Mountain Biking at Dutch Gap

Well, it seems the warm weather we had Saturday was just another spring teaser, as it is very likely to snow again tomorrow.  I feel certain that even the greatest snow lovers in Virginia are over it by now.  <Sigh.>

Andrew and I enjoyed the nice weather while we could; on Saturday we packed up our bikes and drove to the Dutch Gap Conservation Area, a park not too far from home.

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The park has a 4.5 mile trail that runs around a pond, with lots of spur trails that we rode down as well.  We didn’t ride super fast or super far, but it was a very enjoyable afternoon!  We spent about two hours exploring the area and enjoying the outdoors.

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At one point we took some photos with the self-timer on my camera…

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In case you were wondering, jumping photos are incredibly difficult to capture with a self-timer. 🙂

We did have a pretty good laugh at my expense at the beginning of our trek:  Andrew’s sister, Jenny, gave us the water bottles seen in the bike photo above for Christmas.  My previous water bottle was a Camelbak.  As we were getting set up…

Me: I can’t quite figure out this water bottle.

Andrew: What do you mean?

Me: I don’t know how hard to bite the straw part.  Sometimes hardly any water comes out, and sometimes it flows freely, but I can’t figure out the right way to do it.

Andrew: You don’t have to bite it at all.  It’s just a straw.

Oops. 😀  We laughed.

The rest of our weekend was filled with doing some odds and ends around the house, watching Robin Hood: Men in Tights on Netflix (I loved this movie as a kid, and it was exponentially funnier as an adult, :-D) and watching basketball (my March Madness bracket is pretty much done, by the way).  Speaking of basketball–and backtracking because I’ve been very undisciplined about blogging lately–the basketball team that Andrew and my brother, Ross, play for won their championship game on Thursday!

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So proud of these guys 😀

The medal is now hanging from our mantle, of course.

Have a great Monday, everyone!

-What was the highlight of your weekend?
Did you fill out a bracket for the NCAA tournament? Are more than two of your teams still alive?

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Snowmageddon Chicken Stew and Other Snow Adventures

We have another snow day here in Richmond!  In anticipation of the snow, which started yesterday around 4 PM, I felt compelled to cook a lot of food.  (If that sounds familiar, yes, I did the same thing a few weeks ago.  It must be a primal survival instinct.)

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For dinner–and what will be dinner for at least two more days–I made a big pot of Snowmageddon Chicken & Rice Stew.  What makes it Snowmageddon stew rather than regular chicken stew?  The chicken is only from drumsticks because when I went to the grocery store in all the storm preparation craziness yesterday, there was no chicken remaining except drumsticks.  I am not exaggerating.  The poultry case was empty except for a few packages of chicken legs.  Chicken legs it is. 🙂

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Snowmageddon Chicken & Rice Stew
10 drumsticks (~3 lb)
8 whole carrots
4 large celery sticks
8 oz green beans
8 oz mushrooms
5 large kale leaves
2 cloves garlic
1.5 c brown rice
2 qts chicken broth
Salt, pepper, thyme, smoked paprika, rosemary, onion powder
Olive oil

1.  Chop all veggies into bite-sized pieces.  2. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and brown; add garlic and saute for about a minute.  3.  Add all remaining ingredients, including whole, raw chicken legs.  Stir.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer.  4. Check chicken in about 15 minutes.  When it’s cooked through, take all drumsticks out of pot.  Remove chicken from each leg (yes, this is very tedious), discarding the bones and putting meat back in the pot.  5.  Continue to let simmer, partially covered, until rice is cooked through (or longer).

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Best if eaten while sitting under blankets on the couch 🙂

The legs definitely give the stew more flavor than we would have gotten using breasts, so that’s a plus!

While the stew was simmering, Andrew and I tag-teamed a batch of banana muffins.  We used a recipe from a gluten-free, dairy-free cookbook we have, and they turned out pretty great:

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We added a cinnamon-brown sugar crumble on top…not the prettiest, but they taste wonderful!

After dinner and dessert, we suited-up and played in the still-falling snow.  We took our sleds and found the best sledding hills in the neighborhood, threw a few snowballs, and give our inner-children free reign for an hour or so. 😀

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Eating snow + Snyoga

We warmed up and capped the night with two mugs of green chai tea:

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Andrew and I are both home from work today and have one snow adventure planned so far: making an igloo.  🙂  Have a great snow day, everyone!  Stay safe and warm!

