My Sweet Potato Obsession.

Ryan may mock me, but I don’t even care. “Sweet potatoes again?” YES. Please. Get in my belly. I love them and they are healthy, so step off! Plus, he eats them every single time I cook them, so I know deep down he enjoys them too. My kids love them and it’s easy….so in my mind, it’s a win win!

Here’s my new found sweet potato obsession, how I cook them and how I eat them. Hope you enjoy as much as I do!

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First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Then,  cut 2-3 good size sweet potatoes into small chunks and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Then here’s the secret…are you ready?

Sprinkle these spices on it to make them divine:

  • Chipotle Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Garlic Powder
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper

Give them all a little toss with your fingers to make sure all the potatoes are evenly coated with goodness. Then bake for about 20 minutes or until desired doneness. I always like mine a little crispy!

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Usually, I eat these delicious sweet potatoes with a fried egg on top and a side of fruit or bacon! But sometimes we have them with dinner as a side dish to a grilled meat.

So there you go. Easy peasy. My new sweet potato obsession. Enjoy my friends! Oh and if you have another way to make them, please oh please leave me a comment below & share.

Our chopping block is a “beautiful thing.”

One of Ryan & I’s favorite shows on the Food Network is called Chopped. The premise of the show is that four competitors are given a basket full of odd ingredients (i.e. baby octopus, bok choy, animal crackers, etc.) & they have to create quality & tasty dishes which, as you can imagine, is very tough. First round is to create an appetizer dish within a certain time limit. Then, each dish is judged by a panel of experienced & knowledgable chefs lined up on a chopping block looking table. One dish is “chopped” and that competitor is out of the game. The next round is the entree dish. Same thing…given another basket of weird ingredients to make an entree dish within 30 minutes. Judged. One dish is chopped and on to the final round. Dessert. Two competitors are left and fight to win this kitchen battle. There is always sweat, sometimes blood, and often times tears. The unchopped winner gets $10,000 and usually has a neat story as to what their plans are with the money. Is it weird to cry while watching Food Network? This show gets me every time!

Watching this show the other night got me thinking about my Dad. He taught me a lot during his life here but I continue to learn from him even through his death, his legacy. You see, he made Ryan & I this chopping block a few years ago. He wanted to make us something when we moved into our house in Tyler as a “house warming gift.” He knew we loved cooking & this made for the perfect gift. My Dad was a master craftsman. God blessed him so much in this way, he was a true talent. He could take an old, plain piece of wood and make it beautiful. In fact, he used to say that one of his favorite things to do was “making beautiful things for people he loved.” He was giddy about it anytime he had the opportunity to use this gift of his to give to others. This chopping block has sat on our kitchen counter and has been used almost daily for the past several years. And every single time I use it or look at it, I think of Dad and brings a smile to my face, sometimes tears to my eyes. I love that we have this gift that is so much more than just a piece of wood – it holds so many sweet memories and reminds me of my Dad’s love.

I want to/need to give more to those that I love. I can’t build a darn thing, I’m not talking about wood here. I am not a crafty person! But what I can do is give more freely of quality time, more love, more support, more memory makers, more laughter, more shared meals, more of a shoulder to cry on, more help to those in need. These can be “beautiful things.” I pray that what God blesses me with, I can in turn be a blessing to others. I want to live with my hands and arms wide open. This was actually one of my New Year’s resoultions: Give more. Any selfishness of mine needs to be chopped.

Kansas City is cool?

Who knew? Kansas City is such a neat place! We certainly had no idea. We made a plan to meet Ross, Ryan’s little brother, & his girlfriend there for the weekend. We were trying to find a decent halfway point between us here in Texas and him there in Minnesota. So, Kansas City it was! We booked a hotel and went with it, not knowing that there is actually a lot of fun stuff to do there. We were pleasantly surprised & had an awesome trip. KC has a lot of things to offer a tourist. Here are some of the places we went & some pics (sorry the quality is mega lame, I need to upgrade to 4G!).

Kansas City Zoo – highlight was definitely the new Polar Bear exhibit, it was awesome!

Country Club Plaza – 15 blocks of shops, restaurants, & fountains – so nice in this area!

