Tuesday, November 26, 2013

thanksgiving vs. giving thanks

a quick snap from my run this morning. 
I ran and ran and ran and tried to sort through these thoughts.
Yesterday morning I went to Costco (along with 14,000 other people) to pick up some groceries for our upcoming Thanksgiving feast.

As I was bumped into, cut off, and shoved across the aisles, I felt everything but thankful feelings. People wore frowns and muttered under their breath. Carts were overflowing 17 pumpkin pies, yet their owners were still forcing their way and knocking down small children and elderly shoppers for a tiny "sample" of the same pumpkin pie that spilled over their cart.

People all over the country are planning their after Thanksgiving (or during Thanksgiving for some) shopping sprees.
Spend spend spend. Consume consume consume.

Is this Thanksgiving? Maybe this is what Thanksgiving has become. 
But is it Giving Thanks? 
NO. It's not.

We need to take a step back and just think about what Thanksgiving means to us. If we truly want to show thanks, I think it takes more than a feast with a giant bird on the table and a quick 
"I am thankful for __________, now let's eat"!!

I could sit here and type out all my thankful thoughts (family! home! food! running! cookies! on and on and on!) but what does any of it mean?
These words I type are not tangible.

LIVE a life that is thankful. 
Love those around you and show your thanks for them every day. Be kind and considerate. 
Don't spend money on and consume things you don't need just because you can. 
Shop till you drop? How is that being thankful?

Don't just celebrate Thanksgiving........ celebrate giving thanks, and do it every day.
There is a difference.

Take this week to love your family and friends. Enjoy time together. Savor that giant bird on the table and all the wonderful things that go with it. Be thankful for what you have, and even for what you don't have--it's those things that make us better. 

And always, always, give thanks.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

friday senses

a peek at our week:

seeing: snow is coming down AS WE SPEAK. Big fluffy flakes. We got so much last weekend and then it disappeared in just a few days. I'm getting really excited for snow this year--I'll be dusting off my snowboard in these next few weeks and returning to the hill.....it's been 9 years....it's going to be hilarious.
loving: The foggy mornings lately are my favorite. 
It's so fun driving the kids to school through the mist.
hearing: When Robby and I first met he played the guitar. He played and played and played and sang his little heart out.....it was all part of the "wooing" process. He's picked it up again and has been playing more and more. The kids lounge around singing Neil Young with him......it's the best.
anticipating: Thanksgiving of course! Family, fun, and mashed potatoes. 
Black Friday? No thank you, I'll be on a trail somewhere.
nervous gassing/feeling excited: 
I did it. I am officially registered for school. eeeeeeeeeeeeek. I start in January. I have some prerequisites to get out of the way and then eventually I will apply for a nursing program. I have been thinking about this for quite some time now, and the pieces are finally coming together. I am so nervous but I can't wait to get things rolling in January. Heaven help me.
running: in SNOW! Crazy deep powdery snow. Last Friday it snowed all night. I tossed and turned--giddy about Saturday's run. I love running in the snow. It's beautiful and challenging and so different than anything else. Saturday I kept thinking the storm would let up......and it didn't. The snow just kept coming down....so I just went for it. Charly was in heaven--the snow is like a drug to her and she just goes crazy. We blazed our own trail......but not for long. The snow was blowing so hard I could barely see. Next time I'll be out there with my goggles.
apologizing: A few of you have asked about a November calendar.....so sorry--November is almost done! We will see about December....
nerding out: Who will be seeing Catching Fire sometime soon? ME.

wondering: What kind of pie are you making for Thanksgiving? I'm going to make the same Buttermilk Pie I made last year for Christmas. Find the recipe HERE
souping: always making soup around here.
Chicken and Barley Soup
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped kale (or collard greens or chard), chopped into bite size pieces
2TBS chopped fresh thyme (you can throw in any combination of fresh herbs into this soup!)
1 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
1-2 chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup barley (you could use any grain you have--maybe wild rice or bulgur)
6-8 cups chicken stock (less stock if you want it to be more of a stew)
juice of 1 lemon

saute' in olive oil: onion, carrots, kale, and chicken pieces until onions are tender and chicken begins to brown on the edges
add garlic and herbs, s&p. cook for a few more minutes.
add stock and barley.
bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat.
Let simmer on low for an hour or more.( I love it the longer my soups cook)
Stir in lemon juice right before serving.
top with parmesan cheese and some fresh chopped parsley and enjoy!
Happy Weekend!!!
let's see your #howweweekend

blogged 1 year ago: Pie and Other Things
blogged 2 years ago: The Unmentioned

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

the weekly juice (doubled!)

