Sep 082015

The original plan for Labor Day weekend was for us to go to Seattle and spend time with friends and see Faith No More at Bumbershoot. In the end I ended up staying home and Michael went to Seattle. I was torn and wanted to see our friends, but I knew that sitting in a car in holiday traffic for 4+ hours was not a good idea for my back. While my back is much better, sitting for long periods of time is not good. I was bummed to be missing out on the fun, but it gave me a chance to get some stuff done at home.


I started my day with the gym:


Then Bella and I hit the road to meet my friend Erika at Laurelhurst Park (where I recently ran my 5k!) for lunch and a walk. Bella sniffing me as we sit at a very long light (she gets antsy when we just sit):


It was a slightly chilly day but we found a picnic bench and ate lunch and talked. While we ate lunch it drizzled on us a teeny bit, but it wasn’t too bad. The park was full of people playing, having BBQ’s and birthday parties and there was even a wedding about to take place!


I’d been craving pasta salad lately so that’s what I made for my lunch. Bowtie high-fiber pasta with chopped carrots, black olives, red peppers, tomatoes from my garden and Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian dressing. I had a string cheese and a plum with the salad. After lunch we walked around the park for a bit, saw this guy practicing tight rope walking:


And then walked around the neighborhood. I found my new house:

I bet that house has a library in it! 😀 We finished up our neighborhood walk and said our goodbyes and it was just in time, too, because it started to downpour! When I got home I got set baking chocolate zucchini bread.


Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes



  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil, plus more for greasing loaf pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ cups finely shredded zucchini (about 2 medium zucchinis)
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan with coconut oil and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, 2 tbsp. coconut oil, eggs, applesauce and vanilla extract. Whisk together until well-blended.
  4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and stir to combine, taking care not to over-stir.
  5. Add the shredded zucchini and chocolate chips and fold into the mixture until well-blended.
  6. Pour the mixture into the greased loaf pan and spread evenly.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 50-65 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and let rest in for 10 minutes. If desired, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I liked healthier options for baking things like this. I would have liked to find one that used less sugar, but 3/4 cup of sugar was the least amount of sugar I was able to find in a recipe. I also love using applesauce in baking recipes! It makes the bread moist and fluffy in my opinion. I actually made 4 mini loaves of bread in my mini loaf pan.

The house smelled amazing as the bread baked! Yum yum. I gave one mini loaf to a friend and I froze two of the loaves for later. I carved into the last one for dessert!


It was SO good. Spongy and moist, slightly sweet but not overly so and just plain delicious. I loved this recipe. It’s a keeper!


Sunday was elliptical and yoga time. Then I came home and got lunch ready for Bella’s foster mom who was coming over for a visit. Lunch was cheese and crackers (smoked gouda and pepper jack), cantaloupe, pasta salad, salami and tomatoes. Then some zucchini bread for dessert.


She brought her dog, Kona, so the two pups could race around the yard and play. It was so cute to watch them! Bella LOVES her mama Jen. She gets so excited and spazzy when she sees her. It’s amazing to watch.




Bella was in HEAVEN. The dogs raced in the yard, Bella had zoomies for hours, she was so freakin’ happy! The dogs played for a few hours, we had lunch and chatted and Jen had some ideas for Bella’s latest issue. Jen has done some dog training courses and she’s seriously like the dog whisperer. We’ll see how things go. We have some good ideas on things to try for Bella.

After they left, Bella sat in the window kind of bummed–missing her buddies. Then I got to making tomato soup from the tomatoes from my garden. First I roasted the tomatoes with onions and garlic. Then I cooked it all down for a few hours. I used this recipe.


I used the recipe as a base. I let the roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic simmer for a few hours, stirring occasionally. It thickened up and I used my immersion blender (I LOVE that thing!) to mix everything up until it was smooth and creamy (and didn’t have to remove the skins because it all blended up nicely. I added salt, pepper, seasonings, some vegetable broth, tomato paste and mixed it again. Then added a few pinches of sugar.


Let it simmer a little longer and then put the tomato soup into freezer containers for this winter. I can’t wait to have this soup! When I defrost it I will probably experiment with adding some cream to it and it may need more tomato paste once I reheat it. We’ll see. It tastes good though!



Got two 42 ounce plastic tubs of tomato soup (for freezing) and a small tupperware full for my lunch one day this week. How was your holiday?


Aug 182015

What a busy weekend!

Michael’s dad was visiting from Texas and we had my parents come down for a short visit, too. It was nice to have a visit and catch up and they hadn’t seen each other since our wedding last year. Michael, his dad and my dad went golfing Thursday afternoon and then we all went out to dinner at Jake’s Grill. A favorite in Portland, for sure.



We got a really nice, quiet table in the back underneath a gorgeous antique stained glassed window atrium. I’d never seen it before.


We shared an order of calamari for the table. It was nice to show my parents one of our favorite restaurants (they had never been there).


Michael got the steak, my mom got the meatloaf and mashed potatoes and my dad got the beef stroganoff. Michael’s dad got the halibut (his favorite) and I got the Cedar Planked Steelhead with mashed potatoes. I’d been craving mashed potatoes for weeks! This definitely satisfied that craving. The steelhead was so amazing and perfect–the perfect, rich piece of fish, slightly crispy.


After that lovely, rich dinner my parents split a chocolate cake and Michael and I split the cheesecake with blueberry compote. It’s been so long since I’ve had a fancy dessert–it was so worth the calories!


What a nice night!

On Friday I had the day off. I went for a swim–first swim in over a week and a half and it felt fantastic being back in the pool (especially with my recent back stuff). The boys were spending the day watching golf (no thanks) and so my mom and worked in the kitchen. Our garden has gone so crazy this summer and our tomatoes were out of control. I was so glad to had my mom’s help with them.

She bought me a tomato press (we’d gone to several stores to find a food mill and this was the closest thing we could find). I am so glad, too! It’s a nifty little device that worked great for the project. In the past it was SO time consuming and exhausting trying sieve the tomato seeds and skins out of the cooked tomatoes and this made the project a million times easier.



I don’t know how many pounds of tomatoes we picked from the garden but it was an insane amount. The tomato press removed probably 90% of the seeds and all of the skins. Worked great!


I chopped up a red pepper, green pepper, two onions, a ton of garlic and a shallot. I cooked it all down and then put the sauce in the pot.


The kitchen smelled fantastic.

I added some seasonings, salt, sugar and let it simmer for about 2 hours. I added 3 cans of tomato paste to thicken it up and it worked SO much better than last year’s batch of tomato sauce! I got the flavor and texture just right and it was ready. We ended up doing freezer bags instead of canning it (since I don’t have a pressure canner) and it will be a great sauce to have this winter.

After that it was nearing dinner time and Michael made us all ribs. I cooked up corn on the cob and baked beans.

Michael did the ribs a different way this time. He baked them in the oven at a low temperature for two hours and then cooked them on the grill for 30-45 minutes until they were ready. They turned out great! It was another nice night visiting but I was really tired after all the work I’d done.

I have to share this one other thing. My mom brought down a giant scrapbook from my great grandfather. He used to keep journals and cut out newspaper clippings. There were some amazing newspaper articles in his scrapbook. The Kennedy assassination, the Civil Rights movement…just amazing to see.





I spent a good hour reading through the book. There is so much to read!