Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free)

The cooler weather this week gives me a feeling of pure delight.  I love fall and all that’s associated with it, and the meals are no exception.  At the end of the workday yesterday, as I sat in my office, cozy in my cardigan sweater (which may have been overkill;  I think the temperature reached 80 yesterday, but that’s no matter ;-)), I brainstormed dinner and decided what sounded best was a soul-warming chicken casserole.

I’ve heard rave reviews about casseroles using just chicken, rice, vegetables, and a can of cream of mushroom soup.  Unfortunately, we can’t do dairy, so I had to get creative.  I came up with a pretty excellent dairy-free, gluten-free (and probably healthier) alternative to the classic casserole.  If you don’t want to make it DF and GF, but don’t want to use condensed soup, you could easily make this using milk and regular flour!

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

1 1/4 lb chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
12 oz mushrooms, sliced
4 c broccoli (fresh or frozen)
1 1/2 c brown rice
2 c soy milk
1/4 c DF butter substitute
1/4 c GF flour
salt
pepper
garlic powder
paprika
2 c water

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  2.  Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat; add mushrooms, and cook until browned.  3.  Add remaining butter to skillet, then milk, spices, and flour, and whisk to combine.  4. Stir regularly until the mixture thickens. 5.  In a large glass baking dish, combine chicken, rice, broccoli, skillet mixture, and water.  6. Stir well, cover with aluminum foil, and place in oven for 45 min-1 hour.

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I took it out of the oven and stirred a few times during the cooking process because I love to stir things and couldn’t help myself to prevent it from burning on the walls of the dish.  For some reason the rice took a lot longer to cook than I anticipated, despite using the quick-cook variety.  Also, as usual, I eyeballed the spices.  You can always add more at the end if it needs more flavor!

The end result was de-licious, and I doubt anyone would know it’s dairy-free!  We made it even better by eating it with baked apples straight out of the oven. 😀

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The apples were a late addition to the meal–they came to mind while the rice was taking forever to cook, so I knew I had time to get them in the oven.  All I did was: slice two apples, put them in a small glass baking dish with a little butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon;  cover with foil, put in oven for 5 minutes, remove foil, stir, and put back in oven for another 10 minutes or so (stirring periodically, again, because I can’t help myself. :-D)

It was an awesome, feel-good, fall meal.

And I even let Andrew eat some after he said, “What, are you my grandma?” when I told him I was making casserole.  Punk.  😉

What are you favorite cooler weather meals?

Any tips for taking good food photos, especially as it’s getting darker earlier?  I know my pictures are not good, but I have no skills!

Milkshakes, Vineyard Tour, and Youth Group (Weekend Recap)

Happy Monday to all!

We had a full, yet relaxing weekend here at the Storey house.  Friday we had one of those night that made me think, “27 and married is so, so different than 22 and single.”   It started when we decided to go out to eat, and I said, “I need a few minutes to get ready,” which meant brushing my hair and reapplying eyeliner.  Same clothes I’d been wearing all day?  Why not?  😉  We went to a restaurant called the Silver Diner, which is a small chain in Virginia and Maryland.  Although it’s a chain, each restaurant works with local farmers and creates seasonal menus with lots of gluten-free, vegetarian, and heart-healthy options.  It’s pretty great.

While browsing the menu, Andrew noticed the dairy-free milkshake option and suggested we split one at the end of our meal.  When the waitress asked us if we needed anything else, however, Andrew simply asked for the check.  After she walked away I said, “Did you not want to get a milkshake?”  He replied, with a little bit of crazy in his eyes, “Let’s go to Kroger and buy the ingredients, and then we can make LOTS of milkshakes!”  Done and done.

After acquiring the necessary ingredients, driving home, and blending, we parked ourselves on the couch with our milkshakes and watched a few episodes of Once Upon A Time on Netflix.  (Does anyone else watch this?  We are hooked. [Pun intended, for those of you who are watching season 2.]  Season 2 came out on Netflix about a week ago, and we finished it Friday.  Oops…)

So that was Friday: dinner at a diner, homemade milkshakes, and Netflix on the couch.  Yeah–27 definitely beats 22. 😀

I wrote about Saturday morning here, but the gist of it is: slept in, ran 6 miles, and ate brunch.  After that we worked in the garden–we planted more kale, lettuce, and spinach–and watched most of the VT football game.

