Let’s chat.

Have you ever seen those “coffee-date”-format blog posts, where you and the blogger are seated across a virtual table sipping on respective caffeinated drinks, and supposedly you’re talking to each other but really the blogger is just droning on and on about their lives while you stare at pictures of said drinks?

Well, aren’t you in for a treat.

Have a lovely, classy, monochrome cappuccino.  It tastes wonderful; warm, smooth, and a bit bitter–and you’ve got a brownie to wash down too, it’s just been cropped due to Instagram’s weird photo shaping lens.

Firstly, I want to say, thanks for the responses to my last post!  I really feel like I’ve been welcomed back with open arms.  Muchas gracias!! (As a side note, though: wth are you people doing commenting at 6:30 AM?? Sleep, sleep, my children.  We are on winter break!  Am I the only proper teenager here?  I myself only slithered out of bed at 10 this morning because I needed to get food in me and make sure that last post published.  I’m quite sure I could sleep all day if I didn’t get hungry.)

And obviously, since I’ve been gone for so long, there’s things that have happened since my last post that I need to fill y’all in on.  Not anything big or scary, just a bunch of mildly exciting pit stops on the road of everyday life.

  1. I performed my poem ‘The Professional Aimless Wanderer’ two months ago at the Washington State Poet Laureate’s reading.  The last word you all received on this endeavor was that I was having a hell of a time trying to write something.  I never succeeded, instead digging into my poem backlogs to scrounge up something suitable.  It went over quite well, though, and it was fun and a good experience.  Mother Dearest took a video…but due to her technological ineptitude, it’s mainly a video of the back of someone’s head with me off to the side, perched like a poetic shoulder-angel.  It’s also sideways.  😀  You guys want to watch it anyways?  Anyone know how to rotate it, at least..?
  2. Just 2 days ago we returned from a trip to see the extended fam in Klamath Falls, Oregon.  At Crater Lake we got a very detailed and lovely shot of a bird’s butt:IMG_0100
  3. IMG_0046 as well as this striking fisheye-effect shot of yours truly.  🙂  (NOTE, FOR CLARIFICATION: THIS IS NOT MY ACTUAL FACE.) We toured Captain Jack’s Stronghold (in Northern California), attempted to ice skate, and ate more hash browns than could possibly be healthy. Life was good.
  4. I got a new computer!  DSCN4325Its name is Cecil, he’s my birthday and Christmas present and probably blackmail material for this year and next, and he is just…the sexiest thing. Seriously.  So sleek and shiny and light and fast…I think I’m in love. Many thanks to the parental units.DSCN4327
  5. In way more recent news, today we took a day trip to Portland, Oregon, and visited the famous CITY OF BOOKS!!  Is it a bit drastic to proclaim that, post-high-school sometime, I really want to live in Portland, just for the sake of Powell’s?  Maybe I could work there as a supplement to the writing thing…I just really, really love this place, you guys.  For some reason it’s extremely comforting to wander around alone inside a huge building filled with books–like being swathed in stories.  Plus there was a cafe, with scones and chai lattes.  DSCN4328(Upon bringing out the camera to snap a picture of the lemon-blueberry scone, Daddio exclaimed from across the table, “You must be back to blogging!”) 😉DSCN4330

My haul.  Hyperbole and a Half is the…the greatest thing ever, you guys.  I cannot even begin to express my love for this comic.  If y’all aren’t reading her blog, get on it, stat.  Her dog-themed comics are the only thing that will guarantee me a 10-minute, laugh-so-hard-I-cry session, no matter how bad of a day I’m having.  I’m usually guffawing so loudly Citrus joins in (he knows how to mimic my laugh), and there’s no way my day can continue to go downhill from there.  Hyperbole and a Half, guys.  Seriously.

And now I hold the awesome concentrated humor in tangible, dead-tree form.  Nothing could be better.

Also…

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ohmigod I might be really dangerous with this book. 😉

Have a lovely day, y’all.  I don’t know why I’ve slipped into saying “y’all” within this post.  I don’t say it in real life.  It’s pretty fun to type, though.  I hope your coffee was enjoyable, and the brownie too!  We should really do this again sometime.

DSCN3111(Citrus says hi, btw.  He’s missed his adoring people.)

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I’m back! Have a health survey.

Insert fancy and outrageously witty intro here!  We have just returned from our weeklong Wyoming stay, and my brain is the happiest sort of mush.  It has been a whirlwind of a week, not to mention the drive home (have I told you yet that it’s 17 hours??) but I was left with lots of wonderful memories and mementos.  Time to resort to the oldest blogging trick in the book–it’s SURVEY TIME!  😀  No, they never end up being as easy-breezy as they seem, but at least my frazzled neurons don’t have to bother with the creative strain of coming up with a post topic.  I saw this healthy-living survey on Run2YourOwnBeat.  But first, since we have just returned from Wyoming, the obligatory horse picture:

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Whew.  Okay.  Onto survey!  This is such a brilliant transition.

1.  What did you eat for breakfast?

Grape-nuts and chia seeds.  As I’ve said before, my body is shunning oatmeal lately and I woke up too late to really fix something “fancy”, so cereal it was.

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Yay for recycled pictures! 😀

2.  How much water do you drink a day?

Too much.  A gallon or more, plus milk, fruit and veggies, etc.  I’m not sure why I’m so thirsty (we’ve done the diabetes testing, yes) but it hasn’t had any adverse side effects so far.  Other than constantly-full-bladder syndrome.

3.  What is your current favorite workout?

Running medium-distance, around 3 miles—I just wish I was better at it and that my knees favored it more.  I’m also looking into CrossFit…although at the moment, I am epically non-fit, cross- or otherwise.

