Wordless Thailand

31 Thu, 2011 § 2 Comments

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I will share more soon…with words. 😉


What is your most memorable trip?


30 Wed, 2011 § 6 Comments

My diet has not been balanced this week.  My mouth & tummy are seeing primarily carbs.carbs.carbs.  Ridiculous because heavy carbs are not even what I am really craving.  All I actually want is to dine on fruit & vegetables.  I wasn’t staying hydrated either — & that was before I started bike commuting again — now I’m really feeling the thirst.  When I am dehydrated, I crave fruit & juice.  Does anyone else experience this?  I don’t have a juicer, & we try to eat seasonally, which limits fruit right now.  On hand, we have apples, lemons & oranges [citrus is in season here — well, in Phoenix which is only a couple hours away].  Are melons in season yet? 😦  I really want a cantaloupe.

Since I’m actually craving light fruit & veggies, I decided this Wednesday was going to be all about planning & prepping to better fuel & cleanse myself for the rest of the week [& on].  After all, Wednesdays are about me.  😉  I try not to be an “on Monday, I’ll start…”-kind-of-gal.  If I want & need to make a change, I should do it now. It’s easy to put it off but resist!

Natalie reminded me of one of my favorite salad toppings; then Angela went one step further & inspired me to make it my salad.  Tonight I threw together a big serving of her Spring Clean Raw Beet, Carrot & Apple Salad with extra beet. I also added extra lemon juice, so my chopped apples will survive until tomorrow [plus, I like lemon].  In the future, I will make this with white balsamic vinegar to keep it looking fresher.  Dark balsamic made everything slightly brown: not so pretty.  I think white will complement the flavors a bit more as well; champagne vinegar would be good too — oh with tarragon!  Looks like I’ll be making more of this soon.  I plan to top it with hemp seeds & maybe even some toasted almonds.

Some days I miss the shredder/grater attachment on my food processor; then I remind myself I do like the experience of connecting with my food through simple kitchen tools.

If you want practice in presence, grate your own carrots by hand.


— otherwise you lose part of a finger or nail ! which isn’t good for anyone.

A good sweat in the morning & fresh, simple foods should have me feeling my best again soon!


What helps you get back to feeling balanced & cleansed?

Beet fan?  yea or nay?  I think you either hate them or love them.  I am obviously a YEA; Dave is a resounding NAY.  This may be one I’ll never win. 😦

“Raw” Chocolate with Sea Salt

29 Tue, 2011 § 4 Comments

I am sort of insecure when it comes to cooking or baking for people.  Yes, selfishness might play a small role when it comes to sharing some of my treats as well 😉 ; but I have such different taste than many people, I worry.

I said I would practice & perfect my chocolate making before sharing a “recipe” – I will still practice & perfect, don’t you worry – but after approving “mmms” when Dave took some to work to share with friends, I decided I could share what I did.  [Honestly, I think they were simply impressed by the fact I made chocolate myself.]

The idea of making my own “raw” chocolate was initially intimidating, but there is not much to it!  And you need only one pot.

This isn’t really a recipe but loose instruction on what I did, which was actually just a lot of pouring, melting & tasting.  If anyone is interested in giving chocolate-making a go, maybe this will give you a good place to start.

I mentioned before I read equal parts of fat, chocolate & sweetener by weight is key.  If you try this & have a kitchen scale, please let us know if this is accurate; also, feel free to include approximate, coordinating volume measurements too! [for those of use without a scale]

I started with equal parts coconut butter & [shaved] raw cacao butter, totaling about ¾ cup.  I melted this in a small saucepan over low heat & removed from the burner once it was liquid.  I stirred in a scant 1.5 cup raw cacao powder until mixed well; then added 2 big spoonfuls of almond butter, mashing & mixing until well incorporated.  I also stirred in 1 – 2 tsp [alcohol-free] vanilla.  I used raw blue agave to sweeten, maybe 2 – 4 T – with the agave I really just squeezed a bit from the bottle, tasted, squeezed a bit more, tasted, etc.  It is really about tasting as you go & finding your perfect preference!  You could also use raw honey or maple to sweeten instead.  I finished off with a couple [or maybe just one] teaspoons of sea salt & poured into molds to freeze.  I also sprinkled a little sea salt over half the cups for extra saltiness before freezing — you really have not lived until pairing chocolate with sea salt.  You could add other flavors like cinnamon, mint instead of vanilla, espresso powder, finely chopped dried fruit or nuts or make it really pretty with pink Himalayan sea salt.  My next batch will include lavender-sea salt.

This made enough to fill 12 silicone cupcake molds halfway, which is a lot of homemade, dark chocolate!  I am not complaining though. 😉  We keep them in an airtight container in the freezer & chop each cup into quarters.  They are going to last awhile.  A small piece is indulgent.  In the future, I will make half the amount & freeze in mini cupcake molds or small candy molds.

