Uh oh

Good morning!  I hope you had a nice weekend!  We did.  🙂

We went to watch the horse races at Canterbury Park for the first time.  We’ve seen all the horse racing movies.  Thought we should check out the real thing.  It was a lot of fun!

We also got together with some friends for dinner, drinks, and general hilarity.  I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time!

We planted our tomatoes, kohlrabi, and the rest of out herbs outside, so no more indoor garden.  We also bought some annual flowers and set them out.  I hope we’re finally past freezing temps at night.

“Uh oh” is because our computer appears to be out of commission. I’m coming to you from my phone this morning.  I will have to get my tech guy (aka my husband) to take a look this evening.  We’ll see.

Countdown to Ragnar Relay:  10 days!!!

Did you have a nice holiday weekend?

Freedom is not Free

Growing up, part of Memorial Day weekend was always a visit to the cemetery. We would put flowers on the graves of loved ones. I know the holiday is meant to recognize fallen servicemen and servicewomen, but we would also include our deceased loved ones in our remembrances on the holiday. Now that I don’t live in my hometown, I don’t always make it. In fact, it has been several years, but I would like to go again someday. My parents are attending a service today that will name all the veterans buried in our hometown cemetery (including some of my deceased relatives).

I actually had a summer job working for our city when I was a teenager. One of the tasks was mowing the grass at the cemetery. I was very moved by one particular gravesite. It was decorated with a veteran’s star and a teddy bear. It just reinforced to me that some of the soldiers defending our freedoms were barely more than kids.

I won’t be making it to the service with my parents today, but I will take a moment to appreciate the men and women who have served my country with the noble intention of protecting its freedom.

I will leave you with lyrics from a song that I find very touching, and are particularly fitting for today’s holiday.

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Standing on a hillside
Where the river meets the sea
White crosses without number
Line the fields of peace

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And each one a silent witness
Staring back at me
Every cross a story
Of another place in time
Where young men thought it worthy
To give their life for mine
And for the sake of honor
Left their dreams behind

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And for the price they paid
I’m forever in their debt
Their memory will not die
‘Cause I will not forget

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I will stand and hold my head up high
I will dedicate my life
To the glory of the ones who had to die
I will live, live what I believe
If for no one else but me
I will remember
That freedom’s never free

I will walk free
I will stay free
I will live free
I will die free!

Partial lyrics from Freedom’s Never Free by Philips, Craig and Dean

Friendly Day and CSA

Two of my regular commitments have ended for the season, and I feel busier than ever. This surprised me at first. Well, I’ve had a little spike in my work hours – still very much part-time, but busier than I had been. That accounts for some of it. I also seem to stay a little busier in the kitchen once the CSA season begins. We’ve been working to finish up the school year for my kids this week. The first of my children’s summer sports has started. And then there’s yard work. Now that I put it in black and white, I guess I have added more things than I have subtracted. No wonder I feel busy.

When a dear friend asked if I could join her for tea yesterday, sadly my initial reaction was stress. Could I make time for that and get everything else done? She asked on Wednesday, so I worked extra hard, trying to make up for a slower Thursday. Then I got an early start yesterday, getting some work done for my part-time job before breakfast, and doing school work with my kids before heading out of the house. I had tea with my friend, and it was such a soothing break from the busy routine. My children played in her toy room, and my friend and I just slowed down and got caught up. I am very glad I said yes. The rest of the day continued to be busy, but in the end, it was worth it to me to put off my to-do list for a little while and enjoy our visit. It’s important to make time for the people we care about, don’t you think? Perhaps I should put phone calls and visits on my to-do list, so I don’t keep putting them off while I am bogged down in the day-to-day concerns.

Today will be a busy one as well. The big news is it will be the last day of school for our household. We finished most of our regular curriculum two weeks ago, with the exception of the biography on Ben Franklin that my daughter will finish up today. With the end of the regular book work, my kids asked if we could learn about volcanoes. I think they wanted an excuse to create an explosion. 😉 We’ve been learning about volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis these last two weeks and creating a little book that showcases some of the facts that we’ve studied. Today is the big day when the model volcano that the kids have been creating bit by bit is going to erupt. I’m sure it will be a blast (pun intended)!

