Friday, July 31, 2009

Azlynn pictures

This lovely little lady is the daughter of a friend of mine. She is getting baptized and her mom wanted pictures with her white dress. We went to a beautiful orchard near my house and these are some of my favorite pictures (it was really hard to narrow it down!)

She was so much fun and such a little actress!

I put together this announcement for the baptism and I love it very much.
Thanks Aleah and Azlynn - you guys are seriously awesome!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fruity Berry Salad

This is a copycat of my favorite salad at Zuppas - their Nuts About Berries salad. You will need:

Mixed greens
1 cup berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
Cinnamon almonds
Poppyseed dressing - there are lots of bottled varieties at the store to choose from
If it's not filling enough, I bet it would be good with some diced chicken.

To make the cinnamon almonds, put a handful of slivered almonds into a sautée pan. Add a tbsp of sugar, a shake if cinnamon and turn on the heat. Toss everything around until the sugar melts over the almonds. Don't let it caramelize too much and turn dark! Dump out on a plate to cool, break into smaller bits and you're done.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Week o' salads - part III

I can't remember having a bottle of salad dressing in the house when I was growing up. No matter what mix of vegetables we had in a salad, my mom would dress it the same way - a dash of salt and pepper, a drizzle of good olive oil and a few shakes of red wine vinegar. If we wanted to get really fancy we would add a bit of garlic powder or even a fancy vinegar (pomegranate red wine is excellent!) So it's weird to me when people live and die by their Ranch dressing - it's just not something I ever got into.

While similar to my Papa's garden salad from yesterday, this one has a little protein to make it filling. Substitute the tuna for chicken if you like. My favorite is the vacuum packed albacore tuna.

Fresh Salad with Tuna
Mixed greens
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 three-oz. package of water-packed tuna. If you accidentally get the oil-packed tuna (and I have), put it in a strainer and rinse it off for a while to get rid of most of the oil.
Drizzle of good-quality olive oil (about a tbsp)
Red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Papa's Garden Salad

This salad is a great side dish - a winner if it's served along with a fancy pasta dinner or at a casual BBQ. While you get get tomatoes from the store, nothing is better than garden-fresh. Grape tomatoes are my favorite.

I posted the recipe last summer.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some salads to try

Since I've started running, I've also been watching what I eat pretty carefully. Thankfully it is summer and there is an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies. And because it's hot outside, salads sound refreshing and yummy. I'm kind of afraid of winter and the surplus of thick soups, warm breads and holiday treats.

Sadly, restaurant and fast-food salads are tricky. Cheese, nuts, meats and dressings sneak in extra fat and calories that you don't need while you think you're being healthy. For example, a Cafe Rio pork salad packs in a whopping 800 calories! So I eat a lot of salad at home. Also I always have the dressing on the side where I can dip the lettuce into it, instead of pouring it over the entire salad. I find I only use about 2 tbsp of dressing with this technique.

So this week I'll share some of my favorite salads I've had this summer. They have been yummy and satisfying. Feel free to share your own!

Mango Chicken Salad

Mixed greens (romaine, spinach or any blend you like)
1/2 cooked, diced chicken breast
1 diced mango
1/2 cup berries (blueberries and raspberries are good)

1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped (or 1 1/4 cups frozen mango cubes, thawed)
4 teaspoons nonfat plain yogurt
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Puree in blender until combined - store in fridge.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shoe exchange

Wednesday I ran with my new shoes and by the next morning one of my ankles and legs hurt. I was so sad! I wore one old Nike and one new shoe around half the morning (prompting numerous 'helpful' comments from my kids) trying to pinpoint the difference. I also talked to Jenny about it multiple times but as she's 112 weeks pregnant and trying to will herself into labor, I'm sure she graciously wished I would fall off a cliff. Pray for her.

Finally I decided that the arch support was higher in my old shoe than the new one. The lack of support was making the arch in my foot stretch out too much and the muscles hurt all over. So I took the shoes back to 26.2 and they secured their place as my Most Favorite Running Store by exchanging the shoes and going through the whole fitting process over again.

Minnie is happy that I finally got my head on straight and picked pink shoes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Green Chili Chicken Salad

For dinner last night I tried this recipe - a copycat of my favorite Bajio salad. It turned out really nicely and we all loved it. Although I cheated and didn't make the dressing. I just went to Bajio for chips and salsa and asked them for a few cups of dressing. I don't use a lot of dressing on any salad (that's where the sneaky calories hide) and the chili chutney was plenty of flavor so unless you're really craving the dressing, I think the salad can stand alone.

