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Posts from the ‘awesomeness’ Category

Tumbling Into Autumn

Finally!

My favorite time of year. I come alive in the autumn… I swear, October and November are my happiest months.

Cool temps, local apples, changing leaves, Halloween, hot oatmeal, my birthday, local greens (kale! arugula! collards!), hot lattes, festivals, winter squash, jeans, Thanksgiving… and all things PUMPKIN! These are my favorite things.

fall - backyard

Speaking of pumpkin… I have a confession to make…

My name is Angie, and I’m a hoarder.

tower pumpkin

Clearly.

I made a point to not run out this past year, as I make Lilly’s homemade dog treats with canned pumpkin. However, I just heard that we might be facing another pumpkin shortage…?!?! Say it ain’t so. (I’m going to attempt to add to my stockpile later today! If I can find it, that is).

I quickly searched “pumpkin” on my Flickr photostream … Was there a shortage of results? Definitely not…

pumpkin screenshot

Seeing as how I’m a stickler for the seasons, I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the autumnal equinox. However, it seems that I was just about the only one. Everyone these days wants things to happen faster and earlier… but not I. Just NOW can I embrace pumpkin-flavored things, and the possibility of long-sleeves (unfortunately it has still been in the 80s this week!). While I tend to shy away from sickly-sweet flavored coffee drinks, I have been hearing the siren song of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte at Sbux for weeks now. Not before the 23rd, I would declare, to anyone who would listen!

However, now that it is here… pumpkin madness starts today! I can’t wait to make my famous pumpkin butter this afternoon, among other things. To add to my joy, I have a half-day off of work today, with the afternoon set aside for recipe creations… mmm.

Stay tuned!

Our backyard, Fall 08

Welcome, fall.

~

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Cooking up and taking down…

Now that I’m amongst the land of the living again, I have been enjoying some pretty flowers…

spring flowers

… playtime outside with puppies…

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Tug of wubba

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They never stop!

… and being a busy bee in my kitchen…

Granola (of course!)… I make a big batch of this every 3-4 weeks.

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Spiced Vanilla Granola

English muffins… I make several batches of these at a time, split them and freeze them for easy breakfast and snacks. They are so wonderfully delicious! English muffins are something that I’ve really missed since cutting processed food out. I am so happy to be able to make my own whole-grain English muffins with minimal ingredients.

Eng muffins

Whole-grain English Muffins

Coconut Butter! This is so easy, it is ridiculous. Really. And, this 8 oz jar only cost me $2.79, to make.

coconut butter finished

Coconut Butter

My favorite Almond Butter!! It was definitely time to make more! We’ll see how long this jar lasts. 🙂

jar of heaven

Heaven in a jar

Simple Broccoli salad with yogurt dressing…

brocc salad

Fresh broccoli salad with yogurt dressing

Carrot Pumpkin Muffins…

pumpkin carrot muffin

How could you go wrong with this?

Emily’s Vegetable Masala burgers

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Delicious with avocado on top!

Collards. Lots of collards. (My “fall garden” exploded with them, all of a sudden).

collards, spicy

Sweet & Spicy Collards

Panang Curry

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Panang Tofu Curry

Dolsot Bibimbap and Kimchi

dolsot bibmibap

Dolsot Bibimbap

kimchi

Spicy!

And of course… Lilly’s favorite Crunchy Peanut Butter dog treats!

crunchy dog treats

World's greatest (and healthiest) dog treats!

On the cookbook front, I recently purchased Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, and am in love. (shhh, don’t tell Tristan). I’ve made several recipes out of it already… Brothy Vegetable and Lentil Soup (with some modifications), Skillet Tamales (w/local grass fed beef), Refried Black Beans, Arroz Con Pollo – and then some (with local pastured chicken), and Cauliflower Mac & Cheese.  I have dozens more pages bookmarked to try .

cauli mac inside

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

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Lentil Soup

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Skillet Tamales and Refried Black Beans

As for outside of the kitchen, we’ve had a very rainy and chilly week here… Spring? Not so much. I actually love rainy days as a rule, but I have to say – I much prefer the dry days now with Lilly around. Mud sucks. Mud on paws, sucks even more. And mud on my carpet? Don’t get me started.

