Thursday, July 29, 2010

CSA 12 plus a few random updates

We were very excited about this box this week.

In addition to our staples, like lettuce, strawberries, carrots and avocados, we got some zucchini this week, green beans, bean sprouts, limes and oranges. We also got apples and cantaloupe! You have to imagine two more little apples because they didn't make it home and into the picture :-D. We got basil, thought about trading it, but were too late to trade it for anything but more carrots, which we didn't need even more than basil (we still have carrots from last week, and plenty growing in the garden as well.) So we decided to keep the basil, at least its something I don't have to pick. I don't really like cantaloupe, but Blake does, so that's still great.

The reason we ate the apples already is because we were coming home from the Orange County fair. We go every year, mostly to walk around and see things, and because its a tradition since I was little. We get really excited about the fair food... and then we eat it... and decide we miss our fruits/veggies! So, yesterday we had a interesting corn dog that was a hot dog, inside a zucchini, and then dipped in the corn and fried. It was pretty good :-) We also had some fresh chips with a jalapeno cheese sauce, which we enjoyed until we ran out of sauce, and then we didn't eat much more of it. For dessert, we shared a plate of chocolate dipped raspberries and boysenberries. It was all good... but we wanted some straight fruits and vegetables, that were not dipped in chocolate or fried! So we picked up our box, looked inside it for what we could eat immediately, and found some of the apples, and they disappeared on the ride home. We also had some wheat toast with avocado on it to satisfy our craving for more food that wasn't fair food. :-)

In other news, I spent Tuesday with my good friend Erin, and her two adorable kids Elaynea and Jeremiah. It helped me realize just how tough kids are, and I was happy to lend her a hand throughout the day as times came up that she had to focus on one or the other. Elaynea is going through potty training now, so much of our conversation included interruptions to check if she was still dry, and if she needed to go. :-) She is talking up a storm now, although you can't always understand her (Erin translates sometimes... and sometimes she can't even figure out what Elaynea is trying to say!). I brought some books over that were in my 2nd grade classroom that I don't need for 4th for them to get some enjoyment out of before we have kids or I go back to a primary grade, and she really enjoyed them. Her favorites were the ones where it was about counting candies.

She doesn't totally get counting yet, but it is so cute! She does pretty well up to 5, but after, she can sometimes get up to eight, and then she just keeps repeating seven, eight, seven eight etc. Also, sometimes I would ask her to count the M&M on the page and she would tell me what color it was instead. :-) Oh, and she definitely has a 2yr old attention span, at least when I was there, we never made it through a book before she grabbed another one, or a doll, or asked mom for a snack etc. She definitely loved me though, and would frequently choose to hold my hand instead of mom's as we crossed streets, sometimes she wanted me to carry her. Towards the end of my visit, she fell asleep on my shoulder. (awww.... so cute!!!!).

Jeremiah was cute in his own way as well, but he is only 9 months old, so he is harder to interact with. He was interested in everything I was doing with Elaynea, and wanted to grab the books we were looking at, and when we ate lunch, he was very intent on trying to grab anything within reach (so we spent lunch finding out exactly what was in his reach, and having to move it). He doesn't like sitting still, so most of the time Erin or I (mostly Erin) was bouncing him, and singing to him. He definitely likes attention.

Overall it was a really fun time hanging out with Erin and her kids, and I hope that we can get together at least one more time before the summer ends.

The last update is that we recently watched the movie Food Inc. and learned a lot more than we knew before about our food. The biggest impact it had on us is that we realized that while we are fairly careful about what produce we eat (CSA or organic from the store for the most part), we have not thought about our meat... at all. Its not even about the chemicals that go into most meat products out there in stores and restaurants, its more about how the animals are treated during their lifetimes! Neither of us want to become vegetarians after watching this, but we do want to be more conscious about only buying and eating meat that was treated nicely before it was our food. I won't go into more details for anyone that doesn't want to know them, but if you are interested, watch Food, Inc., it will really change the way you think about what food you are eating. The saddest part is that except for Chipotle, In and Out, and possibly Chick-fil-A, we won't be eating meat at restaurants much anymore, if at all. (I know, we already screwed up yesterday at the fair... its really hard to try to live that conscious of your food!).

Anyways, there are my latest updates!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Today Blake and I spent 5 hours moving me from my 2nd grade classroom to my 4th grade classroom. I think by the end I actually felt really good about the move. Blake was amazing (even just for how long we spent there) because he helped me sort through the various things I had in my classroom, and he helped me figure out what goes where in my new room. He also said that he will give up another weekend day sometime soon to help me organize more in depth in the new room.