Blanc Burgers & Bottles – amazing, fresh, juicy cheeseburgers & fries with a very cool modern vibe. Check out what they served the fries in – how cute! My girls would have loved that.

Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ – WOW, this place was incredible. Definitely a hole-in-the-wall dive. We waited in line for probably 30-45 minutes, but it was well worth it. Tasty ribs & probably the best onion rings I have ever eaten!

Grinders Pizza – We love the show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, so I always check to see if Guy has visited a town we will be going to. This dive has been featured on the show, so we had to check it out! Plus they had pizza & live music – can’t go wrong with that! It was yummy & a lot o fun. Our chairs at our table were from an old airplane.

Gordan Biersch – We did a brewery tour & tasting here, which was interesting!

Shawnee Mission Park – Of course, we had to find a place to run. We fell in love with the trails here & went twice over the weekend. Gorgeous! Hills covered with trees and a nice paved trail that goes along ponds & a lake – it was peaceful & beautiful. Ryan & I ran 5 miles on Saturday & then went back Sunday for another 3.

Another perk of the trip were that I got to see my long-time friends Rachel & Amanda. Rach just moved to KC the Monday before our trip and Amanda (her sis) was there helping w/the move. I’ve known them since I was 16. We became friends when we moved to Lubbock and have been ever since, even though known of us live in the same town & haven’t for years! These girls are like family to me. They are the kind of friends that you don’t see often but when you do, it feels like nothing has changed – it’s automatically comfortable. Such a bonus getting to see them & Rach’s two baby girls!

Great weekend away & we really enjoyed spending time with Ross & Bre. And we’ll definitely add Kansas City to our list of fun places to visit!

Easter Weekend

This past weekend was jam-packed full of stuff and busy, but it was very, very good! Seems like the older I get, life just keeps getting busier and time goes quicker and quicker.

Friday, Ryan had the day off for Good Friday. So, we took advantage of that and got a lot of stuff moved into the new house. We are about 98.5% moved in now. The only things left are mattresses, a tv, and some random junk drawer items. We can’t wait to be in the new casa and get settled in! I don’t like being disorganized, makes me feel nervous. This coming week will be a lot of unpacking, sorting through, and settling in.

Friday night, we headed to Arlington for the annual Clark Family Rangers Game! This is our third year to do this and we LOVE it. My little brother Jeff is the hugest Ranger’s fan ever. He wrote this post last year about how much baseball means to him. If you haven’t read this, you should – it’s an awesome and very special post. Going to the Rangers games was a big deal and a very common occurrence for Jeff and my Dad…memory makers. Back in 2009, they decided it would be fun to invite the whole fam to a game. Dad was so excited to take the girls and they absolutely loved it. Addi didn’t stop talking about the Ozarka dots and cotton candy for weeks. After that game, it was decided we should make it an annual tradition, and I’m so glad we did. Friday was a beautiful night, great temps and a nice breeze. Our seats were high up, felt like we were sitting in the sky. Rangers won with five home runs and I consumed my weight in shelled peanuts, sunflower seeds, and cotton candy. Good times. We all missed Dad a great deal, but felt like he was looking down from heaven smiling. Here are pics from the past three years:

April 2009
April 2010
April 2011

Saturday, we slept in (praise God!). After getting home around 1:30 a.m. from the game & having moved all day prior, we were beat. We continued to move stuff all day on Saturday and even cooked our first dinner in our new house that night! For those of you interested in and looking for a new recipe: here is what I made. It was yummy!

Sunday…EASTER! I love Easter. What more could we have to celebrate than the resurrection of our Lord?! This truly means everything to us and because of it, we have HOPE. I love the words to this song below. It captures the message of Easter perfectly and has been stuck in my head for a week now…

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

Awesome. My mom and two grandmothers drove up from Quitman to go to church with us, along with Jeff. Then, we all headed over to our new house for lunch and to give them a tour! Ryan smoked pork, which was amazing as usual. We had pulled pork sandwiches on biscuits, homemade bbq sauce, beans, roasted potatoes, brownies, and sweet tea…pure Texan food right there! It was delicious and we enjoyed visiting w/the fam. My heart was bursting with thankfulness on this day. For my church, freedom to worship, my family, our home, good food, our friends, but most of all – Jesus! And look at these two sweet lil punkins in their new Easter dresses that Grandma bought them…

Chocolate Gravy & Biscuits

What? Chocolate gravy? Yep, that’s what I said. You heard me correctly.

