Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lunch Salad

Mama Pea is featured in today's lunch again. Well not Mama Pea herself, but one of her salads: Bliss Salad.


I followed the recipe (almost!!) exactly, except:
1. I replaced the green onions with a homegrown leek that was still leftover from harvesting in Springfield.
2. I used about 10 baby carrots instead of 2 regular carrots.
3. Instead of one big bell pepper, Mom gave me some of these mini sweet peppers:
 
The dressing on this is fantastic!

I'm a little weird when I eat my salads. I know the greens are good for me. But I really like the toppings. I know if I eat the toppings as I go, then I'll end up with all these greens at the end with no toppings. So I force myself to eat the greens first so I have fun toppings to eat at the end. (This is also the way I eat tortellini from Pasta House; I eat the pasta first so I can enjoy the peas, proscuitto and mushrooms at the end!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Garden Update 2.25.12

We now have more garden goodies on the way from Burgess (Thank you Mom!):
6 blueberry plants for 34.99
10 Mary Washington asparagus for 3.96
2 Victoria Rhubarb for 3.99
40 gladiolas for 2.99

Last weekend at the Garden Show in Springfield, I also picked up:
Walla Walla onion plants 2.00
Candy onion plants 2.00
White onion sets 1.50
Garlic 4.98

Yesterday, Dad and I worked on the chickenhouse. We took down the old fencing around the chicken yard, and shoveled a lot of chicken manure/sawdust out of the chickenhouse. Dad estimates about 6 cubic feet of dirt. That's a lot of shoveling! The first round of chicks were available this week at the local farm store, Buchheits.

Then we repaired some of the siding.

Today we have more siding repair to do and we're also taking soil samples from the garden and hayfield to get tested at the local extension office.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Running update 2.24.12

Thursday night I went to kickboxing again. Not quite as sore as last time! It was a little different Thursday:
1. Lots of uncoordinated older ladies to snicker at. I know that makes me horrible, but you would snicker, too.
2. At the start of class the instructor plugged in the stereo and a fireball, not a spark, came out of the outlet.
3. We ran three laps around the gym airpunching. A little winded afterward, but not too bad.

Last night I ran again. I'm trying to get at least three days of cardio in each week and since I was driving back from Springfield Monday I didn't go to the gym that night. Last night:
.25 @ 3.0
.25 @ 3.5
.75 @ 4.7
.25 @ 3.5
.5 @ 4.7
.25 @ 3.5
.25 @ 4.8
.25 @ 3.5
.35 @ 3.0

A total of 3.1 miles or a 5k.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Notable Lunch

You know I'm not usually one to document in photographs everything I eat all day. I appreciate others that do because it gives me inspiration. (If I get some positive feedback from posting my lunches, I'll do it more often. *hint, hint*)
This is what about 600 calories looks like

I do, however, keep track of my food and exercise in an app from Loseit.com. (I used to use sparkpeople.com, but find I like the simplicity of Lose It more.) I've tracked my food on and off for the last five years.  I'm shocked how little food a body requires to survive, but at the same time find it incredibly difficult to feel satisfied on a 1500 calorie diet. I find that if I aim for 1500 calories, I keep my weight steady. When I start eating closer to 2000 calories a day, even when exercising regularly, I gain weight.

Today's lunch was so delicious that I'm sharing it with you:


Arnold 8-grain pocket with chicken salad and mixed greens
Mama Pea's Black Eyed Pea Salad with Corn and Peppers
Clementines (for morning and afternoon snacks)
Red grapes
Farmhouse white cheddar (not the bulk processed crap, but a cheese that tells you the name of the farm and how long it's aged. And it's white so it doesn't have that fake yellow color in it.)

I find it really hard to consume the recommended amount of fruits (2-4 servings) and vegetables (3-5 servings) each day, so I have to sneak them into other dishes. Tracking my food opened my eyes to the amount of calories that come from meat. Meat is a very calorie dense food. Example: 4 oz. of lean ground beef has about 170 calories, or you could eat 4.5 bell peppers for about 170 calories.


Chicken Salad (4 servings)
12.5 oz can chicken, drained
1 stalk celery, diced
1 apple, cored and diced
1 Tbsp parsley (I only used this because I had it on hand)
2 Tbsp Miracle Whip (I know, unhealthy, but I can't stand jarred mayo!)