4.  How many calories do you eat per day?

Heck, I don’t know.  A lot, probably.

5.  What are your favorite healthy snacks?

Carrots + peanut butter, pita + hummus, fruit, air-popped popcorn, cheese sticks, nuts, nut butter, etc.  The standard.

6.  What do you usually eat for lunch?

Carrot & peanut butter sandwich?  This seems to be my go-to lately.  #thebomb

7.  What is your favorite body part to strength train?

My wonderful legs, because cardio kind of counts as strength training them and also it hurts very much less than upper body.

8.  What is your least favorite body part to strength train?

Arms.  Back.  I’m weak.

9.  What are your “bad” food cravings?

Chocolatewhyisthisevenaquestion.

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First time ever trying Kona (coffee) Cake...I did a lot of worshipping the Dark Lord over this trip.

as is an Oh She Glows' Iced Mocha Green Monster

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Anti-inflammatory!  Anti-inflammatory!  Woot!

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MY handiwork!  MY handiwork!! (happy dances)

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I am woman, hear me roar.

10.  Do you take vitamins or supplements?

Often a multivitamin, a B-12 occasionally, and an acidophilus/probiotic supplement ever since my trip to Costa Rica and the ensuing gut bug. 😦  Bleh!

11.  How often do you eat out?

Rarely.  I think this is more based on lack of planning on our family’s part than disdain for outside eateries, however.

12.  Do you eat fast food?

Nope.  Actually, wait, hold on, I can’t really say this, can I, when I stopped at Burger King on our road trip just yesterday??  I ordered a veggie burger, sweet potato fries, and a large water.  So I guess I do—but once a year, or even more rarely than that.  I was hungry, you guys–beyond that, I was hangry.  You must really process this, understand how pressing the situation was.

🙂  (Source)

13.  Who is your biggest supporter?

Mah bad self.

14.  Do you have a gym membership?

Nope.  But I have a makeshift home gym in the garage!  It suddenly occurs to me that I’ve never showed you a picture of this, so here you are.

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It’s a bit roughhewn… 🙂  There’s a yoga mat in front of the TV for yoga DVDs, a few dumbbells/reistance bands, a dreadmill, a rowing machine, punching bag, weight cage, and pull-up bar.  Plus…a couch…for the Y-chromosome-havers of the house to play video games on (sigh).

15.  How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

Oh, 9, at minimum.  Coffee the next morning is a given if I’m up past 10 studying or something. Smile with tongue out I sure wish I could be one of those people who just lights-outs for like four hours and then pops up ready for a new day (pretty much every other teenager I know), but I likes my sleep.  I’m a zombie without it.

16.  Do you have a “cheat” day?

Not consciously.  I eat a lot of chocolate.  I’m not cheating on anybody with it, though, so my conscience is clear…

17.  Do you drink alcohol?

Hahahaha.  I’m younger than you think I am.  I have been known to get a little heavyhanded with the vanilla extract, though.

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35%!!!  What can I say, I’m just a rebel grrrl like that.

18.  Do you have a workout buddy?

Mah bad self.

Also, as aforementioned, Daddio and I are running a 5k this month and participating in next year’s Seattle-to-Portland bike ride.  We shall see how training intensively together goes.

19.  What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a healthy lifestyle?

To be honest–I’m still working on that commitment thing.  I was really good for about two years, then with my knees, I fell off the bandwagon for 8 months and even though I’m not loving all the…changes…this forced exercise break put my body through, I’m finding it extremely hard to get back on said bandwagon.  You feel me? :/  I’ve tried multiple times to get back to my pre-fooey-knees exercise and health regimen, but no luck so far.  Lately I have discovered some new highly inspirational healthy living blogs, though, and they’ve helped a bit–also, my impending upcoming 5k is a huge motivator.  (I’m a competetive chickie.  What can I say.)  All I know is that I definitely want to get back to my old level of fitness, but it’s going to require a lot of mental stamina to do so.

20.  What was the last healthy thing you did?

Oh, I inhaled!  Inhalation is actually a really beneficial practice, providing oxygen to your entire body and providing a low-grade ab workout, while also serving to calm the body by reassuring it that it is not in a state of suffocation.  Winking smile  I jest, I jest.  No, once I really get up and at ‘em this morning, I plan to incorporate some form of strength training into my workout.  Been missing out on it lately in favor of running/exploring! Smile

Your turn!  Pick a question and answer it in the comments, or do the survey yourself! 🙂  Maybe you’ll be my healthy magic motivator.  Also, does your brain tend to turn to mush after travel?  I must confess I haven’t been exactly productive in the time we’ve been back…

Running While High

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7,434 feet above sea level, to be exact. 😉

How can you not enjoy your evening run when you’re enjoying the above scenery^^^ while mowing through it??  I really wish I could just move this mountain back with me as my own personal running field.  Alas.  No matter what Dr. Seuss and any number of inspirational speakers may say, it’s severely hard to move mountains.  I couldn’t even figure out how to get the rope around it.

I was a bit worried about the oxygen-related complications this much of a jump (hardeehar) in elevation would cause while exercising, especially with intense cardio like the tempo work the friend and I were doing on our run–but it was actually kind of nice.  🙂  Too focused on the burning and hacking in my lungs, I didn’t notice my legs or core muscles fatiguing at all, even on the largest hills! 😀  It was a beautiful run (and I was proud of this post title) and I felt immensely accomplished after cooling down back in the cabin.  We only did two miles, at most, but there were quite a few hills, there was a thunderstorm chasing us (insta-motivation!), and we booked it.

