Thursday, April 25, 2013

Slow Cooker Green Split Pea, Barley and Lentil Soup

I made this recipe months ago and really should've gotten it out by now since we're hopefully now into spring. I tweaked Emily's recipe and loved it! 

Packed full of nutrient-rich ingredients and a crockpot recipe. Total winner!

I'm hoping we're past all those cold days in Iowa, but the weather has been crazy all across the country. We just can't kick winter this year. So maybe (let's hope not) there will be a straggling chilly day that's perfect for this warm, healthy, hearty soup.

Split Pea and Barley Soup
Adapted from Fit and Free with Emily

  • 2 cups Dried Split Peas
  • .5 cup Barley
  • .5 cup White Onion, Diced
  • 1 cup carrot, Diced
  • 5 cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups Water
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2.5 teaspoons Dried Basil
  • .5 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
Directions: Rinse your peas. Take all the pretty things and throw them into a 5qrt (minimum) crock-pot. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. If you want to add diced ham, add to the pot with 1 hour left. You may need to add water depending on your cooker and how thick you like it!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guest Post: Words from Mom, part 7

Here is another long overdue installment from my guest post series authored by my mom. 

Did you miss her previous posts? Catch up at the links below!
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
September 17, 2008, Josh's 21st birthday, should have been an exciting time for him, finally legal age to go drink in the bars. He was living in Des Moines working at Stella's Diner as a cook, something he loves to do, he was doing his army reserve weekends at Camp Dodge and was preparing for special training in the future.  He was looking forward to a trip to Florida the following week with Mollie and his Dad.  Little did we know that it would be months later before they would make that trip. 

When I called Josh that day, which was on a Wednesday that year, to wish him a happy birthday, I didn't know how close we would come to losing him.

Thursday, September18 started out as a normal day.  Dennis got up and went to work, I followed my normal routine trying to get some things done at home.  I had to work that afternoon/evening and was planning to go to Des Moines early the next morning to get Kaydin.  Mollie had a wedding that weekend and the following Monday was when Josh, Mollie and Dennis were to leave for their Florida trip.  So I went to work and left to come back home at the end of the shift around 11:00pm.  I always keep my phone on vibrate at work and often forget to turn the volume back up.  When I got home and found 14 missed calls from Mollie (Dennis also had 8 missed calls he was in bed and his phone was on the charger in the kitchen), I knew something was wrong.  When I called Mollie back I learned that Josh had gotten hurt at work. She didn't have much information but did say that it didn't seem serious that he had a cut of some kind, but they were keeping him overnight to check him out further in the morning. Obviously as a mother I wanted to be there serious or not.  I was due to go get Kaydin anyway so after waking up Dennis and explaining what little I knew to him, I left for Des Moines promising Dennis I would call him when I got there and found out what had happened.  

I went straight to Broadlawns Hospital where Josh had been taken, arriving there at about 3:00am.  When I got to Josh's room, I realized his injury was far worse than we first thought.  He was in a lot of pain and complained about not being able to pee, I got the nurse and she used a straight cath to relieve him.  From the look on her face when she came out of the room, I knew things were going from bad to worse.  When I asked her what was wrong, the only thing she could say was "it came out all blood"  I demanded that she call the doctor, I was told that the doctor would be there soon.  I kept asking for the doctor just to be told the same thing.  About an hour later the doctor finally arrive and after examining Josh again stated that they were planning to do exploratory surgery on him.  I called Dennis and Mollie, giving them the little information I knew at that point.  Dennis planned to leave work and was headed to Des Moines.  So Josh went into surgery for the first time that day.  After the surgery the doctor stated that they did not know the extent of Josh's injuries, and that they were planning on doing more testing, a CAT scan and a cystogram test. Mollie had the wedding to attend, she really couldn't get out of it since she was part of the bridal party. She dropped Kaydin off at the hospital.  Dennis arrived with Mollie and we waited for the testing to be done so we could get the results.  The doctor stated that they were not sure how bad Josh's injuries were. Mollie's best friend, Kristyn, came to get Kaydin. Things were getting so crazy and we didn't want her to be at the hospital at that time.  She was only just 20 months old at the time. She loves her uncle Joshie and didn't need to see him that way.

