Thursday, May 31, 2012

Padre Island National Seashore, Corpus Christi, Texas

Sunday morning we woke up and Andrew decided he wanted to go down to Corpus Christi and see the Gulf of Mexico. The first beach we stopped at was Mustang Island State Park, where we actually swam in the gulf! I don't have any pictures of that beach because I left the camera in the car.

After eating lunch at a bar and grill we headed down to Padre Island National Seashore. Here, I brought my camera first, and if we wanted to swim again we could change after I took pictures.
Padre Island is beautiful. There was a mass of kelp that came in the night before and there was kelp piles everywhere, but that didn't bother us. The island is also a refuge for seaturtles and there were warnings everywhere along with a seaturtle patrol car that drives up and down the beach.
 If we look crusty, it's because we are. The gulf is really salty, a lot saltier than the beaches I'm used to swimming in. Our hair was stiff was salt water.

 The only road leading north from the island is of course a hurricane evacuation route. I'd never seen one of these signs and I had to take a picture.

 I have a bunch of seabird pictures now, it was hard to narrow them down to just a few.

We left the Corpus Christi area pretty late and were on the road for the solar eclipse. We saw about 1/4 of the process before clouds came in and covered up the show. Those are our two pictures of the eclipse. Epic, right?

We liked swimming in the water so much, we went back the next week. I didn't take any pictures from that trip because it was so windy. We just swam and enjoyed ourselves. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Enchanted Rock, Texas Vacation

I am back from my trip to Texas. I spent a wonderful two weeks down there with my husband who is down there for the summer with the Air Force. There was a lot of waffling on my part about going down to see him, but I am so glad that I did. We had a lot of adventures and it was a great trip.

I did some Texas research and one of the things I wanted to see was Enchanted Rock. A giant granite dome you can climb. Think Half Dome, only smaller.
The sculpture in the middle shows the different domes. Enchanted Rock in the distance(it got bigger and bigger as we got closer). 

 This is only about a 1/4 of the way up. It was really windy, and weird walking up that angle.
 In these pictures I am trying to show you the grade. I lined up with the horizon so you could see the slope. The top left picture is looking straight up from about 1/4 of the way down.

 Finally!!! The Top. The top of the rock has these vernal ponds, some are filled with water and others have vegetation. They were pretty cool looking on top of the huge dome.
 Walking up the summit trail(and stopping for lots of pictures) only took about an hour and a half so we had to get in another trail. We liked the sound of Echo Canyon Trail. My hair was being mistreated by the wind, please ignore stupid hair.
 It was absolutely gorgeous back there, all the pretty creeks and wildflowers. This part of the trail I fondly named "Try and Kill or Mame Hattie Treacherous Rock Trail". It wasn't really a trail through the first part it was a scramble over the rocks towards the next trail marker. It was fun, but dangerous for me.
We even saw a lizard! Andrew spotted it, and it stuck around while I took a picture then darted off again.
It was a very pretty park and we're glad we took the drive from San Antonio. Admission was $6 per adult per day. I think it was worth it. They also had primitive campgrounds and picnic areas, it would be a nice place to have an outing and end with a picnic under a tree.

After our hike we headed back towards a touristy town called Fredricksburg where we had lunch at this delicious restaraunt called Rathskeller. It was a quaint little place in a basement with refreshing blueberry lemonade. I had the vegetarian sandwich, which from their website had Grilled portabella mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, olive paste and Swiss cheese with creamy cilantro sauce on foccocia bread. So yummy!!!!

It was a great day of good hiking and good food, what could be better?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spring birds for Mom

This past few days we have had a nice visitor in our backyard. A Baltimore Oriole!!! Yeah, that deserved three exclamation points. I heard it one morning and didn't recognize the song. It took me a while to find him, since they hang out at the very tops of trees. He's been here for three days but I haven't seen or heard a female yet, so I hope he's not just passing through.

It's been a while since I've featured Dakota. Well, he's still the same crazy dog. He likes the warmer weather. If it's warm outside it means I am outside, which mean he is outside and he likes that.

 My very dirty and very crooked bird bath. It was straight a couple weeks settled! I swear.

And one more of the pretty birdy.

I hereby dedicate this post to my wonderful momma. Who instilled in me a love, appreciation and curiosity for all living things, but especially birds.
Just a reminder mom, don't cause car accidents because you see a bird! It's dangerous : )

Love you mom, thanks for being you. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Keeping it Interesting WIAW

I am being really consistent with doing this whole What I Ate Wednesday thing. I am finding that it is keeping me motivated to try to new recipes and be a little more creative with my meals. Sometimes I make a meal and like it so much that I eat it over and over(like oatmeal for breakfast). It is nice to change the pace and incorporate a few new recipes during the week.

