Monday, January 26, 2015

SNACKS!!!

One of my new years resolutions this year (which is really more like a goal I guess) is to make a new dish every week for dinner. Brendan and I get stuck in the rut of eating stir fry veggies and rice/quiona, and frozen pizza (Brendan's favorite food, but we do the Amy's healthy version with a salad) more often than I would like to admit. Eating the same thing almost every night is even worse than it sounds when I am the cook because I usually season the stir fry with salt and pepper, that's it. So it can be balndsville over here. I don't consider myself to be a great cook, and Brendan wants to eat less meat for the earth and what not, so this resolution seemed like a good challenge. 

So far, we have had some incredible meals, and I have been surprised how easy cooking is (when you have a recipe!) Here is a recap of the first few weeks of the year plus one from Dec when I first got this idea to branch out.

Week of Jan 25: Fried avocado tacos from this recipe. We used avocado oil, thanks to Colin, to fry the little guys and what we had on hand as toppings (beans, lettuce, cheese, and salsa). They were incredibly delicious, something about the crunchy outside and soft warm insides of the avocados.
They don't look fancy, but holy cow are they good.
The little avocados frying. We may have made WAY too many but they were great as leftovers too!
 Week of Jan 19: Lemon Gnocchi with Spinach and Peas This one was also incredible, and we don't EVER eat gnocchi, which is silly! I used almond milk instead of heavy cream since Brendan is lactarded, and it turned out great/ maybe a bit healthier!
Also healthy because I used way more spinach than the recipe called for! 
 Week of Jan 12: Spiced Couscous and Chicken Not vegetarian but could still be an awesome meal without the chicken. I used the wrong kind of couscous (Israeli I think) and also multi colored carrots from TJs which is why it has a purple tint. I also sauteed the chicken myself because who buys a rotisserie chicken and doesn't just pick the meat straight off the thing?! It would never last to be used in a recipe.
Way more exciting to eat than veggies seasoned with salt and pepper!
Week of Jan 5: Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls We actually may have made this once in Dec, and thought it was so good I made it again (it's almost new to us). I also have no pictures of this one, so here is one from the site I got the recipe on. I love anything with sweet potatoes, and this has the added benefit of only taking one pan to cook!
Just as good as leftovers, or wrapped in a tortilla!

Week of sometime during Christmas break: Kale and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash Not nearly as hard to make as the fanciness of the presentation would lead one to believe! We actually made this twice during break (see what I mean about getting into a rut!) and the second time we added wild rice and freshly hunted wild mushrooms which made it SO good! 

This is from the non-rice and mushroom version, still really good and super easy. 
On tap for this week is Chicken Paprikash! I'm excited to try and make 52 new recipes this year (ok, maybe a few less since traveling to bike races makes cooking for myself hard).

Feel free to send me your delicious recipes!!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

29 Miles on a 29er on my 29th Birthday!

Ok, ok, I really only rode like 25 miles on my 29er because the first 30 miles I rode on my birthday were on my road bike commuting to work and back! Regardless, it was a fabulous day which began with a free Caramel Macchiato, a delicious bagel gifted from a student in 0 period, and the most amazing tamales from a kid in 5th period. These students, they know the way to my heart is through food!
Home made tamales so spicy I was sweating, they were perfect! 
After school I found a note from Brendan about a surprise in the chicken coop, but had to go do my workout before coming home to find two adorable birthday chickens in the coop! 
The white chicken is Claudia, but we haven't named the black one yet. Ideas?
Then Brendan took me out to sushi, and we grabbed a slice of carrot cake to share for dessert. It was a perfect day :) To make it even sweeter, Brendan had my car detailed (like he does every year) so all the bike grease, and tire marks are gone and Cookie looks brand new. B-dan also made me earrings out of sea shells we had laying around, AND he posted a few things on Craigs list for me. I am spoiled :)

28 was a good year, but I'm already excited about what lays ahead in the last year in my 20's!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What? No Aggie Training Camp?!