If you have never experienced chocolate gravy, you are seriously missing out! It’s like having dessert for breakfast. This recipe has been in my family for years and years. My great-grandmother used to make it for my grandfather as a child. Then, when he married my grandmother, he shared the recipe with her. It continued to be passed down from there. My mom has made it for us since I can remember. Every Christmas morning, we have chocolate gravy. To this day, my mom makes this for us whenever we are all together. My brothers, sister and I request it…and still fight over the biscuits. Just recently, I ventured out and started making it myself. I’ve only made it twice. Once on Christmas morning and then again today! Sort of a “special occasion” kind of breakfast. Haven’t quite nailed it quite as good as my mom, but hopefully I will get there!

Since so many of you have asked, I thought it was time to post the recipe. Straight from a cookbook called “Memaw’s Sweets” – a collection of recipes my Memaw put together for her grandchildren a few years back. Love it! Here you go…

Buttery, chocolately goodness. The best biscuits to serve with this gravy are Grands Homestyle. Totally healthy, totally fat free. Runner’s food at it’s best. Ha! Ryan describes as warm chocolate pudding. My kids LOVE it, of course. Anytime you can get away with having chocolate for breakfast, it’s a good thing. Let me know if you give this a try and what you think!

Livestrong Austin Half: Recap

This past weekend was fast and furious! I’m still recovering. We left Tyler Saturday morning first thing, kid-free & caffeinated. Along the way, we met up with our friends Mike & Ame who were also on their way to the ATX. Ame had decided several months ago that she wanted to complete a half marathon before she turns the big 3-0. Well, she turns 30 in March, so she picked the Austin Half to be her goal. Awesome! I love it when my friends decide to take up running. In fact, some other friends are running their first half in April and I hosted an official “half-marathon training” meeting at my house several weeks ago – am I a nerd or what?!

We followed speed racer Mike & Ame the rest of the way and of course had to make a pit stop at Chuy’s before we could do anything else. I mean, nothing says pre-race food better than chips, creamy jalapeno, and spicy tacos, right? Then, we all headed downtown to the race expo. Oh my word, it was packed OUT downtown! So much traffic and so many peeps. We finally found a place to park in some neighborhood on some street and headed in for our packets. I know I’ve said this before, but I heart race expos. They always make me feel like an actual, real, legit runner. Such great energy at these events. Being around other people that enjoy the same hobby as you as you all prepare to embark upon another challenge together – I don’t know how to explain it really. It’s refreshing and inspiring! Check out our swag… (don’t mind the blurry photo, time to upgrade to iPhone 4)

After loading up on protein bars, organic cereal samples, and Greek yogurt, we headed back to our car. Then, on to watch my niece play basketball! We had such a great time catching up with my brother and his family. We laughed A LOT. Not sure if we were all just really tired or what, but everything was funny. I’d share stories, but you wouldn’t think they were funny, trust me. Definitely a had to be there kind of thing. Good times. That night, we headed back to their house and cooked spaghetti to carb-up. Enjoyed a glass of wine as we tried to rest and relax and head to bed as early as possible. The alarm was set for 4:15 a.m. – YIKES.

I don’t know about you, but waking up before 6 is really hard for me. Well, waking up before 5 is just plain ridiculous. It’s the middle of the night for crying out loud! We threw on our race day attire, pinned on our bibs, drank some coffee, ate a Cliff bar and headed out the door as quietly as possible. We met our friends at their hotel and proceeded downtown to the starting line. Austin is such a cool city. Gotta love a race that starts in front of the state capitol building! National anthem was sung, introductions of all the race big wigs were made, and then it was announced that Lance Armstrong himself was there and running in the half marathon with us. Neato! I never actually saw him, but knowing that he was running was a cool thought.

