Thursday, March 29, 2012

friday senses

real life.
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Missing: nephew. niece.
Reading: What should I read right now? I want something gripping and hard to put down. I just finished Helen Keller's The Story of My Life, and while fascinating.......not really all that thrilling, 
you know?
Watching/Still thinking and dreaming about: The Hunger Games. Did you see it? SOOOOOOOO well done. I'm usually not the biggest lover of books-to-movies and this was just amazing. I can't believe they are making us wait a year and a half for the next movie. terrible.
Loving: fresh flowers in my house. from now until fall, they will be there.
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Planting: Ok this better be the weekend I finally get something in the earth. I had all these big plans to get some early stuff in over the last few weeks and this weather has been lame. So so, so so windy. This weekend. It will happen.
Hating: The Wind. (see above)
Photographing: my tiny new niece.
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Eating: beet chips! delicious! I don't know why it took me so long to make these crunchy little gems. They have been a huge hit around here (blogged next week)
Running: the snow is melting! the trails are full of the sloppiest mud--it is hilarious and awesome at the same time. Enjoying the heat and running in shorts.
Yoga-ing: This week I finally figured out eight-angle pose.  Although I'm sure I don't look as happy and pleasant as that lady does.
Anticipating: Spring Break! Hearing our church leaders speak! The boy's birthday! Easter! So much! aaaaahhhhh!!!
Asking: I am getting more and more people asking me if I would sell some of my photos. I asked on facebook and had a great response. Are you interested in this? What types of photos? Any specifics? Let me know, and maybe I will get on that.
Seeing/Smelling: Blossoms! Everywhere, every color.
Hearing: I love waking up to the birds singing in the morning.
(although ask me if I love it in the summer when they are singing at 5am)
Craving: camping.....stars, campfires, clean air, hot breakfast on a cool morning.
Tasting: cupcakes. Robby's birthday was last week.....
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.....and he requested a coconut and almond combination.
This is what I came up with:
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Almond Cupcakes with Chocolate Coconut Buttercream
Almond Cupcakes
makes 12
(a twist on Sunset Magazine's Butter Cake)

2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and butter until creamy. Add eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, scraping down the inside of the bowl as needed. Add vanilla, almond extract, and coconut milk. mix.  Slowly add in flour mixture, and mix until just combined--careful not to over mix.
2. Line cupcake pan.
3. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 13-15 minutes.
4. Let cool before frosting.

Chocolate Coconut Buttercream
this is my recipe from THIS cake last year, so is makes a little bit more than you need--I put it in the freezer for next time I need some frosting know, like 10 o'clock on a rainy night.

3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2c-3/4 cup coconut milk,
1tsp pure coconut extract

Beat butter, cocoa, powdered sugar, and coconut extract, and add coconut milk a little at a time until you reach a consistency you like.

Toasted Coconut
Heat oven to 475°. Place a few handfuls of unsweetened coconut onto parchment lined baking pan. Place in oven and watch closely, turning coconut over as needed. In 10-15 minutes it should be toasty brown.

Frost cupcakes and top with toasted coconut.


feel free to play along with friday senses in the comments or over on your own blog!

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

all in good health

straight from the earth. spring 2011
health·y [hel-thee] 
1. possessing or enjoying good health or a sound and vigorous mentality: a healthy body; a healthy mind.
2. pertaining to or characteristic of good health, or a sound and vigorous mind: a healthy appearance; healthy attitudes.
3. conducive to good health; healthful: healthy recreations.

Last week I asked a question:
what do you want me to talk about? 
You answered. 
I loved it. 

Before I get started on some of those posts, 
I thought of something I should have done, oh, forever ago......
.....define what healthy means to me. 
(today we're just talking about healthy eating.....of course this goes hand in hand 
with a physically active lifestyle)
This may be completely different than your definition, but this is my 
"healthy", and what all the food posts on The Blog will center around. 
It's an always changing, always learning, always growing-process. 
It's not perfect every day, but it's what we aim for. 