Thanksgiving is in ONE week!! 
Who's ready?!
Starting next week I kind of eat and eat and eat for the whole month of December.....what about you?
And if you are at all like me, I'm sure you're also eating quite a bit more sugar than normal too.....am I right?
So I am making sure to get all kinds of extra good stuff in whenever I can.
I am trying to juice daily right now--here are two new recipes for you to try.

I like the tartness of green juices (like THESE spinach shots), but I wanted to make a green juice with lots of extras and a little bit of sweetness.
Kale+ Juice
6 pieces kale
2 handfuls spinach
1 lemon, peeled
1 pear
1 carrot
1" piece of ginger

I think this juice has the perfect amount of sweetness without covering up the taste of the kale. If you want your juice a bit sweeter, add a few more carrots or an apple.
bonus: I juice the kale and spinach first and remove the pulp to saute' with an egg. 

moving on to our next......juice?
Yes. I juiced a sweet potato. 
I had thought about throwing in a sweet potato before, always wondering what it would be like.....and then I found THIS recipe and I had to try it.

I LOVE this drink.....I think you will too. 
Sweet Potato Pear Juice
1 sweet potato
1 pear
1/4 cup-1/2 cup almond milk (unsweetened or vanilla almond milk is great too)
dash of cinnamon
spoonful of chia seeds

[juice the sweet potato and pear and stir in the other ingredients]

bonus: I was surprised at how filling this juice was, and it's now my go-to after yoga fuel.

What are you juicing this week?


*I use THIS juicer

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

chickens 101

 Chicken basics.
Like....the very basics.
Like, we are still figuring this chicken stuff out....but here is what we've learned so far. please feel free to add your two cents (or 50 cents!) in the comments.
I love learning about chickens.

Heads up: I don't talk about the coop--we picked ours up for free (along with a hen, remember?) and added on to it a bit.....and works for now. Someday we will build one and I'd do things differently, but for now it's good.
I don't talk about getting started--I never documented much of that last spring. I promise to do a "getting started" post next spring when I get more babies. It's very easy and anyone can do it, promise.  
If you want to see how cute our girls were as babies--check out THIS post.
Remember those old commercials--
"The Incredible Edible Egg"?
I didn't realize how truly incredible they were until our ladies started laying.
They make an egg. Inside their body. Every day. And we eat it!
And eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Check out all the juicy nutrition info HERE.
And did you know that pasture raised eggs have 10% less fat, 34% less cholesterol, 40% more vitamin A, and 400% more omega-3 fatty acids. Also, an egg from a pastured hen has 30% more vitamin E. Pasture-raised eggs produce positive HDL or good cholesterol and lower “bad” triglycerides.
[source is HERE. along with some great egg facts.]

Here is some very basic information, and answers to a few questions I've received over the last little while.
And yes--our girls have names......Fanny (Delaware), Wilma (Plymouth Rock), Goldie (Rhode Island Red), Hermione (Ameraucana), and Millie (Orpington).

General Care
How easy are chickens to take care of you ask? Suuuuuuper easy. How's that for an answer? They really require very little hands on attention. When we leave town we keep them locked in the coop with plenty of food and water and we are good to go. Most days they are out in the yard eating for several hours a day and I give them all of our table scraps--they will just about anything. I keep food in their coop but they eat alot less when they spend the day out grazing.
HERE is a great list of what chickens can/can't eat when it comes to scraps.
I use pine shavings inside their coop and nesting boxes and add a fresh layer as needed. Every now and then we get out the shovel and scoop everything out of the coop/run and mix it into to our garden "soil". I'm hoping to make our lousy desert brick dust soil a little bit better than this past summer....fingers crossed.

