Archive | September, 2011

Giveaway winner!

27 Sep

Hi all! I hope you are enjoying your evening. I am celebrating the fact that I don’t have a stress fracture in either of my legs.

More about that tomorrow. Right now it’s time to announce the winner of the Spice Hut tea giveaway….

The winner is Ally! Congrats! Please e- mail me your mailing address. 🙂

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Spice Hut Review and Giveaway!

23 Sep

Okay, how long have you all been waiting for this??? I’ve talked about it at least three or four times over the past month and I’m ready to deliver.

I’ve been going to Spice Hut for about five years. When I was a senior in college I was introduced to loose leaf tea (I know, how did I go so long without experiencing this!) and I’ve never wanted to go back. Granted, loose leaf can be quite a bit pricier than the tea bags you buy in the store but it’s honestly worth it. Essentially, the tea from the tea bags is almost like the dust of the loose leaf tea, meaning less flavor. My husband would have a heart attack if I only bought loose leaf tea but I definitely keep at least 2-3 bags on hand at all times. A four ounce bag can actually last quite awhile if you only have two cups a day. Since I drink about six cups a day, I definitely have to supplement with tea bags.

Spice Hut is located in a small strip mall in Bellingham, Washington off Meridian Street and West Kellogg. I am really disappointed in myself that I didn’t take any pictures of the inside. They have the cutest mugs, tea pots, and pretty much any tea or spice related product. In fact, we even bought my mother-in-law a modern cat mug for her birthday (she’s obsessed with cats). If you ever looking for a gift idea for me, just go to Spice Hut!

I’ve tried so many of their teas, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to find one I haven’t tried. Have no fear, there are still many more for me to sample. I decided to take the Hot Chili Truffle. Ever since watching the movie Chocolat, I’ve had an obsession with anything chocolate and spicy. This tea did not disappoint. I love spicy food so I enjoyed the zing I got from the chili flakes. Since I don’t drink coffee, I like to have a black tea to wake me up in the morning and the heat from the chili helped with that as well.

How gorgeous is that?!

And hello, who can’t resist a little chocolate in the morning, especially when it’s virtually guilt free (unlike a mocha). Now, if you have a sensitive pallet, I highly recommend adding a little splash of cream, milk or even vanilla soymilk. For an even fancier treat, take 8 ounces of water and use two heaping teaspoons of tea to brew. Then heat up 8 ounces of milk and combine. You’ll have a yummy Chili Chocolate Tea Latte!

Onto the spices! I’ve recently become very interested in spices, probably because of my devotion to shows like Top Chef, Chopped and The Next Food Network Star. Also, when you are eating healthy I find the food choices aren’t as flavorful. What better way to spice things up (pun intended!) then adding some exotic spices into your dishes? It makes eating healthy that much more interesting and enjoyable.

A few seasons ago a contestant on Top Chef made some sort of chocolate dessert with a Chinese five spice. I had no idea what he was talking about but I was definitely intrigued. I love all sorts of food so I knew I had to try it. I immediately knew Spice Hut would have it. Though I didn’t try something as adventurous as dessert, I definitely improved upon a recipe I recently made.

Do you remember a month or so ago when I made a stir fry from a Clean Eating magazine recipe? Good because I don’t! I tried finding the post in my past blogs but apparently I didn’t write about it (???). Anyway, I thought that recipe would be perfect with a little more flavor. The almond butter sauce adds quite a bit of depth, but I thought I would lighten up on the sauce and give more of that to the hub (cuts down the calories!). I combined the following ingredients in the wok with a couple teaspoons of safflower oil–

1 lb chicken breast cut into equal 1-inch chunks

1 red bell pepper cut into 1-inch chunks

1 yellow pepper cut into 1-inch chunks

1 green pepper cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup edamame

3 minced garlic cloves

2/3 cup raw unsalted cashews

I tossed those all in the wok and added about 2 teaspoons of Spice Hut Chinese Five Spice at the end with the sauce. We put the stir fry on top of some brown rice.

The five spice completely elevated the recipe to the next level. It gave the stir fry so many different dimensions. You could taste each of the five spices individually, but it all harmonized into a great blend in your mouth. I tasted the licoricey (is that a word?!) fennel, the warm cinnamon, the spicy black pepper, the exotic star anise, and the aromatic clove. I’ve always been a little nervous and confused about what spices go together besides the obvious (basil and oregano, sage and rosemary, etc); that’s why I love the spice blend. Also, you don’t have to buy each of the spices individually.

What the heck am I going to do with the five spice besides stir fries you ask and why should I buy my spices at Spice Hut? I googled Chinese five spice recipes and so many options came up. I also plugged the ingredient into allrecipes.com and there were so many choices. Also, Spice Hut is nice enough to put a recipe on the bag of five spice. As far as purchasing your spices at Spice Hut; have you ever had rancid spices? Not so good. Have you seen some of the “spices” in the containers at the grocery store? As with the tea, they look like dust. All of spices are fresh at Spice Hut and you can just tell by looking at them that the quality is so much better. I often find quite a few spices there I’m not able to find at the grocery store.

