Saturday, July 30, 2016

Week 8 of Summer

A batch of cheezy kale chips.

Mango on Mango:
Beet Box Turtle Brownie:
This week saw four long walks in the evenings with friends or neighbors. Summer evenings are the best!

Otherwise, there was exciting things like dental cleanings, car oil change, my brother's birthday, wandering around markets and visits with friends.  I think Week 8 was my lazy week, and I plan to do more school work prep next week. I am in complete denial that the summer is nearly over. *cries*

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Week 7 of Summer

This week featured a few more items from my kitchen, starting with zucchini bread:
The fruit of the week: mango!
My first ever: gazpacho (unpictured tomato juice also added). 

I noticed that Whole Foods started to carry seasonal, local produce:
And lastly, meeting my cousin for Happy Hour on Friday:

Three weeks remaining. I'm slowly accepting that the end of summer is near, and hopefully by the time I'm in my classroom, the boiling heat will end as well (no air conditioning or cooling system in the 90 year old Gothic school building).

See you on Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

More Summer Eats

My first ever smoothie bowl! Vega Vanilla mixed frozen pineapple, frozen banana, and water. Topped with walnuts, strawberries, coconut, and mango.
My favorite Superfood salad (sans cheese) with sesame blackened tofu from ModMarket (lunch with Mom!).
Afternoon snack while it rained.
Just missing the watermelon to round out my summery dinner: veggie dog and corn on the cob (they were so small, I decided to have two!).
See you this weekend! I hope everyone is surviving the heat!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Week 6 of Summer

This week, I finished my patio with a trip to a sand and rock supplier. I shoveled 255 lbs of 3/4 inch butter rock (white, grey, pink, tan colored rocks) into the trunk of my vehicle, and then shoveled it into a wheelbarrow. Here is the final result:
I have two more chairs hiding along the left fence, and I decided to get the table I wanted, but it is back ordered until.... September. Holy moly. For your amusement, the 255 lbs of rock was $7.80.  "Dirt cheap!" I've sat outside in the evenings, and I still can't believe I built this!

I returned to heavier workouts, now that the patio labor intensive had ended, only to discover in my kettle bell class that my lower back wasn't ready. I still participated, but had to have modifications. By Thursday, I was able to give my full effort once again!

Last weekend, I made my VA grandma's homemade poppyseed dressing, and have been enjoying it on spinach, strawberries, and slivered almonds. Early season corn on the cob.

I cheated and made a Whole Foods salad, but came home and used the Just Wild West Dressing. I liked it, not super flavorful, but good enough.

Lastly, I treated myself to a visit to Lush and picked up a face mask. I reminded myself of much I love them when I used it this morning!

Four more weeks of summer bliss remain; I am going to soak them up slowly! 

See you on Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New Summer Eats

Not new: watermelon for breakfast. (I ate about half of it!)
First time this summer: toasted everything bagel with Tofutti, tomato, and cucumber.
New: Happy Herbivore's Chili Sweet Mango Noodles and Just Wild West Dressing (from the Just ____ product line, but they were out of Just Caesar).
The noodles packed a lot of heat! The cooking process has too many steps, but I will play it in the future.  I tried the dressing on chopped spinach, so I could truly evaluate it.  It's okay.  I'll try it again with actual salad items and see if that takes it to another level.

Bonus photo of nothing new: Remy on a walk.
See you this weekend!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Week 5 of Summer

Before summer: the two bushes outside the back door were struggling to thrive. One had snapped during a late April snow.
Week one of summer, I bought a half 9 foot umbrella, my Dad hand sawed the two bushes (but left the stumps), and I hand cleared the mulch to reveal the weed block (also known as landscape tarp).
Week two: My colleague had promised to lend his teenage sons for $8/hr to do the patio but then the boys found summer jobs. He came over (he's a math teacher) and figured that I would need a two inch slope coming away from the house for water purposes, and we confirmed the dimensions. I then called 811 (power, gas, water, phone, cable, et al) to be cleared to dig for the leveling and for stump removal.