Later in the afternoon we made a trip to the New Kent Winery for a tour and wine tasting.  Oddly enough this was Andrew’s idea, and I had to convince him to watch some of the football game (“I don’t need to watch every single game.  Do you want to go wine-tasting?”  Who are you, and what have you done with my husband?)  It was my first time at a vineyard, and it was so cool!

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As an engineer, Andrew always loves tours like this and learning how things are made.  The wine we tasted was pretty good too 🙂  After one particular wine I said to Andrew, “Wow, this is unique.  I’ve never had wine that tastes like this.”  Andrew replied, “It’s not unique;  we just don’t buy $25 wine.”  Hah!  True.

We sat on the porch for a while, then walked around the grounds and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon.

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The highlight of Sunday was having our first youth group of the school year!  Like last weekend at our kickoff picnic, we had quite a crowd, and it was so much fun (at least I thought so… but I planned the whole thing, so maybe my opinion is skewed ;-)).  It was a great end to a great weekend.

And now… Monday.

What was the highlight of your weekend?
Have you ever been wine-tasting?

Easy Mornin’

I know it was only Monday when I said that weekends aren’t really weekends for me because of my job.  Today, however, thanks to a couple of amazing parents who volunteered to drive a group of our youth on a scheduled service project, I have a Saturday. <Cue angels singing.> 😀

I kicked it off by sleeping in until 9:15.  That *never* happens.  I initially woke up at 7, which is pretty typical for me, went back to sleep, and the next thing I knew it was after 9.  I didn’t quite know what to do with myself!

It’s a perfect fall day today–mid-60’s and sunny–and I hadn’t done a long(er) run yet this week, so I ate a banana with some peanut butter, got dressed, and headed out the door.

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I didn’t run especially fast, but my goal was to complete 6 miles and enjoy.  Check.  🙂

I followed up the run with a delicious breakfast: blueberry oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and (two!!) cups of coffee with almond milk.  I even cooked the oatmeal on the stove as opposed to making it the night before.  Overnight oats are great, but hot oatmeal wins in terms of taste.

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Now we are getting ready to watch some football–Andrew’s alma mater, Virginia Tech, is playing–and later this afternoon we are going wine-tasting at a nearby vineyard.

Yep, it’s just an easy Saturday over here. 🙂

What are you up to this weekend?

Weekend Backpacking: The Priest and Spy Rock

On Saturday Andrew and I ventured into the mountains for a couple of days of backpacking and camping.  The original plan was to car camp–set up our tent beside the car, which we could then use as a base to store our stuff while we slept or hiked.  At the last minute we decided to make it more of a backpacking trip.  We parked our car in a gravel lot about half a mile from the Appalachian Trail and about 1.5 miles from where we camped, with the intention to still use it as a (less convenient) base, resupplying Sunday so we wouldn’t have to carry everything at once.

When we arrived Saturday afternoon we took what we needed for the night and started the ascent–the very steep ascent.  Here’s a map for reference (I’ve added red dots for your viewing convenience 😉 :

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From the parking area (marked “P”) we hiked to the AT (marked “i”).  From this point on, I will refer to that stretch as, “the half mile of doom”.  It’s a steep, dreadful dirt road that is tough with nothing on your back; add a 20-something-lb pack, and I started questioning my physical fitness levels.  From there we hiked east on the AT to the Priest, which provided little relief in terms of incline, and finally arrived at our campsite (the red dot near the shelter).

We set up camp, met a nice family from very rural Virginia, and made dinner.

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If we’d had a few more days to plan for backpacking, we would have been more intentional about bringing a lightweight pot/stove and dried food.  We didn’t though, and heavy dinner is the main reason we kept a few things in the car.  Before leaving we’d prepped dinner in a large zip-sealed bag and traveled with it in a cooler–soup with canned chicken, green beans, squash, mushrooms, peppers, cooked rice, black beans, and a bunch of spices.  We put the combination in the pot with water, heated, and enjoyed.  For a somewhat random mixture of canned foods (and a few from our garden), it actually tasted very good!  Who says you can’t eat well in the woods?