I think this may have been the first MLK weekend in 6 years that Brendan and I have missed the UC Davis cycling team training camp in Brendan's home town of Bodega Bay (the weekend and place we shared our first kiss and got engaged :). We choose to stay home this year so I could log some more structured training, and to avoid the heinous drive to NorCal. We definitely missed the long rides in beautiful Sonoma county with old team mates and new kids, but it was kinda nice to stay put, and train hard.
This weekend...
He's really tiny looking in this pic, on the left hand side in the field.
I saw a mountain lion in Blackstar canyon after another beautiful winter day riding bikes up and down the hill. He was pretty chill with all the people hiking and biking in Blackstar. I hope he was just passing through, because I ride there A LOT during winter/spring.

We took Brendan to Snooze for the first time. I had a flight of pancakes, half of which Brendan ate :) Pineapple upside down pancake? Who wouldn't love it?! Mascarpone stuffed french toast? Yes please! It was basically dessert, lets be honest. 

We got to hang out with Meryl and Allie. We were supposed to ride bikes, but somehow ended up on the beach instead, and I was ok with that. Como st ride on Sunday morning kinda tore my legs up. It was a nice alternative to riding bikes, then riding more bikes.


Sunday night we had dinner at Brendan's aunt's beautiful house in Rancho Santa Fe, complete with a tour of their awesome neighborhood. I found an empty lot with this 360 degree view of the ocean and San Diego mountains. It was pretty rad. 

And Monday, my coveted day off school, I cleaned the house, pretty much all day. You know you're getting old when cleaning is what you want to do on a day off school :) It was awesome, and our house has never looked so good. 

Now we are back in another work week, but it's almost over! Yee Haw!


Friday, January 16, 2015

More Randomness


Almost missed this shot because the sun was sinking over the horizon at this very moment. 
This week, while finishing my Thursday workout at sunset, watching my shadow pedal diligently along next to me on the red rocks of Blackstar Canyon I had a sort of realization. It was the very end of a long day which started at 4:40am when my alarm went off, and was still not over at 5:00pm, when I was pedaling home from climbing work on my mountain bike. What I realized is that I am on my bike before the sun is up most days, and again until sunset quite often. This week I rode until or past sunset 3 days in a row, and those were all days which started with a pitch black commute to school.
Long shadows in the canyons at the end of my workout.

It kind of hit me that a) I am a very lucky kid to be living this lifestyle, to have a job which affords me so much saddle time, and to love cycling so much, and b) I am toeing a fine line here between getting in quality training, and overdoing my physical output every day resulting in illness. This week was punctuated by some incredible mountain biking after work, Tuesday in Silverado, Wednesday in Laguna, and Thursday in Blackstar, but I also felt an illness coming on, and was quite stressed about the prospect of loosing days of training to illness.
This is just a season of my life, but it's an interesting one that I don't want to forget.
This bike even makes Over/Unders fun :)
And now for Friday's random thought: The rain last weekend has made all of Orange County glow bright green and I can't really get enough of it (a huge problem because it makes me want to be on my bike ALL day). I especially love the fluffy green grass in Laguna, I just want to roll around in it, it looks so soft and inviting. I also love the oak trees over bright green grass glowing in the sun in Limestone Canyon. I always see the view below on my commute home and want to stop and have a picnic under those trees, it looks so pleasant!
Doesn't that look like a lovely place to read a book and eat a scone?

