Category Archives: Life

See You in the Spring

Friends and family of the blog,

I should have written this letter a few weeks ago, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around what to say, let alone even sitting down to do this “dirty” task.

As most of you can relate to, the older and older we get, the shorter the days seem to become, and “there’s just no time!” The truth, usually, is that there IS time, we just need to decide how to best allocate it. Or, as my pastor described last Sunday, we need to build “margins” into our lives.

So, I’ve decided to build “margins” into my life for quality time with my husband, for learning, for meditation, and quite frankly for enjoying the little things, like Saturday hikes and Sunday doughnuts.

I’ve recently decided to purse a new business venture – something I’m so excited about, something I’m so passionate about, something that finally fulfills my mission in life and in work (This book was a huge help, by the way). That venture has been eating away at the precious little time I have. In order to maintain the margins and be successful in my new pursuit, I have to let something else go.

Unfortunately, that something is this blog. But, I’m just not ready to let it go altogether.

Once my new business is up and running smoothly, I’ll be back to once again share the highs and lows in my kitchen and in my fitness routine. Thank you to all of those who have supported the growth of this blog thus far.

Sincerely,

Hannah

Living Simply: Starting with Pesto

I know I’ve been MIA. And, I’m not sorry.

I picked up this book on a whim:

One chapter in particular really resonated with me. The chapter titled, “On Snow,” began with this verse:

God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth,” and to the rain shower, “Be a mighty downpour.” 

Job 37: 5-6

I was so overwhelmed by the simplicity of this, and what it really called my attention to was how un-simple my own life had become. I was living by to-do lists. Work to-do lists. Home to-do lists. Blog to-do lists. Personal goal to-do lists. Fitness to-do lists. I was just moving from one list to another. Worst of all, I was never fully immersed or focused in one to-do list because I was thinking about all that needed to be crossed off on the next one.

Going back to the title of the book, I was trying too hard to make everything “perfect,” instead of just being present in each moment.

I started thinking…I want to bake without thinking about the pictures I need to take and the words I need to form for a blog. I want to invite my friends over without worrying that I haven’t vacuumed in a week. I want more hours in my work day to be fully immersed in client work instead of thinking about what I’ll accomplish later when I get home.

So, I tried to go a few weeks without to-do lists. I tried to leave a few dirty dishes in the sink overnight, to not pick up the socks James left on the living room floor, and to let my hair and my blog just go rogue.

During this time of trying to appreciate more simplicity, of trying to be “present over perfect,” one of the things I most enjoyed was cooking with the fresh vegetables from our CSA program.

These meals were so delicious – ironically because they were so simple! Some of my favorites included:

tomato, cucumber and pepper salads tossed with a bit of olive oil, basil, oregano and parmesan cheese;

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colorful peppers stuffed with homemade goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes;

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and pesto!

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We were frequently receiving quite large bunches of celery and parsley – so large that I had no idea how I was going to use all of it if I didn’t freeze almost 3/4. But, I’m really not one for freezing, so I was determined to get creative and find a way to use the whole bunches fresh. The answer was pesto. This – you guessed it – simple recipe can be combined with just about any green leaf for a fabulously quick and delicious dinner.

Parsley (Or, Celery) Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups parsley, or about one bunch
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Add walnuts, parsley, cheese, garlic and salt to food processor and pulse to combine.
  2. With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Let it mix for about 20-30 seconds.
  3. Mix with pasta, spread on top of fish or save some in the refrigerator to mix with eggs or spread on top of toast.
http://foodievsfitness.com/simple-pesto/

Becoming a Part of Community Supported Agriculture

I’ve always wanted to have a garden of my own. Apartment living never really allowed for that – plus I moved around a lot over the last five years. Now, that we finally own a home, the conditions aren’t exactly favorable. Our house sits atop a pretty deep ravine, so there’s little yard to work with and what yard there is to work with is too shady for a full-blown garden. So, I’ve settled for three small pots of tomatoes on the deck.