I made a few modifications to Mama Pea's dressing for the veggie salad. I didn't have rice vinegar on hand (I thought I did and then got home and realized it was sesame oil. Not the same!) Follow her recipe except:

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (reduced the amount)
4 Tbsp white vinegar (instead of rice vinegar)
2 tsp sugar (added because vinegar is a little too tart for me!)

and I used an entire can of drained corn instead of just 1 cup.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Running update 2.21.12

Last night I went to the gym, even though my entire body aches from pulling the cover crops out of the garden and then driving for five hours. It hurts to sit, to stand; you'd think I was an old woman!

Here'a last nights workout:
Stretch!
Walk at 3 for .25
Walk at 3.5 for .25
Run at 4.7 for .75
Walk at 3.5 for .5
Walk at 3 for .25

Sertoma Chili Cookoff

This last weekend I went to Springfield, to spend time with the Hubs, but also to attend the Sertoma Chili Cookoff. This is a fundraiser event with tons of chili. You pay a flat fee to get in and then sample chili from as many booths as you can fit in your stomach. They give you a little styrofoam cup (maybe 1/2 cup size?) and a spoon and refill it at every booth.
My favorite chili every year is the firemen's chili. I think they put molasses in it. The firemen and policemen had booths right across from each other, and had competitive t-shirts on. The police shirts said "Firefighters aren't that cool. The water does all the work" and the firemen shirts said "God made firemen so cops have heroes"

My BFF and me!
My BFF found a chili that had peanut butter in it. Genius idea since I'm always dipping a peanut butter sandwich in my chili!

The people working the booths get really into it (see costumes above and below)



Monday, February 20, 2012

Music Monday: President Obama

It's so refreshing to hear about the love that the President and First Lady have for each other, rather than hearing about scandalous extra-marital affairs.

A couple weeks ago, President Obama was at a fundraiser and sang Al Green's "Let's Stay Together". It brought a smile to my face.



Especially after I saw aFirst Lady Obama on Jay Leno. She said that the President randomly breaks out in that song because he's so in love with her. Makes my heart melt. (I tried to find that clip, but didn't see it on youtube...)

Here's Al Green live:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sunday night dinner: Pasta

Showing off the stirring skills.
 Every Sunday, we have a potluck style dinner at the farm. My brother Daniel and I usually make the main course (usually something smoked or grilled) and then others bring sides and dessert.

This week, Daniel decided he wanted pasta instead.
Can you tell this isn't a commercial kitchen? No hair net required!

 We made two different sauces and two different pastas. Homemade alfredo sauce with chicken, and homemade tomato sauce with hamburger. I was in charge of the tomato sauce, so I can only give you an ingredient list for the alfredo, but not many measurements.

Alfredo sauce:
1 package of boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into small pieces
Heavy whipping cream (I think a pint)
cheese (Yesterday was a mixture of a block of mozzarella and a shaker of parmesan)
salt, pepper, oregano, basil
Garlic, about 5 cloves, diced small

Saute the garlic in olive oil. Stir in the heavy whipping cream. (Don't walk off and let it boil over...) Add the cheese and melt it. Add seasonings.

In the meantime, cook the chicken in olive oil with seasonings. When cooked through, add to alfredo sauce.

Tomato sauce:
3 pints of home-canned tomatoes
pepper, oregano, basil
Garlic, about 5 cloves
half an onion, diced small
about 1 pound of hamburger

In a sauce pan, brown the hamburger with the onion. Drain the grease. Then add the garlic and seasonings. Add the tomatoes and cook down to the desired consistency. You may not need to add salt. Taste-test it.

We used bowtie noodles for the alfredo, and cavatappi for the tomato sauce.

I know you're probably reading this post after the cholesterol post and thinking "no wonder you have high cholesterol". I don't eat this every night. This is one night a week. Eating high fat-content meals for one day shouldn't mess up my cholesterol level for the entire week. Moderation is key. But I'm still going to work on making my "cheat meals" healthier.

How not to run

Yesterday, I had to get my car serviced and so I grabbed lunch with a friend on the way back to the office. It was a good lunch, don't misunderstand. We went to a sandwich place called Penn Station. I probably could have eaten just the sandwich and been fine. But then I saw this huge pile of potatoes, realized they make their fries from scratch, and couldn't resist. I have a weakness for "real" french fries. (BFF, you know who you are: these are the closest to Gastropub fries I've had here!)


The problem was that I planned on going to kickboxing after work, but I was so sluggish and full that I decided to run and lift weights instead.

