Monday, October 15, 2012

Raw Vibe

I've been working on constructing a new site using WordPress.  I have only a couple of sample posts up (one, a super decadent chocolate pudding recipe) while I'm still learning to navigate through an unfamiliar program.  Check it out at Raw Vibe.  When I get all the kinks out, I hope to be posting there more frequently about all the great raw recipes I've been discovering and creating.  Come on over for a visit.

Rain, Rain...

Lot's of rain here over the weekend here in Chicago, which seemed to be the perfect time to set aside my walking/running routine and call it a needed rest.  I didn't call it in, though.  The hardest part of running in the rain (or under the threat of rain) is getting started.  Once out there, it's so refreshing.  Except for the seemingly excessive amounts of goose poop - that was like running an obstacle course.

Monday, October 08, 2012


I'm no where near the level of endurance to get up and run 26 miles, but jumping out of bed Sunday morning to run out and watch more than 30,000 people start was awesome.  Seeing all those beautiful people starting out on their race is so motivating.  I've had running on my mind for the rest of the day.

Although I had "completed" the Couch to 5K program a couple of weeks ago, I haven't actually ran an entire 5k route.  That is until Saturday when my husband joined me for an early evening jog along the lakefront.  He hasn't run with me since the first months of meeting me.  I suppose after getting married, he didn't have to work so hard to catch me {wink}.  Running with him, the miles flew by and before we knew it, we had finished my 5K loop without a stop.  Yippee.  We had to hurry home because it was freezing in Chicago, and you know, once you stop running, the wind blows right through you.  Some warm tea and a few moments in the steam shower was the perfect cure.

Now that I've seen it possible, I'm so psyched for my first race in November.  Time to gear up for winter, because running on a machine in a gym just doesn't appeal to me.  I'm convinced that the best way to conquer a Chicago winter is all about dressing warm and getting outside daily - exercise, fresh air, natural light and gazing at the horizon is the best prescription to beat the winter blues.

What do you do for exercise throughout the winter?

Friday, October 05, 2012

Chipotle Creme Sauce

I made this chipotle creme sauce last night to drizzle over tacos.  It turned out a little too spicy for my kids, but for the rest of us, it's a great substitute for boring, old, sour cream.  And for me, it's the oomph to make dairy-free tacos completely unapologetic. 

Today I poured it over a bowl of kale.  Such an easy and delicious lunch.

With the remaining leftovers, I massaged the creme onto kale leaves to dehydrate.  In about an hour or so, I'll have a bunch of crunchy, chipotle kale chips to snack on when tempted with a bag of potato chips.

For this usually unorganized, hurried mama, this was all so accidentally efficient.

Here's the recipe:

Chipotle Cashew Creme Sauce

  • 1 cup soaked (1-2 hours) raw cashews
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tbsp raw agave nectar
  • 3/4 cup water
Blend on low in VitaMix blender for a minute.  Switch to high and blend until creamy consistency.  (I've learned that to start on high send all the chunks up the sides of the blender, never making their way down to the blades.  It took a few messy cleanups to figure this one out.)


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Trail Runs

Where do you like to run?  Not where, really, but what surface do you prefer?  I've been thinking about this since trying a trail run about a month ago.  It was challenging, a bit painful, yet exhilarating.

I have had a lot of fear about running and walking on uneven surfaces since dislocating my ankle about four years ago.  The accident left me with a plate and 11 various pins and screws in my left ankle, foot, and shin and a few lovely scars.  Much worse than having a bunch of hardware in my body, I have a lingering fear to overcome and in general, I prefer to keep my feet on a nice, smooth, hard and predictable surface.  Concrete.  Thank goodness I live in the city.

Stepping off the beaten path challenges that fear.  Grass, a deer trail, sandy dune, soft meadow, or a spongy marsh asks so much more of the body.  All those little muscles, tendons and ligaments that become so used to the straightforward pounding of the sidewalk, are stretched and strengthened in  ways I didn't think possible.  My running partner on that first trail run assured me that in time, those muscles will strengthen and lend me greater confidence in my stride. 

It has been so worth it to get off the beaten path, even when in the city and I'm only a couple of feet to the side of my beloved pavement.  In the country, however, that is where the true pleasure lies.  To see a flock of wild turkeys, or a mob of deer when rounding a bend in the grass makes the discomfort insignificant.  For that, I now save my off days for the trail.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Daily Walk: Under the 'L'

Look what I found beneath the 'L' tracks.

