Monthly Archives: January 2013

WritersButt Wednesday – Recap from the road and Lettuce Wrap Recipe

Whew, I have been a busy girl since last week. When I left you, WritersButt was going on the road to Sacramento to speak with RWA’s chapter, Sacramento Valley Rose. Well, it went, it had fun and it returned home safely and by ‘it’, I mean me! Let me share the trip with you.

I arrived in Sacramento mid-day and got to finally meet Patricia (who writes as Jansen Schmidt) in person. In no time, there was much talking and laughing. I have to add that Patricia is a fabulous tour guide. I think I know more about where she lives and grew up than I do about where I live.  It was so fun to learn about a place I’d never been before. As I describe any photos and/or places, I hope Patricia will correct me where I get the details wrong. I had been up since 4 am!

We set off to find food since we were both starving. We went to a lovely little restaurant called The Independent. We both ordered their roasted beet salad, which was delicious. Their soup special was a carrot soup that sounded so unique that I had to try it even though it had a dairy base. It was worth a little tummy discomfort to try the blend of flavors; carrots, jalapeño, radish and something else I can’t remember.

I got the drive-by tour of Hangtown, aptly named because they originally had a hanging tree. Here’s George displayed as an homage to the days gone by.

George at Hangmen's Tree

George at Hangman’s Tree

Nestled into the hills were remnants of houses, stairs, and chimneys from long ago. I took this picture for some very important reason that I can’t recall. Patricia will have to fill in the pertinent details here.

Something cool where I was. :)

Something cool where I was. 🙂

After lunch, we did what any smart women would do in wine country. We went wine tasting. We went to two different wineries. Even though the vines were pruned and there was a lack of green, I loved how the rolling hills looked and the stark branches. Here are some photos.

Ginger and Patricia at Boeger (did I spell that right?) Winery

Ginger and Patricia at Boeger (did I spell that right?) Winery. Blurry, yes, but thought it was a cute pic.

Old building at Boeger Winery

Old building at Boeger Winery

Patricia and Ginger at Lava Cap

Patricia and Ginger at Lava Cap

The winter vines at Lava Cap Winery. Really LOVED the wines here!

The winter vines at Lava Cap Winery. Really LOVED the wines here!

At Lava Cap they had me compare their 3 Zinfandels side by side. They were all excellent.

At Lava Cap they had me compare their 3 Zinfandels side by side. They were all excellent. Peace out! 🙂

I enjoyed meeting Patricia’s husband and especially their sweet dog, Sherlock. (I mean with that name, how could you go wrong, right?)

It was about time for dinner so we drove ‘back down the hill’ to meet up with some of the board members of Sacramento Valley Rose. I enjoyed meeting them and getting to chat over a lovely dinner. By the time I got to my hotel room, I was exhausted. It wasn’t late by west coast standards but I was two hours ahead and limping along on very little sleep by that point.

The next morning, I did a little workout in my hotel room. YES, that’s right! No excuses! Enjoyed a lovely little breakfast and then got ready for my presentation.

Ginger speaks to Sacramento Valley Rose about WritersButt.

Ginger speaks to Sacramento Valley Rose about WritersButt.

This photo needs a caption! Who's got one to match my expression?

This photo needs a caption! Who’s got one to match my expression?

Patricia and Ginger post meeting and ready for lunch.

Patricia and Ginger post meeting and ready for lunch.

I want to thank Patricia for inviting me to speak. The workshop went very well. The members of SVR were awesome. They asked amazing questions. I could have talked with them all day. I wish them all much success in their writing AND in incorporating fitness and healthy nutrition into their lives. I hope it helps their creativity soar and keeps their muses happy and dancing!

BONUS: A recipe for you!!

Chicken Veggie Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Veggie Lettuce Wraps

The first night after my return home, I made Chicken Lettuce Wraps from a recipe I got from a friend. I did alter the recipe a bit to accommodate one of my childrens’ aversion to bell peppers. I’ll post the recipe she uses and tell you my alterations. You can create your own version. I made a HUGE batch so we could use it for 2 nights and we still have a little left to use in eggs tonight. I love a meal that keeps providing for days.

Chicken Vegetable Lettuce Cups

INGREDIENTS

  Additional toppings of choice: Avocado, Guacamole, Salsa, etc.
  Lettuce leaves (such as Bibb), washed and dried
  Salt and Pepper to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 pound ground chicken (or turkey or beef)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup yellow onions, diced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or coconut oil)

 

**NOTE: Both my friend and I added mushrooms because we like them. I will say that I more than doubled this recipe, like quadrupled, because I did want it for multiple meals. I used a whole bag of shredded carrots, 2 cups mushrooms (sliced small), 4 fresh zucchini sliced small instead of bell peppers.

INSTRUCTIONS

Cook all your veggies in a large skillet with coconut oil and garlic until softened. (If you’re going to add mushrooms, cook them first w/ no salt until they get good color and then add the other veggies) Don’t overcook and let your veggies get mushy! Add your salt and pepper.

Brown your meat in another skillet or pot.

Once your meat is cooked through, add your veggies to your meat, add in your chili powder and more salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Remove from the heat and stir in your fresh parsley or cilantro.