The most important rule for me, and the one rule I try to focus on is:
Everything in Moderation. 
for example: 
a cupcake is good. seven cupcakes is not. 
we eat meat in our house. we don't eat it every day. 
Also, we really do try to eat a little bit of everything. 
Varieties of grains, beans, colorful fruits and vegetables--not just the same thing all of the time.
How many different foods can we try? It's fun.

We eat them. We love them. We eat as many whole grain (not refined) products as we can. 
Whole wheat bread. 
Whole wheat pasta. 
Brown Rice. 
We eat barley, bulgur, quinoa, oats. 
And you know what, sometimes with soup, sourdough bread tastes AWESOME, so we eat it. 
And we don't sweat it because we eat all those other whole grains every day,
 so we have some wiggle room.

We eat meat. but we eat it sparingly. 
A few times a week. (I posted a bit about that here)
various beans and legumes. 

I really like cheese, therefore it gets it's own category.
Cheese gets a bad rap in "health" magazines or blogs because of it's fat content. 
So just don't eat so much. And eat real cheese. 
"cheese" spreads are not cheese.

My favorite. 
We eat any variety we can get our hands on. 
We like to buy local when we can (for Utah that is mostly in the summer), and we grow what we can. 
We like to try to eat what is in season--
it's fresh
it tastes 1000x better
it has more nutrients when you eat it pulled straight from the dirt, 
and it doesn't have to travel in a truck across the country.

and other sweets. 
We eat them. 
Again, referring to that very first rule--we only eat them every so often.
Last week there was a birthday in our house. 
Cupcakes were made (post coming!) and enjoyed. 
sugar, flour, no "healthy substitutions". 
I want my cake to be cake, and my cookies to be cookies. 

We like GOOD fats. 
nuts. seeds. salmon. avocado. olive oil. 
These are another food group that have a bad reputation, but our bodies and brains need these good types of fats to thrive. 
And they taste good! How could we stay away?

There are always fruits and veggies in our house to be snacked on.
"but my kids don't like them" you say. 
You have to keep at it. Start NOW. Keep offering. (a post about this here)
Handful of nuts. 
I try to by as few pre-packaged snacks as possible, and when I do, I look for snacks that are REAL food with REAL ingredients that I can read (and pronounce!) on the label. 
(more snacks here.)

I do not get hung up on the word "organic". 
I like my produce free of pesticides and my meat free of growth hormones and antibiotics. 
I like to read labels, and if everything in my crackers/cereal/tortillas is an actual ingredient that I recognize as food, I will buy it--regardless if it's labeled "organic" or not.
(an organic post here. ha! same photo!)

Fake Food.
we eat real butter. real cheese. real beef without fillers. food that was grown in the ground and not produced in a science lab. High-fructose corn syrup won't be found in our house.

That is a very basic overview-kind of a guideline that I like to go by. 
What it all comes down to for me, is If It's Real, Eat It. 
If it's Not Real Don't.

Next week I'll post about eating healthy on a budget.--I'd love to hear any questions you might have. 
How do YOU define healthy eating?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

somewhere in wyoming.....

....and even a few miles of utah.
the road crosses back and forth across the state line approximately 37 times.

I took a quick little trip over the mountains this weekend to see my sissy
 and her (very) new (extremely) teeny little girl.

I love driving.
long open roads.
tiny towns where everyone waves as you pass through.
(literally, everyone waves at you)
stopping for cows. horses. you-name-it standing on the road.
loud music, windows cracked.
thinking thoughts.
driving through spring spring winter spring winter spring.
and lots and lots of cows.

It sounds funny that I actually get excited to spend hours in the car.
I think it has to do something with where I grew get anywhere, you had to drive.
Not just hop in the car, a few stoplights and you are there--you had to driiiiiiiive.
To get to my friends' house involved two lane roads, stretches of dirt and gravel, and dodging deer around each turn.
So anytime I can get in the car and away from the crowds and traffic, I jump at the chance.
I look forward to the day when we can load up the car and drive the country--explore the towns, people, and tiny two lane roads that stretch from west coast to east.
for now, we'll just enjoy the roads around here.
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I have lost count of how many times I have photographed this tiny house outside of Randolph, Utah. Every time we pass by, I have to stop for just a minute.....I love it so much.
 I want to know who built it.
how long they lived there.
how many kids they had.
what they planted in their garden and how they cooked it for dinner. 
so many thoughts to think.....I'd better keep driving. 