This was a dilapidated garage only months earlier.

Now it is canvas.

Vibrant.  Friendly.  Poppy.

Muscles bunching, back is aching, knees are creaking, getting up is painstaking.  From all the miles spent walking and jogging, I know I haven't kept up with stretching enough.  I specifically set the date and carved out the time to make it to yoga today for the first time in months, and I'm paying for it, in a good way.  As I held each pose, those that I didn't topple over, I could feel the tension release.

The cost to drive to class and park (Chicago Parking Meters, LLC - Grrrr) is equivalent to cab fare one way.  The cab is more fun and I frequently get into deep conversation with the driver.  I don't have the hassle of finding a parking spot.  And I get to walk home.  It's a little far to go both ways and time is always an issue.  Usually, if I'm power walking, I prefer the uninterrupted distances at the lakefront.  Today, however, I did the big work in class, so I was able to enjoy a leisurely walk through town.

I love how the city changes each time I pass through it.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Almond Coconut Macaroons

While my SIL, Mara, was in town for a short visit, she motivated my tween to get off the computer and into the kitchen to do a little baking.  Chloe picked a gingerbread cookie recipe from the family recipe collection that my MIL put together for each of her kids.  Mara doesn't eat either gluten or dairy, so I thought it a little unfair for her to cook up a delicious treat that she couldn't enjoy.  As soon as those cookies were out of the oven, I whipped up a small batch of these raw vegan Almond Coconut Macaroons. 

It's a simple recipe that I've found many variations of throughout the raw blog world like here and here.  I pretty much copied mine verbatim from Matthew Kenney's Everyday Raw, except that I didn't take the time to dehydrate them because I wanted to reward my sister immediately for her good efforts.  I rolled these in the extra ground almonds to help them keep their shape.

If you make your own almond milk, this is an excellent recipe to use up some of that extra almond pulp.  Dehydrate the pulp and then blend the crumbles into almond flour.  It takes a lot less effort than it sounds, really.  I can't use up enough of this stuff, and I chuckle whenever I see a bag of pricey almond flour at Whole Foods.  However, if I keep making macaroons, I'd have to start running daily marathons to burn off all that sweet goodness.

After the first one, I had to force (with a wink) Mara to eat more so I could get a cute picture.  That's easy with her, though, look at that cute smirk.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September Flyby

Each year when the kids return to a school routine I imagine that I'll have tons of extra time to myself to do all the things I've ever wanted to do like writing more, exercising more, (un)cooking more, taking more photos, take photography classes, more yoga, start meditation, start a book club, start a book, start physical therapy, learn a foreign language, get a passport, plan a vacation, meet my husband for lunch, for a date, even just a quickie...

I digress.

I find I have less time.  I've added at least two solid hours of driving time a day, time to pack lunches, sign the forms, return the forms, supply lists, extra-curriculars, tutors (for my quasi homeschool).  There are doctor's appointments, vision appointments, dentist appointments.  Now the early alarm clocks, mouths to feed in a short interval, lunches to pack, detangling hair, teeth to clean, motivating the unmotivated.  Keeping the peace, deflecting the anger, sharing the love, keeping it unconditional in spite of the onslaught of "I hate you's."  Then the viruses, coughing, hacking, snuffling, sniffling, sneezing, sleeping. 

Oh, to sleep.

The routine I craved throughout the summer has run over and spit me out.  I'm still adjusting.  I'll be more careful what I wish for.  Ha!

Not all is lost.

Yesterday marked my official completion of the Couch to 5k program.  I ran it with my lovely SIL, and blogger, Mara.  She was in town for a quick visit and a promotion for Levi's.  Lucky duck.  I still have yet to run the entire 5k, but I'm getting close and feeling good.  There is a few more weeks to go before my first 5k in over 15 years.  Still walking and/or jogging daily and sharing an almost daily text with my most fantastic, long-distance workout sister.  It works to be held accountable.  The best texts received are the ones that say, "Where have you been?" or "Keep up the good work." or "You look great."  When a preprogrammed voice on the C25K app says the same thing, it means nothing.  When my sister chimes in, time to get on the ball!  I do it to her, too.  I'm afraid I'll get annoying, but I do it anyways.  On top of all that, because we're checking in with each other daily, we share all the other sisterly stuff that puts my crazy world in perspective. 

It's great to have sisters whether they be biological, step, in-law, or adopted.

