Morning Walk

Yesterday morning was the first weekend morning in a while that we were both available to go for a walk. We took Fargo (and the squirt bottle in case he starts pulling) and had an amazing view of the sunrise.

sunrise oct 2

sunrise oct

morning walk

It was a great way to start the day. I miss the early daylight for walks like this, there is no way to fit them in before work the next few months.

Odds and Ends

I took the Rosie’s Workwear (http://www.rosiesworkwear.com/) overalls I ordered at the Mother Earth News Fair for a test run today. I LOVE them!! I had hubby take pictures when they first arrived (ignore the work shirt/socks/shoes which don’t go with the overalls).

overalls

Removable knee pads (I did not use them today).

knee pads

Lots of very cool pockets.

pockets

In other news, I started a top secret cross stitch project. And by started, I thought about how I am going to approach it. I will share pictures if it turns out as I’m hoping.

We made yogurt again, and it came out delicious again. Yes!!

I had a gingerbread disaster cake. I have no idea what went wrong, but yikes!

gingerbread disaster

I had to quick throw a baking dish underneath to catch the cascade of batter flowing over the sides.

baking sheet

The good news is that it tasted fine. Really, no idea what happened.

My friend who ran the Hat Trick with me discovered that our medals had magnets, so they could do this cool thing.

medal magnets

If I had done the Friday trail race, for a total weekend mileage of 26.2, I would have gotten the medal to attach to the remaining magnet. But even without it I think this is way cool!

First frost a few days ago took it’s toll on some of the flowers, which looked pretty in the morning.

frosty flowers

frosty flowers 2

But the zinnias did not look so good later in the day.

dead zinnias

 

 

Homemade Yogurt!!

When we were at the Mother Earth News Fair a few weeks ago, we attended a workshop on making yogurt. Hubby and I eat yogurt in our lunches almost every day. When I mentioned attending the workshop to my mom, she offered us the Instant Pot with a “yogurt” option that she bought but hadn’t used like she anticipated. Over the weekend, I used that Instant Pot and I MADE YOGURT!

I followed a combination of two sets of directions, the ones that came with the Instant Pot, and these. Most of it matched, but I just felt better reading from both of them on the maiden yogurt voyage. The first thing I needed to do was sterilize the removable pot. This was a little nerve wracking because I’d never used a pressure cooker before. When I did as instructed and vented the pot at the end of the steam clean, both Fargo and I jumped a mile at the noise that accompanied the valve release.

We get our milk from a local dairy. They still use exchangeable milk bottles, and they do not use growth hormones. Although you can use up to a gallon of milk, I opted to start with a half gallon.

half gallon milk

While the first part of the process was happening, I boiled water to sterilize the thermometer and the spoon I would be using to transfer the starter culture yogurt. The thermometer sets into the milk in order to monitor when the temperature drops to 115 degrees. According to what I read, the temperature drop could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

milk temp

I bought Trader Joes plain yogurt to use as starter culture (and to put in Fargo’s food because he LOVES yogurt). Once the milk dropped to 115, I added approximately 6 teaspoons of yogurt and mixed well. Next step is to seal the Instant Pot back up and let it do it’s thing for up to 8 hours.

Instructions I read indicated that solidification begins around 6 hours and the longer you leave the yogurt “cook,” the more tangy it becomes. I am a fan of plain yogurt, but I don’t like it too tangy. I did not time this whole thing very well and 8 hours of “cook” time, which is the standard, meant getting up at 3am. I woke on my own around 2:30 and figured that was close enough, so I dragged my butt down to the kitchen to put the yogurt in the fridge.

I cannot tell you how excited I was to pack my homemade yogurt for lunch! Look how pretty it is!!

yogurt

Hubby and I both love the taste and the texture. I added dried tart cherries, walnuts, unsweetened coconut flakes and chia seeds and it was delicious! It is way more cost efficient and we will be adding significantly fewer plastic containers to the garbage/recycle bins. I will try to time it better next time though.

 

Sweet Potato Bonanza

Right now, there are a TON of sweet potatoes curing in our basement. We planted about  1 2/3 rows in the garden this year. We had a pretty banner crop last year too and they lasted well into the winter, but I think this year handily beat last year in every way.

We have been growing sweet potatoes for a few years now, and there has been a learning curve. We found out the hard way that you can cook potatoes while attempting to cure them if you’re not careful. Even this year we’ve had a few casualties so far.

