Tuesday, March 27, 2012

my after 30s bucket list

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.   - Anatole France

yesterday when i was driving home, a motorcycle passed me on the road.  i was thinking about how when i was about to turn 30, i had a bucket list.  one of the things on it was to ride on a motorcycle (before i turned 30).  that is not on my list anymore.  one of the things ON my bucket list was to swim in the pamlico river.  surprisingly, right before josh was born, i was visiting my sister.  the week i came back, my friends, emily and gary, were visiting a friend (who was also one of my work aquaintances and made the best crab cakes i've ever eaten) at his house, which was on the river.  i actually got in the river - with him - AT NIGHT!  i don't think they knew it was on my bucket list.  i was so scared a shark was going to eat me.  or a crab. either way, this was checked off within weeks of my 30th birthday!  (no one ever said your bucket list had to be exciting, right?)

i was thinking of what is on my list now, and was quite surprised what the first few things that popped into my mind were. 

1. run a half marathon (interesting since i am about 50 pounds overweight and get out of breath walking up 2 flights of stairs). and for some reason, i want to run one in st. louis.  why?  i have no idea!  i don't even know if they HAVE a half marathon!

2. successfully be completely vegan for 1 month.  yes, this means no cheese and eggs.  or butter.

3. juice fast for 1 week.

4. be my correct body weight.

is it clear what i think about all the time?  weight!  eating!  but do i do anything about it?  no!  gosh.  one day, though, i'm gonna do something big for myself.   maybe that day is today.  maybe tomorrow. (i'm excellent at procrastinating.)

so i was thinking about other things i want to do while i LIVE, and here are more:

5.  bike (pedal bike) from hatteras to okracoke.

6. do a 365 project and make it into a book.

7. climb to the half-way point of mt. everest (seriously, only half way: i don't want to need oxygen).

8. sleep in the bottom of the grand canyon (yes, that includes the hike there and back!  probably want to do this during or after my half-marathon fitness training.)

9.  have one of those zipline experiences.

10. learn spanish in spain.

11. mail a postcard to myself from antartica.

12. plant a successful flower garden in which i keep out the weeds and keep the flowers alive.  by myself.

13. see niagra falls.

14.  learn how to sew.  nothing fancy, but enough that i need to buy a sewing machine and i know how to use it.

15. host an exchange student. (from spain would rock, maybe s/he can give me a kick start in spanish!  haha)

16.  have a pet sheep. or cow.  and a dog.

17. take dance lessons with my husband.  and since he's already taken ballroom dancing, my choice for the style is shag!

18.  learn how (and actually do it) to properly wear make up! i know that one sounds weird but i never wear it (outside of colored gloss and mascara), mainly because i don't really know how! 

i don't think any and all of these are un-achievable in a lifetime.  some may be cost prohibitive (like going to antartica) but within a lifetime, i can save for it!  :)

what's on your bucket list?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

rule breaker...

i'm pretty sure i've blogged before about how you shouldn't wear white off season.  open mouth, insert foot.

forget those rules.  as my mom said this morning, probably some old lady in boston made it anyway, right?  yup, it is march 22nd and i'm wearing white pants (that are a linen blend to boot!).   AND, i've been wearing sandals all week  AND... i sent my kids to school in shorts this week. it isn't even past easter yet!  it has been hot enough for sure, we've been near or over 80 for 2 weeks now and not only is it officially spring, the plants are letting us know about it for sure (everything is yellow). 

so, forget tradition.  i'm wearing white whenever i want. 

[ok, so i'm not going to wear white shoes quite yet, but pants - yes!] 

and as i mentioned to mom this morning, if i lived in southern florida or the bahamas, i'd probably wear white (and linen) year round - it's seasonally appropriate there!  :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

White Bean Chili

This recipe is from VegNews recipe club, an email I get about every couple of weeks. 

What You Need:

1 head garlic, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 medium tomatillos, skins removed, cut into quarters
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3 poblano peppers, de-stemmed and cut into strips
2 jalapeño peppers, de-stemmed and cut into strips
2 yellow onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
Zest and juice of one lime
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 baked sweet potatoes
cilantro, for garnish

What You Do:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop top off head of garlic, coat cut side with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, and tightly wrap in aluminum foil. Bake garlic for one hour. Set aside.

