Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Running up City Creek.

Jeff and I won a free hotel weekend. It was Jeff's birthday in June and he asked for free babysitting from my parents for his present.  I don't know if my mom is snowballing me, but she said they just read the whole time so it was easy.  One of the big attractions of staying with Gramma and Grampa is going to their library.  Can I just say in passing that it doesn't speak well for Mapleton that we've GOT no library?  I know we've got the Utah county bookmobile housed here but pickin's are SLIM there.  Scores of multi-million dollar houses but we can't spring for a decent library?  Rant over.
When Jeff plans the weekend in Salt Lake it goes a little differently than mine does.  His big goal is to veg in front of TV and movie screens.  Mine is to see and eat as much cool stuff as possible.  We hit up Starbucks for breakfast oatmeal and that was the extent of our eating out.  Oh well.  We saw a couple of cool movies, more on that in a sec.    One thing we always agree on is the workouts.  We had a 9 mile run scheduled on our training plan for Saturday, and jeff suggested running up the City Creek trail.  It was honestly hard to believe there WAS a trail right near downtown, but what as cool run!  We started out running up west temple past the salt palace and art center.

We turned up north temple where you first see the creek as part of the landscaping in front of the "meganacle"
Soon the creek enters "City Creek Park" which is beautiful by the way,
and through a really neat historical district.  Sorry for the blurry pics, I didn't really stop to take them with my phone, just slowed down.
Then the real trail started, and the creek got big and scary.
Up through a canyon, and onto the Bonneville Bench trail.
Here's Jeff up ahead of me (he's much faster usually, but especially when I'm taking pictures).  Then my camera shut down on my phone because it was supporting my audiobook at the same time and freaked out.  oh well.

 The first movie was Potter.  Fabulous.  Just fabulous.  I'm a major Potter nerd, and have read all of the books multiple times, AND listened to the audiobooks --all of them -- multiple times.  I was so excited for this movie.  Usually when this happens, the movie can't live up to your expectations, but they pulled out all the stops on effects.  The best part by far though was watching Snape's memories.  This is probably my favorite part in the whole series, but watching it on the screen, I was sobbing.  I felt so stupid while I was doing it, knowing these are fictional characters, and telling myself that over and over didn't help one bit.  I was completely drawn in.  Jeff kept patting my arm (probably hoping I'd stop embarrassing him).

The next movie we saw was Captain America.  Can I just say, the photoshop/CGI stuff was amazing!  Never again will I watch a movie and lament that an actress is so skinny --impossibly thin.  It IS impossible!  Look what they did to Cris Evans!  Plumps when you cook 'em.  :)

Good show, classic superhero movie.  It was done by the guy that did the Rocketeer, and it felt like that.  Corny, old-fashioned fun.  Stick around after the credits, there's an Easter egg you'll be excited to see after.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Checking out at Ream's, the teenage bagger asked me if I was going to go watch fireworks tonight. 