Now, let me go ahead and put this out there so you can all laugh at me and then Learn From My Mistake. This recipe uses jalapeno peppers and the ones from my garden were hotter than the fires of Hades. Which was kind of a surprise because last year they were as mild as a bell pepper. So I didn't put on the nitrile gloves that I keep in the kitchen for this express purpose. And what with the peppers and onions and all, my eyes were watering and I picked up a tissue to wipe my nose.

I'm sure you can fill in the blanks from there. It wasn't the best part of my day. And here's the lesson you're learning:

Skip the traditional home remedies. Unless you want to spend many uncomfortable minutes with a stick of butter and a popsicle** up your nose, searching the internet and reading about other people who have somehow gotten the pepper oils on their naughty bits and then chosen to share that information with potentially thousands of strangers. If that sounds like a poor option to you, just go straight to Plan B and get the thing that works.

WaterJel Burn Gel.

Joe used to keep it with his tools for the occasional muffler or hot-engine burn. Personally I think every kitchen needs a bottle of it too. Because at some point you're going to brush up against a cookie sheet or grab a too-hot handle or an extra-springy oven door is going to snap closed on your arm (don't laugh, it happened!) and then you will thank me.

**In a pinch, the popsicle will probably feel pretty good until you can remember where you keep the burn gel.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New shoes!

After running on Monday, my knees and ankles really felt like they had taken a beating. I've been considering new shoes for a while because my beloved Nikes have a lot of miles on them. I tried new insoles and it just wasn't cutting it.

So I went to 26.2 because they are my new favorite store for running shoes. The employees there have always been so nice and helpful. And they actually know what they are talking about which is a big change from shopping at Buy n' Large. My favorite thing is that they have a treadmill in the store and they will do a video analysis of your feet as you run (so bring socks and maybe your old shoes to run in.) They can decide what type of shoe you need based on the video of your gait. I didn't know this but I overpronate when I run, which basically means that your ankle rolls towards the inside edge. You can get a shoe that offers more stability to help support your ankles.
And I got these. Cute yes? Lisa loves them because they are shiny but has asked at least 28 times why I didn't choose pink.

I also appreciated the patience of the salesperson because it is pretty hard for me to find shoes that fit me the way I like. I think whoever determined my adult proportions had a weird sense of humor. My feet and toes are really long which I hate because it translates into a bigger shoe size. And they're really narrow which I hate because almost every pair of shoes is too wide and I feel like my fit slip from side-to-side in them. The poor salesguy brought lots and lots of shoes for me to try on before we found one that was not only narrow enough, but was the right type of stabilizing shoe. I'm sure he was wishing that a more normal person would walk in and demand his attention. But he was very patient and helpful.

THEN they will let you run on the treadmill some more and look at the video of your feet again to see if the shoe is doing what it promised to do! So yeah, this store is pretty much my favorite. And I'm excited to try out my new shoes.

Oh yes, I did 3.11 miles on Monday in 32 minutes, 13 seconds. That is a good time but I still need to shave off 2 minutes before the Labor Day 5K. I like to have goals.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I did it!

I signed up for a 5K. It's not until September and Joe is running the half-marathon the same day. My goal is to run it in 30 minutes.

There's a local 5K in August that we both ran last year. I should probably sign up. We'll see. Oh and if you're following my progress, I've lost 15 entire pounds!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Oh baby!

We had a lovely baby shower for my friend Jenny on Saturday. She has a little boy due in the next week or so. If you are a Regency-era literary type, you will appreciate the invite I did for her.

I wanted to do a table centerpiece and my daughter thought the phrase 'diaper cake' was the funniest thing she'd ever heard. Once I showed her how it was assembled, she warmed up to the idea. She even rolled up all the diapers for me! I just had to secure them (I used clear elastic bands) and then tie the ribbons and add the decorations. So I definitely recommend finding yourself a little moppet-helper before taking on this project.

Also I recommend the Luvs or ShopKo brand diapers because they are mostly white and you don't have the silly characters all over your pretty cake. Unless you are into that sort of thing. Also, now that I think about it Jenny, you should take that green ribbon-bow with the flower from the top tier and make it into a barrette or headband for Savvy. Hot glue the white flower on so it's more secure before you do it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New camera

My beloved Canon Powershot finally freaked out and died. I loved that camera. It was the perfect size, took videos and lasted for years (we got it when Lisa was a newborn.) Finally though, I had to accept the fact that it was having problems. It only took pictures occasionally, the videos would flicker and dis-color and sometimes the lens didn't see anything at all. It was the camera-equivalent of a very old, half-blind, cantankerous person.

pic borrowed from

After making the decision to retire the old PowerShot, the obvious decision was to replace it with a newer version of the same camera. So here it is. Our happy new camera that isn't quite as nice as the old one, but smaller and I think I'll carry it with me more often. And if I take moree pictures I might update my family blog more often. We'll see...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Baby Fallyn

You may remember this perfectly lovely family from last year. Well they have a new addition! And I was lucky enough to get to take her pictures when she was just 6 days old.

