Monday, October 31, 2011

Market Menu Monday Returns!

...even if the name still scares me.  (Heh.  There's my little nod to Halloween for you.)

I'm thinking that this is going to be a pretty foodie-centric week on the blog, since last week was pretty yoga-heavy AND I've got several recipes I've been hoping to post.  Now that marching band is over, I'm hoping to have some free time to actually get them up!


I went to the Farmer's Market on Sunday.  Sadly enough, only one vendor had pie pumpkins available--and those cost $3.50 for a teeny little pumpkin.  I ended up getting another one (number 9 of the season, I think) at Safeway later on.  

Here was my farmer's market haul:

Assorted pork products (more on that later), parsley, cilantro, dill, yellow onion, red onion, brussels sprouts, acorn squash, bok choy, apples, red pepper, sweet potato, banana pepper, jalapenos.

Here's our menu for the week:

Sunday: Spaghetti (ok, more like fettuccine) alla carbonara made with home made pasta
Monday: Pumpkin & Chorizo Soup with Quesadilla wedges
Tuesday: Chicken Souvlaki with tzatziki on home made flatbread
Wednesday: Cider-Glazed Chicken with fresh cranberries and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Thursday: TBD... home made pizza is always an option around here!
Friday: Fend - it's Yoga Book Club Night!  

I hope everyone has a fantastic (and delicious!) week!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend Update

I don't normally post on the weekends, but hey... why not?

I didn't have any major, life-changing events this weekend--just lots of little things that were amusing to me.

Friday night was Senior Night for the marching band I work with.  They had their best marching show of the season, even though it was rainy and cold.  Saturday was our last "competition"-style event, which ended up being a standing performance in the gym due to the weather.  I'm really proud of the kids I work with.  As of the end of band camp, they only had music and drill to three of the four pieces in the show.  In September, we changed significant portions of the show--including completely changing the opener, adding the missing pieces, and re-setting the drill they had already learned.  On top of that, about half of the band were rookies.  Considering everything they went through, I am really proud of them and their performances--even if they didn't score highly at their competitions.

After the performance on Saturday morning, I went home and read some of my yoga "book club" book for teacher training.  I chose Yoga: The Science of the Soul by Osho.  Not exactly an uplifting book so far.  Early on, he says, ‎"Yoga means that now there is no hope, now there is no future, now there are no desires." I understand what he meant (that we must remain in the present), but man... it's definitely not what I was expecting.  

This morning, I got up and went to two yoga classes (Yin and Mixed Level), the farmer's market (more on that tomorrow), and then went grocery shopping.  I spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen making bread/pizza dough, and I also decided to make fresh pasta.

Which I then used to make some amazing Spaghetti Fettuccine alla Carbonara, using ingredients almost entirely from the farmer's market.  

Dinner was EPIC.  High quality ingredients and a lot of patience in the kitchen really do result in a superior product.  (I will probably write an entire post dedicated to pasta and carbonara. Yum!)

After dinner, Duff Man and I finally got around to carving our pumpkins.  

Mine.  "Good Bite Moon."

Duff Man's.  Calvin playing golf.  (Duff Man is a huge Calvin & Hobbes fan.)

No crazy Halloween parties, no fancy outings... but a restful, relaxing, fun weekend anyway.

I hope your weekend was as great as mine!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sometimes, Yoga Kicks Asana

Although I was inspired earlier in the week to focus on thinking and writing about living yoga off the mat, I still wanted to include the post I had started the other day about asana practice and my teacher training progress.  

While the truest intention of yoga places importance on a balance on many intellectual and spiritual concepts other than physical practice, there is a time and place for asana practice.  Practicing on the mat brings physical, mental, and energetic benefits that are important.  You can't really LIVE your life if you are constantly plagued by preventable physical ailments.  Besides, sometimes it just feels good to sweat, or to face (and overcome) physical challenges.

Andplusalso, endorphins are pretty awesome.