Do you like road trips? 
What are some of your favorite places to drive?

Thursday, March 22, 2012


dear spring, 
I love you I love you I love you. 
I love you. 
You are pink and yellow and blossomy beautiful.
You are flowers and birds and a fly in my house. 
You are sidewalk chalk for hours....
...hopscotch and an ocean scene.
You are sunshine with breezes and breezes with sunshine.
You are bike riding and longboarding while the sun drops from the sky.
You are staying up too late on school nights.......and we don't even mind. 
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dear spring, 
thank you, thank you, for coming. 
happy spring weekend!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

sweet and salty bars

I want to say thank you all so much for your sweet comments and your awesome feedback from Monday's post! It was very helpful--I have all kinds of ideas now, so thank you!! There were a few topics brought up that I have posted about before about so I want to send some quick links out. And for those wanting everything in baby steps--that is PERFECT! That's the only way to make is a very long process--believe me (remember how I used to eat nachos every day for lunch? yeah.)

If you are looking for small ways to start, start with THIS series of posts (start at the bottom) and it covers one topic at a time.

How to get your kids to eat "weird food" HERE
Snack ideas HERE
Lots of requests for gardening.......but you see, I am not that awesome of a gardener! This is something that doesn't come natural to all. Everything I do each year basically comes from trial and error.....but the more I try the more we have to eat. I wrote THIS post about some basic stuff, and I will continue to post this year as I plant and kill things. I have a board on pinterest that I've been pinning good tips so be sure to check those out too.

Make sure to read the comments in these posts because all of the info and tips are juicy and delicious.

On to today's post.
We are going to make......bars...?
I'm not sure what to call them. 
They aren't really granola bars. 
Fruit and Nut bars sounds like something for constipated old people. 
The kids thought I should just call them cookies. (always a good sign when making something healthy)
In the process of making them, I decided the mixture looked a little bit like......bird food!
But don't let that deter you......these pack a lot of power for such an easy snack to make.
So there we have it. Bird Food Bars!
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I really liked making these--not only can you identify EVERYTHING going into them (no artificial stuff....these are REAL food) you can throw in whatever you want. 
I have some races I'm looking forward to this spring and summer and I have recently started my training.....which means I am always hungry! When I get off the trail I need something to tide me over until I get home, and these are packed with the sweetness and saltiness that I crave after I run.
Sweet and Salty Bars
This isn't an official "recipe" (surprise, surprise), 

but here is a list of the ingredients that I used. 
Play around with whatever nuts, seeds, or fruit you want to add. 

1lb of pitted dates (found in the bulk sections of health food stores)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
about a cup of almonds, roughly chopped
a few handfuls of rolled oats AND rolled wheat
large handful of salted sunflower seeds (you don't have to use salted seeds, but I crave salt after a run so I decided to throw in something a little bit salty.)
large handful of raw pumpkin seeds. 
child size [see photo below] handful of flax seeds. 
handful of chocolate chips

Puree the dates in a food processor until a paste starts to form 
(this is your "glue" to hold your bar together)
Add vanilla and cinnamon. 
Continue to puree until it forms a big crazy date-paste ball inside your machine. 
(at this point it doesn't look very awesome)
Now is the fun part!
Put your date-paste-ball and all of your other ingredients into a large bowl and get some adorable little hands to mix it for you.
Mix and mix and add a little more of this and that until you've fit as many nuts and seeds as the dates will hold.
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The mixture is soft and it leaves you with a few options for how you want to shape your bars. 
You could even roll them into bite sized little snacks. 
I wanted to cut them, so I pressed them out onto a pan and put them in the freezer for about an hour, so they would cut easily. I decided to keep them in the freezer to store them--it only takes a few minutes for them to thaw out when you are ready for a snack.

