Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hiking in the Highwoods

The best laid plans. What can I say about them besides they are a waste of time around here.

I had been planning a camping trip for the three of us for this weekend. The plan was to head out Saturday morning for the campground/woods. I was going to pick everything up on Friday (we don't have camping gear so we planned to rent from base) and have it all packed and squared away.

Except outdoor rec was closed on Friday. And no one else really seemed excited about it. How could I tell? Whenever I mentioned camping or asked for input on what we should bring, I didn't get very much feedback. Oh, and the fact that Emma groaned (or complained) every time I mentioned camping didn't help either.

So, on Friday I said forget it. Grr.

Turns out it wasn't the worst decision. I ended up getting a lot of cooking done, Jared managed to get his dress blues tailored, and we finished the latest season of Burn Notice on Netflix.

When I canceled the trip, I told Jared and Emma that I still wanted to go out to see what the campground was like. No problem for Jared, there are bike trails out there for him to check out.

Emma wasn't excited about it until I mentioned the little creek that runs through the campground (and that we could play in it).

So, here is our day in the Highwoods in photos.

Highwood Mountains (5)
Trees, and mountains and rocks, oh my. 

Highwood Mountains (8)
Our campsite 
(we paid for the day, a whooping $5, just so we had somewhere to hang out and eat lunch)

Highwood Mountains (9)
Looks whats in our "backyard!"

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Hiking first though. 

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The path we followed

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View from the bridge

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So beautiful. And the scenery isn't to shabby either!

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Proof that I was there.

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Emma spotted this bird, and in a whisper "shouted," "MAMA take a picture!"

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Hiking's done, now for the fun part!

Highwood Mountains (33)

Highwood Mountains (36)
Hiking for an hour through soft sand makes for hot and dirty feet. 

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So. Much. Better.

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Terrified of bees but has no problem pulling up the slimy moss on the rocks. 

Highwood Mountains (40)

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Emma was telling me that when we eventually have our own property she hopes it has a creek like this so that we can have mud fights. 

After playing in the water for a while (30 minutes to an hour, I couldn't tell you exactly as we lost track of time), we headed over to the trail head where Jared was riding to go for another hike. 

Highwood Mountains (54)
First thing we saw on the second trail. Way cool. 

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See! I was here too :0)

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Stopping for water at...

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Turn Around Tree
(that's what I've named it as this was where we turned and headed back to the car)

While I had a blast, Emma was tired and cranky by the time we got back to the car, and once Jared was done, he was frustrated and a wee cranky because the trail directions were backwards and he didn't have enough time to ride where he wanted to ride. 

Oh well, I'm going to just remember the fun I had, forget about the cranky pants, and watch/listen to this beautiful bit of nature I brought home with me. 

p.s. Jared informed me yesterday that my grammar is atrocious. Well, the fact that I use the wrong spelling of a lot of words. I apologize. It will happen in the future as a lot of times I write these posts before going to bed, or I am trying to hurry up and finish them before I forget what the heck I wanted to say in the first place. I will try to do a better in future posts. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I got my big BMX Debut on Tuesday. Jared got his on Thursday.

Wow it was a fun night.

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (2)
Jared getting geared up

When Jared does something, he does it right. Unlike me with my mountain bike and helmet, Jared has all the cool gear. A new BMX bike, leg guards and a BMX helmet. 

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (5)
Practice lap

Of course, he's also way faster than I am. And we all know higher speeds mean bigger crashes. 

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (6)
Look closely at his back tire.

Of course, if he just floats around the track, that's a different story. 

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (8)
Another practice lap. 

Don't worry, I got to ride too. 

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (15)
My practice lap

Jared got lots of good advice from Travis, the owner of the local bike shop, Knickerbiker

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (17)
Paying careful attention to words of experience. 

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Jared and Travis lined up for a practice lap.

If you are wondering what we do with Emma during our time at the track, she has become the designated photographer. *She didn't take all the photos, but as she gets more comfortable and aware of whats going on around her, she probably will take all the photos. Right now I worry she's going to get run over because she doesn't watch out for the zooming bikes*

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (29)

And now for the actual races!

