Just Blogging Along…

I’ve spent the past week obsessing over trying to fix this blog to function better. I think I “get it” but it doesn’t quite do what I need it to do. I may have had a light bulb moment this morning scouring through the WordPress help threads and Google. I do see that I’m not the only one having this issue and I’m pretty sure there is just one little thing that’s not clicking for me.

I’m also trying to decide how and if I should merge my two projects together. (Seems like I should). I have been copying the same post (just the last 2 postings are the same on both blogs). Click link HERE to have a look see at my other blog – This Fantastic Life.

In this obsession, I have not tried very many new things. The only thing I’ve created that was new is vegan red lentil dahl and roti bread to go with. I will definitely try the dahl again (another recipe). As for the roti bread, nope, not going to make that. The internet had quite a variety of recipes and I chose one that, while it turned out, was not worth the effort or the calories. The Naan I made months ago was way better and just as easy.

Home improvement projects get rolling this week. (we are not DIY’ers we prefer to pay other people to mess up our house). Our yard is getting a mini-makeover starting on Friday. More like a make-under. I am replacing some invasive plants with some that will not cause any problems elsewhere and will hopefully still look good and attract the bees. We are also adding a tree for shade (in the future) on our west facing patio. In the summer there are certain times of the day you cannot go out there for fear of being incinerated.

The yard gets finished up on Monday as the interior is getting a fresh coat! I am excited to get all the window trim painted a lighter complimentary color. Currently, our trim is the same color as the walls courtesy of the previous owners. I’m used to it now so I fully expect to think the trim will look weird once this is completed. We also have a new rug and blinds on order for the family room.

We did get a new dining room table (an upgrade from Mr. Fantasitc’s college table). It is different for us and Miss Herbivore is protesting it and won’t sit at it – something about getting rid of all her childhood memories. She has been taking all her meals at the kitchen island (eye roll, but whatever).

I’m still totally loving my 30 day yoga challenge!  The day I skipped it I ended up a grump and had to put myself in time out. I also stepped up my general workouts thanks to better weather and dry trails!

This post is just my ramblings and not focused on my mission for this blog but as this blog is very a much a work in progress I think that this post is a-ok!

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Food for Thought

Eating plant-based is not a diet, it is simply how I live my life.  I’ve stopped thinking of how and what I am currently eating as a “diet” – thus I have stopped obsessing over food. Eating is not that big of deal now. Sure, I get cravings, sure, I still need to lose a few pounds but now that I’m working out moderately verses in crazy mode I am able to manage my hunger. (Stay tuned to see if those couple of pounds might even go away with this new-found liberation)!

I finally realized that what I eat makes up my body (and not just the love handle part), but the cells, the blood all the stuff that keeps me living and thriving. I don’t need food to fuel my emotional problems I need food simply for fuel. I have to admit after a stressful few days I did spend the day munching on a guilty pleasure (Voortman vanilla wafers – lemon are the best but they didn’t have them) but it was temporary and I didn’t let it send me into a big, negative spiral AND I didn’t beat myself up about. I did recognize that I was stress eating.

A side note:  Unfortunately, these wafers have palm oil in them and I couldn’t trace their source to see if the bakery is using sustainable palm oil so that will be the last package of those. If you aren’t familiar with palm oil then you probably haven’t read the ingredients list on anything you purchase. Here is some reading for you on palm oil if you aren’t familiar with the issue.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has an app to help with your sustainable palm oil shopping. You can search product names or do a barcode scan. This leads me down the path of the changing roles of zoos – but I will save this for a separate post. The app is available both on iTunes and Google Play.  Click here to read Selva Beat’s review of the app.

Becoming more aware of the ingredients I cook with has led me to become more aware of  what I am putting into my body along with where these ingredients come from.  I truly believe that these things matter in our personal lives, our community lives and our global lives. We do all live on the same planet after all.

To me adding lots of plants, whole-grains, beans and legumes is a no-brainer. I feel better and have more energy eating this way. This has definitely been a process over the last 15 months. I adopted this lifestyle primarily for my health. I do NOT want to have another stroke. There are differences in a plant-based lifestyle and the vegan lifestyle. Plant-based is a bit more flexible and often there is room for some cheese, an egg or maybe meat and fish. Vegans do not eat, wear or  use any animal products.  Keep in mind that junk food is junk food no matter if it’s vegan, plant-based or omnivore.