These are pretty high calorie (so don't eat them all at once!), but those nuts and seeds are packed with healthy fats and protein that your body will love as an afternoon snack, or pre/post workout. 
Also a great filling snack for your kids....and they will think they are cookies. perfect.
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The possibilites for flavors of these are endless. 
You can throw in any kind of nut or seed, or add dried fruit like coconut, cherries or apricots.....yum.
I'd love to hear if you make another flavor!


Monday, March 19, 2012

bloggity blah blah blah

black raspberries. summer 2011.
black raspberries
I think if there were a book of rules for blogging, the number one rule might have to be something along the lines of "never talk about your blog, on your blog". I mean, it's narcissistic enough that we sit down each day and talk about ourselves......let's not talk about ourselves, talking about ourselves. 
me me, starts to sound like that.


But today I'm going to break that rule, (that I just made up)
and talk about 
The Blog.

I have been torn lately on what to do with The Blog (yes it's a proper noun). 
I have been blogging now for five years, and after that many posts I sometimes find myself wondering what I could possibly say that I haven't already said. I am really, truly, not that exciting
(I say this as I sit here in pajamas with a green clay facial mask on)
I do not blog crafty cuteness, my [lack of] fashionable outfits, or recycle popular material from other blogs. It's just me over here.

But the reason I stay here, bugging you each week with odd little bits of our funny little life,
is really because of YOU. 
(and you and you and you and, well......all of you. 
please tell me you love The Muppets too) 
I get so many emails each week from YOU, saying how you've made tiny changes for you, or your family, and I am just so happy to help. 
share. relate.
(ps. I am the WORST ever in the universe at replying to emails. My days just get so busy. I try try try,  but it usually takes me a while to get back....thank you for your kindness, and your patience:)

For those that don't know my whole story, 
here is the shortest, most simple version I can come up with:
Diagnosed with Lyme disease.
Lyme attacking my body. 
Need to make my body strong to fight back. 
Need to keep "foreign" things out of my body.
Start slooooooowly changing diet.
As few chemicals, fake, processed items going in to my body as possible. 
As many whole, real foods in to my body as I can cram in. 

It has been a slow change over the last few years, I'm still learning new things all the time, and applying them to our lives. Trying to find a balance that works for us.

We have also started to learn and appreciate more the healing powers of what we put in our bodies. I have mentioned before that my Lyme doctors offer a good mix of traditional medicine, as well as alternative treatments. We have learned that sometimes the things we need to help our bodies heal, grow, and be healthy, can be found simply in the grocery store, or even growing in our backyard.

I have also found the outdoors to be healing. This may not be for everyone, I realize, but I want to continue to share my love for being outside and convince as many people as I can to join me in the mountains. You know, and live in our hippie commune together, tossing our bras, our dreadlocks blowing in the wind. stuff like that.

I see so many people who are unhealthy, sick, tired, and just unwell. 
I see people trying to loose weight by eating processed, packaged food......that's not actually food. 
I see kids growing up not eating vegetables, or even knowing where food comes from.
I see people spending too much time indoors and on the couch. 
Kids who don't know how to play.
I know that ALL these things can be remedied by small and simple changes over time.

And THIS is why I must continue this silly little blog.
These are all things I LOVE to talk about. Things I KNOW about.
Things I am constantly learning about and have a strong desire to share, so we can all change together.
Things that I had to learn, because of my Lyme, but I am so happy that these changes came so early in my life so I could raise my kids this way. 
These are things that I want to share with you--you who are also learning right along with me,
or those who have no idea where to even begin.
and all you in-betweeners.

So now I want to ask you.....
What is it that YOU want to know?
What is it that you want to find here on The Blog?

What are you trying to change? 
Do you have questions about starting healthy habits?
Swapping out processed snacks for better options? I'm even playing around with the idea of having any willing participants send me a few items on your grocery list that you want to swap out for better options, and I will try to help.....what do you think? 
Who wants in?