To start off our anniversary weekend, we paired a couple pieces of this chocolate with vanilla bean coconut ice cream & vanilla-wafer-like cookies by Country Choice.  Now I just need a recipe to make our own vanilla wafers.

Thank you for the sweet anniversary wishes!!!


Do you have a kitchen scale?  I am considering getting one.  What do you find most handy about having one?  Have you ever made homemade vanilla wafers?!


First Year

28 Mon, 2011 § 6 Comments

[photo by David Finch]

Yesterday was our first year wedding anniversary. 🙂

It has been a year filled with significant events & changes; it is difficult to tack down one thing that stands out.


We brought home our baby.

Our family life has strengthened.


We traveled across the globe & still felt at home.

[photo by David Finch]

[Technically Thailand & Eisley happened just over a year ago but still feel like yesterday.]


We exchanged vows beneath the sandstone cliffs.


We left behind what was familiar & safe…

[photo by David Finch]


& replanted ourselves in rocky landscape [literally, & some days, figuratively].

[photo by David Finch]

We realized life is now & worth living — now — so we are “going our own way”.


I suppose what stands out about our first year as husband & wife is the constant change, sense of adventure & growth as individuals as well as a couple we have experienced.  As I reflect over the past year, I am reminded why it is worth taking the road less traveled, why we are together, why we make sense, & why we will always be happy with each other.

Here is to my partner in life.  Every day I know how lucky & blessed I am to be with a man who has the courage to live, who refuses to play it safe & who goes for what will make us happy.

We will never know unless we go for it.

I am happy & feel secure embracing change & pursing a life less ordinary hand-in-hand with Dave.  We know it will all work out, even if we end up on the streets, 😉 because we will always keep happiness close & fill our lives with love & adventure.

I love you, Dave.


~your Allie-bug

Roasted `Caps with Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli

25 Fri, 2011 § 10 Comments

It is officially Spring, but she keeps dancing with Winter.

While I am starting to crave lighter & greener foods, I still want something I can sink my teeth into.

Can a dish be light & hearty simultaneously?

That doesn’t make sense, but maybe you know what I mean.

This open-face is just that meal.

It is also quite effortless.

Rub a couple portobell caps with olive oil & roast, round-side down, in the oven at 400*F for 8 – 10 minutes until soft.  Toast a couple slices of artisan bread: ciabatta or focaccia would be nice; we used a delicious sea salt & rosemary loaf from a local bread bakery.  Next come the greens.  I topped my toast with radicchio [the mushroom & aioli mellowed the greens, which complemented the sandwich really well!].  Dave used a milder, winter green mix.  Set your roasted cap on top of the greens & dust lightly with garlic powder [or rub garlic over your caps before roasting].  Dave melted a little French cheese over his cap [a cross between cheddar & parmesan].  Finally, top your cap with sun-dried tomato aioli.

Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli

[enough for 2 – 4 sandwiches]

Take ~12 sun-dried tomatoes & soak for 10 minutes if not already soft.  If they were stored in oil, rinse & squeeze of excess water.  Put in a food processor & chop well.  Add ~3 big spoonfuls of Vegenaise & pulse until combined well & at desired consistency.  Add 1/2 tsp dried oregano & a pinch of sea salt.  Pulse again.  Too easy! Adjust measurements according to your taste.

All that was missing on my sandwich were a couple slices of bacon avocado.  If you can get your hands on one, do it.  They are smooth & buttery; with just a little sea salt, they are heavenly over mochi waffles or toast.  Alas, my avocado was not quite ripe.

On my side: asparagus from our CSA, roasted perfectly with olive oil & sea salt at 400*F for about 10 – 12 minutes, tossing often.  Even Dave — the asparagus hater — said they turned out.  Score!

Off to bed because I have to work bright & early. 😦  It’s for a good cause though.  And it’s all fun & surprises after that!

Enjoy your weekend. 🙂


What are your Spring-Winter transition cravings?

“W” is for Allie

24 Thu, 2011 § 6 Comments

When you question your decision to be there within the first 5 minutes, you know it is going to be a good spinning class.

Traci at FAC makes you hate your life; & it feels so good.

Spinning is about pushing yourself past what you think you are capable of doing.  A good spinning class should never let up, feel absolutely brutal…& have really good music.

Last night’s class was gooood.

Wednesday is “guys’ night”, so you can find Dave shooting bad guys online with one of his guy friends most of the evening.  Ladies’ night has become Allie’s night.  I might hit the climbing gym….or torture myself spinning…or drop in on $5-Wednesday yoga.  I can kick up my heels — I can paint the town red. 😉  I can do whatever I’d like.  Wednesdays are for Allie.