This entire post stems from last weekend's AWESOME teacher training line-up:  Partner Yoga, Pranassage, restorative yoga (a nearly 2 hour practice!), teaching private sessions, discussion of yoga/teaching ethics, and ARM BALANCES!  It was pretty much all of my favorite stuff (except for inversions) rolled into one neat little weekend.

Through the weekend, I ended up making some huge breakthroughs in my personal practice--including conquering several different challenging asanas.  Unfortunately, I didn't get photos of myself in any of them... so you'll have to settle for photos of other people in the same poses.  
Partner Yoga: Flying Dhanurasana
I kind of sucked as a base during our partner yoga practice--which was kind of weird since I've flown Duff Man before (and he's a pretty big guy).  For some reason I just couldn't stabilize myself enough to fly any of my fellow teacher trainees on that particular night.  Oh well.  I had an awesome night as a flyer instead.  We started in "Bird," and then I got most of the way into Dhanurasana (bow).  My hands didn't quite reach my feet, but they came pretty darn close.  I LOVE Partner Yoga and I really hope I get to try this one again.  When I got home, I realized that it's basically the same as THE lift in Dirty Dancing.
"Now I've had the time of my life..."
Arm Balances!
I LOVE arm balances, and having attended several arm balance workshops, a number of the poses are pretty routine for me and I play with them all the time.  However, despite my repeated practice, I've never been able to do a Side Crow with leg extension, Tittibasana, or Yogini Dandasana--until this past weekend!  I kicked some asana during our Arm Balance practice and was able to hold all of these poses (on both sides) for a couple of breaths each.

Parsva Bakasana (Twisted Crow with Leg Extension)
[Update: I just learned today (10/30) that this is actually Eka Pada Koundinyasana I!  Eka Pada Koundinyasana II is one of my favorite poses.  I had no idea!]
Yogini Dandasana
(Yes, the same one that was nothing more than a glorified mat splat in August!)
Photo courtesy of Peg Mulqueen at
Tittibasana (Firefly)
Okay, my tittibasana looks nothing like that--my butt barely makes it off the ground.  I'm proud of the fact that I was able to get into it at all--it's WAY harder than it looks.  


As an aside, if you've never taken a yoga class with me before you should really consider it.  In addition to arm balance fun, this week I performed a perfect slide-tackle transitioning to a mat splat in order to take the last available spot in the back of the studio.  It was pretty awesome.  The same class ended with the traditional Sanskrit chant of Mahna Mahna.  What, you haven't chanted that before in class?  Clearly my studio is more enlightened than yours.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Swimming Upstream, Duality, Dreadlocks, and Goat Heads

I stayed up rather late last night crafting a post for today based on all of the fun we had with teacher training this weekend.  Most of it was about how awesome I felt after being able to assume several challenging asanas that had eluded me in the past.

But then I read this fabulous post by Jenn, one of my fellow teacher trainees, and everything I had written seemed somehow like I missed the point.  Because after all, yoga isn't about the poses that you can (or can't) do, it's about the lessons you learn as you live your life off the mat.

As the day progressed and I faced some challenges and frustrations (or, really, contemplated how to address the challenges and frustrations which lie ahead of me), three recent lessons that we have discussed during training came to mind.

The first lesson is a story from Osho's "Creativity."

If I'm being honest with myself (and I usually am), I can definitely relate to Nasruddin's wife in this scenario.  I'm sure Duff Man would agree too.  I generally don't intend to be contrary--but I am strong-willed and passionate and I stand up for what I believe in--even if it isn't popular or might sometimes get me in trouble.  I'm in one of those situations right now where I recognize that I'm swimming upstream... and yet I continue to do so, because if I don't say something then I'm not being honest with myself.  And satya is important, right?

The second lesson I've been contemplating is how I can demonstrate the actions outlined in the Yamas and Niyamas, the first two limbs of the Eight-fold Path of Patanjali.

