What does passion even mean…and how do I get some?

PROGRESS on #14

PASSION:  is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. (According to Wikipedia)

This October made me realize that I do have something I’m passionate about…beyond the “honeymoon stage” of new, fun, different.  Even beyond the fun research shopping for the right equipment and/or clothing.

For over a year, I’ve had a weekly goal of being active for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days during the week.  Five days!…Not five activities.  If I play two indoor soccer games on Sunday, that’s ONE day.  For a majority of the last 18 months, the five days haven’t been a problem.

Early in October, while feeling very crappy, I missed five days in a row.  No exercise at all.  I jumped back into it the following week and got in all my days.  On the beginning of the third week, I turned my ankle while playing soccer and ended up resting/healing for 4 days before my NextGen Twilight Run on October 21, 2011.

Yup~ankle was part of my excuse for not finishing under 32 minutes.  And yes~I’m FINALLY over making up excuses and the disappointment I felt.   I ran the race…even if I had a longer time…I was there and I ran.  Why?  Why did I run when I knew I wasn’t 100%?

It’s because I’m truly passionate about exercising.  Fitness, Exercise, Nutrition, Healthy Living…whatever you want to call it.  I began with the idea that I had to be passionate about a single “type” of fitness…like running, or yoga, or soccer.  I don’t have to pick just one!  Trying to figure out which single area I was going to be passionate about was proving to be stressful.  After giving it much thought I realized I didn’t have to LOVE just a single activity.  I run 5k’s…because I don’t love running enough to do a 1/2 marathon, let alone an entire 26.2 marathon.  I love playing indoor soccer but I won’t limit my running and bootcamp attendance.  I really enjoy going to bootcamp at 5:30am (regardless of the weather) to get the strength training, agility and cardio workouts, and having the wonderful camaraderie of the other “booters”.

While laid up last week I was realizing that I was the most anxious about getting back to being active.  The doctor must have thought I was nuts when she’d ask how I was feeling and I’d say “pretty good, so I can play soccer on Sunday?”…or…”I know I shouldn’t run but is it ok if I walk a 5k in 2 days?”.  Yeah…she didn’t sign off on either one but I know what passion is now.

Every day I look forward to something…and it’s about being active and exercising.  The variety of combining bootcamp, running, indoor soccer, and throwing in some yoga gives me something to look forward to every day!

BE PASSIONATE!  BE ACTIVE!  It’s fun!

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Obstacles ahead…Eeek!

Just a quick preview of my Warrior Dash adventure today.

I was nervous in the beginning…

With good reason…these are my clothes after…

It was a great day!  Stay tuned for a more detailed account, I’m a little worn out tonight…

I survived Warrior Dash 2011…

It’s a Running Month

Ok…if you read my last post, then you know I was pretty discouraged by my lack of progress on my 40X40 list this month.  I am happy to report…I can check something off!!

ALMOST checked off #4~Warrior Dash is happening October 30th!  Got the waterproof camera squared away today so hopefully I’ll have some great pictures to post next week.

CHECKED OFF~#19 for this year

I participated in my first 5k run EVER in April 2010.  It was a new fundraiser put on by a new committee that my sister was helping get established, called NextGen…so the best way I could help support the event was to run in it.  I joined a gym and ran on the treadmill 2-3 times for about 3 weeks before the run.  I was the 46th person to cross the finish line with a time of 33:43.  My goal was to improve my time…and while the event got delayed until October 2011~it still happened and I was the 36th person to come in with a time of 32:56.  I improved and that was my goal~~Accomplished!

NOW~the reality of what I initially felt about how I did was completely different.  I was disappointed that I didn’t reach my “secret” goal of completing this extremely hilly but beautiful sunset run in under 32 minutes.  In 18 months; with a year of Bootcamp under my belt and getting first place in my age group for my last 2 runs (I’ll get to those in a second), I thought I’d do better then I did.  Goal for next year~Focus and Run the best I can~no excuses!  Next year I’ll continue to improve my time on the NextGen Twilight 5k!…I’ll make it under 32 minutes…just watch me!

OH…the other two races I mentioned:

Kenwood Footrace 2k was July 4th and I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was first in my age group and I had improved my time by 3 minutes.

