Saturday, September 6, 2014

Random Play: Overnighter at Mount Lemmon

All I'm going to preface this post with, is that living on opposite shifts has been difficult for Ryan and I lately. Ryan working from 3 pm-1 am, me waking up at 4 am and working until 6 causes us to not see each other multiple days. "Living among each other" - has been way harder than merely living in opposite states. I know that sounds crazy, but it's true.

My reflections have come up with a conclusion for why this has been so challenging. When we lived in different state, we each were kind of doing our own thing. We'd talk in the evenings a few nights a week, and catch up. When we did see each other, we dedicated that time 100% to each other. We had a "rhythm" to our relationship.

Lately we live in the same house, but we "live" in opposite worlds. Much of the week, the only contact we have, is me being too loud when he's trying to sleep, and vice versa. Add sleep deprivation to the whole equation? And you have what I like to call "a funk". Very technical term.

Well, I am pleased to say that started today, Ryan is back on day shift. Thank you, Jesus.

But another problem solver was a spontaneous, mid-week escape to the mountains. We both happened to have Thursday off from work this week, and I was able to get off work early on Wednesday. At the last minute, we decided to pack the cooler, throw our camping totes in the car, and head up to Mount Lemmon for a quick "over-nighter".

Best decision ever!

We didn't even stay at a campground. We found this meadow on the side of the mountain, with pre-built fire pits, set up our gear, and just enjoyed the outdoors. (Don't worry, camping is legal where we stayed.)

How perfect is our little campsite? We had this huge area all to ourselves!!
I'm not sure what kind of pose I was attempting in this one. But I was excited!!

This was our view all around us! It was as if we had our own forest.
We made a fun camping recipe, and cracked open a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfection. (Okay, I'll admit it. Our phones did get 3G, which allowed us to play Pandora radio all night.)
We made a really good recipe! It came from the "Campfire Cuisine" cookbook my brother Chad got me a few years ago. It's a book of gourmet camping food - totally our speed!
We made "BBQ Peking Duck Wraps" with an Asian Cucumber salad on the side. Except there was no duck at my grocery store, so I used chicken thighs. It was a marinade of OJ, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, honey - wrapped in a tortilla shells with green onions and lettuce. So good!
In the morning, we ran 5 miles up the mountain. That was a crazy, but fun decision. Running 8000 ft above sea level is more challenging than 3000 ;).
There is no place like the mountains to reset our soul, in my opinion. It's nice to get away from all distraction and just be. We both returned to work Friday with a "Monday" sense of excitement.
(I know most people don't like Mondays, but I get a rush of anticipation about the "newness Monday's bring.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The health remedies up my sleeve lately...

So I've tried a few new old wives tales "remedies". Not sure exactly what inspired me. Possibly a casual trip to Spouts? A focus on getting good nutrients in my body to keep me energized? I also started looking into some natural remedies, because about 1 month ago I has having a lot heartburn/upset stomach. I felt like there was constantly a bad taste in my mouth (despite the fact that I brush my teeth religiously 4-5 times daily!).

I won't say I've done these consistently, therefore my analysis may be skewed. But this is what I've tried, and here's what I've found!

