9.27.2015

This Week's Eats 9.27.15 (and a Favorite Muffin Recipe)

It's been such a busy (and fun) weekend of Oiselle sample sale-ing, soccer game-ing, anniversary date night-ing, and enjoying the lovely fall weather by zoo-ing.

We were at the penguin exhibit and I couldn't believe the amazing light I got in this picture - absolutely no filter.

Now that it's officially fall, it's time to break out the Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Muffins!

I'm not obsessed with pumpkin everything.  Dare I admit I'm not a fan of the Pumpkin Spice Latte?  I'm more of a Salted Caramel gal.  But, THESE MUFFINS are so, so good.

This week:

  • Monday - Pizza
  • Tuesday - Veggie Masala Tacos
  • Wednesday - Satay Chicken with Roasted Broccoli and Brown Rice (great marinade recipe from About.com)
  • Thursday - Burgers on the Grill and Tater Tots (easy soccer practice night meal!)
  • Friday - Ground Turkey Tacos (my son has requested tacos for the first time ever, so I'm going with this recipe for homemade taco seasoning from A Big Mouthful)
  • Saturday - Appetizer and Wine Night!
  • Sunday - Crockpot Jalapeno Popper Chili (a favorite recipe from Everday Reading)
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!

9.24.2015

Hiking Snow Lake

Most Seattle area locals are familiar with this trail.  It's like a crowded moving party on lovely summer weekends.  Not exactly what you want when trying to enjoy the great outdoors.  So, I highly recommend going early on a weekday.

This whole kids both going off to school thing works out GREAT for hiking dates during the week!  Although we passed a fair amount of people going to and fro, we were still able to be on our own for most of the 6 miles round trip.  

I think the nitty gritty description of the trail is best left to the WTA website; this post is mainly a nice little photo dump of what you can expect to see on the trail on a sunny summer day.  A few tips, though: definitely bring sunscreen, because Snow Lake is more exposed than a typical trail off I-90 and prepare for lots of walking on ROCKS.  I forgot how much of the trail is rocky terrain.  


ROCKS. ROCKS. ROCKS.  Other than that, it's not terribly strenuous and the bang for your buck is well worthwhile.

After roughly two miles of this:


And some more of this:


You come upon the first glimpse of the lake:


Then you hike down a mile to views like this:



Whether on a sunny day or a cloudy one, 
(From our last visit, over six years ago - in AUGUST.)
I STRONGLY encourage everyone to get out and hike to Snow Lake!




9.20.2015

My Favorite Make Ahead Oatmeal Topping (and This Weeks Eats 9.20.15)

For years, I tried making my own version of Starbucks oatmeal at home.  Years!  I Googled so many copycat recipes, and learned in the process that Starbucks uses Quaker Oats.  I thought, how could this be!?  I've tried every version of Quaker at home, employing several methods - including hot water and covering, like they do in the store.  NONE tasted like that perfectly hearty version.  Well, they were quick cooking steel cut oats and Quaker FINALLY started selling them in grocery stores earlier this year.  My breakfast dreams came true!  I got out of the routine of hot oatmeal in the summer.  But now that I'm back at it, I decided to streamline my add-ins for the busy school mornings.  Just like Starbucks and the prepared topping packets! 

Although I like to change it up, this combination has been my favorite lately and lasts about a week.

Make Ahead Oatmeal Topping

1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds

Layer it up in a glass jar,



and then shake it up to distribute everything evenly for pouring over your tasty oats. 

Sometimes I leave out the brown sugar and sweeten the oatmeal with maple syrup, a mashed up banana, or Nutella...

This weeks eats:
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!

9.16.2015

Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Seattle 2016 Coupon Code!

UPDATE! If you are looking for the current free item for the upcoming Hot Chocolate Seattle 15K/5K, it is a visor and you can use code: SEATTLESWAG2. Go HERE for more info!

It's that time again!  Here's this season's Hot Chocolate 5K/15K Seattle freebie! 