For 6 days old, she slept a surprising 0 minutes of our shoot. Christel... I'm afraid your little 4th of July baby is going to be a real firecracker.

These kids were totally well-behaved the entire 2 hours. I can't believe how good they are!

This picture was an experiment with my new kitchen chairs - and I totally love how it turned out!

And one of my new favorite pictures of all time...

Thanks so much Christel - I sure enjoy you guys!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

We've been eating a lot of yogurt lately. With all the strawberries and raspberries that we get from the garden every day and a little bit of that fabulous granola we made, it's the perfect low-fat, heart-healthy breakfast. If you want to give it a try, here is how I did it.

Homemade Yogurt
All you need is milk (whole, reduced fat, low-fat... whatever), powdered milk and a bit of plain yogurt to use as a starter. Make sure you get the kind with active, live cultures. You only need store-bought yogurt as a starter the first time, after that you use a bit of your leftover yogurt as a starter. You can make as much or as little as you want, with these proportions:

4 cups milk
1/3 cup powdered milk
1/4 cup yogurt starter

Basically you need to scald the milk (heat it so that bubbles start to form along the sides of the pan but not until it boils, about 160-170 degrees) so that it kills any bad bacteria. Cool the milk back to 110 degrees (you should be able to stick your finger into it but not leave it there long). Then you stir in 1/4 cup of your plain yogurt, cover the mixture with plastic wrap and keep it warm for 6 hours. Easy peasy right?

A more detailed step-by-step process can be found here. The site also discusses several different methods of keeping the yogurt warm for the required amount of time. I turned the oven on for a few minutes so that it was warm, boiled a pot of water, put the lid on and placed the whole thing inside the oven with the covered bowl of yogurt. I did this before bedtime and by morning it was perfect.

**I also read two interesting articles that you might like - one about yogurt for weight loss and another for runners.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Early morning running

Lately I've been running in the afternoon while the kids rest/nap. I fire up the treadmill, put in Scrubs on DVD and work out for a while. In the last two weeks though, I've gotten kind of bored with indoor running. So when my cute friend Natalie agreed to run early in the morning together, I was pretty excited.

Getting up at 5:50 wasn't as bad as I was afraid it would be - but I wonder how I'll feel tonight? I took my handy-dandy new Garmin 205 and was totally pleased with it. I loved being able to stick to a constant pace. Even we ran a little slower, I felt like we did a good distance without crashing halfway through. I even had enough leftover energy to run the last half-mile at a faster pace. I was breathing pretty hard by the end of that, even though my legs felt good so I think I need to work on my cardio fitness more.

When you're finished with your workout, you can download all the information from the watch and see how well you did! I'm a nerd and love graphs so this is perfect for me.

I want to keep ramping up my speed or distance through this month but I haven't decided on a good goal yet.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sudar Family Pictures

This had all the elements for a great photo shoot - cute people, great new location, kids who listen well and I even remembered a pocket-full of Skittles. But throw a glitchy camera into the mix and things turn stressful in a hurry. Even with the equipment problems, they were great sports and we did manage to get some beautiful shots.

We thought the contrast of the fancy-dress outfits and the beat-down backgrounds would be interesting. I really like it! What do you think?

There were so many great backgrounds and photo-places in this little area, I can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Waiting for my new toy

I'm not much of a gadget person. I don't need the newest and fanciest cell phone. I still have my old 2G iPod Nano and I love it. I never hopped on the PDA bandwagon. But some people in our Wasatch Back van had this cool GPS watch and it made me really want one. And since we have an anniversary coming up, we decided to buy one to share.

While you're running, the watch will calculate your instantaneous speed, the distance you've run and calorie consumption. Cool right? Even better, you can download the information from each workout into their online trainer. It's in the mail right now and I'm excited to use it when it gets here!

UPDATE: Sorry Becca, I did forget to post a link. I'm getting the Garmin Forerunner 205. There are lots of types to choose from but I read some reviews in Runner's World and online and this one sounded like the best fit for us. Also I just checked the UPS tracking number and it's out for delivery!!!! Soon.... so soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Finding energy

I finally discovered a breakfast that had me feeling full and energized hours later when I decided to go for a run. I made a lowfat granola recipe that I got from my fabulous friend Jenny. Just google 'low fat granola recipe' and you'll have a million to choose from, just add a combination of whatever seeds, nuts or dried fruits you like. I used almonds, coconut and flax seed - yummo!

For the ultimate breakfast, send your freshly-wakened moppets out to pick some raspberries fresh from the garden. Sweeten the fruit with a tiny bit of sugar. Alternately layer fruit with non-fat yogurt. Top with your granola and viola! Who doesn't love them some parfait?