We had Josh transferred to Iowa Methodist there in Des Moines. They had the specialist on staff that we needed to determine the extent of Josh's injuries and give him the care he required. We knew that Josh's injuries were serious, and when we arrived at Iowa Methodist saw how busy their ER was, I was worried. But they were waiting for us with a room ready and then we were told the news about the tests that had been done.  Because of the fall at the restaurant, Josh had two tears in his colon and two holes in his bladder, one going in from the back and the other coming out the front.  The doctor informed us that they had no idea how he was still alive with such injuries and he had been bleeding internally for over 21 hours.

Next:  Josh goes into another surgery.
I remember getting the phone call that Josh was in the hospital. I think it was around 10:00pm. Tim and I were in the beginning of our relationship, he had just left not too long ago from my house. After I talked to Josh I let him know I would be there to see him and figure out what was going on. At that time he thought he would be going home shortly. I couldn't get a hold of Tim to come back and watch Kaydin while I ran to the hospital so I packed her up and brought her with me.  When I got there Josh let me know they were actually going to keep him overnight to check things out further in the morning. He was laying on his stomach, in a lot of pain, but we actually laughed about the whole situation. I stayed for awhile with him and then left to get Kaydin back home. His girlfriend at the time was there with him so that made me feel better that he wouldn't be there alone. I finally talked to mom and let her know the deal and that she could just come in the morning, but as I know even better now, I couldn't keep her away. The next morning I honestly can't remember all the details. Dad obviously came into town and I went to the hospital to drop Kaydin off. I didn't even get to go in to see Josh, I had to get on the road for my friend Rachel's wedding. I was driving up with our friend Adam Tucker and needed to meet him for our 4 hour trip to Decorah. When I pulled up in front of the hospital and Mom came out she hugged me just sobbing and worried. I still didn't understand how serious the situation was and really felt no worries. I tried to comfort her and she was happy Dad was now there. I hated to leave but couldn't skip out on a wedding where I was a part of the wedding party. The next few weeks were long, tiring, and a scary time for our family.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Glow Run

Last night was The Glow Run 5k here in Des Moines. It was the biggest one so far with 12,000 people! Des Moines also held the biggest Color Run on record last October. Des Moines representin' in these races! And I'm excited that I can say I was a part of both of them!

I have to admit I wasn't too into this race leading up to it. I knew it would be fun, I just wasn't really excited for it and I was feeling take it or leave it. A small part of me was hoping for some rain to have a reason to skip it.

I'm sooo glad it didn't rain, though, because then I never would've had the chance to RUN my first 5k! I am so excited I ran the whole thing! I've never run more than three consecutive miles in my life. I like to run, but not enough to run long distances. It's just really not my thing. The longest I'd run before was about 2.7 miles I think. I was so excited and happy I ran the whole race!

I credit my running the whole thing to being in a small crowd of some fun people! I ran with my friends Ang and Luke, friends from college, and Ang's friends and cousins.

And look who else I ran into! Emily, author of the blog Fit and Free Emily. She's an Iowa blogger that I've been excited to meet for awhile now. I knew she'd be in town for the race and was happy to be able to run into her! 

Emily- definitely let me know the next time you are in the city! :)

 My friend Kristyn was gracious enough to accompany me to the race and keep Kaydin while I ran. They were at the start/finish line to watch us. Tim had a last minute meeting/vacation to attend with his fraternity where he serves as chapter director. He's somewhere in the Caribbean right now on a cruise ship. Yep, I'm super jealous, but I can say us girls had a really fun time last night!

Kaydin was obsessed with grabbing every glow stick she could find on the ground. When other runners saw that they offered her theirs. It was really sweet and she was super excited. She loved the race and experiencing it and is so excited to run the Color Run this summer now.

After the race we headed home, showered, and hit the hay. This morning I woke up super hungry wanting a big breakfast. I did a search on Yelp and came up with The Machine Shed, a local favorite offering good, local, Midwest comfort food.


I didn't get a picture of any of the food but we chose the buffet with many, many offerings including waffles, made to order omelets and eggs benedict, cheddar hashbrown casserole, white chocolate bread pudding (awesome!), perfectly seasoned home fries, fresh fruit, and many other options. I can say I consumed all those calories burned the previous night plus probably two whole days worth! Totally worth the splurge, though!

