!  Of course you know what this means!  Daffodils (and heck, maybe Valentines flowers - a second year!!  That would be a shocker) are bound to be close behind.

Off we go into February, and I will continue looking for some springy types of joy!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Snowmobile trail walking and the perils within...

Now before you get all worked up, the perils of walking on a snowmobile trail did not in the least involve a snow mobile.  And also, there wasn't much actual peril, but it got YOUR attention, didn't it?! Let me go back.....
Well, it wasn't sunny today, unfortunately!

I headed out for my walk today about 8:30 or so, and I headed to the west to The Outhouse bar on the corner of E and B, which is where I take a right to be able to walk past my beloved Stone House.  The Stone House, by the way, is kinda inaccessible, because the snow is ridiculously deep.  I have learned my lesson from snow shoeing and don't plan on tromping through possible hip deep snow without snow shoes.  And even then it might be a bit dicey.  Anyway, I was trucking along, watching my feet almost the whole time, with full intention of hitting Maple Ridge road, go right and complete the loop and head home on Hwy E.  This would be about 5 miles and easily fill my desire to do some distance walking, in  preparation for this.

As I was walking along, having to be very careful to keep an eye out for cars and an eye out for slippery spots on the road, I did not see, until I heard her shouting, my neighbor Rita.  The ear buds were in and I was enjoying one of my awesome playlists that I got from my friend the Mad-Marathoner Samara.  So I stopped to chat with Rita, who was over on the snowmobile trail about 20 or 30 feet off the road.  She was telling me how fun it was to go on the trail, and the days that the groomer went through (Thursday and/or Friday) , and therefore which days were best for walking on the trails (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).  She told me that I just needed to catch the trail over on Mapleridge (to the left instead of the right) and then walk through the beautiful woods etc.  Of course I know the area and so mapped out in my mind where the rest of the trail was, including the part that runs right through our property. She described in detail the path between where we were standing and my house, and this was DOABLE.  Well this is pretty cool, she assured me that the walking was good and she and I went on our way!  Awesome, right?  I LOVE finding new places to walk.  And of course you-know-who has her cameras with her!!!!!  WA HOO.

Stone house from a different angle

Well I get over to MapleRidge and hit the trail and it is just gorgeous. The trails go through the properties of various people and you get to see things that you don't ordinarily. You go through areas that would be wood tick and mosquito ridden in the spring and summer, and besides, most property, including ours, is not accessible during the rest of the year.  The woods are wonderful, the trail is groomed and I start walking.  My issue at first, as was the entire walk, are the big clunky boots I am wearing for traction.  It is hard to get proper ankle flexion and so it is hard to attain any speed.  Besides my ankles, and hip flexors were a bit fatigued from the snow shoeing yesterday, but wah.  whatever debi.  Anyway, the thing that didn't occur to me and Miss Rita neglected to point out is that the snowmobile trails are HILLY.  I mean HILLY, man. Which ordinarily I would have been all over and celebrating for the extra calorie burn......  oy. And then of course there is the trail which gets ruffled up from the machine tracks- and yeah that makes for interesting walking.  Step step slip step slip.....

I love that there is this little bit of color left from when the house held some life.

So I was following Ritas footsteps, because she was picking through and finding the areas with best traction and all.  This was good, Rita was still in my good graces for getting me on this new route, and then as I crossed the one road and set off for the next section of trail, Rita's footprints (with her dog's tracks as well) are no where to be seen.  Apparently Rita knows what the next section is like and stayed on the road then!  Thanks a LOT!!  LOL. It was HILLY again and I encountered some machines, which was fine, and I strayed off the trail like by a foot's width and wham. Down I went up to my MID THIGH.  The misleading things is that the snow that is soft and the snow that is groomed are the same height, weirdly and cruelly.  So yeah, don't get off trail to text someone or you will find yourself suddenly up to your tushie in snow.  And then you have wet pant legs.  Between the slow gait, the picture-taking, the new route and blah blah blah, I was out there for 2 HOURS and 5 minutes- WHEW!!!!

So, I am in reality grateful to Rita, as this will be a lot of fun.  There are tons of possibilities for routes and variations on that theme, but I need to rethink my footwear.  Tennies might be better with a few pairs of socks.  Idk, I'll try some things out.  I have to remember that this won't be a fast walk, more for endurance and it really does give you a workout with all the little foot slips and balance readjustments.

