Dobie Mountain Hike + Peeing in the Woods

On Thursday afternoon Andrew and I made the somewhat last-minute decision to take the day off Friday and hike.  We already had a three day weekend for Memorial Day and figured, why not make it four?  Plus, we hadn’t been hiking since that bizarre warm day back in January, and we were itching for some mountain views.  After a bit of deliberation–we wanted to minimize driving distance and maximize views–we decided on Dobie Mountain.  The starting point of this hike shares a parking lot with one of our favorites, Humpback Rocks, and is less than ninety minutes from Richmond, but we had never done it before Friday.  As it turns out, we didn’t know what we were missing.

The weather forecast for Friday showed us that we’d have a cooler hike (about 55 degrees,) and we dressed appropriately for the temperature, but what we did not anticipate was the wind: 25-30 mph!  Thankfully, when we’d walked out our front door that morning it was raining, and even though I knew it wasn’t in the forecast for where we were hiking, I ran back inside to get my rain coat.  Just in case.  I definitely needed the extra (wind resistant) layer!

Aside from the wind, which wasn’t terrible once we entered the woods, the whole day was fantastic.  We took a picture of the map in parking lot to use as our trail map:


Starting at the Humpback Rocks Parking Area, we went up the Albright Loop, onto the Appalachian Trail to the Glass Hollow Overlook, then back to finish the loop.  The first half of the hike is downhill with a lot of rocks and switchbacks, then the trail ascends to the overlook and back to the start.  It was a good workout, but not quite as strenuous as Humpback Rocks.


Braving the wind.  My hair tells the story.

The views at the overlook were incredible:


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Because it was a weekday and we were on the less popular of two neighbor hikes, we didn’t see any other hikers once we left the parking lot.  Beautiful solitude… Together. 😉  We set up our ENO hammock and took a break for lunch.

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PBJ’s on gluten-free bread, apples, tortilla chips, carrots (Andrew,) trail mix (Catherine;  fine, I only ate the chocolate)

Also, despite using the restroom immediately before starting the hike and drinking less water than I probably should have, nature called.  Guys have it so easy when it comes to peeing in the woods.  Girls?  It’s a little tougher…and not something I have practiced often.  Here’s my advice: after finding a safe location (no poison ivy or people,) choose a tree, point your backside downhill, grab the tree for support, and squat as if you are water skiing with your butt very close to the water.  That advice and mental image are free.  You’re welcome 😉

Cool finds of the day: a log that looked like a dragon (I decided to ride it,) and… these green things:

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The whole day was a blast, and we were glad we made the trip.  Lots of quality time, beautiful views, and–one of my favorite parts of hiking–a workout that doesn’t seem like a workout.  Seriously, if I lived within 15 minutes of a mountain, I would hike every day.  Or at least a few times a week.

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Do you ever use hiking as a workout?  What’s your favorite hike/place to hike?

Ode to Orange- Sweet Potato & Carrot Curry

“When people say you should eat colorful foods, you know they mean different colored foods, right?” -Andrew

Sarcastic, but he had a point.  Our dinner last night was a delightful orange overload:  Sweet potato, carrot, and red lentil curry.


It was also vegan, but more on that in a bit.

Ingredients:  2 sweet potatoes (peeled & sliced,) 1/2 bag of baby carrots (sliced,) a few garlic cloves (minced,) 1 c red lentils, 3 c vegetable broth, 1 can light coconut milk, 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 tsp ginger, red pepper/salt/pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in large saucepan (medium heat.)  2. Add sweet potatoes and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, adding garlic in the last minute.  3. Add all other ingredients to saucepan, and stir well.  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 25-30 minutes.

And, voila: a not very attractive, but nutrient-rich, tasty meal 😉


With all the orange consumed last night, I thought I’d take the opportunity to briefly highlight the health benefits of (naturally) orange foods. Thank you, Dr. Oz (my source😉 I can take it from here.

Why You Should Eat Orange Produce

Beta carotene, which gives foods like carrots and sweet potatoes their orange hue, is an antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Vitamin A helps improve vision and boosts the immune system.

