Tuesday, July 30, 2013

7 Mile tempo run today.  I felt pretty good.  My legs were the tinniest bit sore from yesterday's hill workout.  Overall, it was a good run.  My last 4 miles were right at 8 minute pace.  Here are my splits:

Not too shabby.  Did I mention I registered for my 3rd half marathon?  My friend Lynn and I are running the Westminster trail 1/2 in October.  I'm hoping for a GOOD PR.  My last 1/2 was about a 9 minute pace.  That is my easy pace now.  I am wanting around an 8 minute pace this time.  My super ambitious goal is sub 8 minute pace.  I think it's doable.  Excited.  My friend Lynn, who just started running a few years ago (she ran her first 1/2 with little running background) has now run 4 1/2 marathons I think.  I'm excited to have some quality girl time during some of our long runs (here's hoping our schedules allow for that!)

Today was library day for the kiddos!  We had a great time.  The last 2 times we have gone, we have had to leave early due to Joey's poopies.  :(  It was nice to get OUT of the house into civilization.

Jungle exploration theme today!

Annabelle's new friend Natasha, who only speaks Russian!  You would not be able to tell any kid of language barrier between them.  They got along so well and shared.  We adults need to learn from our kids!

Joey practicing his newfound walking ability!  My big boy!

She loves to read!  Happy heart!

This time of year gets me thinking about school!  I am keeping Annabelle home this year instead of sending her to preschool.  Finances are the main reason.  The only preschool I could bare sending her too, was about $4000 a year!  Anyway, she gets plenty of structured time with other children at church, MOPS, gymnastics, etc.  But I am thinking of different ways to teach her.  Right now we are working through the alphabet.  She knows all her letters, but now knows the sounds of A-H.  We are learning the calendar and chores or daily tasks.  Here are some of the ways we are changing our environment for  learning:

She gets to place the new date on the calendar every day!  She loves it!

Great chore chart (Pinterest find) for a preschooler.  Very simple, but it works!

Overall a good day!   Yummy leftovers tonight!  Or maybe some BLTs with some of that homemade bread!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Domestic Monday

I ran about 4 miles today.  I did 6xhills at 8 minute pace.  Goal was to run 6, but got a phone call from the hubs around 3.5 miles.  He looked at his schedule wrong, and needed to leave asap.  It was a really good run.  I felt pretty good by mile four and think I could have ran sub 8 minute miles easily for the rest.  Oh, well.  There is always tomorrow!

Today I made bread.  This is not something I do often in the Summer, but if was a dreary, cool day.

My backyard is usually filled with Sunshine!

 I wanted to bake.  I have been making my own bread (not bread machine) for 2 years now.  I finally had the presence of mind to photograph each phase to share my recipe with you.  Making bread is really not that difficult, but it does take lots of trial and error and practice.  I am "self taught".  Well, YOUTUBE videos really helped me learn how to turn out my dough and knead it well.  I know how it should feel and look after practicing.  So, if you really want to learn, don't get discouraged if it takes a while to get the hang of it.  I find it very therapeutic and rewarding.  I'm one of those persons that has always wanted to figure out the "whys" and "hows" of things.  So making my bread feeds that need.

I don't normally make such super detailed, long posts (I have children, you know), but I have been meaning to do this for a year or so.  SO, here we go:

Start with 2 cups of warm water about 115 degrees.
Mix with 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast and a couple tbsp sugar.

Mix and proof your yeast.  You will know your yeast is good if it bubbles.  (I learned this the hard way).  If it doesn't bubble, your yeast is not active and your bread will not rise.  Yeast feeds on the sugar.  I find this makes for better taste.  Some bread makers will turn up there noses at using sugar.  But, I think it works great!

Make sure you use bread flour!  AP flour will not give you good bread.  Stone ground bread flour has the right amount of gluten.  Some people will even add gluten to their flour.  I haven't had to do this yet.

Add about 2 cups of flour to your yeast mixture.  

First, we will make what is called a "sponge".
Stir until well combined.  Your dough at this point will be really wet.  That is what you want.

Always helps to have a "helper"

Cover with a moist cloth for about 30 minutes.  This allows the yeast to grow before adding salt (which will alter the growth).  Again, I have found this step super helpful, but not everyone does it this way.  My bread rises really well.

Who needs fancy toys when there are empty yeast jars around.  Yes, I cleaned it well. 

While waiting for the sponge, you can get a lot done, like putting the baby down for a nap (yes, he know's what time it is).  Little stinker, "I can see you."  I also showered and threw in a load of laundry.  See, you can still do your everyday "fun-filled" activities.

Sponge is done!  It has about doubled in size.  Looks great!

Now, add the good stuff - salt, butter (room temp) another cup or so of flour (at this point) and whatever else you want.  I added 1/4 cup of flax seed.  Mix everything and add flour little by little until you get a ball forming.  This is the most difficult thing about making bread!  For those of you who like a "one size fits all" recipe, it just won't happen.  Depending on humidity you may need more or less flour.  You just have to get a feel for the dough.  Practice and watch some videos that really show people making bread!

Annabelle always gets her own little piece of dough to play with.

Here is what your dough will look like when you turn it out on the counter to knead.  It will be a little sticky, so flour underneath and above it.  Flour your hands, too.  Knead about 10 minutes or until your dough is smooth and elastic.  (Note that whole wheat flour will take much longer to knead and takes longer to rise.  So if this is your first time, use white flour until you get the hang of things.)  It is still better for you than store bought (no preservatives).

This is what your dough should look like after kneading.  Place it in a greased bowl with the seams down.  Oil the top a bit and cover with saran wrap.  Let it rise about an hour or until doubled in size.

This is what  your dough will look like after an hour!  Pretty cool, huh?  I love this part!

