Monday, April 30, 2012

Feeling pooey....

....will post something of interest for you tomorrow.

For today, I will leave you with a few images I'll catch you up on later.....



If anyone needs me, I'll be in bed....well, soon anyway. I hope.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spinach in my smoothie??? + More Adventures, day 1

My favorite mornings come one Friday of every month, when I open my door to head out to work and I'm greeted with the happiest box in the hallway!

It's my Farm Fresh To You delivery! Fresh, local, organic produce delivered right to my door! This box included so many delicious goodies! Strawberries, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, apples, oranges, a lemon, fresh peppermint (some of which is floating in my water as we speak!), celery, spring onions, and some new potatoes.


I'm so excited to get some recipes together to use this stuff in!

But I promised to talk to you about spinach smoothies, so here we go!

I've always been a little curious about this concept of putting stuff like spinach into a smoothie. How in the world would that taste good mixed with all the other good smoothie stuff? I turned my nose up at the thought of it.

But then I read this post by Anna at The Guiltless Life, and she claims you can't even taste the spinach! So I decided to give it a whirl (no pun intended. lol. I crack myself up.) in the name of eating more veggies. Here's my recipe.


Spinach Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie


I handful of spinach, washed and stems removed

1 frozen banana

1 tbsp...or more...peanut butter. I like creamy

approx 1 cup chocolate soy milk (you can add more or less for thickness)

1 scoop chocolate protein powder

1 pinch cocoa powder (for more chocolate flavor!...as if I needed it, right??)

1 pinch glutamine powder (optional. It's a healthy amino acid...for energy)

1 tsp or so flaxseed meal

A couple chunks of ice

Load it all in the blender, whir it around for a while until all the spinach leaves are pulverized, pour in a glass (or a Christmasy Starbucks cold cup!) and enjoy!

Now that I have breakfast taken care of, I can move on to bigger and better things (although it doesn't get much better, that smoothie was freaking delish!)

After reading my post from yesterday, Jim send me a text that says "Getting a new couch is a mini adventure." I couldn't argue with him. I believe change of any kind is an adventure, so I consented. After work I picked up the cash we've been holding onto from our wedding and drove down to meet Jim at Ikea. I know, I know. Ikea gets a bad rap, but my current couch has lasted me almost 10 years, so I'm not going to complain for $399. Just saying.

I'll post pictures of our finished living room when it's, er, finished. We have a small space and getting it all to fit in there is proving to be a challenge, although not impossible. We just have to be a little creative, and as of yet, our dining room is still full of most of the stuff that used to be in the living room, so I'll spare you the photos until its ready.

I will leave you with this, however:


Yes, it's a crappy cell phone photo, but that's all I could get from the driving position! That's Jim's new truck filled with our new furniture! Exciting, right?

I'm still waiting for ideas for mini adventures people! Help a girl out!

Oh, and have an amazing Friday!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I vow to have more adventures

Starting....NOW!

I've learned lately that I've lived a lot of my life in fear. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear that the tiny voice inside of me that insists I'm not good enough is actually right. It's left me more or less perpetually stuck in the zone I'm in: same job, some apartment complex, never going after the things I've wanted most, and with the nagging feeling of guilt and sadness that I'm 28 years old and I've barely lived.


Although people who know me would challenge that statement, I think. I mean I've done some traveling. I've been to Europe, to New Zealand, to all 50 United States. I've graduated college and I've gotten married. But when you lie those things alongside the things I didn't do (Publish a novel, move to London, get my master's degree in creative writing), they don't look so amazing.

Granted, you'll probably say that it's not too late to do any of those things. And it's not, I suppose. But that's not the point. The point is, those are the things I chose NOT to do in the past because I was too darn scared.

But I've decided that I need to change that. I'm making a vow to myself and to you, my readers, that I will have more adventures. I will not let fear get in my way any longer.

I started this new plan yesterday (actually the process began a few months ago, but fear had left me dragging my feet on finishing it)...when I walked into the City of Roseville and applied for a business license. As soon as that puppy arrives in the mail, Stephanie Sutherlin Photography will be a real, official business.


Jim and I are also in the process of contemplating buying a house. And you know what? I'm terrified. It's such a huge commitment and has such a huge price tag! There are a million things that could go wrong, a million places where we could fail. But you know what? We're doing it anyway.


And with these couple huge decisions, I'm finding myself taking more small risks, too. Even as small as trying new foods and finding the strength and courage to tell someone the truth, even when it may be hard for them to hear.