-Additionally, these foods contain other vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, all of which help keep our bodies healthy.

In other words, orange foods are tiny, disease-fighting machines.  Eat them.

I mentioned in a previous post that I have been reading Eat and Run by Scott Jurek–ultramarathon champion and vegan–and it has inspired me to eat fewer animal products.  I’ve been an on-again-off-again vegetarian since early high school, and I feel strongly that 1. Americans eat way too much meat, and 2. people can consume a sufficient amount of protein without it.  I am not planning to quit eating meat entirely, but I do hope to incorporate a vegetarian dinner into our week every now and then.

Andrew is extremely skeptical of a dinner that does not include meat.  Lunch?  Okay, but dinner must contain meat (in his opinion.)  I am hoping to open his eyes to some delicious, filling vegetarian dinners. 🙂  Yesterday evening as I was cooking, Andrew was getting ready to play ultimate frisbee with friends.  He typically eats a snack before he goes, then dinner when he returns.  This was our conversation immediately following his orange comment:

“What are you making?”

“It’s a sweet potato, carrot, and red lentil coconut curry.”

“Ooh!” (said in a “Isn’t that fancy?” voice)

“I made sure there was one leftover chicken sausage for you, just in case.”

“Okay… Oh.”

“It’s a vegetarian dish.”

“That’s why I said, ‘Oh.'”

He ate the chicken sausage before frisbee and the curry when he came home, and I heard no complaints.  Baby steps. 😉  I am looking forward to finding some more meatless, but protein-packed, Andrew-approved dinners!

Do you incorporate vegetarian dinners into your week?  Is your spouse/significant other on board?

Any good, filling vegetarian (and dairy-free) dinner suggestions?

Spicy Shrimp Tacos + Mango-Pepper Salsa

This week in the Storey house, an awesome new dinner was born, and I’d like to share the recipe with you.  (And by “recipe,” I mean, “ingredients.”  As usual, nothing was measured, so you’ll have to work out the amounts according to your taste :-D)  It’s a perfect dish for a warm, almost summer night.

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Mango-Pepper Salsa

Soft corn tortillas

1 1/4 lb Shrimp, tails/shells removed

Smoked paprika



Garlic powder

Onion powder

Salt & pepper

Olive oil

Mango-Pepper Salsa:

2 mangoes

1 bell pepper (orange, red, or yellow)


Lemon juice

Salt & pepper


Shredded cabbage

Coleslaw dressing

Lemon juice*

(*Already in the dressing, but I thought ours needed a bit more!)

Coleslaw: 1. Shred cabbage with cheese grater (or open package of pre-shredded cabbage.) 2.  Put in bowl, and mix with slaw dressing until desired taste it reached.

Mango Salsa: 1. Dice mangoes* and pepper very finely and place in bowl.  2. Pull cilantro leaves off stems and rip into smaller pieces.  Add to bowl.  3. Squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon over the bowl, add salt and pepper, and mix well.


Shrimp: 1. Combine spices in a small bowl.  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 3.  Add shrimp, and cook for a few minutes on each side.  4.  Add spices to shrimp and stir well.  Make sure shrimp are cooked all the way through.

(*The most labor-intensive part of this recipe is slicing the mango.   This is the most efficient way I’ve found to do it.)

I made the salsa and coleslaw earlier in the evening to save time when we were ready to eat and to let everything marinate–the shrimp take so little time to cook that you should make sure everything else is ready before starting it!  Once everything is prepared, place all components of the meal on the table, and assemble the tacos as you go:

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For the life of me, I could not get a decent photo of these tacos.  Oh well.  They were delicious. 🙂


What dinner do you love to eat when it’s hot outside?

Running: When Dogs Chase

Yesterday… was glorious.  I took my first day off in three weeks, and I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to do.  I slept in (until 7:30,) blogged, ran, used a gift card for a massage, watched Netflix, and had dinner with Andrew when he came home from work.  The most stressful part of my day was my easy, 30-minute run.