Need a workout sister?  Join me on Twitter @mixed_threads.  I'll continue to post an image from my daily walk or jog and tag it as #dailywalk.  Follow me and share an image from your workout.  It'll be fun.  I'm still posting almost daily smoothie ideas, as well, and tag it as #dailysmoothie.  Check it out if you're looking for some healthy inspiration.  I've yet to figure a simple and elegant way to put it on the blog for those days (many of them, lately), that I can't get to my computer. 

Now on to fall.  Love, love, love this time of year.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Daily Smoothie

For the kiddos...

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

Blend, pour and listen for the slurps.

For the mama...

Add spinach and maybe a little matcha.

With a tall glass and the NY Times, lock yourself on the terrace.


(Okay, before you say it, I know.  I know.  My kids could really benefit from the spinach smoothie.  They won't touch it.  But I promise you, I'll keep trying : )

Friday, August 31, 2012

Take a Walk With Me

One huge benefit of my exercise routine, is that it gets me out of the house and onto the lakefront.  I love Chicago's lakefront.  If you stick around my blog for awhile, you will see a lot of images of boats, geese, puffy clouds, and the horizon.  Lately, there have been new sculptures popping up frequently along my route. 

I love a city that invests in public art. 

After a little research, I've learned that these objects are only temporary, but we all get to enjoy them for at least a year.  They are a function of the 23rd International Sculpture Conference that is being held here in the beginning of October.  I won't be participating in the conference, but I am happy to be a beneficiary of all that beautiful (and some more interesting, than beautiful) work.

By the time it is complete, there should be 54 new installations to grace our shoreline.  I am lucky to see the new additions as they arrive, so I get a chance to consider each one individually instead of as one big tour.

One of these days I'll move on over to Word Press so I can show you a nice and tidy slideshow.  Until then, here are several other pieces in the exhibit.  I haven't found titles and artists' names for all of these, yet.  If you know, put it in the comments section and I'll update the captions.

The new one I saw today I must have circled several times, walked around it, walked within it, touched it in a few places, laid down beside it, and snapped several images. 

I like it.

It looks like a different piece of work from each angle.    

Some pieces that seem kind of bleh at first, become more interesting when taking it in with its surroundings.

Metal Response by Bill Vielehr
Some of them have better placement than others, like it is hard to photograph the best angle of a piece of work when there is a lot of busy stuff in the background, cars, lampposts, garbage cans, etc.  The surrounding detract from the work.

Folding Forms by Christopher Newman
Or in the case below, the surroundings are just as busy as the work.  Maybe too busy. 

by Ray Katz

I pacified the kids with ice cream so I could explore this one a bit.  I'd like to return at a time with long shadows.

These enormous horses are so at home at the Field Museum along with Sue, the T-Rex. 

Kelpies by Andy Scott
It took a few days before I noticed the little man looking up at the gigantic horse head.  Now it's one of my favorites.

Kelpies by Andy Scott
Looking at this always makes me want to scratch my ear.

Nautilus by Suzanne Horwitz
Whenever I look at Red Dancer, I have the urge to climb up and sit for awhile.  Impossible for me, but maybe a feat my 4yo.

Red Dancer by Gary Kulak
I love how this piece, Three Liner, moves.  Not just seeing a different piece from different angles, it is also different at different moments and days.

Three Liner by Evan Lewis
 The houses I find interesting, but challenging to photograph in the way that I see it.

I've passed Bouquet for weeks before finally photographing it.  Funny how when I don't like something, it is such a chore to just simply take a quick pic (not even a good photograph, sorry).

Bouquet by Terry Karpowicz
Flamenco Revisited is one I like from many different angles, but the iPhone just wasn't working with me that day (or really, I wasn't working well with it, perhaps).

Flamenco Revisited by Ruth Migdal
I think I need to start carrying around my big girl camera to reconsider a few pieces. 

If you get a chance, come to Chicago and take a walk along the lakefront.  I'd love to hear what your impressions are.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Beautiful Being Big

Have you met Andie Mitchell?

She lost 135 pounds and continues to keep it off after five years.  That makes her a weight loss rock star.  Read this, this and this (but please come back).  I did last night and it made me cry.  Then I read it again and it made me feel hopeful.  Instead of putting the kids to bed,  I read it again and it made me feel powerful.

Oh, did I say she's gorgeous, kind, inspirational, and cooks up a storm?  Not my style of eating, but I can relate to her passion in the kitchen.  That she discovered food only when she started focusing on losing the weight is something I strongly identify with.

