Tuesday, August 27, 2013

my hunger games

I'm running and running and running these days.
Lots of miles.
Dirty, beautiful, hard, hilly miles.
So at almost any time of day, I am hungry.
Always. Hungry.
When I'm running I crave carbs (who are we kidding, I crave carbs all the time), and I'm always looking for hearty snacks to fit my cravings and tame my hunger.

a few phone snaps from my saturday run
Over the weekend I made oatmeal cookies and we I ate them so fast.
Too fast.
I was thinking about how good they were today, and decided to make another kind of oatmeal cookie--one minus the flour and sugar and butter, so it could count more as a SNACK, and not as dessert
(and breakfast dessert, like sometimes happens).

So without all of those things......it's technically NOT a cookie.
at all.
Don't make these when you want cookies.
Make THESE. Our favorite oatmeal cookie....you will eat way too many.

Make these when you need something to tide you over until dinner.
I would even have one of these pre or post run.
They are very lightly sweetened, I really wanted them to be full of only good things.
Play around with the honey amount if you want to make them sweeter.  
Good For You Chocolate Chip Oatmeal "Cookies"
makes 20-24 cookies

1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup raw honey (this makes them very lightly sweetened--add more honey if you want more of a sweet cookie)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
3 cups rolled oats 
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup ground flax
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
edited to add
lately I've been adding:
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
extra almonds

preheat oven to 350°

In an electric mixer, combine coconut oil, peanut butter, and honey. Add in eggs and vanilla and beat on high speed for a few minutes. 
In a separate bowl combine, oats, coconut, flax, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix. 
Slowly add in dry mixture to peanut butter mixture, mixing slowly. Stir in chocolate chips and almonds. 

Drop by the spoonful onto parchment, and then smash down with a spoon 
(these don't spread while baking)

Bake for 8 minutes.

Now as tempted as you will to eat these straight out of the oven......don't do it! They LOOK like a cookie. They SMELL like a cookie. But they aren't a cookie, and need to cool first, I promise. 

My kids devoured these after school and begged to take them for their snack tomorrow....so I think they passed the test. 

What are you favorite snacks to eat 
when you are always hungry?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

friday q&a

Every week I get questions from all my kind/sweet/funny/adventurous/super cool readers 
via comments/emails/instagram/facebook....
.....and as many of you have learned I have the HARDEST time getting back to you. I just can't sit on my computer all day answering questions......call me crazy. 

 For frequently asked questions (camera talk, etc,) check out the FAQ 
(which most likely needs to be updated.) 

 If I get questions related to specific posts/photos that apply to everyone, I will try my hardest to post them here every few weeks. .....ask away!

Cookbook Questions
Soooooooo many cookbook questions lately--I am so happy you are excited!
Guess what this is a picture of below?
Our FINAL proof!
We are going through it, page by page making sure everything is perfect just for YOU!
We still don't have an exact date, but I promise it is coming right up.
How many recipes?
125!!! and a photograph for each. you guys this is a BIG book.
How can I buy it?
Amazon.com (sorry we can't do pre-orders)
Will you and Whitney do a book signing for locals?
We have talked about it......we might....what do you think?
Does Whitney have a blog we can follow?
Whitney WILL have a blog you can follow soon (and believe me, you will want to).
For now, please go find her on Instagram (@whitneyingram).
She posts simple recipes over there and you will just love them.
Follow ME on Instagram (@_sheenarae) or facebook (HERE) to see a sneak peak of our cover.
also, please try fresh peaches in vanilla almond milk.....mmmmmm

 How often do you run? How far?
This really just depends on the week.
Right now I am training for a trail marathon in a few weeks (my first.....eeeeek!), so I am running 3-4 times a week. My short runs are usually 6-10 miles and I'm working my long runs up to 20 miles.

Where are your daughter's shoes from? (her moccasins in THIS post)
They are Minnetonka (find them on Amazon for a better price!)

