Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Because it's almost here...

Ghost-ey Quincy says "Happy Halloween!" Doesn't she look creepy?

Now I want to carve a pumpkin. Or maybe just eat one... in pie form of course.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mind Tricks

I promised you baked goods, and you shall get baked goods. 

Oatmeal is a hot commodity in our house. It's very versatile- banana oats, baked in bread, overnight oats, and when you're dying for a cookie but don't have any butter, it makes a decent breakfast cookies. 

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies from my new website obsession since Weight Watchers kicked me off their site: SparkRecipes.com

Ingredients- 1 cup of oatmeal, 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp cinnamon, pinch of salt, 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg white, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/4 cup raisins or nuts or chocolate chips. (I totally did chocolate chips.)

Mix your dry ingredients together and then whisk together the applesauce, sugar, egg, and vanilla. 

Combine wet with dry and stir to combine. Fold in any add-ins you want (ahem! chocolate chips).

Shape into five mounds on a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled or sprayed with pan spray. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. When mine came out, they looked like this...

Oh dear. Not very pretty, and I'm not so fond of my "Ugly Baked Goods" crown. What to do? Ah! Mind tricks... Muah ha ha!

Pretty plate + Pretty rug + sunshine = decent looking cookies. 

There you have it. My little hobby is blossoming, and I'm finally getting into "real"-ish food blogger/photographer mode. So what if taking pictures of your desserts on the floor of your living room is slightly bizarre? I've never pretended I wasn't bizarre, so you can't blame me for it. Besides, the cookies were marvelous and made AWESOME healthy little breakfasts. Enjoy the recipe! :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Self Entertainment

It's just me, myself, and Quincy at the Ashby abode for today. Robert's been at a church leadership conference since yesterday morning, so I've been finding ways to entertain myself!

Like nixing the idea of making healthy pumpkin pancakes for breakfast and instead choosing a pumpkin cupcake with cream-cheese icing and an apple. Same thing right?

 Or deciding that visiting the Coulter's for dinner last night would be more fun than appearing stag at our apartment complex's Halloween party, then playing with Mary's new icing piping bags on said pumpkin cupcakes. Beautiful no? (There you go Sarah! Reader's Request: Cupcakes! :-p)

And as always, Quincy has no problem entertaining herself when Abby is around! She came home exhausted and covered in Sheltie drool. Come to think of it... that's how I came home too! (I kid. I kid.)

Enjoy your weekend! I'm off to the farmer's market and the mall to do some more entertaining, then I'll be back with some recipe posts this afternoon. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Love Your Body Day!

I've been crazy busy, so I haven't had time to blog or material to blog about. But today is National Love Your Body Day, so I think it deserves a little attention.

I love my body because...
     - it allows me to run races and feel strong.
     - it lets me hug friends and kiss loved ones.
     - it is super awesome and adaptable. I love being able to see changes.
     - it has some killer curves.
     - it's the only one I've got!

Why do you love your body?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Some Season Sightseeing

Happy Fall from the Ashby Family! We went to Cade's Cove yesterday to see if we could see a bear. Nope. No bears. Plus we got lost, but there were plenty of leaves!!!

We had a good time. And just look at our silly pooch. Always sticking her tongue out! Hope you're enjoying your October!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Queen of Ugly Baked Goods

 My fall break plans got turned upside down this afternoon. Robert went to hug me, then stepped back with a very concerned look on his face. He asked me if I felt ok, and when I looked confused he told me I was burning up. I took my temp- 100*F. Holy Mess! I NEVER run fevers. In fact, I usually run a little cool. I called the doc and they said as long as I didn't feel really super sick there was no point coming in. Apparently you have to be 101* or higher to count as a "real fever." Whatever. Needless to say though, an 8 hour drive I would have been making alone is not in my future anymore. I know if I stay here, I'll probably end up feeling fine. But if I go, I'll probably get super sick out there and have no way home. It's kind of how my life works. Whatever I choose is usually wrong. I'm super sad because I feel like I'm letting my sorority family down, but I know they understand. At least I hope they do. (Love you ladies, I really do!) I'm going to go in January when I have a random Monday off for President's Day or something. I'm bummed, but I'll make the best of it. 

Earlier today, while I still thought I'd be leaving for the weekend, I decided I needed to do some refrigerator clean up. Robert doesn't really cook when I'm not here, so I needed to use up some things before they went bad. First on my list was a whole mess of CSA veggies. I made a stew in the crock pot, but I have no idea how it turned out yet. It smells good though.

Second on my list was 24 eggs that Bert bought for the church picnic egg toss. Needless to say, they were never used, and I don't throw out animal products if I can help it. Twenty-four eggs? Totally stumped... I made french toast, but that still left me with twenty-two!  