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Jared's first race!

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They are off!

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About 45 seconds later, this is what Jared looked like. 

For anyone who hasn't done or watched BMX, Jared likes to describe it as an 1100 foot sprint. On a bike. It may take less than a minute to finish the race, but it's a minute of non-stop focused energy. If your not peddling, your pumping your bike (pushing it down the hills to increase speed, or pulling up while going up so as not to loose speed). It's a lot of work. 

Wonder what Emma does when she isn't taking photos? 

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (37)

Picks the "berries" off the trees and feeds them to the ants. 

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (38)
Emma jumping to reach the "berries" in the trees.
This awesome photo was captured by Jared. 

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (45)
Jared waiting for his second race

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (46)
Again, wheels off the ground

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Emma watching ants eating the "berries" she picked for them.

And here is Jared's last lap, on video.

Go Jared! 
Emma took this video (in case you couldn't tell by the commentary)

The coolest part about the entire night was that is was fun. Awesome fun. We are meeting some really great people, getting outside, and getting some exercise. 

Of course, this doesn't hurt either :0)

Jared's BMX Debut 22Aug13 (1)
1st Place!
A trophy for his first win at the track (well, EVER for riding BMX).

Oh, and when we got home, he had chicken for dinner...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

From That to This

Want to know how I went from that

Climbing 2Sep11 (24)
Rock climbing July 2011

to that

Climb Iowa (18)
Rock Climbing September 2012

to this

Horse Lessons 28Jun13- Da was there (5)
Horse lessons June 2013

in about two years?

Without regular exercise?

The quick and easy answer: I stopped eating crap.

The more in depth (much longer) answer?

It was a transition (one that is still happening). A transition made out of necessity for Emma, but one that has made a world of difference for all of us.

It started back when Emma was 4, but I have a post dedicated to that story. We eventually went gluten and dairy free (Emma and I did), but we didn't really get that started until the beginning of 2012. You can read about that here here, here, and here if your interested.

So basically, for the last year, we have been eating a lot of this,

CSA Share

and this,

Will Work For Food (12)

as well as any other grass-feed or pasture raised meat we can find. Oh, and wild caught fish.

I don't "diet", but I have changed my diet. As in, I made a lifestyle change.

For the most part I avoid anything with more than one or two ingredients. If I can't pronounce the ingredients, I don't buy it.

I don't count calories, I don't watch my fat intake, I don't even starve myself! That makes it easy.

Fried Summer Squash (1)
Frittata (eggs, breakfast sausage, swish chard, onions), fried summer squash (coconut flour for the batter and fried in coconut oil), and a strawberry, banana, pineapple smoothie. 

Well, easier. Eating "just" meats, veggies, fruits, and nuts is challenging. If anyone tells you differently, their lying to you. Convenience food got it's name for a reason.

Yummy Pached eggs and veggiew (3)
Poached eggs over potato and veggie scramble. 

A few things I've discovered along the way to make my life easier.

Eggs. Good quality eggs are worth their weight in gold. Appropriate for every meal, and useful in SO. MANY. WAYS. Scrambled, frittatas, poached, hard boiled, omelets. Eggs are a miracle food (not the cholesterol demons they're made out to be). 

Ground meat. When shelling out big bucks for grass-fed or pastured meat, ground meat is awesome. It's less expensive, freezes well, and thaws a lot quicker than a huge roast or a thick cut of meat. And just like with eggs, ground meat can be used in SO. MANY. WAYS. Meatballs (which there are thousands of different ways to make them), burgers, scrambles (i.e. tacos, keema, etc), meatloaves, meat sauce, sloppy joes, and so on. 

Yummy Supper (1)
Burger with avocado, carrots, lettuce and rice (which is a grain that we occasionally indulge in).

Emma's Meatballs (3)
Emma's famous meatballs

Whole Chickens. Less expensive per pound, and after being cooked up in the crockpot, just as versatile as ground meat. Shredded BBQ chicken, chicken salad, chicken soup, or straight from the fridge as a snack with a bag of veggies.