The race itself was a lot of fun. Hilly, but fun. I decided to run with Ame, I wanted to be with her as she accomplished this pre-30 feat! The route was neat…running down Congress Avenue through downtown and by Lady Bird Lake. There was an insanely steep hill around mile 12. But, we conquered it and finished under her goal time! She did awesome. I was very proud of her. Ryan beat us, of course. I think he finished right behind Lance. ;)

After the race, we went back to Mike & Ame’s hotel to shower. Do you know how bad one stinks after one runs 13.1 miles? Peeeew weeee! I was craving a cheeseburger, so Ryan & I Stopped at Saltgrass on our way back to Tyler for this plate of deliciousness…

Crazy, but very good weekend. My hips were sore from climbing all of the hills! We’ve taken several days off from running, but I’m already itching to get back out on the road. Next up…Tyler Azalea 10k in March. H52S!

My sweetie.

Kam is our sweets-eater. She comes by it naturally, because Ryan is the same way. They could both eat cakes, cookies, ice cream all day and rarely tire of the sugar. Of course, this is irritating to me how Ryan can stay so skinny & eat more sweets than I get to! Addi is content with some popcorn or an apple, but not my Kam Kam.

Ryan loves it when I bake. I don’t love it. I prefer cooking. I don’t like to measure…it’s tedious and time-consuming. I’d rather chop stuff up and throw everything into a skillet, add a little of this and a little of that, stir & saute all day long. That’s how I roll. But on occasion, I’ll bake something up to make my man and my babies happy.

Well, for Valentine’s Day I made these cookies. They were quite tasty, if I do say so myself. Very rich and must be consumed with a tall glass of milk! As I was baking them Kamryn was in full anticipation of the yummy that was about to be in her tummy. While the oven was preheating, she was sneaking little pieces of dough off the cookie sheet. While the cookies were baking, she was watching through the oven door anxiously awaiting. Then finally, after cooling off and hearing “Mommy, can I have a cookie now?” over and over and over again, she finally got to have one! Then, after that cookie, “Mommy, I still hungey because, because I want anudder cookie!”

How to NOT make a good first impression.

Thanks to Uncle Jeff babysitting for us, Ryan and I got to go out on a date last night. Since we’ve only lived here in Tyler for less than two years & don’t eat out all that often because we love to cook, there are still many restaurants on our list of places we want to try. Well, last night we were excited to try one of those places. Because I am a planner (or as some would call it – OCD), I went online, made reservations, emailed Ryan the list of beers, looked over the menu and even had picked out a few dishes and appetizers that sounded good. Do you do this too, or am I really weird?

Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out like we had hoped.

Below are the two interactions we had while at this particular restaurant that made us decide to wait and come back another night. We walked in (to a nearly empty restaurant) and up to the hostess stand and here’s how it went down…

Conversation #1:

Hostess, “Hello. Table for 2?”

Me, “Yes, please.”

Hostess, “Sorry, we don’t have our regular menu tonight, we only have this special Valentine’s menu…I hope that’s OK.”

Me & Ryan, “OK, thanks.”

Hostess, “I don’t know what to recommend because I don’t like food.”

Ryan, “You don’t like food?”

Hostess, “I mean, I like food. I’m just a picky eater. So I probably wouldn’t like any of that.”

Me & Ryan, “Um, OK”

Great sale there hostess. We continue to our table and sit down, only to be greeted by our server:

Conversation #2:

Server, “Hi. (hugh sigh) Whew, tonight’s already been that kind of a night. Sorry.”

Me, “Ah oh, sorry to hear that. So, this Valentine’s menu is all that is offered tonight, we can’t order off the regular menu?”

Server, “No, sorry. That’s all we have. I’ll give you a few minutes to look over the menu. What would you like to drink?”

Me & Ryan: “Water for now.”

Server walks away and Ryan and I take a look at this one page Valentine’s Menu that everyone seems so excited about. Everything was marked up. There was only about 1/3 of their regular menu items and nothing that I had picked out online was on there. [side note: see, case & point of why I am a planner!] Sea bass for $35 was not really what we had in mind. We both looked at each other laughing and said, “Let’s go somewhere else!”

We tossed the “trying something new” for the evening and headed to one of our local faves and had a fabulous meal and an even better date. Have I told you lately how much I love my husband and how thankful I am for him? How cute is he? He even wore a tie! When he walked out of our room after getting ready for the night, the girls asked him, “Daddy, what is that on your neck?” HA!

Love him.