Whether or not I’ll actually get to try those tomatoes this year is still to be determined. Some sneaky raccoons keep plucking the fruits before I can get to them. Those smug little guys even leave a trail of half bitten tomatoes from the deck to the woods. But hey, we all gotta’ eat, right?

So, in searching for an alternative to growing my own garden I found myself pulling into the back parking lot of a church, right up next to the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) truck. I must have been the last of the share members to arrive because there was only one lonely bag sitting in the vast bed of the truck, flanked by two people sitting with dangling legs. One step towards them and I found my arms loaded down with what felt like 100 pounds of vegetables – I could barely handle the weight when I was handed a carton of eggs. Smiling, I thanked them and wobbled back to my car.

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When I got home, I felt like my 8-year-old self ready to sort through my treasures after a successful Halloween night. I couldn’t wait to tear open the bag and see all that was inside. How funny that I could garner the same excitement over fresh produce that I was once bubbling over with when eyeing a bulging back of KitKats, Reeses and carmel apple suckers.

Producing healthy food, from healthy soils, for healthy people. 

The CSA tagline says it all – that’s why we decided to join. Our produce now comes from nine certified-organic family farms. On a weekly basis, we can choose to add a dozen eggs, grass-fed beef, honey, maple syrup, baked goods, extra veggies, etc. It’s kind of fun not knowing exactly which vegetables are going to end up in our weekly bag. Meal planning on the fly has caused me to get a little more creative in the kitchen, experimenting with new flavor combinations.

Just look at all the fresh goodies that came in our first bag! Last week, in an attempt to use up the last of the green beans and potatoes, we discovered an amazingly simple recipe: combine red potatoes, green beans, olive tapenade, garlic, olive oil and goat cheese.

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Another perk of the CSA is the community. We’ve absolutely loved being part of a herd-share for the past few months, visiting the goats and the people who help raise them, chatting about the latest cheese we’ve made with other members of the share. In a CSA, we can develop relationships with the farmers who grow our food and learn more about how the food is grown.

Most importantly, our little family is getting the nutrients and health benefits that we might not always get from store-bought produce. I’ll let my favorite author Michael Pollan spell it out for you.

He says, “Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. What you will find are fresh whole foods picked at the peak of nutritional quality.” [1]

In a separate article, Pollan expands on this idea, describing how most supermarket produce spends a few days riding cross-country in a truck causing “the nutritional quality of any kind of produce [to] deteriorate.” [2]

This is why he recommends eating both organic and local. So, for the next few months, we’re going to give it a try. We’re going to attempt to live off of what comes from our herd-share and CSA memberships, keeping trips to the grocery store extremely limited.

Wish us luck on this latest foodie adventure!

[1] http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/unhappy-meals/

[2] http://michaelpollan.com/resources/sustainable-eating-nutrition/

The Ultimate “Hannah” Weekend

I had really elaborate plans for this past weekend.

I was going to Chicago for bachelorette festivities. But, then the travel plans fell through.

Ok, no big deal. It’s going to be a great weekend in Cleveland – there are a few festivals going on. And, James will be out of town, so I’ll have the house all to myself. But, then I got sick.

Sadly, I didn’t do anything I actually had planned, but I still ended up having a fantastic weekend. I did all the “me” things that I’m finding are harder and harder to make time for.

On Friday night, I had a hot date with a cup of tea and a stack of Country Living and Food Magazines followed by a few cook books and yet another good read by JoJo Moyes.

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Saturday, I hardly left the kitchen. This was probably not the best place to be with a cold, but I was making cheese, so I had to sterilize the whole place anyways. My fridge was practically exploding with bottles of goat’s milk.

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I whipped up a huge batch of feta and some fresh chevre. With still more milk in the fridge, I planned to whip up a whirl of goat milk ice cream – complete with wine infused dark chocolate – but was disappointed when I found we had no eggs left for the recipe.