I did the The Carousel Fund Run on October 9th, for the first time.  This run has fallen on the same weekend as The Relay for Life event that I do in honor of my Mom and in memory of my Dad.  But this year the run was 3 weeks later then usual and I was able to participate.  Flat and Fast!  That’s what my friend told me about this race, and it was.  I finished this 5k in 26:54…my best time EVER!  It wasn’t until a week later that I found out I was first in my age group for this run too!  I was very excited.

AND for future races…like the Warrior Dash coming up in 4 days, I will focus and persevere!  I’ll be happy at the end of the race knowing that I did my best.

CHECKED OFF~#25 for October

I shopped locally…well, kind of.  I was in Colusa, helping my husband get our trailer set up for duck hunting season…oh, and it was our 11-year Anniversary, so we HAD to be together that Saturday. (hee hee~ok, I followed him around all day)  We stopped at Barb’s Produce Stand and bought some wonderful fresh fruit.

The woman who helped us (Maybe it was Barb?) was so pleasant and informative about all the varieties of fruit.  I will definitely return to this local Colusa gem anytime I’m in the area.

PROGRESS on #14~~Stay posted…this deserves it’s own post!

I started writing on this and found it was over 1/2 this entry…so to give justice to passion, I’m giving #14 a post all it’s own.

PROGRESS on #33

I’ve been so busy this month with so many things that I haven’t been able to get out to any parks or do any baking (very sad face with frown).  I’ve been slowly reading Emma by Jane Austen and end up falling asleep after a few pages.  I decided that I’d buy/load as many of the books as I could onto my Kindle.  After looking up many of the books and realizing that it’d be quite the investment to buy all 40 of them, I knew I had to figure out something else.  Borrowing maybe?…but then there’s the obligation to get through the book quickly to return it.  What if I lose it?  I’m then stuck buying a replacement.  Here’s a random thought~go to the library!  I have the great luck of living and working in different towns that both have large libraries.  Within Sonoma County there are more libraries then I knew about…how did I not know this?…yeah, logically every City has one.

I haven’t had a library card since…at least Junior High.  Tomorrow I’m going to get a new library card and then I can set up an online account and reserve books.  I can add every title to my “wish list” and check status of when they are available.  All of this…for FREE!  OK~if I return it late or lose it…that costs, but you can even renew/extend online.  This is fantastic for me.

Before the end of this month, I’ll have a new library card and an online “wish list” that is close to 40 books long!  I even plan to check out a couple books and bust through reading them in my free time next week.

PROGRESS ON #38

I think of a random act of kindness as something I don’t usually do or want to do…but I do it–to make another person have an easier day.  But how significant does the act of kindness have to be to count?

Does letting someone pull out in front of you count?  After you’ve watched 5 other cars ignore them.

Does it have to involve money?  Paying the toll for the person behind you…giving money to a homeless person.

Does extra effort and/or time for your friends/families goals count?  Shouldn’t that effort just be included in being friends/family?

Ultimately, I know it’s my perception of what I think counts, but what do YOU think constitutes a Random Act of Kindness?

Be Your Adventure!!

Desserts~the condensed version

Instead of doing individual posts on the desserts from the last couple of weeks, I’m condensing them all into one.

I’ve made seven desserts and the thought of doing seven posts was starting to be a little overwhelming so I’m doing the short version here.

I did my two recipes out the Grand Central cookbook and got rave reviews.

Raspberry Crumble Tart

This tart was a special request from my husband.  It was so delicious that he requested that I make it again for a BBQ we were attending.

For the BBQ, I thought I’d try the recipe with Blackberries as well.

I also knew I should bring something chocolate.  I’m not a chocolate lover but I do appreciate the right blend of chocolate with coffee.  I made a Chocolate Flourless cake and a second cake with espresso mixed in.  The recipe for this cake came from my time spent at the Santa Rosa Junior College Baking/Pastry culinary program.

The other dessert I did out of the Grand Central cookbook was a Cherry Clafouti.

This simple recipe is super fast and I’ve made it various times with rave reviews.  This was my first time using cherries, but it stood up to the critics as well.

The batter for this recipe is done in the blender.  After soaking your fruit in brandy or your favorite spirit, dump the ingredients into the blender for a quick whirl and pour into a pie plate.  I then place the fruit into the batter and bake it.

I usually soak the fruit overnight but a couple hours works fine too.  Other times I have left out the alcohol all together.  It’s really your preference.