I have a list of Things to Do Before I Die on my blog, and I intend to begin checking them off. In fact, I checked one off last night: "Start my own business." And I plan to add to this list....little things. Tiny things even. I love checking things off lists! But that's not the point. The point is, I intend to make every day count for something, to have an adventure, even a mini one, every single day!


I'm excited. And happy. And PROUD of myself! It's an amazing feeling to realize your weaknesses and then be able to overcome them.


Have you ever overcome a huge obstacle that changed your life?


Help me think of some exciting mini adventures!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BBQ Pineapple Pizza

Anyone out there watch Cupcake Wars? Did you see the episode with Chloe Coscarelli winning the competition with vegan cupcakes?

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Well, she just came out with a cookbook full of all sorts of vegan deliciousness, and I decided to give her BBQ Pineapple Pizza recipe a whirl on Sunday, making a few alterations of my own, of course.

 

BBQ Pineapple Pizza


Adapted from recipe by Chloe Coscarelli

2 whole wheat pitas

2ish cups bbq sauce

7 oz slab of firm tofu

1/2 onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

pineapple chunks (I didn't really measure, I just kept putting it on top until it looked like it evenly covered the top)

cilantro

mozzarella cheese for sprinkling (this is optional. It removes the vegan label, but Jim sure enjoyed the addition)

 

Chef Chloe enlightened me to an amazing little tofu trick. If you wrap it in a paper towel, place it in a shallow dish and put something heavyish on top of it, the water will drain out and it will more effectively absorb the flavors around it. I would highly recommend doing this. I left it for about 10-15 minutes while I prepared other parts of the pizza.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil until they're soft. Set aside. Cut tofu into small squares. Coat tofu with 1/2 of the bbq sauce in a bowl. Transfer tofu to a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, turning pieces over a couple of times. Meanwhile, slather your pitas with the rest of the bbq sauce. Sprinkle with onion, pineapple and tofu (and cheese if you're using it). Turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Bake pizzas for about 10 minutes or until the pita gets a little crunchy.

Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with cilantro.


It was pretty dern delicious, if you ask me. And even though it was covered with tofu, Jim ate all of his too.

Sunday morning breakfast

I may have mentioned before that on Sunday mornings, I almost always make breakfast. Jim sleeps while I rustle around in the kitchen, throwing things together (unless somehow I have the foresight to PLAN....which rarely happens). This past Sunday, I had a vision...for Jim's breakfast. Since I'm not doing eggs, I needed another vision for my own, but more on that later. But he thoroughly enjoyed the little concoction I created for him.

Please excuse the crappy cell phone pictures. I had to snap this one before he dug in!



Baked Egg Biscuits


Makes approx 6 biscuits

For the biscuit

1 cup Bisquick

1/3 cup milk

1 egg

seasoning (I used Jim's stepdad's special mix....you can include salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary...really its up to you)

2 veggie sausage links, chopped (or, you know, real meat sausage links if you have them...I didn't, so Jim went veggie)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Throw all the ingredients in your handy-dandy mixer and mix until combined. Scoop dough into about 6 biscuits on a greased baking sheet. Bake for approx 7 minutes, or until edges just start to brown. Poke an indent into the biscuits and crack an egg into each. Continue baking for another 5 minutes or until eggs are just set. Season with salt and pepper and serve!

While Jim was eating his egg biscuits, I was eating the delicious vegan pancakes I whipped up for myself.



Vegan cranberry almond pancakes


1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp flaxseed meal

1/2 tbsp baking powder

1/2 cup almond milk (if your batter seems a little thick, feel free to add a splash or two more)

splash of almond extract

handful of dried cranberries (if you have patience, which I didn't, you can soak them in warm water beforehand so they're softer)

handful of slivered almonds

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Slowly stir in the wet ingredients. Fold in cranberries and almonds. Cook on a nonstick skillet with a little olive oil. This recipe made the two pancakes you see above. It's perfect for one hungry person (I left about 1/4 of one of those on my plate. They were filling!) or two not so hungry people with a few things (like the grapes and veggie sausage shown here) on the side.

What do you usually have for Sunday morning breakfast? Do you cook or do you go out or  just munch on whatever is around?

Monday, April 23, 2012

I have a confession to make....

...I hate exercise.

There. I said it. Phew, I feel such relief!

But now I suppose I must explain before someone starts ranting about the benefits of staying active.