The first few years we planted two different varieties. Two years ago, our amazing 85 year old neighbor gave us a few Bunch Porto Ricos (the link is informational, we have not bought them from the site) and hubby started his own slips. It is always super cool to watch the process from beginning to end, which is why I start my own plants from seed instead of buying them at a store.

We were so pleased with them last year, and this year again they were beautiful at first glance even while still in the ground.

sw pot garden 1

Pretty color, good size and fairly blemish free.

sw pot garden 2

Since the girls don’t use their snow disc any more, it’s become a potato transport. This was the smaller row’s worth of produce.

sw potato disc

digging potatoes

Here is how hubby set them up so he could tarp them with the ceramic heater.

potato racks

And for a size reference, I had a smiling hubby stand next to the racks. The lighting in this part of the basement isn’t great, but you can get a good idea.

hubby potato

We will be doing our Forrest Gump imitation soon…sweet potato pie, roasted sweet potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, sweet potato scones, sweet potato casserole, sweet potoatoes in African Stew…

 

Hobby Adventures Part II

I have been thinking a lot about some of the new hobbies I would like to try out. Luckily, many of them either do not require a huge investment into supplies, we already have the supplies, or someone we know has the supplies which we can borrow.

Two posts back I wrote about my first attempt at photography. I have been playing with the camera, mostly taking pictures of Fargo and sunsets.

Some are pretty terrible.

blurry fargo pic

Some are pretty good.

faro face

fall sunset

I mentioned that I had crocheted, but I have never knitted beyond a few rows of basic knit/pearl. When I visited my parents, I looked through some of my mom’s MANY bins and bags of yarn and found some I like. I think I will try some sort of smaller shawl/scarf type item.

yarn

I would like to try and build a piece of furniture. We have most of the tools necessary, or we have access to them. This past summer we planned to build a pergola. Actually, hubby was mostly planning it, but I think I would like to be more involved if possible. But I also want to try and build shelves, or something for the kitchen, or a potting table, or something to go under the pergola.

Maybe something like this.

I would like to try and refinish an older piece of furniture. My father-in-law refinished many pieces in his time, and I love them all. The issue with both building and/or refinishing, is where to do this. Between the dust and the fumes, I’m not sure we have an appropriate space. Maybe we need to spend a few weeks really working on the garage…

messy garage 1

messy garage 2

Ok, maybe it might take a few months. And then I think our first furniture project will be this one.

My father-in-law gave us directions on how to build a quilting frame. This could be a two in one project, building something and then use it to making a quilt. I like this pattern, but would likely wait until I can enlist the help of my youngest, the artist, to come up with the color combination.

I did a ton of baking the past few days and we canned another batch of peppers. We’ll continue to work on updating the house, the master bedroom is on the list for this winter. Of course there is always dishes, laundry, playing with the crazy puppy, raking leaves, etc, but I’m excited to add a few of these new projects to the list.

Oh, and does rescuing another dog fall under the “hobby” category?

 

 

 

 

RW Hat Trick Race Report

I had my doubts, many of them, going into the Hat Trick (5k and 10k Saturday, Half on Sunday) during the Runners World Half Festival last weekend.

RW half

My achilles was aching, I had an IT Band flare up a few weeks back, I walked somewhere in the vicinity of 24 miles during travel the previous weekend, and I’m just not a strong runner. I was fairly certain I could do the 5k and 10k on Saturday, but I was waffling about the Half, even pondered just giving up before even starting and switching to the “5 and Dime” at the expo. But I didn’t.

Thank goodness I didn’t!

It was a crazy beautiful weather weekend. Started out super cold on Saturday morning, in the low 30s, but blue skies after a beautiful sunrise. My running partner, Monica, and I met up with my wonderful high school friend, Beth, who also was in for the Hat Trick.

Monica and I had our hats, gloves, fleece, etc. for the 5k.

cold saturday

Beth hung with us a while pre-race, but she is an impressive runner, so she moved up to the faster pace section before the start. Monica and I took it slow, knowing we would need to conserve…and because we’re slow. I think I felt my worst during the 5k, but got warmed up some by the end. The highlight for me was getting to high five THE Bart Yasso just before the finish line!

After the 5k we found Beth and waited around together for the 45 minutes until the 10k started. I ditched the extra fleece hat and pullover. Given that I hadn’t felt very good for the 5k, I wasn’t really sure what would happen with the 10k, but we lined up in the same pace area as we did earlier.