"I don't know," I said.  "Are there fireworks tonight?" 
"Oh yeah -- over at Ira Allen Park," he answered as he put my cherries in a plastic bag, not on top of the bananas (I watched).  "It's huge! Bigger than Stadium of Fire, and it's all set to music.  You just park your car there, and sit right under them". 
He lost me at "park your car".  I've been in more than one traffic jam on the 4th of July or 24th of July (we celebrate a fireworky pioneer day in Utah) that's lasted hours, and has left me with visions of myself in a tank running over cars in my path with a maniacal laugh.  Bad traffic's not a good situation for someone like me with little patience.  Dutiful mother that I am, I came home and told Jeff anyway, and we thought about it while slogging through the usual Saturday chores (sometimes I hate my yard).  9:00 hits and it's decision time.  "Why don't we go up Whiting canyon to that path we sled on in winter, and head south instead of north?" he asks.  "I'll bet we get a great view of them from there". 
I'm a little dubious when I look on the map and notice how far south the park is, but then, I'm often dubious with new suggestions so I keep my mouth shut instead of being a jerk.  Kai lays on the couch pouting. "I thought we were going to get close to the fireworks.  I don't want to go far away to see" he whines.
"It'll be great" I answer --the cheerleader now.  "Get in the car". 
The kids grab saltines, cream cheese, soynuts, raisins, and honeydew chunks.  I'm not exaggerating. "Do I need my water bottle?" Tia asks? "Jeez." Jeff says under his breath. "It's not going to be that long".  She grabs it anyway, making us wait for her again.  Lately, every time we go somewhere this seems to happen. Ominous foreshadowing for the rest of her teenage years. 
When we get to the horse trailer parking lot, Kai doesn't want to get out of the car. "What about wolves?" he says in a small voice. "Aren't there wolves up here?" 
"Yeah" Jeff says ("shut-up Jeff" I think), "but not right here". 
"We'll walk with Daddy in front and you kids go in the middle and I'll be in the back" I say.  "If wolves come they'll eat us up and you'll be fine. Seriously, Dad and I run and walk up here all the time.  There aren't any wolves".  Are there? I wonder.  They're endangered and stuff, so I'm pretty sure there aren't... 
We walk in the dark, and every other minute, we see a firework explode in a different part of the city spread out below us.  I'm pretty sure none of them are from Ira Allen park.  There's not a real path, just little mini clearings we thread our way through, trying to get near the edge of the mountain to get the best view. 
Ari asks if she can wear my headlamp once we stop to wait, sure now that we're just too early, and the "real" fireworks will start any minute. 
"No I say, we're going to leave it off now until it's time to walk back."  I'm always shutting her down, and feel slightly guilty until she asks if she can wear it on her head anyway and I hand it over.  I doubt I'm the best mother for her.  I turn on my phone and surf food blogs (mother of the year I know) while waiting for the start of the show.  Jeff walks off to see if he can find a better spot, and a few minutes later we see his headlamp bobbing back through the dark towards us.  No luck.  It's after 10:00 now and I'm pretty sure they've started and we're missing them, but I don't say anything.  Jeff says he's going to try the other direction, and Kai goes with him, which I can tell cheers Jeff up a little.  We all eventually migrate over to where they stand, but don't see much, and Ari's started shivering in the breeze. 
"Well, should we go?" Jeff asks.  "Yeah" I say, "maybe we can still find them if we go over by Brandie's neighborhood".  I lead the way without any real idea of where I'm going, just a general direction, but get lucky, and we stumble back to our car.
"Are we going home or are we still trying?" Jeff asks as our headlights sweep a circle around the edge of the parking lot and turn down the mountain. 
"Let's still try" I say, typing a new blog address into my phone.  It doesn't take even a quarter mile before we start seeing big flashes off to the left.
"There they are! Kids! Look!" Jeff says, passing an open field.  Huge sea anemones of pink and purple, and jets of white light fill the sky.  The bagger was right.  These are some serious fireworks.
"I'm tempted to just stop right here to watch" Jeff says, and slides the car over to the side of the road.  We watch for a while. 
"That kind" Ari says. "That's the kind I mean that's my favorite". 
"This must be the grand finale" I say as flower upon flower explode right on top of each other in the sky.  A few minute later I say it again.  Then later I think it finally must really be the grand finale.  I can't believe the money they put into this show. 
"I'm ready to go home" Kai says. "Aren't you liking it?" Jeff asks. "yeah, but I'm getting sick of it now" he answers.  Jeff laughs. "Man I love you bud" he says.  Kai's a crackup sometimes.  The sky goes dark, and through the open car windows we hear clapping from the dark front yard of the house next to our car.  I had no idea anyone was there. "woooo!" I yell --just so they know we're there too. "woo hoo!"  they yell back, still clapping.  "Wooo hoo hoo!" I say, and Jeff laughs as he pulls the car away from the curb.  "I'm so glad I'm married to you" he says.  "You're so fun". 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Fruit and Veggies" (or "How much suffering can a fruit tree take?").