Use code: SEABUFF2 for a free buff when you register for the Seattle 15K OR 5K.
  • The race is Sunday, March 6th 2016 - perfect time of year for some hot chocolate.
  • The swag is always awesome, and this year is no exception:
    Full zip, fleece lined tech jackets!
  • And again, there will be medals for the 15K - super cool, city-specific bling.
  • The folks at RAM Racing put a lot of thought, time and effort into choosing the hot cocoa and fondue - trust me.  And it is goooooood.  
yesssss.
Hopefully I've tempted you to join in the fun and get yer free buff!  If not, here are my recaps from Seattle , Seattle AND Chicago.  I can attest to the fact that the race in each of these cities is so fun and really well organized.  If you want to run in any of these other cities:
  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Chicago
  • Columbus
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Minneapolis
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • San Diego
  • Seattle
  • St. Louis
  • Nashville
  • Los Angeles 
Go here and check out this great race series!

9.13.2015

This Weeks Eats 9.13.15 (And the Sanctity of Date Night)

A friend recently put a request to Twitter for regular date night ideas, because dinner out gets expensive and really doesn't take up enough time.  We do try to go out for dinner maybe every six weeks or so, and usually we extend the time by wandering the aisles of Total Wine - a store that is NO FUN going to with children.  We'd probably go out more often if we didn't love our at home date nights so much.  It's something that we take very seriously, prioritize our schedules around and look forward to all week.  It's always an indulgent meal (big pasta or steak) that goes well with wine and after dinner drinks (like these).  It's always Saturday night after the kids go to bed.  And, it's always followed by a Redbox new release, or an old favorite film.  

Oh, and there are always candles and music. (Took this one last night while our steaks rested and we ate our wedge salads with blue cheese and heirloom tomatoes.)

Dinner and a movie at home has all the benefits of date night, plus I can wear my sweats.  Highly recommend!

This weeks eats:
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!

9.10.2015

Books I Read in August 2015

12000020
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by  Benjamin Alere Saenz

I was quite curious to read this coming of age novel, as the cover is plastered with a half dozen book award stickers.  I enjoyed it, but didn't LOVE it.  The main character is rather detached, which I usually find hard to read.  Luckily, every supporting character is given such wonderful detail.  The subtle story arc and lyrical writing made reading this book seem like I'd picked up a book of poetry, which is lovely but not necessarily page-turning material.  However, I appreciated the heartwarming and satisfying conclusion.

8680278
We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

I was glad to have this series to read over the summer and to have closure for all of the characters.  But, in order to move the plot along, Jenny Han made her protagonist rather insufferable.  Belly grated on my nerves in a lovable way in the first two books - but in this final installment, I 'just can't even' with her (and Jeremiah's) antics.  Their characters should be growing in emotional intellect, and instead they've regressed and become almost two totally different people from the first two books.  It was a little disappointing, but it's a sweet series, nonetheless.


21393526


Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

This story has such a unique concept, yet I felt it was lacking in execution.  The main character, Aza, has a respiratory condition so rare that it's named after her. We come to learn that she's not of this earth, a sort of human-bird hybrid species that live in our skies.  Following her revelation and learning of her new world, you would think it'd be an amazing adventure to read about.  Alas, I felt as if too much complicated detail was foisted upon me in a short amount of time.  I wasn't caught up in any of the drama, and there was little character development beyond Aza and Jason - her love back on earth.  I like the bird imagery, but I really, really don't like live birds in general.  So, it was hard to get into a story about bird people. *shudder*

  
16248068

The Elite by Kiera Cass

AND


18635016

The One by Kiera Cass

So, I finished up the next two Kiera Cass books and they pretty much fit the bill of the first one with light, easy, brain-candy fare.  It's like watching an HGTV show: it fits a formula, and there's just enough tension to make it interesting, but you know EXACTLY what's going to happen.  Sometimes, that's comforting and I get to have a little 'Bachelor' drama in my life without have to actually watch The Bachelor.  Total win. 