We slept–not particularly well, but not horribly either–and I woke around 6:00 AM when the smallest amount of light was coming through the tent walls.  I decided to pull myself out of the sleeping bag and try to catch the sunrise at the overlook less than half a mile away.  (Andrew decided  to keep sleeping :)).  Oh man, it was worth it:

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After enjoying God’s awesome creation and the stillness of the morning for a while, I made my way back to camp and waited patiently for Andrew to wake up.  On second thought, “patiently” might not be the right word;  as soon as I heard the faintest stirring sound, I unzipped the tent and demanded that he come outside and play :-D.  We ate breakfast, packed what we didn’t need for the day, and began the 1.5 mile hike back down to the car.

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Coffee and a French press;  it’s all about priorities, people

We dropped off a few items at the car, grabbed our day packs and pre-made lunches from the cooler, and reveled in the lightness of our loads compared to the overnight packs. 😀  Looking at the same map above, we tackled the half mile of doom from the parking lot to the AT, then hiked west to Spy Rock (well, we went a little beyond Spy Rock, but that was the highlight.)

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MmHmm.

 

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We ate lunch, hiked a bit more, then started walking back.  When we had roughly two miles left until we’d reach the car, it started raining.  Then it started pouring.  In case it’s unclear, two miles is a long way to hike in the rain.  We finally made it back to the parking lot and sat in the car to wait for the rain to stop.  At that point, I was done.  If it was necessary, I could tough out camping in the rain, but my dry bed sounded very appealing at that moment.  Andrew was not as sure, but eventually conceded that the rain was not likely to stop anytime soon and that would not make a great night of camping.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just start the car and go at that point?  It sure would be… but wait!  Our tent and much of our gear was still at the top of the dang mountain.  So, with 10 miles under our belts and water sloshing in our shoes, we had to make the 1.5 mile hike back up the steep mountain, pack all our gear, and hike back down.  Oy.

We survived but were pretty whipped by the time we arrived home.  Thankfully we had a pre-made dinner in a bag that we just poured in a pot on the stove and heated. 🙂

Even with the rain, it was an awesome trip, and I don’t regret going.  I love those mountain views and the workout they require to view them (our legs were hurting so good the next day!)

How did you spend your long weekend?
Have you hiked Spy Rock or the Priest?

Jamaica Part 2: Fitness and Adventure

While it may be tempting on vacation to lie on the beach all day–especially when a waiter walks by at regular intervals and says, “Hey Princess!  Are you doing okay?  Can I bring you a drink?”*–it’s also exciting to explore all that the activities the area and resort have to offer.  And you’ll feel better if you move a little bit between those buffets and fruity drinks. 😉

(*After this happened a few times, I requested that Andrew start addressing me as “Princess” and offer to bring me drinks regularly;  he declined.)

Here’s how we stayed active in Jamaica:

Snorkeling
When we were on our honeymoon we purchased snorkeling masks, which we brought with us last week.  The resort offered snorkeling trips, which we did once, but most days we also explored on our own just off the coast.

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A huge thanks to our friend Kevin for letting us borrow his waterproof camera for the week!

Sailing
The resort offers a variety of water sports, so we went sailing one day!  The culture difference related to this cracks me up:  In the US, in order to take out a sailboat you’d probably have to take a class, sign a waiver, pass a test, etc.  In Jamaica they said, “You know how to sail?  Have fun!”  😀

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Beach Volleyball
This was more Andrew’s thing, but I played one day too!  Every day at 4:00 the resort staff organized a volleyball game, and Andrew played most days.  Also, if I may brag on my husband for a moment, Andrew is kind of awesome at volleyball.  I had no idea (he never played on a team or anything), but I supposed I should have realized, considering is good at most sports.  The one afternoon he didn’t play, all his teammates kept saying, “Where were you??  We needed you!”

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Also, minutes after the above photo was taken, the guy on the right dove into the water to cool off and came up screaming expletives, his foot gushing blood.  We looked in the water and saw that he’d stepped on a stingray, which then pierced his foot!  We talked to him the next day after he’d spent a good portion of the night in the medical center; he was in some serious pain, but he’s okay!

