Breckenridge and Hiking Cheeseman Canyon (Colorado Days 2 & 3)

We’ve been home from Colorado for about 32 hours now, and I am thoroughly jet-lagged and exhausted–the good kind of exhausted. The kind of exhausted you feel when you pack a lot of awesome things into a few days. 🙂  Here’s what the next few days of our trip entailed:

Day 2: Breckenridge
On Friday we drove deep into the mountains to the adorable little skiing town, Breckenridge.  These were some of the views as we drove:

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It didn’t even look real!  So beautiful.  Once we arrived in Breck, we spent hours walking up and down Main Street exploring the shops…and being the big kids that we are. 😀 

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The hat shop was a particularly good time 😀

Day 3: Hiking Cheeseman Canyon

On Friday night, Andrew’s friend and best man Kevin arrived.  Kevin’s sister Julie lives with Jenny, so it worked out well that the five of us could pile into one apartment for a weekend of best friend/family fun. 🙂  Saturday we all went hiking–Andrew later declared it, “Probably my favorite hike ever!”  It was, in fact, a pretty beautiful hike, with the trail following a canyon river. 

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So nice 🙂  One trail ran about 50 feet (?) above the river and had mini trails that led to a lower trail immediately beside the river.  We switched between the two throughout the hike and determined that we covered about six miles total.  While we didn’t gain much elevation overall, the trail was very up-and-down–I could feel it in the calves! 

That night we met up with our friend Ashley for dinner–Ashley is a good friend from Virginia who moved out to Denver about five years ago, and we love that we are able to see her somewhat regularly now!  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos. 

I always say (and have written numerous times on this blog) that if I lived within 15 minutes of a mountain I’d hike every day.  After hiking Thursday, walking around Breckenridge Friday (we covered some serious miles), and hiking Saturday, I began to question that declaration.  My legs were achy.  (I don’t know why I made that past tense;  we didn’t slow down Sunday or Monday, and my legs are still achy. :)) 

I will save our last day and a half for another post, but they include Andrew’s birthday and (wait for it…) more hiking. 🙂

Have a great Wednesday!

Hiking in Golden (Colorado Day 1)

Our first day in Colorado was excellent.  After an early morning (4:43 AM) and a long flight (3.5 hours), we finally arrived in Denver; with the two-hour time change, we still had the entire day ahead of us!  Jenny picked us up from the airport, and after dropping our luggage off at her cute apartment, we drove to the town of Golden (home of the Coors brewery, for anyone who’s interested).

We ate lunch at this fantastic sub shop called Snarf’s, then walked to a nearby trail for some hiking.

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Tree pose… on a tree 😀

Unfortunately, we reached a point where the trail was closed–we ignored the initial sign indicating dangerous conditions ahead, but within 100 feet of our disobedience there was an actual gate closing the trail.  Probably for the best. 🙂

One of the great things about this area is that there are plenty other trails to hike!  We walked back through the small town of Golden and began hiking the South Table.

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As you can see, it was gorgeous!  The last photo was our favorite in a series of jump shots–it looks like we are levitating 😀  The large rock in the first photo of this series is South Table where we hiked to and where the rest of the photos were taken.

We finished the day with some delicious pho, then went to bed shortly after.  By Denver time we’d been up since 2:43 AM, traveled across the country, hiked a bunch, gained an extra two hours in our day–so 9:45 PM (11:45 PM Richmond time) felt like just about the latest I could possibly keep my eyes open.

This morning Jenny is taking us to Breckenridge (or simply “Breck” as the locals call it;  we’ve learned that they love abbreves out here ;-)).

Have a great Friday!

Thursday Thoughts: Denver-Bound

Some random thoughts from the week on this cold Thursday morning:

1. It’s currently 4:53 AM.  Andrew and I are flying to Denver early today to visit his sister, Jenny!  You can follow our adventures on Instagram: #storeytime.  😀

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2. Last weekend the cold weather finally killed our pepper plants–they held out far longer than we expected.  We harvested the peppers that were still growing, and this was our haul:

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Isn’t that crazy??  We’ve already eaten some, given away a few, and stored the rest in the freezer for the winter.  Heck.  Yes.