The Yamas and Niyamas are ways of interacting with the outside world (Yamas) and internal characteristics to nurture within the self (Niyamas).  "The yamas and niyamas are actually descriptions of a nature that has been freed from the illusion of separateness."  (Donna Farhi, "Teaching Yoga," p. 11).  

I need to focus on removing the concept of duality and work to recognize that "we are all a small part of the greater divine."  (I wish I could remember the sanskrit for that!)  As I interact with others, even when I disagree with them I need to work on seeing our commonalities--because ultimately we are all the same.

The final lesson is the story of Virabhadra.  

(Note: The version linked isn't quite the same story I learned.  Check out Myths of the Asanas for my version.)

Sita loves Shiva.  She marries him, much to her father, Dhaksa's, chagrin.  Dhaksa throws a huge party and doesn't invite Shiva.  Sita tells Dhaksa that she's sad that he won't accept her husband.  Dhaksa doesn't really care.  Sita goes up in flames.  Shiva is pissed that Sita is dead, so he tosses his dreadlock to the ground and up burrows Virabhadra (Virabhadrasana I), the warrior.  He chops Dhaksa's head off (Virabhadrasana II), then he picks up the Dhaksa's head and presents it to Shiva (Virabhadrasana III.)  Who knew that the myths behind the asanas were so... gory?  

Anyway, Sita reincarnates herself right away and tells off Shiva for having her dad offed.  Shiva realizes he shouldn't have acted out of anger and, although Dhaksa's head is now useless, there happens to be a perfectly good goat head laying around.  Shiva attaches the goat head to Dhaksa's body, Dhaksa is pleased and accepts his son-in-law.  Happy ending all around, except for the whole goat head thing.  (As an aside--now that I think about it, I wonder if Mario Puzo was into yoga...)  

So, the moral of the story is that if you mess up, you need to use just as much energy to correct your mistakes as you did to make them in the first place.  

All of that mumbo jumbo basically boils down to this:  In order to live my yoga off the mat this week, I am working to have the self-awareness to realize that I don't always think the same way as others.  Even when I disagree with someone, I am working to recognize our commonalities--because ultimately we are all the same.  However, if I do happen to lash out and react inappropriately, I will spend just as much energy to rectify my wrongdoings as I did to create the mess in the first place.

And maybe I should also keep a spare goat head and a needle & thread hanging around for a while.  You know, just in case.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Random Friday Facts

1.  I desperately want to pre-order a Kindle Fire.  Duff Man thinks I have too many gadgets as it is.  I've never really been an early adopter, but it's really got me intrigued.  I haven't decided in either direction yet.

2.  This article made my week.  It's about several big, burly hockey players who do yoga in order to cross train.  They discuss the agony of Downward Facing Dog and how holding poses for 15 seconds is really hard.  Last week in training, we held Downward-Facing Dog for 5 minutes.  Now THAT was hard!

3.  I could never give up high fructose corn syrup entirely because I like Sour Patch Kids, Rita's Water Ice, and Dr. Pepper too much.

4.  I've been damn productive at work this week and I still have a zillion things on my "To-Do" list.

5.  I've never had spaghetti squash, although it's on my list of foods to try.

6.   I really, really need a secretary at school... or at least an accountant.  I just spent an hour in my treasurer's office after school making 8 separate deposits for various school-related activities.

7.  I have a birthmark about the size of a coffee mug on my right calf.  I didn't notice it until I was 7 years old.

8.  I played my flute today for the first time in... 5 months?  It was kind of nice. 

9.  I've had a ton of blog hits from Russia lately.  I'm hoping no one stole any of my photos and posted me as a bride for sale.  Boy would THEY be in for a shock.

10.  I generally have a really, really good memory.  I pick things up pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, if I learn something wrong the first time (how to pronounce a word like quixotic, or someone's name) then it's really hard for me to un-learn it. 