I'm allergic to_________. What can I substitute?
I get a question like this at least once a week on one of my recipe posts. 
I am not a professional cook/chef/food blogger/dietitian/recipe writer/allergen specialist.
 Really, I am not a professional ANYTHING. 
I am terribly sorry if you have a food allergy......I can't even imagine having to modify every recipe you find.
But unfortunately I can't modify it for you. I don't know what substitutes for what, and I'm afraid I have to leave you on your own for that one. 

Backpacking Gear
I had a few questions about what gear we used for our backpacking trip (HERE)
When it comes to gear.....actually when it comes to anything--we are scroungers.
This from here, that from there. Wherever we can find the best deals.
For great finds check out backcountry.com
and my very favorite--steepandcheap.com (get the app!)

What will you do with your free time 
now that your kids are in school?
I don't know?! What am I supposed to do?
We moved into our house in March and jumped right into homeschool.
Then we DOVE headfirst into summer and put all responsibility on hold.
So I should probably get to those last few boxes shoved into the corner of my bedroom.
Oh, and maybe actually clean my bedroom.
I would like to read more.
Try new recipes.
Get back to yoga.
Meet Robby for lunch.
Get back on my bike.
I have been wanting to make some changes to my blog for over a year now, and work on some new projects to share, so I'm hoping I can finally find the time to do that!

and just because every post needs pictures......
these are from our quick drive through Grand Teton National Park a few weeks ago after Yellowstone.

oh! and remember our How We Weekend project on Instagram? Summer got too busy for me to put posts together but let's get it going again! Go back and tag all your summer weekends #howweweekend and I will do an ultimate summer weekend post.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

first day

this post is cheesy. bring your own crackers.

In late spring we noticed a little barn swallow hanging around our old porch, and 
not long after that we also became acquainted with her mate. 
We never named them, just called them The Birds. 
The Birds got right to work.
They had chosen our gaudy old porch light to build their nest on. 
My instincts told me "NO". 
"Get The Birds out of here--they are going to be messy"......but I decided it would be so fun to watch. 
And we did. 
We watched and watched as they worked day after day building their nest. 
A twig here. A blade of grass there. 
Trip after trip after trip to make their home. 
A few weeks later, they finally moved in.
And then mama bird sat. 
She sat and sat, and one day when she left for a minute I snuck up there to see.....
and she sat and sat and sat some more.
Then one morning we heard it. 
Peep peep peeping on the porch light. 
We stood at the window and could see tiny little mouths opening wide, waiting for mama to feed them. 
Trip after trip after trip to collect food for her babies--and we watched it all. 
Working all day long for her ugly (sorry, but early on they were UGLY) little babes. 
They quickly grew and feathered and mama bird worked harder than ever to keep them happy and fed. 
Allllll six. 
A few more weeks passed, and one day I walked passed the window and noticed an empty nest.....
.....but where were the babies?!
They were perched out in our scraggly little apple tree.
Taking turns flying from nest to tree. 
Tree to nest. 
Nest to tree. 
A few days more of flying lessons, and they left the nest for good.
No more babies.
Occasionally I see mama bird come back to the porch.....
....she hangs out for a bit but never stays for long. 
I can't help but wonder what she's thinking about?
I mean, maybe she sees her babies all the time (wishful thinking).
Maybe they meet for lunch and go on great long flights together through the trees and haystacks.....who knows. 
But I DO know that I feel sorry for her when she looks at her empty nest that she worked so hard to build. 

her first day, his second
My OWN baby birds have left the nest. 
Well yes, they still LIVE here, so I can stop being so dramatic, I know. 
But this is the first time EVER that they have both been gone all day. 
I feel like I worked so hard the last eight years building our nest and feeding my babes, and with them gone all day, it's going to be an adjustment for me, I won't lie.
When your babies are little and there is The Crying and The Pooping the the Lonnnnnngest Nights Ever, you NEVER think this day will come. 
But it DOES.
And it's hard. 
But you see how excited your little birds are, and you put on your brave face, just for them. 
That's what mama birds do.


first mornings
so big. 


first year of preschool (best photos ever)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

back to schooling

Crazy crazy last few days.....