My biggest Don't-judge-me-I-have-good-excuses reasons are as follows: I have always had bad ankles and any amount of running, walking, skipping, etc will leave them the size of golf balls. And I'm convinced that my lung capacity is about that of a 4 year old. I start to feel out of breath so easily and then I get a headache, a stomach ache and feel like I'm going to pass out. And that's just jogging, my friends.

I know that the most obvious answer is "Well, Steph. If you exercise more your body will get used to it and it'll be more happy with you." And I know, I know. I don't not exercise. Don't get me wrong. I get my butt moving as often as I can, especially knowing that I will probably justify my way out of going to the gym: Jim's home so I want to spend time with him. I have to cook dinner. The apartment needs cleaning. I must catch up on my correspondence.

And I do go to the gym...sometimes. And we do ride our bikes....sometimes. And take walks after dinner....sometimes. And I have Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred...which I haven't done in, well, months, to be honest.

But I try. I know I don't try hard enough, but I do. I am loving cruising Pinterest for inspiration. This is one of my current faves:



To me, it's far more "doable" than spending an hour at the gym doing cardio and weights and whatever else. And these are easy to spread out. Sometimes I'll do them in my office at work (when no one else is around, of course!). Sometimes I'll do them while I'm waiting for the washing machine to finish its cycle because if I leave and start something else, I know I'll completely forget about the laundry.

This morning I woke up, did some stretching, some crunches, some pushups, a few yoga poses. Mornings are SO hard for me, I can barely get myself to the bathroom right when I wake up...and all I have to do to get there is swing my feet off the bed and take two steps!

But I still feel guilty for not putting in a good amount of time sweating my ass off. And I'm starting to think maybe that's more me not giving myself a break than me not doing anything good for my body. I mean, at the end of the day, I can only do as much as I can do, right?

I'm still hoping that when I get this fatigue thing figured out, I'll be able to do more. The #1 reason I hate exercise is because I always feel so exhausted...at the end of the day...at the beginning of the day...and pretty much every moment in between. And exercise doesn't seem to give me energy like it should. I finish a workout and feel more sleepy than when I started!

Hopefully this week I'll be able to get in to see my mom's doctor and start to get some answers. Until then, I suppose I'll continue doing pushups and lunges in my office when no one is looking.

 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ode to H2O

They (whoever they are) say you are supposed to have eight glasses of water a day. And I'll agree with them. I feel better, overall, when I'm hydrated. But drinking water is kind of boring. I feel like I enjoy my water a lot better when it has become something else, such as tea. Or Coffee. Or, as in today's case: fruity water!


Along with a substantial amount of ice (which, by the time I'd taken the picture had almost all melted), I tossed into my water bottle this morning a few mint leaves and some sliced strawberries and cucumbers.


So delicious! And amazingly refreshing. I have a feeling this combo is going to be a front runner in this summer's hydration strategy.


What is your favorite way to stay hydrated? Do you ever add stuff to your water to make it more fun?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Adventures in Spaghetti Squash

I think the last time I had spaghetti squash was....well, I can't remember it, so it's been a long time!

But I keep hearing people talk about using it as a substitute for spaghetti, so I figured I'd give it a whirl.

I was pleasantly surprised by the results. The squash doesn't really have a lot of flavor of it's own, so it picked up the flavor of the sauce and the capers I added to the top quite nicely. I paired it with some roasted vegetables for a simple, yet delicious meal.


With a sufficiently full belly, the couch and American Idol (and some leftover Easter candy) are calling my name! Go Hollie!


Goodnight, Friends!

A Nosh Night

Sundays at our house are Nosh Nights, meaning we don't want to prepare a whole meal, but we need to eat something. Best case scenario, we go to the store and buy a few pre-made or easy to throw together items....worst case  we heat up, throw together and/or put in a bowl anything left in the fridge or freezer from the week.


Nosh from another night.


After going to the doctor and running errands all evening, last night was definitely a Nosh Night.


We had black bean taquitos from Trader Joes, a little bit of leftover frozen fried rice, some mini pizzas, and in the black tray are puff pastries with feta and caramelized onions....all of which was actually from Trader Joes now that I think about it.  You'll also notice the giant bowls of salad, the only thing that actually somewhat justifies all the excess prepackaged food! Oh, and Jim had some chips (you can kind of see the bag on the floor to the left) and salsa.