And now I'm off to finish some teacher training homework and head to the studio.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1)  I knew my schedule would be kind of crazy this week, so I never wrote a menu-planning post.  Here was the photo of my haul from the farmer's market this week:

Spinach, Bok Choy, Pumpkin, Red Cauliflower, Cheddar Cheese, Red Onion, Leeks, Sweet Peppers, Red Bell Pepper, Macintosh Apples, Parsley, Cilantro, Cranberry-Apple Cider, and Eggs.
That cheese?  OMG.  Outstanding.  Wow.  It was also the first time I've purchased eggs at the farmer's market.  I haven't had a chance to cook with them yet, but I'm looking forward to doing a side-by-side taste comparison.

2) The suit I've worn to perform and conduct concerts for the last 5 years is starting to get too loose on me (sweet!)  I started noticing it back in the spring, so when I found a Calvin Klein suit at Ross for 75% off retail, I bought it... even though it was a bit snug.  Okay, it was more than a bit snug--I had a total muffin top in the pants, but the jacket kind of covered it up.  Well, I sent the old suit off to be dry cleaned this week and decided to try the new suit on on a whim... and it almost fits now.  The pants are a bit snug (and I'll need to have a professional "ass check" before I wear it in public), but I think I'm going to be transitioning to the new suit for my next concert.  The best part?  It's a size I haven't worn in several years.  SCORE!
3)  I was making up dinner as I went along today, and even though I had an inkling that dinner was going to be great, I didn't write it down.  I'm really sorry I didn't--it turned out really great.  I made roasted cauliflower whole wheat couscous with lemon, parsley, and leeks.  I'll be sure to make it again and document it.  It was fabulous.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunshine and Friends and Yoga and Happiness

Despite my post yesterday, it hasn't been all work and no play around here.  

A little over a week ago, my beautiful, glorious, long-awaited first free weekend since I went insane and thought I could hold a full-time (and then some) job, work marching band, and go through yoga teacher training  August finally arrived.  No teacher training, no football games, no competitions, NOTHING.  And on top of that, the weather was gorgeous.

And it was everything I had hoped and dreamed it would be.

On Friday night, Duff Man and I went to dinner at  Carlyle in Shirlington.  I had two girly martinis, firecracker shrimp, and crab cakes while Duff Man enjoyed lobster bisque and a cheeseburger.  (Hey, the boy knows what he likes.)  

On Saturday, I got to spend some time practicing on my mat, for myself, not as a teacher trainee and then spent the rest of the afternoon putting the basement back together after the basement disaster--specifically, washing all of the bedding and reassembling the guest room, and finally putting all of the books back on the bookshelf in Duff Man's office.  Everything is FINALLY out of boxes down there.  

Saturday night, my girl tswimmwer came to town with her boyfriend, C.  Duff Man and our guests were all running the Army Ten-Miler on Sunday morning.  We decided to go out for Italian so that the three of them could devour some tasty carbs and ended up at Argia's in Falls Church.  I've wanted to try it out for a while and WOW, do I wish I had eaten there sooner!  The food was amazing and reasonably priced.  We enjoyed fresh, homemade pasta and teeny bottles of the house sparkling wine and joked and laughed for hours.  Then everyone else went to bed so they could get up at o'dark hundred for the race in the morning.  

On Sunday morning, while Duff Man, tswimmwer and C were off at the race I spent even MORE time on my mat--this time taking two classes, yin and mixed level.  Mixed level was very cool, since the class focused on poses that progressively awakened each chakra.  The rest of the crew got home just a little before I did, so we all cleaned up and headed back to Carlyle for brunch.  

Seriously, if you've never had brunch at Carlyle, GO.  I don't even like potatoes and their breakfast potatoes are amazing (as is the french toast, and pretty much everything else on the menu.)  

After tswimmwer and C headed home, Duff Man and I went to the Arlington Cinema 'n Drafthouse to use up a Groupon that he bought a while ago.  We ate dinner (meh) and saw Bridesmaids (hilarious!).  