Afterward we were quite tired.

DSCN3819And I need an excuse to show you this ice cream picture from the amazing KENDRICK PARK ICE CREAM STAND–seriously, this ice cream is one of my favorite things about the yearly trek back to Sheridan.  It embodies summer and childhood and post-swim-lesson starvation relieved by sweet, sugary, crunchy, creamy heaven.  You can just taste the nostalgia, like they churn it into the ice cream itself, and I could swear there was a hint of chlorine about it somehow, a happy tribute to memories of swallowing gallons of pool water before indulging.  The taste of simple childhood.

Except they removed my favorite flavor, Bear Claw.  Don’t ask me about how it tastes, because I will yadda on about Bear Claw until you have the urge to break out the claws yourself and maul my face.  Anyway, this time I got Espresso Almond Fudge in a Sugar Cone.

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DSCN3881Sweet silky heaven on a hot summer day.

This post has not been cohesive because my thoughts right now are for some reason not terribly cohesive, but we’re cool (haha, ice cream pun) with that, okay?  Okay.

 

WIAW: Intervention + A Smile Experiment

In my post about the weekend I mentioned that with all the cakes, pies, cupcakes, cake pops, and other manner of sweet things around the house, I was the burgeoning owner of a MASSIVE sugar addiction.  I’ve never been quite sure why this happens with me; I only know that I seem to have a very addictive personality, and things like desserts and blog-reading and vlog watching are its downfall.

I’ve been trying to “get clean” all week; I’ve improved somewhat, in that I no longer uncontrollably beg for a second slice of cake after finishing a meal, but I still have a ways to go in conquering this craving.  Over this week, I’ve been trying to slowly dial back my sugar consumption–today, I was supposed to go completely no-added-sugar, but, alas, we had muffins in the freezer…

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The day started off well–I had a light (for me) breakfast of Chocolate Covered Katie’s 2-ingredient energy balls (in a lovely Tupperware container), followed by a banana and natural peanut butter.  True, the dates in the energy balls have a lot of sugar packed into their volume, but…I think running justifies this?  Even if one is only running 3 miles..?  Not sure.  Anyway, I needed an energy-packed snack that wouldn’t weigh me down while on the hamster wheel.

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Accompanied with some Celestial Seasonings African Rooibos tea!  I love everything about this tea–from the smell to the taste to the texture to the color.  It’s “red” tea; and, for the record, when the box bragged of cherry and toffee flavors, I thought it was too good to be true…but the stuff is truly like sweet dreams packed into tea bags.  And caffeine-free!  I’m addicted.

(And yup, I read food magazines over breakfast!)

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Lunch was simple–I’d like to say I was writing so much I didn’t really have time to put together a fancy lunch, but the truth is that I’d been telling myself I was going to work on novelling any time now for about the past four hours, and I really didn’t want any lengthy meal-prep to interrupt my procrastination.  So.  Leftover scrambled eggs + veggies in a whole-wheat tortilla it was.

(Afterward I was quite dismayed that I didn’t put any avocado in this, so I ate half an avocado on its own.  Also another tortilla.  Also some swiss cheese, and pickles.  I was HUNGRY, and craving eggy/cheesy/salty things!)

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At around 2 o’ clock, blood sugar levels must have dropped, because the intense sugar (and chocolate) cravings came back again, full-force!  They were quelled temporarily by a lovely (and oh-so-stunning, right? ;))  green–er, brown–smoothie made with banana, milk, spinach, and cocoa powder.  Thick, delicious, and easy to down while writing (which I was actually doing by this point!).
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But, of course, nothing gold can ever stay.  It was 5 o’ clock by the time my thoughts rolled around to dinner, and I was planning to make NeverHomemaker’s baked veggie pockets; alas, the dough required two hours of refrigeration!  I still went ahead and whipped it up as quickly as possible, but I needed something to tide me over until actual dinner could begin–I found solace in two banana-pb-chocolate chip muffins popped from the freezer (saved from breakfast at the Hatchday Party!).

DSCN3362Conveniently, by the time it was time to need to knead the dough (sorry–couldn’t resist!)  not only my blood sugar levels, but my serotonin levels as well, seemed to have dropped markedly, and I had, alas, worked my way deep into the heart of a Cloud of Foo.  (This is a term I coined a couple of years ago to describe the oh-so-lovely and horrific mood swings plummets characteristic of the adolescent brain, and also for the longer bouts of depression characteristic to my brain.)  I’m convinced that kneading, however, was invented by a furious baker, long, long ago, who sought a way to vent his anger without disfiguring the faces of his comrades.  Or perhaps a god of stress management.  At any rate, I felt much better after a heated 10-minute kneading engagement, and after about 20 minutes outside working on my volleyball skills with Family & co.

I was also smiling the entire time I was kneading–not because it had instantly lifted the dreaded Cloud of Foo, but because I, reader of things, had once heard that smiling, even if forced, releases immense amounts of endorphins into one’s brain, thereby instantly cheering them up even if they were formerly in a Cloud of Foo!  (Of course, I didn’t allow any members of Family & Co.  to see me at it; because, as you know, when one is battling a Cloud of Foo, one is too sullen to even attempt to be in an agreeable mood.  One becomes so stubborn that one doesn’t let one’s family see them attempt to smile, for fear that one’s family will think they are cheering up!  The last thing one wants when one is in a sullen mood is to be perceived as anything but sullen.)

Did my 10 minutes of forced smiling have any effect?  Marginally…I think getting my blood stirred up via kneading and volleyball was more efficient, though.  I also headed out to the garage/home gym a while after dinner to bang on the punching bag, and that was relieving.  Still, I think by then I was kind of resigned to feeling crappy for the rest of the day–I’m just looking forward to waking up in the morning, when my Cloud of Foo and I can “reset”.

