Sunday, April 17, 2016

Food and Workouts Lately

We are loving the long hours of daylight around here! (We could do without the heat wave, but I guess you take what you get.) Terry and Marshall spent some time playing catch in the front yard while I cooked dinner Friday night.

I thought I'd share some recent meals and recipes around here. It's been a while since I've talked a lot about food!

Friday at work we had a catered lunch (special treat!), and I loaded up my plate with salmon, steak, roasted vegetables, pasta, and salad, plus a fudgy brownie for dessert.

Saturday I had to work all day at UCLA Bruin Day! Admitted students visit the campus, and we staff members answer questions for the students and their families. It was a gorgeous day!

And after a great (and much-needed) night of rest, we woke up to a beautiful day this morning, too.

Okay, back to food. We tried out this spinach lasagna last week, and it was incredible. Super easy, perfect to make over the weekend and enjoy throughout the week. Marshall now says, "Yummy!" if he likes a meal, and this one got a yummy every time we ate it.

(No photo of the lasagna, but here's Marshall cooking in his kitchen)

Terry's coworker has a plot in a local community garden and generously gives us some of his vegetables from time to time. We got some Swiss chard recently. If I'm being honest, I don't love Swiss chard, but it's undeniably great nutrition-wise. So I made Swiss chard pancakes (a simplified version, with just eggs, flour, salt, chard, and butter for frying), and we all loved them. A great way to get in our leafy greens, and perfect for any time of day. We have leftovers for tomorrow that we'll eat with salads, and we have more batter for breakfast pancakes and eggs later in the week.

We've enjoyed a few meals out too, including my third-ever time trying Thai food. We're back on the healthy, homemade meals wagon today though, and this week looks tasty!

Tonight's meal was roasted sweet potato, apple, and Brussels sprouts topped with Italian chicken sausage. Marshall gave it a "Yummy!" and even ate the Brussels sprouts!

A few more photos from today at the park:

Checking out the ducks

Practicing his pitching stance

On the workout front, we're squeezing in what we can when we can, resting whenever we need it. Terry is playing a football league with some coworkers, so he's getting a solid hour of cardio on Monday nights. On the weekends we have been going for a jog or long walk at least one of the days, and we're sprinkling in weights and yoga throughout the week. Today we walked to UCLA to tackle Janss Steps a few times (one of us runs the stairs while the other hangs out with Marshall). Marshall climbed ALL the steps! He was a beast!

It was a short weekend, but we made the most of it. Now off we go starting another week! And it's a big one: Terry is turning 30!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Rain, Baseball, and a Sparkling Kitchen

Well hello there friends! This month has been much better than last so far, but April is certainly keeping us busy. We're enjoying several weekends at home (as opposed to traveling), and it's wonderful to take it a little easier. 

So last weekend, my parents came to visit! We had a blast visiting with them, giving them time with Marshall, and taking advantage of their presence to enjoy a date night and some productivity around the house. It did rain most days they were here, but we made the most of it!

Tiny tot with an umbrella--too cute, right?

My mom is known for her inability to relax or sit down for more than five minutes, which has some major advantages. While Marshall napped one day, she made our kitchen sparkle! I swear, the kitchen hasn't been this clean EVER.

She also customized these curtains for us. I love them! 

Friday night, Terry and I left Marshall with my parents and headed out for a date! 

Our first stop was dinner at Rustic Canyon, a restaurant we've been wanting to try for a while. The owners also own several other restaurants we love, like Huckleberry and Sweet Rose Creamery, so we knew we'd love this place, too. But we didn't realize HOW great it would be! While expensive, the dishes were all packed with unique flavors and original combinations. We ordered three dishes to share (the restaurant is tapas-inspired, so the plates are all shared and come out at various times): the burrata with housemade bread and beet jam, ricotta dumplings, and pozole. Everything was amazing! Terry says it was the second best meal of his life (first favorite was this one). I thought the pozole was one of the most unique dishes I've ever tasted.

After dinner, we decided to head somewhere else for dessert, so we chose Urth Cafe on Main Street in Santa Monica. We each got hot chocolate and ordered a banana cream pie to share. Somehow we snagged a table right next to the fireplace, and the ambiance felt so cozy! I left feeling crazy full but satisfied with an awesome night with my hubby.  

Saturday, we had tickets for the UCLA Baseball game! My parents stayed behind, but the three of us had a blast.

It was Marshall's first baseball game!

We only stayed for a few innings because it was rainy and time to get home for dinner, but Marshall really enjoyed it and seemed pretty into holding a glove.

I'd say my parents and Marshall had a pretty darn great time. My parents also brought him a set of kitchen toys (fake food, utensils, etc.) and he probably spent at least five hours playing with those. 

Until next time--we miss them already!

Also, since this blog was supposed to focus a little bit on health and food, I thought I'd share our favorite breakfast around here lately: eggs (either fried or scrambled with some spinach), fruit, and toast with butter. 

I would eat this meal every morning if I could! (But we also run out of eggs really fast around here!)