I did some research online and- Aha! Angel food cake to the rescue! Now being a culinary maverick (or just a culinary nerd), I know that angel food is not easy. I wanted to do it anyway, so I gathered all the ingredients and jumped right in. How could I go wrong with an Alton Brown recipe?

I let the stand mixer do the hard part- twelve egg whites + super fine sugar + cream of tarter...

Will give you this! Looking good. Looking good....

I carefully scooped my batter into my bundt cake pan, and thought I was home free at that point. The hard part should have been over. 

Or not... I put my cake on a rack that was too high in the oven, and it puffed up and burned against the broiler coils. Fail. Maybe the inside looks ok?

Nope. Still pretty fail-tastic. For some reason, my cooking is always slap-dash. I make a huge mess and the presentation is never right. How this next point comes to be, I don't understand... 

No matter how ugly my cooking is, it tastes really, really good. Does that fully redeem me?

After all, that's what really counts right?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I love this man.

He is amazing- That is all. Have a good night! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What I haven't been blogging about

Robert and I ran 5 miles yesterday! It was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be; and even with all the stops and knee brace adjustments, we finished in 1 hour! Not bad for the farthest we've ever run. 

So in all the Disney World aftermath, there have been some fun things in my life that I didn't get a chance to blog about, so I'd like to catch up now. First of all- while we were in Disney, Karns was celebrating homecoming. I was very sad that I missed the faculty skit, but I got to help some by choreographing the dance. (An amusing you tube video came out of this. Let me know if you care to see it.) The lovely beaver cave woman below was my contribution to the faculty hallway competition. I didn't draw her, but I did color her. I spent way too much energy on perfecting her, but isn't she awesome? We won by the way. :)

 Two weekends ago was the annual Teacher Appreciation Weekend at the Gatlinburg Ripley's attractions. Robert and I went with Mary and Thomas and had a really good time! Here's Robert with the statue I entitled "Startled Eagle." No really. Look at it's face! (The bird, not the husband's)

Robert and I on our way to the "Swangin Bridge." Which, by the way, is exactly how they would say it out here. I doubt they even intentionally misspelled "swinging." Love it! 

After the "odditorium" and the VT football game, we made a mad dash through the aquarium to see the penguins! So fun! Although they were all pretty much asleep since it was 9pm. In the Penguin playhouse, they have a bunch of ways to be quasi-interactive with the penguins. Mainly it is just tunnels you can crawl through to get to a little viewing area in the exhibit. There were no adults in there at the time, but I have no shame. I crawled in with all the kids, and it was absolutely worth all the raised eyebrows. 

This weekend we visited the farmer's market to pick up our CSA share. If you're unfamiliar with Community Supported Agriculture, it is a wonderful way to get fresh, local, and organic veggies for cheap (and in our case- to make yourself try more green things). At the beginning of the season we bought a share of the farm, and then each week we go get whatever they have for us! We've gotten popcorn, turnips, alfalfa sprouts, green beans, tomatoes, green peppers, apples, cabbage, squash... you name it! It's been a really fun way to up our veggie intake and try new recipes. Plus it's just cool to pop fresh popcorn on your stove; then chow down knowing it was grown 20 miles from our house. 

We tried a run before the market (hence my attire), but it turned into a walk since my ankle was sore. Still running one mile, then walking a little over one more makes you thirsty. Mmmm fresh squeezed pomegranate lemonade!

 Q likes the market too. Lots of new smells and dogs. 

Beautiful local art for sale. 
And those really cool name puzzles my mom got my siblings and I when we were kids. 

The market was a ton of fun, but there was so much I didn't get to buy or try. I would love to sample the home-made ice cream or breads, but I guess that will have to wait another week! I'm headed to Williamsburg this weekend to visit with my Gamma Phi Beta Fish! :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weight Gain doesn't have to be a Souvenir

So, I have one post left from Disney, and I'm sorry I forgot to throw it in with the others. I wanted to talk about the food a bit. I try to keep this blog from being all food and exercise, but eating is one of my passions so I can't help but mention it. Humor me, please. 

I know I read that Mama Pea went to Disney Land and had no problem whatsoever finding good vegan food to eat, but I'm sorry to say Robert and I didn't have as simple an experience (and we are only pescatarian). Now, the food was amazing and we didn't go hungry, but seeking out healthy meat-free options wasn't exactly a cinch unless we wanted to eat cheese pizza for every meal. I was also nervous about gaining weight while down there. Usually vacations spur a breakdown in my normal eating routine which leads to gastrointestinal issues, tight pants, and regret. I wasn't going to let that happen this time, and I actually managed to come home about a half a pound lighter than when I left. Essentially maintaining, but considering I was eating dessert on a regular basis and not running, I think that's pretty good. So here is a brief look into our experience with the Disney Dining Plan. 