Offsite Adventure: Ziplining and Waterfall Hiking
The only thing we did that was not included was an excursion to Ocho Rios (about 90 minutes from Montego Bay) to zipline and hike a waterfall.  The trip was absolutely worth the extra cost!

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The view from the sky lift

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Dunn’s River Falls is a series of 3-4 ft waterfalls with big pools at the bottom of each.  We hiked from the ocean to the top of the falls.  It was awesome (and provided some great photo ops! :-D)

The Gym
In addition to staying active outside, we did hit the resort gym a few times–once for Andrew, twice for me.  Each time I completed 20 minutes on the treadmill (intervals + a short warm up/cool down), and 20 minutes of weight circuits.  I wanted to make the workouts count without feeling like I was spending too much precious vacation time at the gym.

That was our Jamaication!  I’m still not sure about this whole, “not on vacation, back in the real world” thing, but I am slowly adjusting.  Yesterday afternoon I made myself a “transition from paradise to reality smoothie”: pineapple, mango, and strawberry.  I compromised by not including spinach, flax meal, or rum. 😉

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Not bad, but not Jamaica.

Have a great Tuesday!

Where did you go/are you going on vacation this summer?
Have you ever been to Dunn’s River Falls?

Jamaica-Bound!

Friends, Andrew and I are off to Jamaica!  We are staying at an all-inclusive, couples-only resort, and I could not be more excited.

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A few days ago I Googled, “Staying healthy at an all-inclusive resort,” because let’s be honest: all you can eat and drink for an entire week can be dangerous.  I present you the following from our honeymoon at a similar resort in the Bahamas:

Exhibit A:

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1. The pina colada because I’d only had one that day
2. The “welcome to dinner on the private island!” glass of champagne
3. The white wine because the waitress offered
4. The water because, well, I like to drink water with my meals.

Notice that Andrew has a similar lineup across the table.  We’re not proud.

Exhibit B:

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All you can eat.  Chocolate pastries on the right, I’m looking at you.

When I Googled, “Staying healthy at an all-inclusive resort,” all the responses I found fell in two categories:

1. Be a crazy person and have a miserable vacation.
2. Do what you do naturally.

And because Andrew and I are most certainly not crazy people, here’s our stay-healthy game plan for the week (spoiler alert: it looks very similar to how we live normally) :

1. Stay active.  The resort offers kayaking, snorkeling (we bought our own gear on our honeymoon!), beach volleyball, windsurfing, swimming, and more.  We love outdoorsy stuff, and we are planning to live it up.

2. Listen to our bodies.  Eat when we’re hungry, stop when we’re full (Admittedly, we did not do a great job of this on the honeymoon…)  If it doesn’t taste good, don’t eat it just because it’s there.  Eat plenty of fruits and veggies because we feel our best when we do.

3. Enjoy.  It’s vacation, and we fully intend to enjoy those strawberry daiquiris, pina coladas, and chocolate pastries.  😀

While we’re gone, I have some awesome guest posts lined up from a couple of people who are very near and dear to my heart.  😀

Have a great week, and I’ll “see” you next Saturday!

Post Food Poisoning Meals

It’s been a week of funny dinners around the Storey house.  On Sunday night after a dinner out, Andrew got a bad case of the pukes that lasted through the night.  We decided it was food poisoning based on the timing and the fact that I never caught it.  He was pretty miserable. :-/

On Monday he was still in pretty bad shape–managing to muscle down plain toast, chicken and rice soup, and Gatorade–and on Tuesday he was ready for a real, but bland dinner.  Here’s what I came up with:

Skillet Chicken
Steamed Green Beans
Brown Rice

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We cooked the chicken tenderloins in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  The green beans (from the garden) spent some time in the vegetable sauna steamer, and we made the rice in the rice cooker with chicken broth.  Really easy to make and surprisingly good, despite the lack of creativity (a little bit of salt makes a big difference!)  Most importantly, Andrew’s recovering stomach approved. 🙂

Last night, however, we had a dinner issue.  When I went to the grocery store Monday, not knowing what Andrew would feel up to eating, I bought two boxes of Applegate Farms chicken nuggets–one gluten-free for him, one regular (because I am sympathetic;  if he had to eat chicken nuggets, I guess I would too… you know, to support him ;-))  He didn’t want them Monday, but when I came home last night, he was working his way through a plate of nuggets.

