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?

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??

Trampolines, a Brave Birthday, and Family

Happy Monday, everyone!  We had a full weekend in North Carolina celebrating our niece Lauren’s 4th birthday.  My dad, aunt, and uncle drove up from Georgia for the weekend, and my mom and brother drove down from Richmond Saturday.  I know there will come a time that the entire family can’t gather for the nieces’ parties, but for now I love the tradition. 🙂

We drove down early Friday evening and met my sister, brother-in-law, nieces and friend Jeanine at Defy Gravity–Raleigh’s indoor trampoline gym.  If you have never been to a place like this, find the one closest to you and go.  Today.  Jumping in a room full of trampolines makes you feel like a kid… and also gives you a fantastic workout!

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Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to get a non-blurry, mid-jump iphone photo. 😉

Saturday morning, before the party prepping picked up for the day, my aunt Ann and I went for a run through the Capital Area Greenway–a beautiful park with lots of trails (paved and unpaved) and wildlife.

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I took these photos as the end of the run, but I wish I’d run with my phone to capture some of the beauty of this place.  We ran around a lake, jumped across streams, high-stepped over roots, and ran within feet of a bunch of deer, who were obviously accustomed to having people around.  It was fantastic!

After the run, it was party prep time.  I’ve mentioned this before (see Kendall’s birthday party back in March), but Whitney and Jeanine go all out for birthdays.  Lauren’s party was “Brave” themed (the movie, not the adjective ;-)).  Here are a few of the details:

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Plus the Highland Games in the backyard:

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Beanbag toss (board painted by Jeanine), log toss, and archery

Everyone had a great time at the party, and we were all pretty wiped out afterwards!  For the rest of the evening we relaxed, made tacos for dinner, and just enjoyed time with family.  Most of the crew hit the road early Sunday morning, but Andrew and I hung around to have brunch with the birthday girl (her actual birthday was Sunday.)  Finally, with full bellies, we said goodbye and drove back home.

The first thing we did when we arrived home was crawl into bed and take a 45-minute power nap;  between the travel and the excitement of the weekend, neither one of us were going to be functional without a nap :).  Afterwards we made a trip to the grocery store, and when we arrived back home, Andrew mowed the grass, and I started dinner:  salmon, roasted acorn squash, and a brown rice/quinoa mixture (we had about 1/2 c left of each that we needed to use!)

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Delicious.

What was the highlight of your weekend?
Have you ever been to an indoor trampoline gym?  What did you think??

Buttermilk Trail Hike

Marriage requires many compromises.  Saturday morning, I wanted to drive to the mountains to hike, and Andrew wanted to watch TV for a few hours, then complete some projects around the house (anything to not drive anywhere.)  Our compromise: a quick garden clean-up and harvest, followed by a local hike in the afternoon.

The Buttermilk Trail runs along the James River from the Boulevard Bridge to Belle Isle (I know that probably means nothing to non-Richmonders…sorry), and despite being within the city limits, the hike definitely gives you the I’m-miles-away-from-civilization feeling.  We started on the north bank of the river (by Maymont,) crossed the foot bridge, and headed east.

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Soon we were in the woods and letting out our wild sides:

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After about three miles, we arrived at Belle Isle.  Well, we arrived at the large rocks beside Belle Isle;  we had to do some rock-hopping to reach the island.

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From there we crossed the river on the pedestrian bridge…

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I ❤ the River City.

…and began walking back on the North Bank Trail.  We enjoyed some pretty nice views of the river, Hollywood Cemetery, and fields of ivy.  We also picked and snacked on a few blackberries. 😀


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While not the mountains, the Buttermilk and North Bank Trails were a surprisingly pleasant local substitute.  They satisfied my desire to be outside in the woods with a serious layer of back sweat.   Hiking is also my favorite active date, and I loved the quality time Andrew and I had while creating the aforementioned back sweat.  😀  According to Hiking Upward, we covered about 6.3 miles.  Not bad!

Have you ever hiked or biked the Buttermilk Trail?
What’s your favorite active date?

Sharing the Harvest + Weekly Workouts

“Honey, we should share some of this produce with our family and friends.”

You know the look an eight-year-old gives you when you tell him he has to stop playing video games with his friends and clean his room?  That is precisely the look I received from Andrew yesterday when I uttered those words.  It was a mix of, “Are you really speaking English right now?” and “I cannot even believe how unfair you are.”

Share?  We can freeze it!  How are we going to store up for the winter if we share?

Family, friends–we are working on it. 😉

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As it turns out, Andrew’s reluctance to share only extends to the zucchini because he loves it, but he is more than willing to part with some of the other veggies.  On the flip side, I am happy to hand out zucchini to anyone walking by the house because 1.  I don’t love it, and 2. We have so much of it!  The photo above is today’s harvest, which includes three zucchini totaling 4.5 lb.  Each one is seriously bigger than my forearm.  Also today we picked three cucumbers, one yellow squash, and about 10 oz of cherry tomatoes!

Here’s our haul from a couple days ago:

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Cucumbers (which are now in the process of becoming pickles!), fantastic peppers, even more zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and the coolest looking, most delicious tomato I’ve ever beheld (<–That sounds like an exaggeration simply because I used the word “beheld” in reference to a tomato… it was very tasty. ;-))

The goodness just keeps rolling in.

