Sunday, October 16, 2011

Donating Blood and a Picnic in Santa Ynez

What a week! As I mentioned Thursday, it was Homecoming week at the high school where I teach, and I am exhausted! Yesterday showed me that coaching, in fact, does not get easier with more experience. I have an assistant coach, but the stress of leading our girls through Homecoming always manages to leave us utterly drained. Regardless, the girls had a great time, looked gorgeous, and performed beautifully. As difficult and time-consuming as Homecoming can be, I love seeing everything come together. (Sadly, we lost, but it was a cheer victory!)

Since Homecoming requires a 15-hour day, and we can’t eat out, we had to plan out our meals for the day and bring a giant bag of delicious goodies. As an engineer, Terry works a schedule that allows him every other Friday off, so he came to work with me to help with the Homecoming madness. We packed the following:

  • Breakfast: Banana-walnut muffins with cream cheese (we are creatures of habit)
  • Morning Snack: Carrots and pistachios
  • Lunch: Tortilla with cream cheese, tomato, and avocado
  • Dinner: Leftover shepherd’s pie and an apple
  • Evening snack: Lara bar

Days when I stay at work, like this one, generally require extra planning to pack lunch and dinner, but I’ve found it pretty easy and generally more satisfying than grabbing dinner at a local restaurant. I do work pretty close to Pasadena, where “healthy” restaurants run rampant, but I find it difficult to determine which restaurants actually cook from scratch and use only natural ingredients.

Today, Terry and I donated platelets. The process resembles blood donation, but it takes a bit longer and only removes platelets from your blood. Once they remove the platelets, the rest of the blood goes back to your body. Our donation center has excellent incentives; you can watch a movie of your choice while you donate (today, I chose Burlesque and Terry chose Hanna), plus you get three movie tickets of your choice. Given that movies cost around $12.50 per ticket, we almost never go unless we have these free passes. (Yes, we have to wait until two weeks after the release, but it’s saved us hundreds of dollars!) Platelets are often more in demand than whole blood, and you can donate platelets every two weeks instead of every eight. We love the experience of donating, and it’s a great way to give back to the community.

Donating platelets on a weekend means getting up early, because the process takes around three hours. We woke up at seven, donated at 7:45, then came home to pack up our picnic! We have plans to attend a party tonight, so we decided to head up to Santa Ynez Valley (Central California) for wine tasting and lunch. The drive to our favorite winery takes about two and a half hours, but our party is in that direction, so we figured it would be a good opportunity to pick up our wine club shipments.

On our way up to the wine valley, we stopped at Great Harvest Bread Company, a franchise that serves freshly baked, whole-wheat bread. You may be thinking, as I was several months ago, “What’s so wrong with the whole-wheat bread at the grocery store?” Well, my friends, I’m here to explain!

Long ago, I read somewhere that, in order to determine whether your “wheat” bread is truly the healthiest bread you can eat, you need to check the ingredients and make sure the first ingredient is whole-wheat. Boy, was that information incomplete! In reality, most brands you find in a grocery store make their bread with far more (unnecessary) ingredients. Ever since I learned about whole grains and the sad reality of grocery store breads, I’ve turned to Great Harvest for my bread needs. I love the free samples, the variety of delicious flavors, and the friendly service!

So today we grabbed honey whole-wheat, spinach-feta, and whole-wheat sourdough. We also sampled their cinnamon swirl and their pumpkin butter – yum!

Then we were off to our winery picnic, where we enjoyed simply scrumptious (and nutritious!) sandwiches. I opted for the whole-wheat sourdough, and Terry went with the feta-spinach, but we both loved the veggies: avocado, yellow bell peppers, red onion, and tomato with a little cream cheese. Even without wine, it would have been delightful, but our wine tasting bumped up the experience to awesome!

Simply delicious!

Terry and I had a lovely time in wine country today. We really enjoy long drives (note: we love long drives without traffic), and we find fun ways to keep our same old wineries fresh and exciting. Also, guilty pleasure alert: We love eavesdropping on people we don’t know. It’s usually pretty harmless, but we often get a good laugh.

Right now we’re heading to our friends’ house to enjoy a “Fall Party.” I’m not entirely sure what that entails, but we’re bringing pumpkin butter from Great Harvest and I’m wearing my new brown leather boots. I think that’s about as fall as it gets, unless the party involves a maze and a pumpkin patch, which would be awesome. I’ll let you know.


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