Oh and I ran 2.5 miles on the canal trail below our house. The first mile felt great - loose, easy and my heart rate stayed low. The second mile was my turn to push 90+ pounds of kids and jog stroller and it was more of a beating. I was totally feeling it the next day in my back and triceps.

And of course Joe had to make me feel like a wimp by running 5 more miles after I stopped and making it look like a stroll in the park.

PS: speaking of getting out this summer, Vanilla Joy is giving away a Shade swimsuit this week. Head on over and enter to win!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

No energy!

When I run on the treadmill, I walk for 5-10 minutes. I'll walk for as long as it takes to feel energetic, warm and loosened up before I start running. I hate stopping 5 minutes into a run to stretch out my calf muscles again.

Today I walked for 45 minutes and still did not feel up to it. I even tried eating one of those energy gummy Shot Blox things that Joe uses when he runs. I ate half of it and it made my stomach hurt and THEN I was really dizzy and I had Scrubs-style visions of falling off the treadmill and concussing myself and trying to explain to Bart how to dial 911 while he gobbled up the rest of the energy gummies and bounced off the walls. It was not fun, even in my head. Finally I gave up and just got off the treadmill. I could not get up the energy to run. I was wasted.

Several hours later, after eating dinner and having a rest, I did finally get the 25 minute run in. Sheesh! It took the entire day. So that was annoying. On the brighter side, I walked so much getting warmed up and cooled off that I worked out for 2 entire hours. That has to do a body some good, right?

I think I need to eat the right things on the days that I run so I feel energized and ready to work out. Sadly, I still need to eat carefully so that I'm not putting on weight as I'm working out, which as we all know, is what made me quit running last year. Ideas? Suggestions?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer recipe roundup

In time for the holiday weekend, here are some of my favorite summer recipes

Red, White & Blueberry Muffins

Sweet Potato Fries

Papa's Garden Salad

Panna Cotta

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Paul Bunyan Burgers

Hot dogs are for ball games. So for our extra-special BBQ, we made Paul Bunyan Burgers, baked potatoes and roasted corn on the cob.

1 1/2 pound ground beef
4 strips bacon
handful of mushrooms, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
2 tbsp Worcestershire
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp pepper
4 slices of your favorite cheese

Mix the ground beef, Worcestershire , salt and pepper together, set aside. Chop the bacon and fry it until crispy, remove from pan. Add mushroom and onion to drippings and fry. Drain grease and add bacon to veggies.

Divide the beef mixture into 8 pieces, form each into a thin patty. On 4 of the patties, put a spoonful of the bacon mixture and a slice of cheese. Top with another patty. Seal edges. Grill to desired doneness.

Summer Lime Pie

As much as I know this will torture Amy, and as much as I want to stuff a piece in an envelope and mail it to her... I'm sorry Amy!!! This was just a pretty, blog-worthy pie.

1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 oz. cream cheese, softened **
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
dash salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup lime juice
zest of 1 lime
green food coloring

Preheat oven to 350. Mix crushed pretzels, sugar and butter. (Crush your pretzels fine if you want a graham-cracker like crust or leave bigger chunks if you want - I always leave the pieces a bit bigger). Press into bottom of 9 inch pie plate. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until crust is set. Let cool before filling.

Add cream cheese, condensed milk, eggs, salt, vanilla, zest and lime juice into mixing bowl. Mix until combined, then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add green or yellow food coloring if you want the pie to look "limey-er". Pour into prepared crust.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until center of pie is set and doesn't jiggle. Let cool and then chill in refrigerator.

For perfect whipped cream (recipe from Amy Noorda), start beating the whipping cream until it's to the point where you would add the sugar. Stop the mixer. Dissolve half a packet of unflavored gelatin in lukewarm water, stirring to make sure there are no clumps. Start mixer, add gelatin and sugar and beat the rest of the way. Pipe your whipped cream onto the pie, the designs will stay crisp and fresh as the gelatin sets!

Garnish pie with thin slices of lime. Serve cold.

**The cream cheese and vanilla tame the tartness of the lime a bit. If you like your lime pie nice and sour, just eliminate these two ingredients. If you want, add some sour cream instead of the cream cheese. I haven't tried it. It just seems like it would be a good idea.

Brazilian Limeade

2 Limes
1/2 cup water
2-4 tb Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup Sugar
4 cups ice

Blend whole washed limes & water for a few seconds until limes are chopped up pretty small (don't blend too long or the drink will be too bitter)

Drain in very thin weave strainer, reserving juice and discarding pulp. Rinse blender pitcher.

Blend lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, sugar and ice until it's the right consistency (thick with no chunks) and add more water or sugar to taste.