A final, more WIAW-related line:  I’m drinking some more herbal tea as I type this up.  Partly in the hopes that it will soothe my frenzied mind, and partly because it tastes so awesome.  I think I might read some Bible before hitting the sack.  As I frequently remind you, my religion is as-yet-undecided and ever in flux, but I find it worthwhile for the philosophical value alone.  Nothing like pondering the meaning of life and morality to take your mind of Clouds of Foo.Dramatic Tea and Birthday Cake Baked Oatmeal 003

Let the Festivities Commence

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Great-Grandma’s Lemon Meringue Pie recipe, preserved in the physical, non-Pinterest family recipe archives…

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IMG_3847 IMG_3848Yeah, I’ve been in a bit of a sugar coma these past few days.  I’m usually pretty good about staying away from the point where my stomach actually starts to hurt, but this week…

IMG_3864As it so happened, it was Little Bro’s birthday and Daddio’s birthday and parental anniversary and…my blogoversary is in 10 days!  (That really didn’t have any bearing on this weekend’s festivities, but I felt like including another “and”.)

I was going to make you guys a special virtual layer cake for the blogoversary (DYING TO MAKE THIS RECIPE FOR LIKE THREE YEARS NOW WHY DOES NO ONE IN OUR FAMILY LIKE WHITE CAKE MMMRRRGAHAH), but to be honest, I think I’d rather the above baked goods carry over as catering for the weeklong blogoversary celebration I plan on doing.  I’m hoping to do a 7-day series of posts full of blogging tips and maybe some other miscellaneous writing tips as well…not that I consider myself in any way qualified to give either, but…

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I also made you butt-ugly cake pops from the leftover frosting + cake cuttings from the Minion Cake!  (No one in our family has any idea how to make cake pops, so we just globbed up all the leftover crumbled cake and frosting, shaped it into our best attempts at spheres, and popped them in the freezer overnight.  This can hardly be called technique, but they were still mighty tasty.)

IMG_3867(How could I pass this recipe up for Little Bro’s party??!  [We used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen to make the cake {aka the best chocolate cake my taste buds have ever had privy to} and a Rachael Ray buttercream recipe, so the entire thing {save black icing + candy} was homemade!])  Despicable Me FTW!!

(^^Pretty much me every morning when I go to make a breakfast smoothie.)

Okay, sorry for the memeion overload.  That last one wasn’t not rebloggable, though.  Hugs to all!

Random festivity pics…

DSCN3024Sparklers!  For some reason when I set it to “Fireworks Show” mode, my camera’s shutter speed gets reeeeeaallly slow, so I can capture trails like this when people wave sparklers around.

DSCN3025This one’s a “W”.  I feel like that’s an omen of some sort.  I guess if your name begins with a W, today is your lucky day!  (I suppose it could also be a cursive “Z” gone badly…)

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IMG_20130717_132138This is my friend’s froyo bowl from the hatchday party, and I still can’t get over how dang pretty she made it.  ^Skill.

DSCN31893rd place–my LASER tag game is improving.  (LASER is an acronym, standing for “Light Amplification through Stimulated Emission of Radiation”, did you know this?  I’m irked by the fact that the vast majority of the population doesn’t.  This is the reason why I am also irked when people spell it “lazer”, BECAUSE YOU CAN’T MESS WITH ACRONYMS, all right?)

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Minion cake, all suited up and ready for action!

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&pizzapizza.

Any celebration going on in your neck of the woods this weekend?  Thoughts on minions and/or the meaning of life?  (Bonus points if you can combine the two, and quadruple your score if you do it in verse.)  Would you be interested in me sharing my great-grandmother’s Lemon Meringue Pie recipe?  Things you’d like me to cover in my 7-day blogging tip blogoversary series?  Let’s take this party down to the comments section!

(WordPress is insisting that “blogoversary” isn’t a word.   I would have thought better from the best dang bloggin’ platform around…)

MIMM: Hatchday, Pretty Light, Knees, and Insane Decisions

Hey everyone!  How’s your Monday going?

DSCN3124 DSCN3127 DSCN3137 DSCN3143 DSCN3160 DSCN3159Mine’s been pretty…pretty, to say the least.  As a Washingtonian, such flagrant displays of sunshine are something of a rarity, and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ve been taking full advantage of these picture-perfect summer days by frolicking about, soaking up the Vitamin D.

I’ve never really been one of those people who need an extra boost on Mondays to get through the week, even when school/activities are in session–I’ve just never hit the “Monday wall” that I guess so many people run into.  I’ve already confessed my nerdship to you guys–Monday is basically my favorite day of the week!  Not only is it usually pretty light on homework because teachers don’t like to take the time to concoct elaborate assignments over the weekends, school STARTS UP AGAIN and I know it’s going to be the beginning of a (potentially gruelingly) glorious week!

Still, it never hurts to get a little extra boost, even if your biggest worry right now is that the hammock that’s callin’ your name is gonna get lonely.

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The weekend was pretty enjoyable marvelous.  I hosted Citrus’ third hatchday party–I made sad-looking but still (IMO) cute cockatiel cookies and we bopped around outside.  There was a sleepover and we all got very slap-happy.  We were tired in the morning but there were muffins (with both lemon and seeds–perfect for a bird named Citrus!) made by me and a frittata made by Mother Dearest (with potatoes inside–tasted like hashbrowns!!).  I do so love hashbrowns.