I have to say, I loved Bridesmaids.  It was funny, unexpectedly poignant, and surprisingly "deep" in a way that really hit home for me.  I've hit rock bottom and "learned to fight for my shitty life."  I've struggled with the way relationships with my girls grow and change.   "The Hangover" it was not, but it's definitely a new favorite and I'll be buying it on DVD pretty soon.

Even though I had to work on Monday, we "Cap"'d off a perfect weekend by heading to Verizon Center to watch the Washington Capitals take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.  It was a really exciting game--Tomas Voukoun's DC premiere, two high-scoring offenses, and a Caps win in a shoot-out.  On top of that, we had fantastic seats (thanks to the tickets I won in a raffle!) AND we made it from our seats back to my living room in less than 30 minutes after the game.  

All of that to say... I really, really needed this kind of refreshing, sleep-filled, yoga-filled, friend-filled, food-filled, fun-filled, sunshine-filled, yoga-filled, atman-shining, fabulous weekend.  I hope my next one isn't too far off.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Battle Within

It's been no secret lately that I struggle with balance.  In fact, that's what much of this blog is about--so you'll have to excuse me when I take long breaks from posting.  It's one of the first things that goes by the wayside when I'm actually trying to, you know, live my life.

I was always that kid who was over-committed--by choice mind you, not because I had an overbearing helicopter parent signing me up for activities left and right.  In high school it was a bit of a coping mechanism for escaping my home life, but most of the time it was because I really enjoyed the activities in which I was involved--regardless of whether or not I was good at them.

I have the same struggle in my adult life.  I am so interested and passionate about so many different things--and yet, I have to work very hard to avoid the "jack of all trades, master of none" fate.  One of my personal philosophies is that I won't do things half-assed; I take my time and do it right... which means that, sometimes, projects get put aside for a while.  (Duff Man, on the other hand, is a master at checking tasks off of lists--but is sometimes content to make sure things are done, even if they aren't done well.  You can imagine our diametrically opposing world views sometimes create conflicts in our relationship.  Ah well, we get through it.)

Lately, the struggle has been with everything I decided to take on this fall.  Plus teaching.  Plus all of the logistical issues my job entails (fundraisers, parent issues, professional development, instrument repairs, clerical work).  Plus marching band.  Plus attempting to carve out some quality time with my husband and my friends.

It's funny, in yoga teacher training we often talk about how the hardest thing is often knowing when to let go--when to pass on that extra vinyasa or to take a Yoga I instead of an advanced level class.  And yet, we also talk about how to push through challenges.  I talk to my students all the time about not quitting when something is hard.  In fact, my favorite personal mantra that I've repeated to myself innumerable times since July is "I am stronger than I think."

So, where do the two meet?  Where do I set aside my determination (and being of Irish descent, there's plenty of stubborn embedded in my DNA) and embrace self-compassion?  When do I decide to let go--and, being passionate and interested in so many things, how do I choose?

When you figure out the formula, let me know--because I'm not doing so well right now.

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's been a Capital weekend.

Alas, you'll have to wait until tomorrow for details. I'm preoccupied tonight!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Random Friday Facts - Sports Edition