And before I go, here’s a peek at this week’s CSA box.

In the box: red radishes, spinach, salad mix, rhubarb, asparagus, hon tsai tai, green garlic, and Egyptian walking onions.

Happy Memorial Day weekend to you! I am so ready for the unofficial start of summer; how about you?

Celebrate Spring Rhubarb Muffins

I can remember, as a child, using rhubarb to play store or restaurant. We would chew on a stalk of rhubarb just like celery. My grandparents had a good-sized patch of rhubarb, and they let my cousins and me use it while playing. I’m not sure if they had more than they could use or if they were just that generous. Probably the latter. They seemed to go out of their way to show their grandchildren a good time – taking us fishing, letting us help in their garden, showing us the stars, letting us help with various projects like painting or putting up birdhouses. (Hmm, notice that some things that might seem like a chore to an adult were terrifically fun privileges to a child?) Very fun grandparents, but I digress…

These days, the appearance of rhubarb in our CSA box is a welcome part of spring. It is certainly one item that my children are excited about. With rhubarb comes yummy baked goods! I baked up some rhubarb muffins that quickly disappeared, and I think they’re pretty healthy too. You can’t beat that!

Celebrate Spring Rhubarb Muffins

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup almond milk
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb
1/4 cup ground flax seed

Directions:
In large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In separate bowl, combine egg, almond milk, applesauce and vanilla. Mix wet and dry ingredients until dry ingredients are just moistened. Fold in rhubarb and flax seed. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake at 375 for 16 to 18 minutes. Yield: 16 muffins.

Do you like rhubarb? What do you like to make with it?

Burdock Stir-Fry

I’m here to share another unusual food item from the CSA and how we used it. Burdock is something I had never heard of prior to joining our CSA. The part we eat is a long, narrow root, with a slight similarity to a carrot. That’s the best way I can describe it.

You have likely seen the plants, even if you’ve never heard of this root vegetable. One variety of thistle, these are the kinds of plants with prickly burrs that like to grab on and hitch a ride as a means of seed dispersal.

My daughter has lamented that she wishes they could find a different way of spreading their seeds, and when a burr is caught in your hair, I think that’s a pretty reasonable wish. I don’t think I’ve ever pointed out that the burdock we eat is related to the burrs that sometimes bother her in her outdoor adventures. I think I might just keep that to myself for now, in case it taints her view of the food. If she ever asks what the rest of the plant looks like, then I will tell her, of course.

According to wikepedia, burdock is commonly eaten in Asia and is a good source of fiber, calcium, potassium, and amino acids. It is used in a soft drink in the U.K. It is believed to increase lactation, but it is not recommended during pregnancy because it is believed to stimulate the uterus. It is used for medicinal purposes by herbalists, for such diverse reasons as: diuretic, diaphoretic, dandruff, hair loss, and blood purification. source for info/picture

I can’t speak to all that, but I have been eating it each of the last three springs, and I have a stir-fry recipe to share. I love stir-fry, for the very reason that you can make it with whatever you have on hand. Meat or no meat, and an endless variety of vegetables and seasonings. Yum!

Burdock and Greens Stir-Fry (adapted from our CSA newsletter)

Ingredients:
Olive oil to coat pan
Ground ginger (I used about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup chives, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 ramp bulbs, sliced thin
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 burdock roots, sliced thin
2 T rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce
cayenne pepper (I used just a sprinkle)
3 cups mixed greens
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
-Heat olive oil over medium heat.
-Add ramps and chives. Cook for 1-2 minutes until beginning to soften. (If you use fresh ginger, you’ll want to include that too.)
-Add mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.
-Add burdock and continue to stir-fry for another minute.
-Add ground ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine, then add greens.
-Reduce heat to low and allow greens to wilt for about 2 minutes.
-Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
-Serve with rice.

