Azalea Fest

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Every year in April, Wilmington welcomes Spring when the native azalea bushes bloom. You can drive downtown for miles passing these beautiful red, pink, and white flowers. The city goes all out for Azalea Fest and Hubs and I make it a tradition to stroll the Riverwalk every year. I have to always make sure I pass every street vendor to check that I am not missing anything I cannot live without, while Hubs has to make sure he quenches his thirst at the Brewery.

This year was going to be a little tricky because we both had to work Saturday. Hubs was already going to be downtown when I got off work, so I had planned to meet him down there. Once I left work to go home though, traffic was congested and I was pooped. Hubs was already at the brewery, so I told him to have fun while I stayed in to treat myself to some Netflix.

Sunday would make a better day for street-strolling anyway, as it is always the lesser crowded day of the weekend festival. My day started with some delicious bulletproof coffee (recipe coming soon!).

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I then went outside and was welcomed by our very own baby azalea that was planted last Spring. It was very eager to celebrate this year!

azaleababeAfter making a breakfast bowl of sweet potato, onion, beef and fried eggs, I showered, got dressed, and headed downtown with Hubs. The weather was perfect. Sunny, but not too hot and there was a nice river breeze. I was curious to see how far we would be walking, so I calculated the distance with an exercise app on my phone called Nexercise.

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The weather was a perfect opportunity for my left arm to catch up on its Vitamin D. We also visited some of the fun boutique stores that I never go into because I am usually never downtown to shop. I found the most adorable dachshund button earrings.

doxieearringsAfter getting close to finishing up our route of street vendors, my stomach was churning. I had made sure to eat a big breakfast this morning to hold me over, but the smells of deep-fried sweets and kettle corn had my mouth watering. I told Hubs to keep a lookout for a produce stand inside one of the markets. Right after I told him that, I found a new hole-in-the-wall called Happy Bowls. They had mostly smoothies and granola concoctions, but they also had juice options with fruits like apples, watermelon, and pineapple. The Whole30 does not recommend juicing nor does it recommend drinking your meal; however, this was an emergency! I had to get some type of food in me pronto!

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I opted for a carrot and apple juice. I felt better about the fact that it had carrots in it and wasn’t all fruit. I expected it to be a thicker consistency, but it wasn’t. It did the trick just fine, but I was happy to get home and make myself something to actually eat.

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I was hungry and did not want to spend a lot of time making my meal right when I got home….obviously. I use the Applegate’s Grass Fed Beef Hot Dogs.

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I had dachshund kisses for dessert!

Hubs and I had a wonderful Sunday. Once we got home, we did a bit of yard work and watched our weekend dose of whatever Dateline Mystery episode was on Demand. We also started Turn on AMC, which is so good! Speaking of AMC, Mad Men’s final season premiers tonight. I don’t know if I am going to be able to stay up for it. It comes on at 10 and I was in bed by 9 last night. Maybe I can set an alarm to wake me up? Then again, according to my phone app, we ended up walking 4.3 miles today just while promenading along the river followed by some yard work. I may be done for the day.

Good night!

 

 

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Bone Broth

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I have been waiting very patiently all weekend for my bone broth to brew. Since this was my first batch, I was a little intimidated by the challenge and I have been waiting for the right time to make it. Nothing like a broken bone to make brewing bone broth on the top of your agenda. Bone broth is exceptionally healthy for the body and is also known for helping with bone formation, growth and repair. Whole9 states:

“Bone broth is a source of minerals, like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium,  and potassium, in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s also rich in glycine and proline, amino acids not found in significant amounts in muscle meat (the vast majority of the meat we consume). It also contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, the compounds sold as supplements to reduce inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain. Finally, “soup bones” include collagen, a protein found in connective tissue of vertebrate animals, which is abundant in bone, marrow, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.  (The breakdown of collagen in bone broths is what produces gelatin.)”