Breakfast: Steel cut oats, strawberries, blueberries, dollop of Greek yogurt.
Lunch: Avocado egg salad in whole wheat pita, berries and iced green tea.
Dinner: Spaghetti squash spaghetti with baby bella mushrooms and spinach.
I bought a spaghetti squash at the store last week and did not want to eat it plain like I normally would. I decided to finally try it as a pasta substitute and it was soooo good. I added garlic to the squash and I think I like it better than pasta.

This avocado egg salad recipe was adapted from Gina's recipe over at Skinny Taste. If you have not checked out her blog, do so now. I have tried a lot of her recipes and they turn out great, plus she provides nutrition information!

I changed up my recipe because I like a somewhat different egg salad taste. In mine, I left out the mayonnaise(yuck) and added two kinds of mustard, lemon juice and spices. I also only used four hard boiled eggs, and used the yolk and whites. It made a huge amount, so I will be eating egg salad for the next couple days.

It turned out delicious! I am so glad I saw Gina's post, because I never would have thought to put avocado in my egg salad.

I am going to be doing some travelling over the next couple weeks, maybe I can do an "On the Road WIAW" since eating on the road can be a huge challenge.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Vegetarian Groceries What I Ate Wednesday

It's Wednesday!!!! Which means I'm joining the cool kids and linking up with Jenn at Peas and Crayons. 

Since I'm pretty new to eating vegetarian I thought it would be fun to write about my grocery trips. Any resource that helps build a great panty is helpful. 
1. Breakfast: Steel cut oats with strawberries and homemade apple butter, green tea, 2. Lunch: A low-carb salsa wrap with hummus, black beans, onions and avocado, 3. Snack: Greek yogurt, Bear Naked granola, strawberries and raspberries. 4. Pita pizza with pepperjack and mushrooms and roasted cauliflower with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
Oh, and dessert! A black bean brownie with soy milk on the side. From the Happy Herbivore. Mine are a little flat because my pan was too big, but they are so delicious.

I grocery shop every two weeks and my new vegetarian lifestyle doesn't change my grocery bill much, I just skip the meat section and linger longer in the produce section. Which is better all around.
Veggies: My veggies vary every trip, but I usually always buy beets, mushrooms, spinach and avocados. This trip I added tomatoes, cauliflower and a spaghetti squash. (Not pictured are my stash of sweet potatoes)
Dry goods: I try to stay out of the middle section of the grocery store since that is where most of the heavily processed junk is. I head into the baking, breakfast, and bean aisle a lot. I buy bags of black beans to use as a regular protein source. I had some new purchases today like the all natural pizza sauce(for my pita pizzas). The agave nectar(for my brownies). The Bear Naked granola and the pineapple flavored O.N.E. Coconut water, they just started carrying it at my store.
Dairy: My diary/cold items are always small. I always buy one or two plain Greek yogurts, I love it plain, with fruit, as a dip, I use it to cook, everything. Cheese for salads and for pita pizzas. My Silk vanilla...yum! I obviously don't eat vegan, but I've always wanted to try soy milk and when I switched to vegetarian I bought Silk and haven't gone back. It's so good. I don't eat cereal, so I can't tell you if it's good on Cheerios.
Fruits: Pretty standard. I buy what smells good and is on sale.

With any sort of change in diet, it's important to make sure you're fueling your body properly. I track what I'm eating and make sure I'm getting enough protein, fiber and enough of those other important nutrients that help me function.
When making the switch in grocery shopping it helps to do a little at a time. The day I stopped eating meat I didn't run to the store and buy everything I thought that would make my life easier. I stocked up on pantry items like whole wheat pasta and dried beans and slowly went from there.  
Most of the things I buy are things that I've been buying forever, like Greek yogurt, oatmeal and those delicious avocados. I've always liked beans but never really bought them, now I eat them almost every day. Every grocery trip I try and by a few new products to try and expand what I'm eating.

I'm always looking for new recipes online and am constantly making new meals, it keeps life exciting and ensures that I don't get bored with what I'm eating. As my menu grows, so does the variety in my cooking.

Overally, I'm really liking the change. I can't say that not eating meat has been monitarily beneficial, but it's been a wonderful challenge I can see me continuing for a long time.