And yes, it was necessary to top it off with a glass of wine (a beer for Jim) and a healthy dose of Friends on TV. It was actually quite a relaxing evening. I enjoyed it thoroughly.


Although the evening wasn't all fun and relaxation. I went back to the specialist so he could read the results of my recent round of blood tests. Honestly I wish he would have just called me with the news. It was such a waste of my co-pay for me to go in there and sit down so he can tell me everything looks fine...oh and recommend a therapist to help control  the excess stress he assumes I have.


I guess it's on to Plan.....uh...C? D? I don't remember. But either way, my mom has a doctor that practices Eastern medicine, acupuncture, herbal remedies and such. When no one else could diagnose my mom's ailments, he figured it out and treated her successfully. So I figure I'll give it a whirl. He does a lot with allergies. Maybe I'm allergic to something I'm eating. There are a million different possibilities. I just have to find someone who can pinpoint the One.


Until then, I'm doing the best I can to survive on caffeine and sheer will power!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Searching for answers

I'm nervous.

Today I go back to the specialist to check up on my thyroid and vitamin D levels. I'm in search of answers to my constant fatigue problem, and I'm nervous that this doctor won't have any for me.

There have been too many times in my life where I have been told "Everything looks normal." It's all just in my head then, right? I mean I guess in a way it is. My head always feels like it's shrouded in a thin layer of fog. Everything feels just a little bit harder than I think it should.

But today I might get some answers. Maybe. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping. And if this doctor doesn't have any, I suppose I go back to the drawing board.

Cross your fingers for me. I'll keep ya posted. :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fun with the Slow Cooker

I'm a slow cooker newbie. I'll admit it. For most of my adult life, I've avoided them. As a vegetarian, and having heard all about beef stew and pulled pork and all the wonderful slow cooked meats you could prepare in them, I just never developed an interest.

When it came time to register for wedding gifts, my husband insisted we add one to our list. "We'll use the heck out of it!" he'd promised. And, because lesson number one in marriage is compromise, I scanned the box of a 3.5 qt Cuisinart and moved on.

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Well, since our wedding (yes, we received the slow cooker), I've made far more use of it than I ever expected I would.

In November, I posted about my crock-pot applesauce,which turned out amazingly delicious. And it was so easy! I did make Jim some beef stew and he cooked up some sort of pork soup thing.

And last night, I branched out. People always rave about how easy slow cooking is. "Just throw the stuff in there, put it on low and leave it all day." Sounds easy enough. But I have an acute fear of wasting food (I believe it's stemmed from my father guilt tripping me with "There are starving children in Ethiopia who would love those lima beans" when I was a kid), and I am always aware of the possibility that I could ruin a whole 3.5 quarts of food.

But I took a leap of faith, and threw a bag of lentils and a carton of veggie broth in the pot and set it to "low." Six hours later, we had the most delicious lentil soup ever. And I think (I hope) I'm over my fear of the slow cooker.

 

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup


1 bag lentils (their color is your choice. I think mine were green?)

1 carton veggie broth (approx 4 cups)

1 cup water

2 tbsp miso paste (again, I'm not sure the difference in colors. mine was yellow, maybe?)

4 carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks

1 small head of celery, chopped

1 largish potato, peeled and chopped

1/2 large onion, chopped

salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste (usually I would have used fresh, chopped garlic, but I was going for easy here)

Throw your bag of lentils, miso paste, water and carton of veggie broth in the pot and set to low. If you must set a timer, shoot for 6 hours, I suppose. I've heard you can throw it all in at one time, but I also have a slightly less poignant fear of overcooked vegetables, so if you aren't going to be home, I'd say throw everything in the pot and let 'er hum. If you are going to be around, I say throw the veggies in around hour 3. My veggies still had a little bit of crunch to them (not raw crunch, just right crunch) but they were plenty cooked when put in at hour 3.

Serve with a small salad and a hunk of fresh-baked bread (or just regular old sprouted wheat toast if that's all you have...like me). I'm having the leftovers for lunch today, and I'm uuber excited about it!
Lame me didn't take a photo last night, so here's a photo of the last batch of lentil soup I madeLame me didn't take a photo last night, so here's a photo of the last batch of lentil soup I made

Although I'm not about to go all crazy, I believe I'm making strides toward overcoming my fear of the slow cooker, especially when the soup tastes this good!

I hope everyone is having a wildly fabulous Monday!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

House hunting and having a hard time

Let me preface with good news: we're looking for a house to buy!