See, why I was in dire need of some bone broth in my life? I had Hubs run by Whole Foods so I could pick up some beef bones last week; it was the very next day after my vehicle collision. I got about 2 lbs of beef marrow bones for 6 bucks. I figured for my first batch this would be perfect. I roasted the bones first, which was recommended by many on the Whole30 Forum.

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I didn’t roast them very long. Just long enough for me to dice and cut all of my veggies. This was also a great way to get ride of some prime real estate in the fridge, especially since some of my veggies were on their last breath.

veggiesbrothI chopped up onions, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley and ginger root. I threw some rosemary, bay leaf and red pepper flakes in there too.

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I added the bones, some apple cider vinegar, and filled the slow cooker up with water. I didn’t fuss with measurements; I just added enough water to fill it to the top. Many recommended to use filtered water, but I decided to keep it simple for my first attempt.

brothcookI covered my bone bath on Thursday night and didn’t unplug the crock pot until Sunday afternoon. There were many resources on how long to cook broth for. I’ve read where some only cook for 12 hours but also read that some say that with beef you can go up to 72 hours. I kept my cooking around 50-60. Unfortunately my crock pot may have been too hot at times. I came home Friday after work to see it bubbling, which probably wasn’t a good thing. I would then play around with my pot to change its settings between cooking on low and then turning it off. I could never get it to not stop bubbling after a while so I just settled with my bubbling bone broth. Besides, I still needed to buy a mesh strainer at the store since I didn’t have one!

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My bone bath “shrunk” when I took the top off finally. The water volume had definitely decreased. The smell was rich and warm though.

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I waited till the broth had cooled a little, but it was still very warm when I used my fancy new mesh strainer. I had to get Hubs to help pour the broth out of the crock pot since I only had one arm.

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The broth had the most beautiful dark color. I was quite surprised at how dark it actually was. You definitely don’t see broth like that come out of a package you buy from the store.

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After the broth cooled, the fat congealed on the top. It was super easy to skim the fat off the top. I was a a bit disappointed to see that my broth didn’t become gelatinous like many would say it would. I’m afraid my crock pot gave it too much heat. Afterwards, I did some trouble shooting to find that most broths made in a crock pot don’t gel because of this problem. I am comforted by the fact that though the broth didn’t gel, it is still super nutritious. I was also a little confused as to why the volume of my bone bath decreased so much. This was also probably due to the high heat of the crock pot. I am going to still write this first time project as a success though because the broth was so deliciously smooth and flavorful! I’ve enjoyed a mug at night after dinner which just makes such a good ending to the day.

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For more bone broth readings that I’ve used visit:

The Whole9 Bone Broth FAQ

Nom Nom Paleo’s Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth

Wellness Mama’s Homemade Bone Broth Tutorial

Whole30 Forum

Rubies & Radishes Slow Cooker Beef Broth

 

 

Strawberry Spinach Salad

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Today was an awesome care-free day; waking up knowing I had crossed off a huge “to do” task of purchasing a car this weekend…and I still had an entire Sunday to enjoy until Monday morning came!

I have been trying to stay as active as I can while my left elbow heals. I have had to skip lunchtime sweat sessions at work, but I have substituted them with 2 mile walks outside which has been so enjoyable thanks to the nice weather lately. This morning I decided to go to the gym. I walked on the treadmill for 35 minutes and did the stationary bike for 25 minutes. I brought some reading material with me which made the time fly. I have still not experienced any pain in my arm. Sometimes, I will forget it is in a splint and I will instinctively do something (like clasp something with my hand too tightly or quickly) and then I will get a sharp twinge in it to remind me that I am getting too cocky. But that is it. The pain doesn’t subside and it goes away as quickly as it came. The band that goes around my neck that connects to the splint is starting to give me a bit of a chafe on the back of my neck. I wore a tank top yesterday and we were in the warm sun while car shopping, so I was probably sweating which caused the chafing to start. Today the weather cooled off and I’m making sure to wear material between the sling band and my neck. I also rubbed some Vitamin E on it this morning which felt incredible.