3 Day Fruit & Veggie Diet: Day 3

Wahooooo, we made it through 3 days! Tomorrow,  although I’d love to scarf a pizza and have a hamburger, we will gradually ease back into eating carbs & protein. All in all, I would say it was a success. We feel healthier, lost a few pounds, and have determined to incorporate many more fruits & veggies on a daily basis, replacing some of the starches we normally fall back on.

But 3 days is definitely long enough for me!

Day #3

Breakfast: 1 sliced orange and banana, & coffee

Lunch: Sauteed garlic spinach and carrots, & water

Dinner: Roasted green beans with cherry tomatoes, organic mixed greens salad, & water

A cute girl who now likes salad!*

*No, we didn’t force our girls to participate in this with us! They have had regular food this week (which was hard b/c I wanted to take bites of it). Kam actually asks for salad now! “Momma, just the green ones with dressin.”

3 Day Fruit & Veggie Diet: Day 2

Today has been a lot easier than yesterday! I woke up feeling ok. Around 10ish this morning, I started feeling really hungry. But after lunch, I felt fine and actually kind of full! I think adding the peas as a side to the salad helped provide more substance to my belly. As you can see below with dinner, we are starting to get a little creative with this! It was so delish. It’s actually kind of fun* trying to figure out how to make a tasty meal soley out of veggies & fruit. I will also say that we definitely haven’t been watching as much Food Network this week!

*Kind of fun – as in, not real fun, but sort of. Given the circumstances and all.

Day #2

Breakfast: Bowl of blueberries and chopped banana, 1 cup of coffee

Lunch: Organic mixed greens salad w/cherry tomatoes, celery, side of peas, & water

Afternoon snack: Green tea & grapefruit

Dinner: Grilled bell peppers stuffed with corn, onion, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, jalapeno, and cilantro, side of roasted asparagus, grilled pineapple, & water

3 Day Fruit & Veggie Diet: Day 1.

After our cruise, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas holidays, Ryan & I had gained probably ten pounds between the both of us. Even though we were still running consistently. We felt bloated, and just kind of yucky! We could totally tell in our running that we felt heavier and somewhat sluggish. Afterall, we did indulge quite about over the past two months. It’s not everyday you eat a burger & fries for an afternoon snack or pizza at midnight like we did on our cruise! So, we looked into some diet/cleanse options.

We usually eat pretty healthy on a normal basis. We were really just looking for something that would help give us a little boost back into our healthy eating and possibly cleanse our system in the process (ew!). We decided upon this 3 day fruit & veggie diet and we plan to do this monthly going forward. You know how much we LOVE food and LOVE to cook, but 3 days? I think we can handle that! So, we will set aside 3 days each month where we will only eat fruits and veggies all day. We also determined that we would only be allowed 1 cup of coffee in the morning, 1 glass of V8 juice, 1 cup of herbal tea, and then drink water the rest of the day – at least a total of 2 liters.

Below is what day 1 has looked like. Today has been sort of hard, I’m not going to lie. We are used to drinking multiple cups of coffee, eating meat, and carbs are a Dixon fave…not to mention sweets & wine! But, we made it through the day. 2 more to go!

Day #1

Breakfast: 1 orange, 1 apple, 1 cup of coffee

Lunch: Organic mixed greens salad, 1 carrot, 1 celery, water

Afternoon snack: Banana and 1 glass of V8 Fusion juice

Dinner: Steamed broccoli with sauteed squash, zucchini & onion, water

Evening snack: 1 cup of green tea, blueberries

The perfect date.

My hair was in a messy ponytail and makeup mostly sweated off. We were both in our running clothes still from our jaunt through the South Tyler trails earlier that evening. We were at home with the sounds of girls chatting and giggling in their bedroom. And we had the best date ever.

To celebrate our 8 year anniversary, we cooked and enjoyed a quiet dinner together right at home. Since we just went out on New Year’s Eve, we decided this sounded very appealing. After enjoying some quality time with our precious daughters, we put them to bed at their normal 8:00 bedtime. Poured a glass of wine, put on some relaxing tunes and started cooking one of our favorite meals: spinach & pork pot stickers with veggie fried rice. Delish. We cooked away, talking, and even stopping for a little slow dance while the smell of ginger filled the room. Gosh, I love my man.

