Some days just don't go as planned, and today was one of them.  It was supposed to be the fun run at the girl's school, which I volunteered to help coordinate.  We were ready to roll but the weather wasn't cooperating.  In classic Washington style, we were "rained out!"  The kids took it great and we will find another day to run, hopefully before July!
It was fun featuring a "fast" recipe last week so I thought I would add a fast workout as well.  This is my favorite running track.   A bit overgrown, but I love it's weed filled charm!  I've been using this workout as a final tune-up before the Octoberfest half marathon.  Link HERE  McMillan has come great resources for runners!
Acorn Boats

Well this is fitting since the fun run was "rained out".  It's an awesome comfort/post run meal after that Fast Friday workout!  This actually started with separate roasted veggies and roasted acorn squash.  I just dished my veggies into the squash and it looked like a cute little boat.  The kids thought it looked fun and followed suit.  This reminded me of two things; kids are watching and eating what we eat, and they like to have fun!

Roasted Veggies
Choose any but we used cauliflower, carrots, purple bell peppers and green onion.
olive oil
salt
smoked paprika

Chop the veggies into consistent sizes.  Remember your dense veggies will take longer to cook.  Make those smaller if you are going to roast everything together.  Toss with olive oil, salt and smoked paprika and roast at 350 until they are as tender as you like.

Roasting Squash
Cut the squash in 1/2 and remove seeds/guts.  I sprinkle a little salt on top and then place flesh side down on a greased baking sheet. see: Go to Breakfast/Dinner for more squash ideas
Bake at 350 until the meat is tender.  You don't need to add anything more!

To make into boats I simply fill the squash with roasted veggies.  There is a little prep to this dish but it really can be fast to prepare.  We served it with BBQ salmon!
What's you favorite comfort food?

Any favorite fast workouts?
 
 
On the first day of Fall the rain fell on us at the bus stop.  Thankfully I told the girls to wear their rain jackets so I wasn't worried they would be standing out at recess getting soaked.  Or worse yet, contributing to the lovely classroom odor on rainy days.  Boy do I feel for teachers on those days!

It was also very gray for me that morning, with the kind of clouds that make me want to leave Western Washington.  During the last days of Summer I begin to fear days like this.  Days I just don't want to leave the house, get anthing done and really really don't want to go for a run.

The day prior, four lovely crisp sunny miles in the morning sun, no problem.  The first day of Fall, a hard workout in the clouds, a problem.  I took it step by step, fighting the depression that really wants to win.  I put on my hat, hoodie and sweats over my running clothes and laced up my Hokas, feeling the need for a little extra cushion.  Added to my equipment, at least to get me going, my iphone.  With headphones blairing, I took my first steps... at least I'll get the walking part in.

I use these tricks to bait myself into the training.  Because I know at the end, the depressing thoughts, lack of motivation and threatening clouds will be gone.  The walking was fine so it was time to get in some dynamic warm ups.  Lunges, side-sides, knee hugs, straight leg kicks...check, check, check.  I'm sure everyone within a half mile radius could hear my music.  It was working and I began to shed a layer, ready for an easy jog.  I still didn't want to execute the plan and impeding thoughts of anxiety and stress were putting up a good fight.

As got back to my house, I was ready for a bold move, detaching from my iphone, hat and sweats.  It was time to take off my armor of cozy and get this done.  The speedwork plan: a series of 1/2 mile, moderate/hard intervals (Yassos).  Doable in my mind but still more doable was a cup of coffee and the latest book I'm reading, Lunch in Paris.  Thankfully, the OCD runner in me didn't want to leave a blank spot on my Training Peaks log so I dropped my armor and headed back out.

I love speed work but I get really nervous.  It's so corny because, who cares?  No one is watching me.  If I'm worried I'm going to fall on my face, I've done that a couple of times (literally) and I lived to run another day.  I was nervous that my legs won't really go the pace my mind thought they could go.  (First world problem as my friend Martin would say).  

First 1/2 mile interval and my legs came through, running faster than I expected.  Note to self: slow down, there are 7 more of these left!  I try to slow but I'm pretty excited because I'm able to stay consistent with my pacing.  And I feel strong.  Thanks to starting out the year training for an ultra triathlon, I did a lot of slow slow running.  I'm now getting the improved cardiovascular benifits.  