This is the house that is across from the Stone house

 My day was totally thrown off from what I had stated earlier.  I got home much later than I thought I would, so I decided to hold off on the gym until tomorrow, go upstairs and clean a while (it was a good thing to do!), then go back to the cabin on snowshoes (I question my sanity sometimes) and then whip up a yummy Enchilada Casserole that has black beans and butternut squash.  HOLY SMOKES was that ever good!  I have plenty of goodies to eat this week!  YES!

So, I think I need to go get my stuff ready for tomorrow, as we do not have a day off for MLK day. We have a Records Day this Friday, which amazingly enough means that the school year is half over.  HOLY CRAP.  It is always nice to have things ready to roll in the morning, and I am thinking a skirt or dress might be in order, as the rest of the week is supposed to be getting colder.... surprise surprise.  But that's what winter is in WI, and I will try my best to find some joy.

Sparkly Snow and sunshine and triggers

Pic from Friday night
Saturday was a wonderful, remarkable day for us up here Northern WI.  Remarkable because it was sunny (which is indeed amazing in itself) and NOT -20 and NOT windy.  This resulted in a day that felt warm!  You can tell we are all delusional here because the warmth was  grand total of maybe 18 degrees, but wow this year it is all relative!! Fred actually left the door of the cabin OPEN while he was doing his little project outside, because it was colder in the cabin.  Now to me whether the cabin was 7 degrees or 17 didn't seem to make much of a difference when he was working outside, but hey, whatever floats your boat, honey.

I was struck by the sparkles.  This doesn't give what I saw justice.

The cool thing is that TODAY is supposed to be about the same, only a touch warmer!!  I am  hoping for sun, too, but that might be a bit much to expect.  We shall see what comes.  Today is Sunday and it is the day that I try to shove all the things in that I didn't get done Saturday.  Fortunately the house is clean (YAY) and the groceries and food are dealt with too, but I do want to work on one more thing to eat this week.  I also want to get in a walk on the road, get to the gym and try and work upstairs for a while.The upstairs is an ongoing project of clearing out 25 plus years of accumulated kid stuff and well, some of our old stuff as well.  I have already taken several boxes to the library, thrift and transfer station and I know I have at least 2 more boxes of books and who knows what else to the thrift and dump.  It is cathartic and it also has brought back a lot of good memories looking at some of those things I have come across.

I recently read an article about how to make something a habit.  It was one of those things that seem innocuous, but turned out to be something that I have thought and thought about!  One of the steps is to have a trigger.  A trigger is an event or place or time or object that will trigger your memory to do that process that you want to have made into a habit.   In other words- finding something that will make that action automatic.  I'm trying to do a "Lola a Day" picture on Instagram, and I'm trying to establish getting outside about 7 am (before I have an armload of school bags) to take a shot of Lola. I put it on Instagram later- So my trigger is when I am putting my boots on, before I put my coat on.  This isn't working perfectly yet, as I have had to go back to the porch to take a pic with an armload....  The other thing is that I want to add a little meditation to my morning routine, but that definitely needs work.  My schedule is very lazy in the morning. BUT I do like the results of my attitude for the day when I remember it, so I want to establish that routine.

Why do I talk about this today?? Good question, I just found it an interesting way to think about a habit.  Conditioned response in psychology class!  My conditioned response to leaving school is to drive directly to the gym!  I am a random sort of person with occasional gusts of linear thought, but today is not one of those gusty days.

So what to do, what to do....  I want to have about 4 extra hours this afternoon to be able to do what I want- but that won't happen so I need to prioritize.  Since I have a 5 mile Snowshoe coming up here in 3 or 4 weeks, I need to get some distance under my feet, I will also go clean upstairs later and def. get to the gym by noon.  Then I have time to snow shoe after that if I want or do some other things- what those are will appear to me later.  I definitely will be hoping for a good photo day, though.

I hope you enjoy these pix from yesterday, I wish I could reproduce the amazing, blinding sun and the sparkle of the puffy snow and the really nice day it was to be outside.

On a side note- this has been a really WINTERY winter.  Cold and a lot of snow.  I mean, you can't believe how much snow we have out there when  you walk where no one has.  I've been breaking new snow shoe trails for myself and when I get going the snow is higher than my knees.  I tried to take a pic to show how deep it is, but it just doesn't work very well.  Holy smokes. This will be good for the trees and the water table, so I won't complain. (Oh yeah, yes I will- but you will forgive me, right??)