Then I can go home & cook…read…blog…write…or just play & cuddle with Eis.  I wish playing the piano was on this list.  It will be again.

Of course, Wednesdays should be for chocolate too.

I have mentioned my affinity for raw chocolate — dark chocolate in general actually.  Most chocolate still has sugar though, & raw is quite expensive.  I finally broke down & ordered cacao butter so I could make my own.  I found what I thought was a good deal for quality cacao from Green Planet Paradise & realized it shipped from Sedona, which is only about 40 miles from here.  Plus, they plant a tree for every pound of cacao you buy.  That’s two trees for me!

I used Kathryn Budig’s “recipe” video as a guideline, but left out cinnamon & espresso powder, tasting as I went.  The first round was too buttery, but I was not about to waste my cacao; so I remelted my pieces & added more cacao powder & agave.  This round: Mmm.

They are rich & quite decadent.  Next time I will make less, & I suggest using little molds instead of [silicone] muffin tins for more appropriately-portioned pieces.  A little of this chocolate goes a looong way!

I have heard equal ratios of fats, sugars & chocolate is key.  Without a kitchen scale, I can’t tell you if this is really the case.  It seems like this would be more sweetener than I used.  Once I narrow down the perfect homemade chocolate ratio, I’ll share!  For now, I will just have to practice. 😉  I know it’s not technically 100% raw, but I’m ok with this.


Do you ever take days that are just about you?  You really should.

We Enjoy the Silliness

23 Wed, 2011 § 6 Comments

Even with anticipated work stress, you know it’s going to be an ok day when by 8AM you have already cracked up – in a good way.

Dave & I played “Man vs Wild Snow & Traffic” on the bus yesterday.  Actually, Dave played, & I lost it.  I am fairly obsessed with Bear Grylls & “Man vs Wild”.  If you do not know what I am talking about, stop now & go enlighten yourself.  Bear Grills is a bad ass, intelligent – he even usually uses “literally” correctly – & he has an English accent.  😉  Enough said.


It all started because overnight, the snow & ice made the roads in Flagstaff quite “slippy” this morning.  [Bear always says slippy instead of slippery.]  From our seats on the bus, we watched cars slide off the road & instructed each other on “proper technique” for maintaining traction & traversing “slippy” slopes & cautioned how “a good friend, only a few years ago, had lost his footing on a slope much like this & slid all the way to the bottom.  He suffered numerous injuries & barely survived.”  Dave marveled over the “traditions of the locals” & the lengths people are willing to go to attach a pair of sticks to their feet to slide down a hill.  You have to do this all in an English accent or it’s not as funny.  😉  I know; we’re dorks.  I like it this way. I like that we can be silly.  Laughing is the only way to start your day.

Maybe you’re not as amused – though I can’t imagine why not – so here are some workout options I’ve done lately if you’d rather just sweat:

Playground Workout ~ HIIT ~ 4 minutes each exercise = 6 rounds each: 10 seconds rest; 30 seconds max effort

  • Ninja Jump Tucks
  • Chin Ups
  • Surfers
  • One-Arm Side Lying Tricep Press Ups

Balanced ~ full-bodied HIIT ~ 4 minutes each exercise = 6 rounds each: 10 seconds rest; 30 seconds max effort

  • Scorpion Flips 5 – 6 – 6 – 5 – 6 – 6
  • Skater Lunges (L, R) 13 – 14 – 15 – 15 – 15 – 15
  • Pull Ups (rounds 1, 2, 4, 5 pull ups; rounds 3, 6  chin ups) 9 – 7 – 7 – 6 – 9 – 7
  • Mountain Climbers 37 – 36 – 31 – 31 – 32 – 34

Breathing Ladders ~ Remember these?

  • 12# medicine ball swings 1:10:1 = 22:30 minutes


I tried to ride my morning high, but so many things wore me down yesterday.  By the time I got home, I did not want to turn my computer on, leave the house or do anything but sit with Dave & talk, play with Eisley & finally relax.

Just before 6:00 this morning, we saw a huge herd of elk right outside our gym though; so I am optimistic today will be a good day.


How silly can you be with your spouse/partner?

Simple, Fresh

21 Mon, 2011 § 10 Comments

The bulk food bins & I have bonded deeply the last few years.

You know it’s serious when your husband says,

“I’ll leave you to it – this is like Disneyland for you,”

before he darts off for the meat & cheese counters.

Buying bulk is less expensive & less wasteful, especially if you BYOB [bags].  It offers variety & a chance to try small quantities of something, by buying only what you need; this means your goods are likely fresher.  It also seems fresher to pour my grains, seeds, beans, nuts & dried fruit from glass rather than plastic bags or containers.