9.06.2015

Banana Coconut Blueberry Muffins (And This Weeks Eats 9.6.15)

Blueberry picking was so easy and fun, we went back for more near the end of the summer.  After cleaning the berries, I froze them in a layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, then popped 'em into a nice large Ziplock. 

We had at least two pounds, so I'm still making blueberry recipes on the regular.  Even though it's almost time for my favorite fall muffins, I'm holding on to summer berries for just a teeny bit longer.  I love the sweetness that bananas bring to baked goods, and I thought the shredded coconut would be a fun addition - especially toasted on top while the muffins cook.  This riff on a basic banana muffin was a hit in our house.

Banana Coconut Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 medium ripe bananas
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut, plus 2-3 tablespoons for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease your muffin tins.

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, beat butter, yogurt and sugar until fluffy - about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition.

Add bananas (don't bother mashing them first), water, and vanilla. Beat until well combined.

Add the flours, baking powder and salt. Beat just until almost combined. Stir in blueberries and shredded coconut.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tins - makes about 18. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden and springy to the touch.

Allow to cool for 20 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely.

These muffins are perfect for freezing and then popping in the microwave for about 30 seconds when you're ready to eat!

This weeks eats:
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


9.03.2015

September Goals and August Recap

This is the first year in a REALLY long time that I was sort of sad that summer was over.  Despite the high level of sibling bickering and being together ALL THE TIME OMG, we had a pretty darn good summer of play, beach time, swimming and just relaxing.

Maybe it has something to do with my aversion to the youngest growing up?  Waaaah!


We still have a little alone time on Wednesdays, when she gets out of school earlier than her brother.  So I will cherish that time this year.

Alas, summer is over and I did get a couple of things done in August...

August Goals

Pack and escape for Birdcamp year two! 
Well, that was easy and fun!

Organize logistics for Ragnar Trail.
As many of us predicted, the race was cancelled, due to the devastating fires we've had in Eastern Washington.  I suppose it worked out for the best in my case, as I wasn't sure that I'd even be able to run with my husband's work schedule and beginning of school year commitments.

Do more hill work and start increasing my weekly mileage (see above)
So yeah, because of the unlikelihood of running Ragnar, I kind of let this fall off the radar!  I'm still streaking and just cruising along at 20ish miles a week.

Download pictures off my phone.
FAIL!  Moving to this month's goals.

Get school supplies.
Pretty proud that I got this done early in the month, armed with a list I braved an actual store.  In years past, our school has had some sort of deal where you can buy a big ol' box of supplies at the end of the year prior for a set fee.  SOLD!  However, that was not an option this year and I powered through.

Get kids haircuts.
Done!

Cross off as many left over items on the summer bucket list as possible!
The kids really just wanted to hit up the pool or beach, so that's mostly what we did in August.  With the exception of 'Camp Daddy' while I was at Birdcamp. They went bowling for the first time!

And they did the Iron Horse Trail tunnel hike, like they did last year while I was at camp.

I took them to a fun, albeit scary, new park with friends.  

And we squeaked in our yearly Remlinger visit!

But now it's time to put our noses to the grindstone for another school year.  Man, I'm gonna miss my little summer sanctuary...


September Goals
  • Establish a routine, and try my everloving best to be patient with homework.  September is such an onslaught of go! go! go! after the summer.  Hopefully we'll settle in quickly.
  • Check off all school commitments: new year paperwork, volunteer application renewal, volunteer training, curriculum night, etc. (Again: go! go! go! so! much! to! do!)
  • Fill out a new day planner. (Yes, I still like to write things down and it's my one fun back to school purchase for ME.)
  • Go bowling!  Since I missed out while at camp, I got another Groupon (that expires at the end of the month) for the place the kids went with dad.
  • Get myself a haircut!
  • Tackle dowloading/organizing those iPhone pics
Here we go...