By the start of number 5, I was all focus on holding my pace steady.  As my legs began to feel the effects of the intervals, I realized, my mind was too!  The clouds seemed a little lighter and farther away.  My outlook was better, I was winning the race for the day.  The race of me against the battles I wage on a daily basis.  And somewhere in there between intervals 3 and 5,  I realized it wasn't me waging these wars.  God was there, and He was fighting for me.  Whether I think it's all me or I'm leaning in hard, His fight is the same.  It is just that during those intervals, I finally realized, I'm not alone.  I don't need an armor of cozy clothes and music because I am armed, my battle has already been fought and won.   I finish my last 1/2 mile interval holding strong to my pace, conquering, not alone.

Sometimes I ask myself why I run, swim and bike too for that matter.  But running takes me to where I see, it's just me, God and my running shoes.  It takes me to that moment when I don't even see the clouds anymore, or puddles if it's that kind of a Seattle day!  

I know there are times we don't want to move or do what we have set out to do.  It seems too impossible but sometimes we just have to take the first steps and have faith that we are not alone. Keep Going friends!!!
 
 
 Farmers know the important stuff like umm...how to grow amazing food.  They also know a lot about; weather, wildlife, soil, bugs, economy, and politics.

My friends, Matt and Deanna, own Sol to Seed Farm in Carnation.  Deanna is one of my "sisters" from Bastyr University.  These sisters are a group of women who went into the nutrition program with a "we can save the world through nutrition plan", and launched to become things way more amazing than we could have imagined!  Deanna and Matt began Sol to Seed Farm, producing some of the most beautiful produce I have ever seen and tasted.  

Saturday, we were headed out on a Swedish family adventure and took a little detour to the University District Farmer's Market.  We found Sol to Seed right away among the booths of flowers, cheese, bakeries and meats.  I told the girls to pick out something that looked good to them.  Payton went with this pumpkin, Marley some sweet peppers (for her lunch this week), and I grabbed carrots and a ginormous bunch of Italian Flat Leaf Parsley.  I told Deanna I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it but there had to be something great.  Deanna said, "tabouleh"....listen to the farmer.

I could have stayed among the peppers, squash and herbs for the day but we had to get going and they had produce to sell!
We got home and I reserached tabouleh recipes.  I didn't have the traditional bulgar wheat, tomatoes and cucumbers that make up this Middle Eastern dish.  I did have a few items to give it a twist on late summer, carrots from Sol to Seed and corn from our veggie box.  Quinoa would make a great substitue for bulgar wheat.  Adding a few cashews and a traditional lemon vinagrette, we had a one dish meal!
Late Summer Tabouleh

3 ears organic corn
4-5 large carrots
2-3 cups fresh parsley
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup chopped cashews

dressing:
olive oil
lemon juice
cumin
salt

As I prepare each part of this dish I just place it in a big bowl for mixing.  Cook the corn and remove from the husk.  Chop and saute carrots in olive oil.  Add corn, carrots, quinoa and cashwes to the bowl and mix.  If you are making ahead and serving cold you could place it in the fridge to chill at this point.  I don't put amounts for the dressing because everyone likes different degrees of lemon, etc.  Find proportions that work for you!  When the salad is cooled add chopped parsley and salad dressing.  You want A LOT of parsley in this dish.  I could have added more!  Because of the quinoa it makes a great stand alone meal.   Enjoy!!!
You can find Sol to Seed Farm at the University District Farmer's Market Every Saturday!

What's your favorite farmer's market?  
 
 
I'm still getting used to the new routine of kids in school and me not going to a specific place to work. My days, before the bus comes in the afternoon, revolve around two things: getting the kids on the bus and running.  Running a lot now because I've decided to take a bit of an extended off time with triathlon....no one believes me.  

The girls are taking an interest in preparing their own meals when allowed.  We don't have a microwave so the toaster is the only kitchen appliance they can independently use.  Otherwise, it's mixing raw ingredients, which they are pretty great at!
Marley's Monkey Oats


I name it this because Marley loves monkeys!  Amounts are as usual in my recipes, whatever works for you.  