I felt crappy throughout the whole workout. I was well hydrated. But I think the fat and salt were slowing me down. Here's what I ended up doing:

Stretch!
.25 miles at 3.0 mph
.25 miles at 3.5 mph
1 mile at 4.7 mph
.5 miles at 3.5 mph
.25 miles at 4.7 mph
.25 miles at 3.5 mph
.25 miles at 3.0 mph
About 10 minutes of lifting weights, then post workout stretch.

Moral of the story? The more I work out the more I realize that what I eat directly affects my performance at the gym. Eat like crap = workout like crap

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Garden Update 2.16.12

Remember when I said that receiving seed catalogs was like looking at garden porn?
That was before we received all these catalogs...



Earlier this week, Mom and I made a list of seeds to buy. Then Grandma said she was getting ready to order seeds from Jung's catalog. So I wrote up our wishlist and gave it to her, expecting a couple days to get her some money before she ordered, or for her to pare down the order. Not so... Tuesday night I got home and she had already sent off the order!

Here's what we have coming from Jung's. I suppose I should keep track of seed costs and harvest totals again this year, too...

Blue Lake 274 beans $2.25
Speedy beans $2.65
Early golden bantam sweet corn $2.25
Marketmore 76 cucumbers $1.75
Alibi hybrid cucumbers $1.95
Athena hybrid cantaloupe $3.35
Early frosty peas $1.75
Early sweet sugar pie pumpkin $1.95
Jung's summer medley zucchini $2.95
Crimson sweet watermelon $1.95
Table king bush acorn squash $1.95

Grandma added the following to the order:
Summer dance hybrid cucumber $2.75
Green ice lettuce $2.25
Karina garden pea $2.25
Red ace hybrid beet $2.25
German giant radish $1.95
Carolina golden hybrid tomato $3.75

From Burgess, we are ordering:
Mary Washington asparagus 10/$3.96
Victoria rhubarb 2/$3.99
Giant blueberry collection 6/$34.99

Now we have to figure out where all this and the fruit trees are going!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Run like the wind

Monday at quittin' time a wintery mix was coming down, so I skipped the gym and came home. No sense in running off the road in the dark due to ice, just to get a run in. There are probably hardcore people out there that went to the gym anyway, but I didn't want any part of it!

I went Tuesday night instead. I ended up running for 1.25 miles at one time. I'm setting personal records now!

Here's my workout from Tuesday:
Stretch!
Walk at 3mph for .25
Walk at 3.5mph for .25
Run at 4.7mph for 1.25 (actually the last .1 was at 4.8 just to see if I could do it)
Walk at 3.5 for .25
Run at 4.7mph for .25
Walk at 3.5mph for .5
Walk at 3 mph for .25

Weight machines for 10-15 minutes

Cholesterol

A couple weeks ago, I went to the doctor for my yearly wellness visit. I have been watching what I eat really closely since I moved back to the farm, mostly because last time I lived with Grandma I gained unnecessary weight. Since moving in with Grandma this time, I've lost 12 pounds. I expected all my bloodwork to come back normal.

Most of it did, except for my cholesterol. Total cholesterol was 243, with triglycerides at 100, HDL at 56, and LDL at 167. Normal cholesterol levels should be: Total  < 200, Triglycerides < 150, HDL > 65, and LDL < 100. So what's wrong with this picture? My LDL is through the roof.

Source


My blood pressure is always fairly normal, around 120/80, and I've never had a problem with my blood sugar. Despite my fears that diabetes would become an issue in my health, due to its high prevalence in the family, my blood sugar was 86.

What is really frustrating about this is that I think I eat fairly healthy. A typical day of eating looks like this:
Breakfast: oatmeal with fruit, coffee with almond milk
Lunch: salads with cheese, fruit and nuts, without dressing, or something vegetarian with fruit. I allow myself one lunch out per week with coworkers. This is as much for health reasons as it is for financial reasons.
Dinner: Grandma's homecooked meals that, while delicious, are not always healthy. Sometimes I can't find a vegetable on my plate (mostly because I don't count mashed potatoes as a vegetable).

Weekends mean:
a Saturday brunch with family, and a homecooked dinner.
Sunday breakfast a Panera with a homecooked potluck dinner.

Where is this high cholesterol coming from?
I look at these websites with lists of things you're supposed to do to decrease bad cholesterol. I already do it: cook with olive oil, don't use salad dressing on my daily salads, eat nuts, fruits and vegetables, reduce eating out, eating meat and dairy, and fried foods. I don't smoke. I've been working out 2 - 3 times per week.
I'm supposed to go back in six months for updated bloodwork. In the meantime, I'm supposed to take fish oil twice daily. (Note: if you ever buy fish oil, buy the burpless. Otherwise you'll burp tunafish for a couple hours. Yes, I know from experience.) I'm going to work on increasing gym time. And I'm going to try tracking my food better.
Now comes the part where I have to figure out what it is that I'm doing wrong. And somehow figure out what Grandma puts in the food without offending her.