I picked a familiar, relatively flat, out-and-back course through the neighborhoods near my house.  About a mile into the run, 100 meters ahead, I saw a woman running toward me with her dog.  Then, another dog–a Collie–ran out of a yard, barking at this woman and her dog.  I heard the woman yelling, “Go on!  Get out of here!” but the dog continued to bark and run alongside them.  Suddenly, the Collie turned towards me and began sprinting in my direction, still barking.  Oh geez.  I stopped immediately, bracing myself for whatever impact I was about the receive–paws, teeth, whatever.  The dog slowed as it came nearer, and at this point the woman and her dog were just across the street from me.  The Collie’s attention shifted back to them, and I continued running, glancing behind me a few times to make certain I wasn’t being chased.

On the way back, at roughly the same place the event had occurred, I noticed movement in my periphery.  I turned to the right and saw the Collie sprinting toward me once again.  Again, I stopped.  This time, he stopped too, and stared at me.  I lunged a bit toward him and said, “Go on!” He barked and ran backwards a few paces.  I continued running, hoping the dog would stay put or lose interest, but after a few seconds I heard, ptptptptptpt (<–the sound of four paws hitting the pavement at running speed.)  I turned around, took a few running steps toward the dog, and again he stopped and barked.  This continued for about half a mile, until he must have lost interest.

While I don’t think this Collie was particularly aggressive, being chased by a dog while running is very scary!  Unless it’s a dog that you know, you have no idea if it’s going to jump on you, bite you, or just keep you company.  Once, a few years ago, I was running on the sidewalk of a major road by my apartment.  It was raining, and I came up behind a woman walking her two (very large) dogs.  I was about to say, “Excuse me,” as they were occupying the entire sidewalk, when one of the dogs turned and saw me.  Because it was raining, none of them had heard me coming, and I must have surprised the dog, because he and his brother both started snarling and jumping at me.  The woman and I both stopped;  I took a few steps back, my heart racing at the near attack.  I think the woman was equally terrified (startled, anyway,) and yelled, “Next time, speak up!! We didn’t know you were there!!”  Dogs.

Aside from that, my day yesterday was wonderful and relaxing.  Plus, we had a super-food dinner:  Salmon, kale, and quinoa with tomatoes and herbs from our garden.

DSCN8136Basil, parsley, and oregano

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I hope you had a great Monday as well!

Have you ever been chased by a dog while running?  What do you do when that happens?

Italian Chicken Sausage and Mushroom Quinoa Pilaf

I love to cook.  And I love to cook with real, whole ingredients.  But sometimes Monday evening arrives, and I don’t feel like starting anything from scratch.  For such occasions we keep a few easy meals in the freezer.  One of our go-to proteins is precooked chicken sausages:

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This particular brand came from BJ’s (wholesale club,) but there is a natural brand we really like from Kroger as well.  Here’s why I think these are great:

1. I know what all the ingredients are without having to do any research.  Chicken, vegetables, spices.  I am a firm believer that if you don’t know what something is you probably shouldn’t eat it (not often, anyway), so I really appreciate this list of ingredients.  Plus, the nutrition facts aren’t too shabby either.

2. They taste fantastic.  The brand we find at Kroger (I can’t think of the name at the moment) has a chicken-apple flavor that is so good.  This was the first time we’d tried the Italian, and we will definitely buy it again!

3.  They are super easy to make.  The package actually contains two separate packs of five sausages;  we only opened one, sliced the sausages in half, lengthwise, and warmed/browned them in a skillet.  So simple!


(Andrew’s plate)


(Catherine’s plate)

We made a mushroom quinoa pilaf with sun-dried tomatoes to go with the sausage, plus some sauteed lemon-garlic spinach.  If either of those sound fancy, don’t be fooled: all we did for the quinoa pilaf was put the quinoa, sliced mushrooms, olive oil, and chicken broth in the rice cooker, then add the sun-dried tomatoes at the end.  The spinach was about as easy:  Saute garlic in olive oil, then add fresh spinach, and continue to stir and add more spinach as it wilts.  Squeeze lemon juice in before serving.

Everything was done in the time it took for the rice cooker to finish the quinoa (30 minutes, tops.)  Very easy, and quite delicious for a quick, weeknight dinner!