Mix together as much as you like of each:
raw oats
peanut butter
cinnamon
bananas
Since it's swim night for the kids, I decided to get things going early for dinner.  It's way easier on life if it's all ready so we can eat as soon as we get home.  I cheated a bit today with some help from boxed soup. I did add my own fresh ingredients!
Easiest Squash Soup EVER

Boxed Cashew Carrot Ginger Soup
Squash of your choosing (butternut and acorn here)

Cut the squash in half, clean out seeds and salt the meat side (optional).  I usually use parchment paper but foil works too.  Place the squash meat side down on oiled paper/foil and bake until tender.  When they are upside down they steam in their own skin.   Remove the meat and puree in a food processor.  You may need to add a little water.  Here is where it gets really easy... place the boxed soup and pureed squash in a crock pot for about four hours on low.  You're done!  The seasoning was already there from the carrot ginger soup.
No workouts for me today.  My body just said NO.  But there was plenty to do of course.  Payton had diving practice.  She decided to take a break from swimming but has found a new love.  Yesterday was fun to watch because she got to do her first, "head first" dives".  I am completely impressed with her coach who seems to really love the kids, has enormous patience and is always always encouraging while giving them something to work on.  Plus Payton is all smiles which really makes mommy happy!

Marley helped put strings on some of the 750 bibs we have for the upcoming fun run.  What a job...Thank you Marley!
What's your go-to breakfast, lunch or dinner?
 
 
My living room has looked like this before, when I was organizing a 5k.  I quit doing that, it's crazy! I  did have a weak moment when the call came out on FB for someone to head up the fun run at my kid's school.  How hard could that be?  It's actually super easy because the PTA at our school is wonderful and everyone on our committee has stepped up to do the work.  I thought it would be fun for the kids to have bibs and found out that RoadID will give you 500 bibs for FREE if you are doing and event and don't mind doing some promoting in exchange.  How awesome is that?!?! 
Payton and I took some time to get ready for the fun run yesterday.  Plus she and Marley want to run a 5k later this Fall.  After running race pace intervals for my upcoming half marathon, this 20 minute run/walk interval (mostly walking), was a bit of a challenge!  Seeing her smiling face, hearing her set goals for herself and watching her run through the trails was more than worth it. 
Finally food time!  Dinner was sauteed veggies from our local farm box, chicken sausage, pasta or potatoes and my herb cashew topping.  There isn't really a recipe for the veggie saute.  But here are a few tips.

Herb Veggie Saute
Corn - I boiled it first and then cut it from the cob to be added in the last few minutes.
Carrots - Satue those first (they are most dense)
Green Beans - Add green beans after the carrots
*basically start with the slower cooking veggies
Chicken Sausage - you can cook these ahead and add back in with the corn.

I'm not a big fan of making different meals for everyone but I don't mind when it comes to potatoes and pasta.  I just really like potatoes and Eric really doesn't.  If you don't eat either, just leave them out..easy:)

Cashew Herb Topping
My doctor (Dr Lawler - amazing woman) taught me to substitute parmesan cheese with cashews.
Grab a handful of fresh herbs - I used lemon thyme and oregano.  You could use dried too.
Mix them up in a coffee grinder, add about 1 cup of cashews and salt to taste then grind.
This makes a wonderful topping for just about anything!

This wasn't dessert.  It is our count down to summer jars.  Very Pinteresty, I know!  Also very simple and something fun for the kids.  Each one got a jar and they had to figure out how many days until the last day of school.  We included weekends.  Yes, I've maniputaled math and candy together. Each day they get to take out one jelly bean or Skittle (maybe if the Seahawks win!), and say something sweet about the day.  I'm writing down these "Jelly Bean Moments"!

What were your jelly bean moments today?  Write them down or better yet..make your own jelly bean jar!
 
 
This day started off with my four legged running partner.  It's was actually her walk/run not really mine.  I'm making my best efforts to get her out every day for some quality time and she is loving it... of course!  I did want to mention one of my favorite things which is her leash.  We discovered it out of me forgetting her leash, a common theme in my life, and having to stop to buy one on our way to Coeur D'Alene.  

