Thursday, March 19, 2015

What's Growin' On?

I thought I'd come up with something funny to say or a story that's happened recently, but I apparently couldn't. So instead, we'll just get right to it. Plus I'll spare you another story and your time today.
Fair enough?

Ok, so last year was our first real garden. It was legit, the raised beds and all. I even had the ladder garden my brother made me years ago that sprouted a few things but unfortunately all the squirrels or maybe the rats ate up before we ever got to pick them. Pretty cool on the ladder garden, not as cool about the animals stealing our food. So that was a bummer. And then there were some things that just failed in the garden. Most likely it was because I had no idea what I was really doing. But this year, I'm coming in hot. I've been doing my research in the off season, planning out the garden area for us and around the chicken coop for our ladies. With the help of the resources I've provided below, I feel like I could be a farmer with all the knowledge I've tucked away in my brain. Soon enough the time will be here to start the planting! I'm giddy thinking about it. Weird.

This is what we've got up our sleeves for the upcoming season. We like to call it our "theme season"....each raised bed has it's theme and each theme has it's purpose for what suits our likings. I'd like to thank the Pinterest search bar for the assistance in finding all the new knowledge I now have and of course, the specifics of each raised bed planting. If this gives you any motivation to get your search on, your planting prep complete, and then the planting itself done...then I achieved my goal. So have it folks, be ready when the time comes!

Raised Bed 1: The Salsa Garden
Red Onions
White Onions
Red Peppers
Tomatoes or Tomatillos

Raised Bed 2: The Grilling Garden
Summer Squash
Cherry Tomatoes
Bell Pepper

Raised Bed 3: Simple Summer Garden
Low Growing Herbs (we've chosen mint, parsley, onion chives)
Tall Growing Herbs (we've chosen stevia, rosemary, & basil)
Peppers or Tomatoes

Raised Bed 4: The Not-So Themed, Random Garden
(because items we want to try growing weren't in the beds above, so they all go in this one)
Green Beans
Snap Peas

Long Raised Beds 5 & 6:
we plan on continuing the raspberries and blueberries in hopes the blueberries come in
this year! We've got a lemonade blueberry we're looking forward to!

Plant some flowers around your garden to bring in more color...little pots or jars work well.
Or throw in more veggies in fun containers of all sorts to get more out of the garden this year.

Even an old chair and window can bring some details to your garden area.
Endless options!

Details & Resources
My favorite tools & links can be found below. SO much info, so easy to read, and nearly dummy proof. Right up my alley. Keeps life simple, saves my time, & makes gardening that much easier! Obviously, I don't turn them away.

The Old Farmer's Almanac
Bonnie's Plants
Kitchen Garden Planner from Gardener's Supply Company
(drag and drop your ideas into a plan & it will tell you how many to plant per square foot and
the details for caring for each seed you sow...I'm partly obsessed!)

Soon enough I'll get around to blogging our plans for near and around the chicken coop to make
happy and healthy egg-laying ladies for all you chicken fans!
In the meantime, happy garden planning!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Your Tuesday Meal: The St. Patty's Day Paleo Menu

Breakfast. I love that word. I also love all the food that comes with it. Then again, I love lunch and dinner too because those also entail food. But nothing compares to a big yummy breakfast that fills you for what seems like days. Growing up my dad made legit breakfasts...not like just here and there. More like we had them all the time. If you wanted cheesy eggs, toast, waffles, etc. he was all over it. To this day, that guy will get up every morning and make his gluten free pancakes, eggs, bacon, coffee, and who knows...maybe even serve himself a bowl of gluten free cereal shortly after. We clearly didn't mess around with letting ourselves go hungry in the mornings. I think they say breakfast is the most important meal and we made sure to live up the "importance."

So what am I currently....still stuffed from 8:30 this morning. Yes, it's 3pm and I probably didn't need to have that little snack a bit ago because why would if I'm not hungry? I did it anyway though.. I was seriously so uncomfortable in the church pews this morning after our Sunday Stanley meal (usually it's dinner, but today we mixed it up). I felt like my belly wouldn't allow me to sit up straight, yet it wouldn't let me lean forward because the food baby had no place to go. Sometimes I don't know when to stop, so I pay the price and that's ok. I'll say I'll learn one of these days, but it's yet to happen. So I'll say it day I'll learn to not stuff myself....we'll see what happens.

Anyway, we bribed the family with 
1) food, 
2) coffee, and 
3) a fire...

they fell for it and all showed up this morning for a St. Patty's day themed breakfast. We only followed through with the first two because we ran out of time to make the fire before we all headed off for church. Good thing they love food and drinks as much as we do. Although I doubt they would've turned us down or so I like to think that. But if I could ever get to the point, I'd tell you what we ate and what you all need to make for either breakfast or dinner on Tuesday. So on that note, I must or else who knows what I'll come up with to tell you.