Alas, we did not have a circular cookie cutter, so I had to shape the sugar cookie dough (nomnomnom) with a beer-can chicken prop-thing.  (My culinary vocabulary falters when it comes to meat…)

To make the cookies, I used the Savvy Vegetarian cookie dough recipe, this recipe for coconut whip as a frosting (tinted yellow with food coloring), Craisins for eyes, chopped up Watermelon Laffy Taffy for the beaks, and mangled “orange slices” candies for the orange cheek circles.DSCN3042 DSCN3052

This totally didn't happen what are you talking about.  Not straight from the beater, never.

This totally didn’t happen what are you talking about. Not straight from the beater, never.

I wouldn't recommend using A Taste of Thai coconut milk (pretty popular brand) for the whip--it has some sort of stabilizer added that prevents it from working too nicely.  I used...whatever this brand is.

I wouldn’t recommend using A Taste of Thai coconut milk (pretty popular brand) for the whip–it has some sort of stabilizer added that prevents it from working too nicely. I used…whatever this brand is.

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Beaks!  Haha

Beaks! Haha

Aaaaand the final result.  Bit homely, but that’s okay! 🙂

Citrus approves.

Citrus approves.

Other marvelous things today…

Can we talk patella bracing for a sec?  I’m in love.  I don’t think that’s hyperbole.  Anything that was enough to lift me out of the forced 8-month running break thanks to these dang knees is virtually a Messiah in my eyes.  (I think it was probably the braces in adjunct with my rest, stretching, physical therapy, orthotics, supportive shoes, and therapeutic ultrasounds, but hey, whatever works…)  To my surprise, I haven’t lost all of my (nonexistent to begin with) running prowess, and the braces allowed me to attend my first *OFFICIAL* XC practice last Friday!  I hope to attend two more this week!  We’ll see how that goes…alas, my mileage maximum right now is approximately 3.  (Maybe four on the hamster wheel?)  By the end of the summer we’re supposed to be easily running 8…

This brings me to my first INSANE DECISION OF THE DAY!  This one is way less insane than my other one, but it’s still a big thrill for me.  I signed up for another 5k!!  This one’s on August 24th, and, while running in the heat ain’t exactly my cup of tea, I’m beyond stoked!  If I can even get close to my time on my first-and-only 5k, then it will be a huge reassurance for me that, though my knees doth plague me, I can get my kickassery and (somewhat) speed back with enough motivation.  (To any “serious” runners out there reading this:  I know a 5k is not a huge distance.  It’s kind of a menial race.  But, alas, my body is NOT DESIGNED FOR RUNNING WHATSOEVER [sitting and blogging is more my speed, how ’bout you?] and a 5k is a big deal to me!)

Sweet Potato Chocolate Pancakes 009(Throwback to the morning of my first 5k, waiting in the starting line.  Pay no attention to the ominous disembodied hand on my shoulder; someone else is cropped out.  And notice the fear hiding behind the forced smile–the glazed eyes, the overall absent disposition.  I was convinced I was going to die that day.)

Incidentally, you know what’s harder than running a 5k?

………………………..Biking two hundred and two miles.

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Yeah, it’s insane.  We’ve covered this.  And it will require buying a new bike, and/or some road tires for my current trusty steed mountain bike.  But recently (yesterday-recently), la madre de una de mis amigas (I’m not sure why I phased into Spanish here, but I couldn’t think how to word it in English) participated in the Cascade Bicycle Club/Group Health Seattle-to-Portland bike ride, a one- or two-day event that spans a total of 202-point-something miles.  Which gave me a sudden and intense burst of inspiration.  It’s a recreational ride, not a race, but from my extensive Googling of the thing last night it looks. epic.  And everyone says you need to dream big and set high goals to keep your morale buoyed, right?  So.  I’ve got a year to train.  I post this to the internet so I can’t back down–next year, Daddio and I will be participating in the 2014 Seattle-to-Portland ride.  And we will rock that epic $#*@.

Much moreso than for running, my body (and quads) like biking.  While the farthest ride I’ve ever taken to date was just 40 miles with lots of hills, and I died afterwards–I’ve got a year.  Best get on this.

Ahh.  The inevitable foot selfie.  (For some reason I just tried to spell “foot” as “fut”…)  Daddio and I went on a short (10 mile?) ride today, and I plan to get some running on the hamster wheel done as well.  Fitness, here I come!

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And arrachgha, yes, I need to do a poemography post today, since I’ve skipped out on that for, what, three weeks?!  Problem is, I only have one line to work with… #poetictrialsandtribulations

“Rather than people who shine–

I like people who glow

is the line, but I’m not sure how to weave that into a poem.  Would it be all right if poemography was extended to flash fiction?  I know I made the rules, but you guys can change them.  I’ll luv ya forever 😉

WIAW(hile in the Big Apple)

Strangely enough, not a single apple.


new york 015The travel days both looked a heckuva lot like this!  I packed some “trail mix” (aka raisins and almonds, because I’m so creative!) to tide me over while in the airport, as well as a sack lunch that included a hummus/veggie wrap and an apple (but this apple didn’t count, you see, we still weren’t even on the plane yet).  Little did I know how mysteriously voracious I would become while waiting for two hours in the airport, with nothing but my laptop to entertain me (though that was very entertaining–a lot of writing got done!).

I don’t have pictures, per se, of the other foods I packed in my carry-on, but luckily I had with me a bag of Somersaults and some cranberry-orange flax granola.  Not ashamed to admit that, during the course of our 6-hour flight, I all but demolished the entire package of Somersaults.  Why oh why are salty, crunchy foods so addictive?