  1. 1 1/2 oz Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar orally, on an empty stomach daily. I tried this a few times, and decided I can't quite "stomach it" (ha.). Even this vinegar lover couldn't take this burn. I tried mixing it with water and honey, and still couldn't tolerate it. But I know that taking cider vinegar orally helps balance the pH levels in your body. So instead - I try putting it on my salad at lunch most days of the week! Much more tolerable...
  2. Oil Pulling with Coconut Oil. I'd read too many articles about this not to try it! This girl oil pulled religiously while in the shower for 1 week. And decided it's not "my cup of tea". I will say my lips felt soft after doing it. But I hate the taste of coconut - so gagging for 10 minutes was not worth it. (For those of you who aren't familiar with oil pulling - it consists of taking 1 Tbsp of coconut oil, and swishing it through your teeth for 10 minutes. It's supposed to pull out the toxins in your body and help with oral health)
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar as a skin toner. Now this worked! Take 2 Tbsp's good cider vinegar to 2 cups Water. Dip a cotton ball in your solution, and wipe it on your face before bed at night. Don't worry about the smell. I promise it dissipates. My skin felt firm, and so clean afterwards! Once again, this helps with the pH and really stimulates your pores!
  4. Coconut Oil as a hair treatment. With all the swimming, sunshine, and dry desert air - my hair takes a beating. In the evening after my shower, I took 1 spoonful of coconut oil and worked it into my hair (starting at the roots). Now I will warn you. Your pillow might smell like a tiki hut. But it made my hair so shiny and soft the next day!
  5. Probiotics. This isn't really a "home remedy" - but I swear by these little pills! I have always major stomach cramping and discomfort after or while running. Almost to the point where I started asking myself, "Is this really worth it?" Since I've started taking probiotics, I haven't had a single stomach cramp while running! (knock on wood!) I don't quite understand this one. I take one every morning, and I also take one the night before I'm going to run.
Some of this may be in my head. But if it works and makes me feel good?--I'll keep it up! Do you have any natural (and cheap :D) remedies you practice at home? The cheap part is my favorite. I am blessed to have pretty "easy" skin, so find it really hard to spend more than $8 on a skin product. Using the cider vinegar from my kitchen is awesome!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Recent Kitchen Happenings

I must admit....I've been rocking some serious new dishes in the kitchen lately! From our pesto party last weekend to this weekend. I'm feeling "one with the food".

I made 3 new recipes over the weekend, and I have to say all are keepers! Especially the Chicken Enchilada Dip - which I will share below....

What a great Labor Day weekend! It had the perfect balance of fun and productivity!

Friday night Ryan worked until 1 am, so I had a girls' night. Went to dinner with my girlfriends Michelle and Heather, and then we went to the movie "If I Stay" -- which was the 1st book we read in our book club! Loved the movie. Most crying I've ever heard in a movie theater! I love my "date nights" with these girls, and we never seem to run out of things to talk about!

Saturday morning I was up bright and early at 4:30 for a Bike/Run brick workout. This was the biggest workout to date with this 70.3 training. We did 31.5 miles on the bike and 8 miles running. The 8 mile run actually went better than I expected. Had it not been in the 80's with the sun blaring, it would've been a breeze!

That afternoon I prepared my Chicken Enchilada Dip, relaxed by the pool with Ryan for a bit, and headed over to a friend's house for a BBQ/Pool Party! However, I was so tired/run down that we were home by 7:30.

#granny. (For the record, I was awake until 10. I just severely needed to be in my pajamas on the couch)

Sunday we went to mass, I made Peach Cobbler, we did some shopping, and ended the day with dinner at Ryan's Dad's house.

I felt like a true, classic, 1950's housewife cooking my fresh peaches from the market, in my Sunday church dress. (Disregard the bottle of wine in the background...which I was not drinking)

The end result! This was actually a pretty easy and fun recipe to make! And it was pretty dang delicious! I love peach cobbler. It's definitely not sugar free, though ;)

Monday Ryan and I were both back to work! That weekend was a whirl! I had an awesome Masters Swim practice at 5 am, and then off to work I went! Work was insanely busy. When I got home, I decided to de-stress by making a recipe that Ryan could heat up before he went into work the next day.

I didn't feel like going to the grocery store - so I opened my pantry and started pulling out what looked suitable. I paged through my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook, and decided on spaghetti pie.

This is the true way to my husband's heart. He loves pie, but he really really loves pasta. So they got married.

The pie is made up of spaghetti for a "crust", cottage cheese, spinach & basil, ground turkey meat sauce, and mozzarella cheese! He sent me a text before he went into work saying it was a winner. (Score!!)

And here's my recipes for the Chicken Enchilada Dip. This was seriously a winner. All 2 quarts were gone within the 1st hour of the party!! And it's pretty easy!

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2 8 oz packages fat free cream cheese
  • 1 can rotel (14 oz)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 2 cups Mexican shredded cheese
  • 2 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • cilantro for garnish
  1. Shred chicken, set aside.
  2. Stir together black beans, corn, rotel, cream cheese, taco seasoning
  3. Add in the shredded chicken. Place in a 2 quart dish.
  4. Top with cheese & cilantro.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.

What have you been cooking lately? Did you have a good Labor Day weekend?