Now that my mouth is watering from recalling all the delicious things I’ve made, I better go eat dinner. One more small thing….I’m doing another giveaway!!!! I know I missed August but I’m hoping you’ll let it slide since I’ve been so busy. 🙂 I am going to give a lucky winner (picked at random) to receive 4 ounces of tea from Spice Hut. How do you enter? Simply go the Spice Hut’s website at http://www.thespicehut.com and comment on this blog telling me what flavor of tea you would like.

Have a great weekend! The winner will be picked on Tuesday at 7pm Pacific Time. 🙂

Back to the grind

23 Sep

It’s taken me awhile to get back into the swing of things. Actually, I’m lying; I’m still not back into my normal routine. I have a TON of extra food left in the fridge, I’ve been eating turkey burgers pretty much all week and there are full garbage bags sitting in the garage because they won’t fit in the bin. However, it was all worth it. The party went off without a hitch (unless you count finding some chewed gum in my flower bed, and the fact that Edie continuously tried to hump my seven year old cousin and stole a hamburger and cupcake) and was a lot of fun. Of course, as the hostess, I felt like I didn’t get to spend enough time with everyone.

I pretty much kept up with my run schedule while my family was here, missing maybe two runs. I think it will end up being beneficial to my shins as well. 🙂 On one run I ended up coming home with a bloody foot. I didn’t even notice anything was wrong until I saw some pink marks in the laundry room. I thought Edie was bleeding, but when I looked down my left foot was soaked with blood from the base of my toes up. Well, apparently my toenails were a smidge too long and the nail cut my other toe. It even soaked through my shoe. When I ran the next time the blood from the shoes soaked back into my sock. And of course I hurt myself on that run too. I got my tongue stuck in my water bottle closure and it ripped out. Gotta love a bloody tongue on a 10 mile run.

I’ll sum up the rest of my hiatus from blogging with some pics.

Me and my cousing Austen

 

Me and my cousin Jami

 

The Fam

Hanging out at the farm

 

Ready to party

 

Ta ta for now! I’ll post my Spice Hut Review tonight and a half marathon follow-up on Sunday! I can’t believe it’s already here. Wish me luck!

Family Time

12 Sep

I could post a half-assed review of the Spice Hut tea and spices I got…however, I don’t feel that would do Spice Hut or you any justice. I told myself that when I started my blog it would be my outlet and I would never force myself to write. So rather than give you something mediocre that I’m not happy with, I am going to wait until next week when my life is a little less hectic.

My brain can’t concentrate on anything right now. My head it just spinning with thoughts of the reception, work and these people–

Papa, me and Mama

Both of my parents are here now to help with getting the house in tip-top shape. I could not ask for a better family or greater company. I love and respect them more than I could ever express in words. Since they live in New Mexico, I see them maybe twice, three times a year if I’m lucky. I think you can all understand why I would want to spend more time with my parents rather than blogging.

Never fear though! I’m staying pretty consistent with my eating, since we are trying to clean out the fridge before this weekend. I had some indulgences but I’m trying to keep them at a minimum. I find when I start to log more miles, I justify eating some naughtier things. That’s fine, but I still have to watch the calories. Just because you run 9-10 miles doesn’t mean you can go balls to the wall.

As far as the shin splints go, I think they are under control! They weren’t sore after the 15k on Saturday and I ran two miles this morning with no pain. Tomorrow I have four miles of speed drills. And on Wednesday it’s my Friday! Wooo hooo! My cousin comes on Wednesday with her son. I haven’t seen her for a year and I’m anxious to spend some time with her. I’m so thankful she was able to make it up here from Texas.

For as stressed out as I am, I just have to remind myself that I am very lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people in my life. 🙂

It’s baaaacccckkkk……

11 Sep

Well, football season is back. I finally wrestled my laptop back from the hub so I could do some blogging. Apparently he can’t go into the “Man Cave” to update or check his fifty Fantasy Football Teams.

My mom is here, trying to help me get things done for our housewarming/reception this Saturday. She is also trying to help me calm down and de-stress, which is probably not going to happen. Things are pretty stressful at work and I want to make everything perfect for the party (which I am well aware is not possible). I know I do it to myself. Thankfully working out helps alleviate stress (as do wonderful talks from my wise husband).