Also making me long for sunnier days? The fact that our beautiful gazebo took a cartwheeling tumble about a month ago, and now resembles something a 2 year old would make with Tinker Toys, rather than an attractive and useful addition to our backyard.

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Anyone know what to do with 145 lbs of crumpled steel?

We’ve bitten the bullet and purchased a new one (ooh, it’s even bigger!) and can’t wait to put it up. However, it is far too soggy out there right now.

So I’m uncharacteristically ready for the sun. Spring. Not summer. Do you hear me, universe? NOT. Summer.

~

In it to END it

Oops, I did it again.

I am once again a Crew Member for the AVON 2-day Walk for Breast Cancer, in Charlotte.

my crew

My Crew!

I’ve Crewed in Charlotte before, and loved the experience. In 2009 my Mom and I crewed together. We met a lot of great people, and had a fabulous and exhausting weekend. Crewing is a HUGE commitment. We were tired. Very tired. We were wet. We were emotional. We were exhilarated!

As Crew Members (as opposed to walkers), we are not “required” to fundraise… but why on earth wouldn’t I? I want to do all I can to help stamp-out cancer in my lifetime! You can find my fundraising site here, if you are interested. I’ve just gotten started, and have set a very modest goal, but I’d love to surpass it!

There are two big players in the Breast Cancer walk area… AVON being one, and Susan G Komen being the other.

If you’d like to learn more about the Susan G Komen 3-day walks (in different cities from the AVON walks) that are being held around the country this year, please visit my good friend Betsy’s fundraising page. She is participating (as a WALKER! Go Bets!) in the Washington DC event in September. I’m so proud of her, and everyone that does either of these walks. They are intense! I know just how intense, from personal experience.

I participated in a 3-day walk with AVON about 10 years ago. We walked 60 MILES  from Kenosha, WI to Chicago, IL. In June. Wind, rain and lots of heat… that’s what I remember. I chose to participate in the Chicago walk partially because Illinois is my home state. It is also where my Gram lives, who is an 18-year breast cancer survivor! (She is also a colon cancer survivor. She is amazing). I do everything at these events in her honor.

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The tower of names. Opening Ceremony, Charlotte

 

mom and ange crew

My Mom and I getting into the 'Mardi Gras' theme spirit!

 I’m not sure if my Mom is going to sign up to Crew again this year, or not. But as for me? I’m in it to END it.

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Closing Ceremony, Charlotte

 

I’m looking forward to October already!

~

Boxing Day Blizzard!

Okay, not *really* a blizzard. But we woke up a beautiful snowy wonderland on December 26th. It was a LOT of snow for us in Charlotte, especially at the end of the year (our snow, if ever, usually comes in Jan-March). By my best estimations, we had about 3.5 inches.

I love snow.

I miss snow.

I grew up in central Illinois, and winter just isn’t winter, without some snow.  The Charlotte area doesn’t always agree with me (case in point, it was 67* yesterday!). I, however, like my seasons to be seasons.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when I woke up early on Boxing Day to discover our backyard covered in fluffy white clouds of snow! I headed out asap with my camera, and instructed Tristan to keep Lilly inside until I had some good shots. I knew once she was set loose in the backyard, things would never be the same.

I snapped photos of the trees, the fence, my garden… the snow was very wet, and fell at an angle so there were all sorts of lovely little drifts here and there. I loved the way it stuck to every crevice of our fence…

 

We let Lilly loose and played for what seemed like hours! She was hilarious to watch, running around, pawing at the snow drifts. She found her ball buried under the snowfall at some point. This was not her first snow… she experienced it for the first time back in March when she was just a wee pup. I wonder if she remembered it? By the way, I think she ate her body weight in snow this time!