I’ve used blackberries, raspberries, and also mixture of berries in the past.  Even using frozen cherries, I loved the way this clafouti turned out.  I’d definitely make this version again.  Such a great recipe for the last minute dessert!

The last dessert was one of my favorites.  Berry Tart with Vanilla pastry cream with a Sablee’ crust painted with dark chocolate.  This was for my close friend’s birthday.

AND…I’m spent! ha ha! Oh, in case you were counting~I made the Raspberry Crumble Tart twice…that’d make seven!

Raspberry Crumble Tart

Cherry Clafouti

Raspberry Crumble Tart

Blackberry Crumble Tart

Chocolate Flourless Cake

Espresso Chocolate Flourless Cake

and the very special Berry Birthday Tart!

Bread Pudding Muffins…it’s a delicate balance of demanding the supply!

Bread Pudding Muffins

OR cushions of yummy goodness…

Back by popular demand!

Progress: #6 of 112 recipes

I have made this recipe at least a dozen times…and I made it again, just to make it official for this goal. I knew the muffins wouldn’t go to waste. The problem is more along the lines of there not being enough. I made a triple batch…yes! Tripled it!

I had myself convinced that I didn’t like bread pudding…but I also think the name is quite silly. But I can’t really think of a better name…bread soaked in sugary milk and cream!? I just know that I love bread pudding now…and it’s because of this fabulous recipe.

These muffins have converted me and many others into enjoying bread pudding. Not slimmy or gooey but very moist and extremely delicious.

I brought these scrumptious treats to a 24-hour American Cancer Society fundraiser called The Relay for Life. Last year I sold the muffins, but this year we did a larger raffle instead of a bake sale so my team mates got to enjoy the muffins…just because they knew me. Oh yes…I pay my friends with these muffins. Ha Ha! They can be worth more then modern currency depending on which friend it is.

I brought home the 8 muffins that were left for my husband. I got the 5th degree when I got home from work the next day…where were the muffins?!? Why was I hiding them?!? Did I take them to work?!? Why would I do that?!?

Ends up my Mom had in fact taken the muffins to her work to share. She did bring back a couple for my hubby…and those disappeared before I turned around from starting up the BBQ for dinner.

I’m proud of my muffins…my bread pudding muffins! I get compliments and requests for them a lot. It really makes me smile that people enjoy them so much.

This triple batch was made possible by the generous bribe…Aha…I mean, donation of Clover Whole Milk and Clover Heavy Cream by a close friend. California Cows are awesome!! Get out there and buy LOCAL!!

The Grand Central Baking Book

Ragle Ranch Regional Park

Ragle Ranch Regional Park

Progress:  #4 of 40 Parks

Yup…10% done.  I’m an accounting geek so everything is some kind of number to me.

Parking fee is $5.00.  There was parking along the street outside the park for free; however, there are 6 soccer fields, multiple playgrounds, Tennis courts, and Ball fields.  The parents all seem to park along the street because of the fee to park.

This is a very awesome park.  I didn’t explore the group picnic areas or the playgrounds but they looked great from afar.  I went straight to the trail head to get my hike on.

I was accompanied by my friend and her two star soccer players.  They had just finished their soccer games so I met them there and we headed out on the Blackberry Trail.

The Blackberry Trail is a very accurate name for the trail.  At times we were surrounded by berry bushes.

Sometimes it was like a tunnel and then a few steps later, so open and light.  The entire time we could hear the sounds of nature; birds chirping, trickling water, or just our feet on the trail.

A couple of times we ran into other people on the trail and me…being how I am…had a map of the park and trails in my bag.  This was good news to a couple of ladies who couldn’t seem to find their way out.  I downloaded the map from the Sonoma County Regional Parks website.

We even came across a friendly caterpillar that was inching along the trail.  The kids got to pet the little fella before we kept tromping along.

Soon we turned off onto the Thistle Trail…also adequately named.

This trail was more open and eventually led us back to the Peace Garden.

The Peace Garden was a great place to end the hike.  It was such an interesting stop…with a water sculpture, different varieties of lavender bushes, and a hammered copper covered bench.  A great end to a great adventure!

MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH!  I like it!

Baking Bread…It’s how I procrastinate!

Progress:  #4&#5 of 112 recipes

How to start my weekend?!?

I had so many things on my “To Do” list and needed to get busy.  There was laundry, errands; the car needs a bath…as does the dog…Phew!