I think the weirdest thing is letting go of my old classroom. It has been my room for 4 years, and I am comfortable there. I know what I put on the bulletin boards and the windows, I know what to teach, I know what to expect.

But at the same time... its exciting having a new arrangement to try to figure out. I am really excited to teach the 4th grade curriculum, and I am starting, slowly but surely to not only accept the grade change, but to look forward to it, to be excited about this new phase in my teaching career. Mentally making the shift from 2nd to 4th instead of going through the motions. I think moving today has put me past the halfway mark... and that's good.

My 2nd grade "term" has ended, here's to a great 4th one!

Eye Color

Did you know that eye color can change over time?

I had no idea, till it happened to me! I had always been told that I had brown eyes, and had it on my driver's liscense etc. but I have been looking closely at my eyes lately, and decided that they were hazel.

I conferred with others, asked them to look at my eyes in the last few months, and everyone agrees, there is definitely green in them.

Last night I was looking at pictures of me, and zooming way in on my eyes, and I found a recent one where my eyes look more green than brown! But I also have pictures of myself as a kid, and I looked at those too... and my eyes as a child were completely brown... pretty dark brown.

So my next search was if eye color can change over time, and sure enough... it can! As a matter of fact, it does for 10-15% of Caucasians! So... my eyes were brown... but now they are hazel, and they could continue to lighten. See:

The left is a picture of my eye as a child, and the right is a more recent picture of my eye (and wrinkles!)

The only question is... do I need to change my driver's license now? (jk)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Zumba and World War 2


Yesterday I went to the most fun workout class I have ever been to- Zumba!

Online at LA fitness they call it "latin heat" probably for copyright reasons, but the class was introduced as zumba, and I almost felt like I was tricked into working out while I was just having fun dancing.

Every song we did a separate routine, none complicated, but I definitely got a workout because I was sweating by the end... which was actually almost 15 minutes late, and I didn't even care!

The definition of a zumba class according to the wikipedia is:

"The Zumba workout provides fitness benefits because its routines feature interval training sessions with fast and slow rhythms and resistance training, which are intended to tone and sculpt the body while burning fat.[6]

Music is the key ingredient to Zumba classes. The score, created with specific beats and tempo changes, transitions the workout from one toning, strengthening or cardio move to another, and targets every major muscle group in the body. The Zumba program borrows Latin flavor from the following dance styles: Cumbia, Salsa, Merengue, Mambo, Flamenco, Chachacha, Reggaeton, Samba, Belly dancing, Bhangra, Hip Hop, and Tango. "

I just wanted to share how much fun I had in this class and I encourage anyone who hears about a class like this at their gym... go! I am by no means a good dancer, but I didn't even care, we were laughing, joking, enjoying the music and having a good time. I plan to continue going to this class instead of spin class. Lots of cardio in both, but one is much more fun.


The other topic of this blog is WWII, and this is just on my mind from reading Blackout by Connie Willis (only part 1 of two books, but very interesting read).

After I finished the book, I wanted to learn more about the Blitz and London's struggles. It was just amazing to learn what the people of London put up with during the Blitz. I know some of WWII history, but I never really studied the Blitz itself, or the fact that London stayed open and working and functioning while having to go into shelters almost every night for almost a year and never knowing if when they came out it was their house or their workplace that was destroyed. For a huge chunk of time, kids from great loving families were shipped off to other countries or the countryside of London to be raised by other people to protect them. Can you imagine? You as a parent miss 4 or more years of your son or daughter's life to just keep them safe? Some kids returned to visit during these times, but not all.


The shelters were sometimes tiny! Although there were underground shelters, and background shelters, some people used Morrison shelters, which looked like a box, that was 6 feet wide, 4 feet across and 2 feet 6 inches high. Wow! That's tiny! Can you imagine having to go there every night when the siren goes off, and stay there until it says its done.

I was curious why anyone would stay there during this intense time of bombing, why wouldn't you just leave? What I found is that it was from intense patriotism. Hitler wanted the London people to get so tired of bombing that they would push the government to surrender, that's why it was almost every night for almost a year (and then resumed later for another chunk of time). Instead, the London people "fought back" by keeping stores open, keeping factories going, continuing to work through all of the problems caused by having your city being bombed each night so that you could show Germany that you were not going to back down, you were not going to give in, and you could stand by your country's fight, no matter what it took! Crazy.

I saw this video too, and it shows exactly what I am talking about. It is a period video that was put on youtube. It's a bit long, but I found it very interesting.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

CSA 11 and pets


Changing up the format here a bit, mostly because I didn't post the last box, but also because it's easier this way.