I also adopted this lifestyle because I wanted to ensure that my Herbivore was getting the nutrients she needed. This lifestyle has definitely opened up a whole new world of eating choices and a more mindful way of being. It’s also made me wonder about why our culture eats the way we do. Is it marketing? Is it our busy, time crunched way of life? Is it because that’s how we grew up eating?  All food for thought for sure. We should pay attention to our lifestyles and not keep doing things just because that’ how we’ve always done them.

Some additional reading  and recipes on plant-based vs vegan:

 

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Simplify and Thrive

I am trying not to over think this blog thing but clearly I have been. I’m revisiting draft posts that I thought were not “good enough” to post and I found this on that I wrote back in late December. As I read through it I thought what a great little gem to find so I can check in with myself and my goals. Things have changed a bit since I wrote this. Mainly we eat plant-based more frequently then this plan laid out. I realize this post is “dated” but if someone in the webernet runs across this maybe it’s a good reminder for you to check in with your goals too!

Not to be too predictable for a end of year blog post but here goes. For me 2017 represented a year of recovery and reflection. Looking ahead to 2018 my goal is to thrive! I survived and now it’s time for me to shake off all of the doubts and fears and take control of my life again!

I dabbled with the minimalist idea as I watched my Herbivore jump in both feet. While I am ready to simplify my life I will be taking it in steps. I have already started with one simple habit. As soon as the junk mail and catalogs come in they are gone through and then immediately put into the recycle bin. Next, I’ll be taking it a step further and getting off the junk mail lists. Check out ConsciousbyChole.com’s post and 10 way to stop junk mail

Now through January I’m tackling meal planning and making it a habit that carries through the rest of our lives. I have such good intentions but have a hard time making a complete grocery list and then sticking to the plan. That is, if I actually even come up with 7 meals. Now, I realize that 7 meals does not a week make but my primary focus is on dinner. (I just jumped over to Pinterest to look at menu planning ideas –Ummm, that was super overwhelming. I’m just going to go with my gut and use my idea of assigning a “recipe style” to a day or the week. For Example:

  • Sunday – Vegan (the Girl)
  • Monday – Traditional (Mr. Fantastic)
  • Tuesday – Soup/salad or stir-fry
  • Wednesday – forage for yourself/leftovers
  • Thursday – D.A.S.H. recipe
  • Friday – Mediterranean style
  • Saturday – American made (i.e. pizza, grilled food, tacos etc)

Seeing as I’m going to take small bites to bring about the changes I’d like to make I will leave this post here. The next 5 1/2 weeks will find me menu planning and taking care of junk mail.

Stay tuned and follow me on this journey!

 

Sunday, Funday Volume 2

The latest Sunday, Funday actually occurred on a Saturday. Last Friday we zipped up to McCall to spend the night and to hit the slopes at Brundage on Saturday.

I’m not sure why we don’t got to McCall more often, it’s a lovely town and an easy drive from Boise. We stayed at the ever so charming Hotel McCall. Located on the main drag and by Payette Lake you can’t beat the location. Our deluxe king room was spacious and comfortable. We definitely could have spent a couple of nights there! Amenities at the hotel included: an indoor saline heated swimming pool, spa services, Rupert’s Restaurant and a fitness room.

Another plus to this convenient, in-town location is being able to walk to all the uber cool restaurants and shops. So we headed over to Hometown Sports to get our snowboard rentals for the next day and then we walked over to  The Sushi Bar, the greenest sushi restaurant in the country and the only certified green restaurant in Idaho – LOVE this! There was about a 40 minute wait for a table but we sipped some beers in the downstairs bar (they offer edamame in the downstairs bar as an app but we had an appetizer earlier at Rupert’s in the hotel). The Sushi Bar’s menu was full of tasty, fresh options. We did skip the sushi this night and opted for one of their cooked bowls. My vegetarian and Mr. Fantastic’s Kobe beef bowls were both delish, fresh, full of veggies and just the right size!

A continental breakfast awaited us bright and early Saturday morning. I was able to indulge my muffin habit with a couple of  oh, so delightful morning glory muffins made by one of the staff (I apologize, she was much more than, “just one of the staff” but sadly, I did not get her info from her). I have a weak spot for muffins and these were a tasty, but healthy-ish breakfast treat. Thinking about our day ahead I also went for a hard-boiled egg.