After going back and forth (and back! and forth!) all summer long, my kids decided they wanted to try out the elementary school here. 
(When we moved in March, rather than having them switch schools, we finished out the year homeschooling and we LOVED it). 
Doing homeschool with my kids was a fantastic experience--we all learned so much. One of the things I didn't like about it, was every time I seemed to find someone else who homeschooled (I was hoping to find a group we meshed well with), the first thing they wanted to talk about was how terrible public schools are. bash bash bash. I don't believe this at ALL. Our last few years of public school have been wonderful years--we have loved our teachers so much. What it came down to when we were deciding what to do this school year, was that my kids missed having friends at school (how can you blame them?), and wanted to go back. I am so happy I got to work with my kids at home, and if the opportunity presents itself again, I will jump right on it.  

a-a-a-hem. anyway.

So this weekend......great stuff.

Friday was spent doing some last minute school shopping and back to school haircuts. Saturday we took the kids to a movie and out to eat......a "last hurrah" of sorts. And Sunday we spent the day as a family and had our traditional back to school feast.

Monday I moped around the house because my baby birds were leaving the nest the next day.

and then....

My poor, sweet, adventurous Lu fell so hard on our tile that we ended up in the ER with a concussion.....no fun, at all. Scary stuff.

I had quickly gone from feeling sorry for myself that my babies were leaving me all day for school, to just wishing and praying that my sweet girl would feel good enough and be healthy and strong so she COULD go back to school.

The Dr. wanted her to wait just one extra day.....

last night's sunset via my iphone

So that, my friends, is perspective. 
How quickly my wants changed--going to school all of the sudden didn't seem so terrible, did it? 
We are hanging out today watching movies and "resting her brain", so she can start school tomorrow.....thank goodness.


Our back to school feast. 
I'm so glad I decided to do it on Sunday before all the craziness of Monday happened. 
We call it a "feast"......it's really just an easy dinner (last year we did grilled pizza), but we make it "fancy" by having a cake. Robby and I shared our memories from school (1st and 3rd grade memories are pretty funny), and we all laugh about it as we feast.

On the menu
Fish Tacos
 - Robby blackened tilapia--he used THIS recipe and is was soooooo good
 - homemade guac: avocado, lime, onion, cilantro, salt.
 - homemade salsa: tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, adobo pepper, vinegar, salt.
 - red cabbage with cilantro, salt and pepper, a splash of vinegar
 - sour cream
 - toasted corn tortillas
"Smashy" Black Beans (black beans cooked with lime juice and garlic and smashed while they cook)
Corn on the Cob

and of course, really chocolaty cake.
Chocolate Chocolate Cake
This is the same recipe as my chocolate coconut cake--but this time I didn't add coconut to the frosting. 
The coconut milk makes the cake extra soft and gives the frosting THE best creamy texture, but if you're not a fan of coconut flavor you can't actually taste the coconut milk.....try it!
I added just a few drops of pure almond extract to the frosting this time.

Chocolate Cake
2 ounces semisweet chocolate 
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
3/4 cup boiling water 
6 TBS butter, melted 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
2 large eggs 
1 cup coconut milk 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups cake flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
toasted coconut (for topping, optional) 

 Preheat oven to 350°F. 
Line bottom of 9" pan with round of parchment paper, butter paper, and sides of pan. 
 Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot water and cocoa powder. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. 
 In a bowl add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs (adding one at a time) until thickened slightly and light colored (about 3 minutes). Slowly add coconut milk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined well. Add flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. 
 Pour batter into pan, and bake in middle of oven until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool cake completely before frosting. 

 Chocolate Buttercream 
3/4 cup butter 
2/3 cup cocoa powder 
3 cups powdered sugar 
1/2c-3/4 cup coconut milk 
1/2 tsp - 1tsp vanilla, coconut, or almond extract (real, NOT imitation)
 Beat butter, cocoa, powdered sugar, and extract, and add coconut milk a little at a time until you reach a consistency you like. 

Toast a handful of shredded coconut (I like unsweetened) at 450° for a few minutes and sprinkle on top with some berries if you like. 

up next: back to school photos!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

trail etiquette

optional titles
trail basics for dummies
don't be an idiot
I should be a park ranger
stop pooping on the path (yes, we are going there.)