This leash comes from a company called Cycle Dog.  They are environmentally friendly, huge bonus, and have created my favorite dog leash ever.  It also helps that it's made of recycled tire tubes so it's a little stretchy and doesn't burn your hand if they pull.  They come in super cool designs and if you are so inclined, with a bottle opener.  I didn't utilize that on our 7am walk but I'm sure it could come in handy!  Check out the collars/leashes HERE on my new, Favorites Page: Four Legged Friends
My day got infinitly better when I joined Eric for his run on the trail.  This isn't actually where we ran but I had to post this picture because it's my favorite part of Centennial Trail.  Thank you to the people who grow these amazing Dhalias, they always make my day!
Things got even better when we decided it was lunch time!  Our plan was to try Cafe Soul, still craving Cuban food after seeing Chef.  They aren't open for lunch so we ventured on.  Eric offered a few suggestions but I gave him the "5 minute warning", which means I need to eat NOW! Fortunately, Brooklyn Bros has pizza by the slice and some really amazing salads.  Not gluten or dairy free...and that's ok!
I wanted to say thanks for a fun day so I decided to make Eric some lunch for work the next day.  Thankfully, he isn't picky!

Blue Fire Egg Salad (enough for 1 large sandwich)
2 eggs - mashed (I use the potato masher)
mayo
dill or sweet relish
mustard
salt and pepper
smoked paprika

Mix it all up and serve between a couple slices of bread or on a salad!
Who are your favorite running partners?

What's your thank you languange?
 
 
I've taken a little unplanned writing hiatus.  It started with a blog about Lake Stevens 70.3 which I still can't seem to wrap up.  It's almost done but rendered me silent.  The silence was perpetuated by a bunch of great books that I couldn't put down and then of course the final gasps of summer vacation to get in with the girls.

Now that school has started I thought I would have all this extra time on my hands.  New priorities have taken over such as; vacuming (every so often), trying to get dishes done as well as more passable amounts of laundry.  There is something awesome about not training for Ironmans I just might start to like.

We've had some very special moments in these past few weeks and eaten some wonderful food along the way.  In the break I've become excited about new food adventures, cooking and writing about it all again.

I'm also excited to expand my blog and now am a "Girls Gone Sporty" ambasador.  GGS is a network of healthy bloggers helping to make the world a healthier place!  I'm excited the Blue Fire Life will be a part of it!

Here's a few of our recent Blue Fire Life journeys:
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At the beach with Grandma Bonnie and Lars.  We are trying a new food journey each month, exploring different cuisine from around the world.  We picked Sweden for September which is pretty cool because we have family there.  Lars who is like family is from Sweden too.  We added some Swedish fish to our snack.  Salty licorice would have been a bit more authentic but Swedish fish are FUN!
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Eric and I just celebrated our 9th wedding anniverary!  We went to the movie, Chef, which I LOVED.  FYI - If you are sensitive to swearing, the restaurant kitchen language is pretty authentic!  Also: If you are going, have a really great dinner spot picked ahead of time.  You will want Latin food!  We found some great Greek Food in Kirkland!
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Payton and I caught a little run together!  I love how running together provides the perfect time to talk.  She's turning 10 in December so there is a lot to talk about!
Marley's favorite spot is helping me out in the kitchen.  This morning we added the chocolate covered sunflower seeds from Trader Joe's to our pancakes.  GREAT IDEA!  Marley says she wants to be a chef someday.  The fact that she picked the celery flavor out of a dish I made recently with celery seeds shows me she just may have the sense of taste!
Horse camp was at my Aunt Cathy's house this summer.  As you can see Payton was in her happy place, and Marley is my girl pairing riding boots with running pants!  We enjoyed some fresh from the garden tomatoes that my Uncle Darrold is an expert at growing!
Time for back to school.  I tried making Swedish meatballs for the first time.  Don't worry, they weren't vegan.  I actually loved them and might even write down the recipe the next time I make them.  To celebrate going back to school, we pulled out the china dishes and made a night of it.  The girls loved it and we plan to have "fancy" nights more often.  
Finally we had a very special day with Auntie Fran.  She exudes love for the Lord and an abundance of peace, despite God's big changes in her life.  Thank you for the hike Auntie Fran.  We were honored!!
 
 
The theme for me this week has been time, and how much I'm grateful for it!  I just read two awesome books that really helped me simplify and become more thankful for the time I'm blessed with.

#85 - The Power of Pause, Becoming More by Doing Less - Terry Hershey
Thank you Terry for inspiring time in the garden, to just stand there for even five minutes and take in the gifts.  Even if it's just the eight plants and one strawberry this Mary's garden is now growing.  