I love how they serve their drinks out of mason jars and leave this old worn pitcher of water at the table. I want one of those pitchers at my house! Love that old country feel.

The Machine Shed is definitely a must-try if you haven't already!

What did you do this weekend? Were you one of the 12,000 that ran in The Glow Run?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Weekly Catch-up

Another busy week is behind me. Well, almost. Today was my Friday! Kaydin has no school tomorrow for a teacher in-service so that's means I get the day off, too! We have a few things planned tomorrow. For one picking up my parents and aunts from the airport. They've been in sunny Daytona Beach all week sending me beach photos to make me super jealous. We've been suffering through cold, dreary, pouring rain days allll week!

Kaydin and I did our grocery shopping last Sunday and I had all my meals planned out for the week. That went out the window though when all I've wanted the last two nights were toast and eggs. It worked out though because I threw in almost all of the fresh veggies I have in the fridge that need to keep being used. I sautéed some mushrooms, kale, spinach, and grape tomatoes before throwing in two whole eggs to make a veggie scramble. Top it off with feta cheese and you have a really yummy brinner! You know- breakfast for dinner!  :)

The rest of our week was pretty typical. Gymnastics on Monday, homemade calzones for supper on Tuesday (Kaydin loved them! and so did I!), worked late Wednesday and just lounged after work while listening to the pouring rain fall.

Tonight we ran a few errands and I tried to pick up my race packet for the Glow Run at Scheel's. The line wrapped all through store and even out into the mall. We stuck it out for awhile but then decided to call it quits when I realized, hey- I have the day off tomorrow. Pick up at the Science Center was an option. My plan is to get there early and hopefully beat the crowd! Here's hoping!

We've got lots on the agenda for the weekend so I hope the weather finally cooperates. Fingers crossed for sunshine and warm temps!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yes, it's far past Easter Sunday now, but who says carrot cake is only for Easter?! I think carrot cake should be a year-round dessert (which I'm sure it is for most people).

I made this for our Easter gathering with my side of the family- which was actually one week after the actual date of Easter- so I'm not too far behind here.

This particular recipe came with many, many firsts:
  • First time I baked a cake in a round dish.
  • First time I baked a cake from scratch.
  • First time I made a layer cake.
  • First time I made homemade cream cheese frosting.
  • First time I decorated a cake on its sides, too (ya know, not just decorating the top of the cake in a 9x13 pan).
  • And, first time I used a cake plate to display a cake.

With so many firsts, I'm glad it turned out so well! But it really did.  I got many thumbs up for my creation.

Annnnddddd, I even made this cake healthier than the original version. Now, there's always a time to indulge and not cut corners, but if it's tastes just as good, there's no reason not to. And in my opinion, my swaps are not counted as cutting corners. My changes just bring in more nutritional content to the recipe. Big Win! I also used over 1 1/2 cups LESS sugar than the original recipe called for. It was still perfectly sweet!  Even bigger win!!
Healthier Carrot Cake
Adapted from Janetha at Meals and Moves
For the cake:
  • 2 cups whole wheat white flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup raw cane sugar or white sugar
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup raw coconut flakes
For the frosting:
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2- 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  •  Preheat oven to 350. Line three round cake pans with parchment paper or spray well with nonstick spray.
  • Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Using a hand or stand mixer, combine eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  • Slowly add flour mixture to the wet ingredients, a little at a time until fully mixed.
  • Fold in carrots and coconut.
  • Distribute cake batter evenly among the cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar a little bit at a time until fully incorporated and frosting is smooth.
  • Spread the frosting onto the cake with a layer between each cake, on the top, and on the sides. Garnish with sprinkles and decorations, if desired.

And why is it that you can find multiple products over and over when you aren't looking for them but when you are, they are nowhere to be found.?!? I see cake stands in every TJ Maxx and Marshall's in the city all the time. I've always wanted one but refrained because I really have no more room in my kitchen and never had a real need. I'm not a frequent cake baker or decorator as proven in my long lists of firsts above. 

Kaydin and I set out to find a simple, inexpensive cake plate for my plan of making this particular cake for Easter. Wouldn't ya know that I couldn't find one anywhere! Except a couple plain white ones for $25. Nope, this girl's not spending that much! Finally, in the third store we looked I found this pretty purple cake stand on clearance for $10!! Score!
Have you ever made a homemade layer cake?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Just one more reason I love Whole Foods...