  1. I'm a die hard Yankees fan.  My heart is a little broken from last night's loss, but I love them all the same.  And hey, at least they kept the Red Sox out of the post-season.  Bonus fact: I've never seen the Yanks play in person.
  2. I'm thrilled to have a weekend free from yoga teacher training (and marching band)  because it means I'll have time to take yoga classes.  I realize that seems a little silly.
  3. I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  I earned it when I was about 13 or 14 and stopped practicing shortly thereafter--mostly because it was expensive and my grandmother couldn't afford the tuition.  
  4. Not that I have any interested, but I don't think I would ever complete a triathlon simply because of the swim leg.  Not.gonna.happen.
  5. I've toyed with the idea of getting a clipless pedal system for my bike, but the idea of being strapped to my bike scares the crap out of me.  Plus, I feel like walking like a duck would be really inconvenient when I get off the bike and am ready to walk into work.
  6. I never played on a school sports team, but earned Varsity letters every year in high school... in band and forensics.
  7. I'm going to my first professional hockey game on Monday.  Go Caps!
  8. The fastest I've ever run was the 7-minute mile I ran for our physical fitness testing during the Spring of my 8th grade year.  It was the only time I ever earned a Presidential Physical Fitness Award because I also managed to squeak out a pull up that year too.
  9. While I love, love, LOVE the Yankees, I am completely ambivalent about football.  I cheer for the players who are on my fantasy football team (which, by the way, is kicking ass so far this season.)
  10. I am STUPID excited that one of my BFFs and her boyfriend are coming to town to run the Army 10-miler with Duff Man... even if I have no interest in running it myself :)
Have a great weekend, folks!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Today was a good day.

The last couple of weeks have been hard.  The start of the school year is always rushed, but this year just seemed overwhelming--with marching band, yoga teacher training, and that pesky flooded basement.  I haven't had a real weekend since late August, so I'm pretty tired at this point.

Today was a good day--and I needed to have a good day.

I had a meeting I'd been dreading anticipating for a while yesterday--it's over and done with and I can move forward.  It was nice to have that weight lifted off of my shoulders today.

I finally replaced the decal on my car so I won't get a ticket for not having paid my personal property tax.

My kids were (overall) pretty productive today.  

I called the restoration company and got them to knock $1,500 off our bill (about 25% of the total cost.)

I held a meeting with my colleagues from the other secondary schools across the county.  In addition to being productive, it's always nice to network with other people who do the same thing that you do every day.

Then I came home and made an amazing dinner and have spent the rest of the evening sitting on the couch with Duff Man and watching episodes of No Reservations on Netflix.

Yeah, today was a good day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

September Wrap, October Goals

September was a big change from the lazy days of summer. The weather changed right on cue from hot and sticky to mild, if somewhat rainy.

September brought a lot of challenges--getting back to school, difficulties at work, a flooded basement, and a grueling schedule of school, marching band, yoga teacher training, and every once in a while spending time with Duff Man.

Here's what September looked like according to my spreadsheet and calendar:

September Goals:

  • GET MORE SLEEP.  I'm notoriously nocturnal, which often ends up with me falling asleep on the couch late in the night and having a hard time waking up in the morning.  My goal is to go to bed by 11:00pm 4 days a week (when I have school the next day, that is.)  This is going to be a serious challenge for me! - What can I say... this month was hard.  I think I fell asleep on the couch and moved to bed at 1am... 3am... 6am... more often than not.  On the bright side, I did actually go to bed BEFORE Duff Man twice.  (I couldn't tell you the last time that happened even once.)  Regardless, I need to work on this--and perhaps set a more concrete goals.
  • Eat breakfast and lunch 4 of 5 days per week.  It might seem silly, but when I'm stressed out I forget to eat--which leads to an energy crash, irritability, and all kinds of no-good nonsense.  I definitely can't say that I met this goal, but I did make a conscious effort to pack my breakfast and lunch, and I probably did eat more often than I used to.  I brought a lot of peanut butter sandwiches and fruit/protein shakes which were pretty easy to eat in between classes if necessary.  Again, another goal I'm going to work on.
  • Make time in the schedule for quality time with Duff Man.  We've already talked about "reserving" Mondays & Wednesdays for each other, since we both have outside commitments on the other days.  Hmm... does quality time include moving everything from our basement into our first floor... and teaming up to confront the restoration company?  All kidding aside, this was a hard month in this area for so many reasons.  While I don't think we spent a lot of romantic one-on-one time together, I do think we worked pretty well as a team--and that has to count for something.
  • Continue making progress towards my goal of 10 workouts a month, every month.  This one should be a "gimme."  As I suspected, this was the "gimme" of the month, although September was the first time since April that I didn't work out on at least 20 different days.  Funny, I never thought I'd be that committed to any kind of physical practice.
Going in to the month, I had not anticipated exactly how hard September was going to be in so many ways.  I am hoping that my life is going to calm down a bit through the month.  At very least, I have two weekends off from teacher training (as opposed to training every weekend in September) and marching band will end for me just before Halloween.  

