A Valentine’s Day Survey

…because everybody likes taking surveys ūüėÄ ¬†Feel free to re-post and answer for yourself…or answer any/all the questions in the comments section!

1. Valentine’s Day: ¬†Love it, hate it, or something in between?
I don’t have super strong feelings towards the day. ¬†If you have a significant other, celebrate together; ¬†if not, it’s not a big deal. ¬†I really don’t get the whole, “Singles Awareness Day” thing, and I didn’t when I was single either! ¬†It’s like Mothers’ Day. ¬†We childless women don’t turn it into “Childless Awareness Day”–the holiday simply doesn’t apply to me at this point in my life.

2. Most memorable Valentine’s Day you’ve had so far (good or bad)?
Two years ago Andrew had to have a minor surgery… on Valentine’s Day. ¬†I spent the day in the waiting room, driving to the drug store, and playing nurse while Andrew came down from his pain medication high. ¬†Yaaay. ūüėČ ¬†He did think ahead and bring me flowers and chocolate the day before.

3. Do you have a Valentine this year?  If so, who is it?
Andrew, my handsome husband.

Catherine & Andrew Storey

4. Favorite love songs (cheesy or not)?
“I’ll Stand by You” by The Pretenders
“(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams
So good. ¬†So cheesy. ¬†Don’t care. ¬†ūüėÄ

5. Worst pickup line you’ve ever received or used? ¬†(And did it work?)
-A (very inebriated) guy walked up to me at a bar one time and said, “We’ll have to think of a different story to tell the kids. ¬†We don’t want them to know we met at a bar.” ¬†It didn’t work.
-My junior year in college I was studying at Panera one afternoon, and a guy walked up to me and said, “Excuse me, I don’t usually do this, but I was just noticing you from across the room…” ¬†Once I realized he was serious, I was flattered and went on a date with him.

6. What’s your favorite gift to receive on Valentine’s Day?
Flowers.  Cliche?  Maybe, but I love flowers.  Chocolate is a close second.

7. If you were a conversation heart, what would you say?
I think I’d just be a winky face: ¬†“;-)”

8. Favorite flower?
Tulips.

9. Favorite candy?
I’m a chocolate girl. ¬†I love anything mint chocolate or sea salt caramel chocolate. ¬†Mmm…

10. Most meaningful way someone could show you they love you?
Quality time.  Simply taking time to do something with me is better than any gift in my book!

11. How are you planning to spend tonight?
Andrew and I are having a nice dinner at home–we are making steaks, sweet potatoes, and green beans, with chocolate fondue for dessert!

IMG_4043Rice Krispie treats for the fondue… but we may have already eaten a few ūüėÄ

Happy Valentine’s Day!

-Tell me your answers to any or all of the questions above!

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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. ūüôā

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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 ūüôā

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. ūüėÄ

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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. ¬†ūüôā ¬†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?

10 Good-for-Your-Heart Valentine’s Day Ideas

Valentine’s Day is approaching quickly, but who says it has to include huge, artery-clogging dinners and blood-sugar-spiking desserts? ¬†The way I see it, the day is about spending quality time with your significant other. ¬†Here are 10 ways to strengthen your love and your heart this Valentine’s Day:

1. Take a new-to-both-of-you class together at the gym.  Last year Andrew and I tried a yoga class on V-Day (well, technically the day before V-Day).  We had a great time laughing at ourselves because we were both horrible, and it was the start of healthy routine that we both really enjoy now.

2. Take a walk together at a local park.  V-Day is on a Friday this year, so this is probably a Saturday activity unless you both happen to have the day off work.  Hand-holding is optional, but recommended.

3. Visit an indoor trampoline park.  These places are popping up all over the country, so chances are there is one near you (we have two in Richmond now.)  Jumping on trampolines is an insanely good workout and so much fun.  For any guys reading this, make sure you know your girl before surprising her with this;  while I would enjoy it, I realize that some girls need something slightly more romantic.

4. Build a snowman in your neighbors’ driveway after dark. ¬†This is a personal favorite of ours any time it snows, and there’s a good chance we will have snow on the ground Friday! ¬†Building a snowman requires some physical exertion, plus, doing it sneakily is inherently fun and gives you a bonding experience.

5. ¬†Run a Valentine’s 5-k together. ¬†Festive. ¬†Good for your heart. ¬†Good for your relationship. ¬†Bonus points if you run in coordinating costumes. ¬†(I don’t foresee Andrew ever wanting to do either the running or the costume part of this.)

6. ¬†Cook dinner together. ¬†Chances are you’ll cook something far healthier than what you’d order at a restaurant, plus it gives you the shared experience and probably costs less than going out. ¬†Cooking dinner together has my vote every single Valentine’s Day (Andrew, you’re welcome.)

