Monday, April 14, 2014

Post Office Tour Update

I have really been enjoying my post office tour of Washington. I am only at 4.5%, but it's fun planning the adventures and actually going on the adventures. 

One of the mini trips I did was along the 167 highway, starting in Sumner and hitting Pacific, Auburn, Kent and Renton. It was raining out, but I definitely got a lot of funny looks when I stood in front of the buildings! It's something I haven't quite gotten used to.

On the way back from New Years Eve up at Crystal, I hit Enumclaw, Buckley and Bonney Lake. The Buckley post office was really hard to find and didn't have the town name on it. I learned that many are like that, including the Redmond one.

I did a quick trip to Tacoma to get the one off Proctor street. I just love that area!

I hit Issaquah after a nice hike to Anti-Aircraft Peak from Redtown Trail head. It was a great hike!

I had my dad and brother stop in Ferndale so I could check that one off my list. I wanted Bellingham too, but I didn't push my luck.

My latest trip was a short jaunt out to Orting, then South Prairie, Wilkeson and Carbonado. It was during Daffodil Days, so there were a ton of cool shop and stalls to look at in Orting. I love Orting, especially the bakery! The South Prairie post office has been one of my favorites. It was just so cute!

While I was in Canada, I got my picture taken in front of the Whistler post office and the Pemberton post office. I love that part of the world!

Next on my tour, I'm hoping to venture out and hit more that are further away. I'm hoping to get a lot of the towns along US 2 from Monroe to Stevens Pass.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Winter Trips

This winter I went on a few trips that were lots of fun. I figure its about time I write about them!

I did a few hikes this winter with the gang. The first hike was on a pouring down rainy day. We hiked to Bullitt Fireplace on Squak Mountain and were going to go further but then it really started to rain so we just headed back to the cars. There were signs everywhere about laminated root rot and that we needed to watch for falling trees. The forest sure smelled... interesting!

We also did a hike from Redtown Meadow to Anti-Aircraft Peak on Cougar Mountain that was a nice easy hike on a beautiful sunny day. At the view point, we could see Lake Sammamish and the snow covered Cascades and it was gorgeous!

I did a few nice hikes with Tina, around Cougar Mountain, to Poo Poo Point and we also wandered around Dash Point State Park. Those were a lot of fun!

I went up to Mt. Rainier to take a walk along the Paradise Valley Road. I took some cool pictures and got to enjoy the snow in October. I was hoping to ski a lot after that, but then the snow melted :(

I didn't get around to snowshoeing too much this year, which was a little disappointing, but I still had a lot of fun walking to the Denny Creek Campground while it was lightly snowing. 

I went on a ski trip to Whistler with my dad and brother in January, and the amount of snow was not a lot but it was still fun. We mostly skied easy and intermediate runs, but it was so beautiful there that I didn't mind!

I went again to Whistler in March and it was amazing! The first day was snowing heavily but it was a great day of powder runs. The second day was a gorgeous bluebird day with lots of fast steep runs.

Oh! I almost forgot! I went tubing at Snoqualmie which was a lot of fun, but there was not much snow so it was like tubing on snow mixed with gravel. I still had a great time with the ladies!

Mostly I have been skiing at Snoqualmie and Crystal with a few trips to Stevens Pass. My latest trip to Stevens Pass was exciting because my niece Caprielle got to ski down a ski run for the first time! She is so cute!

So far I have had a great winter. As much as I love winter skiing and snowshoeing, I am really ready for hiking this summer. And spring skiing. I'm so torn! So I guess I will do both :)

Did you have any fun trips this winter?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Speeding up and slowing down

Life has been going at warp speed while I have been learning to slow down. I'm learning how to relax for the first time in my life and it has been wonderful! I'm so happy I quit my job back in November. 

So here's an update: I've been writing a cookbook on spring produce that I should have finished by the end of April. I'm so excited and so proud of the work I have been doing. I have also had a hard time reining in my creativity. I have so many recipes planned for so many more books and I am so excited about it! It's hard to keep a smile off my face when I talk about it!