We each got two meals and one snack per day. A meal included two drinks and an entree at breakfast; or one drink, one entree, and one dessert at dinner or lunch. A snack was anything you wanted in the park- drink, ice cream, popcorn, fruit, chocolate croissant... you get me. 

There are two different types of meals at Disney- table service and counter service. This is an example of the table service meal we got at Mama Melrose in Hollywood Studios. This was for all intents and purposes our first real meal at Disney, and we started off on the right foot by sharing/not cleaning our plates. I ate all the fish and most of the veggies for example, but I left a third of the orzo and half of the dessert. 

This was a typical breakfast and counter service meal. Lots of water and going easy on the sodas was helpful, although I had to use a snack credit for that fruit cup. Wasn't happy about that. A Mickey-shaped waffle and bacon is not a good breakfast, dear Disney. I should at least be able to sub the meat out for something! (An issue we ran into frequently. Can a girl get an apple around here without paying extra?)

The table service meals were a bit more accommodating. This was the pasta dish we got at the Whispering Canyon Cafe. There were absolutely no vegetarian options on the menu, but the chef was more than happy to make us some pasta with veggies. It was delish! (A good example of Disney redeeming themselves.)

Here was one of our snacks. Typically we got a bottle of water with one credit and a snack to split with the other. This was a Dole Whip Pineapple float- pineapple ice cream in pineapple juice. Very yummy, and Momma was obsessed with these. 

S'mores cheesecake... *Drool* Oh dear. The dessert alone could derail you at this place! But then again, it's not something you want to miss out on either. This was phenomenal! Robert and I made sure to share (with each other only, everybody else was sick), and just decided to enjoy ourselves! I walked a lot, and as long as I didn't leave the table stuffed I didn't think I had done too much damage. 

For our counter service meals, Robert and I tried to split the entire meal depending on how hungry we were. The portions were huge! So this is what my plate ended up looking like most of the time. Such a waste, so splitting was a good idea unless we were starving, as you shall see below. 

Quick reminder- we walked a lot. A Mickey waffle only goes so far, so sometimes a meal like this...

Ended up like this. Gotta listen to your body right? :)

And a final lesson- don't leave your coffee mug near a 10 month old. It's a bad idea. 

So to sum it up- 1. Split your meals when practical. 2. Leave a little on your plate. 3. Walk a lot. 4. Enjoy yourself and don't stress. 5. Keep liquids away from infants. That is all!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How I motivate myself to go running...

I have received several comments on facebook about my foray into racing, all positive, encouraging, and often telling me that I'm a little inspiring to those who want to get into the race circuit. Now I hesitate to write this, because I don't think I'm a perfect example of anything and "inspiring" is a scary word. However, I did want to do a post on how I went from a couch potato to a 5k racer and beyond. (Well I'm working on the beyond.)

The people that have been complimenting me on my progress have been saying such things because they know me. I have a pretty lazy streak. Growing up, I detested anything that involved physical labor, and although I played tennis, marched in the band, and danced; I never was much of an exerciser. Watching TV was way more fun. But here's the catch. Even though I wasn't a "runner" per say and when I went "running" I spent more time gasping and trotting up Beaver Ridge than anything, I always wanted to BE a runner. I just never thought I had it in me. The fastest I ran a mile was junior year while playing tennis. I ran a 9:45 for gym and ended up being the second fastest girl in the class. I was really proud of that, but to be honest- that mile seemed torturously long. Distance running was not my thing. 

This all changed after reading an article in a magazine one day. It talked about how women always look at athletes and think, "Why can't I be like that?" Then instead of being inspired to try, they end up getting down on themselves and giving up. The article challenged me to think "Why NOT me?" instead of "Why can't I?" the next time I found myself in that situation, and they were absolutely right. Why not me? Why should she be able to run a marathon and I can't? I'm in good health. I have two strong legs just itching for some training. I WANT to run, so what am I waiting for? That was the beginning of something magical, but it took me a while to get there. Key point though- I never quit on myself. I might be 80 when I run my half marathon, but I won't quit. 