On Saturday I had a run, the Fairhaven Runners Waterfront 15k. It’s been unseasonably hot in Bellingham this past week, and the temperatures got into the 80s on Saturday. The last race I did when it was this warm, I did not do so well. I went a lot slower than I planned so I was prepared to not meet my normal time. The run was pretty and followed some similar streets as the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon (it’s in two weeks!). I had my Aquapods on and used the water stations to pour water on my head numerous times. I was doing better than I thought for a good portion of the race, a pace of 9:00 to 9:30. Of course, that didn’t last. The last two miles I slowed down to the tens because I was just so hot. I remember seeing the leader running past the six mile mark when I was at the three. He was running about a 5:11 mile pace. WOW. I ended up finishing at 9:49 per mile, which I was quite pleased with.

My mom and the hub came to cheer me on at the end. A friend of ours from work ran too and he was cheering at the finish line for me. 🙂

Me and the hub (he's pretending to touch me but he's not because I'm drenched with sweat and water)

The rest of the weekend was filled with errands, breakdowns, some tears, and good food. I will be back tomorrow with a review of the tea and spices from Spice Hut.

But before I sign off, I want to give a piece of this blog to remember 9/11. As I’m typing this, I’m getting tears in my eyes. We’re watching 9/11: Ten Years Later. I can’t even imagine what any of the people in New York went through. There are things I’m finding out that I never even knew. I think it’s because at the time I didn’t want to know all the details. Ten years ago, I was a junior in college at Western Washington University, thousands of miles away from my parents in Minnesota. I couldn’t handle it. But now I am ready to hear the stories and honor their memories. And I will never forget.

Long time, no post

10 Sep

image

Sorry folks, but between my mom, work, and planning our wedding reception, I have been a stress ball. So rather than take it out on you, I’ve been taking it out on my loved ones (kidding…but kind of not). I’m starting to think it would’ve been easier to pay more and not have it at our home.

Que sera, it will be lovely. 🙂 I will post a wonderful blog tomorrow and a review shortly. Until then, I will leave you with a picture of Edie’s favorite part of summer; DQ’s doggie dish.

8 Mile

6 Sep

My weekend can pretty much be summed up in one word; staining. We stained all 1100 square feet of our fence except for 12 boards (we ran out of stain). Luckily that part is on the back where I don’t see it or I would’ve been running to Lowe’s yesterday at 5pm to get more stain. We weren’t even going to finish it this weekend but I HATE leaving a project unfinished. I like it done yesterday.

Friday was crazy busy. It totally got away from me. I was supposed to get done at 5:30 but I believe I left after 6pm. My boss didn’t even leave until 8pm! We are in the process of hiring two new employees and they have to start training on the 12th of this month. Yikes! Needless to say, I didn’t want to take time to cook when I got home. I turned my Chipotle Lime Tempeh Tacos into a taco salad. I added some chipotle salsa, cheese and avocado. Mmm….

Saturday I did my long run, eight miles, with the pup. We went pretty early in the morning but Edie still got pretty hot. I stopped at about 6 miles and let her jump in the river. When we got home the silly dog wanted to play soccer. I kicked it a couple of times for her even though she could barely breathe. We came inside and she drank all the water from her bowl. A few minutes later I heard a familiar sound and saw that she puked all her water up on the floor. That was pretty fun to clean up, course, it’s good it was just water. That night we went to our neighbors’ house for a BBQ. It was absolutely delicious! They made salsa, salmon, chicken, and corn. At the hub’s request I made a chocolate pudding pie (super easy; make chocolate pudding, put it in the graham cracker crust, top with whip cream after it’s been in the fridge for a couple hours). After having years and years of horrible apartment neighbors, it’s so nice to have our own home near neighbors we love.

The rest of the weekend was filled with staining the fence. My in-laws came up, and the girls went shopping and ran errands for most of the day and the boys stained. I tried to relax when we were done but I had to pitch in and help. We also let Edie out during breaks since she spent the whole day inside whining. We were using a sprayer and didn’t want to have a red dog.

Kick my ball!

The next morning Elisa and I took the dogs to the river. It was pretty shallow so they had a grand old time running through the water. After we got home I was itching to get the neighbors side of the house stained. Because they have trees about a few inches away from the fence, I had to stain by hand. I stained the whole side of the fence in about three and a half hours. I just put my Ipod in and rocked it out (I hope all the neighbors liked my rendition of “Baby Got Back”).

Play Time!

After we finished, meal planning and grocery shopping were the last thing I wanted to do. I was absolutely exhausted and actually debated going to bed at 7pm. I was about 150 pages from finishing my book, The Raising, and since it was a mystery/suspense I had to see it through to the end. Since my mom is coming tomorrow I just picked up some Alexia’s fries to pair with turkey burgers. That will tide us over for a few days before I send my mom grocery shopping.

I am so excited to see her! She is like my twin in so many ways, it’s a little scary. Our wedding reception is at our house on the 17th so she is coming to lend her assistance. My dad took a trip to Minnesota so he’s going to join us a little later.

I had an 8am appointment today and another one tomorrow so I must get some rest. Less than 24 hours until I see my mom!