You can see the somersaults in my old suitcase picture, I supppose

You can see the somersaults in my old suitcase picture, I suppose–the granola is hidden, though

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new york 048Our first “real meal” (read: non-continental breakfast) was quick; we ducked into the place nearest to Carnegie Hall advertising vegetarian fare, Topaz Thai Restaurant.  Like a lot of NY restaurants, it was kind of half-way underground, and pretty dark, but it had a nice vibe–and quite excellent spicy peanut sauce!  The above crispy things were supplied to us as appetizers (there were bright pink and yellow ones, too–I wish I had thought to snap a photo before we all got nibbly), and they didn’t really taste like anything, but…you guys know I’m a sucker for peanut sauce. 🙂  (Anyone know what the above crispies are called?)  So much so that my meal was really just a pile of steamed veggies coated in the stuff, along with some brown rice and greenery for good measure.  Pretty spicy for my oh-so-delicate tastebuds, but the textures were great!

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Post-Carnegie celebration, we went out to Serendipity 3

There are really no words to describe this place.  Part stained-glass exhibition, part bohemian shabby-chic den, part novelty knick-knack shop, and part frozen-beverage peddling restaurant, the place was…unique.  Really, I came here only on recommendation of my school principal, who had been insisting MONTHS before hand that I HAD to order a milkshake at Serendipity.

I did, but not until after the main meal, thank goodness.  I ordered the “Alamo”, which was a black bean burger accompanied by chips and salsa^.  The salsa was great, and so were the chips–the burger was pretty tasteless on its own, but the melty cheese certainly helped.

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And then it was dessert time, so cordially awaited by all members of our table.  I ordered a “Frozen Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate”, which I had VERY high expectations for (as in, highlight-of-trip expectations), but alas…I mean, it was okay, but they “freeze” it by simply blending in fine crushed ice, which was grainy and made the texture of the whole thing just go meh.  Also, it watered down everything.  The whipped cream and chocolate curls on top were good, though.

BUT OH MY LORD ABOVE my grandfather ordered a HOT FUDGE SUNDAE (WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS I REGULARLY TOUT IT AS MY FAVORITE DESSERT).  It was, in all seriousness, the DEFINITION of #foodgasm.  I only had a few bites, but I wanted to steal it from him.  Badly.  I settled on sipping my cocoa in silence and glowering.

Oh, well…there’s always next year…

I regret to say that after this point, my food photography tapered off sharply–I learned rather quickly that New York is the city of walking, and after a few hours out in the heat the last thing I had on my mind when food was set before me was to take a picture–but I do have one more restaurant review for you, and then miscellaneous food pictures!

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Welcome to Hu Kitchen, New York.

This really looked like my kind of place.  From the signs outside to its regular inside reminders about using fresh, whole, unprocessed foods, its green smoothie bar, its plentiful salads–I was smitten.  And hungry.  I ordered a paleo vegetarian (how’s that for two words you hardly ever see in conjunction?) meatloaf, a butternut-stuffed portobello, and some spring pea salad.  I snapped a picture of the ingredient labels, too, cuz I know you guys dig that sort of thing. 🙂

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I'm not sure what "organic exempli gratia" is ;)

I’m not sure what “organic exempli gratia” is 😉  Oh yeah, Latin puns for the win..!

 

You guys…

I wanted to like this place.  I really, really did.  So badly I wanted to declare it my favorite restaurant and sing to the heavens.

But…

My “meat”loaf was dry and flavorless.  (They’re so stingy with the sauce!)  And it tastes strongly of flax.  My mushroom was okay–the nuts in the butternut stuffing added a nice crunch–but it was really expensive and not nearly enough to fill me.  And the spring pea salad was just…peas.  Nothing special, but very expensive.  The relatives that I dined with all had the same consensus.

One thing I did notice about the more “posh” NY buildings…they employ the clever use of mirrors to make their spaces look twice as big.  I was fooled more than once–then, upon realizing my mistake, I had fun snapping pictures.

From here you can see the sidewalk--who is walking where and what why gaaah??

From here you can see the sidewalk–who is walking where and what why gaaah??

Sadly enough, the *best* place we ate didn’t have competent lighting for my picturing–we stopped in for dinner on Saturday at Brick NYC (a happy accident–we were trying to go somewhere else that ended up being closed)–I ordered a mushroom risotto special that BLEW MY MIND (I had it for breakfast the next morning!)  and I snatched some bites of my grandmother’s eggplant parmesan and spaghetti (both perfect).  I would HIGHLY recommend Brick–it’s kinda high-level, but not terribly expensive! 😉

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And now, cue the random miscellaneous food pics.

new york 2 062Whole Foods (first time ever!)  on the last day–we were aiming for NYC pizza but were too pressed for time to track down a proper pizzeria.  So, golden tofu it was.  I really cannot explain my love for this tofu.  Everything else on the plate was okay, but my hearty recommendation if visiting Whole Foods is to EAT THE GOLDEN SESAME FRIED TOFU.

new york 2 045Aaaand gelato.  Always a good note to end on, verità?  (I am sorry Italians for butchering your language.)  (Yes, I saved the spoon.)  Perhaps it was solely because we had just been on the metal top deck of a tour bus for two hours in 95-degree heat, but this was perhaps one of the best frozen confections to ever pass my lips.  It was tiramisu flavored, but it tasted more like a caramel/toffee…either way, it was a very good plan. 🙂

5 AM Cake

Hoo boy.  It’s been a…week, folks.

I’m currently suspended in a mental fog fueled by some sort of wicked GI tract bug and sleep deprivation, and THINGS are piling up!