Free Range?
My girls are so happy when they are out wandering the yard. When I go out to the coop they gather around the door waiting to be set free. They spend a big part of the day out roaming. I do have to be able to keep an eye on them--they like to wander over into the neighbors yard.....and he's not the biggest fan of that. So as long as they behave they get to say out as long as they like. We lock them up in evening to keep them safe from the crazy country nightlife.
So far we have only had a little bit of winter--I'm anxious (and nervous) to see how the next few months play out. There is a big debate in the chicken world over supplemental light. Chickens need about 14 hours of daylight to lay eggs, so in the winter egg production slows waaaaaay down, or stops completely. 
We have a heat lamp on a timer that comes on about 3 hours before the sun comes up. With this extra light/warmth we are still getting 3-4 eggs a day (we have 5 chickens). Some people choose to give the chickens a break and not add light throughout the winter. Supposedly chickens will lay longer if they take it easy in the winter, but we decided to add the light this year. It also makes me feel better knowing that they have a few extra hours of heat in the morning as our temperatures continue to drop.
For water so far I am just hauling out warm water every morning to melt the frozen layer on their water bucket. We'll see how things go as it gets colder, but I'm eyeing one of THESE for water if it gets too nasty.
Washing Eggs
Another big debate in the chicken world is to wash or not to wash. When eggs are laid, they have a natural coating covering them called "bloom". This prevents bacteria from entering through the porous eggshell. If you wash off the bloom, bacteria has a better chance of entering the egg. Most of the time my eggs are pretty clean. Every now and then I'll get a poopy egg--so I do gently wash those. The rest I leave as is.
When a chicken goes "broody", she sits and sits and sits on her egg.....and really, she doesn't do anything else. The poor thing wants so badly to be a mom and hatch that egg. Our hen Millie that we got with the coop wasn't laying when we got her. Her previous owner said she never did lay. She was at our house for less than two weeks and started laying--we were beyond excited. I never knew why she started laying so suddenly, but then two months later she stopped laying....again.
She was broody. She never left her nesting box, ever.
I'm thinking that was her problem before we got her--and I think having little baby chicks around snapped her out of it.
Weeks went by without an egg and I started researching what to do. There were so many ideas--throw a bucket of cold water on her. Put a basket over her for 3 days (sad!?).
But I decided to block off her nesting box. She only sat in the middle box (we have 3), so I blocked it off to see what would happen. Within a week she started to lay again--woohoo!
She's never consistent, but her eggs are giant and beautiful.....thanks Millie!
What to do with the girls after they are done laying.....
Who knows.....I haven't thought that far ahead. I don't know that we'd eat them--laying hens aren't really meant for eating. They are pretty small, and from what I understand, the older they get the tougher and chewier they will be. In the next few years I might want to try my hand at raising a few turkeys to eat.
My friend Meg shared THIS post with me--how to butcher your own chicken.  
(DON'T look at this post if you get queasy.....it's step by step with photos).
So for now we'll just be happy that they are laying.
So all these eggs.....what do we do with them?
Scrambled. Fried. Baked. Hard Boiled.
Farm Fresh Egg with Kale and Goat Cheese
Chop kale into large pieces and saute on medium heat with minced garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
Add a splash of balsamic and salt and pepper.
Make a little "nest" in your kale and crack an egg into it.
Cook until your egg is done--I like the yolk just a little bit soft.
(Stir the kale around a bit as the egg cooks)
Sprinkle with goat cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.
(See more egg recipes on my recipe page HERE)

I never ever thought I would like this chicken business so much. I knew I'd love the eggs--but I never thought I'd be so interested in the chickens themselves. They fascinate me. They each have their own quirky little personality and they are just so funny to me. I am already excited for spring--we'll be getting a few more babies to add to our flock.

Backyardchickens.com has lots of helpful information--it's like the Chicken Bible.

Do you have chickens?
What's have you learned from raising your own flock?
Oh--and point me to your favorite egg recipes.

Still have questions? Ask them here and I will do my best to answer them in my next Friday Q&A

Monday, November 18, 2013

comfort + joy

ahhh winter. 
It made a grand entrance this weekend 
as it drifted from the sky in big fluffy pieces. 
It fell and it fell and it fell allllllll day long.
It piled up high and left cheeks rosy.
The snow entertained them for hours. 
Angels and forts and a tiny little snowman.

I always forget how much I enjoy winter. 
I have the hardest time letting summer go each year--I am so nervous for what is coming....
....but then we have days like this, and I just love it.
There is so much comfort in winter.
So much joy.
Slower days, spent cozy inside. 
Memories from my own childhood replaying right before my eyes.
Hats, coats, boots, mittens. 
Snowflakes melting from their eyelashes as they sip their hot cocoa.
Fuzzy blankets, slippers, and long movies.
And cookies of course.
I love these days.
Days like this always call for soup.
I remember being little and playing outside in the snow.....and believe me, Montana knows how to do winter. Hot potato soup always tastes the best on the coldest nights. 
Potato Bacon Chowder

4 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
1 onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
2 TBS chopped fresh thyme
5 extra large potatoes, diced
2 small apples, diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (more if you want it more "soupy"-- I wanted mine thick)
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup-1 cup whole milk

In a large pot, cook bacon pieces until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside. 
Using bacon grease (add a little olive oil if needed) saute onion until soft. 
Add in garlic and herbs and cook for a few more minutes. 
Add a big pinch of salt.
Stir in potatoes and apples and continue to cook for a couple minutes. 
Add in broth and bring to a boil. 
Cover and reduce heat a bit--continue to cook on a low boil until potatoes are tender--about 15-20 minutes. 
When potatoes are done, ladle half of the soup into a blender and puree. 
Stir blended soup back into pot and add cayenne, nutmeg, apple cider vinegar and milk. 
Add in bacon pieces.
Continue to cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes. 
Salt and pepper to taste ( I like lots of black pepper in my potato soup). 


