Thursday, March 25, 2010

A little of this, a little of that

Apparently, I've been neglecting our blog. Two weeks and no post. Yikes. I did try to upload a video a couple times in the last two weeks, but blogspot wasn't working with me. So, what have I been up to? Like the title says, a little of this and a little of that.
I volunteered with one of the spouse groups at a base flea market as a fundraiser. It was crazy how pushy the customers were and I was amazed that people were literally running into the parking lot when the gates opened. My favorite part of the day was this little, local girl. I absolutely love her outfit. If I were ever to have a baby, I'd want it to be an Asian baby so I guess I'm off the hook.
Last weekend I also got to do another trail run. This time it was just me and Anna because the other ladies ran when I was at the flea market. Anna is very good at slowing down without making me feel slow because believe me that girl is speedy! Once again, the trail run was the highlight of my week. I didn't take the camera this time because it seemed like it might rain (turns out it was hazy from a sand storm that blew in from China), but I did take a few shots after the run:
Why, yes, if you look close there are bugs stuck to my forehead and visor. We are so fast bugs can't even get out of the way in time!
During the run I was flying down this downhill section. I really did feel like an impala just bounding along. About that time I put my foot down on a tuft of grass with nothing underneath it and started a sliding fall. I somehow caught myself and continued with only missing a beat or two. Even the fall was awesome.

That's the dirt caught in my wrist band from where I caught myself.
It rained the night before so there was a little mud, but it was a great route. About a mile on the road there and back and a 3.25 mile loop.
I know some folks think I'm crazy, but there is nothing more fun than getting sweaty and muddy on a run (except maybe running through the snow on the Thetford Forest trails with Mandy). WOOT (Women On Okinawa Trails) is opening this weekend up for a friends and family day this weekend. It should be blast!
I also spent some time trying my hand at a new bread recipe. This was a butternut squash bread braid. I had made butternut squash soup the week before for Meatless Monday (sorry no pics) and reserved some of the squash to make this bread. I got the recipe from I had to add some extra flour to keep it from sticking, but otherwise followed the recipe directly.
This was my first time making a bread braid.
But it was pretty easy.

The results were gorgeous - a wonderful, golden orange color. It raised beautifully and the texture was fantastic. Plus, it was delicious! My English students loved it and I had to send them home with leftovers so I wouldn't nibble on the whole loaf. It would look great on your Easter table if anyone is looking for a bread dish.
The other thing keeping me busy is that I created a new blog for my work. It's just getting started, but feel free to take a look:
Tomorrow I'm trail running and taking kids from work kayaking. It should be a good day! Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Best Run Ever!

What's that on my face? That is the look of pure joy! I did a trail run today for the first time since I lived in England and it was awesome. It has been a long time since I've had so much fun on a run.
First, meet our fearless leader Anna. She has lived on Okinawa for 13 years, knows a lot of trails, and formed our new women's running group - WOOT (Women on Okinawa Trails).

Here are some shots of the ladies on the run (please excuse the blurriness). Here's Martha, Anna, and Tiffany soon after we left the road and hit the trail.

Here's Martha. Not only is she a runner, she is an all-star swimmer. Seriously, she holds multiple swim records in Japan. Plus, she co-founded a running club back in England in the town right next to where we lived. She is a very cool lady.

This is my running and Mt. Fuji partner, Tiffany. When we started running together we were pretty even in speed, but right now she's blowing me out of the water. She's incredible.

Some of the areas got pretty technical and I definitely admit to walking some of the tricky, uphill sections.

I had no idea that there were trails like this here on Okinawa. The scenery was gorgeous and it was so peaceful.

I loved having the chance to go over the river and through the woods:

We even got to see some wildlife:

At this point we were heading back to the car. Here's my other running partner Bri. She really pushed herself today and she did fantastic!

This is my favorite picture of the day because you can see the beautiful, clear sky and Tiffany is making it look effortless.

It was funny because I had to work much harder on this run than my recent road runs and the uphills felt way longer than the downhills, but I really can't describe how much enjoyment I got out of this run. I can hear Chris calling me a crunchy hippie, but somehow I just felt connected to the earth and nature on this run. Running seemed so easy. Don't get me wrong,the hills kept me huffing and puffing, but on the flat parts and the downhills I just felt like I was gliding.
When we were done we were all sweaty and muddy,, but all of us finished with smiles on our faces.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hiji Falls and Fun Run

My last couple weekends at the Youth Center have been busy and fun. Last weekend I took my Explore Your World Club hiking at Hiji Falls. Some of the kids had a hard time with the hike which I found pretty sad, but it was a great day.

We left the youth center around 11:00, just 5 hours after the big earthquake had hit Okinawa. The night before we had received massive amounts of rain. I know the rain was the main contributor, and I don't know if the earthquake played any role, but there were literally hundreds of salamanders out. Most of them were headed to the creek and we actually saw some mating in the shallow water.

The salamanders were awesome! This was, of course, the day that I didn't bring my good camera. I thought is was going to rain again so I left it home. Oh well, the point and shoot did ok.
Here's the reason we were hiking:

Hiji Falls is beautiful and with the new route the park put in it's not too hard to get to. Here are the kids at the top:

They looked thrilled, don't they? In their defense, Teresa gave them no warning that she was taking the picture.
This past weekend was the grand finale for my Youth Center Running Club. My runs with these kids for the last 9 Tuesdays was by far my favorite time spent at the Youth Center. The base does a 5K every month so we coordinated with them to let the kids run and get recognized.
Here's me modeling the shirts I designed for this event:

I think the shirts came out pretty cute.
We met about 30 minutes before the race so we could stretch and I could give them some last minute pointers (i.e. Don't start too fast!). Here we are before the race:

The really awesome part is that out of the 5 kids that ran the race, 4 of them had parents that ran with them. The one who didn't ran with another kid's dad.

The kids did fantastic. Our all-star finished in 22 minutes and they all finished under 38 minutes! Best of all they finished happy! Woohoo! Mission accomplished.
Here are the kids after the race with our "RUN" brownie. The kids also all got t-shirts and plaques. It was a great program.

I'm thinking that I might like a career (not necessarily paid) in getting kids healthy and happy. Any suggestions from you blog readers on how to make this happen?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mostly Meatless Monday

In an attempt to include more vegetarian meals I've borrowed an idea I've seen on other blogs and went with a Meatless Monday. I decided to make a white chicken chili and substitute tofu for the chicken. I started with extra firm tofu (they don't seem to be carrying the local stuff at the commissary any more), a small onion, and a potato that needed to be used.

I cubed all of those items, put them in a pan I had sprayed with olive oil Pam, sprinkled them with garlic powder and cayenne, and baked it all at 425F for about 45 minutes.

I did this part before work. Since Chris beat me home, he started putting the soup together. We used the spice packet (doubling the water amount it calls for), pinto beans, corn, and ro-tel. I've made it with northern beans before and both are good. The northern beans make it more of the traditional white chili while the pinto beans make it more like a tortilla soup.

After adding everything to the pot, you just bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You wind up with a hearty dinner that tastes even better with a little shredded sharp cheddar and a dollop of sour cream.

So, why is the post's title "Mostly Meatless Monday"? Because upon closer inspection I realized that the spice pack actually contains chicken broth. Oops! Live and learn, but either way it really is delicious.