 I've many fruit and veggie plants throughout the yard alongside the flowers.  We're getting quite a few raspberries right now --including some black and golden varieties.
 Here are the onions and beans.  Anyone know why my onions are going to seed the first year?  A couple did this last year too.  I don't get it.
 Carrots, beets and sweet corn...or is that Indian corn?  I can't remember where I put the two kinds.  I guess we'll open it up and look at it when the tassels turn brown.
 Here's my poor poor mulberry tree.  This is also a big mystery to me: every year this tree loses a big section -- I guess to wind.  Why would this be?  I think I'm going to trim it down to a bush next year and then we can sing and dance around it. 
 Look at my callouses jeez!  No, this is one of my mulberries.  They got huge this year and so sweet.  I wish I had the other two thirds of the tree that broke off.  Those branches were full of berries. :(
 I've got this other stupid mulberry tree that I bought from Cook's, but the berries aren't as big, sweet, or as easy to pick.  Annoying that this isn't the tree that breaks!
 Aren't these pretty flowers?  Not worth a cherry tree though.  They grow right underneath my cherry tree, and last year I noticed it wasn't doing so well. I thought it had a bug and tried to get it diagnosed, but nobody knew what was wrong.  I suspected these guys but thought ..naaah.
 Here's the tree this year.  Notice it's only dead on the side with the flowers?  Sigh.
 We should get plenty of white peaches this year though.
 ...and Italian plums.
 ...and tomatoes.
 we'll have plenty of tomatoes!
 My squash may not produce though (I'm starting to realize at this point how boring this post must be to a non-gardener --sorry!).  I could tell it looked like they weren't getting enough water, but the box said they were getting three hours.  I finally figured out my schedules were overlapping and cutting off these guys before they got all of their water.  I hope I get a few kabochas at least before frost. They don't take as long to mature.
 My grapes quickly overwhelmed the support we made for them last year and are seriously out of control again.
As is my herb garden.  Time to cut down the tarragon, lemon balm, and mint.  Maybe I can make some new pestos!  Has anyone tried that before?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Garden tour --flowers and living spaces

 Wanna' see my flowers?  One of the reason I want bees is I see hundreds of SOMEONE ELSE'S bees all over my yard all summer.  Why shouldn't I get some of the honey?  These first couple of pictures are of my "park strip": the area between the sidewalk and the road.  Grass never does super well here with our hot, dry Utah summers, so I planted some stuff that could withstand drought a little better. 
 This is the front of the house.  I love the contrasting foliage colors.

 Here's my little retreat in the backyard.  This is where I can put pink flowers without anyone knowing.  It's on the mid to lower level of the back so it feels really private with rock walls and fence all around it.

Hollyhocks against the back fence.

Oriental lilies.

perennial sweet peas

 On the very lowest level, there is a little tiny patio opening out of the basement rooms (our home gym).  It gets pretty hot here, so I put in a little fountain to help you "think cool", and some little succulents that won't dry out and die in an afternoon.

Aren't they cute?

Coming back up the stairs, we run into a big old section of tansy (tanacetum), mums, daylilies, and yarrow.
(this is the tansy up close)
Finally we get to the main patio off of the kitchen.  I finally got the patio set I wanted this summer.  It's aluminum so it's lightweight (but looks beautifully heavy), and has no glass or tile to crack and break.  We can at last eat together on the patio as a family.  My in-laws loved it too while they were here since the table can easily accommodate 8-10 people.  The shades pull down to the west and south to block sun, but the pergola on top only provides filtered shade.  I think I'm going to bribe Jeff to move it around to cover the top instead of the south.  Hmmm.  I need to run through my list of husband incentives...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Simple Italian Dinner

 I went to the health food store today and found this really fun vegetable pasta.  My kids all wanted it tonight for dinner so I created a simple Italian themed meal to go with it.

 You gotta have your veggies first, so I sprayed some broccoli in a little olive oil, and sprinkled it with garlic and lemon pepper before roasting at 400 for 30 minutes.