One thing I took from this stir-fry is that I should really be using more mushrooms. They really stood out and tasted wonderful in this dish. As you can see, we had a brown rice and bean mix and parsnips along with the stir-fry. Parsnips are easily one of our favorite “new” foods from the CSA. We had never had them before the CSA, and they are SO good!!

What foods are you enjoying this spring?

Fargo Half-Marathon Recap

Slow and steady…

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Wins the race?

Well, no. It may have worked for the tortoise…

Finishes the race? Absolutely!

Enjoys every minute? Yes!

Wears a dopey grin throughout pretty much the whole race? Yes, I think so.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’re well aware that the Fargo Half-Marathon was a new distance for me. If you’re a new reader, hello and welcome! 🙂 I’ve just run my first half-marathon, and I couldn’t be happier! Let me tell you all about it!

We had driven up on Friday night to stay with my husband’s sister and her family for the weekend. They live about an hour past Fargo, which might sound like a negative, but there is a very definite positive, besides the obvious fun factor of spending time with family. Approaching Fargo from the north on marathon day has much less traffic!! One year, coming from the east on marathon day (for the 5k that year), we almost didn’t make it on time. This is a huge event, with many thousands of people converging on the Fargo Dome for the day.

We got up around 5:15 am to eat a quick breakfast and head to Fargo. Our niece was running the 10K, which was scheduled to start at 7:30 am. It rained the whole drive to Fargo, and it looked like we were in for a rainy run, but it stopped by the time we had parked.

We all got to watch our niece take off for her 10K, and fortunately, we even had enough time before our start to see her finish. She is eleven years old and such a great kid! After her finish, my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and I said goodbye to my husband and the kids and made our way back to the start line. It meant so much to me that my husband came along to support us runners and watched our two children and our two nieces during the run. (Thank you!!)

My brother-in-law was aiming for a faster pace than we girls were, so we split up at the start. We took it slow, and I think that was a smart choice for me. I went out too fast on my longest training run, and it was fairly miserable. The slow and steady approach ended up with about the same overall pace. On the training run, I ran faster at times, but I also took far more walking breaks than I ever intended. And it felt awful. On the other hand, I enjoyed every minute of the half-marathon. We just ran at a slow pace and walked through water stations. It was SOOOO different from my training. I really thought I would be walking more than that.

I know my sister-in-law has run faster half-marathons in the past. I was so grateful to her for running with me, and helping me have such a positive experience.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was cool, but not cold. The rain held off, but there were light sprinkles toward the end, which felt pretty good at that point.

The support and cheering from the community was amazing! There were bands here and there throughout the route, and it was a real boost. There were little kids along the side waiting for high-fives from runners. There were people with cowbells, trombones, you name it. I wish I had gotten pictures of some of the greatest runner shirts and crowd signs/crowd costumes that I saw. It was just awesome!

But as a mom, the very best cheering section came in the form of my own family. My husband and all the kids were watching near the finish. I would have missed them if my husband hadn’t yelled my name, but there they were, and it meant a lot to me. Wouldn’t this sign melt your heart?

I have these souvenirs of the day.

A part of me would like to try to run a half at a faster pace than I did on Saturday. A part of me would like to build up to a full marathon someday. Maybe I will do one or both someday. I don’t regret my slow half-marathon, though. I got to enjoy every minute, and I’m not sure I can say that about any of my previous races. I enjoyed the other races, but not at the same level. I was practically giddy.

My heartfelt thanks to those of you who have encouraged me during this process.

Let the Ragnar countdown begin!

Do you have a race or other event that stands out in your memory as a favorite experience?

Of course it was painful

No, I’m not talking about the Fargo Half-Marathon. I promise I will post a recap soon, but for the moment, here’s a passage that I’ve been meaning to share with you. It’s from What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami. I know a lot of you are also runners or participate in other sports, and I thought you might appreciate this. 🙂

Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition of this kind of sport. If pain weren’t involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It’s precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive – or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself. If things go well, that is.

Yes! Running makes me feel alive!

I found this passage so inspiring. I hope you like it, too.

I have a busy day ahead, so I will say good-bye for now, and I will tell you all about Fargo soon (tomorrow morning is the plan).

Happy Monday!!