THINGS is nothing in particular and everything at once; THINGS is all the end-of-the-year homework we are being assigned (aahhh remember my “culminating project of sorts”?  Well, now we have to give a presentation about that..!).  THINGS is also the fact that I’m leaving behind my safe little lovely private school next year for THE REAL WORLD, which equates to a school 12 times the size I’m used to—accompanied by loads of paperwork for getting into classes, a bunch of new graduation requirements to take into account, YEARS worth of classes to plan out in a single night when you still need to study for your Geometry test as well…

THINGS is the video and audio greetings I need to script up and create in order to accept my Scholastic Art and Writing Award.  (Awesome award; too bad it comes with extra fries stress.)  (Pardon the grammar of that first sentence in this paragraph, and my parenthetical overkill.)

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So, um, yeah, there’s been some emotional eating.  The above has been my breakfast for two days this week—a slice of chocolate cake, extra shame on top, gobbled down in the bathroom  at 5 AM while I fix up my face.  More recently it has been accompanied by frozen yogurt, straight out of  the carton (galdangit whydowe keep that stuff in the freezer)…any sugar that’s quick and accessible, basically.

I’m not particularly fond of the abrupt transition between vacation life and real life.  This past week has been spent desperately trying to figure out how my life works again, while still trying to maintain grades and a social life and steady work on my writing and my waistline.  In short, it’s just been stressful.  I know I really shouldn’t be complaining.  Adults are always telling me how much harder everything gets when you get to that age.  Adults are liars Adults seem to have simply forgotten how hard it is to juggle raging floods of estrogen on top of attending an, ahem, “academically rigorous” private school and trying to keep up your side projects that you pour your heart into, like your food blog.  (Every teenager has/had one of those, right?)

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So, let’s see, for me it seems that stress=mass amounts of sugar and comfort food.  (Would you believe that in ADDITION to 5 AM cake and froyo on Friday, I had LOTS of lasagna for lunch?  I…just couldn’t eat a salad or a wrap…)  This is surely the diagnosis for chocoholism.

At the local Choc-Anon chapter: “Hello…well, my name is The Girl in the Orange, and, well, I have a problem…I mean, it’s just gotten out of hand…I have dreams where I have to take another exam and then someone takes away my chocolate and then I push them into a huge vat of it…I never meant any harm!”

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(You know you’re jealous of my Paint skills. Especially since the above took me ~half an hour to figure out…)

Don’t worry about me, please; I’m no stranger to stress and nothing terribly emotionally taxing is going on in my life; just a bunch of stuff that unhappily coincided during the week after a glorious stress-free playa vacation.  I am also no stranger to emotional eating and am optimistic that in time it will work its way gone and I’ll be back to crunchin’ on crudites once more.  I’m just making an effort to make sure my blog covers not only the happy-happy joy-joy orange side of life (though I try to focus on that) but also provides a little window into the things that we all struggle with.  Bloggers admitting to vulnerability is a powerful thing, and one not always easy to accomplish.

Living a “healthy” life, I’ve learned, isn’t about eating “healthy” all the time—it’s about balance.  Sometimes the odds get skewed a little to the dark side of things…by dark side, we’re talking, like, 72%, at least. Winking smile

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Last week was definitely skewed.  But it’s done (too bad the workload hasn’t just poofed out of existence) and all I can do now is work on getting back on track.

I hope someone else can relate to this, and that 5 AM cake (or the non-food equivalent) happens to all of us sometimes.  And that’s okay.

WIAW: Clean out the Fridge!

Whew!  Hello beautiful readers!  Sorry for the radio silence over the past week; I was too busy living this awesome life I’ve been given.

^That’s my new standard excuse.  Who has the nerve to argue with that? 🙂

What I Ate Wednesday is the perfect catalyst to get back into blogging and this wonderful creative process…who doesn’t love a linkup?  This WIAW will also be UNIQUE, because of the happy proximity of Spring Break!–dontcha wish you were still in school, adults? :)–and thus, VACATIONS.  The only things I DON’T like about vacations are the plane descents–my Eustachian tubes always feel like they’re going to actually explode!  It doesn’t help that I recently read a story about a man whose eardrum “actually exploded (during a plane descent), spurting blood onto the white shirt of the passenger next to him”…

That unsavory prospect aside, I’ve been known to enjoy some atypical things about traveling.  For one: airports!  I was sharing this at school last week and was shocked to learn that other people don’t hallow these beautiful places like I do…I could spend all my life in an airport!  It’s so poetic; just a hub of diverse humanity, people arriving and leaving, people from here and people from o’er yonder, all mingling in one location with the awesome moving walkways… sorry, small-town-hick that I am, I never cease to be impressed by these things!

Second unconventional traveling love: clean-out-the-fridge eats.  Nothing encourages culinary creativity like having to use up EVERYTHING!  So, without further ado, today’s:

Breakfast

Heavy strength training yesterday for stress busting=EGGS for breakfast today!  I was craving both sweet AND savory, so I brewed up some chocolate tea and whipped up a scramble with sauteed onions and eggs, added in some spinach, and heaped it all (not the tea) onto a wonderfully overflowing Trader Joe’s whole wheat hotdog bun.  Accompanying the sammich was an unpictured apple.

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Eh…none too pretty.

Tupperware Time

The only thing I would do differently about WIAW if I hosted it would be to have it fall on a day other than Wednesday!  I mean…on the weekends, say, I can actually take the time to make my food look decent and presentable, whereas school days are a mess of mass microwaving, random combinations, and boxing things up as fast as possible.  Oh well…at least it’s more exciting..? 🙂

Like Laura, I consider it a personal failure if no one gives me a strange look when I take out my lunch for the day.  This has already happened twice this week with my latest combo…

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Yes, I plated this (or tried to) on purpose…the tupperware was killing me! No aesthetic pleasure WHATSOEVER…

A baked microwaved sweet potato STUFFED with almonds (for a lack of almond butter…) and sprinkled with mass cinnamon!  Dessert for lunch!