We sat down to eat at our candlelit pub table decorated with the beautiful flowers Ryan bought me (& the girls) earlier that day. As we prayed together, tears filled my eyes and my heart was overflowing. Ryan gave me a card that he made and wrote. His creativity and way with words always astounds me. I absolutely adore his cards and his thoughtfulness. We enjoyed our tasty meal while talking about the past 8 years and our goals for our future. It was special.

The perfect date, if you ask me. I could not ask for a better person to share this life with. I love you, Ryan! More and more with every year that passes.

Manchester 1/2 Marathon.

Just got back to reality from our great trip in Manchester New Hampshire. We stayed with Kip’s sister Debbie and her precious family at their cozy 1920’s house. We had a great time exploring Manchester’s great landscape and establishments. Ate some great food including breakfast at the famous Red Arrow Diner and drank some great New England stouts, porters and pumpkin ales. We even made it into Boston for a brief time for a walk thru the park, frosty beverage at Cheers and dinner at the 2nd oldest restaurant in Boston. The East coast is full of rich history! I can’t wait to go back! Next time more Boston for sure.

We woke up race day (Sunday) to temps right above freezing. Some coffee and a Cliff bar as ritual for breakfast as we warmed our bones by the fire in anticipation for the run. The colors in the trees are beautiful this time of year. It really is a site to see. The leaves began falling last week which helped set the Fall setting for our story. Traci, her brother Kelly and I each had some clothing article of dad’s. I wore his shirt, Traci wore a pullover he gave her and Kelly wore Kip’s race bib and even the same outfit that Kip wore the day he left this world. We headed out the door into the brisk – crisp New England air and to the starting point. Kelly and Traci’s cousin Mary and her Dad had trained to run in this one too. 5 runners in all. Mary, Traci, Kelly and I had all predetermined that we were going to run this one together as a team. After the National anthem was sung and as the starting commands were given, we were off.

Despite the cold I kept to my sleeveless shirt and shorts. Beanie and gloves a must when it’s that cold. As long as my head and hands are warm I’m ready to go. My left ankle seemed to be super weak and sore from about mile 3 on. Not sure why. Never-the-less, I endured. I usually keep my iPod in reserve for races as I like to hear the sounds of people around me, especially in a new place. I did try to push play on it once to which I discovered my battery was dead. Good thing I don’t rely on that. Fortunately Traci sung key phrases and chorus’s of her music to me every once in a while. Made me smile. She’s cute.

What a beautiful route! Old cotton mill buildings lined the water fronts. Adorable hundred plus year old houses. Hills, more hills and then a few more. Kip hated hills. As usual there was diversity from point A to B. Wide, tree filled and stone walled yards to tiny, worn yards with chain link. The community support was nice and scattered throughout the 13.1 mile course.

Mile 13 down and with the finish area in site, we lined up side by side as we approached the end. As I approached the finish line I got a bit choked up thinking of the man we all wished was running in line with us. It’s practically impossible to breathe and run when your throat is in your nose. As we took our last step across the finish, each eye of our team was a bit more moist than the thousand steps prior. We did it. We did it for Kip.

Herded thru the metal barrier path out of the chute everyone was being handed the customary finishing metal strung with gold colored ribbon. As I reached out for this Chinese, assembly-line-produced trinket, I couldn’t help but feel a bit lame. Everyone gets this. The guy who finished an hour before I did and the one who will finish an hour later. Maybe the lady passing these out at the end of the day ends up with an extra box of a hundred and takes them home for her kids to play with and destroy. Sure I know it’s part of race schwag, but this time it felt emptier than before. Empty because it’s never been about trinkets and empty tokens. From the moment we said we were going to do this for Kip, nothing else mattered. He was often quick to remind us that stuff was just stuff. It’s all about the memories and the story. The following verses reinforced these thoughts.

1st Corinthians 9: 24-26a

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

So I run with purpose in every step.

While the run was enjoyable and all of the touristy stuff was fun, the most value was found in the time we spent reminiscing, laughing, and crying. Accomplishing the purpose. Kip signed up for the Manchester 1/2 marathon race but couldn’t make the trip this year in person. Our purpose was to finished it for him. Curiously, I am honored to have finished it with him. High 5 to the sky!

Now, our story continues. Running with purpose in every step. Lord, hold me to it!

Creamy jalapeno is heading our way!