3. Speaking of things that are at least a little bit granola, I had the strange opportunity to wear this to work one day this week:

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The pants were my mom’s in the 60’s/70’s–aren’t they awesome?  I sent my mom this picture and said, “What do you think: was I born in the wrong decade?”  and she said, “Oh, I am sure of it!”  😀

4. We made this meal this week:  jerk pork with mango salsa, garlic-sauteed green beans, and the most delicious oven-roasted potatoes.  Yum, yum, yum.

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5. This sandwich-hater has been attempting sandwiches this week, and I think I found one I can handle:

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 Dark chocolate peanut butter and banana on Ezekiel whole grain bread.  I’m still not sure about the whole bread thing, but overall this sandwich is pretty tasty. 🙂

Well, those are my random 5 AMish thoughts for today.  Have a great Thursday!

Fellow sandwich haters: are there any sandwiches that you actually do like?
Have you ever seen so many beautiful peppers in your life? 😉

Chicken, Kale, and Black Bean Soup {Stewsday}

Around midday Tuesday, snow flurries landed on my face.

Shortly after that, my Facebook news feed exploded with posts declaring that it was, in fact, snowing in Richmond in November.  We Richmonders poke fun at ourselves for our level of freaking out at the first sight–or suggestion–of snow.  For a single inch of snow, school is often cancelled, the grocery store shelves go bare, people forget how to drive faster than 10 mph… It’s hilarious. 😀  Nothing stuck to the ground this time, but it was still fun. 🙂

With strong gusts of wind and near freezing temperatures (okay, they weren’t that close to freezing… but low 40’s feels cold!), it was a gross day to be outside, but a perfect day for stew.  Conveniently, it also happened to be Stewsday. 😀

Here’s what I threw together last night:

Chicken, Kale, and Black Bean Soup

1 lb chicken (cooked & shredded)
Diced tomatoes
Kale (a few large leaves torn into small pieces)
1 can black beans
2 c cooked brown rice
1 qt chicken broth
1 1/2 c water
1 1/2 tsp each: cumin, garlic powder, chili powder
salt, pepper, red pepper to taste

I first made a version of this soup after Thanksgiving last year with leftover turkey–if you have leftover poulty you’d like to use, this is a great way to use it.  I did not last night, so I cooked the chicken in a skillet with some olive oil first, then started the rice (1 c dry) in the rice cooker.  We have lots of bags of veggies in our freezer from our garden this summer, so I used a quart-sized bag of sliced tomatoes.  I’m not sure what the canned equivalent would be–one 15 oz can, perhaps?  Either way, they break down and blend in with the broth, so you aren’t eating huge chunks of tomatoes.

Put everything except the black beans and rice in a large pot (I used the same one in which I cooked the chicken), bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer.  Add the black beans and rice (when it’s cooked), and let simmer as long as desired–the longer it all sits together, the better it will taste!

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So hearty.  So nutrition-packed.  So delicious.  Perfect for a blustery winter fall day.

 

-Did you celebrate Stewsday this week?
-Kale: do you eat it, and if so, what is your preferred method of consumption?  (I don’t love the stuff raw, so putting it in soup works well for me!)

Trail Running + Hiking

For a girl who loves the great outdoors, this has been an excellent week.

I recently started trail-running with a friend Andrew and I met through Ultimate Frisbee, and we met this week for a river run.

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It’s tough to have a bad workout when that’s your scenery!

On Tuesday (my day off), my friend Kate and I drove to the mountains for a hike.  We started with the hike I did a few weeks ago–Humpback Rocks–but when we reached the Appalachian Trail, we walked south rather than north and discovered a few new-to-us overlooks.

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Gorgeous, right?  We hiked about six miles total, including some serious uphills!  My glutes were a tad sore the next day.

There’s just something about the mountains–and being outside in general–that is good for my soul. No matter how grueling the workout, when there’s beautiful scenery involved, I always walk back inside feeling rejuvenated.

Have a great Sunday!

Did you get outside at all this week or workout in any beautiful places?