Two Weeks Dairy-Free

Two weeks ago I embarked on a 30-day dairy-free challenge due to some stomach issues I’d been having.  Today I thought I’d check in at the halfway point with some thoughts on the process so far.

How I Am Feeling Without Dairy (Warning:  This might be TMI.  My apologies.)

-Prior to giving up dairy, it was not uncommon for me to get a stomach ache at some point during any given day that required me to lie down for a little while.  As you might imagine, that is not a super convenient thing to have happen.  I am happy to report that there have been no such stomach aches in the last two weeks!

-Also prior to this trial period, my stomach was regularly so bloated that it was noticeable, not just to me, but to Andrew (only when prompted;  obviously he would never say, “Geez, Catherine, your stomach is so big!” :-D) This has not been the case at all since giving up dairy!

-This could partially be due to the nicer weather we are having, but I’ve noticed that I am not experiencing that “it’s 2 p.m. and I’d really like to take a nap on my desk” tiredness.  Similarly, I have felt more rested and am quicker to get out of bed in the mornings, despite being on the exact same sleep schedule.

-Bottom line:  I feel generally better.  A lot better.

Dairy Products I Have Really Wanted in the Last Two Weeks:

-Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream.  Last Saturday after dinner we stopped by Ray’s for dessert.  Ray’s is our go-to place because they have ice cream as well as frozen ice (dairy free) options, so we could both find something delicious.  As we looked at the menu that night, raspberry ice just wasn’t going to cut it when the people in front of us were getting hot fudge sundaes and double scoops of “midnight craving” ice cream.  I left empty-handed and a little bit sad.

-Prior to going to Ray’s that night, we celebrated our anniversary at Bonefish Grille.  I ordered the shrimp & scallops…and then realized I couldn’t have the lemon butter sauce with them.  Their other sauces are delicious, but that one just goes best with those scallops.

-Cheese on anything.  Or by itself.

-Iced Caramel Macchiato.  I passed the Starbucks in Target one day last week and saw a big banner with this on it:

caramel macchiato

Mmm.  I know they can make them with soy milk, but there’s not a chance in the world it tastes as good, which leads me to…

Dairy-Free Products That Make This Bearable:

Trader Joe’s Vanilla Soy Yogurt–It definitely has a bit of a soy taste, but the vanilla masks it some.  I take it with my lunch in a glass container with some frozen berries, and it’s pretty good!


Purely Decadent Dairy-Free Ice “Cream”–It’s not ice cream, but it’s a nice post-dinner substitute.  TJ’s also has a great dairy-free cherry chocolate chip flavor.


The One Time I Cheated:

-As I mentioned, last weekend was our first anniversary, and we had  (gluten-free) frozen wedding cake to eat!  Funny story about the wedding cake: We did a smaller, nice gluten-free cake for Andrew’s sake, and bought regular sheet cakes for the majority of the guests.  While we did have many GF guests, we had a lot of cake leftover.  Like, the entire bottom layer of this guy:


We sliced the leftovers and put the slices in zip-seal bags, two per bag, and froze them.  We have actually been eating eating our wedding cake throughout the year!  😀  At least we knew it would still taste good?  Anyway, I did eat some wedding cake, which had dairy, but we both took a Lactaid pill with it so I didn’t notice any adverse effects  (romantic, right? ;-))


In conclusion, the evidence is not stacking up in favor of dairy, but I do feel a lot better, so I suppose it is bitter sweet.  I will give another report when the 30 days are over!  Thanks for bearing with me on a potentially TMI post. 😀

The Sandwich-Hater’s Lunch: Herbed Chicken Salad

One evening during last week’s heat wave (yes, I’m calling 90 degrees in early April a “heat wave,”) I wandered through the grocery store looking for dinner inspiration.  All I could think was, “I refuse to eat anything hot.”  Truly, cereal sounded better to me than anything else, but I had a feeling Andrew would not be to thrilled to eat cereal for dinner. 🙂

Chicken salad popped into my head and immediately seemed like the best idea for a cold dinner entree.  Originally I planned to title this post, “It’s-90-Degrees-And-I-Refuse-to-Eat-Anything-Hot Chicken Salad,” but 1. I’m writing it so far after the hot weather that it’s not as fitting, and 2. the leftovers made for an excellent sandwich-hater’s lunch.