Last year I wrote about my slow but sure change over the past few years (here--start at the bottom)
I am continuing the How to Eat Food and How to Play Outside series. 
But I feel like there is always more. 
More room to grow and learn--all of us.
I want The Little Red House to be full of good food, outside play, and just be a happy little place to share our ideas. 
And cake. 
Always, cake.

ps. I do not claim to know "it all". 
haha, haha, ha.
maybe .05% of "it all". 
But I would love to help how I can.
When I can't help any more, then I will leave blogland and skip along on my merry way.
So don't be shy!

pps. I am going to start posting fascinating/informative food/health information links on my facebook page. 
Feel free to post any interesting articles you find as well. Also feel free to ask questions over there--sometimes it's easier for me to give a quick answer on my page, so everyone can see it, rather than email out the same answers to different people. 
This also gives others the opportunity to jump in and share their experiences as well.
We can all discuss and share and learn together. 

ppps. I am not perfect. Like I said, it's always a process of change, and finding a balance. 
For example, I love to bake, and it's not something I will give up. evvverrr. I make it work because I don't bake that often, and when I do, I TRY not to eat ALL of it. 
Are we 100% organic? No! 
I will never, ever be a vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, etc. 
I would appreciate that criticizing comments be left unsaid--respect the choices that I have made for myself, and I will mind my own business about yours. gracias.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

how to eat......cabbage

To be honest, up until about a year ago when I thought about cabbage, I thought of it mostly as a garnish. I had never bought cabbage and cooked with it, and wasn't really sure how to.....
....and then I started exploring, and I am now a true cabbage believer.

Cabbage is good source of vitamin K, C, A, and fiber.
It's rich in antioxidants, helps boosts immunity, and contains sulphur which helps act as a cleansing agent for the digestive system. (source)
I loved finding this page listing all the healing benefits of cabbage.
All cabbage has health benefits, but I always buy red cabbage (sometimes called purple), because I just love the color it adds to any dish, and because of the deep purple color it's a little bit richer in antioxidants than the green varieties.
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I LOVE the crunch it adds to everything. 
-chopped up and mixed in to salads
-in fish tacos!
-tossed with vinegar and s&p is a perfect topper to burrito bowls

To prepare cabbage, remove outer leaves, cut off stem end, and wash thoroughly, making sure to wash out any dirt that may be in between leaves.

Roasted Cabbage with Gorgonzola
preheat oven to 425°
slice cabbage into 1/2 inch slices and brush both sides with olive oil. 
roast for 25-30 minutes until edges start to brown. 
top with a few sprinkles of gorgonzola and roast for about 5 more minutes until cheese starts to bubble.
Top with cracked pepper and enjoy!

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Here is a quick and easy meal with ingredients I always have on hand. 
Huevos Rancheros
-corn tortillas (I usually toast these over the flame of my gas stove to blacken the edges)
-black beans, cooked in a bit of lime juice and cumin
-chopped cabbage mixed with avocado, green onions, lime, cilantro, s&p
-eggs, fried up in a bit of olive oil
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
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for more adventures in cabbage:
I topped these lentil fritters with cabbage
I spotted this kale slaw with red cabbage and carrots from whole living
I have this late winter salad from happy yolks bookmarked to try

How do YOU like cabbage?

Monday, March 12, 2012

over the weekend.....

How was your weekend? Was it as sunshiny as mine? 
Our entire Saturday was spent outside.....all if it! 
sidenote: sunshine makes your children grow. I swear mine grew just over the weekend. They sprout new freckles, their legs get longer, and this one is dropping teeth by the mouthful. So to all you mommies with new little babes, keep them locked up in the dark if you want them to stay little. 
also note: please don't tell anyone I told you to lock your babies in the dark
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I can't get over how springy the days are feeling.
We picnicked. Swung.
Windows open, new grass sprouting, buds on trees. 
We spent most of our Saturday in the yard and garden--preparing to plant! 
We got dirty. Very.
We had our hands in the soil. 
Walked barefoot in the dirt....nothing beats mud squishing between the toes.
I took a mountain run through the stick-to-your-shoes-and-fly-up-your-back mud. 
Charly quickly went from yellow to chocolate, and was I blowing mud out of my nose.
And as long as I am publicly discussing bodily functions, my run was also nice and sweaty. 
Sweat=heat. Finally! 
It felt so good to be out with the sunshine bathing my vampire white legs.

