Sunday, June 27, 2010

5 Things I HATE About Walmart

In no particular order:

5. Its always crowded. Trying to navigate the aisles is like trying to make your way through rush hour no matter when you go.

4. The products are not very fresh. I bought a whole bag of onions only to realize they were all rotten when I went to chop them for dinner. The "fresh" kale and lettuce sadly hangs limp over the edge of the shelf.

3. The produce is not well stocked. I don't know how many times I've needed parsley only to find they have none. Seriously?!!! I mean, its PARSLEY, the most commonly used fresh herb there is!!

2. Its too big. If I can stay in one section I'm fine, but if I need something that's located on the other side of the store we're in for a serious trek.

1. The checkers are agonizingly S....L....O....W. 'Nuff said.

Sorry for the grumpiness but I started making dinner last night when I realized that yet another product I bought at Walmart was rotten and I didn't have a replacement. I had to drag the whole troop down there for one thing when I had already spent an hour shopping earlier that same day. The line was long to exchange, which they made me wait in twice. All in all dinner was served right around bed time, and I was starving and exhausted long before it was done. Not such a great night.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fun in the Sun

The sun was hot shining through the car window at 9am this morning. We had an early doctor's appointment so Jaden could get his last couple shots for preschool. We promised him a treat afterward so we swung by our favorite doughnut place on the way home. Right next door was a K-Mart so I suggested we check to see if they had any deals on little kiddie pools. I'd been thinking about getting one for awhile but just hadn't gotten around to it. We found one on sale for 10 bucks.

As soon as we got home I filled it up so there would be time for the water to warm up a bit, it is FREEZING straight from the hose. Jaden and Carter were so excited they didn't wait long. Right after lunch they got changed and ran outside. There was a light breeze blowing now but that didn't stop them from climbing in. Jeff and I brought down chairs to watch them. I thought we were just going to be spectators but before I knew it we had a family water fight. We were all laughing hysterically. It was really funny to watch Jaden dump all the water on himself when he tried to throw it on one of us, but with Jeff and I aiming for each other there was plenty of wet to go around.

After the fight died down we all laid out on the porch on the warm concrete and let the sun dry out our clothes and re-warm our bodies. It reminded me of being in California at the beach warming up from the frigid ocean. What a delightful afternoon in the sun.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Szechuan Green Beans withTofu

I made the yummiest stir-fry dish the other day that I changed so much I can put my own name on it. And hey, it turned out great, so I thought I'd share. Its only my second time experimenting with tofu and I was surprised at how delicious it was. The kids even loved it, Jaden kept asking for more tofu! It even started an amusing dinner conversation. Jaden: "Mom, I want more chicken." Me: "Honey, that's not chicken, it's tofu." Carter: "Toe-who?" Jaden: "No Carter, say toe-foo". Anyway, maybe you had to be there. So here's the recipe:

Margaret's Szechuan Green Beans with Tofu

one package extra firm tofu
frozen green beans (I use the ones from Costco), enough to fill a 12-inch skillet
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 or 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
salt and pepper

Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes, and let marinate in the rice vinegar, soy sauce, chili flakes, sugar and hoisin sauce. Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a 12-inch skillet until hot, than add frozen green beans, garlic and ginger. Saute 5-7 minutes. Add the tofu and marinade stirring gently for a couple minutes until the sauce thickens. Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cooked brown or wild rice. (Try wild rice, it's so yummy with it!)

That's it! Its so easy, try it! Don't be scared, the tofu was actually good!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Camping at Montaine Day Three: Natalie Comes to Visit

Tuesday night Jeff's sister Natalie drove up from Denver to hang with us. The kids were so excited to see their aunt. On Wednesday we decided to be a little more ambitious and try a hike twice as long. The hike would take us to three different lakes and back in 3.6 miles. The first lake was Nymph Lake, .5 miles up the trail:

Next was Dream Lake probably about halfway up. It took my breath away!

After Dream Lake we started hitting some serious snow. I've never hiked in so much snow and been warm in a short sleeved shirt and shorts. It was weird. The snow was very wet and slushy as you can imagine which made it pretty treacherous to walk in. Very slippery, which is scary enough when it is just you walking (or falling) but very nerve wracking when you are carrying precious cargo.
The kids were delighted about the snow. They walked through a lot of it, which was great.
We almost gave up, and then we made it to Emerald Lake, and boy was it worth it! What a great accomplishment. Jaden and Carter loved climbing on the rocks:

This was one of the prettiest hikes I've ever been on, especially for only being a few miles. I am so glad we tried it!

That afternoon we took a drive up the alpine loop, which took up almost to 12 thousand feet. There were some crazy fear-of-heights inspiring twist and turns and stunning vistas and views. Unfortunately we needed a wide-angle or panoramic lens to really capture anything, so our pictures just didn't do justice.