What's your favorite soup on a cold winter day?

blogged 3 years ago: 24 hours in San Francisco 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

friday q & a

thanks girls
Every week I get questions from all my kind/sweet/funny/adventurous/super cool readers 
via comments/emails/instagram/facebook.........and as many of you have learned I have the HARDEST time getting back to you. I just can't sit on my computer all day answering questions......call me crazy.  

For frequently asked questions (camera talk, etc,) check out the FAQ (which most likely needs to be updated.)  

If I get questions related to specific posts/photos that apply to everyone, I will try my hardest to post them here every few weeks. .....ask away!

What juicer do you use? I use the Breville Juice Fountain Compact . It's a smaller juicer so you have to make extra batches if you want more than two glasses, but it gets the job done and fits so much better in my small kitchen. (and it's much more affordable than the larger juicers)
Do you peel your fruits/veggies before you juice them?
I will specifically say "peeled" in my recipes if I do so (like citrus). But most stuff just goes right in after it's washed.
Where is your bike helmet from? (this postIt's Bern--you can find them all over but I got a screamin deal on Steep and Cheap. It has a removable liner to keep my ears toasty for snowboarding.
Where are your boots from (above photo). They are Sorel .
Flu Shots. I mentioned sometime last winter that we don't get flu shots.....everyone wants to know why. There really isn't one specific reason at all--we just don't get them. I had a flu shot one time, and I got the flu that year--the only time ever. [knock on wood] but we are usually able to keep fairly healthy. I know nothing is fool proof, but for now we don't get flu shots. (That being said my kids ARE vaccinated. It's only flu shots we skip out on.) What do we do then? We just try our best to make healthy choices--nothing special or crazy. We try to eat the best we can (lots of fruits and veggies all winter long) and I do get a kids multi vitamin and vitamin C in the winter. We like lots of herbal teas, and with enough honey my kids will even drink some of those. I love Wellness Formula for Robby and I. We try to get lots of sunshine all winter and as much fresh air as we can.
Where do you get your recipes? I actually get this question quite often. Unless otherwise stated, all the recipes and cooking ideas on this blog come right from my brain. If I adapted the recipe from somewhere else, I always share the link to where I found it.
Lyme. Thanks so much for your questions you left on this post and emailed to me. I will work on a post and get it up for you in the next few weeks!
Chickens. I have a few chicken questions piling up--I will do a separate post about the ladies. Have a chicken question??  Ask it in the comments here. (haha and I can't guarantee I will know the answer......we are kind winging it over here.......get it? oh boy)
Books. Yesterday I asked a question--what great page turners are you reading right now?
Here is a list of all the books that YOU said--I can't wait to check them out.
What would you add to the list?
-Born to Run (I've read this one--excellent book!)
-The Orchardist 
-History of Love
-The Scent of Rain and Lightning
-The Kitchen House
-A House in the Sky
-The Gift of Rain
-Eat and Run
-Finding Ultra
-Gone Girl
-Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
-Blind Your Ponies
What are your favorite outdoor sandals?
Chacos! !! Forever and ever and ever. They are so comfortable and I have put miles and miles and hundreds of miles on my one pair. I do love Keens for my kids because they protect their toes better--but Chacos are for me.
What are your favorite clothes for cold weather running?
I posted a bit about this last year (HERE).....and my answers are still the same.....because I'm wearing all the same stuff. 
I ran all through last winter in my Brooks Cascadias . I'm planning on more snow up here this year, so I'll most likely get some chains for my shoes if I need to. 
Always loving smartwool socks.
My patagonia speedwork tights are my absolute favorite piece of cold weather running gear.
They have been through everything--snow, rain, mud, falling down (often), trail blazing through nasty bushes and trees. I've climbed in them, I've biked in them, I've wore them to get my groceries.....and they have held up so well through everything.
(I have a pair of fleece-lined Nike tights that I usually wear if it drops below 20°, but we'll talk about that another time)
I always layer my shirts. If the sun is shining I warm up quickly so I like to have a few layers on I can peel of a layer or two. 
I wear an ear band if the sun is shining, if it's extra cold or windy I throw on an old beanie. 
My hands usually heat up pretty quickly too so I usually wear those cheap little gloves you can find anywhere for $1, unless I'll be climbing through snow I'll put on a sturdier glove.
A good rule of thumb: if you are a comfortable temperature BEFORE you start your run, you're going to be way too hot while you are running. You want to be chilly when you start. 
It usually takes me a good 1/2-1 mile to warm up. I promise to do another running gear post when it gets really cold and snowy. Right now 30s and 40s feels great!