BeforeFresh powder was the order of the day and it did not disappoint! The day was beautifully crisp, no wind and a mountain full of happy skiers and boarders. I was a bit nervous, this being the first time back on a snowboard in about 5 years (and since my stroke) but ready to give it a try again.

We queued up for our first ride up the mountain on the Bluebird Express. I was a bit nervous as we were whisked up the hill. My first accomplishment was getting off the lift without taking out Mr. Fantastic or the two innocent skiers that were riding up with us. (I DO have a history of taking folks out as I scoot off the chairlift).  Next, up getting bound into my snowboard – that proved relatively easy. Now, point myself towards the intermediate run we selected for our first go. Next, thing I know I am actually swooshing down the mountain with relative ease. Muscle memory coming back with every turn! I was exhilarated!!

We made it down to the bottom and jumped on the lift again. This time we were going to duringcheck out another intermediate run. So, basically repeat chairlift, get off without knocking anyone down, strap in and go! Well, I did not have enough speed to cut across the relatively flat section that led to this other run. Mr. Fantastic was ahead of me and he zipped on down. I was left to turn down the same run we had done earlier. This time every turn was smooth and effortless and I went down without stopping!  Buoyed by this magical moment we hopped back on the lift to go again. Even though, I’ve been working out, this third run down the mountain proved to incite “flames” in my quads and I began to struggle on my turns. “What?! I can’t possibly be pooping out already”!  As I wrestled my body through the third and fourth runs down the mountain I finally agreed we needed to stop and rest – lunch break!

We headed back out after a tasty snack at the base and made two more runs. Alas, that was all I could manage. I did not want to hurt myself, so we packed in about 2:00.  All in all it was a successful return to the mountains and to snowboarding. Now, to get ready for Steamboat Springs in Feb!! Stay tuned!

I will definitely take more pictures for our next adventure!

LiveLifehappy
LiveLifeHappy.com

 

Sunday, Funday, Volume 1

Sunday, funday, took us out to SE Idaho to visit the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. Hagerman is located in Gooding County about 90 minutes southeast of Boise.

We’ve been a bit lax on our Sunday, Funday adventures but this past weekend we were back at it!

Apparently, horses evolved in North America and the Hagerman Horse,   Equus

Hagerman Horse
Hagerman Horse fossil in the NPS visitor center

simplicidens, is the first true horse and the park’s most famous fossil.  These fossils are from the Pliocene period and Hagerman has the world’s richest deposits of these fossil horses. Pretty cool! The visitor’s center is small but is full of fossils, knowledgeable rangers and you can watch a short film.

From the National Park Service’s website:

In 1988, the Hagerman horse became Idaho’s state fossil and Hagerman Fossil Beds became a national monument. The Monument contains the Hagerman Horse Quarry, a national natural landmark.Hagerman Fossil Beds is nationally and internationally significant for its world-class paleontological resources. 

The Monument’s paleontological resources are contained in a continuous, undisturbed stratigraphic record spanning at least 500,000 years. The fossils deposited here appear to represent an entire paleontological ecosystem with a variety of habitats such as wetland, riparian, and grassland savanna. Most of the fossils contained in the park are not obvious. There are no hikes or observation areas to see the fossils in place. A sampling of excavated fossils is displayed in the park visitor center, while the other fossils are studied under laboratory conditions not currently visible to park visitors. It is in the long term plans for the park to make the laboratory work and procedures more accessible to everyone.

Hagerman Pliocene
Artist’s rendition Pliocene period in Hagerman

It seems that the area held a plethora of outdoor activities that would be fun in more temperate weather – at least we prefer warmer weather. There are river options on the Snake River, trails to hike or ride, hot springs to soak and swim so if you’re looking for a short day trip from Boise this area is a good bet! The Hagerman Chamber has great info to help you plan your adventure!

Another notable from our outing was a stop at the Apple Barrel Deli & Bakery in Mountain Home. We are not fans of the fast food chains out by the interstate so we gambled that there would be something else open a Sunday. We lucked out that the Apple Barrel was open! They offer homemade soups, sandwiches and breakfast all day. The couple that owns and operates the Apple Barrel are super friendly and it made for the perfect lunch stop.

We are looking forward to more Sunday, Funday outings in 2018! We are heading to McCall and Brundage Mountain this weekend to test out our snowboard skills (such that they are).

XO,
Jennifer

Quote for the week:

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Goals, Workouts and Cooking – oh, my!

may the coming year

2018 is on a roll already – we are 10 days in and I’m finally pulling it together and working on moving forward.