Chicken Salad Salad
Chicken salad salad (one of Emma's favorites).

And don't forget about that broth when cooking the chicken in the crockpot! 

Food Prep during school (2)
Saving the broth. 

Chicken broth is yummy as a warm drink on a cold day (and good for your joints) or as the base for soup. Also makes wonderful egg drop soup.

Egg Drop Soup (6)
Egg drop soup

SAVE THOSE CHICKEN BONES! When you have picked all the chicken off the bones, throw the bones into a freezer bag and toss them in the freezer. When you have the bones from two or three chickens, you can make bone broth.  The important thing with this is, the more naturally raised the chicken, the healthier the bone broth will be. If all you have is conventionally raised chicken, you may want to skip this. 

Both broth is super crazy good for you (a few good articles are here, here, and here). 

As far as veggies and fruit go, I typically only buy organic if they are one of the dirty dozen. Even then, the only ones I am super picky about getting organic are greens (lettuce, kale, etc.) and bell peppers (because Emma will eat them like an apple), and fruit. 

Yummy Root Veggie Roast
Beats, carrots, Brussels Sprouts, garlic scapes, and who knows what else!

A typical meal for us is 1/2 veggies and 1/2 meat, with fruit as dessert. I say typical because some days I am too lazy to make a decent meal and we'll have left over BBQ chicken with carrot sticks. But hey, I'm human. 

So, how do we afford to eat this way? 

We make our food budget more important than everything else (except rent and student loans). When I'm tempted to stop and get a "snack" from the gas station, I remember that the $3-5 dollars it would cost to indulge in junk could be spent on a dozen eggs or a pound of grass-fed beef. Not only do I not eat the junk, but I am feeding the three of us multiple meals for the same price. 

We don't have cable. The extra $50 bucks a month it would cost us (to still watch Netflix over cable anyway) will buy me 8-10 pounds of grass-fed or pastured meat (or 5 pounds of delicious pastured bacon- so worth it!). 

We don't have iphones or other gadgets that require monthly payments. I have no idea what those would cost us, but I know I am happier "eating" that money then being connected to the internet 24/7. 

We very rarely buy junk food or "convenience" food. Soda is out, we drink water or water kefir mixed with a little juice (4:1 kefir to juice). We skip the prepackaged cookies and make our own paleo versions. Basically, we stay away from the sections of the grocery store that aren't produce or the meat department. 

We drastically cut back on our meals out. We love to eat out, but eating out doesn't always love us. While we have a few gluten free options around here, we still sometimes manage to get "glutened" and end up feeling like crap. 

The benefits to eating this way?

The biggest benefit is that I just feel better. I sleep better, I am less cranky, I don't feel like I'm going to pass out around 2:00 in the afternoon, and I can see muscles that I thought were lost forever (without regular exercising!).

Bike Hike (6)
I'm able to run up this hill (and a steeper one) with no problems. 

After my BMX debut on Tuesday, I could barely walk up and down the bleachers. I was terrified of walking up the three flights of stairs to our apartment. By the time I got home, my legs felt a little sore, but the stairs were no problem. I even took the garbage out immediately after we got home, which meant a trip down and a second trip up. I actually ran up the stairs the second time. 

Tina's BMX Debut 20Aug13 (8)
Riding BMX is a killer for the quads!

I figured that on Wednesday, I wouldn't be able to walk. I was fine. My calves were a bit sore going up and down the stairs, but that was it. 

How can I recover this quickly from some pretty intense exercise that I just jumped into all willy-nilly? 

Because of what I eat. 

It's that simple. 

I'm not writing this to try to brow beat anyone, but at the same time, I really feel like eating as clean as possible would benefit everyone. If you have questions or want more info, please let me know. I promise to just provide you with resources for you to look at in your own time, and I promise not to hound you (or jump up on my soapbox). 

And just for making it this far, here is a fun picture of Emma. 

Emma Reading
Reading provides balance.