And I feel like I should leave you with an easy recipe, so here you go.
Steel Cut Oats
cooking method from Alton Brown

1 TBS coconut oil
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups water
1 cup almond milk
chopped almonds
unsweetened shredded coconut
chia seeds
hemp seeds
ground flax
chocolate chips

On medium-high heat, toast the oats for a few minutes in the coconut oil. 
Add the water and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes.
Add almond milk and cook for 10 more minutes.
Spoon into bowls and stir in toppings and a splash of extra almond milk. 

Want steel cut oats in just minutes in the morning?
Recipe for Make Ahead Steel Cut Oats is HERE
Pumpkin Pie Steel Cut Oats HERE

Happy Weekend!
let's see your #howweweekend on instagram!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

the weekly juice

Right now:
the chickens are out wandering the yard pecking for bugs and whatnot
the cat and dog are snuggled up together on the porch (it's the weirdest/funniest/seriously cutest thing)
the air is cool and blue and it feels so dark for afternoon
snow is coming this weekend.....we are ready. let's do this, winter.
all the laundry is folded. this is a miracle! too bad my kids will drop most of it on the way to their rooms and it will all get unfolded and dumped somewhere it probably doesn't belong.....you know what I'm talking about, right?
I need a good book. a REALLY good one. one I don't want to put down.....it's been awhile since I've read one of those--what do you suggest?

Right now my hands are stained from cutting beets 
and my mouth is stained red from drinking this juice.
With a big piece of beet (mmmmm) it really isn't all that "fruity", but considering all that went into it I thought Fruit Punch was a fitting name. Add an apple if you like extra sweetness, but I liked it just like this. 
Freshly Squeezed Fruit Punch
4 carrots
1 cup cranberries
1 grapefruit, peeled
1 lime, peeled
1/2 small beet (less if you don't love really beety juice.....I love it.)
1" piece of ginger (a little less if you are newer to juicing.....but I like a good ginger zing)

Stir in some chia seeds at the end for a little extra boost if you like. 

What are you juicing this week? Tell me!

more juice:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

day date

always on the trail....
we celebrated 11 years on our Washington trip (HERE)
......I have a secret.
Want to know what will make your marriage 
and waaaaaaay more fun....

Shared hobbies. 
It sounds so simple, right?

I am constantly surprised at how many couples I meet that don't share many of the same interests. 
Long long ago when Robby and I were first married, we really didn't enjoy alot of the same hobbies. 
Actually......we were so young and consumed with school and work that we didn't have too many of our own individual hobbies either. 
Neither of us had a very sure sense of self, or things that we just LOVED to do.
We kept busy, babies came, and while we enjoyed "hanging out" together and have always been best of friends.....we didn't do much more than that. 
Then a few years ago I started running trails. 
He started mountain biking.
Trails became our "thing". 
We talked about trails all the time--we ran and rode in all the same places.
The kids got old enough and we could get out hiking more, and we started venturing out often as a family. 
Planning day excursions, camp outs, and week long road trips. 
But everything always centered around trails. 
"Let's try out this one--the kids will love it."
"If we are already driving this way--let's take a detour through here and check out this trail."

Last year he finally convinced me that I needed a bike.
(see my first mountain biking experience HERE)
I don't know why it took me so long to try it out--I was hooked my very first time. 
I love hitting the trail together--it makes for quite the date. 
(if you like to end your date exhausted and covered in mud).
Monday he was off of work--
--the kids were in school, the sun was shining bright--so we loaded up the car and headed for the trail.
(look at this weather! in November!)
I can't tell you how much I love it when we can get out on the trail together. 
He cheers me on as I climb up the hills. 
(....as I think the worst words about him as I'm struggling to climb......sorry babe...it was harrrrd.)
We celebrate when I finally make it to the top, and then zoom down through the bare trees. 
Twenty-one miles under our belts and we head for fajitas (and extra chips and salsa.)
Our perfect date.