Yesterday's box included green beans, carrots, zucchini (the yellow lemon like things in the front), avocadoes, limes, strawberries, lettuce and yellow watermelon. We traded basil for an orange because we have tons of basil growing in our garden, and we love her oranges. We actually also traded boxes... the first one that we opened (which is usually the one we take, we only open it for trading purposes) had a small head of lettuce mostly mushed under the watermelon. We love the fresh lettuce, I planned a meal around this lettuce, and a small crushed head was not going to cut it if at all possible. So we looked at the box under it, and sure enough there was a lovely large head of red lettuce (even better than the green to us!) on top of the watermelon in that box. So we took it.

Obviously the watermelon isn't yellow on the outside... its yellow on the inside. I think it tastes better than regular watermelon, Blake thought they tasted the same.

Blake has made a valid point on the CSA boxes... they are not really saving us money. In fact... they are probably costing us extra considering that if I bought all of the produce at the store, it would definitely not be 35 dollars this week. Some weeks it might be closer, especially when you consider it is all organic, but it probably never pencils out financially.

BUT... I still am glad to be doing it. It hurts knowing that I am not cutting costs in an area where I could, but there are many reasons that I still enjoy the boxes, even though they are not saving money.

1- I love that its supporting a local farm. Sprouts tries to buy local whenever possible, which is part of the reason that we go there for other things, but I know that that money every week goes to a specific farm about an hour away, and that it is helping her keep her farm.

2- I love that its all organic. There is an organic section of Sprouts, but they don't have all of the same things that she has organic. Also, for some reason, it is easier for me to see a big chunk disappear at the beginning of a quarter for my organic produce than it is for me to buy a 2 dollar bunch of cilantro when I see the 50 cent bunch of (non organic) cilantro just a few steps to the right. (sometimes I still do it, sometimes I cave and get the cheap one).

3- I love that its fresh. There are some things that aren't a huge difference, like zucchini... but there are other things, like lettuce, where it is night and day getting it fresh from a farm versus sitting in a store for a few days/a week etc. I have been spoiled by fresh produce since I was little and my dad had a garden in the backyard. I learned what tomatoes tasted like by tasting ones that had been on a plant a few minutes earlier. There is no turning back from that! Honestly, even when our tomato plant is not in season, I can only buy tomatoes that have ripened on the vine in the store. All other tomatoes are not even worth it. I know... I am a tomato snob.

4- I love the forced variety each week. There is no chance of us getting set with a few meals that I make every week because the boxes are different each week. So far, no two boxes have been exactly the same. And I have tried vegetables that I had never had before like kale, swiss chard, beets, etc. because of these boxes, and as the seasons change, I know there will be more. I have liked every thing that I have tried... well... radishes are still a tough one... but I liked them in some forms...

5- It forces us to eat fruits and vegetables. We are good at this now, even without the box, but before Blake decided to change his life and get healthy, there would be many meals in the week that wouldn't have a fruit or a vegetable. I don't think we would go back to this, but getting all the fresh produce keeps us from this potential fate.

Anyways, we decided that while it might not be worth it financially to do the CSA boxes, it is still worth it to us because of the other benefits of it. It doesn't get any more green either, buying local, seasonal produce, supporting an organic farmer etc.


I also wanted to steal a moment on here and talk about my pets, because they haven't gotten to be on my blog in a long time. The main reason for this is that I like having pictures of them when I talk about them, and although amazing photo opportunities happen all the time... by the time I get my camera, they move. Sigh.


So here is a recent picture of Roxie, laying on one of her favorite spots in the house... the top of the couch. It never gets fluffed back up to its proper height because this one thinks its a great place to lay. She really is a happy dog... though she doesn't look like it in the picture. Hanging out with her this summer I have seen that she is really quite content spending the majority of the day napping in various locations.


Here is a picture of Argon. He really no longer looks like a kitten (which is good, since he is a year and a half now), but he has beautiful coloring. I took a bunch of him last night, but this one is my favorite.


And here is a picture of the two of them. One of the activities that I love to watch them do is chase bugs (like flies) that get in the house. They work together, running around, watching the insect, and sometimes even chattering to each other. If the bug is unfortunate enough to land in a spot where they can get to, they even will catch it and eat it. Maybe that's too much information for you... but I think that its really cool that they get to do some hunting in the house, and they save me the trouble of taking care of the insect myself. :-)

They also spend a lot of the morning chattering about the birds that are outside near our windows. Actually, we think that some birds are making a nest in our front door wreath... not sure what to do about that lol.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Colorado Part 2 Saturday and Sunday

My blog has been sadly neglected lately... and the sad thing is that I am not even sure what I have been so busy with lol.