Spousal Miscommunication and The Resilient Fish Tacos

Have you ever had a meal in which the individual components tasted just okay, but the combined result tasted rather fantastic?  Food synergy.  We had such a meal last night–one that was almost disastrous thanks to a spousal miscommunication (spoiler alert: it was Andrew’s fault).

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Fish tacos.  Simple.  Small pieces of fish, seasoned and baked + coleslaw + mango salsa.  I put Andrew in charge of the fish because he’s good at seasoning food, and I hate working with raw meat; I started the mango salsa, which we typically make with mango, red bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and a little salt–just something to sweeten the tacos.  We have a lot of tomatillos from our garden in bags in the freezer, which I thought would make a great addition to this salsa.

I mixed all the ingredients, ate a spoonful, and…

“This just does not taste great.”

“Really?

(Andrew takes a bite of the salsa and makes a funny face.)

“Yeah, that’s not good.”

“Right?  I thought the tomatillos would taste so good in this.”

“That’s just not how tomatillos usually taste… Oh.  Uh oh.”

“Uh oh, what?”

“Umm, I think you may have used unripe tomatoes.”

“Why are there unripe tomatoes in our freezer?”

“I didn’t want to waste them!”

That’s right–when we said goodbye to our tomato plants in September, Andrew couldn’t bear the thought of wasting the green tomatoes still on the branches, so he picked and froze them.  Why?  How would we use them?  Friends, I have no idea.  Unripe tomatoes and perfectly ripe tomatillos look dangerously similar, but taste very, very different.

Because couldn’t bear the thought of wasting the mangos and red peppers we’d already put in the salsa (and because I have just a touch of OCD…) I picked out all of the little green tomato pieces, rinsed what was left in a colander, and added actual tomatillos.

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<Sigh.>

The fish was a little bit dry, the salsa tasted okay, but I couldn’t get the memory of the original batch out of my head, and the coleslaw tasted like mayonnaise.  But together?  Together they tasted awesome.  Beautiful food synergy, in which the end result was greater than the sum of the individual components.  They even managed to survive a serious spousal miscommunication.

You go, fish tacos.

-Please tell me any hilarious miscommunications you’ve had with your significant other.
-Now that I know we have unripe tomatoes in my freezer, does anyone know how we can use them (if at all)?

Holiday Season Wellness Goals

Confession:  I’ve been hitting the leftover Halloween candy pretty hard this week.

As we move into the holiday season, where the sweets become even more abundant and most of the vegetables are cooked in cream-of-something soup, I’ve decided to set a few goals to stay focused, healthy, and feeling well.  Now, I’m a firm believer that wellness is the sum of the good stuff we do for ourselves rather than the absence of the bad stuff.  Along the same lines, I also believe in not depriving yourself if you really want something!  The following popped up on my Facebook news feed a couple nights ago, and I laughed and felt disgusted at the same time:

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Really, Health.com?  That’s the saddest little dessert I’ve ever seen.  That’s a garnish for a dessert, in fact.  There’s no way, if someone were craving pineapple upside-down cake, that that would satisfy the craving.  I commented, “#notdessert”.  😀

But I digress.

 Therefore, my wellness goals for the holiday season are cumulative and non deprivation-based.  If you count yesterday (when I intended to write this post) and Christmas day, there are 50 days until Christmas!  

Goals

That means that I am aiming for an average of 6 servings of produce, 30 minutes of exercise, and just one dessert daily (my dessert goal is to not exceed 5o servings.)  The beauty of the cumulative goals is that they allow flexibility:  Run for an hour one day?  Take a rest day.  Enjoy a few desserts on Thanksgiving?  Forego a sweet somewhere else in the week.  A few days of poor eating here and there won’t wreck a person; these goals will help me make sure a few days don’t turn into the whole holiday season. 🙂

After day one, these are my stats:
-Fruits & Veggies: 6
-Exercise: 1 hour
-Desserts: 1

Be good to yourselves, friends!  And for the love of all things delicious, please don’t ever eat a pineapple garnish for dessert.

Do you have any wellness goals for the holiday season?
What would you add to my three categories?