2. Onto a baking sheet, place tomatillos and cauliflower and lightly coat in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until cauliflower is golden brown and tomatillos are cooked down into a thick sauce. Set aside.

3. On a baking sheet, toss poblano and jalapeño peppers with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and roast for 30 minutes. Set aside.

4. While peppers are roasting, in a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté onions in 1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil until softened, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Add 3 cloves of roasted garlic, tomatillos, and cauliflower.

5. Dice roasted peppers into 1/2-inch pieces and add to pot. Add lime juice, zest and beans and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until beans are heated through. Pour over baked sweet potatoes and serve immediately.

For the record, i did not like it over the sweet potato.  however, i do like the chili by itself.  it was wonderful.  and, separately, the potato was good.  so, that is how i eat it (separated).  nathaniel liked it together - with cilantro as garnish.  together it was too much for me (flavor, texture).

Nathaniel said this was one of the best ones i ever made.  You could not taste the cauliflower - and the peppers and onions were wonderful.  the jalapenos i got were not hot (not that i chose them that way, i justu got 2).  i removed seeds when i cut the peppers into strips.  the pan you put the cauliflower and tomatilloes into needs a lip because it makes lots of juice.  i included the juice in the chili.

enjoy!  this takes a while to cut but total was 1 hour from start to finish.  and, i made the strawberry tart (previous post) while things were roasting too. 

Strawberry Tart

this recipe came to me in an email, originally named Strawberry Cheesecake Bites - it is gluten free and dairy free and absolutely delicious.  it would be better named strawberry tart. it doesn't taste like cheesecake.  it does taste tarty.  and i made it in a cheesecake pan but i made one whole pan of it, rather than individual servings.  anyway, to each his own!

the original recipe is here:

and, here is that recipe and how I changed it (I followed the directions, but just changed the ingredients a little)

For the crust(s):

1 cup gluten-free rolled oats - since oats have a similar protien as wheat, i used 1 cup of bob’s red mill hazelnut meal/flour – bought at earthfare for $12.99
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon honey i used 2 tablespoons of raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Strawberry Filling:

3/4 cup raw cashews, covered with water and soaked at room temperature for 3-4 hours I didn’t soak them, they have raw cashews at earthfare in the bulk bin – pieces are $9.99, whole ones are $10.99, you can also find them at whole foods and other places, but i saw those prices yesterday.  raw cashews are great for lots of things!
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup I used raw honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted was $8.99 for the earthfare brand, it melts quick
4 drops liquid stevia I didn’t have this so i didn't use this - it was plenty sweet without it.

Optional, for garnish: I didn’t use any garnish
Raw cacao nibs
Shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 20 cups of a mini muffin pan with mini paper liners. I made it in a large springform pan because I didn’t have mini muffin pan or a tart pan. I sprayed the pan first with non-stick spray.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the oats, almonds, and salt until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add the applesauce, honey, and vanilla and process to form a dough. Press heaping teaspoons of the dough into the bottoms of the lined muffin cups. Bake for 10 minutes.  i just mashed the mixture into the bottom of my pan, just like a graham cracker crust when you are making a pie.  :)  i also licked my fingers a lot.  it was GOOD! Set aside to cool.

Wipe out the food processor. Drain the cashews and add them to the bowl of the food processor along with the strawberries, honey, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Process until smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the coconut oil and stevia and process to combine. A blender would make it smoother, but the food processer worked ok. Maybe if I soaked the cashews that would have helped.