In other news, I am rebounding from my cold that developed last weekend.  I’ve been limiting my workouts this week to easy walks, yoga, and light weight-lifting.  Yesterday afternoon I was feeling mostly better, so I went to the gym to do intervals on the Elliptical.  I pressed through–10 minute warm-up, 10 minutes of 30 seconds hard/30 seconds recover, 10 minutes of moderate intensity, 5 minute cool-down–but during the last bit I felt exhausted, and not in the I-just-had-a-great-workout kind of way, but in the I-don’t-feel-well way.  I probably should have given myself one more day to recover.  Oh well.

I have a busy day ahead–my family is coming in town this weekend for my grandmother’s memorial service, so in addition to work, I need to do some house cleaning, and, uh, finally put on paper what I want to say at the service tomorrow.  I have been thinking about it, but putting off actually doing it because I know I will need a few boxes of tissues just to write it.

What’s on your schedule for the weekend?
Do you workout when you are sick?
Zucchini: love it or hate it?

Beach Day and Crazy Tomatoes

Life is about to be busy–a good busy–for a season.  Next weekend I leave for a mission trip with the youth group, will be home for a week, then leave for another mission trip (more on this later this week!), so this past weekend was somewhat of a “calm before the storm.”  Saturday we drove to Virginia Beach and met my college roomie Leah for a day of fun in the partly cloudy sun.  Other than a couple of brief rain showers, it was a wonderful beach day!

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Andrew and I are not exactly “beach compatible.”  My ideal day on the beach includes lying on my back, taking a long walk, lying on my stomach, dipping my toes in the water, and repeating.  Andrew, on the other hand, turns into a giant 9-year-old as soon as his toes hit the sand.

“What do you want to do first??  Build a sand castle??  Dig a hole??  Body surf??  Throw the frisbee??  Dig a bigger hole??”

I say that with all the love in the world. 🙂  Because marriage involves many compromises, we did a little of both beach methods.  We sat, Andrew built a carefully measured, structurally-sound castle (you can’t turn off “engineer”), we threw the football and Waboba in the water, and we relaxed.

Before Leah arrived, Andrew was in the zone building his castle.  I thought it would be funny to turn on the self-timer on the camera, sneak up behind Andrew, and take a funny picture without him noticing.  Well, as I was walking over, raising our sand-diggers (yes, we bring toys to the beach), I noticed the woman on the blanket next to us looking at me like I was nuts.  I lost my nerve, and camera took the photo mid-sneak.  It’s not what I had in mind, but I look so awkward that it makes me laugh:

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😀

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We had a great time catching up with Leah just enjoying the beach!  On the way home, we met our friend Allison for dinner.  We miss her so much in Richmond, and was so, so good to share a meal and chat for a bit. 🙂

Things were productive on the garden-front this weekend as well.  Between the heat and the afternoon rain we’ve been having for the last few weeks, our tomato plants have grown out of control.  Part of the problem is that we planted too many too close together;  it’s hard to tell which branches belong to which plant now!  They’ve long surpassed their 4-ft cages and started flopping over on top of each other.  This weekend we had to stake them:

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Most of them are taller than their 6-ft stakes, and a few are even taller than Andrew now.  Despite the craziness, they are producing lots of beautiful fruit:

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We are approaching an exciting point in which we are harvesting a lot of veggies.  I know it’s all relative, but we were thrilled to bring these beauties inside yesterday:

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They were (we ate them all) the best cherry tomatoes I’ve tasted!  Thankfully, there are dozens more ripening at this very moment. 🙂

What did you do this weekend?
What activities do you like to do at the beach?

First Softball Game

In anticipation of our softball game Tuesday night,  Andrew insisted that we visit the batting cages.  (Is he a little bit competitive?  What gave it away? ;-))  Earlier that day my dad reminded me that when I was a kid and we’d play in the cul de sac, I batted much better left handed than I did right (I am right handed.)  I decided to give both a try.  At the cages, I was able to hit the ball both ways, but felt stronger with the right, so I made the decision to bat righty that night.

We arrived at the field, met our teammates, and before long the game began.  We played two games, and the first was truly a practice game–we followed most rules, but for the sake of batting practice, everyone swung until they hit the ball.  Prior to this game, I thought that concept sounded fantastic.  Who doesn’t want to keep batting until they get a hit?  What if that fourth pitch is yours?  For my first at-bat, I chose a bat, walked to the plate, and positioned myself to hit the ball right handed.  The first ball was pitched, I swung and missed.  Then the second.  And the third.  No contact.  My face was burning.  Can I please sit down?  That was three.  Then the fourth (nothing,) fifth (nothing,) and sixth (nothing.)  I was mortified.  I decided to switch sides and give my left hand a try;  it couldn’t be any worse.

Amazingly, I hit that first pitch left handed!  For the rest of the game, I hit everything I swung at.  During the first game I played right field, and in the second game I played second base.  While I didn’t have any outstanding plays, I don’t think I made anything on the field worse.  That must count for something, right?  😀  At second base, I stopped more balls with my shins than my glove, but I stopped them!  And before you think that I am exaggerating and no balls came my way, please allow me to say that I now have two serious bruises on my left leg, one on my right, one on my left foot, and one on my right elbow.  I heard someone on the other team call me a “brick wall.”

bruisesLots of icing happened that night.

Bruises aside, I really enjoyed playing.  I still stand by my statement that, had I played softball as a kid, I could have been pretty good.  With a little practice, there might be hope for me yet (assuming I can learn to catch the ball with my glove rather than my legs. ;-))