7. ¬†Go ice skating. ¬†It’s a classic winter activity with lots of potential for romance–hand-holding, leaning on each other for balance, helping each other up when you fall, etc.

8. Go to your husband’s basketball game and sit in the bleachers with the other wives. ¬†Wait, don’t plan on that. ¬†That’s what we did¬†last Valentine’s Day. ¬†If you have an activity like this scheduled for Friday, maybe plan something special for Saturday instead. ūüėČ

8.  Take a cooking class together.  Preferably one that utilizes a lot of whole, fresh ingredients and not a deep-fryer.

9. Go skiing or snowboarding.  Bonus romance points if this is out of town and you book a cabin for the weekend.

10. Go dancing. ¬†Even if it’s just the two of you in your living room.

Chocolateheart

Andrew and I are planning to cook dinner together, and we will probably play in the snow at some point if there is any on the ground. ūüėÄ

Have a great Wednesday!

Do you have any heart-healthy activities planned for Valentine’s Day?
-Anything you’d add to the list above?

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. ūüėČ ¬†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 ūüėÄ

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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. ūüôā ¬†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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

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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. ¬†ūüôā ¬†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?

Spinach, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Lasagna (Gluten-Free)

Sometimes you decide to cook a certain meal for dinner because you are craving a specific flavor. ¬†You can’t get your mind off that one meal, and any other meal will not bring you the same satisfaction. ¬†It’s decided: you¬†will¬†have that for dinner. ¬†You know what I’m talking about, right?

And sometimes you decide to cook a certain meal because your husband opened the wrong can for a recipe earlier in the week, and now you have to use its contents before it goes bad. ¬†We fell into this category this week. ūüėČ

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Doh!

On Saturday Andrew opened a can of tomato sauce rather than diced tomatoes when we were making our Brunswick stew, so we decided to use it with some kind of pasta dish this week. ¬†I didn’t feel like making plain ol’ spaghetti, and I recently found gluten-free brown rice lasagna noodles on manager’s special at Kroger, so I thought I’d give it a try!

We only used ingredients we had on hand, so you can tweak it depending on what’s in your refrigerator. ¬†It’s not technically dairy-free, but if you are like Andrew and can tolerate goat cheese but not cow cheese, this may be a great recipe for you!

Spinach, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Lasagna

1 lb ground bison (or beef)
2 15-oz can tomato sauce
8 oz sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c fresh spinach
5-6 large basil leaves, chopped
Salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper, onion powder to taste
Olive oil
6 oz goat cheese
Almond milk (splash)
9 GF lasagna noodles

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. ¬†Add mushrooms and brown. ¬†Remove mushrooms from pot. ¬†2. ¬†Add more olive oil if needed, then add ground bison to the pot, and cook until brown. ¬†3. Make room in center of pot, and add garlic. ¬†Cook until fragrant. ¬†4. ¬†Stir and add tomato sauce, mushrooms, basil, and spices. ¬†5. ¬†Reduce heat, and let simmer. ¬†6. ¬†Meanwhile, cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions. ¬†Preheat oven to 350. ¬†Add a splash of almond milk to goat cheese and mix well to give goat cheese a creamier consistency. ¬†7. Add spinach to sauce and stir. ¬†8. ¬†In a glass baking dish (9×13) layer sauce, noodles, cheese. ¬†Repeat for 3 layers and finish with sauce on top. 9. ¬†Cover and bake for 20 minutes. ¬†Remove cover and bake for 10 more minutes.

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Oh man. ¬†This tasted so good. ¬†I am not ashamed to say that we ate half the pan that night! ¬†I’m a huge fan of brown rice noodles too–I like that they are whole grain but taste exponentially better than whole wheat noodles. ¬†The texture is way better than regular pasta too. ¬†So good.

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Mmm ūüôā

While I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of having pasta when Andrew opened that can Saturday, it did push me to try a new recipe–and the end result was fantastic! ¬†We will be making this dish more often!

Have a great Thursday!

-What are you cooking tonight?
-Have you ever been forced to cook something because you accidentally opened a can/package? ¬†ūüėÄ
-Do you prefer brown rice, whole wheat, or regular noodles?

Warm Days in February + Homemade Baked Beans

Looking out my window now at the cold, gray rain, it’s hard to believe that yesterday was uncharacteristically warm and sunny for February. ¬†Andrew and I took advantage of the beautiful day by heading to a park for a walk.

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The lake, which had clearly been frozen solid, was beginning to thaw, and it was beautiful. ¬†I loved watching the ducks waddle from the ice into the water. ūüôā ¬†We spent about 45 minutes walking around the trails and the lake, and it was a much-welcomed change of scenery from the gym workouts we’ve been doing lately due to the cold weather!