With all the outside play I had little time to think about dinner, which is usually when I end up making "everything soup", which is basically when I dump whatever I have into a pot and call it soup. easy.

Everything Soup
sauté together 
-1 small onion, diced
-5 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 cup roasted red pepper, diced (in the summer when peppers are fresh and tasty I roast them myself (here). In the winter months I usually keep a jar of roasted red peppers handy to add to soups/salads)
-large handful of finely chopped kale
-pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
-cup of pumpkin or squash puree
-1/2 cup of tomato sauce
-2 cups white beans
-4 cups chicken broth
a few handfuls of your favorite fresh herbs or a small palm full of dried herbs
bring to a boil, reduce heat
add a handful of orzo and simmer until it's tender
top with shaved parmesan cheese
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What did you do this weekend? 
Are you planting?
Did you run?
What is your go-to dinner when you are short on time?

happy monday!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

alone, together

one day in march.....
after our drive down the coast
the road began to wind, and the sky began to darken. 
and darken. 
and darken.
the forrest grew thicker, the sky seemed further away. 
and then, the sky was gone.
we pulled in to our campsite, and turned the off the car lights. 
no light for our eyes to adjust to. 
the moon hid behind clouds, the giant trees has swallowed any sight of stars. 
the trees were drip dropping down on to us, still full from the previous day's rain.
we laughed. 
where were we?
with lights, we made our way to our tiny cabin and began to set up. 
a fire. 
a giant sleeping bag. 
s'mores ingredients (of course).
we stayed cozy as outside temperatures dropped.
just us, alone, in our little home for the night.

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We woke to birds, and the sound of the trees still raining on our roof.
Oatmeal on the stove,
packing for the day.
Since the last time we were among giants
I have had the pull to go back to one of the many redwood forrests scattered along the California coast, and run. 
and run and run. 
run though these giant creatures that I fell in love with last summer.
So we did. 
With our lunch and cameras packed, 
we set off.
down down down. 
A quick descent, 
stopping for photos, 
and to our delight, a few climbs over recently fallen trees. 
and it was just us. 
we met a few other hikers, but we were alone for the most of our afternoon.
it became our playground. 
Running over tress. Under trees. Through trees! 
Have you ever ran literally THROUGH a tree?! 
We stopped for lunch at Berry Creek Falls.
This was followed by a series of water falls and natural water slides.....I felt like we were in an enchanted forrest. 
I think we were.
And then began our long (sloooooow) climb back up. 
4600 feet of elevation gain in our 11-mile loop. 
Our legs were on FIRE.
and I wish I could do it again right now. 
There is no feeling like running in a forrest so thick that you have no idea what's around 
the next bend. 
I highly recommend it.

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all photos taken in Big Basin State Park in California
please do not use without linking to

The end.

How To
*We had known we wanted to camp this trip, but didn't want to have to bring our tent from hundreds of miles away, set it up in the dark, and only use if for a few hours--so finding these tent cabins was perfect for us this time. I think they would be a great way to try out camping--test the waters if you're unsure about it. Each cabin has two "beds" (basically the most uncomfortable "matress" you've ever slept on--but hey, you're camping!), a wood stove and a table. 
If you find yourself in the Big Basin area, check them out (here). 
We can't wait to take the kids back.
If you are in other parts of the country, I have found that there are similar options all over.
Bring your food, a pot/bowl/mug, lights, sleeping bags and your board games!

*We found the perfect "lunch" for an afternoon spent running was high calorie fruit and nut bars, (I love ProBars), mixed nuts, jerky, and lots and lots of water. Easy to pack, lightweight--both in our packs and our tummies, lots of energy.