Last Saturday I ran up Mt. Timpanogos. 
A GORGEOUS hike, and it makes for great training so I love heading up there whenever I have the time. It's also one of THE most popular hikes in Utah, so on a Saturday morning it was like a ride at Disneyland......people everywhere. I was in awe at how many people show disrespect towards other people, AND the mountain itself, and it inspired me to list out some basic rules we should ALL follow to make spending time on the trail more enjoyable for everyone.
Pack it in, Pack it Out.
You've heard this. You know this. There are signs everywhere. You are a smart person.
So WHY are we talking about this? Because there is still trash fluttering around the trails! 
If it's NOT your trash and you have room to stash it, pick it up--what a great person you are. 
Teach your kids to be responsible about garbage. Teach your friends.
Just pick up your trash.

Uphill hikers (bikers, etc) have the right of way--so if you're on your way downhill move over for the climbers. If the trail is wide, slow down and move over, if it's narrow find a safe place to step over and STOP. But if I'm hiking uphill and see a mountain bike or a runner coming down the hill--I have absolutely no problem stepping over so they don't have to stop their momentum (if I have a safe place to do so). Just do your best to be kind and courteous, and make sure to communicate with each other.

Don't follow too closely. If you come up behind someone climbing, don't breathe down their neck--kindly ask to go around. Definitely DO NOT follow too close on a descent--this could be dangerous if you are too close in steep or rocky terrain, just use communication and find the best place to pass.

Don't walk side by side when there are others on the trail.

If you are hiking in a group don't stop and block the trail.

Stop hating each other.
I run, I hike, I bike. I find it hilarious that there are a few people in each of these groups that just refuse to play nice with others. 

give runners and hikers a heads up when you come up behind them. We can't always hear you until you are almost on top of us--just give a little hello and we will gladly scoot over for you. Little bells on bikes are awesome too. Please don't tear up behind us and then act annoyed when you almost give us a heart attack. Just give a little hello.
Be nice.
Share the trail.

Don't blow past people on the trail. If you run up behind someone, kindly ask if you can move around them. Don't just run right past--slow down, and be polite about it.

Stop being so angry at anyone who isn't hiking! It's not your trail--people can go at any pace they choose--it's not up to you to monitor the speed limit. After very politely asking if I could sneak around a group of hikers last week I was told "THE TRAIL ISN'T A RACE TRACK YOU KNOW!"
It's OK if someone wants to go around you.
It's ok if the trail is used for biking, running, hey--if someone wants to roller skate down the mountain let them do it--as long as they are courteous, it really shouldn't make you so angry.

I'm not exactly sure what the rules are when it comes to horses on the trail......but let's just move over for them! It's alot easier for a human to get over on the trail, than a giant animal. If you are coming up on a horse--from the front OR behind, as you get close speak quietly so you don't spook them--let them know you are there. Be sure to give plenty of room as you pass.

It's so weird to me when you meet someone face to face on the trail and they don't say anything. I'm not looking for your deepest darkest secrets, but can you at least say hello? If you are out on the trail and come across other hikers you immediately have something in common--your love for the outdoors--that deserves a quick and friendly exchange.

So yeah, we are going to talk about poo now.
If you can hold off and wait until you get back to the nasty outhouse--just do that.....because can you imagine if every person on a busy trail used the bathroom somewhere near the trail.......gross.
If you absolutely can't hold it:
move off the trail.
drip dry. (am I the first blog talk about this? you're not going to find that on a trendy fashion blog). no one wants to be out exploring and find your toilet paper in the bushes. If you absolutely don't need it, don't use it.
GO OFF THE TRAIL. Waaaaay off the trail.
That one should be common sense, but too many times I've been out enjoying the trail and have come WAY too close to........let's just say you don't want to know. Seriously?!?
go OFF the trail
dig a small hole.
bury it.
put a rock on it.
don't just do your business and throw your TP in the flowers for us to stumble upon and be horrified.
Make it look like you were never there.

