It's Monday of the long weekend, and that means that I'm procrastinating! What better way to procrastinate then to share some food and photos with you from the weekend!
Saturday night I drove up to Haverhill to have dinner with Matthew. We were racing in his town the following day so it made the most sense for me to head up North and stay the night at his place so I could just roll out of bed and head to the race the next morning. My dad has been tearing apart the kitchen for a while now, so I have been eating out and spending a ton of money on dinner, so the last thing I wanted to do was eat out again! I'm so glad Matthew didn't really want to eat out either.
We went back to the house and he threw together a delicious meal in about 10-15 minutes! He sauted some garlic and added fresh kale and sliced tomatoes to the pan. Meanwhile he was baking some naan bread in the oven. When the naan bread was a little crispy, he pulled it out and put one piece on his plate, and one on mine. He put the kale and tomatoes on top and TADA!
Dinner was served! It was a little difficult to eat, but so simple and so delicious!! We also had some blueberry acai juice in wine glasses... It even looks like wine. We set our meal up nice so that I could get a nice photo, but adding those extra details turned this simple meal into something special.
After everything was cleaned up, we were off to play his version of a video game... "find the natural spring"... Remember when we went looking for one last time? That was near my house... this time we were off to New Hampshire to find one that is closer to his house. He completely objects to the idea of using my GPS so he printed out a map. I think it makes this seem more like a treasure hunt for him. Matt neglected to read the fine print that said the "X" (or in this case that little balloon with the letter "A" on it from GoogleMaps) was not actually marking the spot... it would take us to the nearest address... not to the spring. I think he gets lost on purpose because what fun would a treasure hunt be if you didn't have to turn around a few times? Fortunately for him, I'm a good problem solver. Usually what I do to solve problems is read the directions carefully... and that seemed to work. We found the spring before it got dark. We met a woman who teaches Kundalini Yoga. She also did her Radiant Child's Yoga training just like me! Matthew took her business card before wandering off to the next level of the video game "find the magic mushrooms"... aka: chaga mushrooms. While he did that, I took some photos of the water and flowers... Soon after he came out of the woods empty handed. No mushrooms this time.
When we returned home, Matthew took a dessert out of the freezer. He had made chocolate! We have done this together before, but this time he poured the mixture into cookie cutters to make the presentation better. It's amazing how much presentation can make something that was good into something great! I am not exactly sure how he makes the chocolate bars, but I think he uses coconut oil, cocoa powder, and agave nectar and then freezes it. There is nothing I love more than coconut and chocolate! Then it was time for shut-eye... I really wanted to run well at the race the next morning, so sleep was very important... the chocolate made it a little difficult at first, but after some tea I slept just fine.
SUNDAY MORNING - The Race
Usually races are the center of my weekend, but this race didn't require any commuting so it didn't take up the entire day. I had set a tier of goals for myself... the easiest goal was to break 30:30. That was pretty practical and conservative... but I also felt like I could break 30 minutes, or if I was really on I could PR (sub 29:24)... So I decided that I would just go for the PR and if I fell apart I'd just practice working through the pain and hopefully still achieve sub 30:30 effort... I was on pace through 2 miles (hit 2 miles in 11:40), but things unraveled in mile 3. I started passing the walkers who had a 15 minute start and that made me think I was still running fast, but when I hit mile 3 in 18:00 I couldn't believe how much I had slowed down! This really hurt my confidence heading into the 4th mile. Mile 4 gets tough because its just a long 2 mile stretch back to the finish and I was running completely solo. Then there is a part where you have to cross the road, but the police officers aren't really a huge help... so I had to keep looking over my shoulder to find an opportunity to cross. I really struggled to maintain form, and at some point I made the decision to let this mile go, use it as recovery, and rebound for the last mile. I hit mile 4 in 24:30, and knew I needed to run the last mile in sub 6:00! In Mile 5 I stuck with the plan to get moving again and I rallied to run 5:58 giving me a 30:28 finishing time. I think I could have easily run this time if I ran even splits, but it was good for me to go for it and see what I could do. I knew I wasn't going to lose this race since no one too fast showed up, so it was a perfect place to take a risk. I won $100, a mug (that I dropped and smashed in typical Caitlyn Clark fashion already), and a subscription to New England Runner. I should do real well in the 5k next Sunday!
Matt finished second... which is a trend for him here... but his client, friend, and mentee, Dave finished his first 5 mile race. They were both happy. We got some ice cream across the street from the start after. It was yummy!... sorry, no photos.
We cleaned up nicely after the race and grabbed something quick for lunch, off to Maudslay we went! FINALLY I'd get to test out my camera on some beautiful scenery! I realized what I need to work on the most. I am really drawn to images where I am looking into the sun (because that's what I always painted). I've always LOVED the way it looks to have the sun passing through trees... but with a camera I can't quite capture that magic... yet. I think it can be done, I just don't know how. In this case, painting is much easier for me. Just goes to show you that your eye is the most powerful "camera" of all! Matt and I walked around Maudslay for hours. At first he thought we'd go to the gardens and he could sit and read... but I wanted to walk around and take pictures of everything... so he gave up on reading pretty quick and joined me for a walk.
There are tons of birch trees at Maudslay, and that is where those "chaga" mushrooms are said to grow. He decided he would play "find the magic mushrooms" again. This turned out to be fun for me too because I could snap plenty of photos as he searched every tree in the park... Sometimes I'd even give him some Mario Brothers background music as he climbed through bushes. It was a good laugh!
I'm glad Matthew stopped looking for mushrooms long enough to take some nice portraits... I am most drawn to landscapes when I paint, but I want to give the portraits a shot with the camera. He even stopped and took one of me!
SUNDAY NIGHT- Food!
We were starving after all that running and walking. I have pasta or pizza almost everyday it seems so when Matthew asked me what I wanted for dinner the only thing I could think of saying was "something healthy and something new"... So we headed back to the house to figure out what we could make. Matthew and I followed a recipe in his book "The Conscious Cook" by Tal Ronnen . We made ourselves agave-lime grilled tofu with Asian slaw and mashed sweet potatoes. This was a very involved meal, but it was so fun to prepare it together! I have a lot of photos of the process, but I am hoping Matt will do a full blog entry on the preparation in his blog sometime soon. He needs to update!
If you are vegan or vegetarian, or even just a conscious eater who enjoys healthy food (like me), I highly recommend you get this book. There were so many great recipes in there. I didn't have a chance to copy down the recipe and share it here, so if Matthew doesn't do a blog post, you'll just have to pick up the book and try it out yourself!
TADA! The final product! If I wasn't so hungry and eager to try out this new dish, I would have topped it with some green garnish so that it would look just like the photo in the book! But I'm sure you can tell just from the photo that this meal was a success! It was the best tofu I've EVER had! I was so proud because I did the tofu grilling all by myself!
It was a BEAUTIFUL day, and I am so happy to have spent my last "break" before the homestretch at work doing so many enjoyable things!
Three weeks until summer!