In North Carolina, this seasonal warm weather brings strawberry season along with it! I made a trip to the grocery store today and they had local NC strawberries on sale to highlight their debut.. They looked so plump and red and juicy! I also snagged two bags of baby spinach for a buck each along with a few radishes that were at the quick sale produce stand. Spinach Strawberry Salad instantly landed on the dinner menu for tonight.

The great thing about baby spinach is that I could just empty it all into a bowl without chopping or shredding the produce. The less I have to chop or slice, the better for my one-armed kitchen challenges. I sliced most of the strawberries (but saved a few for the dressing), the radishes and celery. I added some cooked chicken to it and topped it with sesame seeds, salt, and a handful of pistachios. To my personal salad bowl I also added some avocado (my husband doesn’t like it–more for me!).

For the dressing I blended a few strawberries, olive oil, lemon, a teensy weensy drop of apple cider vinegar, rosemary and black pepper.

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I blended my strawberry dressing in a magic blender. The flavor was delicious, but the consistency didn’t taste like a salad vinaigrette. It felt very “whipped”, which I actually kind of liked but had to get used to.

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And the best party is that there’s more to last for tomorrow’s lunch! So berry good. (I’m not deleting it)

Silver Lining

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The car I was driving before it was totaled on Tuesday night was kind of on its last leg and we were going to look at getting a newer one this fall. This silver lining in this past week’s unfortunate events is that we got a bit more money for the car than if we would have traded it in and that I get a new car now instead of waiting for the fall.

Today’s goal was to browse for cars and hopefully pick a few out in order to narrow down a winner. My mom drove down this morning to help me since Hubs had to work. The first thing I had her do when she arrived was to get my hair off my shoulders! I can only just brush my hair with my right hand. I sat down and handed her the hairbrush and asked her to put it in a pony tail. She hasn’t done this since I was in elementary school! She got very nostalgic and turned my pony tail into a french braid. All I cared about was getting my hair out of my face and off my shoulders. Mission accomplished! Then we went on tending to the yet unaccomplished mission of car shopping….

After a few discouraging visits, we went to lunch where I called my husband to whine and pout about how I hated car shopping and how I needed him with me. I wanted to stop and go home but my mom convinced me to go to a few more places. Luckily we did because the next place we went ended up being our last place! I found my car!

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A 2013 Mazda CX-5 with less than 20,000 miles on it for the same price as a 2011 Honda CRV with 48,000 miles on it that I was initially looking at. I was pretty specific with wanting a CRV, but once I saw this pearly white gem right next to one, I knew it was mine! Dan and Lady approved as well.

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Car browsing isn’t the most fun idea of “shopping” I can think of. Fortunately, we lucked out. I am looking forward to settling into my new car tomorrow. I will need to run a few errands tomorrow…especially because I still need to buy a strainer for my bone broth! I meant to get one while out in town this afternoon, but then I bought a car so….yeah.

I ended my afternoon with a celebratory “sparkling” Kombucha. My husband drank a pale ale. I love how I can sip on a Kombucha with my husband sipping on a beer and not feel like I’m missing out on anything.

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It’s been a great Saturday!

Evergreen Salad

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After such a beautiful and sunny day yesterday, this Sunday has been gray, rainy, and cold. II am so grateful I spent most of the day outside yesterday after seeing the rain fall all day. The rain has made a great day for watching movies with Hubs and Lady. I am trying to fill as much Irish culture as I can into today since St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow. We have watched “Waking Ned Divine” and “Far and Away” so far. That is my paleo version of “Irish culture” since I am choosing not to drink Guinness with my husband. I’ve also gotten some quality prep time in the kitchen as well. I have been roasting, slicing, peeling, and dicing! I also became inspired to throw in every green colored edible item I found in my kitchen to make a luscious lucky leprechaun loot of a salad.

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I had about 6 kiwis in my fridge. I peeled and diced them and tossed them into a bowl (which was also conveniently green-colored).

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I then diced some celery stalks and threw those in.

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Next came the avocados. I peeled and diced two avocados. They were the perfect ripeness too which made me super happy!