Don’t be a stranger, snow. Come again soon!

~

New Hair!

 

… as of last night.

I’m loving it.

(Forgive the photo; it was taken with my Crackberry, which is notorious for its craptastic camera).

~

Autumn bliss

 Nearly October…

… Just one more day. I can’t believe it’s finally here. Although it is still pretty warm outside during the day, the cool is creeping in. I get to wear my favorite zip-up hoodie sweatshirt during my commute in the early morning. Lovely.

The air smells clean and fresh.

So…our backyard doesn’t look like this quite yet, (this photo was taken last year),  but it’s coming. There’s a whisper of a chill in the air, and leaves are beginning to tumble. It’s definitely getting dark earlier.

I love autumn and winter so much, I have sometimes wondered if I have Seasonal Affective Disorder in reverse… the colder and darker it gets, the happier I become. Not that I don’t like sunshine and blue skies, I do, at times. But I hate living in the humid armpit of the South. I am ready for hair that behaves itself, ready for sweating for no reason to be  a distant memory, and ready to not have to liberally apply the bug spray every time I want to be outside. I am ready for jeans, cute sweaters, boots, fuzzy socks, and cozying up on the couch underneath blankets with T.

This weekend I am going to start the pumpkin bonanza. I am excited to be able to bake our favorite pumpkin things… and in the appropriate season, no less!

In the words of the indigenous people here in Charlotte… Happy fall, ya’ll!

Training Day

October 24th & 25th, 2009 will be the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Charlotte, NC. I have volunteered to work as a Crew Member for this event.

I participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in 2003 – back when it was a 3-Day Walk. I walked 60 miles from Kenosha, WI to Chicago, IL – and ever since I have wanted to be involved again, whenever possible. Well, long story short… life happens, years have gone by… and now here I am. The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is now a 2-Day event where Walkers (about 1500 for the Charlotte event), will walk a marathon on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday, for a total of 39.3 miles.

As a Crew Member, I will be there for the entire weekend. The Crew doesn’t just volunteer for a few hours…. We will be there from start to finish, to help make the weekend a success. From long before sunrise to way past sunset, we will be there. Some of the crew even camps out with the Walkers! Having had that experience already when I was a Walker, I decided not to stay in a tent this year. I will be looking forward to coming home to my hot shower, my warm man and my cozy bed, if only for a few hours on Saturday night.

This past Saturday, I attended Crew Training for the event. There are 250 Crew Members, and 8 Youth Crew Members; as well as local volunteers that will donate a few hours here and there, working the event. It is quite the undertaking! However, I’d say there were only about 60 of us who made it out to the drizzly Training Day last weekend at Park Road Park.   

I convinced my Mom to work as a Crew Member with me… Breast Cancer has touched both of our lives, as my Gram (my maternal grandmother), is a 16 year Breast Cancer survivor. I know my Mom was a little cautious and skeptical at first working this (it is a HUGE commitment, and a lot of work), but I know she left training as energized as I am for the event. My Mom even said that we should have chosen to tent with the Walkers! Crazy woman!

Instead of walking, the Crew provides all the support for the Walkers…everything from manning the Rest Stops, to serving food, to cleaning up, to hauling gear. Mom and I are on the Hospitality Team… it is our job to work the finish line, checking in the Walkers. Our team’s theme this year is Mardi Gras. (Goes well with the boobs theme, no?). We will be passing out beads that we purchased with our own money, and cheering in the Walkers as they cross the line. (We also have a lot of other responsibilities, as the Crews motto is “Crew First, Team Second” – meaning we all will do whatever it takes to make the event happen).

I am REALLY excited to be able to participate in this incredible event.

If you’d like to learn more about this event, please visit my page:  http://www.avonwalk.org/goto/abb