I have officially decided to abandon my cookie project. I don't usually quit things, but when you start doing something for fun, and it becomes a chore, then it seems to me that it should be time to stop, especially when it is something that increases grocery bills and calorie intake :-).

I was not feeling great on Wednesday, so I just put away my CSA box without taking a picture, but it had a lot of citrus, which was exciting (oranges and grapefruit), many of our regular things like avocadoes, lettuce and cucumber, and then the big new thing this week was green beans. There is my twenty second update on that.

Okay, so on Saturday in Colorado, Blake and I had our one leisurely morning in our hotel room, and decided to do it right with room service delivered to our room, ordered the night before, so it just arrived shortly after we woke up. It was a wonderful morning enjoying the scenic view, eating a nice breakfast on our patio.

Then we joined my brother and my parents as we drove on our many excursions that day.

Our first stop was interesting because my brother picked it, but I think Blake and I enjoyed it the most- a dinosaur museum! Blake and I actually really enjoyed looking at these various fossils, bones and replicas and learning all about these amazing creatures.

The next few hours were just okay as we drove out to a little town known as Cripple Creek. It was advertised as a ghost town, and the town itself is very old, but in the early 90's gambling was legalized there, so it seemed like Vegas in the sheer amount of Casinos in such a small space. My brother wanted to go there to get some good pictures, which he did, but it wasn't even a highlight for him.

On our way back from spending the morning driving there and back (it was an hour away) we went to Cave of the Winds. My mom didn't have an interest in walking around the cave, so when we found out we were waiting an hour for the next tour anyways, my dad drove her to the Indian cliff dwellings nearby for her to explore, and then returned to take the tour with us.

I really enjoyed most of our cave tour, though there were some very tight spaces that I had to fight claustrophobia, but even so it was very interesting to learn about caves and the history of the cave.

After our tour was over, we picked up my mom and went back to the hotel. I had booked reservations for all 5 of us to go to the Flying W Ranch, but my mom and brother decided that they didn't really want to go. So, my dad, Blake and I headed off to the ranch for dinner.

They had a few activities around the town before dinner, but what caught our attention most was someone cleaning a horse's hooves, and then putting horseshoes on. Dinner was good, but the evening entertainment (a cowboy style singing group) was fantastic! I had such a good time there that I was reluctant to leave early, but we wanted to beat the crowd, besides we had an early call the next day for our hot air balloon ride.

Sunday morning was really early. We had to be in the south lobby at 5:15am for the balloon ride. This was just the three of us again (dad, Blake and I). I had never been on a hot air balloon ride before, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was slightly less interesting at the beginning because our pilot was having trouble finding a wind current that morning, but eventually he found one, and it became really exciting. The landing was less than perfect because although the balloon landed upright, it was not staying that way, and eventually the pilot just let us know that the basket was going to tip over, and we were going to have to get out sideways, which was interesting lol. Some of my favorite pictures from the whole trip were actually from the balloon ride.

We got back to the hotel fairly early still, about 9 (crazy to think how much we did and were back by 9 lol), and the only plan that we had at this point was to meet up for lunch after my dad and brother went to the Colorado Springs Apple store. Blake and I thought about what we wanted to do for the morning, and I think we found the perfect way to spend the morning... we found some chairs by the hotel's lake, and we read our books. For an avid reader like myself... this is a little piece of heaven. :-)

After lunch and a little more hotel time, we went to the Academy Riding Stables to go horseback riding. This time, everyone except my dad went. My horse's name was Bonita. It was a fun experience, but I wished I could go a bit faster, and unfortunately, I felt like I spent the majority of the ride making her slow down because she kept getting too close to Blake's horse! All four of us agreed it was an interesting experience that we wouldn't mind doing again. The scenery was okay (it was at the Garden of the gods), but the real highlight was the horseback riding.

Dinner that night was interesting as well because we went to a restaurant that specializes in more unique food, like ostrich, venison, wild boar, elk and buffalo. Between the five of us we tasted all of them! Our collective favorite was the ostrich, which after sharing the appetizer with the four of us, my brother actually ordered some more for himself. :-) I appreciated the fact that our last meal was somewhere unlike anywhere we could eat in California (I feel like I "waste" meals if they are identical food I could eat at home).