Punch your dough down to release the gas and turn it out on the counter.  Knead it a few times to release some of the gas created by the yeast.  Shape it into your bread loaf.

The only thing you really need to do is make sure you pinch your seams underneath to trap the gas.  You need to do this so it will rise again. 

I like to make mine pretty, but not necessary.

Preheat your oven to about 350-365.  I am at a higher altatude, so I have found higher heat helps for rising.  I go with 365.  But some people use 350 and all the way up to 375.  Cover with saran wrap and allow to rise another 20-30 minutes.  I like mine to look like this before I put it into the oven.   

Bake for 35 minutes.  You can use the "tap test" to determine if it is done.  Tap the bottom of the pan for a "hollow sound", this is a good sign that your bread has baked long enough.

I LOVE a tall loaf.  My husband prefers it to fit in the toaster, he he he but where is the fun in that?

A good "crumb".  

Here is my recipe for my basic sandwich loaf:

About 4 cups of good bread flour
2 1/4 tsp of dry active yeast
2 cups warm water
2-3 tbsp sugar
3 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter room temperature.

Combine warm water, sugar and yeast.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Make sure your mixture is bubbling.  Add about 2 cups flour, stir, cover with moist towel and let sit for 30 minutes to create your sponge.  Add another cup or so of flour, salt, butter and mix well.  Add the rest of the flour little by little until your dough starts to form a ball (you may not need all 4 cups some days and other days you may need a little more).  You can use a standing mixer for this part (Use the dough hook attachment).  Turn the dough out on a floured surface.  Depending on how sticky it is, you may need to add more or less flour.  Knead about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  The dough should not stick to your hands at all by this point.  Another sign that it is ready to go.  Place in greased bowl with seams down.  Oil the top a bit (to prevent it from sticking to the saran wrap) and cover with saran wrap.  Allow to rise about an hour or double in size.  Punch dough down, knead a few times and shape into loaf. Preheat oven to 365 degrees.  Place in greased loaf pan seam side down, cover loosely with saran wrap for another 30 minutes.  Bake uncovered for about 35 minutes.  Remove from loaf pan after 10 minutes, cover with a towel and let it sit for an hour or so before cutting into it.  If you cut into it right away, you will release a lot of the steam and your bread will get dry fast.  I store my bread at room temperature for a day or two and then I pop it in the fridge, if we haven't gobbled it up by that point.  Homemade bread will not last long at room temp.  Remember, there are no preservatives in it.  It is much tastier, though.  Enjoy!

Dinner tonight was some fresh Tofu vegetarian tacos.  Easy peasy after all that bread stuff.  Seasoned (chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, little salt/pepper) extra firm tofu and corn, sautéed in a little olive oil.  Topped with homemade salsa, baby spring mix, and goat cheese.  Another pinterest find.  Check them out!  Very budget friendly, too!  

Homemade salsa too!

Made a trip to "Sprouts" for all of our weekly produce, meat, dairy, etc.  Everything is super cheap!  I love this time of year!

There's that little "helper" again!

The meat and milk are already in the fridge.  $66!!!  Not bad.  

Good eats!  Good day!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Yummy Salad

Right now, I am eating this AMAZING, yummy salad.  This is a pinterest find, and it is my fav right now!  Even the hubs loves it.  I will cut to the chase and post the recipe:

Yummy Salad (I don't know the official name) 

Baby spring mix (the arugula tastes divine)
Sweet corn
Garbanzo beans
Shredded grilled chicken
Goat Cheese (my newest addiction)
BBQ sauce (I make my own)
Avacodo (I didn't have any this time)  

Toss as much of each ingredient as you want and enjoy!  

I love Summer when produce is so fresh and flavorful.  So much easier to eat healthier.  I still don't know how to give up my ice cream addiction, but I am a work in progress!  Blue Bell cookie dough is the best cookie dough Ice cream in the world by the way!

Anyway, I ran 6 miles tempo today.  I felt like I was running faster than my splits gave me credit for.  It was overcast, and that often affects GPS.  I felt ok today.  A little sore and tired after yesterday's run.  Fastest mile today was 7:35.  I will take it.  Did a few push-ups and squats post run and lots of stretching.  Here's to a new week!!

In other news, check out my mini athletes:

Annabelle very inspired after viewing some gymnastics videos.

Joey's first time in the swing at our gym!  I think he likes it!

That is all for now.  Time to get ready for the park!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Good Things

Ran an easy 8 miles this morning.  Roughly a 9 minute pace throughout.  The weather was AWESOME.  The sun was shining, about 70 degrees and no wind.  I really enjoy these long slower runs.  My mind can just go wherever it wants.  I don't have to focus on time, speed, or trying not to puke!  :)

Yesterday was a victory day for me.  Actually it was a very good day.  Got our "sneak peak"  at some family photos taken last week.  (I have been checking the photographers site like 10,000 times a day).  I also had a mile PR!  I have been doing a lot of running this summer, with various kinds of runs - sprints, tempo runs, steady state.  So far I have ran about 40 miles/week as my most weekly mileage.  This week was 37 total and I feel great!  Not sore, not feeling like death.  A sign of increased fitness!  So, back to yesterday.  My goal was a 6 mile tempo run.  I usually try to really pick it up the last few miles.  I forgot to do this on mile 4.   OOPs.  So I decided to run a good last mile to see what kind of pace I could find.  6:47!  I almost cried.  My husband thought I was crazy when I told him that!  But really, his big hug said he was happy for me.  :)

Recovery meal today was 2 scrambled eggs, 1 piece wheat toast, and a peach.  I LOVE eggs.  They just keep me from feeling like I am starving all day.

Here is a sneak peek for anyone who actually reads this (or for just me when I read my own blog.  Promise I am not narcissistic.) :