Week three: while waiting for 811 to clear me, my neighbor a few houses down had her general contractor look at my property (she was getting a quote for a patio, as she doesn't DIY), to see what it would cost for labor (I had found out while purchasing pavers that each weighed 39 pounds, and I needed to buy 30 pavers and 11 single bricks. Incredibly heavy!). They never got back to me, and at the end of the week, 811 cleared me for digging. I marked my lines, and ripped back the tarp.
Week four: Realizing that I was on my own, I borrowed a wheel barrow, shovels, and level from my Dad and started to excavate. I shoveled out of the ground, into the wheelbarrow, and out of the wheel barrow into the dumpster. 15 round trips.
Week five: I offered my guy neighbors money to chainsaw down the stumps, but they only had picks and sledgehammers (but didn't offer to help). After two days of my agonizing over these roots, my mother brought me a handsaw, and she held the stumps while I sawed them into bits. Any remains we couldn't get up, I salted with an Epsom salt paste. They will shrivel up in about 6 months, and I buried them well, so as to not disturb the patio.

The remains, below.
(In case you're wondering, that hose is part of the sprinkler system, and I buried it once finished with excavation.)

Hours leveling the ground, putting in edging, and then tacking down new weed block. Followed by lots of sand (no picture of the sand!).
Yesterday, my brother had the day off. After a guilt trip by my mother, and later a promise of a free lunch, he arrived to help. And he helped a lot! It would not have happened without him.
(Sand was left overnight on top, so as to fill in the seams.)

This morning I used a wide flat broom to sweep, and then set up two of my four chairs and umbrella. I found a table, but it is back ordered ( and expensive) for 7 weeks. I'll keep looking.
I'm going to fill the part on the sides (near door on right, around a/c unit on left) with gravel next week. Once that is in, I can finally remove all tools from my yard!  

The numbers: the patio is 8' L x 7.5' W, about $500 for the supplies, countless hours of labor. I probably did many things incorrectly, a couple of the pavers are already cracked, but I'm content with it. While most of the hours were my own labor, the few hours from my mother and brother made it complete and I would still be working on it if they hadn't helped! I'm not sure I'd do it again, but I look forward to enjoying it on a daily basis!

Hopefully this wasn't too boring of a post; I'll be back mid week with more of my meals and activities!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Patio Progress

Many of the hurdles have been crossed (full story coming this weekend!), and the patio excavation is complete. The hardest part, removing the former bush stumps and root system, was no small feat. This afternoon, my Mom (the first person to actually help me with the labor), helped with said stumps. But first, there was yoga.  And then there was breakfast.

Some errands, and then lunch. Another attempt at the restaurant style cashew kale salad: kale, cabbage, green onion, cilantro, and mint. Sesame Miso Dressing (from Cashews.
We're getting close, but not quite the same. Still very good.

So, the afternoon labor commenced with breaks involving La Croix Grapefruit and Earth Balanced Bara  Brith slices. And a Tofutti Cutie. But the stumps were removed! 

And so it was back to Home Depot for more supplies.  The rest (and hopefully the complete version!) will be shown in the highlight reel. It has been so much work. I'm skipping all workout classes and replacing them with yoga this week, because of all the shoveling, lifting, squatting, sweating....

Dinner of Farmer's Market potato wedges and TJ's slightly burnt Masala Burger and ketchup.
That's all for today, friends! See you this weekend!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Week 4 of Summer

I enioyed this week, with solid workouts, catching up with friends, and plenty of down time (I finished Orange is the New Black).  Here are other highlights from the week:
From Etsy, new workout headbands!

On one of my social outings, Mango Avocado roll.

Farmer's Market haul.

I made Bara Brith, or "molted bread", which an old Welsh recipe I saw on The Great British Baking Show last year. Soak dried fruit overnight with brown sugar and warm black tea.
In the morning, add "mixed spice" (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice), Ener-G egg replacer, and self rising flour. Low and slow in the oven (325 degrees for 90 minutes).
My house smelled like Christmas. Verdict: good, I'll make it again during the holidays, but I'd use less dried fruit and maybe more variety (I only used raisins and dried cranberries). It's not keeping well in the fridge (it's rock hard), so I might not finish it. I now have four pounds of self rising flour, so there will be zucchini walnut bread soon...

See you on Wednesday!