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As if spending all day in my own kitchen weren’t enough, I went to my parents for the evening and worked on cake decorating skills with my mom. I think the photo below shows we’re still in the infant phases of the process, and there will be many more practice cakes before the final reveal.

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Sunday was a great day. Why? Because I finally finished a week long project – a project that I had been wanting to complete for months. When we first moved into our home, we painted a hand-me-down kitchen table (Well, more accurately my brother-in-law and his girlfriend painted the table. Thanks guys 🙂 ). Knowing we wanted to finish the chairs in a different color, we never really got around to them as other house projects took priority. Now, they’re finally done!

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I wish I had a picture of the “before” chairs to show you. These were incredibly easy to paint – I used Dixie Bell chalk paint. We love the look so much, that we’re ready to start fixing up all the furniture in our little house.

Well, that’s a wrap on the weekend guys. I can’t believe all that was accomplished with a sore throat, stuffy nose, and aching head, but the older and older I get, the harder I find it to just sit still and do nothing. I mean the hours are going by and there’s so much to be done!

If anything, this weekend was a great reminder of the importance of continuing to find time for the “me” things.

Healthy Eating Tips for Vacation

Hello friends!

I’m checking in after a fantastic family vacation on Burt Lake (it’s near Lake Michigan). The vacation was filled with water activities, island biking, and obviously tons of great food.

Now let me tell you…vacations are THE WORST for foodie versus fitness gals like me. We want to just gorge ourselves with tons of food and blame it on vacation, but we know we’re tougher than that, so we yank ourselves out of bed early and we run. Yes, we run. Even though we’re on vacation.

There are other ways; however, to stay active on vacation. For example, when we took a day trip to Mackinac Island, we rented bikes and rode around for miles and miles taking in the sites and swerving around all the “slow” families.

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After a little exercise, we walked down Main Street in search of treats. The boys chose to treat themselves with island cigars. I chose to treat myself with a little bit of island fudge. Chocolate sea salt caramel fudge that is.

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We went out for dinner just about every night on this trip. When going out to dinner, making healthy choices can take a lot of will power. I try to stick to the large salad or seafood options, only have one glass of wine, and choose between having the bread, appetizers or desserts. Another great way to cut back is to share! So when the bacon wrapped shrimp appetizer comes out, just have one, and then split the after-dinner tiramisu with the person sitting next to you. Many of our dinners ended this way. Just a few aunts, uncles or cousins would order a slice of cake, and then the plates would get passed around the table of 20 so everyone could have a small bite of sweet.

Yet another tip – and an incredibly simple tip, I might add – is just to slow down and really try to listen to your stomach telling you when it’s full. Avoid the feeling of being uncomfortably stuffed by allowing your stomach and your mind the time to communicate. Focus on the dinner conversations and the company around you instead of the food.

Of course the best way to make healthy choices on vacation is to cook for yourself. Not only are you in charge of your portion sizes and the integrity of your calories, but also you get to spend quality time with family. I had a really hard job during the making of the last night’s dinner – shake the pepper and drink wine 🙂 .

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Having the willpower to eat healthy on vacation isn’t just reserved for eating out. Even when we ate at home, the temptation was everywhere. Should I have pie for dessert? The french silk or the berry? Or, should I wait to have a s’more later by the fire?

I ended up choosing to have a small slice of pie, and let the s’mores torment me for hours later. That plate seriously would not stop whispering my name!

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My trick is to try and focus on other things – like my brother’s guitar playing for example. If I’m singing along to his tunes, I can’t be stuffing my face with s’mores. Or, the beautiful the lake out in front of us. If I’m taking pictures of the sun setting, I can’t be licking excess gooey marshmallow off my hands.

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Find something else to rest your mind on and meditate on it. If you let your mind get lost in the other great parts of vacation, you might be able to make it home feeling great instead of feeling like you need to hit the gym or the veggie isle of the grocery store.