That night we had traditional camping "Gut Busters" which were soo yummy (and yes, most definitely gut, and diet, busting) and smores once again. They never get old. After one more night of falling asleep to the wilderness sounds we awoke the last morning to our tent almost falling down around us. These crazy winds blew in every thirty minutes starting in the wee hours and each time we almost got lifted into the heavens. It was crazy. Finally at 6 am after another almost collapse we gave up on sleep and decided to start the packing. We made it home, pretty exhausted, bringing home much dirt and debris, with big smiles on our faces and some memories that won't soon be forgotten.

Camping in Montaine Day Two: Hiking in the Rockies

After falling asleep to the sound of rain falling on our tent (which amazingly didn't start until everything was done and put away), and frogs coaking (there was a flooded campsite nearby) we woke up bright and early to join the birds in the celebration of a new day. After a breakfast of awesome Pineapple Coconut Crumb Muffins and scrambled eggs, and a nap for Addison, we set off on our first hiking adventure with all three kids. It was still rainy and pretty cold and windy so we all bundled up. We started out easy with a 1.9 mile round trip hike to Alberta Falls:

As you can see Jaden did not want his picture taken for some reason:

The boys did a great job walking! Jaden walked the whole way of course (he is WAY too heavy to carry for any distance). We made Carter walk the whole way back because it was all down hill. He was great for most of it, but he got pretty tired and cranky toward the end.

After the first half mile it got pretty warm and we ended up carrying all our warm clothes back to the car. Alberta Falls was absolutely gorgeous! The water was really moving with all the snow melt. I was a little nervous having the boys wandering around because if they fell over the side into the water I doubt anyone could save them. I gave them strict instructions to not go close to the edge.

This is one of my favorite pictures. Isn't that just stunning?!

This is my favorite picture of Addison and Jeff, isn't the hat so adorable?

There were some great views from above the falls.

We stopped at the top and had a snack of apples and Peanut Butter Balls, which was the perfect hiking snack and went nicely together. As we were munching a little chipmunk came to investigate and would not leave. It was a little creepy because it kept coming so close to us, it was not scared of us at all. It would hide right behind us like it was gonna jump up on us and grab something right out of our hand or just bite us on the butt. It reminded me of the scene with the squirrel from Christmas Vacation and I kept cracking up. Good times.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Camping at Montaine

Monday morning we woke up bright and early, finished the final preparations, packed the van, and drove out to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Jeff did the research on the location and boy did he pick a beautiful spot, Montaine Campground. It was rated #1 out of 50 locations on a web site he found and we were not disappointed. Everything was super green with spring, and almost everywhere you looked was a beautiful view. This was the view when we looked outside our tent:
We think we must have gotten the most beautiful spot in the campground:

The boys loved being free to run around outside all day. They were endlessly entertained by the bugs, rocks and sticks, and all the unique family time:

They also loved seeing all the wildlife up close (I learned those are elk not deer):

Here we have Jeff showing off our awesome skewers! With an extra long handle and two prongs for multiple marshmallows or hot dogs they couldn't be better! They were a little pricey at $4 each at Walmart, but they were well worth it.

Making smores always scores!

Here is the Mitchell Family version, ain't it beautiful?

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Foot: I started wearing my regular running shoes (I was wearing my Five Fingers shoes when I injured my foot) 24hours a day because I noticed my foot hurt less that way. Now I barely feel anything. I'll keep at it for a few days more before I let myself wear cute shoes again just to be sure. But I've been able to continue my training so I'm encouraged by that. Looks like it was nothing a blessing couldn't heal!!

Diet: I've been on the diet for six weeks now. I've had a few challenges along the way (eating at someone's house, i.e. BBQs) that have put major temptation in my path. But I enjoy my little indulgences and go right back to my normal eating habits. Right now I am planning a camping trip and that will be a challenge also. Jeff will want to eat really yummy, fun and easily portable food, and I want to eat healthy, fresh food. When the junk food is right in front of me I rarely say no so this will definitely be hard. Especially since one little push at this point and I feel like I will fall off the wagon. I go back and forth, should I just enjoy my camping trip and eat what the family wants to eat or stick to my guns and make my diet work in the wild. Considering all it took to push me over the edge last night was to DRIVE BY Baskin Robbins to make me stop and order not a kid's scoop, not a single scoop but a double scoop of ice cream makes me think I do not have the will power to last four days surrounded by unhealthy food choices. Sigh. My strength may fail me, but I'll just need to keep going once I get home. All that said, I have lost 15 pounds! So I'm almost halfway done. :)