Divide the strawberry mixture among the lined muffin cups, smoothing the tops of the cheesecakes with the back of a spoon.  I just poured it over the cooled crust and shook it around a little. it was pretty fluid so it spread easy, sorta like cake batter.  i liked the spatula and it was YUMMY!   Sprinkle with cacao nibs or shredded coconut, if using. Place the pan in the freezer and freeze until the cheesecakes are firm, 1 to 2 hours. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  i did not put it in the freezer at all, just the fridge.  after an all-night setting, it was "set".  SOOOO good i tell ya! 

now i can't wait to find other uses for that hazelnut meal.  that stuff is delish!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

pin-it back hair

one of my favorite bloggers (that haven't personally met) is chelsea over at thepapermama.com and one of the reason's i love her blog is she posts these really cute ideas such as the one she posted yesterday.  it was a hairstyle called the pin-it back hair, and she posted a tutorial.  she posts hair tutorials all the time.  i never try them.  no, sometimes i do, but i consider myself a hair idiot because i neither know how to tease nor to insert bobby pins - nor really how to pick and choose or apply hair products.  i'm a wash and go kind of girl.

anyway, this one looked easy enough except it did use bobby pins.  and referred to the "bump" in the back of the hair, but i figured i could work around it.  and i DID!

let me first tell you my normal morning, which includes a husband (who does most of the getting everyone ready), and 2 kids (3 and 4), one of which often gets up and takes a shower with mommy because she thinks she's fancy like that. and we have an hour commute to work and we all commute together and we have to be at work at the crack of dawn (yes, poor kids! but they are fortunately used to it).  so, time is not something i have a lot of to spend fixing my hair! and i don't wear makeup or fancy clothes for the same reason.   most mornings i let it dry in the car and if it dries too frizzy or too straight in one place and too wavy in another, then i put it in a ponytail or a messy bun.  fancy that, eh?  i'm very casual (a geologist) so it is is just fine at my job.

ANYWAY, this pin-it back hair just brought my summer work wardrobe to a new level.  gosh, this was easy.  i dried it out straight and used about 10 pins (i didn't count) and did it just like chelsea said (minus the bump).  SO easy.

here is chelsea's tutorial:

here are my results:

closer (such horrible lighting in my office!)

 better lighting outside! (you can tell my bangs aren't very high...)
thanks nathaniel for taking my picture!  
and for telling me when you were going to take it so i coudl smile... hahahaha!
 outside light shows the bottom bun a bit better.  
my hair is about the length about halfway between my neck and where the photo is cropped. my  hair is medium thick and fine feeling (silky), but wavy so it holds fairly well.
i just unpinned it and it was all straight. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

plants vs animals

i get a weekly newsletter from the christian vegetarian association.  today's email was particularly interesting (i.e. why you should eat veggies instead of meat based on the math)!  however, i still want to have pet large animals!  they make great compost for a garden.

here is what it said:

In my local area I've been encountering quite a bit of pushback from people who claim that dependence on plant-based foods such as grains and seeds results in exacerbated land use and the collateral killing of many more animals than if we relied on pasture-raised livestock.

I did some calculations on land use efficiency using figures obtained by doing a Google search of Extension Offices and organic farmers:

Pasture-fed "beef" cows who can be raised on 1 acre per year:
Number of acres needed to raise 1 "beef" cow/heifer = 2 (a very liberal estimate)
Pounds of meat obtained from 1 "beef" cow/heifer = 600
Calories per pound of meat = 800
Calories from meat per acre = 240,000 (800 x 600 / 2)

Sample combination of food crops that can be grown on 1 acre (divided equally) per year:
5,000 lbs carrots AND 4,000 lbs potatoes AND 1,000 pounds wheat AND 4,000 lbs winter squash
Calorie value of those food crops:
carrots = 180 calories/lb = 900,000 calories per 0.25 acres
potatoes = 400 calories/lb = 1,600,000 calories per 0.25 acres
wheat = 1400 calories/lb = 1,400,000 calories per 0.25 acres
winter squash = 180 calories/lb = 720,000 calories per 0.25 acres
Total calories from food crops per acre = 4,620,000

Number of persons who could be fed in one year with one acre (assuming 2,100 calories per day):
With meat calories = 0.3 persons
With food crop calories = 6 persons

Land use-efficiency of food crops over livestock = 19 times more efficient

I suppose the production of meat could be made more efficient by raising different animals instead of just "beef" cattle. Allowing for that, suppose we double the efficiency of producing meat. That still leaves plant-based food crops at about 10x the efficiency of meat production.
-Stephen Augustine


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