♣St. Patrick's Day Paleo Menu♣

Corned Beef Sweet Potato Hash
Irish Soda Bread
Green Smoothie
Fruit Cups
Cucumber Mint Water

The Details...

Corned Beef Sweet Potato Hash
serves 4 
(otherwise double the recipe)
1.5-2lbs corned beef (precooked, uncured, nitrate free at Trader Joe's!)
6 eggs
4 sweet potatoes or yams, mini cubes
1 monster onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
5 dashes of thyme
dash of salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil

Just like our Easy E Skillet, but with corned beef instead of ham and add onion. And just like the Easy E, it's easy. So heat your oil on a pan and add the sweet potatoes, jalapeno, and onions. Stir occasionally. Put the oven on broil. While those are cooking, microwave the corned beef as directed. Once the meat is done, shred it and put it in with your mostly cooked veggies. Add the spices and cook until potatoes are soft. Make little wells and crack your eggs into each well. Let them fry for 1 minute or less, poke each one once or twice with a fork, then add your entire pan to the oven. Cook until the eggs are cooked through or just barely runny (to your liking).

 And don't forget to grab yourself some of  TJ's sauerkraut and Dijon mustard...both of which were never a part of my diet until today. People change and I just made some adjustments to add this in my life.

I know nothing about irish soda bread to be honest. Never had it, even when I was in Ireland. But what I now know about it in this takes the gold. Don't waste your time with any gluten free  version...go straight paleo on this one!

Green Smoothies
(makes approx. 4 smoothies)
3 medium bananas, frozen and chopped
3 C fresh spinach
1 scoop of chocolate protein powder OR 2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 drop of peppermint extract (DO NOT overdo it, trust me)
1 C unsweetened almond milk (add more if it needs more liquid)
1-2 tbsp caco nibs or dark chocolate chips, optional
7-8 ice cubes
fun straws for good measure

Place all ingredients into your blender and give it a go. Add more liquid if need be, toss another banana or spinach in if you want to thicken it a bit, or add more chocolate if you want it extra chocolaty.

Mini Fruit Cups
(serves 4)
4 kiwis, peeled & each cut into 4 slices

No brains necessary here. Serve your sliced kiwis in a mini serving dish, place a blackberry in the center and if you have room add more. Otherwise serve some blackberries in a separate bowl.

Cucumber Mint Water
1 water pitcher
6-8 mint leaves
half an English cucumber, cut into slices

Again, no brains necessary but I highly suggest doing it the night before or the morning of because the flavor comes out after it's been sitting in the water for longer than a few minutes. Funny how that works, right? Put your water in your pitcher, add your ingredients, and boom you have flavored water. Stupid easy.

Friday, March 6, 2015

How We Make It

Can I just tell you how every time I go biking, something never seems to be right. I already hated biking alone and better yet, it's lame to go on a bike ride with someone else. Because I can't hear the person when they're biking in front or behind me. So really, there's no point in trying to have a conversation or for that matter, invite someone to go on a bike ride. Maybe if I was biking somewhere where there were no cars and only nature noises, but that has yet to happen. Let's just say I won't be inviting you on a bike ride anytime soon. And don't let me forget to mention...biking forever on this training schedule is just biking forever (imagine my voice and my eyes possibly rolling because of how stupid it is sometimes). When you realize you left when your husband did for work and you don't return home until you realize he's already halfway through his work day....that's forever in my mind. Doing it solo gives me way too much time to think and way too much time to realize I could've gotten like 5 other things accomplished instead of one bike ride. But I'm done complaining because soon enough I'll be back out on the bike again and you can all just think of me, but nothing else.

Needless to say, between all this training, Ty's basketball schedule, all the adoption pieces for the last two months, our regular work schedules, and everything else thrown in the mix it seems like our time to cook and prep meals dwindled. Obviously while I am biking or running, grocery shopping and dinner making is not happenin'. I just wish it was possible to multitask like that.

I'll be honest...there's been a few times we've hit the downtown streets of Vancouver for a good gluten free meal instead of sticking to our paleo guns. We aren't perfect and although we do a lot of paleo, there comes times we splurge too. It's ok. That's what makes these outings special for one, and two, there's no reason to restrict when there's food out there to be tried. But what we have been making to get by are these go-to meals and snacks...