Don't do it. Just don't. I don't care if 99 other people are ignoring the switchbacks and blazing their own trail. Be the ONE person who doesn't do it. It's annoying. It destroys habitat. And in certain areas switchbacks are often needed to move around rocks, or make sketchy areas easier to maneuver. When idiots start cutting THROUGH switchbacks they send rocks and debris down the mountain onto hikers below. Just don't do it.

Don't wear headphones on the trail. I can't tell you how many times I've come up behind someone with their music SO loud in their ears I've walked behind them for five minutes asking if I could pass by and they hear NOTHING. If you simply must listen to something, turn it down so you can also be aware of your surroundings.
And please please please don't carry small speakers and blast your annoying music. No one wants to hear it when they are in a meadow of wild flowers with cartoon birds fluttering about. 
Keep your music at home.

I love my phone. It's always with me--it still amazes me that I own a device I can talk on, write on, and take pictures with. Sometimes when you climb up on top of a mountain there is fantastic cell service way up there in the sky! But please! Don't sit on top of a mountain where the rest of us are enjoying the quiet, and talk on your cell phone. Go HOME to do that. We escape to nature to listen to the singing birds and babbling brooks.......we don't want to hear about the latest score or what your plans are for the weekend.
Don't talk on your phone.

I'm embarrassed that we have to talk about this one. If there are signs posted with specific rules--for example, "No Swimming" or "Restoration Area--Stay on Trail", why is it so hard for people to follow these rules? Don't be an idiot. YOU are not the one exception to the rule. When we were in Yellowstone you wouldn't believe the amount of people we saw stepping off the boardwalks for a picture or to get a closer look at a geyser. The ground can be so thin and brittle in those areas and not only are stupid people risking their OWN safety, if they fall through the ground no doubt others will have to risk their own necks to help the stupid people out.
Just follow the rules--it will ensure that all hikers stay safe, keep our drinking water clean, and prevent new and fragile habitats from being trampled beneath selfish feet.

Cairns are small stacks of rocks that help mark trails. Some people don't like them--they think that a trail should be 100% wild and unmarked. Some people just like to be destructive and knock them down. Whatever your thoughts, just leave them alone, respect them, even if you don't like them.

Leave it alone. Don't feed it. Don't chase it. Don't throw stuff at it (you guys, this happens, people are so dumb). Don't interact with wildlife--keep it wild.

So obviously I am ALL for getting your kids out on the trail--that's what we do! I would live with my family in the wilderness if we could. Certain people can get uneasy or annoyed by children on the trail--most of that is their own problem, but do a few things to ensure that your kids are on their best behavior:
All of these guidelines above......?? TEACH THEM TO YOUR KIDS. Teach them young to obey rules, take care of the earth, be respectful and courteous to others on the trails. 
Teach them not to cut trails, not to run around others, and teach them by being a good example
Kids are naturally LOUD, teach them to take moments to be quiet and still, and enjoy the sounds of outside. Remind them that others flee to nature for the quiet, and to be respectful of that.

Most trails allow dogs--some don't.  DON'T take your dogs in areas where dogs aren't allowed. Remember how we talked about following the rules?
If you are in an area that allows dogs, just make sure to clean up after them. People complain about horse poop, but horse poop is mostly grass and will not have an impact on the trail. Dog poop is different, and we don't want it overtaking our favorite trails. Bring a small plastic bag to clean up after your pup. Some people drop the bag to grab on the way out--totally fine as long as you don't forget it on the trail--then you are just littering.

For more information on being a considerate hiker/camper, check out Leave No Trace and follow these 7 Principals.

and last, but not least
If we all just followed this rule the world would be a happier place. Don't do stupid things showing off to for your friends or for a stupid Instagram photo. Don't put yourself and others at risk by dangling off ledges or getting too close to moose.
Be kind and respectful, don't be an idiot.
enjoy your hike. 

What else would you add to the list?