*The pictures above are a combination of my pictures, my brother's pictures and my dad's pictures (when Grant wasn't there), but the pictures below are my brother's pictures of Thursday and Friday events.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Colorado Part 1- Thursday and Friday

Like I said in my previous post, I plan on posting with my pictures and my commentary on them, but my brother took more pictures than I did, has a better camera than I do, and has a better eye for shots too... but I don't have his pictures yet, so you are stuck with mine until later when I decide to either add another post with his great ones, or edit them into these... I'll decide later.

Anyways, we woke up early Thursday morning so that we could go to the airport. My parents picked us up at 6:20am. (We had a lot of early mornings on this trip as you will soon see). It was a very easy trip getting to Colorado, the airport check-in etc. went really fast, and we had time to relax and enjoy a breakfast at the airport before the flight. The flight was really quick compared to previous trips, only a few hours, and leaving the airport was fairly easy too (although there was a long line at the car rental place).

Our first stop in Colorado was.... a mall! Yes, we went to a mall because my brother, who works for Apple, wants to visit as many Apple stores as he can, so every trip he finds the ones that are not unreasonably out of the way and visits them. Usually he goes at a time that doesn't bother anyone else, so it isn't a big deal. This one however was about an hour and a half away from our hotel, but only about half an hour from the airport, so we went there first.

We had lunch at a CPK there, and walked around a bit while my brother went on a "behind the scenes" tour at their Apple store. The most interesting part of the mall was the children's play area which had giant breakfast foods that the kids could climb over and play on, like a bowl of cereal, sausages etc.

I think we were there for a few hours before we left to head to the hotel. My dad was thinking about heading to some of the places we wanted to see in Colorado Springs first, but we convinced him to at the very least go to the hotel first, and then if we felt like it, go out again to them.

By the time we got to the hotel, it was already almost dinner time, and we were all exhausted from the day of travel (keep in mind that we were all up before 6 too...), so we had dinner at one of the hotel's restaurants, and then had a lazy evening in our rooms.

My first group of pictures is actually of the hotel that we stayed at, the Broadmoor.

It truly was a beautiful place, and the whole area reminded me of a college campus in how clean and nicely laid out it was (I had to stop myself from referring to it as a campus frequently on the trip). Blake and I spent most of one of the mornings (Sunday...I'll elaborate more later) just looking out over the man-made lake on the property. There were tons of dogs around because it is a pet friendly hotel, and that made us miss Roxie, but it was fun to see other people's dogs too. My mom enjoyed the many shops on the hotel property, but my favorite thing about it was just the scenic location, so that's what most of my pictures are above.

Friday morning had an early wake up call because it was our bike riding day. We had to be in the south lobby (as opposed to the west lobby of our tower or the main was quite the hotel) by 6:45am. A van took us to the bike company headquarters where they organized us, and gave us a light breakfast. Then they took us to the cog train station.

The cog train goes to the top of Pike's Peak and back down, and it is different than regular trains because it uses interconnecting cogs to keep the train on the track, and it allows for trains to go up much steeper than if they were on the regular tracks. It was beautiful scenery and there was a guide on board who was very knowledgeable but also very interesting and entertaining, so the hour trip up there went quickly. Probably the most memorable part of this ride was learning about the couple who takes care of the reservoirs, they live in a house up there with just them and the dog during the summers, but they are so out of the way their driveway starts 45 minutes away from their house, and it takes them an hour to get groceries or any supplies! Crazy! Blake said he would like to be that isolated lol! Here are some of my pictures that I took on our way up in no particular order.

Now I keep talking about the bike trip... well the bike trip was the way we went down the mountain. It was really cold at the top, I figured it was summer... but it was about 30 degrees at the top of Pike's Peak, but fortunately our bike tour thought about all these things and brought tons of jackets, sweat pants, ear warmers, gloves, etc. so that we would be warm enough for our ride. I didn't take any pictures the whole ride... but my brother got some, and I will show those later.

It was mostly downhill, but there were three big uphill parts, which I am proud to say that I didn't have to walk my bike on at all. The rest of the time I was holding my breaks lol. I enjoyed it... but I spent a rather large portion of the ride also being nervous about going too fast, or going off the edge. There were cars coming down as well, so we had to stay on the side to let them pass. We did stop frequently and regroup... and I was only the last one a few times (although there were 9/10 year old kids beating me down lol). The scariest parts were the unpaved portions of the road, but they are working on getting it all paved. Blake had a ball, and said that he barely used his breaks (!) but he made it down safely, so I guess that's all that's important. You logical ones out there will be able to deduce from the above sentences that we were not together much of this ride lol. I was fine with that though... because then I could go as slow as I felt comfortable and not feel bad that I was holding him back or feel pressured to go faster.