Stupid Easy pancakes 
(mash 4-5 bananas, 3 eggs, splash of vanilla, two heaping scoops of almond butter, & sometimes we add blueberries; mix & add to a hot coconut oiled pan)

Big Ol' Scrambles
(hen house eggs, kale, mushrooms, & sausage)
Make as much as you wish. We never make more than two days worth, but you can do what you want.

Bacon, Of Course
(costco sells nitrate free bacon and totally worth it!)
Place foil on a large cookie sheet & place all your bacon strips side by side on the sheet.
Turn your oven on and set for 400 degrees. Toss in your cookie sheet and check every so often
on your bacon strips, pull them out once they are to your liking (we are crispy fans around here so we tend to cook them until crisped up!)

Berry Bowls
Buy all sorts of berries, cut them as needed, mix together in a bowl, and cover. Serve small servings with any of the above or take it to go if you're in a rush.

Tip: double all the recipes (except the scrambles), package half for the week and the other half to freeze. Place your bacon in an air tight container and put in the fridge. All of the above are super easy to grab, heat up, and go if you're on the run. Mix and match the item above as you so wish. Otherwise, sit and enjoy with a small bowl of fruit!

Sweet 'Tater Chips & Tuna
Make your tater chips or buy a bag of the tasty sea salted chips. Whip up a big batch of tuna,
place in an air tight container, and you will be ready to go on a whim for a take along snack.

Cashew Cream with Veggies & Plantains for Dipping
use the cashew cream link above for the basic recipe. We like to add garlic & onion powder,
dash of salt, dash of pepper, a splash of lemon juice, artichoke hearts, & sometimes a pinch of cayenne. Blend up and you're all set to go for the week!

Primal Plate
Salami, variety of olives, handful of nuts, slices of cheese, & a coconut water.
No cooking, baking, or prepping necessary.

Season to your liking...ground bison, turkey, or beef (2-4lbs will get you through several meals).
Sauteed brussels, ginger carrots, and a side of plantain chips. 
A few splashes of hot sauce and boom, you're done.

Easy Peasy Cashew Cream Chicken & Broccoli
Make the cashew cream above, season with some garlic salt, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
Saute 3-4 cubed up chicken breasts for a few minutes on each side. Add 1 head of broccoli (broken off from the stems into small florets). Saute until cooked through. Add the cashew cream.
Serve with some fruit and call it a night (use the leftovers for lunch).

my all time fav right now, especially with the ground lamb. My mouth is watering because I am about to eat some when I finish this blog post and my swim and run this morning (side note, sorry). It makes enough for three meals for us (dinner, lunch, dinner). Serve with some spaghetti squash and you've got a nice little combo to boot. Def add the pistachios as the recipe calls. Don't even hesitate. And if you're so up to it, double the recipe and you'll be set for days!

Feel free to add any fruit salad, green salad with a strawberry vinaigrette dressing, or saute some fresh kale with garlic to add as sides.

These "paleo friendly" bars. Because when you don't want to bake, boom there you have them!
(cinnamon raisin was a fav around here)

Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Click the link for the recipe. It can be found at the bottom of the blog post.

The Not-So-Paleo, Live a Little, Go Big, Because We All Deserve It Dessert
aka Ice Cream Renaissance in Vancouver, otherwise do it big at Salt & Straw in Portland!
(if you can't stray too far from your paleo side, they have coconut milk ice cream
options. The coffee chip is one of my favs right now!)

So there you have it. Our quick go-tos as of late. It's gotten us by during the busy times and as I said before, we've hit the streets of Vancouver lookin' for the next hot gluten free meal when we've left ourselves stranded for the next meal. Gluten free pizza from Garlic Jims gets a double thumbs up,
Mon Ami gluten free crepes and almond milk latte get five stars, Mint Tea on the weekends for brunch is out of this world, and our most enjoyed go to is Woody's. Who said Vancouver was short handed?

Happy Friday folks...enjoy this lovely weather that is about to happen!

♥The Stanleys

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fear Not: How One Incident Sparks Many Big Goals

Since I was in elementary school I have feared being held under the water for too long, people getting to close to me in the pool or river, staying under the water for too long, and generally speaking, drowning. Hence the water skiing...I've got my life jacket on, I'm on my own back behind the boat, and all I have to worry about are the large salmon or steelhead that want my toes or some other boat running over me, but even in that situation at least I wouldn't drown. Much better situation on my end, really.

The Fear
But seriously...It started when I was younger when I got caught under a blow up mattress that was in our little 5 foot pool in which my friends were sitting on top of. We use to think it was so cool to swim from one edge of the pool to another, all while being under the mattress. Well, it just so happened that when I tried to come up out of the water, the weight of the mattress and the bodies on top of it pushed me back under the water. I was trapped for what seemed like eternity, but was definitely less than that (obviously). That whole fear of being held under the water for too long, people grabbing me in the water, etc....ya, just don't do that and we will all have a great day.