This will be the month of "I think I can, I think I can..."  and I know I've got a light at the end of the tunnel going into November.  

Until then, here are my goals for October--which is basically me taking a mulligan for September.

October goals:

  • GET MORE SLEEP.  Get in bed before midnight 4 days per week.  Don't fall asleep on the couch more than once per week.  
  • Eat breakfast and lunch 4 3 of 5 days per week.
  • Make time in the schedule for quality time (which doesn't include home improvement) with Duff Man.
  • Continue the "workout 10 x per month) goal, but get in at least 2 bike rides before the weather gets truly awful.
  • Start tracking non-exercise goals in order to improve accountability.

Does anyone else have problems with making themselves do simple thinks like eat and sleep enough, or is it just me?  What are your October goals?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tri-M: Market-Menu-Monday

Hm.  I'm not sure I like that title, but I do like alliteration.  Tune in next week to see if it stays!

Now that I'm finally into a regular (if somewhat insane and unrelenting) schedule, Duff Man and I have fallen back into our usual Sunday routine--planning our weekly menu and going grocery shopping.  

Our process generally looks something like this: Duff Man adds all of his breakfast/lunch/snack necessities to the shopping list while I take stock of the proteins/produce we have in the pantry.  For a long time, we used to use the Safeway circular and try to match what we had on hand with what was on sale this week.  However, for the past few weeks I've been trying to transition to shopping at Trader Joe's after realizing it's pretty much the same price as the local Safeway--so lately we've been trying to match up what we have on hand with what is fresh, seasonal, and available.

We started at the farmer's market, which has been a regular Sunday morning stop of mine since early this summer.  Here was my haul for the weekend:

Pumpkin, Parsley, Cilantro, Red Pepper, Cubanelle Peppers, Banana Pepper,
Spinach, Tomatoes, Basil, Fuji Apples, and Pork Loin Slices
Side note: The pumpkin I've posted here is the 6th pumpkin of the season for us.  The first went into Granny's Pumpkin Pie.  The next four are (mostly) going into the Pumpkin Ale that Duff Man is brewing today.  A little of the second batch went into the Pumpkin Pasta with Sausage, Sage, and Mushrooms that we had for dinner last night--and which I'll be taking for lunch all this week.  I'll try to post that recipe later this week--it's one of my favorite recipes EVER.

Duff Man was less than thrilled by our experience shopping al fresco--considering he has a bit of a cold and it was about 48°F out while we were out.  Brrr!  (Note: remember I said that 48°F was chilly when I'm complaining about the real cold weather in January.)  Oh, and he was shopping and not even doing it on his own terms.

After the farmer's market, we hit up Trader Joe's and came home with our haul.  Here's are the meals on our menu this week:

Sunday: Egg Drop Soup with Pork Potstickers
Monday:  Pork Chops with Stone Fruit Chutney and Spinach-Herb Couscous (I'll be making this one up as I go along.)
Tuesday:  Aussie Meat Pies, Made Quick (using pie crust instead of puff pastry)
Wednesday:  Chicken Sausages with Braised Fennel (and probably potato for Duff Man)
Thursday: Fend for ourselves (I've got a football game.)
Friday:  Chiles Rellenos (Like Monday, I'll make this up as I go along.)  
Saturday:  ??!  I don't know--I FINALLY have a Saturday off!

I hope everyone has an exciting and delicious week ahead!