Now it's way past bedtime, but no worries, this weekend has lots of room for sleeping in! Cheers to a three day weekend :)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Random Monday Thoughts and a Weekend Recap

"Off" days (especially when they land on Monday) always tease me a bit. Driving to school in the morning rather than pedaling means I theoretically get home earlier, and I have more energy/time to get stuff done. At school all day I day dream of stuff I want to do when I get home. The list usually contains fun, stress free stuff, like read my book wrapped up in a blanket, paint a picture, or blog. Then there are always a million things that get added into the list: grocery shopping, buy chicken food, laundry (always with the laundry!), walk the dog, core, clean the fridge, put away laundry... it never ends. By the time the groceries are put away, it's already 4:30, almost dark, better run out the door to walk the dog, then dinner, laundry and WHERE DID MY OFF DAY GO?!? It's a tease thinking I have the whole afternoon to myself... :)
Random picture from Laguna to break up the words :)
When it rains here, especially in the canyons, I get the feeling mother nature feels bad about the sad, gloomy weather, and the next day it is always so much prettier out than normal. It feels like mother nature is apologizing for the rain by giving us a brilliant, green, extra beautiful day. That day was today.
Blackstar singletracks/Brendan's ipod had me giggling on Sat, it's fun to actually see where you are going for once!
This weekend was odd. There were no epic 7 hour mountain bike rides, I was done riding bikes by noon each day. Sat I did my workout in Blackstar, and then Brendan and I chipped away at a long to do list in the garage. Sunday I did a group road ride, in the rain. It was fast, and fun and oh so wet. Along the way I learned through the rain pushing water through my helmet pads, that I don't wash my helmet enough. gross.
Oh, and I made scones that actually looked AND tasted like I expected them too... so that was exciting!
Apple cinnamon scones, which, by a complete coincidence have no sugar in them!
And that sums it up for this non-bike riding Monday. Off to walk the dog (it's 5:03, and getting dark fast!).


Thursday, January 8, 2015

San Bruno Hill Climb Race Recap

Here is a quick little recap of my first race of 2015, on the first day of 2015! 
On New Years Eve, I was a fuddy duddy and went to bed at 10:30 :) That's not to say I didn't fully enjoy a sweet little get together earlier in the evening, which may or may not have included peanut butter flavored beer, but that's besides the point!
On New Years day I dragged Brendan out of bed before the sun was up to drive to South San Fransico for the San Bruno "Mountain" Hill Climb Time Trial (Was it really a mountain? No, it really was just a hill, come on California). We got to the parking area WAY early, but I knew a good warm up was important for a 17 min race, so out came the trainer, and on went the chamois. Upon kitting up I realized I had forgotten basically everything one needs for a successful race; heart rate monitor, left it in Bodega bay; water, oh yeah, we only have half of one bottle... you know, because I've only been racing bikes for 5 years.
The first 20 minutes of my hour and 15 min warm up were basically worthless because, let me tell you, it is really hard to get motivated to warm up for a race after drinking peanut butter flavored beer the night before, very hard. Then, somehow I dug down really deep in my gut and willed myself to do a proper warm up, and before I knew it I was sweating profusely, and ready to race.
At the starting line I was nervous. I didn't know any of the ladies around me, except Beth who races world cup track races, and wins the San Bruno Hill Climb every year. Before I could over think what the heck I was doing racing road bikes, and run in the opposite direction, the official dude blew a whistle and we were off.
Within a minute of the start I got cocky and rode away from the group, but I was definitely a little worried I would blow myself up/that the other women knew something I didn't about the course. Somehow though, I was able to stay off the front till the end, and set the course record (with a time of 16:34) to boot! The race went by pretty fast, prob because I was counting down the minutes till 16, because I knew that was roughly how long it would take, and because the views of San Francisco from the course were amazing. It felt great to let it all out on the hill, climbing is my favorite part of riding bikes for certain.
All in all, it was a great way to start the new year, even if it meant waking up before dawn :)
Pic at the top of the hill courtesy of Michael Hernandez 
They gave me previously melted/stale chocolates as a prize. At first I was bummed, then I realized it's better that way cuz I'm not tempted to eat them :) You know, new years resolutions to eat healthy and stuff...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Respect the Wisdom of the Inuit


Here I am on Sunday morning, the last morning of Christmas break, sitting on the couch and not riding my bike. It's the weekend, and we aren't leaving to drive home for a few more hours. The weather is still nice here, and the beautiful Sonoma County roads and trails are all open and probably full of other cyclists, just not me. I'm not injured (well mostly), and my bikes are all in working order. So why am I not out there enjoying every last minute of being in Northern California?
View from the road on Friday's ride. I will never get tired of these pastoral scenes. 
Friends have been trying to warn me about my mildly destructive behavior that led me here, and after last Sunday's 'race' I could tell I was a bit cracked even though break was only half over, but I still couldn't resist the burning desire to ride my bike every minute the sun was up.