Here’s the recipe:

Herbed Chicken Salad

2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*

1/2 cucumber, chopped

Rosemary, fresh**

Sage, fresh**

Thyme, fresh**

1/4 c mayonnaise

Squirt*** of mustard

Salt & pepper to taste

*I boiled the chicken breasts, but you can saute, bake, use leftovers, or even canned chicken.

**In the produce section at my grocery store (Kroger) I found a “poultry blend” of fresh herbs–one small plastic container had rosemary, sage, and thyme, and it was more than enough!

***Yes, a “squirt” is an official measurement.  😉


Put everything in a bowl and mix well.  It’s not a bad idea to start conservatively with everything but the chicken–you can always add more to suit your taste, but you cannot take out mayonnaise once it’s in!

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We ate ours with mixed green salads, and I had Triscuits with mine as well.  It ended up being an excellent dinner on a hot night… and a solid lunch the next day for someone who hates sandwiches 🙂


Monument Avenue 10k 2013

On Saturday I went head-to -head with the Monument Avenue 10k, and… here’s how it went down:

Friday afternoon Gabe and I went to the race expo to pick up our numbers, t-shirts, and lots of free samples.  (Gabe is a girl, by the way, in case I don’t know you in real life :))  That evening I laid out my race outfit, just to make sure I had everything together.

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We had Gabe and her boyfriend Jeff over for a pre-race, pasta dinner (brown rice pasta for Andrew and me, whole wheat for Gabe and Jeff.)  Using a basic canned tomato sauce as the base, we sauteed in olive oil some mushrooms, garlic, onion (saving some without onion for me,) and ground beef, then added bay leaves, basil, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme and let simmer for a while.


The pasta + salads + garlic sourdough toast made an excellent meal!  We ended up eating on the back deck because it was such a beautiful night.  It might be time to purchase some deck furniture…


Yep, we set up four TV trays and took our kitchen chairs outside.  Hah!  A little ghetto, but it worked 😀

After loading up on carbs and getting a good night of sleep, it was race time.  The weather was absolutely perfect: mid 50’s and sunny.  To avoid traffic and parking issues with local races, my preferred method of arriving at the starting line is to drive close, and then bike a mile or two to the start.  It’s a good warm up, and it reduces the risk of arriving late due to traffic and/or parking (which I did once, and ended up running a mile to the start of a half marathon, which started while I was running there.  Stressful to the max.)  Anyway, we parked about two miles away, where Andrew was planning to spectate.  The course is more or less an out-and-back on Monument Avenue, and there’s a large, grassy median where Andrew stood so he could catch us around mile 2 and then again at mile 4.

Gabe and I met up, made our way to our corral, and before long we were running!  Our plan was to start slower than goal pace (which, to run under 50 minutes was about 8:03 min/mile,) then make up the time in the second half.  There’s a strong tendency on race day to get caught in all the excitement and start running too fast, so we had to make a conscious effort to hold back a little.  (Andrew’s thoughts on this plan?  “You should start running fast, run fast in the middle, and run fast at the end!” ;-))

We ran the first mile at an 8:08 min/mile pace.  Mile two was 7:59 min/mile.  When we passed Andrew we were going strong!

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Why are so many other people in the photo looking at the camera?  Because Andrew was yelling, “Goooo!  You’re running so fast!!!  Run faster!!!”  😀  My mom and Walter came to cheer us on too, and we saw them at the halfway point!  It’s always so great to have people rooting for you!

We ran mile 3 at an 8:04 pace.  Somewhere in the next mile, Gabe told me to run ahead.  I yelled at her to stay with me, but at some point I looked back and couldn’t find her, so I kept going (we talked about this scenario before the race… it’s what she wanted. :))  Soon after that I passed Andrew again and gave him my best, “I lost Gabe!” face:

IMG_4314Some people look really attractive when they run.  I’m not one of those people.