Now the not so great news: I haven't posted in over a week.

Partly it's because I have no photos. What's a blog post without photos? And partly its because I have no energy. I'm knee deep in tests and theories, and at this point crossing my fingers for a vitamin D deficiency, but nothing is concrete yet. I still have no answers as to why I'm so tired all the time.

It's really starting to get in the way of my life. I don't feel like cooking. But I don't want to eat unhealthy restaurant food, nor do I want to spend the extra cash to eat out every night. I get home every night and all I can do is crash. I haven't even been to the gym in weeks.

In the meantime, we're looking for a house...to buy. Which, of course, is scary as heck. Our lease at the apartment is up in July, and we need more space. For what we could rent a house for, we could buy a dern nice one, so we are readjusting our options.

But it's a pretty dismal market out there, and of course, our realtor says we are looking in possibly one of the most competitive markets in all of California. Great, right?

Which, of course, means that the house we found, the one that's perfect: exact location, great size, good lot size, etc, etc...is in the process of being sold. Pooey.

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Isn't that a beautimous kitchen? And it's totally in our price range. Sad face.

So we move on. And there are some more houses we like. Even a few that are still technically on the market. Real estate is so crazy. Like, if this house has an offer accepted and it is pretty much sold, why do you need to leave it up and rub it in my face that I can't have it? Rude.

I told Jim we should sign up to go on House Hunters, the television show on HGTV where we see the buyers' top three choices and watch them choose one. It would be fun. I bet the waiting list is forever, though. At any rate, that's not really our style. We just want a place to live...and soon.

My problem is that I have no patience. I want to find the perfect house right now for the perfect price and just buy it. Maybe this will be a good lesson for me.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on all fronts. I have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday to read more blood test results. And we go for our preapproval for the home loan this evening. Also this week, I'm attending a wedding and a bridal shower (for two different people). Lets just hope I can stay standing!

Have a great week!

 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ten things to be happy about 04/03

Happy Tuesday, Friends!

It's a lovely morning here in Northern California, and like most lovely mornings, I'm stuck in a small office with nothing but a sliver of natural light and the sound of air hoses and large machinery to illuminate my day.  But that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to be happy about!

1. I get to leave work early today! And that's going to segue into....

2. I am going to see the endocrinologist today. Hopefully they can give me some insight on my fatigue issues. Hopefully today I will have some answers as to why I'm always so tired.

3. Jim got a job! He started yesterday, and I'm really excited for him. He seems like he's going to enjoy it. I'll miss having the house cleaned for me, but I guess it's a good trade off.

4. Jim and I had a fun-filled weekend with family and friends!

This little one turned 6, and had an adorable cowgirl party on Saturday.


Sunday we went to the vineyard and helped teach a new baker how to serve wedding cake.


5. I'm going to have a photography business! I submitted about half of my paperwork last week, so now I just wait to get it back. And I have my first wedding booked in May, so everything is really coming together. I'm super excited!


6. I got to get back into my wedding dress! Jim and I posed for a promotional photo shoot for the vineyard. Some of them turned out really great!



7.I get to make my nephew's first birthday cake!His party is going to be fishy themed, so I'm going to make a goldfish bowl cake, I think. I'm not the greatest at decorating, but I can make it work. And I'm making cupcakes for everyone else.  With fishies too.


8. My little brother is coming home for Easter!He is going to school in Reno, which is not terrible far from home, just far enough that I don't get to see him too often.


He's the one on the left. The one on the right is my other bro, who I'm fortunate enough to see every day at work.


9. Looking at the photo of Jim and I from the other day, I'm realizing I may just get some good wedding photos after all. I'm plagued every time I think about it by the knowledge that I chose the wrong wedding photographer. Of everything about my wedding, I regret that choice most. In fact, it's about the only thing I regret. She had an amazing portfolio, but somehow we just didn't get the quality she's capable of.


10. That being said, I know I am a good photographer. I set up and posed the shot of Jim and I from above. I did everything but hit the shutter button. I CAN take good photos, and I will be a great photographer. I care enough about people not to leave before the bouquet is thrown and to recognize that direct sunlight is harsh and will cast obnoxious shadows (see my face in the photo with my brothers). I can only hope that in 20 years, I will still care as much and won't become jaded enough to let a bride pay for shoddy photos.


I hope everyone is having a great Tuesday and an amazing week. Oh, and if you need your wedding photographed, shoot me an email!