See?  These do not show how deep the crazy snow is.
Anyway, on to a new day and a new week.  I feel like there are new possibilities coming to me.  I am trying to hold this great attitude, in spite of a very stressful week coming up with appointments and the end of the quarter and new things I have to do at school and such. But for some reason I am willing to take them on and make them mine - whatever the outcome.  I'm going to search for a few triggers to add 2 new habits to my day/week and always ALWAYS be a joy giver.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A vegetarian type of post~ food and assorted miscellany

I began my morning in the usual Saturday way.  I was choosing what sort of food I was going to make for the upcoming week, by searching through my Pinterest boards and my Feedly blogs.  This takes place at 5 or 6 (6 in this case) in the morning, whilst drinking my coffee...  Anyway, I was reading one of the blogs ~ the "Blonde Vegan" and she had the top 10 questions people ask Vegetarians and Vegans.  That is as close to the name as I am going to get for now.  She said basically that she thinks it is flattering that people ask these things and frankly I find it annoying after a while.  I don't mind if someone asks questions at all, except for the dreaded: So you eat fish don't you?  LORD have mercy that makes me crazy.  I, in my imagined wry humor commented such a thing, and then finished off with a confident- my family never asks me those things any more.....

Fast forward to breakfast:
The MA is having his breakfast as he is hunkered over his daily dose of Bejeweled Blitz. I, being in a good mood today, asked him if there was anything he'd like me to make for lunch, or whatever, as I was going to be grocery shopping and had a bit of time this afternoon.  (This was after he asked me what these scary sharp things were in the bread (his toast). HAHAHAHA- Well, toots, that would be called cracked wheat pieces.) CRACKED me up.

Back to business here- So he says that he hasn't had tuna and noodles for such a long time and he wouldn't mind that. (This was a shock, as he is not a noodle person generally).  You'll eat that won't you?  Um, no.  Tuna- OH, you don't eat fish?  FFS!!  And then I assured him I would make it and make my part with something good and whatever.  And actually I put tempeh in it and it was yummo!  Had it with the balsamic roasted veggies that I did right before noon-  yup, heaven.

Note to self- Don't ever let your vegetarian guard down.  And never assume they are ever listening, I guess.  Good grief. Then I reminded him I hadn't eaten any meat for two years, including fish, with the exception of the anniversary dinner fiasco, and we just don't need to go into that!  Water under the bridge so to speak...  We did spend some lovely time outside in this sparkly snow back by the cabin...  That will be in another post I guess.

Some of the things I made today!!  I have linked blogs here, as I pretty much made them as they are written

Quinoa breakfast bars
These breakfast bars are pretty darn good and healthy!  The came from the Lean Green Bean blog HERE

Lasagna Roll Ups
Lasagna Roll-ups were super easy to make and it was GOOD. Even the ever suspicious MA liked these.  Lol, actually, as long as there isn't soy involved or peanut butter, the MA does try quite a few things that I make.  I just don't expect him to eat vegetarian- I always have some type of meat  or a burger for the little darlin'- gotta make sacrifices for the sake of togetherness.  :)  The Lasagna Rollups can be found HERE on Oh My Veggies.

These don't photo pretty, but they taste REALLY good

AND then there were these chocolate and nut pieces of amazing.....  They also came from the Lean Green Bean Blog.....  No bake and done in about 10 minutes, plus freeze time.    You can find it HERE
See that bowl next to the little chocolate cups??  I **may** have attacked that thing with a spatula when it was "empty".   And it was good!!

I did some roasted veggies and quinoa and a batch of cooked beans, too- I'm exhausted!  :) But ready for the week to come....  and that is a joy!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Walking and shooting and things going on

This was a bit of a monochromatic weekend, as you can see by the pictures here!  I did notice the sun was out while I was in the gym (of course it was) but by the time I got home, threw on additional layers of clothes and clicked into the snowshoes- it was gone.  Oh well.  It was OVER 0 so that was a plus.  In fact, I ended up changing my clothes a lot as I really did get pretty sweaty- under all those wind proof outer layers.  It was a pleasant change of pace.

The MA and I went snowshoeing on Saturday night and I have absolutely no pix of that as I left the phone by accident in the house and I am such a putz getting all of my stuff on anyway, I didn't want to take the time to go get it.  We used the head lamps that the kids gave us and off we tromped around the field.  We have a really nice trail made, so the snowshoeing will continue!  