My dad was with me a few portions of the trip, but honestly I was most comfortable when no one was in the immediate vicinity around me. By the end I was more confident with going downhill, so I started letting go of the breaks a bit more. There were a few scrapes and falls in the group, but nothing serious, and looking back, it was a lot of fun, and I am glad that I did it.

The trip ended at a spot for lunch that was included in the biking package. After we went back to the hotel, we changed and then headed out again to an insect museum (where again... I took no pictures, but I think my brother did). My mom was the main person who wanted to go, but I was surprised by how interesting it actually was to me. There are some amazing insects out there! I think the most interesting portion was seeing the wings of the locusts and grasshoppers... they are beautiful! They have pinks and greens, and all sorts of beautiful colors which you would never know just looking at the insects without their wings open. Second most impressive thing there was just how big some of the bugs were... and most of our group was saying how we don't want to travel to places with those big of insects lol.

We then headed back to the hotel for dinner at their 5 star restaurant.

This was my pick, if you couldn't tell, I am very interested in food and cooking, and not afraid to try new foods. ( I welcome them in fact).

So when I found out that the only 5 star and 5 diamond restaurant in Colorado was in our hotel, I asked my dad if we could eat there, and he agreed.

We all got dressed up, as it was a jacket required restaurant, and we went to dinner at the Penrose room at the top of the south tower. Again... my brother took pictures... I didn't even bring my camera lol.

When we got our menus, I saw very quickly that there was a 7 course option which really excited me... more things to try! It was the chef's tasting menu, but the catch was that the whole table had to agree to it, which meant that everyone had to surrender control of their dinner options. In the past when my family has gone to fancy restaurants like these, my dad and brother (the pickier ones of the family) are reluctant to do this because they don't like so many things... but on Friday they said okay!!!

So we got the chef's tasting menu for the table. I did tell them that I am allergic to mushrooms, so in a few courses they modified mine to get rid of the mushrooms, but everything was amazing! Grant got pictures of almost every course, so I am not going to talk about them all now, but I will say that my favorite of the night was venison (which I don't think I have ever had before). I am not sure that I could describe it, but it was delicious, and the sauce with it was just sooo good.

Other things of note was that they didn't have rolls on the table, but a bread waiter came by in between courses until our cheese course offering a tray of different bread courses... and even those changed each time he came! I think I had 4 different kinds of bread with dinner that night, and they were all wonderful! Also, my dad caught our 5 star waiter making a mistake lol. He brought out a dish that had peas in it, and said that it was topped with the sprouts of a corn plant. My dad loves to garden, looked at what was on top of the dish as a garnish and said, "That isn't corn." The waiter asserted that it was, but said he would check. Meanwhile my dad is talking about the garnish, says it looks like pea sprouts, but couldn't possibly be corn sprouts, because corn sprouts look like grass... and my dad was right! The waiter had made a mistake, and brought out some corn sprouts as well to show us, but admitted that he had said the wrong topping and that it was actually... pea sprouts! Just like my dad had said.

We were full by the end... but not overly stuffed, and it was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip getting to have that amazing dinner there.

Saturday and Sunday will be in the next post.

Back from Colorado and overflowing with food!

I plan on posting about our wonderful vacation to Colorado over the next few days complete with my pictures, and then, when I get them, adding my brother's awesome pictures too.

It truly was an amazing trip and I can't believe how much we were able to fit in considering we were only gone from Thursday to Monday. We did bike riding, a cave tour, horse-back riding, a hot air balloon ride and more! But, like I said, I will have separate posts detailing that trip complete with pictures.

This post is actually about our garden. We have been getting lots of produce as we are well in the middle of summer, and coming back from being gone for an extended weekend meant that there was a lot to pick!

We are overflowing with tomatoes, got a ton of strawberries, and some cucumber, green beans, and green peppers as well. I have been really impressed with the red October variety of tomatoes that we have planted because they are truly living up to their reputation for lasting a long time. We had picked some tomatoes before the trip, and put them in the cupboard (both varieties) and then we went on the trip. Unfortunately many of the celebrity tomatoes didn't make it (they did make a nice mess though...) but the two red Octobers that were picked the same day were still firm and tasty!

Here are a few pictures of how our garden is looking currently. It isn't as pretty as it was when it started, but it is doing its job producing lots of vegetables and fruits for us... keep in mind the pictures were AFTER I picked the above produce.

You can compare this to the last time I posted about the garden, two months ago, by looking at my Garden Update post on May 10th.

I also went to stock up on some groceries today. In the few days before we left we were scrounging the cupboards/fridge to try to get rid of all of the extra food before our trip. So we definitely needed some food before our regular shopping trip, which for obvious reasons comes after our CSA box which we will get tomorrow.