Sounds counterintuitive, right?  Like, you're fat, of course you've discovered food, right?  But not really.  Zombie chomping doesn't really count.  To be honest with you all, when I eat mindlessly like a Zombie, I don't really like food.  I hate it.  I resent it.  And it is often tasteless to me.

It's that discovery of beautiful, whole foods and, oh, the wonderful things you can do with them, that counts.  I didn't discover that until I started trying to lose weight in a different way, through the exploration of food instead of the substitution of food (sugar free, fat free, low carb, no carb, slim fast, medifast, nutrisystem, etc.) or avoidance of food (coke, speed, dexatrim, stackers).  I've put a lot of miles between all that and today.  Even though I stumble a lot, it is a beautiful journey. 

My friend posted a link to these articles on FB last night.  My first comment was, "I wish I could write from her perspective."  As in, I wish I was writing this blog after losing 60 pounds and giving you all the love and wisdom that I've learned.  And then I reread this part,

"When you’re big for twenty years, the only twenty you’ve ever known, you’ll kindly not frown upon two decades. You’ll know that who you are was formed in there, and that’s beautiful."

I haven't been big the only 45 years I've been around.  I've been up and down, like a roller coaster.  However, if I look back at the last 12 plus years that I've been struggling with this extra 50 plus, I cannot set those years aside and hate them.  I birthed two babies, nursed them and worked on raising them up.  I've conceived a few others that didn't make it.  I went back to school (as a nursing mama) and earned my degree practically from scratch, in spite of moving states in the middle of it all.  I have nurtured a relationship with my spouse that seems to always be a challenge, yet the rewards are so great.  I have an amazing, amazing extended family that I try to keep close in spite of the hundreds and thousands of miles that separate us.  I've built a home that I cherish.  I've cultivated friendships with incredibly intelligent and beautiful women.  I've supported the dreams of my husband.  I've homeschooled my brilliant daughter (who is probably so much more book smart than I).  And somehow, I've kept pace with my active son.  Through it all, I've managed to create a few things, images, cloth, words, whatever that makes my soul sing. 

Not to toot my own horn.

I write this for me, as well.  A reminder that when I look in the mirror and cringe at what my body has become, there's a whole lot of lovin' in there.  Nothing to disregard with shame.  Only to embrace with pride.  I know that I continue to be formed in that big body.

That is beautiful.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Daily Exercise

Week 5, day 2 of my Couch to 5K program.  I simply stuck to the program today as I tried to fit in my run before everyone woke up.  Now, at 2 in the afternoon, I barely remember it.  I could have used a little extra sleep.  No matter.  It's a beautiful day and I'm taking the kids to the park, or pool, or lake.  That'll wake me up.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Just Around the Bend

Yesterday began with another power struggle over screen time.  This post isn't about that, or raising a tween, or whether excessive video gaming is harmful to kids, or helpful.  This is about the rage I felt when leaving the house, which dissipated into sadness, and then into resignation, or hopelessness.  My feet pounded the pavement as I would like to pound the walls and scream.  Parenting is hard.  Better to take it out on my soles rather than the souls for whom I am accountable.

Instead of turning back at the halfway mark, I kept going.  Around the aquarium, the sounds of Lakeshore Drive get a little softer.  To the end of the peninsula and around the planetarium (the rocket ship museum, my little one calls it) it is suddenly quiet with only the call of the occasional seagull and the lapping of the waves.  This is the place I get to when I let everything go.  I sat and watched the horizon as the great emotions slipped away, leaving a sense of clarity in its place. 

Remembering the slogan, "feelings aren't facts", I laughed to myself.  That used to annoy the hell out of me when someone would tell me that.  "But they're valid aren't they?"  I would whine.  Today, it's so good to know that I can get to the place where the feelings pass and then I can think clearly.  From here, I turn towards home with confidence as a parent, and great love for my children.

I can't always get away to pound the pavement.  To go far enough around the bend for all the crazy to melt away.  So I try to remember these moments.


What do you do to find clarity?

Daily Smoothie

Coconut Water

Oh, heaven.  This tastes like dessert.

Daily Exercise

Today was a walking day which is what I've been doing on my off days of my C25K program.  I walked like a speed walker (only not as fast, I'm sure) with my arms up and pumping along with my legs.  I could feel it in my breath.  3.6 miles in an hour.  Not bad.