The other interesting thing I did this weekend was take a concealed carry class.  I debated about telling people this, and did not post it on facebook.  But as this was my decision and it affects no one else in the world (well other than the guy who has all the ammunition!) I thought it was somewhat blog worthy!  :) My main motivation is not fear of people- it is fear of walking in remote areas with lions and tigers and bears, oh my!  Seriously.  I am assuming I will never use it, but I am practicing so at least if I have to I will accomplish what I need to.  I do enjoy the target practice.  It is pretty fun to be able to improve my aim in a very short time.  I am apparently a pretty quick study.  

The other shooting I did this weekend is I FINALLY WENT FOR A LONG WALK!!!  and of course that involved a camera as well.  I MISSED the stone house and my favorite tree so much!!  It has been at least 6 weeks, but I think more, since I have walked on the road.  Winter has not been kind for that.  It hit hard and with a vengeance.  If the weather wasn't terribly cold, the roads were awful.  Things shaped up out there quite a bit with 2 days of just barely above freezing.  YES!  

I made sure I got pictures of my landmarks, plus included here are a couple from snowshoeing. The house from across the field is quite fetching, and then the MA likes it when I take cabin pictures.  I don't think he has ever even seen this blog, other than the rare times I show him something on it, so he won't see the cabin here, I'd venture to guess. BUT I try to get it on facebook occasionally.  Makes him feel important and proud.  Lol, he and the Barber are working on bed frames for the cabin now.  Busy little beavers that they are.

My pretty grey house and the garden shed

Little cabin in the woods

Favorite tree 

The old abandoned house across from the stone house

Stone house
I really wanted to hike up the side of the hill to get up by the house, but it really is deep snow.  REALLY DEEP However, I have a feeling that will not work next time.  I want to get up there again and shoot it in that snow.

I am in "training" with my snow shoes for the "Book Across the Bay" from Ashland to Washburn in a month.  It is a walk/run across Lake Superior- which scares the heck out of me. But I'm going to do it!! So I am needing to get in some long walks to repair my endurance and work on the snowshoes for the muscles needed.  I like the idea of this bookin', I will be a skeered skeeter when I am walking though!!

I got in a lot of activity today, sort of like I used to when I was losing.  I have definitely let myself relax in that whole obsessive watching every morsel I eat and exercise until I want to drop thing. It was awesome to get such a great workout - I truly love it.  I just question this whole idea of starving yourself to become a replica of things/people that are randomly chosen as ways that you are supposed to be and ways  you are supposed to look.  It seriously breaks my heart when sweet, wonderful people are hurting because they don't live up to an ideal that is in their head when they are strong, gorgeous, handsome, amazing, intelligent people. WHY do you need to be 120 instead of 130?  Who came up with this idea that you should exercise for HOURS a day and then not go home and feed your hunger??  How is this logical?  If you have kicked your own ass and had a great workout and you are so starving that you are weak and desperate, I think you should be eating something, the hell with the number on the scale.  Obsession is a wicked, insidious thing. It still haunts me.  Scale obsession lives deep inside me.  I have not stood on a scale since my last major weight freakout.  A lot of things have happened since then, I have come to terms with this idea or at least come to my senses and I am very happy not to know.  It is my way of coping and it is my way of being at peace.  I have been told that it is just a number and I agree- TOTALLY- but I am not able to be happy with or at least not care about whatever that number may be.  Ignorance is bliss for me in this regard.

We are still the same people no matter what we weigh.  I know I may be more self confident, but I am the essence of me still.  I am still the same person who gets distracted by clouds, who loves photography, children, art, animals, smiles, sunshines and lions, reading and gardening and food and cooking.  And whether I am one weight or another really makes no difference. Our character and the way we treat others is far more important than any physical trait that we might have.  I'm having one of those reflective moments apparently!  This type of subject has been rolling around in my mind for quite a while and it has the need to be mentioned again.

But I am beginning to get sleepy now and while there is more to be said - I don't think I am capable of continued coherence.  If I ever had that in the first place.

Anyway, I have to be off to dream land- so I hope that this day has brought you some joy and that you brought some joy and smiles to others!