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I then poured a half cup of pistachios. These have been my go-to nut recently. I purchased these that already come un-shelled at Trader Joe’s for a great price. I hate fidgeting with the pistachios trying to get them out of their shells. I always have to end up using my teeth and then the cracklings of the shell fly everywhere and then I cuss out loud.

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To top it off, I added some mint flakes and squeezed some lime juice onto it. I also threw in a bit of fresh kale to give it a crispy texture and stirred it all up. I put some plastic wrap over the bowl and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to let all the flavors meld together.

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I wasn’t sure how this salad was going to taste, but I figured it’d be fun to make. Surprisingly, it has the perfect variety of flavors and texture. The pistachios, celery and kale really help balance the mushiness of the avocado and kiwi. If you aren’t taming a sugar dragon, it would be divine with honey drizzled on it. I think I will put some chicken breast on it and eat it for lunch tomorrow!

I received a St. Patty’s Day present from a leprechaun this morning. I am so glad he knows me so well!

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I received beautiful wavy fresh red lettuce, scallions, dried apple chips, a green bell pepper and a chayote. I’ve never eaten or cooked a chayote. In fact, I had to look up what in the world it is. According to Wikipidia, a Chayote is in the gourd family closely related to melons, squashes and cucumbers. Fun! It kind of looks like a hybrid between a pepper and a pear. f anyone out there has any good ideas for ways to cook it, please let me know. My leprechaun received Guinness and a Mint Cookie Chocolate Bar. I’m not kidding when I say we love holidays. Happy St. Patty’s Day Eve!

12.5 Miles

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I just took a 6 hour nap and it isn’t even tomorrow yet! I just meant to take a catch a few Zzz’s before eating dinner…Woops! Hubs woke me up when he got into bed and turned on his lamp to read and he smelled like hot dogs. At first I thought it was sausage, but then my brain realized he isn’t that fancy in the kitchen to cook himself sausage at night. I realized how thirsty I was and couldn’t believe the time. I am glad to be squeezing in this blog post before the day is over. I’ve always hated sleeping through the evening when only expecting to nap for a bit but then waking up the next day. It makes me feel like I’ve missed out on precious time. But then again, I’ve also come to realize how important sleeping is–and I obviously needed it.

My plan for this morning was to wake up around 5:30 and be on the island by 6:45 for the Lo Tide Run. I was volunteering time by help setting up a booth as well as a sponsored water station for our work–as well as getting a team together to run the race! I must have been excited because I woke up at 4 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I made a huge breakfast: bacon, turkey, some leftover green bean with sweet potato, eggs and pistachios to top it off. The pistachios gave me some green St. Patty’s mojo for the race.

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I packed some leftover chicken to eat after the race as well so I wouldn’t be tempted by the sugar-filled muffins that volunteers would be handing out. It was still dark when I arrived. The beach was windy, but I knew it was going to be absolutely beautiful once the sun came out.

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After running around for about an hour making sure everything was good to go, I met back up with our team and we walked over to the starting line. I must have been too busy before, but there were now so many people out that I hadn’t noticed earlier. There was green everywhere, kilts, dogs, babies in strollers, and even bagpipes! If I’d only seen a leprechaun it would have been perfect.

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3.1 miles later, we finished by trekking the last bit of the course on sand. A perfect way to end! It was gorgeous weather, good times, and there were even dolphins to greet us at the finish line. I even got a surprise good luck “dropping”.