We keep a lot of our bulk items in our favorite snap containers from World Market.  I always have more bulk than I have containers for though, so I also store food in mason jars as well as reuse other food jars, which once held oils, pickles, etc.  Food storage does not have to be expensive; in fact, it can be downright cheap.

As long as it stays fresh, I am happy.

Dave is right: the bulk section makes me embarrassingly excited.  Whatever my food mood, I can generally fill it here.

Lately, my Spring [fever] mood has been light & distinct, using only a few ingredients to highlight simple flavors.

Five[or six]-ingredient grain salads.

[I have seen variations of these online but can’t find the links now.  Sorry.]

Lentils & Barley with Cardamom

  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 cup almond or hemp milk
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup coconut, toasted
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup cashews, toasted

Combine & rinse barley & lentils.  Combine with water & milk & bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover & simmer 30 – 40 minutes until most of the water is absorbed.  Toward the end of cooking, stir in cardamom, salt & raisins.  Once water is absorbed & grains are cooked, allow to rest a few minutes.  Stir in coconut & garnish individual servings with cashews.

Tarragon Vinaigrette over Quinoa & Roasted Beets

  • 3 T champagne vinegar
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T tarragon [fresh if available; I used ~1 tsp dried]
  • ~6 medium beets, roasted
  • ~2 cups cooked quinoa
  • pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • sea salt & fresh pepper

Combine  vinaigrette ingredients & toss with quinoa & roasted beets.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper & top with roasted pumpkin seeds.  Tarragon is my new favorite combination with beets.  I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh.


Do you shop the bulk section?  What has been your favorite find?

Hold & Explode!

19 Sat, 2011 § 4 Comments

“Get lower!”


“Tight core!”

“Watch your form!”

“Good throw!”

“Keep moving — faster!”

Partner moves are great because you can push each other — plus you always want your part to be over.  This move was no different.  As the sets progressed, we did not want to hold the squat any longer than necessary; as our muscles fatigued, an explosive burpee became nearly impossible.

We liked this so much, we had to share it with you!  Even if other people have done this, I am giving Dave major credit for an awesome move.


Ball Throw Burpees

Allie: begin in squat with legs  at 90*, holding medicine ball in front of chest.

Dave: do a burpee, jumping/returning into a squat position:

[burpee: squat & bring hands to ground – jump feet back into a plank position – do a push up, exploding as you push up, popping into the squat position.]

Allie: throw the ball to Dave as he lands in the squat.

Dave: catch the ball

& stay in squat.

Allie: burpee,

[try to keep your head in line; my form is not great here]

jump back into squat position.

Dave: throw the ball.

Allie: catch the ball.

Continue alternating moves between partners for duration of time or reps.

Your quads will hate love you.

Thursday morning we met a couple people at the gym & did a group workout:

  • 4 rounds: 10 x ball throw burpees each person followed by 15 x these each side
  • 4 rounds of a partner switch up:  one person did 10 x 45* lean-back medicine ball throws while the other person did weighed quick steps as quickly as possible while holding a medicine ball in front of his/her chest
  • 3 rounds: triangle presses [side bend, works obliques] followed by pull ups [I did 5]
  • we finished up with another set of pull ups & Dave’s crazy “windshield wipers” — which is another exercise we should just show you


I hope it was worth the wait, because last night I did not feel like changing  into workout clothes & sweating to burpees, just  to get dressed again.

There was pizza waiting after all!

So we got up bright & early to show you our burpees before hitting the crag in Jack’s [a.k.a. rock climbing in Jack’s Canyon].

Hope you are enjoying an active weekend as well!

Spring Dreaming

18 Fri, 2011 § 4 Comments

Can you be homesick for a place that felt like home for only a brief time?


Can you miss people you only knew for three weeks & could hardly communicate with?


Can we go back right now?


Yesterday was a bit grey & overcast; it got me thinking about where we were a year ago.

It sure doesn’t feel like Thailand was twelve months ago!

With our anniversary approaching, I thought maybe I could share some highlights from our trip…next week.

I also want to share an amazing workout move Dave created…so watch for it…tomorrow [or later tonight actually].

I know I am lame to post “going tos”, but while everyone else was out for St. Patty’s Day, Dave & I were climbing our little hearts out at the gym last night…& I was  too exhausted & in too much pain to type, & it was too dark to take photos of his move.  I hope it gives you a couple things to look forward to though! 🙂

Bouldering felt amazing — other than the MASSIVE flapper I got!  This is always tricky business: should I just cut the skin off & move on or try to nurse it back to reattaching?  It’s a thick enough piece, it might just do it…if I have the patience to nurse it…& if it starts to heal before tomorrow’s climbing trip.  Hmm, I probably should have just cut.

Hope you had a fun [pain-free] night.



Does the back & forth Spring weather have you daydreaming of past or future vacations?

Where Am I?

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