Greek Stewed Cauliflower

Greek flavors involve savory and more traditionally sweet cinnamon and orange zest.  And a dose of salty in the olives!
So I did almost no cooking this weekend-  yesterday I was busy doing a little 4 hour class at the tech school in Phillips and then I got outside and snowshoed twice.  This morning I went for a long walk, then hit the gym and then went snow shoeing.....  yikes.  So, I discovered a decided lack of food that I can use for lunch this week and had to rectify that.

I had seen a recipe on my Pinterest board, or rather I saw that someone had repinned this recipe and it gave me an aha moment.  And I had some quinoa left in the frig, so I had everything allllll ready for dinner.  Woo hoo!!

Oh yeah, I lied, btw.  I made blueberry muffins before lunch.   Sort of forgot about that.  That recipe is right here--  I made a slight adjustment, didn't have enough oatmeal, so I used oat bran to make up the rest of it.  AND for some insane reason there was no cinnamon in the recipe.  CRAZY TALK.  There was cinnamon in mine.  I had one today, and have another planned for tomorrow and have half in the freezer.   The MA on the other hand, has had more than one, which is why half of them are hidden in the freezer.  

Blueberry muffins!

Ok, so this went together super fast, just chop up what needs to be first then it is as simple as 1, 2, 3!

 Chop the cauliflower, onion, prepare the garlic for pressing and plan to slice the olives later.

Literally dump everything into a pan (after you quickly saute the onion and garlic)  except the olives and cook down for about 15 minutes.  Then simply add the olives, add salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice or quinoa or whatever you want!

Greek Stewed Cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion (chopped)
1 head cauliflower (chopped)
Zest ½ Orange
1 cinnamon stick
1  can crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes
1 – 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon celery seed
teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Heat oil in large pan and saute the onion until soft.  Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.  Add  cauliflower, zest of orange, cinnamon stick, tomatoes and tomato sauce, oregano, celery seed and red pepper flakes.  Cook down until cauliflower is tender.  Remove cinnamon stick and add olives and salt/pepper.  Serve hot over rice or other grain.  YUMMY!! 

Now that was a great way to end a busy day!  And pretty joyful, too!

Monday, January 6, 2014

But wait!!! There's more! Curried lentils and kale and how much I LOVE curries

PEOPLE!! I am having a moment with Indian food. 

I had a practical affair with the fabulous Tandoori vegetables and dal that I had in Minneapolis at the Bombay Bistro....  le sigh. Really, can I live there? 
And now I have found a recipe for a curry that I could eat monthly if not weekly.  The smells are perfectly like those that were wafting around the Bistro and also the Middle Eastern restaurant that we went to for lunch whilst floating about Minneapolis searching for fabulous ethnic foods...  

The curry with the cinnamon and the coriander and the cumin and the turmeric.....  heaven.  Just heaven.  The taste, the fragrance is divine.

Ok, I have been waxing poetic for long enough.  

Indian Spiced Slow Cooker Lentils with Spinach

1 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic 
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander seed
1 tsp. ground turmeric 
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala
1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
1 1/2 cup red lentils 
4 cups vegetable stock 
1 can (14 oz.) light coconut milk 
4 cups chopped fresh spinach (or baby kale mix) 
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste -

Lime and/or greek yogurt for garnish/finish

Heat olive oil and add onion, gently saute until partly cooked- about 3 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, Garam Masala and cinnamon until fragrant.  Put into slow cooker.  Add lentils and veggie broth and cook on high for about 2 hours or on low for 4.

Allowing the vegetables and spices to meld

In the crockpot with all of it

Turn down to low and add the spinach or kale and coconut milk, cook covered another 30 minutes or so.  

Add in coconut milk (I used light coconut milk) and kale/spinach

Trust me- add the lime squeeze to the bowl!

This is just beautiful and divine!!  So simple and so good - I can't recommend this enough- if you like the flavors of India.

I believe this is also vegan (I am now tired and cannot remember) SO that is your cooking marathon for me today- hope your day was warm and toasty!!  AND perhaps just a bit joyful.

And the arctic votex descends upon the Northwoods and the MadArt teacher cooks up a storm

OH my goodness, it is a tad chilly out there. I was fortunate enough to not have to venture out until late in the day, by virtue of the fact that I bribed the hubs with a hot breakfast, which resulted in him feeding the horse and me not having to go outside until the nighttime feeding!  I did tiptoe out a couple times, but those adventures did not last.