Monday, February 13, 2012

South Beach Black Bean Stoup (Stew-Soup)

Sorry that I only have one photo of this dish for you. I'll try to remember to take another photo when I eat it again for tomorrow's lunch.


This is adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat recipe book.

South Beach Black Bean Stoup

Saute in a large pan until tender:
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
about 5 cloves garlic, diced
1 large leek, sliced thin

Add 2 cans of black beans, drained.

Add the following and simmer until heated through:
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Once heated through, turn off and add:
zest and juice of one lime
1 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped

According to the handy-dandy recipe calculator on Sparkpeople.com, this recipe makes four servings with:
290 calories
5 grams fat
0 cholesterol
16 grams fiber
16 grams protein

Wow, the lime, cilantro, cumin and pepper flakes made this amazing. So amazing, that I was eating at my desk and a coworker who had already eaten lunch stopped and said "What is that that smells so good?"

Music Monday: Waylon Jennings "Rainy Day Woman"



Who would have thought I would learn a new song from my 16-soon to be 17-year old cousin?

A song that's almost older than both of our ages combined. This song was released in 1974.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Running Update 2.12.12

Friday I went to the gym after work and ran on the treadmill. It's a little chilly here to even think about running outside. I'd be surprised if we broke 30 degrees in the last three days.

I ended up running/walking for 45 minutes. Here's what I did:

walk at 3mph for .25 miles
walk at 3.5 mph for .25 miles
run at 4.7mph for 1 mile (!!!! I haven't ran a mile at one time, since, oh... five years ago maybe?)
walk at 3.5 mph for .5 miles
run at 4.7 mph for .25 miles
walk at 3.5 mph for .25 miles
walk at 3 mph for .25 miles

I stretched before the treadmill, and lifted weights for about 10 minutes afterward.

I probably could have ran longer, but I was afraid to push myself too hard. After walking for .5 miles, it was really hard to run again. My calves and shins were really tight and pained.

There was even a point during the run that I might have felt a runner's high. Pretty awesome.

I'm going to try to increase to running 1.25 miles at one time this week.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Sunday, for the Superbowl, I made Spinach Artichoke Dip, adapted from the recipe out of my Bridal Edition Red Plaid Cookbook.

1/2 c + a handful shredded mozzarella
1 c sour cream
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c + a couple shakes shredded parmesan
14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 1/2 c fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 c finely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped

In a bowl combine the 1/2c mozzarella, sour cream, mayo and 1/2 parmesan. Add the artichokes, spinach, red onion and garlic. Spread in a pan (the original recipe called for a 9" pie plate. I used a 5x9 (?) glass pan). Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheeses and some fresh black pepper

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Serve with veggies, chips, fresh bread, whatever tastes good.

Half headless photo courtesy of my brother...




On Monday, we still had over half a pan of dip left. There were several people sick on Sunday that couldn't make it. So I decided to do something creative with the dip before we got sick of eating dip. I started thinking about this chicken ring that my mom makes on her Pampered Chef baking stone.

So that's what I did. Except it's more of a spinach artichoke log, and I used a cookie sheet.

1 package of Pillsbury Big & Buttery Crescent rolls
Leftover Spinach Artichoke dip

Lay the crescent rolls on the cookie sheet, alternating directions. Along one side of the rolls, scoop in the dip. Then cover and press the edges closed.

The cookie sheet wasn't long enough for all of the crescent rolls as a log, so we had some spare rolls on the side.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, until the crescent rolls are golden.




Thursday, February 9, 2012

What do you do?

I get asked about my job quite frequently, so I thought I'd share what I do everyday at work.

I am technically the "Plan Review Specialist", or in plan English: the plan reviewer.

Big plan cabinet, holding plans that are waiting for review, or for permits to be issued

At first I was only reviewing Commercial building plans, but now I also review site plans, and will eventually review storm water and residential plans.

What do I look for when I'm reviewing? I have several checklists, depending on what type of plan I'm reviewing. For a commercial building, I review the City's Ordinance to make sure the Zoning and Development Codes are met. I also look at the International Building Code, ANSI 117.1 (for accessibility), mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fuel-gas, energy conservation and existing building codes (if the project is an infill).