I started the most sensible place on the list…the baking!  I needed to get 2 recipes done to stay on track to make Item #7 on my 40X40 list happen by the deadline.

Quick Breads!  I frowned at this…hoping they weren’t too quick!  I was trying to avoid all the mundane items by these breads taking their time.

I got started and realized I only had 2 glass loaf pans...I had to dig but found 2 more but they were metal.

I always preferred glass but was wondering if there was really a difference.  I did 2 loaves in the glass pans and 2 in the metal pans and figured I find out if there was a difference.

Pumpkin Bread

Baked in metal pans this bread was done a little quicker then the Cranberry Orange Pecan Bread.  It was still moist throughout and very tasty.   No nuts in the recipe so I made it strictly by the book.

Cranberry Orange Pecan Bread

Baked in the glass pans, I could tell from looking when this bread was done without having to poke it.  This recipe has toasted pecans and I included them in one loaf.  The other loaf remained untainted and was very enjoyable and yummy.

I would definitely include either of these breads as part of a brunch or light breakfast.  Once again, The Grand Central Baking Book did not fail to impress.

I was so excited when I completed the breads, I skipped the laundry and errands and delivered it promptly to my husband’s hunting club for everyone to enjoy.  Procrastination was achieved…at least for today!

Raspberries are my friend

Jams temperamental?—Who knew? Per usual, when I have another new hobby I geek on it. I try to make sure that even the first effort has little chance of not working. I read and research, buy books, and purchase the right equipment. My first batch of Strawberry Jam—I’m still sad about it, but I truly thank my friends and family for being so supportive and eating it…Ok, they tell me they are but I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t. It just wasn’t pretty.

I decided that I’d use only one source for the next batch…ha ha…there’s a thought. I was so concerned with the canning process that I rushed through the cooking/preparation of the Strawberries…but enough about the epic fail…onto the Raspberry!!

I decided to go back to the old school method that I remembered as a kid. No store bought pectin or “fast” high yield processing. Just fruit, sugar and a touch of lemon juice and I cook the crap out of it.

This second attempt at jam I used a recipe from The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves: 200 Classic and Contemporary Recipes Showcasing the Fabulous Flavors of Fresh Fruits, by Linda Ziedrich.

(I added this cookbook to my list of books I must make 3 recipes from each by January 2014)

AND…

Guess what? Yes, Oh Yes! It worked and it’s beautiful and it tasted good!

The Raspberries are a delicate berry so I thought they’d prove to be more difficult then the Strawberry. Again, I was wrong! I was very excited it worked and now I can’t wait to try another batch of jam. I’ll return to the Strawberry soon…to make up for the 12 jars of ugliness from batch one.

The Raspberries only yielded 5 jars of jam…so besides the 1 jar in my fridge, the other 4 are already gifted away and I’m getting requests for more. Yippee!! More “Good” jam coming soon!

What’s the next flavor of jam?…I saw the sign while returning from Ragle Ranch Park today…a virtual and literal sign…

BUT…I also hiked on The Blackberry Trail at Ragle Ranch…the SAME day! Oh! The choices! Guess I’ll have to do both!

Coming soon! To somewhere near you…Giddy UP! It’s Jam Time.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

Progress: 3 of 112 recipes

I really tried to prepare myself for this recipe and any others that would have this creamy/chunky paste in it. Yup, I’m not over it….

I kept my fingers crossed that my friend Amy would be willing to help me. Okey, Okey, I was hoping she’d just make them so I wouldn’t have to. I communicated via text, email, facebook, you know, how good friends do…ha ha, and she agreed to help me.

I shudder at being near this stuff so much that I walk along the furthest side of the aisle in the grocery store when I have to pass it. I now had to buy some and touch the jar it’s in…I kept thinking that my hand is millimeters from it…Thank you plastic manufacturers for your good work. None got on me. Phew!

Oh yes, the cookies! I asked Amy if she’d do the honors of measuring the peanut butter and maybe doing some of the mixing after it’s added…oh, and maybe putting the cookies on the cookie sheet after. She graciously offered to make the entire batch…and looking at the recipe, the peanut butter is added in Step 2! Ha Ha! “Thank You!!” I exclaim and proceed to sit across the counter and relax while she goes to work.