When I did go out, it was incredible how cold it was.  Even I, who ventures out with very little provocation, found an excuse to stay in.  The cold pierced right through my coat!  My hand that had held the feed bucket got so cold on the way to the mailbox I had to pull my fingers inside my glove.  Yikes. 

Oh well.  I didn't sleep very well last night, the house kept crackling and then I would wake up again, and I kept thinking that the furnace was going to quit or something.  Idk. I finally did get to sleep, but I slept in a bit today. My morning was unfocused- didn't know what to do with myself today. It took me a little while to get moving in a forward direction.  Shutterfly, the place where I get my calendars made, had a 101 free pix deal, so I took the time today to upload 101 pix mostly of family things.  I am thinking that I should get a few nice  big prints made of some of my pix, too.  Really Big ones.  The ones I had printed right after I got my camera are tragically over exposed.  Burn out.  I didn't know at the time what that was, but I do now and it bugs me.  So it's something I am thinking about.

We have another day off tomorrow, and I am looking forward to that as well. I will be getting to the gym though- no staying home all day.  

What I DID do today among other things is a lot of cooking!  It is relaxing and fun and now I have several things to have for lunch and/or dinner in the frig and freezer.  AND it also heats up the house very nicely to have the stove/oven/crockpot running all day.  

Here is round 1 of cooking:

Ruths's Refrigerator rolls

My aunt Ruth gave my mom the recipe for these things back in the day and they are fabulous and the cool thing- not that it directly affects me- is that they are milk free and so my sister Rose can make and enjoy these!  #ftw

2 cups of water
2 pkg yeast

Mix in large bowl  and add:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt 
3 cups flour (will be more flour to come)
I mix this with my Kitchenaid

Add :
1/3 cup shortening
1 egg

Mix well.  Add a little at a time-

3 - 3/12 cups flour 
 until dough forms a ball and it has mixed for a minute or two.  Or else dump it onto a floured counter and knead it for a 5 minutes to get the rest of the flour incorporated.

Cover  and refrigerate.  2 hours before needed, form rolls into balls and place on greased baking sheet.  Let rise and then bake 15 - 20 minutes in 375 degree oven.  Until they are nice and brown and sound hollow when thumped.  Remove from oven and brush tops with butter or margarine.

You can keep the extra dough for a few days, covered, in the refrigerator.

These are amazing and the extra dough will last a couple days in the frig so you can have fresh ones again!

Next up- Mushroom and Chickpea Ragout

This was so good I could hardly believe it.  It actually has some of the flavor components of a stroganoff with the worcestershire sauce and tomato paste.  It began life on Pinterest as Rosemary flavored, but I a. didn't have any and 2. don't care that much for rosemary.  So therefore my favorite herb- thyme- was pressed into service.

I got the original recipe here and it looked really great, but things were changed.....

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, fine dice
1/2 tsp dry thyme leaves
10 ounces/heaped half pound mixed mushrooms, sliced (I used all baby portabellas)
splash of red wine vinegar
1 tsp tomato paste
1-2 tsp vegetarian worcestershire sauce
1 can of chickpeas
1 cup vegetable stock
big splash of unsweetened non-dairy milk, I used coconut milk that I had left over in the frig
1 tsp cornstarch
salt + pepper
2 thick slices of good bread

Heat olive oil and saute onion in pan- on low heat, watch for scorching.  Sprinkle on thyme leaves until you can smell them, and then dump in the mushrooms.  Let them cook a few minutes until they begin to soften.  Add in your tablespoon or so of vinegar, tomato paste and worcestershire sauce.  stir around for a few minutes and add your chick peas.  Again let it mix together for a few minutes (stir to keep from burning), then add in vegetable stock.  Cook down until about 1/3 of the liquid is gone.  Add the coconut milk or what ever you want to use.

When it is starting to look thicker, mix a couple tablespoons of water with the cornstarch.  Stir into the chickpeas and let cook until thickened. Taste it and add salt and pepper. Mean while, toast the bestest bread you have and put it on a plate.  This is not the prettiest but the flavors are sublime and rich.  I think a touch of sour cream would be good, too.  But not necessary!  AND there are left overs.
So this is vegetarian/vegan and yummy!!  I used Ezekial bread for toast.
 And so I was thinking that a nice dessert was in order, so I made a variation on homemade Lara bars- sort of a several recipe mashup!