This is a big year for us. Probably first, and foremost, is the impending high school graduation for the girl.  People really meant it when they kept saying the time with your children flies by – honestly, I don’t feel old enough to be teetering on the brink of empty nester syndrome! With high school graduation comes college. YIKES!  The girl is planning on going to Portland State University in Portland,OR.

Portland, an uber-hip (in a really good way) city, seems like it will be a nice fit for the girl.  PSU seems like an awesome school. I was sold after we toured the campus back in October. It made me wish I was a college kid again. The dorm rooms seemed amazing – but maybe they only show the best on the tours?? Only 2 kids to a room, bathroom in the room, kitchen (in this one particular dorm) and laundry on every other floor. The only thing that didn’t occur to us was to go check out the cafeteria to see what kind of vegan offerings they have. My guess is that they have it covered.

OK, back to me and the post!

January goals – plan and calendar workouts, meals, volunteer time and fun!

So, these goals are a little broad but I have to start at the 30, 000 foot view and work my way down. I am using my Google calendar and a wall calendar to satisfy the visual part of me (I gotta see it, or it doesn’t exist).

The workout part is super easy for me. I enjoy my workouts and I know that I want to be strong for our trip to Steamboat in February. I am hitting my Kaia workouts 3x per week and then adding in weight training via TRX and Body Pump classes at the Y. I also schedule in one flow/yoga class per week along with at least one rest day. Some weeks I need 2 or 3 rest days but most weeks the one works great for me.

The meal planning piece is a tad harder for me. I make the plan (that’s the easy part) it’s the sticking to the plan and/or plugging in the meals to certain days and the sticking with that. It is definitely a work in progress but one that I am determined to master this year. I have learned the joy of meal prep and bulk cooking. Cooking for me also means experimenting. I do love trying new recipes and techniques. I am not expert home cook but I do ok and nothing is more satisfying the making and sharing a tasty, healthy meal.

My goal is to increase my volunteer time from one day a week to two days (or more depending on the opportunity). I am attending the info session for the enrichment committee at the zoo and signed up to volunteer with the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley.

Fun wise, we are going to McCall and Brundage to snowboard before hitting the slope in Steamboat next month. I haven’t snowboarded in well over a year and I am a little intimidated hitting the slopes again since my stroke and brain surgery. I will be wearing a helmet to protect my head! We also have a few outings with friends planned throughout this month.

Learning how to stay busy and engaged while being a stay at home mom/person is the biggest challenge I’ve had to undertake. It’s been over a year of time off between jobs and recovery and I am finally starting to embrace this time. I feel incredibly lucky to have the luxury to be at home. Now, to make the most of it. Here’s to action in 2018!!

All the best,

Jen

The Next 50

Plenty of good has been and is happening in my day-to-day life!  I realized that I spent a good part of 2017 on the run.  I am now ready to settle in to a productive “routine” here. I did learn a lot about myself over the past 13 months.

I know I have been neglecting this particular project over the last several months and I am committed to re-focusing my energy and moving forward.

Highlights since my last post:

  • One  year anniversary of my stroke
  • Thanksgiving with family in VA
  • My 50th birthday
  • Mr. Fantastic and my 20th anniversary
  • Two job interviews

The one year anniversary of my stroke came and went. Something about that milestone helped lift my spirits and made everything look possible again. I continue to be grateful for the outcome that I had. I am even grateful for the actual experience of the stroke and subsequent brain surgery. It has given me a unique perspective on the world.

Thanksgiving was spent back in Virginia with my family. The weather was nice, we hiked almost every day. We checked out the hip Roanoke brewery scene.  Hands down my favorite is Parkway Brewing.  We were introduced to the tasty Vietnamese food at Viet Sub – the vermicelli bowl is out of this world!  The bahn mi with house made bread was also a hit. Ultimately we stayed too long, as can happen with family.

I celebrated 50 years on the planet with an open house surrounded by wonderful friends. I cannot wait to see what the next 50 years bring!  My birthday is also Mr. Fantastic’s and my 20th anniversary of our first outing. The rest is, as they say, history.

I interviewed for two very different jobs. I was not offered either of them but I am ok with that. (Another reason why I am committed to this project).

Who knows what 2018 holds? I know that I will continue to work on this project  i.e. writing, photography, cooking and being present for the last few months of the Girl’s time with us at home before college beckons her to the greatness she is meant for!

All the best and bring on 2018!!