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Thank goodness I didn’t lean to my right in the same instance the seagull decided to grant its luck onto my shoulder. It was a perfect day for a 5K–and apparently also for an excursion to bike myself home from the south end of the island. I put my bike in the back of the car because I thought it would be cool to try and bike home from work since I had to drop everything off after the race and I didn’t want to have Hubs take me home. Once the 5K was finished I tried talking myself out of it! I knew I wanted to at least try it out though because I’ve wanted the opportunity to try and ride my bike more, especially on the island. This was it! Plus, the weather was perfect. I grabbed a banana from one of the food tents just in case I’d need it. I dropped off everything back at work and hopped on my bike without thinking too much about it. About 5 miles later I found Hubs at one of the local bars where the after party was at. I stayed for a bit and then pushed through. I had to go over the bridge, which really sucked because they are down to one-lane traffic due to construction. After I crossed the bridge, the terrain was a lot worse. No pavement, all dirt and sand. I finally made it back home: 9.4 miles in a little over an hour. Not bad for a beach cruiser! No wonder I was exhausted at 4pm. We tried watching “Waking Ned Divine” on Netflix, but I crashed somewhere in the early middle of it on the couch. Lady started barking at a car which helped my decision to move to the bedroom. I was done for!

It has been a long time since I have ran a 5K. With that said, I didn’t do as well as I’d hope. I started off doing really well and was able to keep a consistent fast pace for a while. Then about halfway, I started feeling lightheaded and hit a wall. I’m going to have to work on that! Especially since Hubs came out of nowhere in the last mile and passed me. I will just blame it on last week’s strep throat ;).

Strep Breath

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So, after I blogged about how I was feeling better yesterday I woke up in the middle of the night last night and knew I’d be going to the doctor this morning. It is so weird! Yesterday I was feeling almost back to normal. I didn’t really have any throat pain and the swelling in my tonsils was decreasing. I did notice that my lymph nodes were still swollen and stiff though. But, I thought I was improving, so with just another day I’d be good as new!

I woke up around 3:30 and noticed the pain in my throat was worse than yesterday. I got up, went to the bathroom, turned the light on, stuck my tongue out, and looked in the back of my throat to see that the white patches were back on my tonsils again! Damnit! I guess I can’t run from bacteria. I entertained the idea of whether an Urgent Care was open this time of night but then I quickly went back to sleep.

I woke up and found an Urgent Care that opened at 8. Hubs went with me after I told him numerous times he didn’t have to. The last time I had been to an Urgent Care was New Years 2010 for strep throat! Ha! I think I need to get my tonsils removed! My pain was far worse and they had to give me a steroid shot in my bum right away. I remember it being sore weeks later and feeling it whenever I ran! Luckily, I dodged any shots. If not i would be running a painful 5K on Saturday!

The nurse swabbed my throat and the doctor came in and asked why I had strep throat at my age? The funny thing about that is, I’ve never had problems with my throat as a kid except for the occasional cold. Ever since I got tonsillitis the first time in college, I’ve had it about 3 times since. Hubs thinks there must be a correlation between people who like to eat their food burning hot and throat illnesses. I must admit, I won’t eat soup unless it is steaming. And if anything is being cooked in the oven, I don’t wait for it to cool off–oftentimes leaving my mouth burned. I wonder if he has a point? Do I have lots of scar tissue in my mouth from eating food that’s too hot? And does that make me more susceptible to infection? Hmmmm….I’ll have to ask my friend in med school.

Anyway, the doctor was pretty funny. After calling me highly contagious and warning Hubs that he could be next, he took both of my hands into his (ha!) and apologized that I wasn’t feeling well. It was actually pretty endearing. Then he asked me to open my mouth while he took a big sniff and proclaimed that I had the “strep breath.” I read about streptococcus having a potent smell so I knew exactly what he was referring to. My husband on the other hand was wide-eyed and grossed out. Haha!

He prescribed me some antibiotics and I was on my merry way to the pharmacy. I picked up some ginger root on the way home to put in my tea. I’ve never actually eaten ginger form the root–just the pink flaps that come with sushi. This stuff is zesty! So zesty, it would taste too spicy for my husband. It really soothes the throat!

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I’m really hoping I will feel back to normal tomorrow. I’ll be on medication for almost 24 hours by then, and I read that after 24 hours of being treated you aren’t contagious anymore. Hubs is already protesting that I need one more day, but I really want to catch up on everything to get a good start off to the work week. At least I’m on drugs now, so it should all be smooth sailing from here! 😉