Chocolate Protein Balls

1package of dates
about 1/2 cup of raw almonds
1/2 cup hulled hemp seed (if no hemp seed, add more almonds)
3 heaping Tablespoons raw cacao (can use cocoa too)
water if necessary
mini chocolate chips

In food processor- process dates until a paste. Add water if you need to. Remove to a different bowl.  Add almonds to bowl and pulverize to a good powder and then add in hemp and cacao and process until well blended.  Add to dates and mix, sprinkle in water if you need to make it stick better.  Mix in mini chips.  Roll into balls and then I rolled it into more cacao powder.  YUMMY!!

The hemp seeds add an extra boost of protein, and they are just tasty!

HA but I'm not done yet!!  On to the next post!!  

Isn't that a joy?  Two food posts in one night??

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lola, la la la lala Lola

So, one of my friends on the internet said that he misses seeing Lola, my favorite tree and the Stone House on my blog. Until he said that, I didn't realize how much I miss seeing the stone house and my tree, myself. I have been truly NEEDING to go for some long walks on the road, but MAN they are nasty.  And so I will stick to snow shoeing in the relative shelter of the woods.  For the time being!

So consequently, I RAN outside tonight and took a quick pic of Lola just for Phil, who is currently worried about his teenage driver.  :) that is so sweet. It'll be ok, it's something we live through!  

I found a couple of pics of miss Lola from the last few months.  They are just a few I found on my phone!  I love Lola!  I know she looks a bit chilly, but she's a tough one.  Stays outside all year long without complaining, what a grill! ;)

Lola with a cone-head through the window

OH LOOK who snuck into my Lola post!  :)

Ugh, this is how it all started.  
Anyway, I wanted to make someone's day a little more fun -  because usually it is the smallest act of kindness, a little gesture or word that can make a person smile.  And that is such a joy!

Cold, snow, blah blah blah, it's winter

I've been watching the Today Show this morning, and I am amazed at what a big to-do and brouhaha that they (the media) are turning winter into.  For pity's sakes.  I am not sure where they all have been living, but last I checked our fair country HAS HAD cold weather and snow for quite some time now.  I think my irritation really escalated when the stupid Weather Channel started naming winter storms.  Don't be stupid.  It's snow.  And yes, it is cold.

Now that being said, I have been known to indulge in weather whining.  I understand how pathetic and ironic this all is.  LOL.  HOWEVER, unless you live up here, you just hush. (YOU probably don't have to drive into work in sub zero temps and then drive home in sub zero temps.... ) (Forgive my whining at any rate.)

 This sort of thing has been going on for a long time, folks.

If the weather holds up to what they are predicting, I will be going NO WHERE on Monday, which is fine with me.  Our high is supposed to be -18 after all, and I really don't have to leave the house.

Now, when I first moved up here back in 1980 (you know, the olden days.  LOL) I will NEVER forget coming home from a dance at the Legion hall (and lest you gasp, don't worry, the DH never did dance.)  or maybe it was a pork and dumpling dinner kind of thing, whatevs.  It was January of 1981 and we came home and it WAS cold.  I looked at the thermometer and there was no mercury in the little tube.  I said- FRED- there is no temperature!!  It was a maximum of -40.  Good grief. (This was not the first time I wondered WTF I was living up here and not the last either)  He said, guess we better put more wood on the fire....  yeah, we heated the first little house we lived in entirely with wood.  I think he got up a few times that night to put another few logs on the fire.  THANK HEAVEN that isn't the truth anymore.  Ugh.  And the entirety of northern Wisconsin went on about their business without the Weather Channel alarming us to the dangers of frost bite in minutes, because we knew it.  Because of the fact we live in the midwest.

Yeah, so that is my observation for the morning.  I am going to get moving soon go to the grocery store before the rest of the world does, because I plan to do some cooking this weekend and also on Monday!  :) But before that I am going to hit the snow-shoe trail at least twice today, because already tomorrow that won't be happening..... as it is winter and there is a cold front coming and I don't even need to name it!  Since I live in the midwest and it's winter!!!  hehehe

And so this weekend, ALL of YOU ALL stay so warm and safe and toasty.  It is supposed to be a nasty one for an awful lot of us and I want the joy of saying hi to you again on Tuesday!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Off to a good start

I'm not feeling an over all theme surfacing here, today, but I have a series of observations that have been boinking around in my brain.  yes, boinking, shut up.