Mile 4– 7:57 pace.  Mile 5– 7:47.  At this point I had made up the lost time from the start and felt confident that, unless something crazy happened, I’d break 50 minutes!  My legs and lungs still felt strong.

Mile 6 I ran in 7:31, and the .2 home stretch took about 1:37, which means…



Kind of crushed it, in fact 🙂  My official time was 49:00.  My average pace was 7:52 min/mile.  I was ecstatic (still am, really.)  Gabe finished in 50:41, which was a PR for her, so we were both very pleased.

It was a fantastic day, and I am so relieved to finally break that darn 50 minute mark.  Time to set some new goals and keep running!

Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs

There’s something about the first 80-degree day of the year to make you realize just how badly you need to iron your shorts and shave your legs (sorry, Andrew. 😉 )  Additionally, the gorgeous weather yesterday inspired us to cook dinner on the grill.  This recipe is far from cutting edge, but the end result is quite tasty:

Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs

1 1/2 lb chicken breasts 

3 bell peppers 

1/2 onion 

2 c pineapple



3 tbsp soy sauce (gluten-free or regular)

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes


1. Slice chicken into chunks and place in large zip-seal bag.  Slice peppers, onion, and pineapple into 1-2 inch pieces and place in separate zip-seal bag.  2.  Combine ingredients for marinade, mix well, and pour half into each zip-seal bag.  3.  Place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour.  4.  Preheat grill to medium heat.  If using wooden skewers, soak them in water (to prevent them from catching fire.)  5.  Put chicken and veggies on skewers, leaving a little room at each end to allow for turning.


(We put our meat and veggies on separate skewers in case they require different cooking times, but you can mix them up if you want!)

6.  Place skewers on grill and cook for about 15 minutes, turning a few times.  Check chicken regularly to make sure it is completely cooked.  7.  Remove from skewers, and enjoy!

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We ate ours with some brown rice (made in the rice cooker,) and it was delicious!  I don’t eat onion, so half of an onion was sufficient for Andrew, but you could certainly use a whole one.  Next time we’ll marinate everything for a bit longer (we didn’t quite give it an hour.)  Even so, it tasted great, and we will definitely make it again!


Easy Turkey Tacos

Everyone likes tacos, right?

Back in December I babysat overnight for some friends.  Before the three kids left for school the first day, I asked what they wanted for dinner that night.  Tacos suited everyone.  I grocery shopped that afternoon, prepared dinner while the kids were doing homework, and was feeling very pleased with myself (parenthood?  I’ve so got this,) until…

“…This is a strange kind of beef…”–“That’s because it’s chicken.”

“Where are the soft tacos?”–“I only bought the hard shells…”

“Is there sour cream?”–“No…”

Everyone likes tacos… but everyone does tacos a little differently 😉

Last night was taco night for us.  Here’s how we do it:

Easy Turkey Tacos

1 lb lean ground turkey

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp smoked (or regular) paprika

1/4 tsp salt

1+tbsp corn starch

Hard taco shells

Tomato, diced

Mixed greens, finely chopped

Shredded cheddar-jack  cheese (for Catherine, not Andrew)


1.  Pour olive oil into skillet over medium heat.  Add turkey and cook completely, stirring regularly.

2.  While turkey is cooking, combine spices and corn starch in a glass.  Add 1/2 c water and mix well, making sure there are no corn starch clumps.

3.  Add liquid/spice mixture to cooked turkey in skillet.  Let simmer over medium-low heat, mixing well to coat all the turkey.  Remove from heat when the sauce has thickened.

4. Slice tomatoes and mixed greens.

5.  Assemble, squeezing lime juice over the greens at the very end.


We like to warm the shells in the toaster oven for a few minutes before eating them;  if you do this, be sure to watch closely, as they go from cold to burned very quickly (found that out the hard way.)

Tacos are a super easy and quick weeknight meal.  We went from sitting on the couch asking, “Are you getting hungry?” to sitting at the table on the couch eating in about 20 minutes.