I only needed some beans for tonight's fajita dinner (a dinner we picked because we had tortillas in the freezer, onion in the cupboard, and those beautiful fresh picked green bell peppers). I originally was going to go to Trader Joe's because it was close to my gym that I was going to in the morning anyways, but I decided to go to Sprouts (our regular store) instead because I remembered that they were having a bulk sale on all the things you scoop yourself, like beans.


I was texting Blake about this sale and he encouraged me to buy whatever bulk items that would save and we would use since they were on sale now, and that's another way we can save money. I think I might have gone a little overboard...

(4 kinds of beans, 3 kinds of grain, popcorn kernels and pasta)

The trip for beans ended up costing as much as our regular grocery trips, but I am confident that this will save us money in the long run because now when any recipe calls for beans or a whole grain... I probably already have it. :-)

We found that we love our healthy eating habits so much that they were actually missed on the trip. Since we got back we have been enjoying our healthy fresh vegetable and whole grain meals that were so hard to find on the trip.

This is an example of a typical summer lunch for me... yum! It's whole wheat pasta with fresh tomatoes from the garden, an avocado (from the store, typically from the CSA box), mozzarella cheese, and topped with basil from the garden.


I am officially behind on my cookie making project because I decided not to make one last week on Tuesday, so close to leaving on the trip, and its not looking good for me getting one out today either... but I might do one tomorrow, and then I'll just be one behind... but I am not sure that's going to happen lol.

The nice thing about self made goals is that there is no consequence for breaking them. Also, there is nothing saying that I can't continue making presidential cookies into the school year.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Two Way Cookies and Benjamin Harrison


These cookies I made as an additional batch this week for the fourth of July party at our house. I probably didn't have to do that as I still have some of many of the previous cookies left over that I am going to offer as well.

Also, in case you didn't notice... I am not doing these in any particular order, not even chronologically, but in order of what I think would be nice to make that week, mixing up the bars/brownies with the cookies and lemony ones with sugar cookies etc.

So this week I was cooking a recipe for the grandson of the guy I did earlier this week, William Henry Harrison. I chose this recipe for the 4th of July weekend because I thought it was nice that I could have some variety even within a single recipe.

These were pretty fun to make! I started with some basic steps, like beating together the butter and sugar, then adding the egg yolks and vanilla, and lastly the flour. Then I split the dough into two parts.

One half of them were rolled into balls, dipped in slightly beaten egg whites, and then dipped in chopped walnuts. Then I made a thumbprint in each, and filled it with jelly. I actually used three types of jelly, one of them being our homemade one... but it was my first three cookies, and I overfilled them, so they looked pathetic... and had to be eaten before the party :-) . The others were filled with apricot jelly and a 4 berry jelly.

The other half of the dough didn't get the dipping in egg whites, they were just rolled into balls, pressed lightly down, and then sprinkled with a few chocolate chips that were also pressed down.

Then they went into the oven. The recipe called for them to bake for 20 minutes, but I checked on them around 17 and some of them were already more brown than I would like... so I took them out.

Blake and I both enjoyed the taste of the "ugly ones" and I hope that our guests will enjoy them as well.

Benjamin Harrison (our 23rd President)

I found this president to be very interesting! He was around at a big expanding time of technology, and was the first president to have electric lights in his house, and on his Christmas tree... but he was afraid to use them.


He had two kids, his daughter was born on April 8th like me (above)! (totally random, and not really about him, but interesting to me... I share a birth date with the daughter of a president). They had a pet possum and a pet goat at one time, as well as a pet dog.

He had really strong ideals, and it appears that he tried hard to get them into practice, like putting civil service people in place based on how good they will be for the job, not on how much they did for him. He also tried to help African Americans get more rights, but was frequently shot down, and didn't believe he had the power to stop lynchings, but spoke against them.

During his time in office, 6 states joined the union, and he was the first president to have his voice recorded.

He seemed to make a lot of progress with federal funds... but not everyone agreed with his decisions. From what I read, it looks like he set up a pension for veterans of the Civil War who needed it. He also raised tariffs on some goods while also cutting down tariffs on others. However, all in all, his government spent a billion dollars, which is apparently the first time that had happened. But... to be fair, unlike now, the country had a surplus of funds (from the tariffs), so there was no debt created by this spending.

I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.
Benjamin Harrison

No other people have a government more worthy of their respect and love or a land so magnificent in extent, so pleasant to look upon, and so full of generous suggestion to enterprise and labor.