-Do you have a snow day today?
-When was the last time you went sledding?
Do you cook way more food than you actually need when it’s about to snow?

Weekend Highlights: The Daily Kitchen and Bar

When given the choice, Andrew and I generally choose to eat dinner on the early side–6:30ish.  I think Andrew would eat the moment he walked in the door at 5:30 if he could. 😉  Friday night he had a basketball game (he plays in a church league) at 6:30, so we planned on having a late date night.

After the game–they won, and Andrew was on fire!–we headed to a restaurant in the city called The Daily Kitchen & Bar.  We’d been once before for lunch and determined that it was definitely worth a second trip for dinner.  As it turns out, we were right; after Friday this restaurant has moved to the top of our favorites list, but I’ll get into that more in a moment.  When we arrived at 8:30, we were told the wait would be an hour–crazy-late for us old folks–so we gave them my phone number (they text when the table is ready so you can explore the area) and walked up the street to our favorite Thai restaurant… for appetizers 😀

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Wonton soup for me (with all the scallions given to Andrew), and tofu vegetable soup for A.

Just as we were finishing our soup, I received the text that our table was ready, so we headed back down the street to The Daily.  According to their website (and printed on the first page of the menus) :

“We strive to serve foods that are not only delicious but also health conscious, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible.  We use organic, all natural, local, and sustainable ingredients as much as possible while still keeping our prices fair.  In addition, we also offer an extensive selection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free items.”

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In other words, this is the restaurant of our dreams.

We started with drinks:

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Pomegranate mojito for me, cucumber martini for Andrew.  They were both delicious;  mine tasted like straight juice, which is exactly how I want a mixed drink to taste. 🙂  Just as we were about to order our entrees, Andrew spotted something great on the appetizer menu: gluten-free calamari.  We love calamari, but it’s most always breaded with wheat flour, so Andrew can never have it.  Despite the fact that we’d already had soup as an appetizer, we knew we needed to try this.

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Oh. My. Gosh.  The calamari was amazing.  It came with two sauces: a chipotle lemon vinaigrette and a garlic toum.  Both were fantastic.

For the entrees, Andrew ordered the blackened tuna sandwich (GF bread) with sweet potato fries and crispy Brussels sprouts.  I had the organic roasted chicken with whipped potatoes, asparagus, and a lemon herb pan sauce.

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Everything was swoon-worthy.  I don’t know how else to put it.  Every time we took a bite of something we felt so much joy that we’d found such a great restaurant!  Let’s talk about the Brussels sprouts for a minute.  The next time we go, I will be very tempted to order a few bowls of them and nothing else.  The waiter told us that the sauce is a lemon-something gastrique, and somehow, the sprouts were perfectly soft on the inside yet delightfully crispy on the outside.  How do they do that?  And somehow, they tasted like egg rolls–and I mean that in a very good way!  Who wouldn’t want to eat vegetables that taste like egg rolls?  Oh, man.

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Andrew, give me your best “Most Interesting Man in the World.”

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Monster-hand spoofs 😉

As you might imagine, after two appetizers and drinks neither of us had much room left in our stomachs, so we brought home a lot of leftovers, which were just as tasty the next day.  If you are in Richmond and looking for a restaurant with a. amazing food b. vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free options c.organic, socially responsible food, or d. all of the above, you must try The Daily Kitchen & Bar in Carytown!

The rest of the weekend was a nice mix of fun and relaxation.  Saturday morning we went to the gym together–after Friday’s dog bite incident I just took a relatively slow walk on the treadmill.  The bite mark is still pretty gross, but it doesn’t hurt as much to move today.  Progress 😉

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Saturday night we had a hilarious game night with some friends.  Have you ever played The Game of Things?  It’s my favorite…and not just because it’s the only game I can almost always win.  🙂  We had church and youth group on Sunday, with a lot of lounging in between, plus a phone call to my dad for his birthday!  All in all it was a great weekend.

I’m off now to attempt a run!  I hope to encounter exactly zero animals, wild or otherwise.

-What did you do this weekend?
-Are you an early or late dinner-eater?

-Have you ever played Things?

2014 Goals + New Year’s Day Cuisine

Happy 2014 (a few days late)!