 Next I worked on the protein.  I was using my Flavor Bible (that's how I thought of lemon with the broccoli too), and picked out a few components recommended to go with white beans.
 I mixed in a bowl: 2 T. molasses, 3T. Italian seasoning, 1T. mustard, 2 T. soy sauce, 1 T. olive oil then poured it over two cans of navy beans rinsed and drained.  With just a quick warmup in the microwave, and added split cherry tomatoes it was a really yummy main dish.  Super easy too.
So for the dinner menu we had the noodles with marinara, the balsamic herbed beans with cherry tomatoes, and the lemon garlic roasted broccoli.  Let me know if you try it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Eating strategies

I've gone back and forth about posting something on this, in fact I did a post and deleted it before.   I wanted to put down a little bit on my diet.  I've found that it's really easy for me to lose control and overeat.  When you're a 5'3" woman in her late (OK, VERY late) 30's, you don't have a lot of leeway with your eating.  One normal restaurant meal a week can easily add up to a pound gained a month.  On Sundays I don't exercise, which also makes a big difference in my calorie burn (on Saturdays I'm usually near 3000, on Sundays near 1800).

You can see I have a pretty good idea of what I burn.  This is from my Bodymedia fit armband. I don't know what I'd do without it at this point, although I'm hoping to break myself of it eventually.  It records my burn automatically, and I enter my food in.  I started weighing stuff too, to get a better idea of how accurate I am.  Putting butter or honey on toast?  How do you know how much you're really putting on?  Anywhere from 3-7 grams of butter looks the same to me.  Anyway, I track calories and weigh food.  I know this sounds OCD, but it's really freeing because I then pick whatever food I want to eat and eat it.  Pretty much anyway.  I don't bring things like chips and cookies and most kinds of crackers in the door because I don't look good wearing them (on my butt).  I don't do juice usually or drinks besides water or herb tea, because who wants to track calories that don't make me in the least bit full?  I let my kids make cookies when I go out on a date with Jeff. Perfect time because I'm not there :).   Sometimes I let them make some for the neighbors, but usually that ends up with me eating 1-2 cookies worth of dough, so flowers are a better choice for gifts.

Here's my plan:

For breakfast I shoot for around 400 calories including a protein, greens, and a whole grain.  With the protein and grain together I stay full.  Sometimes I do the grain first, work out, then do the protein after.   For lunch, I do some sort of  grain (usually bread or tortilla), a protein, and then fill in with fruit or veggies up to around 550 calories.  In the afternoon I shoot for a 350 calorie snack, usually a protein shake and a fruit, or a piece of toast with nut butter.  Dinner is around 600, with a big salad being part of it.  I try not to eat after dinner.  I do at least two quarts of water in the evenings to rehydrate for the rest of the day, so that's how I think about it: my time to get in the rest of my water.  At least half is a big ol' thing of herb tea.  It's wonderful sitting on the couch with Jeff watching a show if we've got a free evening.

So you see I get in around 1900 on most days. I go a little lower on Sundays to make up for the no exercise thing, and Friday nights when I go out with Jeff, I plan on going about 1500 calories over maintenance. On Saturdays when I burn a lot with long training runs and yard work I usually have a 1000 calorie deficit easy so that helps to make up for those Friday night treats. When all goes well I lose 1/2 pound to 1 pound a week.  Why haven't I lost a ton of weight then?  Well... when I go off of my plan I REALLY go off.

I went on vacation early in the month to a camp for kids with cochlear implants (my second daughter has one), and they had a cafeteria with a big long buffet for every meal.  I kept thinking I was doing OK, and then I sat down with twice as much food as I needed.  They also had treats a few nights there, and I stayed with my in-laws for a night on the way there and the way back and they know my weaknesses in ice cream.  Since I couldn't plug in my arm band, and had no good way to track calories (I'm very dependent on the computer), I fell off of the wagon with a thump.  All of those disadvantages might have been nullified by exercise, but when I get discouraged or extra tired I just start eating like a crazy person.  I get a book or a movie, and just eat and eat as an escape.  That happened a couple of times while I was gone.  I've been working on spiritual solutions to this, since I feel like it's an emotional/spiritual problem.  I'm feeling really good again now, but it was discouraging that I fell into the trap again there for a while. 