Monday, August 12, 2013


lately we've had thunderstorms almost every afternoon. 
windows open, thunder crashing, the earthy smell of rain.

lately I think I'm having panic attacks because the kids go back to school next week.......noooooooo

lately we've been having THE most incredible sunsets. ever. 

lately I've been craving the desert. It's been four months.....and I feel it. 

lately I've caught myself with a kitten purring in my lap.....and I liked it. 
what is happening to me??!!

lately I am just so thankful for my friends. they are funny and smart and I feel so lucky.

lately I've decided that Amazon Prime is the best invention known to man.

lately I have come to realize that we live in the world's most fantastic community. when we got to church on Sunday there were giant boxes of zucchini and squash.....just for anyone who wanted to take a few. free squash! for people like me with lame gardens. perfect.

lately we've been checking to see if our chickies have laid an egg. we are still a few weeks away I'm sure.....but lately we are antsy.

lately I like baked eggs for breakfast.....or lunch.....or dinner.
baked eggs with tomatoes and prosciutto
-preheat oven to 400°
-add 1-2 TBS half and half or cream to a well buttered ramekin
 -crack two eggs into ramekin
-add a few small pieces of prosciutto, torn into bite size pieces
-sprinkle with gated parmesan
-top with a few slices of tomato
-sprinkle with coarse salt, cracked pepper, and your choice of fresh chopped herbs (I used basil and oregano)
-cook for 15 minutes for yolks that are a little bit runny, add a few more minutes for more firm yolks

make a whole bunch of these for dinner--just put all your ramekins on a cookie sheet!

what have you been up to lately?

enjoying the show

A few weeks ago we had an afternoon thunderstorm slowwwllly roll in over the mountains. The sky was growing darker, the rumbling getting closer, and before the storm was overhead we sat out in the grass to watch nature's fireworks. We oooohed and aaahhhhhed as we watched the electricity streak across the sky. As the winds picked up and the rain began to sprinkle we headed inside to take cover from the storm. 

A few hours later, storm long gone and sun shining bright, I listened to my sweet girl tell dad about our day....."and then, we sat out in the yard and watched the lightening show! 
It was the best lightening show EVER!!"

Lightening show. A SHOW!! I have never considered thunder and lightening any more than just a storm.....and she saw it for exactly what it was--a great show. I have truly taken this to heart and have promised to look for all of nature's great "shows" that surround us each day. 

Last week we were lucky enough to travel up to Yellowstone National Park......talk about a good show. Yellowstone is unlike ANY other place on earth. It sits on top of a giant caldera, which causes the ground to bubble and brew through cracks and holes in the earth. It feels unreal--foreign almost to stand next to a pot of boiling mud and feel the warm steam on your face and smell the sulphur in the air. The colors of the ground--the sounds as it bubbles makes it feel like you have walked off the earth and onto another planet. 

We didn't have alot of time in the park--there is so much more exploring left for us to do--but here are a few pictures from along the way.......
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One of my favorite parts of the park was our drive through one of the areas that had been completely burned in a huge forest fire back in 1988 (read more here). It is fascinating to me how the earth bounces back so quickly, and a healthy young forest is in the making. 
A few phone snaps from the Midway Geyser Basin area in the park.....this area was craaazzzzzzy. 
Hot, windy and just eerie feeling.....we loved it.
These next few were taken out the window as we drove across the park....
We walked up to the boardwalk just as she was starting to blow......more craziness. 
I can't help but think of the first explorers that came through here and saw (and heard! and felt!) Old Faithful shooting thousands of gallons of boiling water into the air for the first time....
We hung around as the crowds died down and the sun sank lower, and wandered around to explore the other geysers.
Today Old Faithful erupts about every 90 minutes. The sun had set and we decided we'd stick around for the next eruption. We waited....and waited and waited. The estimated time came and went.....and we waited some more. 
And then......here it is! Cheers from the crowd!
A few spurts into the air and it quickly died back down. 
We'd thought that was it. 
It had been a long day, we grabbed our tired babes and were headed back to the car....
and then......
.....we heard it. 
We turned around as she was roaring into the sky--even higher than the eruption just an hour before.
We stood in the dark as a little family...and just enjoyed the show.