Yes!!! Tyler keeps getting better and better. :)

(you can click on the pic to enlarge it so you can read it – its an email to/from the VP of Real Estate & Development at Chuy’s Corporate – ha!)

*Funny thing about this…I posted it on Facebook and was asked to forward the email to my friend, Joe Terrell, at KLTV and it made the news today. Haha!

Birth-week 2010.

I try to get as much out of my birthday week or “birth-week” as possible. This year was no exception. Last year, Traci and I took a weekend trip to Broken Bow OK to camp at Beavers Bend Sate Park. It was awesome. As we left the site last year we determined that we would be back this year as well, setting it as a new annual tradition.

Early this Spring we found some cheap flights on Southwest Airlines’ site. I was able to easily convince my brother Ross to come down for this round of camping. We immediately booked the flights, marked the days off at work and began to plan and get excited. Fortunately that time passed quickly and October the 13th was upon us.

Wednesday: we headed out to Dallas to fix my iphone, eat Chuy’s and pickup Ross from the Airport.

Thursday: ran at OUR trails, toured Tyler, had coffee at Down Town Coffee Lounge, played Wii, cooked pizza for dinner and chilled.

Friday: more of the same, packed for camping and dinner at Villa Montez.

Saturday:  headed up to Quitman to deliver our precious babies to Grandma then continued North 2.5 hours to our camping destination. We setup camp, floated the river, and cooked fajitas. Perfect.

Sunday: we packed up, hiked, then headed back for a bomb chick fried steak and chocolate cake at Grandma’s then home. Unfortunately the day ended with a Redskins loss but none-the-less a great day.

Monday: we woke with 2 mini-visitors wanting to climb into our bed, blankets it hand. We once again got a few miles in at the trails, ate some Stanley’s for lunch, then headed back to Dallas for Ross to fly back home to Minnesota.

5 consecutive days off will spoil anyone and render the returning day semi-useless. Ha! So thankful for a great birth-week celebration and the opportunity to spend it with a few of my favorite people in the world.

Check out more pics on Traci’s post.

Beavers Bend 2010

We had a great camping trip! Ryan, Ross and I headed to Beavers Bend, Oklahoma yesterday morning. We enjoyed canoeing down the river, cooking on the campfire, hiking some trails and I’m fairly certain we ate our weight in tortillas. Tort Fest 2010 baby! Very fun and very relaxing. We love going out into nature, away from everything else, and just taking a deep breath…it’s good for your soul.

Pardon my laziness, but I think I’ll just let the pictures do the talking for me on this post…

You Eat What You Pay For.

I watched the documentary FOOD INC. the other day and it really stirred some concern. Its a great, informative video and back-stage view of the food industry and its control. I actually spent about an hour after it was over in a daze. Big business endorsed by our ever protective government [cough] has really changed today’s food from what it was when we were growing up.

The thing that saddened me the most about it was the way it seems as though the “all about the dollar” mentality ends up hurting fellow human beings, real people. From the mass of farmers that struggle over the decision to make a paycheck or putting their ethics aside and give in, to the immigrant workers that are involved in most of our food preparation and packaging getting penalized and tossed to the side as disposable, to the health consequences for you and me consuming products that are  genetically modified, fed weird diets, or tainted due to the lack sanitization laws and animal civility for the sake of more, faster, cheaper, we only ending up hurting ourselves in the end.

One story that really caught my attention was about a lower income family who could easily convince themselves that it was far more tasty and economical to support the Dollar Menus than buy fresh and healthy produce from a supermarket. Wow isn’t this so true. They also said that it was cheaper for them to buy this cheaper, less healthy fast food AND the medications (that were now required probably due to long term eating of these foods) than to buy healthy foods. How sad is that? I was telling Traci that it’s as if the food industry was owned and operated by the pharmaceutical giants to produce this weird imbalance backing people into this same spin and therefore inducing type 2 diabetes, obesity, clogged arteries, etc. just to make a profit off of medications, off of fellow humans, you and me. All for the dollar.

In lieu of this, we are seriously considering some big changes in what we eat. As runners we typically eat very healthy. Lots of grilled foods, brown rice, juices, and vegetables are a norm for the Dixon’s. Rarely do we eat out and even rarer is it for us to eat fried-anything. We have been discussing portion size a lot and have been doing a good job at limiting awesome things like ice cream, to just enough to get a good flavor fix from it instead of filling up on these super tasty yet less-than-ideal calories.