No matter WHAT it is you enjoy doing, I think it's so important to find something you enjoy doing TOGETHER. I am so thankful to be married to my best friend (aaawwwwweeeeeee. cheese), and for all the fun times we have together.

I want to know--what hobbies do you share with your spouse?

Monday, November 11, 2013

recipe updates

Good news--I finally updated my recipe page! 
(You didn't even know I had a recipe page, did you?) 
You can find it over on the right hand sidebar or simply by clicking HERE. 
It's nothing fancy at all but should give you some sort of direction when you are looking for something specific.

In addition to updates,I've added a pizza category, 
so you can find recipes like Chicken Pesto Pizza (HERE)

An Ice Cream category (which I decided is too small.....I should fix that). You can find recipes like Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (HERE)
brown sugar vanilla bean ice cream
And a popular category--YOUR favorites. This brussels sprouts recipe has been one of the most popular recipes ever on my blog--I thought I'd share the recipe again here. 
Original recipe + more brussels sprouts ideas (HERE)
brussels6 copy

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Avocado, and Lime
1lb brussels sprouts, shredded
2-4 slices bacon. or more.....there probably isn't such a thing as too much bacon, right?
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of 1 lime
1 avocado, sliced
a pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
olive oil
salt and pepper

While you are slicing your brussels, cook the bacon until crispy in a large skillet.
Remove from pan.
Add a little olive oil to the pan (depending on how much bacon drippings were left over), and add your shredded brussels, garlic, and crushed red pepper.
Cook for just a few minutes on medium heat, until brussels start to get tender.
Mix in lime juice and crumble bacon into the sprouts. salt and pepper to taste.
Scoot your sprouts over to the side of the pan, and add avocado slices--just to quickly warm each side. You don't really want to stir them around into the sprouts or they will mash right in. 
When they are heated through, mix everything together and enjoy!

happy eating!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

life with lyme, part 1

"I beat lyme & so can you!"
2010. An inspiring note graffitied on the wall outside my Dr.'s office in San Francisco. 
I was flipping through old pictures and came 
across this one......it made me cry.
It was taken 3 years ago when I was still in the thick of it and taking exactly 1,027 pills a day. 
Give or take a few.

I remember thinking someday those words would come true for me.
And I just realized.......they DID come true. 
Someday is NOW.
I have been off all antibiotics for a little over a year now and I'm feeling fantastic. The best I have felt in years. No more doctors, no more pills, no more crazy tests, no more awkward contraptions pumping poisonous medicine into my veins. 
No more!

In case you are newer around here, in 2009 I was diagnosed with Lyme disease (FINALLY......after chasing down doctor after doctor for well over a year). 

It seems like so long ago sometimes, and then some days it seems like it all happened so recently. Parts of it stand out very vividly, and sometimes 2008-2012 just mush together into a blurry jumble.
But the point is......I made it. 
It's done. 
I rarely think about it, which is so weird because it was such a HUGE part of our lives for so long.

I am strong and healthy and every single time I get out and run I am so thankful for my body and all it has overcome. To say "I am thankful for my body" sounds extra cheesy, but those words are so true for me. There are times when I'm out running and climbing and pushing myself that I get emotional if I think about how far I've come. A few years ago I struggled to get a mile in around my neighborhood--Flash forward to now--Saturday I hurried out for a quick 10 miles on the mountain, no problem.
Time makes everything better.

Lyme made me stronger. It made me faster. 
It made me look at life differently. 
We completely changed our lifestyle because of it. 
How we eat, how we live. 
How we spend our free time. 
Were those four years hard?
Yes. Terribly.
But worth it?
Every day.

* * * * * *

Now I need your help--you all know I am terrible when it comes to email. 
I am the worst at responding--so sorry! Every month I get a few emails that are Lyme related. I really try to respond to these in a timely matter because I know what it's like when you are searching for answers. 

A lot of the questions I get are very similar, so I started thinking that maybe I should put up a Lyme Q&A here on the blog to direct people to. Lyme is getting a lot more attention these days, and I feel like more and more people are closer to getting the help they need. 

What questions do you have about Lyme? 
It presents itself differently in everyone, but I will do my best to answer what I know, and my own personal experiences.
If I could point one person in the right direction, I would be so happy.
Also, if you or someone you know has been diagnosed and have seen a Lyme Dr, could you pretty pretty please leave the Dr.s name here in the comments (and the area you are in). 
I would be nice to list a few LLMDs from around the country if I could.

In the next few weeks I will put up another post. I will share my own experience with Lyme (I will try to condense it down, promise) and I will do my best to answer your questions. Leave them here or if you'd rather, email me sheenajibson at gmail. 
(If I don't respond directly to you, I will answer your question here on the blog if I know the answer)
I look forward to hearing from you--don't be shy.