This past week started with a nice Steady State workout on Willow Creek Rd, a dirt road that winds up from the coast towards Occidental. The workout was hard, harder than normal because my legs hurt from riding 350 miles the week prior, but after 2 hours of structured workout I met up with Brendan and a friend to ride mountain bikes on some ridiculously fun trails near by. Brendan could be heard screaming with glee on most the descents, it was a great time, although my legs were tanking!
This was taken halfway down a trail Brendan described as 'the best trail in Sonoma County' so you know it was good!
I have never seen so much ocean from the 'sound of music' spot before. It was an exceptionally beautiful day. 
Black Trumpets
Wednesday I did a mellow ride up HWY 1 to Salt Point State Park for mushroom hunting (a 3 hour stroll through beautiful woods with good friends, during which I spent a copious amount of time on my hands and knees under huckleberry bushes. We gathered a good haul of mushrooms, many of which we still haven't cleaned, and ate delicious fudge thanks to Diane :)
I may have also spent some time on my back, laying on the forest floor. Not a bad spot for a nap; 
Thursday was race day, recap coming later on that one. I'll just say that Thursday involved both road and mountain bikes, and it was awesome!

Friday, after an incredible breakfast of scones, eggs and lattes courtesy of Phil, we went on one of the most fun mountain bike rides I can remember in China Camp State Park. The trails were either screaming fast, or tight and tree lined to rocky and rooty. The Scalpel and I had a blast trying to keep up with the boys on the descents and crushing souls on the climbs (jk, it just sounds good to say crushing :) haha)
Enjoying riding among the trees, with out of control beautiful views of the bay area.
Brendan feeling the feelings after a super techy ascent. 
Phil caught this awesome pic of Scalpy and I dropping into a creek crossing. 













Then I rode my bike from San Rafael to Bodega Bay via Sir Francis Drake Blvd to HWY 1. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. I've never been on S.F.D. past Fairfax, and I fell in love with all the little towns heading west towards Point Reyes. The road passes through a forest where huge Redwood trees surround you, and then opens up to sweeping views of pasture land and Tomales Bay. Although it took me 3 hours to complete the trip, I almost ran out of daylight and was dead tired at the end, this was my favorite road ride of the two week break.

Tomales Bay in the late afternoon. 
Saturday I was not quite as excited to hop out of bed and onto my bike, but I woke up fairly early anyway to pedal out to Santa Rosa to meet up with old and new friends for a fun little mountain bike ride in Annadel Start Park. The ride in was rough, needing to be on the east side of Santa Rosa by 10:30 meant I couldn't cruise on the ride out, and it's not exactly flat between Bodega Bay and Annadle. The mountain bike ride that followed was awesome thought (a bit on the rough side for my legs, but still so fun). I got to ride with some super fast local chicas, and even hit the deck super hard on a screaming fast descent. At the end of the ride I was cooked, and didn't have it in me to ride back to Bodega Bay :)

This past week I rode 250 miles, raced my bike, went 3 days in a row riding both road and mountain each day, and spent almost every waking minute Tuesday through Saturday outdoors. Sounds like heaven, and it really was, but I've learned there is such a thing as too much biking, a weird concepts for sure.

I've learned a few important lessons over the past 14 days, but of them the one that is having the biggest impact on my Sunday is that you should always respect the wisdom of the Inuit and 'don't overdo'. I did not respect this precept during break, and maybe rode my bike a little too much. I used to think gluttony was something that only applied to over-eating, but I now know it can come in the form of riding bikes :)