Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Sweats: Catching up

I know, I know, I've missed a few Sundays. This doesn't mean I haven't been out sweating, it just means I was too busy sweating to blog. LOL!
It has been pretty warm here, so swimming has been one of my favorite options. They have an adult-only lap swim at our pool while the Little Monkey is in lessons. So I've been taking the opportunity to swim for about half her lesson to get a little workout in, while still getting to watch her progress.
I've been using the early morning times to deadhead flowers and do some weeding for the yardworkout.
Eldest had a fundraising garage sale last weekend, and I pressure-washed a few of our no-longer-used big outdoor toys to sell. Who knew pressure-washing was such a good workout? Between that and moving & lifting stuff for the sale, my upper body was sore the next couple of days. I ironed out the kinks in my muscles with yoga, and found out that after a tiring yoga workout, swimming pairs, well, swimmingly with a yoga-sore body. Like magic!
I'm going to leave you with this article about why it's good to continue hot yoga in the summer, even when it's hot enough outside.
I was just having a conversation with some gals at the pool the other day about why I do it, and the benefits I've gained, to include handling summer-heat in an A/C free PNW. Then, I saw this article.

Have a great Sunday, now go sweat a little, or a lot.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Try-it Tuesday: Homemade Larabars *updated 8/14*

Yes, I know it isn't Tuesday, but I tried something new yesterday: Homemade Larabars.
I have been wanting to do this ever since I tried a Larabar and my sister sent me a recipe from her Cross-fit group. I found more recipes online and sucked it up and bought the ingredients at Costco.
Here is the link to the awesome homemade larabar recipes that I used.
Flavors chosen based on the ingredients I had: Cherry Pie, Gingerbread, and Dark Chocolate Brownie.
 I forgot to take pictures during the making of, so I apologize that you have to make-do with the after pics.
They turned out so good!! I'm partial to the Cherry Pie ones -which ironically was the recipe with the biggest substitution. I found a smokin' deal on the Craisins flavored with cherry juice and figured I try that rather than spending a small fortune on dried cherries. So good!! Probably adds a little extra sugar though.
I opted to make these more of a snack-size so I formed them using a 2T scoop which comes out to be approx 1/2 a regular bar size.
My picky eldest happened to be in the kitchen when I discovered a Gingerbread one that had missed getting into the bag -she gobbled it down and pleaded for another. Win for me!! Everyone had a Brownie one for dessert and the kids were begging for seconds. More win!
There are two things I LOVE about these: First, they are made with no added sugars, have lots of protein and fiber, and are in general a great snack option that the kids truly enjoy. Second, the great value -I'm a sucker for a bargain.
At my Costco you can get an 18 count box of Larabars for just under $16 which comes out to just under $0.88/bar. Good price, I'm not arguing that. I just get bored with the lack of flavor options. Enter the plethora of recipe options.
Here is what I purchased from my local Costco (unless otherwise noted):
Dates: about $8 **found a pitted variety for $5 in yesterday's trip to Costco, bought them instead*
Almonds: 3lbs for 15.69 (48 1/4C servings)
Pecans: 2lbs for 13.69 (32 1/4C servings)
Cherry flavored Craisins: 10oz bag for .99 (a deal from the back-rack at QFC) (7 1/4C servings)
*I also got a sack of cashews from Trader Joe's, but did not use them in this round of "baking", so did not count them in the calculations.
I used all of the dates (save for 1/4C): approx $8.00
8 servings of almonds: $2.62
4 servings of pecans: $1.71
4 servings Cherry Craisins: $0.57
I got the equivalent of 19.5 bars with those 3 recipes, so the total comes out to approx $0.66/bar. That's a 25% savings. :)
Granted, I did not include the 2T cocoa powder, 3T chocolate chips, 3/4t ginger, 3/4t cinnamon, and 1/4t cloves. These are all in my regular pantry stock, but I can't imagine they would add more than a couple of cents on per bar.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

As the Garden Grows

Well, as I've been trying to keep the school garden updated in this blog, I've neglected updating my own home garden, which is doing rather well. Bear with me, this post may get long-ish.