The next step is coming. We love farmers markets and will increase our shopping there this month. Not for sure how extreme we are going with it but we will definitely be doing the organic thing ASAP. Many say organic is too expensive and as I do agree (as it is a fact) that legit organic food is more expensive (really due to lack of demand) to buy in the store over non-organic. However, if you team up portion control with organic foods it can really offset the cost. Actually I do believe that it will end up being cheaper in the long run. Especially if you can avoid those prescriptions and hospital stays. We are definitely going to start spending our dollar even wiser than before as you really do eat what you pay for.

Any thoughts out there on this? Any suggestions or research you can share? Anyone make the change and can tell a difference? Any cool stories? Please share.

–These comments posted via FaceBook–

Cookies burned per mile.

I have been back in my running routine for a few months now. Its great when waking up earlier than the sun becomes a habit again. Recently I have been challenged (by myself) to step it up. Distance is great, but even my usual 6.25 mile route has been too comfortable. For whatever reason, I feel lame coming back from a run not dripping of sweat. Maybe its a misconception maybe not, but I equate sweat to a valuable workout and how many cookies burned.

It’s easier for me to reference the foods that I love to miles I must run to burn those foods. I am a sucker for sweets! Cookies, yum… Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, yum… cake, yum. I rarely have Dr. Pepper and Cokes anymore and I only have my mom-in-law’s bomb sweet tea on Sundays. Some people think calories (typically 110 calories per mile depending on heart rate, sex, weight), I think food and beer.

Example:

  • 1 bottle of Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat… 2 miles!
  • 3 of the Dixon famous chocolate cakies… 2 miles!
  • 1 can of  DP… 2 miles!
  • 2 chunks of momma Clark’s sopapilla cheese cake… 4 miles! etc.

Anyways, I have determined that the speed needs to increase because I LOVE TO EAT. Does anyone else think like this?

our dinner last night

pan-seared pork & spinach pot stickers with chicken fried rice. awesome! if you know me at all, you know i’m a huge fan of pei wei and pf chang’s. i love me some chinese food! well, we decided to give pot stickers a try & they are actually super easy & very tasty. and chicken fried rice is something we’ve done for a while & couldn’t be simpler. here’s the recipe:

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chicken fried rice:

saute chicken & small chopped onion in canola oil or sesame oil & 2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce. add 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic & 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger root.  add salt & pepper to taste. when chicken is cooked through, add a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies. add 2 additional tablespoons of teriyaki sauce, cover and simmer until veggies are cooked through. cook 1 to 2 cups of rice according to directions and add to chicken & veggie mixture.  walla! chicken fried rice. so easy!

pan-seared pork & spinach pot stickers:

cook 1/2 lb of ground pork in skillet. add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped ginger root, 3 cloves of chopped garlic, 4 scallions finely sliced, and 1 box of defrosted & drained spinach. add a touch of soy sauce, salt & pepper to taste. fill wonton wrappers with mixture. heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. work in batches…sear one side of wontons for 2 minutes on medium high heat. then, add 1/4 cup of water to skillet, cover & let them steam for 5 minutes. that’s it! remove them that batch, drain oil & water, dry out skillet and repeat on new batch. ryan also made a dipping sauce for them that was amazing….a mixture of soy sauce, orange juice, red pepper flakes & honey. SOOOO GOOD!

this was a fun meal to make & it really was tasty. if you try it out, let me know! hope you enjoy.

Yummy new recipe!

Tonight, I made bruschetta bread to go along side our lasagna for dinner.  It was awesome!!!  Thought I’d share the recipe.

Hot House or Roma Tomatoes

Green Onions

2-3 chopped garlic cloves

Chopped fresh basil

Grated parmesan cheese

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & pepper

French Bread sliced

Drizzle some EVOO on the sliced french bread & toast in oven on broil.  Dice tomatoes & add garlic, green onion, basil, and salt & pepper to your liking.  Drizzle mixture with EVOO and mix well.  Top bread slices with the tomato mixture and top with parmesan cheese.  Serve & enjoy!