(I began this yesterday, when it was actually Wednesday, and felt like Sunday)

  • First of all, being a Gramma is the most freaking awesome thing and FaceTime makes life worth living.  Lol, well having FaceTime so one can visit with ones baby grandgirl does.  I am channeling Sunday and feeling like they will be calling soon, but alas it is NOT Sunday.  
  • I began the new year with no less than 3 challenges.  A crunches challenge, a plank challenge and a push-up challenge.  OH yeah, also I am going to start working on a pull-ups challenge.  As in I am challenging myself to be able to do at least 2 unassisted pull-ups by the end of the year.  Honey, it drives me insane that I can't do one or two.  I mean, it seems I should have enough strength.  Blah.
  • This winter is being quite assertive.  Isn't that a nice way to put it?  Assertive.  Actually this winter is being a PITA.  We've had close to a couple feet of snow, and the cold has been with us- a LOT.  Now I hear next Monday and Tuesday mornings we could have wind chill warnings with BRUTAL temperatures.  sigh. Positive note: I've been able to snow shoe!  Of course not when the wind-chills are -40, but still!
  • Other than a preChristmas cookie fest, I am feeling quite zen about my eating.  This is NOT something that I have ever in my life been able to say.  I am in the process of getting myself out of diet mentality and into thinking about the many other things in my life other than what I can and can't eat yet today.  It is a terrifying and freeing process.  More to come on this subject.  It is a deeply different idea than we are used to hearing about both here and in the media.  Once again, this huge, alarmist, diet industry is driven my the media and it is eye opening when you are aware of it and are trying to combat it.
  • Unbelievably, there is only 3 weeks left in the 1st semester.  This is astonishing to me!  I have a lot to do in the next 3 weeks AND that means that I will have to also prepare for new classes soon.  Wow.  
  • I am such a procrastinator sometimes, it drives me crazy.  Lol, I get anxiety thinking about the above statement and knowing how much I have to do.  :)  Yet, I will be working on it, you guessed it, at the last minute.
  • I am really excited about all the room that I am creating upstairs right now.  While the job is not done yet, I am over half way through it all, and it is REALLY nice to have it organized.  Out to the library, transfer station and thrift shop has gone many boxes and bags and there will be more to come.  It is amazing how much stuff you can acquire over the years....  And I didn't even save all that much.  
  • I took down all my Christmas stuff yesterday.  I have 3 boxes of Christmas stuff I either don't use, don't want or don't have room for anymore.  The children better speak up or the whole lot is going to the above mentioned locations!  :)  I will keep the best of it (that I ran out of room for) and the rest is going to have to relocate.  It is hard to decide what to do with things you still like, but because of my remodeling, I have so much less surface to put things on.  AND it was amazing to slide the boxes easily into their designated location in a very neat and organized closet!! #ftw!!
Anyway, enough of my ramblings.  It seems that I had more things that I was going to say when I began this, but those things must not be too important.  I have not so much resolutions as goals this year.  One is the whole pull-up thing.  I want to work on that.  I am also going to really concentrate in a focused way towards a personal weightlifting goal- last year I felt very unfocused and I know now what I want to do.  I also want to continue doing bodyweight exercises and keep my knees running smoothly by constantly working on squats and doing yoga stretches.  I want to travel someplace new this summer, but I also realize that I have to take a class for my teaching license renewal....  Hopefully one won't get in the way of the other. And of course there is that procrastination issue....
Mostly, I want to continue being NOT stressed out by things I can't control.  I don't NEED to spend my life obsessed with things in the environment or the government or things I hear in the media that I have no ability to change directly.  My anxiety level gets too high. If you think I am a weakling or wuss because of it, so be it.  What I will be is -  happier than you!  :) After living for 50 some years, you learn which battles to fight, which worries to allow and what things and people should be important (and unimportant) in life. I have addressed this already in many ways, and every so often I find another thing that I have to think about and deal with. There are so many good people in my life, I will always put the effort into being a great friend to them. The people who try to bring me down or belittle me, well they are just going to quietly fall to the side of the road that I am traveling on.  Of course I know that life cannot be one big love and hug fest, but it is possible to avoid a lot of unnecessary stressors. Chances are that if you are reading this, you are one of the ones worth the effort.  Because you ALL bring me so much joy.

Off to Thursday/Monday and a short week of school!