I know some people are vehemently against New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t totally understand that.  The first of January provides a great, if only symbolic chance to start fresh and dream about what life might look like in the coming year.  It’s as good a time as any to make a change, so why not?  Why wait for the sake of rebelling against the tradition?

At the beginning of January I like to set goals rather than make standard resolutions–they might be functionally the same, but goals seem more attainable and specific than resolutions, which I tend to think of as more vague concepts (“Put 20% of my paycheck into savings” rather than, “Save money.”)

Here are some of my goals for 2014:

1. Run 750 miles. I’ve never tallied my mileage over the course of an entire year, but at roughly two miles per day, this seems attainable.

2. Run a marathon.  This was on my list of 2013 goals, and it just didn’t happen (I did, however, run three races last year, which was another goal :)).  If I succeed at this, running 750 miles during the year should be no problem!

3. Perform one random act of kindness every week.  Preferably anonymously.

4. Write three highlights of every day.  I purchased a small planner that has room to write something for each day, and I plan to journal at least three high points daily.  I am already really looking forward to having the completed journal at the end of the year and being able to reflect on all the good times.

5. Cook dinner for other people once a month.  I love cooking.  I love sharing food with others.  Friends–come over for dinner, and let us love you by cooking you (hopefully) delicious food.  😀

So far I am off to a good start:  On New Year’s Day Andrew and I ran 3.5 miles (this was a big deal as Andrew does not enjoy running; half a mile in he said, “Are you ready for me to start complaining yet?” ;-)), I’ve written in my journal/planner each day, and Wednesday night our friends Amanda and Diron came over for a New Year’s Day dinner!  We made a rosemary-garlic pork tenderloin, baked apples, black-eyed peas, and collard greens & kale.  (I don’t think of myself as a typical Southern girl, but my family definitely has some Southern traditions when it comes to food.  We also eat oyster stew on Christmas morning.  Anyone else? :))  I forgot to take any pictures on NYD, but thankfully we had most of the leftovers for dinner last night, minus the pork which Andrew finished for lunch.  Here’s the modified leftovers meal:

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Collard greens & kale, baked apples with butter and brown sugar, black-eyed peas with tomatoes, and lemon-thyme chicken

Not a bad start to the year. 🙂

-What are your goals or resolutions for 2014?
-Does your family have any interesting food traditions around the holidays?

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!

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? 😉

The Halloween Post

The doorbell rang.  Then the doorbell rang four more times in a row.  As we hurried down the front hall with a bowl of candy, we saw the door slowly open and a young boy with Down Syndrome peek around the corner, grinning as he took in the sights.  From outside his dad laughed and said, “No, you have to wait for them to open it!”  It was adorable. 🙂

The other trick-or-treating highlight from last night was when Andrew opened the door, and a boy looked up at him and said, “Whoa, you’re tall.  Like really tall.”

Halloween in the suburbs is great.  😀

While we didn’t dress up in costumes, we did celebrate the holiday in other festive ways:

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Just in case there’s any confusion, Andrew carved the scary face, and I carved the owl.  Ambitious?  Maybe.  Awesome?  I think so.

I also perused Pinterest for some Halloween dinner ideas, knowing that while Andrew wouldn’t necessarily appreciate a themed dinner, he would humor me.  Now, I thought I did well with what I made, until I looked back at the original ideas.  Let’s just say, the website Pinterest Fail exists for a reason.

The inspiration:

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The reality:

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Not the most handsome mummy meatloaf I’ve ever seen, but he actually turned out closer to the original than these mashed potato ghosts:

The inspiration:

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The reality:

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Bahahaha… I can’t stop laughing at this.  Oh man.  Hey there, lumpy ghosts!

Andrew got pretty into the themed dinner by the time we were ready to eat; he was actually disappointed that I didn’t have anything cool planned for the broccoli, so he gave his ghosts hats:

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He also doused them with ketchup/blood, but we didn’t get a decent photo of that.

For the meatloaf we found a basic recipe and used gluten-free bread and almond milk in place of the gluten/dairy ingredients.  We made the mashed potatoes with Earth Balance buttery spread, almond milk, and Silk coffee creamer instead of butter and cream.  Both dishes tasted great–the ingredient swaps were undetectable as far as I could tell!

I hope everyone had a great Halloween!

Did you make any Halloween-themed food?  Did it turn out as wonderfully as ours? 😉
Did you wear a costume??