#86 - 7 by Jen Hatmaker 
I'm kind of speechless after this book (in a good way) but thankful for the eye opening words.
#87 - This row of bikes that continues to grow.  It isn't about having a huge team, but with each new bike there is a gift of a kid finding something they didn't realize they could do, a wonderful smile and a really cool family to make up an amazing group of supportive parents!

#88 - Time at home - It's been an adjustement learning to balance the new gift of time after deciding to quit my part time job and drastically decrease triathlon training time.  At first, I wanted to fill every spare moment, now I'm realizing the beautiful gifts that come with leaving moments to spare.  Today it was a friend stopping by to give some over the top awesome news...and yay! I was actually home!!  
#89 - Monkey PJs and a strawberry in August!  No further words needed
 
 
#84 - A great run!  I was running with a one of my junior triathletes last night and made her stop so I could snap this shot (and catch my breath!).
 
 
I love how a special recipe, like an old song can trigger a flood of memories.  We see and smell foods, go through chopping, dicing and folding and remember the person who taught us, the kitchen we stood in and the special memories that only our senses seem to be able to conjure.
YEARS ago, I found myself cooking in a kitchen as a part of the Washington State University hospitality program, beginning a journey loving the sights, sounds and smells of the kitchen.  When my college buddy told me about a Summer internship we could apply for at Harvey's Casino in Lake Tahoe, I jumped at the opportunity.  It was the perfect college summer, living with seven people in a condo made for two, watching amazing sunsets and learning realities of life.  Actually, there weren't too many realities; my life was pretty easy and fun.  I woke up in the morning and drove from the Heavenly ski resort down to town where I ran on endless trails and lakeside paths.  Then it was home to wash up and head to work where I landed a job as a "pantry" cook at the Seafood Grotto.  
I LOVED this job so much.  It ranks among the top 5 of my favorite jobs...I've had a lot of jobs so this is saying something.  During my first day on the job, I learned sunburns, polyester chef coats and the hot line do not mix!  Aside from that, I learned cooking.  The chefs treated me great and took me under their wings, teaching me the trade.  This was good because, aside from about 20 hours in the WSU kitchen, I didn't have a clue.  When Chef "Jack" asked me to chop an onion, he realized that I might have been stretching the truth at my job interview when I told him I had "experience" in the kitchen.  He then taught me the proper way.  He also taught me about knives and ingraved the knives I still use in my own kitchen today.  (should probably sharpen those!) The Sous Chef for the entire hotel was, Joe Whales.  Chef Joe saw my love for cooking and was constantly teaching me something new.  

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The view from our condo...not bad!
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A special meal the Chef prepeared for my parents when they came to visit.
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Tahoe was also home to the Bonanza Ranch. Dad and Deb insisted we visit!
Tahoe was so lovely I decided to stay, much to the dispeasure of my hotel and restaurant program at WSU.  I stayed through the Fall and Chef Joe and Chef Jack encouraged me to pursue a career in Culinary Arts.  My passion was for healthy food so I eventually moved home to finish my degree in Nutrition at Bastyr University.  Maybe someday... culinary school:)
Last Monday, as I was preparing food for picnic dinner at Lake Tye to follow swim practice, fresh salsa came to mind.  Specifically peach salsa as we had just picked up a bunch of peaches on our trip home from the Ellensburg Triathlon weekend.  As I began to dice the green peppers, I heard Chef Joe saying, "You HAVE to chop peppers and fruit into uniform size."  I remembered him teaching me how to roast, sweat and peel bell peppers.  I smiled as those memories of him answering my constant questions about when thing were done, "When they’re done."  Continuing to chop peaches into sizes matching the green peppers, I could see the bowl we colorfully combined our salsa into at the Seafood Grotto and taste then hints of jalapeno and lime mixed with the sweet peaches.  My version today is a bit faster to prepare and isn’t quite as deep in flavor.   My memories of Summer in Tahoe remain as flavorful as ever!
Tahoe Peach Salsa

¼ “ diced peaches
¼ “ diced bell peppers

diced red onion
Chopped cilantro
Lemon juice
Lime juice
salt


For my friends who like measurements, I'm sorry!  Just make it look pretty and then season until it tastes the way you like!! But make sure to dice those peppers and peaches in uniform size:)
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Emerlad Cove - one of my favorite Tahoe spots.
 
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