I've looked around in my psyche, and I don't think there are any deep seated issues I'm ignoring, except that I've been deficit eating for a long time --probably too long --, so my body rebels when I let my guard down.  Overall, over the past 5 years, I've dropped my maintenance weight down 6-7 pounds.  Not a huge difference, but I'm still pleased with it most of the time. I hate to say it, because everyone does, but if I could just lose 5-10 more pounds..... anyway, I'm still lifting, which makes me a lot happier with how I look than I used to --even at a higher weight.  If I didn't lose any more but dropped bodyfat I'd probably be happy, but I'm not willing to give up more carbohydrates and replace them with protein powder or engineered vegan "meats" (I try to do mostly vegan), so I doubt that's going to happen.  I got really close to hiring a bodybuilding specialist dietitian until I realized I finally have found a plan I can feel truly satisfied on (except on vacation!), so I hate to change anything.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Daughter of a beekeeper

 Guess what I brought home today? Yay Yay Yay!  My Dad had bees for years in San Diego while I was growing up.  While we didn't eat any processed sugar, we went through a LOT of honey with six kids all with sweet teeth (do you say sweet teeth or sweet tooths?).  I never remember being nervous around them, and feeling instead kind of special that we had them.  There was one time a bee got caught in my 80's hair....

and there was also the time my cousin threw rocks at the hive, and my little brother was in the wrong place at the wrong time...

Poor little guy.  
But other than than that, with years of keeping bees we didn't have any problems.  I hope my neighbors don't freak out. Consider this fair warning if you're a neighbor :)  Anyway, my friend Sharlynn, who's kept up to 40 hives at a time, gave me my two starter boxes, and the use of her equipment, and most importantly, free consulting!  My boxes lost their residents from what she thinks was Varroa, so I've got some cleaning up to do.  That's OK because I can't order the bees until next spring.  It was so mysterious at the time she said. She went outside to check on them and they'd just disappeared.  No holocaust of bee bodies around, nothing.  From what I've read that's typical of Varroa --they fly away and then die.  She's got a supplier she uses in Salt Lake, but I've been looking around and found this Beeweaver company that claims high mite resistence, and high genetic diversity in their bees.  I may try them.

On the lifting front, I finally felt recovered enough to do a good workout today, and got within 5 pounds of my PR for back squat.  What a relief.  I didn't know if I'd ever get back my strength.  I've been so broken down lately with running, that high rep program, vacation (missed workouts), and a hamstring injury. My friend/inspiration April also posted her bench press weight giving me permission to not beat myself up over mine.  I find it's easy to let ego get in the way deny where I'm really at.

When I certified as a personal trainer, my instructor told us to tell people to bench press only from where their elbows are even with their shoulders --does that make sense?  So if you were lying on the floor, you come down to your elbows touching the floor and no further.  Behind that place is the "danger zone" for shoulders.  The shoulder could get injured there because the rear deltoid muscles are so much weaker than the big pectorals, and theses deltoids take all of the weight when you go behind parallel.  That's what I was doing after he told me that, until I found out that in powerlifting you DO go down until the bar touches the chest.  Sigh.  My pecs had gotten much stronger, but my rear delts had atrophied quite a bit. Bummer.  From 150 to 75? waa.  I still have to watch out because even when I go all of the way down, I lift my hips from the bench, effectively doing a decline press instead of flat press.  Today I kept it clean, and got a few reps out at 85 --like 3 :)  but got 5 reps at 80.  That's OK I decided.  My squat got a lot weaker when I started going all of the way down, and came back up after a while.  So it'll come back, it'll come back...

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July Balloonfest and Freedom 10k

 We followed our family tradition and went to the Freedom Festival Hot air balloon liftoff.  This means waking my family up at 5:30 am, and every year I try to roll them out of bed, I wonder why we do this.
 They're still not awake and happy by 6:15.

 But then we saw the Darth Vader balloon complete with storm troopers and other...random characters I didn't know!
 We always love seeing the fire as they're blowing  up the balloons.

 A lot of beautiful balloons along with the novelty ones.  I love how we can walk around between them all.

 Once the balloons lift off they do these races and games "Fox and Hares" I think, but we always leave then. The best part is lift-off.
Today we ran the Freedom Run 10K.  Tia's first 10K. I was so proud of her!  She stopped and walked for 2 second intervals before I convinced her to "just go slow".  She really did great!  I think average we were at about 11 minute miles (that's up from her 15 minute mile average when she started running :)   ).  She's training for the Hobble Creek Half marathon in August, so you'll see more of her on here.  I think we made a runner out of her.