The 10k course was beautiful! A few more hills, but also Main Street and some historic neighborhoods. I actually felt better and enjoyed myself more. Unfortunately, Monica had hamstring pain about the half way point. She stayed strong and our overall pace was not far off from the 5k pace. We felt very proud of that!

The steel stacks made the perfect central location for everything that went on over the weekend. There were also indoor bathrooms and warmer places to wait before the races.

steel stacks

Unfortunately, neither Monica nor I felt great the rest of Saturday. We relaxed, napped a little, and took a walk in the evening to try and loosen up. Monica did what she could to address the hamstring issue. I was not feeling confident about the Half.

The next morning was about 10 degrees warmer. Still chilly, but not nearly as uncomfortable. I had on a lighter fleece and gloves I could toss. Got a fun starting line selfie.

rw half start

As you can see, we were in the back again. Beth moved up to her quicker pace a few minutes before the start. Monica thought her hamstring was feeling better, but it didn’t last. We had a pretty strong first 2+ miles, but then she was hurting.

Again, beautiful course, Main Street, neighborhoods, residents out cheering, lots of hills. LOTS OF HILLS!! It stayed cloudy until the last two miles, so perfect temps. We definitely went even slower than our usual slow due to the hamstring. As hard as it was for Monica, it did allow me a little extra energy, so I thanked every first responder and volunteer along the way, cheered for runners on the few out-n-backs, encouraged people we passed or who passed us, and just took it all in. I felt way, way, WAY better than I anticipated.

As we got close to the finish line, there were a lot of runners who were leaving (because they finished long before us) and they encouraged us and we congratulated them. The high school marching band members were leaving and I thanked them all for coming out to play. I high fived spectators who hung around for the back of the packers. And, one of the best parts, was seeing Beth along the side, near the finish line, cheering for us. She had finished over an hour earlier with a rockin negative split run.

These are some happy faces.

rw half finish

It was a fantastic weekend overall. I am proud of myself for attempting something way out of my comfort zone. The hubby, the girls and my parents were proud of me, which means everything.  I need to thank my family, Beth, Monica and my Running Girls for believing in me and for encouraging me. I am very proud of Monica because she pushed through the HILLIEST course I have ever been on, with a bum hamstring, to finish. THE HILLIEST!!

Check out these cool medals.

rw half medals

Two mornings later, the quads are still complaining (they have been loudly complaining since the finish line on Sunday), but I feel pretty great overall. Just a fantastic weekend!

 

Hobby Adventures: Photography

Well, my first attempt at a higher level of photography beyond cell phone pictures wasn’t exactly smooth. A few years ago we gave the girls some pretty nice cameras for the holidays and I borrowed the eldest’s when we saw her last weekend (a Canon T5i). She was nice enough to let me keep it and play around with it until we see her again in December, so I can decide if I want to invest in a camera for myself.

Hubby and I went on some beautiful sunrise hikes while visiting her. I brought the camera along on Saturday, but was so afraid of missing the beauty that I mostly used my phone for pictures. When I did actually try to use the camera, I could NOT get it to work. Turns out, having the battery in the camera is helpful. Ooooops….

The eldest and I were going to sit down together for her to show me a few things about the camera Saturday night, but I fell asleep. So, on Sunday, I figured I would just give it a go…this time with the battery in place.

It seemed to me like everything was a little blurry through the viewfinder and on the digital screen, but it was sunrise and fairly dark. I tried taking a few pictures with the hope that it was either my eyes or the lighting. It wasn’t.

TP blurry

TP Blurry II

What a bummer!!!

I played with the zoom and was somehow able to get some beautiful shots, but so many more of these would have been amazing if I had known that the lens was set to MANUAL and not automatic. Sigh…

Here are a few of the successes.

TP

TP II

TP III

TP IV

TP V

I really enjoyed using the camera, so, I will try to learn more and I will use the camera for food, Fargo and fun stuff over the next few months. Hopefully my skills will improve.

 

Hobby Adventures Part I

I’m not sure if anyone pays attention to the categories I tag for each post, but there were 6 of them. I have now added a 7th and it is Hobby Adventures. I mentioned this new category in my Mother Earth News Fair post. It came about during a great talk hubby and I had while driving to the Fair about my need to figure myself out.