Benjamin Harrison (nice patriotic sentiment)

When and under what conditions is the black man to have a free ballot? When is he in fact to have those full civil rights which have so long been his in law?
Benjamin Harrison

I do the same thing every day. I eat three meals, sleep six hours
and read dusty old books the rest of the time. My life is about as
devoid of anything funny as the great desert is of grass.

Benjamin Harrison

Have you not learned that not stocks or bonds or stately homes or products of mill or field are our country. It is the splendid thought that is in our minds.
Benjamin Harrison

My favorite:
The indiscriminate denunciation of the rich is mischievous.... No poor man was ever made richer or happier by it. It is quite as illogical to despise a man because he is rich as because he is poor. Not what a man has, but what he is, settles his class. We can not right matters by taking from one what he has honestly acquired to bestow upon another what he has not earned.
Benjamin Harrison

Friday, July 2, 2010



We picked up our CSA box a lot later than we usually do, and instead of being the first people there we were one of the last 4 to get our box. The biggest difference that I saw with this is what the trade box looked like. Usually when we get there (or I get there) there are many different items to choose from... but on Wednesday, when we got there, there was only one thing left in there... beets!

We have loved the beet recipes that we have tried in the past, and considered trading FOR some of those rejected beets (decided we liked what was in our we kept everything), but I just thought it was really sad that most people aren't willing to work with this great vegetable.

Same as last week:
Carrots (BIG purple ones this time)
Avocados (I LOVE having a steady supply of these... I'll be sad when they are out of season)

Dill (We were almost out, so really glad to get a fresh supply)

Some of the food in the box this week will go to the 4th of July party at our house, like the cucumbers into a cucumber appetizer, some of the dill and lettuce into a salad and some of those many avocados into a guacamole appetizer (I think...).

As for our menu...hopefully we can eat through most of our perishable food items by Wednesday when we leave... otherwise we will sadly be wasting some of it... I picture a pigging out on vegetables week lol!

In no particular order yet... and probably most dinners will have a side of the numerous tomatoes in our cupboard (more ripe every day too!)...
I am planning on an Avocado, caper, and Arugula tramezzini (sandwich), a mango,avocado and grapefruit salad, a tuna sandwich will dill and sprouts, a pizza with a combination of vegetables that we find in the fridge/cupboard (onion, tomato, arugula, green beans? etc.), the beets will go into a beet salad and everything else will just get eaten as side salads, or accompanying dinner on the side (like the oranges).

No box next week... but once we get back we should be full into getting summer veggies... yay!

Apees and James Buchanan


These cookies are called Apees, named after Ann Page, who was a famous cook from Philadelphia. These cookies were one of James Buchanan's favorites as a boy.

My first thought of this recipe is that I thought it was strange because they don't have any eggs in them, and I typically think of cookies as requiring eggs.

I decided not to use the mixer for these because they were so easy.

You first mix all of the dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt). Then you add softened butter to this and mix well. Then you add milk and vanilla to the mixture and form the dough into balls which you flatten on the cookie sheet. Easy!

The funny thing is that Blake said that these were his favorites... but he has said that about every consecutive cookie so far! He says because they are becoming more modern and thus more sweet, and he has a point. I enjoy these as well... but I think I enjoy the lemon ones better. Not sure...

I am definitely gaining confidence as I bake, and I have less fears of failing as I continue to make great tasting recipes.

James Buchanan

One big claim to fame about this president is that he was the only president who never married.

He was the only Secretary of State to become president later in life.

Part of the wikipedia article on him says that he is frequently listed by historians as one of the worst presidents for how he handled the crisis preceding the Civil War. Although, to be fair, it should be stated that he didn't want to run for President, and one of the few reasons he was nominated in the first place was because he was out of the country when a big dispute was going on, so he couldn't be accused of being on either side. He was on the side of owning slaves though... and received a lot of criticism for it.

He even vetoed a bill for more colleges, because he believed there were already enough educated people.

I have to say that from what I got just browsing his wikipedia page... that I am not a big fan myself. I do somewhat feel bad for him because there were a lot of issues going on while he was president, but he seemed to make matters worse every time.

I hope to find a few quotes of his that I like... but so far its not looking good.

... After reading 5-6 different quote websites I found that 1- he doesn't have many quotes at all and 2- I don't really like what he has to say in his quotes. Many of them seem to be making excuses for his behavior, like he knows its bad... but doesn't really care.... like: "What is right and what is practicable are two different things," and "Whatever the result may be, I shall carry to my grave the consciousness that I at least meant well for my country."

So... good cookies...Eh on the President. At least I can be happy that he meant well.