Oh, the joy of Code books
For site plans, I review Zoning and Development, portions of the International Building Code, and ANSI 117.1. The Building Code and ANSI contain information regarding parking spaces, allowable grades and other accessibility stuff. Our Development code contains everything from driveway and parking lot size requirements, to lighting, retaining walls, sidewalks and landscaping.

In a typical week, I review about half a dozen plans. I write a letter to the designer containing all my comments and then wait for revisions to come in to review. I've been told this is a rather slow period for plan review and building permits.

There has been a definite learning curve in this position. At my previous job in an architect's office, I was very familiar with the Building Code and ANSI, but didn't look much at the mechanical, electrical and plumbing codes. The engineers dealt with that. That's not to say that I didn't work on their drawings ever; I picked up revisions and worked on preliminary layouts for lights and outlets. But I never did the calculations.

Depending on the size of the project, the plan review could take anywhere from half an hour to all day.

There are several people that review plans: me, the fire marshal and the Development Review Group. After all three determine the plans in compliance, a permit can be issued for the work. Some people build without getting their plans reviewed or getting a permit. This backfires. Some utility companies won't turn on utilities without the City approval by inspection. A building can't be inspected without a permit. A permit can't be obtained without a plan review.

When I'm not reviewing plans, I research and work on continuing education to maintain my architect license and my LEED AP credential.
my wall-o-achievements and drafting desk

Sometimes I feel like I'm back in architecture school. I review my plans on a drafting desk, nearly identical to the ones I used in school.

This job is a good fit for me because I like variety. I get really bored doing the same things over and over again. Every plan is different. Every designer is different. I don't have harsh deadlines here, either. I typically try to get comments back to designers within 3 days of receiving their plans. Definitely not as stressful as working against a deadline to get a project out to bid.

I like this job because I like codes. Some people see codes as restricting their creativity. But that's not why they're in place. The codes are there to protect the health, safety and welfare of our communities. I see codes as one of the many pieces that makes up the puzzle that becomes a project.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Moooo

Sunday I took a walk around the garden area of the farm, to figure out where these fruit trees are going to go that we ordered last week.


 
 The daffodils and resurrection lilies have been misinformed about the growing season. The daffodils are already blooming.


Then I was walking around in the orchard area, minding my own business and "measuring" the area by walking it off. I was greeted by the calves.
Isn't Chuck handsome? (He's the white-ish one on the right.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Music Monday: Coldplay "Death and All of His Friends"




I might or might not have already posted this song. I can't find it if I did.

This is one of my favorite Coldplay songs ever. I have three of their albums: Parachutes, X&Y, and Viva la Vida. This is off Viva la Vida.

The whole humping-the-piano part of the video is a little weird, but I completely understand not being able to sit still during that part of the song.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Peeping Toms

 Yesterday morning as I was getting dressed, I looked out the east window and there were 5 does checking out my birthday suit. This morning, I looked out, and although there were no does out that window, there was a beautiful sunrise.

Note, I took the photo through the window screen and that's why it has funny squares in it.


 However, later while I was brushing my teeth I looked out the west window and saw at least 10 deer standing on top of the ridge of our neighbor's property. These two photos were also taken through the window as not to spook the deer. See them? Look at the top of the ridge where there aren't any trees in the background.


 
 As I was leaving for work, the deer were crossing the road to our property and chasing each other around in the cow pasture.
  Look between the cedar trees, there are tan dots that are deer.


Last Doilies

Finally finished all the doilies this week, and blocked them out. They were wrapped in tissue and gifted on Sunday.







Thursday, February 2, 2012

Working on Running

Last night I finished 3.25 miles on the treadmill. This is an increase of .75 miles from what I had been doing. Here's the breakdown:

.25 miles at 3 mph
.25 miles at 3.5 mph
.75 miles(!!!) at 4.7 mph
.5 miles at 3.5 mph
.5 miles at 4.7 mph
.25 miles at 3.5 mph
.25 miles at 4.8 mph
.25 miles at 3.5 mph
.25 miles at 3 mph

I finished in about 50 minutes. 

The only thing I can figure is that my endurance is finally increasing. Usually I get through that first round of 4.7
mph and can barely move my legs because my calves are so sore.

However, I also stretched before and after running. The last couple weeks I haven't been stretching at all.

Tonight I'm trying a kickboxing class with a friend. Depending on how I feel tomorrow, I might try to run again, but I have a feeling the class tonight is going to kick my butt!
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