In college, I tried to get more into exercise, but I avoided the gym and dabbled with running as a way to soothe my anxiety/panic disorder. My runs were sporadic but nice even if there was no goal attached. When Robert moved to Williamsburg for a summer internship, we exercised a lot together; and I think marrying him has been a big step in getting me into the race circuit. (Although, I was the one that approached him about our first 5k.) Now I'm not saying you have to get married or have a significant other to run, but having a friend to go with you or run the race with you is a great way to get through those first few months of training. You can keep each other accountable, and it makes the miles go by much quicker. We also got a dog, so that's another option if a human companion isn't available. Truth be told though, we outrun her these days. :P

Finally, when I hit a wall with training and was feeling unmotivated, I got creative. I knew rewards were a great way to encourage myself to just get out there on days when my mind was iffy about going. So I typed up a training schedule, hung it on the back of our front door, and highlighted each run that we went on. It's not perfect. Sometimes we miss runs. Sometimes we miss entire weeks, but we keep trying. And this week, I keep trying for Maroon 5. You see, my reward is that each run completed equals one iTunes song download. Maroon 5's new album is out, and I want it really badly. However it has 18 songs, so I have to complete 18 runs before I can download it. I'm on my way with 11 runs banked, so I hope to have it within the next two weeks. Every afternoon when I'm tired and just want to be lazy, I see my chart and I think about being one day closer to "Misery." (The song, not the emotion- how ironic!) And then I get my butt out there. 

Does it work? Right before Disney, I ran a 9:30 mile. Fifteen seconds faster than I did when I was 17 and playing tennis for the school. I also think running 3 miles now is a piece of cake, and I'm working my way up to 6 miles. Is it working? You decide. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Disney World Part 3: Animal Kingdom

Welp. Marie Claire- You're a bunch of idiots. How can you bring down the healthy living community in an extremely biased and untrue articles,  but have articles featured in your magazine linked at the bottom for a "10 day detox" and other get skinny quick crap? Now THAT'S healthy. Thanks. We appreciate your biased opinions because hopefully, it will drive more traffic towards the real, healthy, inspirational women behind these food blogs and away from your skeletal, air-brushed models. Epic Fail

So what do you guys think? Is it possible to have a healthy role model these days? Are we ever going to get away from disordered eating and into healthy, happy, body accepting lifestyles? I can tell you that my health and self esteem have improved ten fold since discovering the food blogs. They got me into racing and introduced me to community supported agriculture (more on this in a later post) and new vegetables. They help me feel environmentally responsible by bringing to my attention just how little we know about what goes onto our plates and into our bodies. I commend these women for everything they do and congratulate them on accomplishing their dream jobs. No one thinks twice about paying millions of dollars for people to act or model or play a sport; why do we question when someone makes a modest living from a blog or a bakery business that they built from the ground up?

Anyway, now that I got my controversy of the day out- I'll conclude our Disney Trip. The last day was spent in the best park ever- Animal Kingdom! 

Here's Daddy in front of the entrance. I was so excited!

The Tree of Life!

Of course the first thing we did was grab fast passes for Escape from Everest and then head over to the Harambe Safari Ride! It was amazing! I thought it was going to just be driving around looking at animals, but they worked in a story line with poachers and a baby elephant. We were being "shot at" at one point! 

Here are some of the animals we saw- Rhinos and Cranes

And a Man Cub! Just kidding. :) But it was interesting having to ride with the little munchkins in our laps in the 90* weather. I had Kenleigh, and she would not sit still! 

We still loved it though! I'm sure Africa would have been even hotter, so it just added to the realism I suppose. 


And a newborn elephant! (A real one too! Not the fake one featured in the poacher story line.)

After the safari, we walked around to the animal exhibits on the walking trails. 

There was a baby gorilla! She was only seven months old and had just that week begun to walk around on her own for the first time! So adorable. 

Robert and I played with pictures a bit more. I think that was the most fun part of the trip- taking pictures. Another reason why I love being a blogger so much! 

We were headed to the Nemo show when we passed Timon! He didn't have a line, so we took our picture with him. He's the only character we got to do that with, so it was a really lucky break since we didn't want to stand in line. 

The Nemo show line was really cute. We went early to get good seats, but we took some pics with the character signs on the way in. Fish are friends... but I still eat them occasionally. Sorry friends. :(

Right on little dude! I wish people realized how much we are affected by what happens out in the big blue. 

Once inside we played around with posing pics with the decorations. Here's Robert "blowing bubbles" with the stage decorations. 

The costumes and puppets were incredible! Here's the aquarium gang. 

And Marlin + Crush! Crush was so cool, but taking pictures was hard because there wasn't any flash allowed. They were always moving, so these are two out of probably ten pictures that actually weren't blurry. 

After the show Robert and I went over to Rafiki's Wildlife Reserve. It was all about rainforest conservation and endangered species. I could have spent a lot more time there, but we had reservations at Boma- the African food buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. 

We spent a little time at the petting zoo, and then headed back to catch the parade. Right after I took a picture of Robert giving Baloo a high-five our camera died. *So sad.* We have no pictures of the lodge or dinner, but I assure you- it was amazing. Robert and I still have four un-used non-expiring park tickets left! Can't wait to go back!