That fear that I needed to overcome:
swimming with my head in the water without panicking.

The Goal
So after having back trouble, having to give up most Crossfit movements for the time being, and finding other ways to exercise I slowly got back into running. I told myself I would never do a marathon again. Been there done that, I had enough of all that running. I crossed off Hood to Coast last year, so that wasn't on my horizon. Climbing St. Helens, check. I managed to squeeze in a Crossfit competition before that part of my life came to a hault. What was I suppose to do next?

I've mentioned it before...I don't make New Year's resolutions. I LOVE monthly goals though. It's more rewarding to accomplish something every month plus you benefit from the small goals turning out to be long standing habits. So I decided it was time to get in the pool and swim. And not just play around in the pool, but learn to lap swim, the various strokes, and of all things....overcome this breath-holding to improve my freestyle swimming. Trust me, it sounds silly but there have been numerous times I've had to stop in the middle of the lane because I panicked! I come up gasping for air because, clearly, I had no idea how to manage my breathing while swimming. And then it brings me back to  memories from my early days, which results in me just doing the breast stroke with my head above water. I'm pretty sure the lifeguards thought I was nuts for the first month and a half because that is literally all I did! In fact, I'd put my hair in a big bun on the top of my head and it would rarely even get wet for the entire swim.

But the goal to swim, as I said above, wasn't just going to stop there. The big challenge would not just be overcoming my fear and improving my swimming abilities, but why not make it an extra challenge? How could I not when each year I set out to do a little something new, a little something different, and of course, nothing less than a big challenge. So I've been on this journey to train for a half ironman....absolutely idiotic, I know. I figured out a long time ago that I've always been the all or nothing type. Plus, if I hated the regular triathlon events then I'd never bother with anything more. And on top of all that, how else was I suppose to use up my free time while we wait for the adoption to take place? So here I am, doing something so retarded yet totally out of my comfort zone (ps-I hate biking for long periods of time on top of the swimming issue I've got). The catch to this all is that I haven't been able to sign up for an actual race because we don't know details on the adoption I will train for the unknown and pray that it will work out in the end!

Stats for a half ironman:
1.2 mile swim
56 mile bike
13.1 run

My other goals and the key to success....don't drown, don't fall off the bike, and don't walk!
It may take me 8 hours, but I'm in it for the long haul!

And not to mention...there's nothing better to all this than the views, the early and late training runs/rides, and all the roads I will have traveled on by the time this is all said and done.

The Training
Let's just say I give so much props to all those individuals who train all the time for things like this. My question to them is 'Why?' Seriously, I can't quite catch on to the time it takes to get to the pool to do all the swimming, to later in the afternoon biking for 2-3 hours, and on some days throw in some weight lifting/CF workout. All this training takes up most of a day! And people do this while working full time jobs?! Throw in something like kids or some other hobby or activity and I actually don't even understand how it's possible.

I've been fortunate to be able to do all these workouts on my days off, but there have been weeks where I don't workout 2 of the days they want me to or only fit in half of what I was suppose to do. Someone tell me their secret other than getting up way before work and staying up late because I don't want to hear that.

And this whole 'fear not' stems from the incident when I was younger. Between the fear I've had to keep my head under water for a length of time and my back pain, I think I was destined to end up in the pool. Someone was telling's time to learn, it's time to face those scary moments, it's time for you to challenge your body in another athletic arena, and it's time for you to "fear not." So that's what I'm doing: I'm swimming without fear, learning to bike without fear (or boredom), & running without fear (and dreaming of the day I don't have to go to the bathroom mid-run...but I'll keep wishing!).

Current Standings
I've been swimming for two months now. Majority of the two months were spent breast stroking with my head above water up until the last few weeks. I actually got myself a swim cap, goggles, and a new swimsuit (yes, I look quite official). And believe it or not, I met an 80+ year old woman who has been giving me tips along the way and who has helped me get the 'every other' breathing technique down! I'll be the first to admit, it doesn't feel pretty but I am definitely doing it! I've got a long ways to go if I plan on freestyle swimming majority of the race because I sure have to take more breaks in the pool when I freestyle versus breaststroking. If nothing else, I can at least say I have faced that fear and I'd even take it as far to say that I've overcome this fear!

And not to cool (and awkward) do I look? ;-)

What is your fear? How can you not only overcome it, but encourage yourself to challenge it?
Find a way. Fear not. Go for it.

the new fearless swimmer and improved breath holder