I've also been skiing some, not as much as most years because of the lack of snow at the beginning of this season, but I've been getting in some great ski days, especially up at Whistler (and now you can hear the sound of me checking off one of my 2014 goals, which was to ski Whistler twice this year!). I have also officially skied every run at East, Central and West at Snoqualmie, finalizing this accomplishment with Ripcord at Central, which I had dreaded because snowboarders (and some skiers) scrape it clean so its like an ice skating rink, but I went down on a really warm slushy day and it was actually kind of fun! Now all I have left is some double blacks at Alpental, which will have to wait until next year.

This year I've also decided to start peakbagging more, especially along the I-90 corridor, and to get serious about my hiking list. Being the uber list maker that I am, I've already planned all my hikes out to almost 2040. I'm gonna be a busy woman in the next few years!

Another exciting travel goal that I've made is that I want to start high pointing, that is, climb, hike, walk or drive to the highest point in each state, with the exception of Denali. That's the one that scares me the most and that I don't even want to touch. So I'm going for 49, starting this summer with Mt. Whitney. Life is going to be busy, but good!

And for last words, here is my hiking list for the year:

-Deception Pass
-Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge
-Green Lake
-High Rock
-Double Bluff
-Bare Mountain
-Lime Kiln Trail
-Grand Park
-Harstine Island State Park
-Mount Beljica
-Grieder Lakes
-Mount Washington
-Mount Higgins
-Sunrise Lake
-Wynoochee Lake
-Narada Falls to Reflection Lakes
-Spencer Butte
-Josephine Lake
-Commonwealth Basin
-Deer Creek Falls
-Chenuis Falls
-Horseshoe Bend
-Big Creek
-Shoe Lake
-Minotaur Lake

Long list, but I want to be hiking almost every Sunday from April 20th to October!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Learning to Let Go

I am learning to let go of their judgments, their criticisms. They sting so harshly, even when I know they come from a place of low self-esteem and hurting. I know that instinctively they don't mean to harm, and in some ways they think they are doing good, but they are just hurting me, the one person they are supposed not to. 

I'm learning compassion towards people that are highly critical, because they must be hurting so badly to act so mean. I'm learning that in moments of weakness and doubt, I can become that highly critical person and I must try so hard not to be.

I'm angry and upset and I need to set boundaries. I've set boundaries with several judgmental people by removing them from my life, but I need to set boundaries with all.

In other news, I did not get accepted in to the Masters of Nutrition program at UW, and surprisingly I wasn't that upset about it. So now on to Plan B (which has really been Plan A all along, which I wish I had had the courage to do when I was in college): culinary school.

Two years of learning new skills, doing the thing I love: cooking.

I'm so excited about it. I was hesitant to send an email asking to speak with a counselor in order to enter the program, and I couldn't figure out why. Today I figured it out. It was because I was afraid of the judgment of some people. The more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it sounded. I dreamed of going to culinary school from the day I graduated high school. All through college, all I wanted to do was drop out and go to culinary school. The whole time I was working in a job I hated, a job that made me miserable, I wanted to quit and go to culinary school.

So now I'm doing it. I'm going. If anything, it's to just do something I've been wanting to do for a long time.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goals for 2014

It's always about this time that most people make resolutions on what they want to change about themselves in the next year. Almost all the time, they fail. I have failed at keeping resolutions so this year, I'm setting goals. I find setting goals keeps me more in line and more focused that simply setting a resolution.

In the year 2014, I would like to:

Travel and Explore!
  • Increase the number of cities in Washington I have visited to 35% from 25% currently, along with taking photos of me at the post office to at least 10% from 1.5 % currently
  • Travel to California to climb Mt. Whitney to officially start my highpoints journey, along with possibly doing a few peaks in the southwest
  • Climb Mt. St. Helens
  • Finally get to the top of Mt. Si and Granite Mountain
  • Visit Vancouver Island
  • Ski Whistler.. twice!
Improve my health!
  • Hike, ski, bike, run, or walk every day, along with throwing in a bit of strength training
  • Do a simple morning yoga sequence every morning, especially with a pigeon pose (dang my hips are tight!) and an inversion
  • Make some apple-carrot-orange juice at least 3x a week
  • Experiment in the kitchen more. Create my own unique recipes, and tweak ones from my cookbooks (and create healthier versions of restaurant recipes). Post the recipes here!
  • Read at least 5 books a month from my book list.
  • Practice living with less clutter.
Be happy!