She even did the criss crossy thing with the fork that has always indicated “Do Not Eat” to me. You know, if you turn that cookie with the criss cross a little left or right…that criss cross turns into an X—like on the Family Feud. For others, it’s their favorite looking and tasting cookie…and these cookies got raves. Everyone—well, almost everyone thought they were great. It was great to know that I wasn’t the only one that wasn’t eating these cookies…our friends’ 5 year old son; he didn’t eat them. We gave each other a high five and just figured everyone else is crazy for liking that stuff.

Again, LOVE this cookbook and if you know someone who won’t gag and get sick from the smell and/or taste of peanut butter…this is a great recipe for them.

Grand Central Baking Cookbook

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore

Park Visit Progress:  #4 of 40

There’s a bounty of pictures below!

This trip was great…and full of adjusted expectations…but in a very good way.

There wasn’t a fee to get in!  So far I’ve had to pay from $5 to $8 to even drive into some of the parks, so it was a nice surprise.

At first I thought I could hit Pt. Reyes National, Tomales Bay State Park, and also Samuel P. Taylor State Park…all in 5-6 hours…they look so close on the map!  OH, and I had this planned on Labor Day weekend.  I figured “Who going to Parks on a long weekend?  Everyone should be on vacation.”  Seems lots of people come to Point Reyes from all over for their vacation…and the long weekend proved to be the best time to visit.

I adjusted my expectation from 3 parks down to only Point Reyes when I recruited my friend, her daughter, and her nephew to join me.  The young ones are 5 years old and I knew I couldn’t drag them around for too long.  I also knew that my tendency to talk to myself could be passed off as a conversation, if I got any weird looks.

I planned my visit on the National Park Service website and knew which trails I was hoping to go along.  Since my husband is the Amazing Hunter, I decided I wanted to see Tule Elk and figured I’d take the Tomales Point Trail which goes through the Tule Elk Reserve.  BUT~how fun is that for a 5 year old?  Luckily, my friend…let’s call her…Amy, had been to Point Reyes recently and knew about the Earthquake Trail and also the Kule Loklo Trail (We called it the Indian Trail).  Combined the trails were less then 1 ½ miles…perfect for short legs of young ones.  The cool fence that got separated in the 1906 earthquake and also the Indian village were super exciting…and I think the kids had a good time too.

         

The last expectation I had for the day was to see a lighthouse…so after walking through the Visitor Center, we headed back to the car to make the drive to the Point Reyes Lighthouse.  Hhmm, sign says 19 miles…really?!  I obviously had no idea the magnitude of this place…it’s huge!  So—We kept going!  And going!  And going!  During the drive I read the brochure about the lighthouse, hoping to get the kids excited and also to draw attention away from the fact we’d been driving for 20 minutes and we didn’t even see water yet.  Finally, after patiently waiting (after 19 miles of twisty road) for just one of the many rental cars to vacate a parking spot for us, we were on our way up the ½ mile trail to the lighthouse  At the end of the trail we had 308 stairs to look forward to…if we wanted to “visit” the lighthouse.  We could see it from the viewing platform but really, that’s not “visiting”.  The young ones enthusiastically exclaimed “Let’s go down the stairs”.  So we went…and it was fabulous!  The Park Ranger gave a little talk inside the lighthouse about what it’s like to live out there now and also 100 years ago.  Soon we had to head UP the 308 stairs and we all made it.  The drive back seemed to go faster and I was amazed that there are working ranches inside the park, some established as early as 1876.

There are a lot more beautiful features that I can’t wait to experience at this park.  I’ll definitely return to Point Reyes and not just because it’s on my list.

Oh!  Almost forgot about the Randomness…

  1. Hiking up the trail to the lighthouse, Amy and I looked at each other as we both realized, we were the only people speaking English.  I don’t know what languages they were, mostly since I only understand Spanish and French—baking words only.  It was kind of interesting to realize you are the minority in the crowd and I was only an hour from home.
  2. What kids say out loud…the innocence is awesome!

In Summary:

1.  Once again, Be flexible—this wasn’t the expected adventure, I think it was better.

2.  Always bring plenty of snacks and water.  Grumpiness can set in quickly and luckily I was given a banana to hold me over!

3.  Gain a new View~

I don’t have any of my own offspring, so maybe that’s why I thought it was great to view this park from a 5 year olds perspective.  It gave me a new view and I truly enjoyed it.

                   

                   

                   

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