Marionberries: Sadly a week or so ago we said farewell with this final handful of super-ripe goodness:

We harvested well over 20lbs of fruit and my freezer runneth over of their goodness. Now I need to suck it up and start canning and baking. The weather has been unusual in that it has been continuously warm. We usually have some cool days/rain breaks. This summer we've had maybe two.
Strawberries: Still chugging away. They are in an upswing right now. Kiddos are happy. 
Blackberries: They're here -early!! I picked my first sampling last week (we don't usually get to do it until later in the month as we have a later-producing, thornless variety), and they were good. A little on the tart side, but very flavorful. Now it is time to start seriously picking. A lot of them are right in the center of the bush, which because of it's height, means I'll need a step-stool to snag these beauties:
Cucumbers: We put these into what had become a compost bed, then hubby added soil, turned it a bit, and BOOM, you get seriously crazy cucumber growth -not to mention the good-sized tomatillo volunteers in the back (right of the picture).
These plants are so densely packed it's kind of a challenge to find the cucumbers themselved. We're going to find some monsters in there, I know it!!
Tomatillos: These are all volunteers from our experimental (bumper) crop last year. Looks like we'll get enough to make a few batches of Salsa Verde again this year -YUM!! Here is the recipe I used from Ball Canning: Tomatillo Salsa, and I love to use it in this family favorite crock-pot recipe: Chile Verde
Corn: This is probably our 3rd or 4th go at corn. Our first couple tries were unsuccessful, but last year worked out well, hence, an attempted repeat this year. Hubby bought twice as many plant starts this year, and so far it's looking good. I just wish it would ripen already! I want to roast those ears up on the grill and butter 'em up!
Beans: We've got some green pole beans flanking either side of the corn. They got planted at least a month later than they should have been, so are taking their sweet time, but have held up beautifully in the heat, and have got some teeny little beans going. 

Watermelon: This was a random, fill in an empty patch, we have some leftover seeds from last year, planting. Hubby was not really inclined to have them planted as they were a total bust last year, and from all the times we've attempted them, we've gotten maybe 2 or 3 edible small melons. I am very hopeful this year:

Peppers: Aside from the berries, we consider these to be the biggest success this year. Hubby and the Eldest love peppers, and we've grown them for the past few years with varying degrees of success. Nothing like this though. We've got 2 Green Bells, 2 Yellow Bells, and 2 Hungarian Hot Wax. They are all amazing this year!! The size and quantity are at least doubled on our previous "best crop". We've already eaten up a few, and I plan to smoke/roast a bunch of the Hot Wax to use later in the year, and some will, of course, go into the salsa mentioned above.

Tomatoes: Ripen already would ya?? We have what feels like a zillion tomatoes, but nothing has ripened yet. Not even the Green Zebras. 8 plants this year that have gone berserk. Canned tomato sauce will be happening this year.

Cool-weather crops: Not pictured. Last Fall, rather late-Summer, I made another unsuccessful attempt at growing turnips. I love turnips and have had the worst luck growing them as a spring crop (if you have a secret/tip/etc. let me know), so I thought we'd try the Fall/Winter crop route. Planted broccoli, turnips, and I think kale. NOTHING! We got a couple of sprouts, and then NOTHING! Fast forward to end of June: Beds have been turned, left same bed unplanted. I see some "weeds" that don't look like the usual fare. We left them to see what would become of them...Ta-Da! Turnips! There were 4, but not even more have started growing. Go figure! A friend had given me some Pak Choi starts and we planted those nearby the turnips using their leaves for shade. This has worked out really well for the pak choi. Reason there is no picture: When the weather started getting really warm about 4 weeks ago, we draped a sheet around the puppy fencing to keep the plants from getting completely scorched. It has worked beautifully, but doesn't provide the best photo setting. It'll probably come down in a couple weeks, then I'll take a pic for ya.

Herbs: Here are my new herbs that I received from my Hubby and my dear co-worker between Mother's Day & my Birthday. Beautiful!!
From foreground->back: Tri-Color Sage, Purple Sage, Golden Sage, Pineapple Mint, Oregano, & African Blue Basil. Yoga Frog keeps them all peaceful and happy. :)
Last, a sample of yesterday's harvest (what didn't get eaten or passed around):
Oops, honorable mention to our zucchini, yellow squash, and onion plants who are among our early producers, and we're happy they're a part of our garden too!

Have a great day!!