Marshall agrees. :-) 

Here's to a great weekend, and also here's hoping I'll be back before another three week break hits me!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Our Grand Canyon

Well. After a very tough week, we used this weekend to come up for air. March as a whole honestly kicked our butts. We lost a special member of the family, we had to take Marshall to the ER for the first time

(he's totally fine, just needed a breathing treatment for a bad cough that gave him some shallow breathing), we got a flat tire that delayed our drive home from the Grand Canyon by more than two hours, and I got some sort of stomach bug or food poisoning this week that absolutely knocked me off my feet for two days. I can't tell you what a relief it was Friday morning to wake up to a new month and start fresh.

Now that spring has sprung, we're fully embracing the warmer weather and extended daylight. Lots of walks outside, transitioning to spring foods (I am especially excited for asparagus this year for some reason), and spring cleaning (although, to be honest, we're slacking a little on the deep cleaning and focusing more on decluttering the house). It's a fun time of year!

And now for some photos from our trip!

It was a long drive...about 8 or 9 hours total each way (longer on the way back if you get a flat tire, FYI). But the roads were gorgeous! Lots of mountains, clear skies, pretty colors in the rocks.

And finally we arrived! We pulled into the park, checked into Yavapai Lodge (located inside the park, so we had easy access to everything all weekend), and headed to an early dinner at Bright Angel Restaurant (no photo, but I had fajitas, and they hit the spot after the long travel day).

That evening after dinner we raced out in the last moments of sunlight to catch our first glimpse of the Canyon and to see the end of the sunset. Not a bad way to start our trip!

Saturday morning we set our alarms for 5:30 (because we're crazy), woke up Marshall, and drove up to Yavapai Point to see the sunrise.

Despite the freezing temperatures, we enjoyed the gorgeous morning and quickly headed back in to the same restaurant as the last night's dinner for a warm breakfast. I got the veggie scramble, which filled me up for a long day ahead.

Then we headed out for our big adventure of the day: a hike! The ONE thing I wanted to do on our vacation was hike into the canyon a mile or two, so we chose South Kaibab trail because it looked doable with a toddler (in the Ergo on Terry's back). Well, if I may offer one piece of advice: Try to avoid having just ONE thing you want to do on a vacation, because...Murphy's Law is alive and well, friends. We noticed high winds, but as soon as we started hiking, we knew we weren't going to make it. Marshall was in tears within a few minutes, with dirt getting kicked into our eyes, and I felt too nervous to get too far into the hike with our little one without a plan for getting back out. So we turned back after only a few minutes and took some time to regroup.

(So cold!)

Luckily, the day was still gorgeous, and we were dressed warmly, so we  hopped on the free shuttle and enjoyed a few sights in lower wind areas.

Later in the day, we set out on a long walk (so I got my hike, just not into the Canyon!) on Rim Trail, which lines the rim of the Canyon. We walked a couple miles before grabbing sandwiches at the General Store for lunch back in the room.

I doubt I need to say it, but the Canyon is incredible. It's astonishingly big, but also peaceful and calming. I loved all the colors of the rocks, the way the light at different times of day hit the layers of rocks to change the whole atmosphere. And I was surprised at how much forest surrounds the Canyon! I expected desert everywhere, but nope--tons and tons of green forests!

Another fun sighting: elk! Everywhere! We must have seen 30 by the end of the weekend!

Saturday afternoon, we attempted to go to another lookout point, but the long lines convinced us to try again the next day. We got to see the train and more elk, and then we hit up an early (disappointing) dinner at Bright Angel Restaurant (which, to that point, had been an excellent option, so I supposed it's hit-or-miss) before running out once more for another sunset. We clocked 17,000 steps that day! Then we headed back to the room early to get a good night of sleep before our last morning--Easter!

Marshall got a little Easter basket with two new books and a banana (what? he loves bananas!), and we held a mini-egg hunt in the room. So cute.

Breakfast Sunday morning was a fancy one! We went to El Tovar Restaurant, which has stunning views of the Canyon and truly awesome food. I had an omelet (ham, cheese, and spinach), Terry got Sonoran eggs with chorizo, and we all split a giant cinnamon roll. Marshall had a little bit of everything.

Then we took the shuttle up a little way and hiked back about a mile. The trail along Hermit's Rest is so beautiful, and we happened to hit a particularly quiet day, so the whole walk we were on our own and felt very peaceful. On our ride out, the shuttle announcement mentioned the hike wasn't for anyone afraid of heights, so I was a bit nervous, but it wasn't bad at all, and there were always options to walk along the road away from the rim.

Finally, a view of the river!

And then we grabbed our gear, stopped for a hot chocolate, and headed back home. We chatted most of the way about our favorite parts of the Canyon and what we're looking forward to on our next visit.

But then...

Yeah. Flat tire. Terry changed it right away, but our spare was flat, too, so we still had to call AAA, and then we had to wait for a second AAA vehicle that was big enough to fit the car seat so they could tow us off the freeway to inflate the tire. Poor Marshall was past his bedtime by that point and was SUCH a champ. He made the whole event so easy on us and barely fussed or complained a bit! And finally, as they finished filling the tire, he dozed off, so we transitioned him back to our car and hit the road again, driving under 50 mph the whole way home. It was a long, long night--12 hours from the Grand Canyon to our door, and we were exhausted.

Still, the trip was absolutely worth it. We loved the gorgeous Canyon, the time together, the fresh air, and the exercise. I am so thrilled we went! 

Here's hoping April brings us a better month. Wishing you a lovely start to the week!