“Those are the gluten-free nuggets, right?”

(A slight look of panic on his face) “There were two kinds?”

“Yes, I bought one GF and one regular so that you could have the whole GF box to yourself…”

“I didn’t check!  You said you bought GF chicken nuggets so I just grabbed a box out of the freezer!”

We went to the freezer to check, and, sure enough, he had broken into the NON gluten-free box.  He said he’d eaten four before I walked in, which may seem like a lot, but considering he had eight additional nuggets on his plate, I’m glad I walked in when I did.  I was nervous all night about what effect the gluten might have on him, but it seems that it was a small enough amount to not upset his stomach beyond the “off” feeling he already had.  (If he’d eaten all 12 nuggets though… seriously, who eats 12 chicken nuggets?)  Crisis averted, lessons learned.  Andrew continues to be on the mend!

If you have a food intolerance, have you ever accidentally eaten something you weren’t supposed to?  What happened?

When was the last time you had the upchucks?  What foods can you tolerate/do you recommend during the recovery?

 

Independence Day, Yoga, and Laughter

Thanks to everyone–in real life and the blog world–for your kind words about my grandmother the last few days.  It’s been great to have what I know reaffirmed through so many: Grandma Tudor was a hell of a woman.  For those who didn’t know her, you’ll get to hear more about her in the coming weeks; don’t worry. 🙂

It has been a stressful week.  I leave tomorrow for a mission trip with the middle school youth at church, which I am so looking forward to, but there has been a lot to do related to the trip this week.  On Wednesday morning, hospice let us know that my grandmother was in her final 24-48 hours.  I think the anticipation of her death was, in some ways, worse than her actual passing.  I felt like, I am sad, but I can’t start grieving yet because I have too many other things that I need to do that will be much harder to do when I am actually grieving!

As Andrew walked through the door Wednesday evening, he made a playful jab about an email I’d sent him earlier in the day.  I immediately burst into tears and said, “I’m stressed, and I’m sad… can you not pick on me??”  (What can I say?  I am good at articulating how I feel and what I need… even if I word it the way a 6-year old might.  ;-))

After dinner that night we went to our yoga class.  I’d been looking forward to it as a stress reliever, but I didn’t anticipate all the ways in which it would help.  We set up our mats in the middle of the room; some people were already sitting or lying down, meditating.  The instructor entered the room and began setting up at the front of the class, but had not started the music yet, so the room was very quiet.  As I walked to the closet in the back of the room to get straps and blocks for Andrew and me, I heard a strange noise through the quiet of the room:

fsshh fsshh fsshh fsshh…

I turned around to scan the room.  Everyone was perfectly still… except my dear husband, who looked like he was trying to make snow angels on the floor, his socks making the fsshh noise as they moved back and forth.  I think from his position, he couldn’t tell how loud or obvious the motion was.

I hurried back over  to our mats and whispered,

Andrew!  Stop!  What are you doing?

The floor is so slippery!  They just redid it, and it’s SO slippery!

That’s great… but stop…you’re being a lot louder than you think!

Then we did our best to stifle our laughter.  What is it about laughing when you aren’t supposed to that makes it so hard to stop laughing?  The harder we tried to stop, the harder we laughed, and laughing is great stress relief. 🙂

(But seriously, we are the worst yogis.  Let me apologize now if you ever happen to be in the same class as us.)

On Thursday, after the news about my grandmother arrived and I spent some time crying and talking to family, we decided it would be nice to get out of the house rather than spend the day moping.