I really am becoming a tree-hugging naturalist!

Just kidding about the tree hugger part :) but I really am slowly switching to natural, chemical free products in all areas in my life.

I'm constantly flipping packages over the in grocery store and reading labels. If certain words are listed (carrageenan, sodium benzoate, high fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes, really high sugar content paired with small serving size), back onto the shelf it goes. Of course, there are still some splurges and slip ups- I'm not perfect, but I've definitely improved my buying habits over the last year or two.

I slowly started switching over to more natural, chemical-free beauty products, too. That's when I turned to Whole Foods for some guidance. The team members in the beauty team are awesome! So knowledgeable and helpful. I tried out some new exfoliating scrub, new shampoo, conditioner and vitamins for Kaydin, I tried a new face wash and I wanted to keep trying more.

I heard about Whole Foods' body products swaps program a long time ago but had been hesitant to give it a try until last week You just bring in a product to the beauty product section and the team member will help you swap it out. It can be swapped out for a brand new full-size 365 store brand product. What you bring in can even be empty or full or in the middle. You are allowed two product swaps per visit.

I took this in...
(both mostly empty)

and came out with this!
The store doesn't carry any 365 brand frizz/curl serum so the associate put on a special sticker and let me try this kind out!

Bring in an empty container and get a new one for free?? Yes, that's definitely my kind of shopping!

Have you used their product swap program? What 365 products are your favorite?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Weekly Catch-up

Hi Friends!

Life has slowed down a little bit and I'm finding I have a little more free time at night. Although that may be just a false feeling I'm getting since we are being blessed with more and more daylight everyday.

I've been really slacking keeping guys up to date with life and cranking out recipes. But I've always said and still do, this blog is just a hobby and I don't want it to be forced. I have tons I could say,  I don't want it to be a daily obligation. If I don't feel like writing, you won't see a post from me. I haven't gone anywhere I just haven't had a strong motivation to post lately. The time and energy is present but the motivation-- not so much! Hopefully it'll ramp up soon!

So, anyway- I thought I'd give you a run down of our week. And maybe even make it a weekly thing. But we'll see :)

So the week started out with me getting back into running. The last couple months I was participating in the Fitmixer Bootcamp combining lots of strength moves with cardio. Then I moved into a bunch of back pain and nursing it with physical therapy and stretch moves. With all of these things going on running took a backseat. When I realized on March 31that I had a 5k in just 20 days I realized I should probably start running again. So this week I've been doing just that. I'm not a strong runner, nor do I really even enjoy it much, but I've been running everyday this week. I'm feeling pretty good! :)

Monday nights are reserved for gymnastics. Kaydin still loves it and it's fun to watch her learn new skills and grow in the sport every week.
Summer session 2012
Tuesday I finally got around to delivering dinner to my friend Kristyn and her office. It's tax season in her world so she's been working long hours. I owed them a dinner for their number crunching skills so I threw together some pulled pork sandwiches, couscous and steamed broccoli, and some angel food cake.

Wednesday night is my late night at work so Kaydin and I got home, prepared some leftovers for dinner and hung out til Tim got home. We also threw down some grass seed in the bare spots in front of my patio. Here's hoping for a little rain and some sprouting seeds in the near future.

Thursday after work and our trip to the library, I got to work organizing and cleaning up stuff. I organized some cupboards, cleaned the floors and just cleaned in general. Not my favorite task but was sadly needed.

This week I also got to work on looking at the calendar and mapping out the spring and summer events. Just like every other year, we have lots going on but I wouldn't have it any other way! Plus the OCD planner in me likes to have everything planned and laid out. I lovveeeeee calendars and planners! Lots to look forward to including a trip to Utah, Kansas City, and Minneapolis and also some gatherings with some close girlfriends!

This has been a pretty typical week for us and we've got a busy weekend ahead. Kaydin will be attending her first softball practice which means we'll be hitting the sports store to get her decked out in all her needed equipment. Also on Saturday is her school carnival. Seems like a big deal at her school so should be fun! Sunday morning we'll be headed up north to Mom and Dad's bright and early to spend the day with family for a late Easter celebration. Word is the Easter Bunny made a stop at their house looking for her and left a few eggs in the yard. I'll let ya know how the hunt goes! :)

Happy Friday!