  • Ask myself, "what am I really afraid of" when I procrastinate. 
  • Just do! When I get an idea, I just need to run with it. 2013 was the year of big changes, but fear definitely held me back for other changes. Like the saying says, your dreams aren't big enough if they don't scare you! (And mine definitely scare me!)
  • Be content, but not complacent. Be happy with how things are now, but don't let bad things drag you down. 
  • Don't define 2014 according to what others think, including the people that should support you but aren't. 

What are your goals for 2014?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Shrimp and Fall Fruit Salad

The inspiration for this salad came from a recipe in Melissa's Great Book of Produce for persimmons. I had two that I couldn't figure out what to do with, so I decided to peruse my cookbook collection until something popped out at me. A recipe for a salad of persimmons, blue cheese, pomegranates and walnuts with a cider dressing sounded really delicious, but I wanted to add a few more things to it. I skipped the blue cheese, but added in some cucumber slices and some bay shrimp.

For the dressing, I used apple cider vinegar and mixed in some ground mustard and some herbes de provence. I can't tell you how good this salad tasted! Every bite came with a "oh wow" and a "this is good!" and "holy crap!" I don't think I've made a salad this good since I made my salmon, avocado and asparagus salad a few years ago. While persimmons and pomegranates are in season, you have to give this salad a try!

Shrimp and Fall Fruit Salad
adapted from Melissa's Great Book of Produce

Serves 2

1/4 lb bay shrimp
2 persimmons, cut into wedges
1/4 c. pomegranate seeds (I bought a cup with just the seeds, was a super time saver!)
1/3 cucumber, sliced
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped
chopped romaine lettuce

1 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp herbes de provence
salt and pepper

1. Mix together ingredients for dressing, set aside. 
2. Put a handful of lettuce on each plate, then layer cucumber slices on top. Add half the bay shrimp to each salad, piling the shrimp into a small mound in the center of each salad. Sprinkle walnuts, pomegranate seeds, and persimmon wedges over the top, then drizzle dressing over.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Favorite Banana Bread (Dairy and Egg-Free, Vegan)

I'm one of those weird people that can't eat a banana if it has any brown on it, so I tend to put the ones with the brown spots into my freezer. I usually have at least a gallon bag filled with frozen bananas, even after I've made several loaves of banana bread.

I love making banana bread. It is one of my favorite breads to make because it stays so moist and delicious, even after you freeze it. I like to add chocolate and walnuts to mine to add more crunch and sweetness to it. My versions is egg and dairy free, of course, and I use flax seed and almond milk as substitutes. Because I freeze the bananas before using them, they end up a lot sweeter naturally, so I reduce the added sugar in my banana bread by a lot.

Next time you have a few extra bananas that are a little ripe, pop them in the freezer for a few days to sweeten, then make some of this delicious banana bread! Trust me, you won't want to go back to the sugary version!

Rachel's Banana Bread
adapted from Better Homes and Garden Cookbook

Makes 1 loaf

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp flaxseed, mixed with 6 tbsp water
5 medium bananas, thawed slightly
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. cooking oil
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
1/3 c. dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the flaxseed with water and set aside. Thaw bananas by defrosting in the microwave for about 5 minutes. Peel bananas and put in bowl. Mash with a potato masher to get a uniform consistency. Add sugar and oil and mash a few more times to combine. 
2. In another bowl, mix together flours, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts and chocolate. Stir to combine. Add flaxseed mixture to bananas, then add banana mixture to dry ingredients. Stir to combine just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. 
3. Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan with Pam. Pour in batter, then bake in the oven for 55-60 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before releasing from pan. Cool loaf on a rack until you can't handle it anymore and have to eat a slice (cuz who wants to wait overnight, right?)



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