We harvested some veggies:

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…ate lunch at Burger Bach, by which neither of us were wildly impressed.  We were lured in by the gluten-free bun option and grass-fed beef.  The burgers come with side salads, which is nice, and you purchase fries and dipping sauces separately.  We were turned off by the fact that a small fry comes with one sauce, and if you wanted to try multiple sauces, you have to pay extra–that includes ketchup.  Come on… just put the bottle of ketchup on the table; people will still try the other kinds.  Also, the cooking options were “pink or no pink.”  Well, I don’t want it to be pink, but I also don’t want it charred, which is how my burger arrived.  To be fair, I was having a bad day, but don’t be lazy;  a “medium-well” option won’t kill you.

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After lunch we went to Maymont to see the goats (I’ve mentioned this before, but I really love goats.  I regularly petition Andrew to let us get one as a pet.)

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Because it was so hot, they had all the animals inside, so unfortunately, I didn’t get to pet them.  Still cute. 🙂

That night we had dinner on the river and watched fireworks with our good friends Amanda and Diron.

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We love these guys. 🙂

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While waiting for fireworks, we laughed about the insane flash on the iphone camera:

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😀

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It was a great end to a tough day. 🙂

What did you do for Independence Day?

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?

Kayaking on the James

On Saturday afternoon, Andrew and I pulled out the kayaks for the first time this season.  The weather was warm, but mostly cloudy, the river level was high, and we knew we were in for a good afternoon.  But before removing the kayaks from the garage, we had one of those arguments about nothing.  When we bought the house, Andrew built a pulley system on the ceiling of the garage to store the kayaks (perk #107 of marrying an engineer.)  We currently use our garage to store lots of things that are not cars, so in order to get the kayaks down without dropping them on anything, we needed to turn them as we lowered.

Andrew: “Okay. I need you do hold the center of the kayak and rotate it as I lower.”

(The kayak is still at head level for me, and I have to lean over a work bench to reach the center.  Andrew lowers one side so I have some more slack to work with.  A watering can is knocked off a shelf after a failed attempt to turn the dang boat.  Andrew gives me an exasperated look.)

Catherine: “I’m trying!  I don’t know what you want me to do!” 

Andrew: “Turn the kayak so it’s facing that way!”

(Something else is knocked off a shelf by the hanging kayak.)

Catherine:  “I can’t do that from the middle!  I need to pull it over from the front!”

Andrew: “Then do that!”

We lowered the kayak to the ground, and the argument–more of a discussion with raised voices–blew over as quickly as it started. 🙂  Do you ever have arguments like that?  Ones in which you are frustrated with a situation but take out your frustration on another person?  I am definitely guilty of it… and I have a feeling I’m not the only one.  Still, I probably need to work on that.

We loaded the kayaks on top of the car, and headed to the riv-ah.  We started at Huguenot Flatwater;  Andrew dropped off me and the boats, drove downstream to Pony Pasture, dropped off his car, and biked back to where I was.

kayak

There’s not a lot of river between the two spots, so we paddled upstream for a bit before going down.  The river was really high, and the “beach” where we usually stop and eat lunch when kayaking was mostly under water.

kayak4 kayak2 kayak3

We explored the land, paddled around for a while, then eventually headed downstream.  Other than feeling a few drops of rain from the upcoming storm, the weather was great–warm, but not hot, overcast, but not completely grey.  There is a dam along that stretch of the James, with plenty of warning signs instructing boaters where to get out of the water and walk.

kayak5

Just after the dam…getting back in the water!

The best part of the trip was the end.  Pony Pasture has lots of rocks and rapids, so it was more exciting than a gentle downstream paddle.  Andrew, the more seasoned kayaker, led the way, and I followed at a distance through the rapids.  When I encountered the first rapid, my boat went entirely under water–still upright, but fully submerged.  Once we made it through, I told Andrew, “I am soaked!”  He laughed and said that he was as well.  When we took the boats out of the water, however, he compared the two and said, “Whoa… you took on a LOT more water than I did!”  I will have to work on my rapid-navigation skills. 😉

We ended a great day with dinner on the back porch–beet greens & kale, polenta, and chicken sausages with a rosemary-mustard sauce that Andrew created:

sausages

Andrew is back out in the kayak today with a group of coworkers!  They are attempting a longer, more rapid-filled stretch of the river.  I am going on a bike ride for as long as the rain will hold off (the sky looks threatening at the moment…)

Happy Sunday!

What’s been the highlight of your weekend so far?