Oh, but don’t think that stopped me from packing a REAL sweet treat–

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That would be yogurt topped with sliced banana, cocoa powder and stevia.

Alongside these sweet-tooth-satiaters, I packed some leftovers of Oh She Glows’ Roasted Buddha Bowl I whipped up a few days ago…too bad I picked out and ate most of the chickpeas on the first night! ;P

Yummmm...

Yummmm…

Spork time! ;P

Spork time! ;P

Some mooching sharing of my friend’s chocolate occurred at lunchtime as well. 😉

Snackage

I’m always STARVING when I get home.  My after-school snack is usually something of a small fourth meal–I need ENERGY to power me through workouts, homework, cooking and blogging!  Today I was craving the cheese something fierce, so I whipped myself up a little quesadilla with shredded cheddar and spinach.

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See, you can tell my tortilla is healthy…it has seeds in it.

Dinner was the remains final leftovers of the Buddha Bowl…

Yummmm...Why, yes, that is the same picture as for my lunch serving…don’t look now, folks!

More yogurt and a handful of almonds (both unpictured) happened after dinner as well.

Now I just need to eat my way through one more head of broccoli, a carton of milk, some sour cream, some pumpkin, greens…we’ll be off without leaving a trail of food waste in our wake!  Man, if there’s one thing I absolutely HATE, it’s perfectly good, nutritious food going to waste…

 

 

–The Girl in the Orange

Healthy Pumpkin Pi Pancakes

I attend a school for nerds.

It’s the truth.  We all admit it.  We’re gifted and talented labrats with giant glasses and braces, skipping grades left and right, and heckyeah we’re proud of it.

Which is why the title of this post actually does NOT contain a typo.  I do sincerely hope you  realize the significance of this particular day of the year.  March 14; 3/14.  Also known as the first three digits of the ratio pi.  Also known as National Pi Day.  Also known as the best non-school-excusing holiday of the year.

Every year for three years in a row, preceding my school’s annual Pi Recitation Contest, I’ve done my best to memorize as many digits as possible and thus clinch Pi-Memorizer-Victory, and by extension, the grand prize: a whole homemade piE, all to myself.  The first year I competed it was cherry (won with 181 digits), the second year, apple (secured via 348 digits); and it was indeed apple again this year.

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😀

YES, PEOPLE: I HAVE ONCE AGAIN SECURED THE TITLE OF PI MASTER!!

I was really hoping to memorize 500 digits this year, since it seemed final and awesome and I’ll be leaving the school next year so I kind of wanted to “go out with a bang”, but sadly I forgot a “26” somewhere in there and ended up with a grand total of 433 digits past the decimal point.

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971 69399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342 11706798214808651328231664709384460955058223172535940812 84811174502 8410270193852 110555964462294895493038196442881097 5665933446128475648233786 7831652712109091456485669234603486 1045432664821339360726024914 12737245870066063155 881748815209209 6282925409171536436789259036001133105305488204665213 8414695194151160943315727036575959195309218611738193!!

But, this post is not about pi.  Well, it kind of is.  Happy Pi Day!  Mainly it’s about piE, specifically Pumpkin PiE pancakes that I’ve been enjoying for breakfasts all week…you know, for preparation. 😉  They’re super healthy and contain a #strangebutgood secret ingredient!!

When I saw Heather at Kiss my Broccoli playing around with including “riced” cauliflower in her pancake and dessert recipes, I knew my own recipe testing would not be far behind.  Before I even realized what was happening, I had whipped up THREE batches of these cauliflower pancakes (though without the coconut flour, alas), and was working my way toward my own modified version.  I managed to include the stuff of the gods, peanut butter (though any other nut butter would also work here [try almond or pecan!]), make it more pi(e)-like, and squeeze in yet another vegetable.  And yet, yes, it still tastes like a sweet breakfast! 🙂

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Recipe: Healthy Pumpkin Pi Pancakes  (1 serving)

-2T flour of choice (I used white-whole-wheat)

-Half-scoop vanilla protein powder (I’ve heard of something like cinnamon protein powder too…if you have it, try it out here!)

-1/4 t baking powder

-1 t pumpkin pie spice (or blend cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg)

-1/4 c riced cauliflower (pulse raw cauli in food processor until pureed, or the consistency of rice)

-1 egg

-splash almond extract

-3 T canned pumpkin

-2 T milk of choice

Instruction:

Coat a skillet with cooking spray, butter, or oil, and set over medium heat.

Mix dry ingredients (spice, flour, protein powder, and baking powder) together in a small bowl.  (You don’t need much bigger than cereal-bowl-sized).  Mix wet ingredients together in a separate bowl, and stir both mixtures together until incorporated.  Scoop picakes onto skillet (they will not bubble like traditional mixes), and cook for about 5 minutes on either side. Once plated, top/stack them with the aid of Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cream!:

Ingredients:

-2T peanut butter/nut butter of choice

-2T canned pumpkin

-2t maple syrup

-1t molasses (blackstrap, if you like)

-sprinkle of each cinnamon and nutmeg

Instructions: Mix 🙂

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Top picakes with more cinnamon, and enjoy.

DSCN1072That’s my orange pi shirt, and I quite enjoy it.  On the plate are my orange pumpkin piecakes, and I quite enjoyed them. 🙂

Happy Pi Day! 😀