I am going to try as many hobbies as I can, with a project or two, and write about how they go, how I liked the projects, whether I was any good at it (which may be obvious by pictures), if I will continue with the hobby, etc. Some of the hobbies are ones that I used to spend time on either before the girls came along, or when they were younger, or with them as they got older. I am going to mention those in this post, thus the “Part I.”

One of the first things I did was sort through all of the craft type books on the book shelf. I am giving away quite a few that I will never use. Most had projects I was interested in for the girls when they were younger. Here is the pile that is moving out.

craft books

For example, I used to scrapbook.

scrapbook

This example page is from one of the many figure skating competitions my eldest took part in. I have about 5 huge scrapbooks from over the years, nothing more recent than about 10 years ago though. I do not think I’ll go back to scrapbooking, but it is a reminder that there are still a ton of pictures which need to come off the computer onto paper and that there are a ton of pictures in boxes that just need to go into albums.

I used to crochet (though not for very long).

afgan

I made a few afgans. The biggest success was one like above that I made for the in-laws. To this day, it is my mother-in-law’s favorite blanket. I would like to work on some knitting and crocheting projects. I am very lucky in that my mom is a champion with the knitting needles, so pretty much any sweater/hat/scarf/blanket/etc that the girls or I have ever wanted, she has been able to produce. That is a hard act to follow.

I used to stencil.

garbage cabinet

stencil fence

The top was a quick add on to make the garbage cabinet slightly more decorative. The bottom was a pretty amazing project in the youngest’s room, but at the old house. I stenciled the fence and then my mom helped with the freehand flower vines. One thing about artwork directly on walls is that if you move, it doesn’t move with you. I’m not sure I feel like randomly adding stenciling in the house, but two of the new hobbies I would like to try are to re-finish furniture and build furniture, in which case, there might be some stenciling involved.

I made a quilt…once.

quilt

It was far from perfect, and it wasn’t really the traditional style of quilting, but it came out reasonably well. I still like the colors/prints. I definitely want to do a quilting project, but I’m not sure if it would be another blanket.

I used to cross stitch, quite a bit actually. I made a number of gifts for babies and weddings, etc. This is a partial picture of my biggest achievement, big in terms of time and size.

cross stitch

I will try a smaller project and see if my eyes can still manage the close up work.

This is a pretty good summary of the previous hobbies I’ve tried. Some of which, I’ll try again. In another post, I’ll include some new hobbies I am going to research. I want things that can be done at home. I’m open to suggestions.

 

 

 

My Nemesis…the IT Band

I was all set to write my Hobby Adventures post, and then I got derailed by my long run this morning. I haven’t talked about running as much lately, partly because hubby’s running days are over and that’s been hard, but I’m still plugging away. I have that crazy (for me) two day event coming up VERY soon. I haven’t been as dedicated with my mileage, but I have been running 4 times/week with back to back weekend runs.

This morning was supposed to be a 10 miler, the last long run of the training cycle. Just over a week ago I did something, I have no idea what, to my Achilles tendon. All of a sudden I had pain/burning and then swelling. I was freaking out, but between my hubby, my Running Girls, and my friend Beth, I calmed down. I iced and did some exercises and stuck with bike time last week, but I missed all weekend running miles, and it was supposed to be my biggest mileage weekend.

Yesterday I tested the Achilles out with 3.5 on the nice flat treadmill. Seemed to go pretty well. I was nervous about this morning. I went out there and took it slow, walked up all of the big hills, etc. What I didn’t do, was plan for my IT Band to CRAP OUT ON ME! This honestly has happened at least once each training cycle for the past 10 years and I usually have issues in the final miles on race day, so you think I would have been prepared. I always worry about the darn ITB, but I was so focused on the Achilles that it caught me by surprise.

I have to say, that this week, with the bike time, I can’t remember if I stretched the same way as I do after each run. My hips did feel tight in the early miles this morning. Maybe I unknowingly altered my gait to try and baby the Achilles.  No matter what, it stinks and it really made me sad and angry and nervous. It still hurts right now, though usually within a day or two, with stretching, it is fine. That is what I’m hoping.

Best guess, I did just over 8 miles. This was not how I wanted the morning to go. There was going to be a lot of finger crossing for the body to cooperate on race weekend, and now there will be toe crossing as well.

On the up side, I already have two cute outfits planned for race weekend.