In the meantime, be grateful for your body.
Women are especially hard on themselves because they don't look a certain way. 
Can you walk? Can you run? Can you climb mountains? 
You never know when those things could be taken away from you.
Be grateful. 
I sure am.

What does your body do for you that makes you thankful?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

one potato, two potato......

.....sweet potato that is.

unless you call these yams?
but I don't.

I love everything about sweet potatoes--you really can't go wrong with how you cook them--I think they taste great any way. And of of course, they are ridiculously good for you....

Nutritional Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
-almost 2x the fiber of regular potatoes
-rich in B6 and potassium
-all the beta-carotene you need in one day (read more about it HERE)
-vitamins E and C (good for healthy skin and hair)
-manganese--a trace mineral that is helpful in maintaining a good blood sugar level and cholesterol (more about manganese HERE)

But really......they just taste good.

One of the easiest ways to prepare them is to simply peel, dice, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at around 400° until they are tender. The perfect side dish.

And here is the easiest meal you can make with a sweet potato.
Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes
Pierce potato with fork all over and bake at 450° until tender--about 40-50 minutes.
top with:
-smoked gouda
-black beans
-sour cream

so good.
For an even heartier meal, saute some ground beef with onions, garlic, and chili flakes and add it to your potato.

Here is a favorite soup (blogged two years ago) that we just had last night.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
1 butternut squash, quartered and cleaned
1 large sweet potato, peeled and halved
4 garlic cloves
1 onion, halved
2 apples, halved
1 shallot, halved
1 tsp dried sage
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
4-6 cups chicken broth
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 425°
Brush veggies with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Roast veggies until fork tender (around 30 minutes for the smaller, and 45-60 for the larger)
Remove veggies from oven. Squash will easily remove from peel.
In a few batches, puree veggies in food processor or blender until smooth (you may need to add a little broth if puree is thick)
Add puree to large pot and stir in chicken broth until you reach a consistency you like ( I used about 5 cups of broth). Stir in sage, cayenne, nutmeg and apple cider vinegar. Simmer for at least 30 minutes......or if you're like me, maybe you like your soup to simmer on low all afternoon.
Top with crumbled bacon and gorgonzola cheese.

We ate our soup with grilled cheese sandwiches--a mixture of extra sharp cheddar and smoked gouda.

Another favorite from the blog:
Sweet Potatoes Around the Web
Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges from Smitten Kitchen
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Maple Sour Cream from Martha Stewart

What's your favorite way to eat a sweet potato?

Happy Weekend!
(let's see your #howweweekend !)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

7 ways you're wasting time on the internet

Oh the Internet. 
What a wonderful/terrible and brilliant/stupid thing.....right?

I remember my first Internet experience--I was in the 6th grade. There was a small group of us that got to meet during class and do extra math and science (read: I was a nerd).
We gathered in the library with our teacher, and logged on:
20 minutes later, we were "online".
Online was white box with a blinking cursor--and we were supposed to type something clever to the fellow nerds that were waiting to hear from us across the state.
A chatroom.
The next few years brought famous dancing internet babies, Napster, and eventually, email.

Today we can access any information we need in just a few seconds. We can keep in touch with friends (and our friend's friends!)
We can sell our cookbook (get it HERE!) 
See how I did that? Thanks, internet.

It's wonderful.

It's also a huge waste of time.
I am reminded of this every time we spend a day or a weekend in the great outdoors--away all the www.com craziness. Our lives CAN go on without the internet, believe it or not.

So let's use this amazing tool. Let's connect with like-minded people and share useful information. Let's find all the good on the internet and soak it up and spread it around......
.....and let's STOP wasting our time on the following:

1. making fun of people
This is the WORST. In the last few years just about everyone has gotten a phone with a camera. I LOVE having a tiny camera with me--it is a dream come true for someone who loves to take photos. But what I've noticed recently is more and more pictures just flat out making fun of people--and being posted online. Photos of strangers in the store with "bad hair" or photos of kids in your daughter's class with "terrible outfits" (seriously! I was pretty ashamed to find out that I have "friends" who are actually that shallow.) 
Just because you CAN take a picture, doesn't mean you should. 
So stop it.