I'd like to start working in swimming and biking.  That triathlon look really beautiful this last weekend.  Funny, in my workout clothes, when I'm most exposed compared to what I wear daily, I feel the most confident.  Possibly because of my purpose.  I feel very purposeful when dressed to workout.  I would, however, appreciate if someone made a more attractive line of workout wear for plus sizes.  If it's been done, I haven't seen it, yet.  Somebody, please?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Daily Smoothie

Gone before I could get a photo. 


I added a little ice to the blender because I like it cold.  Simple and delicious.  Yep, I'll do this one again.


Daily Exercise

If I waited until the sun was low, then I'd be all long and skinny.

Today was day 1 of week 5 of my Couch to 5K program.  It's a lot more running.  In spite of still feeling very crampy, I felt strong.  The first five minutes I barely shuffled, then a short walk and suddenly the spring came back into my step.  I was actually picking up my feet instead of shuffling and I felt great.  Breathing still feels like a challenge - like people turn around to look to see what's coming up on them huffing and puffing so hard.  I know it will get better, so I keep doing it.

Instead of turning home at the halfway mark, I continued on, rounding out the sea wall near the planetarium.  Once passed there, it all becomes so peaceful.  That was the gift I needed today.  I had left the house feeling blue after fighting with my 12yo.  I ended my run sitting by the water watching the horizon and listening to the waves lapping the shore.  It was the meditation that I needed to put our mother/daughter troubles into perspective.

There have been several sculptures popping up along the lakefront recently, so I stop to photograph a few of them on my walk home.  I'll put up a complete series when I get them all.

What did you do for exercise, today?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Smoothie of the Day

Green Apple

This one I liked.  With enough strawberries to balance the bananas so it didn't taste like just a banana smoothie.  Had it for lunch and snack time.

Jicama Rice

I've been looking for a new raw food plan to try and just ordered Ani Phyo's new book, Ani's 15-Day Fat Blast.  While I'm waiting for it to arrive, I was poking around her blog for some inspiration and found this simple and delicious ditty, Mexican Style Jicama Rice.  It took about five minutes to put together and was so light and yummy.  I'm a rice junkie, and it can make me feel so heavy.  Jicama as a substitute pleased my taste buds just as much, but didn't have that compelling addictive trigger that a starchy rice would have had.

Try it.

Daily Excercise

Ooooh, bad cramps this morning.  Because I knew my sister would be sending a text soon including her daily exercise photo, I had to pull myself out of bed and into my sneakers.  I walked right into a triathlon this morning.  It slowed me down a bit as I had to find a clear path to walk, but the crowds, the athletes and the dogs (lots of dogs) were all so festive and motivating.  I think I'd like to try one of these some day.  First, I have to get through a 5k.  Soon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Daily Exercise

I woke up early and got my walk in while the house was still asleep.  Reminded me of the days of walking the dog.   This is what greeted me upon entering the harbor.  Good morning sun.

I was going to finish off week 4 of my Couch to 5k program, but felt a knot forming in my hip.  I ran yesterday, so I walked today instead.  I've figured it is just about exactly 3 miles from home to the museum and back again.  Nice.

Too early to give you all a big smile, but feeling the accomplishment nonetheless.

Smoothie of the Day

Dandelion Greens
Green Apple

Too tart, and not enough calories.  So I added...

Chia Seeds

Still "special" but drank it anyway. 

Oh, The Drama

You may notice that I seldom write about my kids, especially my older daughter.  She is twelve and proficient on the Internet, and so are her friends, so I am careful to preserve her dignity at all costs.

With that...


I'd love to pour it all out.

Any of you have a tween in the house?

This photo makes my face look squooshed.

This girl is amazing in so many ways.  As she matures, we can talk about books that I like to read (she's a voracious reader, so it's hard for her old mamma to keep up).  She likes clothing styles that I could only dream of wearing when I was young.  She can babysit her little brother.  Make intelligent observations at an art exhibit.  Criticize the harsh comments made by Heidi Klum and the other judges of Project Runway instead of criticizing the designs.  Clean the kitty litter.  Run to the store for a red bell pepper.  Tuck her brother into bed.

Oh the things a twelve-year-old can do.

I'm going to stop here, and keep it positive.

PS:  I am especially grateful for the Zoloft that kept me from screaming bloody murder and dragging her off to her room by her pony tail.  Whew.  Glad I got that off my chest.