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Crazy Eyes: we got ’em

 As we were heading back to the car, we ran into one of the girls in the youth group that I work with.  Naturally, Andrew decided to throw a snowball at her and her friend.

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Sorry, Brooke; ¬†it’s never a fair fight with that guy. ūüėČ

Later in the evening, we went to our friends Evan and Kristina’s house to watch the Super Bowl with friends. ¬†I had decided to make baked beans (from scratch) in the Crock Pot to bring as our contribution. ¬†Despite the fact that I’d started cooking them at 8:30 AM, they were still not quite done nine hours later, so we brought the whole Crock Pot to the party to allow them more cooking time. ¬†ūüėÄ

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Navy beans (soaked over night and rinsed) + bacon + brown sugar + molasses + Dijon mustard + salt + pepper + onion powder + water

The flavor was really good, but they never got quite soft enough. ¬†Any advice from more experienced Crock Pot users? ¬†Is that just the texture of beans that don’t come from a can? ¬†I’d love to give them another shot… once we finish the half-gallon of this batch still left in our fridge. ūüėČ

Have a great Monday!

-What was your favorite Super Bowl snack/dish from last night?
-If you had a warm day yesterday like us, how did you spend it?
-What’s the best thing you did this weekend?

Andrew at the Gym and Other Gym Things

Happy Friday, everyone!

Last night Andrew and I hit the gym right after work. ¬†I don’t typically work out in the evening–the gym is the most crowded, and my flexible schedule allows me to go other times–but Andrew does, and he asked me that morning if we could go.

As soon as we walked in, Andrew realized he’d left his lock at home (which is kind of amazing considering there have been at least three incidents in the last month in which Andrew has been on his way out the door to the gym and said, “I can’t find my lock… I think I left it on the locker the last time I was at the gym.” ¬†He’s been right every time. ¬†He just locks it back up like it’s high school :-D). ¬†Without a lock, Andrew decided to give me his stuff to put in my locker. ¬†He disrobed in the hallway and gave me his sweatpants, sweatshirt and big winter coat–I looked like I was carrying a full load of laundry into the locker room, friends. ¬† ūüėČ

Anyway, I met him back out in the main exercise room and hopped on an Elliptical beside him (he was biking at this point.) ¬†I wanted to do a little cardio warm up before lifting weights, and Andrew was just killing time until a treadmill opened. ¬†After about 5 or 10 minutes, a treadmill in the row in front of us opened. ¬†Andrew got off his bike, went to wipe it down while the treadmill user did the same for his equipment, and just as Andrew was walking toward it, a girl swooped in and took that treadmill! ¬†The nerve! (I’m kidding, she had no idea; ¬†she saw an open treadmill in a very crowded gym.) ¬†After a few more minutes, he was on another treadmill, and I hit up the weight area.

At this point, I saw an opportunity. ¬†I always feel a little bit funny taking pictures, especially selfies, in the gym, and Andrew would NEVER agree to me taking a photo of him at the gym. ¬†While I was doing the leg press, however, I realized I could take a sneaky shot of both of us. ¬†My feet + Andrew huffing away on the right. ¬†Heh heh heh. ¬†(Yes, it’s the little things. :-D)

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After I’d lifted all the weights I cared to lift for the night, I hopped on the treadmill next to Andrew to do a cool down walk. ¬†I glanced over at his dashboard to see how fast he was running, as I am in the bad habit of doing (earlier in January when I was recovering from being really sick, I went to the gym with the firm plan of running 3 miles at a 6.0 (10 min/mile pace) just to help myself ease back into exercise. ¬†The girl next to me was someone I knew from high school, and I saw that she was running at an 8.0-9.0 and had been for a few miles already. ¬†Competition kicked in, and “The Club Can’t Handle Me” came on my iphone, and I thought, “Yeah, the club¬†can’t even handle me right now,” as I foolishly upped my pace to an 8.0. ¬†I maintained this for about a mile, then had to walk because… I was still getting over the flu. ¬†It wore me out for the rest of the day. ¬†Lesson learned: listening to and honoring your body trumps competition and pride.) ¬†Anyway, I looked at Andrew’s stats and saw that he, my I-hate-running-but-sometimes-do-it-because-it’s-good-for-me husband, was running a 7:30 mile pace and had been doing it for quite a few miles! ¬†I know he has the advantage of long legs and male body composition, but I just didn’t know he could run that fast for that long! ¬†There was no time to get competitive at that point, but I think I’m going to have to up my running game and challenge him to a duel race in a couple of months. ¬†I don’t see any other option.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. ūüôā ¬†Have a great weekend!

-Do you look at how fast other people are running/pedaling/ellipticaling next to you at the gym?  Does it ever cause you to alter your own speed?
Do you take pictures at the gym?  How do you do it without feeling awkward?
-Are you and your significant other competitive when it comes to fitness things?