2. selfies (aka, unnecessary pictures of your boobs)
We all have that friend--the one who takes waaaaaaaay too many pictures of him/herself. The "bathroom mirror" selfie. The "driver's seat" selfie. The "I'm holding my baby so it looks like a picture of her....but clearly it's a picture of ME because I look so cute today" selfie. Or the "describe the events of your day while clearly just taking a picture of your cleavage" selfie. This is the worst selfie, but makes me laugh every time.....because it's soooooo obvious. Am I right here?
Stop posting so many pictures of yourself.
Yes you are beautiful and you obviously know it, and we obviously know it, but what a waste of time taking all those photos. No more.

3. comparing yourself to others/
feeling sorry for yourself/
Somewhere, right now on the internet, someone is taking a fabulous vacation, building their dream home, having their 14th perfect adorable baby, getting a 3rd promotion at work, or buying $700 shoes. If you are on the internet (um, hi, you are right now) there are fantastic things happening all around you. Don't feel like your life is any less fantastic, just because right now--at this very moment--you aren't doing those same things. 
YOU do wonderful things too. Wonderful things happen to YOU all the time. Don't forget the good times because you are so caught up in what everyone else is doing RIGHT NOW. If you find yourself constantly comparing, step away from the internet. As easy as it sounds--just count your blessings--look around at what YOU have--little and big things (but especially all the little), and don't get back online until you're done comparing your life.
And complaining.....so you had a bad day, and want to feel a little validated by sharing it. Ok fine. But constantly using social media platforms to complain about all of your "problems" is only making it worse. You are digging yourself deeper and deeper into a sad little hole by using the internet as a dumping ground. Buy some ice cream, call a friend, and cry it out old fashioned style.....without the internet.

4. reading too much "advice"
Like we talked about up above, there is some fantastic information on the internet. There is also TOO MUCH information--it can leave your head spinning. Remember THIS post where we talked about eating well? If you read too many articles on health and nutrition you will end your day not knowing what to eat. If you read too many blog posts on the right way to parent, you will go to bed at night wondering how you will ever deal with your kids in the morning. You do not need to read every single piece of advice ever written--on any subject. 
Make some decisions for yourself--exercise your brain and use your own ideas.

5. pinterest is 95% a waste of your time. 
I absolutely love the term "Pinorexia"--brought to you by the smart and witty Meg of Meg In Progress. Pinorexia – a condition caused by uncontrolled pinning and pinterest related arts and crafts. Symptoms often include hot glue gun burns, excessive quinoa consumption and a general wasting away of original self. 
How much of the "stuff" that you have pinned has actually benefited your life? 
Stop planning the exotic vacation you're never going to take (and it's only making you sad that you're not taking it) and stop wasting time pinning recipes that have 17 weird ingredients you are never going to buy.
Waste. Of. Time.
Use it to save a recipe you actually WILL use. I have found some favorites and keep them saved on my boards.
Use it to make your Christmas lists.
Use it to bookmark good articles, interesting books, or helpful tips. I am always looking for tips on gardening, chickens, and preparedness.....and like to save any of this info when I find it.
But for the most part.....use the giant pinboard called YOUR BRAIN, and come up with your own ideas. Somehow our mothers (and their mothers and their mother's mothers) came up with brilliant ideas all on their own.
Try it--you might surprise yourself.

6. constantly updating your facebook/instagram
I am rarely on facebook anymore. I update my facebook blog page regularly and like to share interesting tidbits when I find them, but as far as my own personal page goes....I'm not really "there".  
I keep it because I have some great friends and family on there, and that's how they keep in touch. Anyway--I got on the other day and it was almost humorous to me because I forgot how facebook works. Every detail of so-and-so's day laid out for you right there.
I'm getting ready to eat lunch.
Peanut butter or ham?
I'm eating lunch! Peanut Butter! So good!
Sooooooooo full from lunch. Time to hit the gym.
Driving to the gym.....

You get the idea.

Why do we need to know all this information about so-and-so?
More importantly, why have we gotten so comfortable with sharing so much [useless] information with everyone. Social networks can be fun......but don't let them literally take over your life by feeling like you HAVE to update the world on your constant happenings. We don't need to know.

7. constantly checking your facebook/instagram 
Guess what? The world will go on if you miss a few of your friends/total strangers posts.
You don't need to glue your face to your phone and ignore the world around to see what everyone else in cyberland is up to. What about paying attention to what the people who are right in front of you are doing? Work on REAL relationships more than you work on cyber relationships.

and just because I can't leave a post without a picture......
here's a friendly reminder to get outside!
Let's all make a promise to waste less time online....ok? 
Use it for good! 
Exercise your brain--be creative and make your own decisions.
Pay attention to REAL life....and not so much life online. 
And please.....let's stop taking so many pictures of ourselves.

What would you add to the list?