NOTE: You can add in an Asian sauce for flavor but only if you find one without added sugar and no high fructose corn syrup. Good luck! I suggest a little tamari soy sauce – tamari because it’s gluten free. If you are going to use the soy, hold back on your salt seasonings until the end because you may not need any.

To serve, place chicken/veggie mixture into lettuce cups and serve with toppings of choice. I used large green leaf lettuce cups instead of the typical iceberg because it’s healthier. You could use red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, romaine ‘boats’, etc.

YUM – enjoy!!

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WritersButt Wednesday – On the Road Again

I’m going to keep this really short because I’m busy preparing to take WritersButt on the road again. That is to say, I’m traveling to present WritersButt to another group of writers. Yay! Back in October, I traveled to Surrey, BC to present WB at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. I had a fabulous time!

Now, I’m flying in the same direction to Sacramento to speak with Sacramento Valley Rose, chapter #52 of Romance Writers of America. This all came about when Jansen Schmidt asked me if I’d be willing to speak at their monthly chapter meeting. After I finished screaming and jumping up and down thoughtfully considering, I said, ‘HECK YES’ – ‘Sure, I’d love to.’

I’m so excited to meet Jansen (AKA, Patricia in ‘real’ life) in person. All of you regulars here at WritersButt Wednesday will be quite familiar with Jansen.  She is such a hoot and never (and I mean never) fails to crack me up. I’m looking forward to getting a hug in person.

Ginger at vineyard in Portland area

Ginger at vineyard in Portland area

I’m also going to get to hook up with the family friends I haven’t seen in so many years, I refuse to count them. And, if that’s not all, I’m also going to see one of my closest writing friends, Liz Jasper.  There will be much fast-talking and laughing.

I hear there is a high probability of wine tasting included in this trip. Well, let’s face it, I could be going deep into the Sahara where a grape vine would wither at the mere notion of sprouting and I’d find a way to get wine into the mix. Since I’m pretty darn disciplined with my nutrition and I work out nearly every day … I get to have wine. That’s my reward for staying on course. That and an occasional, frozen Thin Mint. Not that I’ve had any … today … yet.

So tell me, if you were to have WritersButt presented to you in about a 90 minute chunk of time, what would you most want to hear? What would be the most beneficial takeaway for you?

I’ll try to have some pictures and a write-up of my time in the Sacramento area next Wednesday. Have a great week!

WritersButt Wednesday – Kill Your Excuses!

Whew, it’s WritersButt Wednesday again! Where do the days go? They seem to fly by so fast it’s often hard to fit everything in. In fact, one of the most common excuses I get from people for why they do not exercise is because ‘they do not have time’.

I’m not buying it.

IMAG1259

Nothing will convince me that someone is literally so busy every moment of their day that they can’t squeeze in some sort of workout. Remember, I’m a fan of workouts that last around 10-20 minutes or less! Yes, those workouts will be relatively intense, harder than say taking a brisk walk, but with added intensity your workouts get to be shorter. Also remember that intensity is a tailor-fit sort of thing. My intensity might be different from yours. The key is to push yourself to YOUR higher level of intensity.

You know how I suggest you do 10 ‘potty squats’ every time you use the restroom. That is a way to incorporate a good strong functional movement throughout your entire day. If you are a writer or work a desk job, this will do wonders for your creativity and productivity, your posture, your flexibility … your MOOD!

But I’d also like to suggest you squeeze in a mini-workout somewhere in your day that will get your heart rate up, leave you panting a bit, give you a great shot of endorphins.

An example of one mini-workout that you could try is one I recently gave to a friend. She finished this in 4 minutes and 32 seconds. Don’t even try to convince me you don’t have 4 ½ minutes for your health.

 

3 Rounds of:

5 Burpees

10 Squats (like potty squats)

15 jumping jacks

 

You will do 5 burpees, 10 squats and 15 jumping jacks and then you’ll repeat that same sequence 2 more times. In the end, you will have completed 15 total burpees, 30 squats and 45 jumping jacks in around 5-ish minutes.

How about I give you a few more to try, to vary it up a bit.

 

5 Rounds of:

10 walking lunge steps

35 jump rope (or 15 jump squats if you don’t have a jump rope)

 

3 Rounds of:

10 squats

10 push-ups

 

For Time: (this just means see how long to complete workout as written)

25 squats, 5 push up

20 squats, 10 push ups

15 squats, 15 push ups

10 squats, 20 push ups

5 squats, 25 push ups

 

These are all quick mini-workouts that you can do for sure in less than 10-15 minutes. First thing in the morning, right after you get home from work, just before lunch break while at home, even in a break room at work!

What will you get out of it? Energy, strength, mental clarity, creativity, flexibility, better sleep, higher sex drive …. shall I go on?

Don’t talk yourself out of working out. It’s doable, for everyone. I’m convinced of it. If you are in the habit of finding reasons you can’t do something, I challenge you to find solutions to all those excuses. Spend as much energy figuring out how you can do something than why you can’t.

And now, since I know you all love eating healthy after you treat your body to a fun little workout, here’s a recipe for a delicious soup I made last week when I hosted Book Club at my house. It was a huge hit and I barely had any leftovers, which clearly means I’ll have to make a bigger pot next time! I paired the soup with a salad of baby greens, fresh blackberries and avocado and crumbled goat cheese. Dressing was olive oil, vinegar, kosher salt, pepper and dried minced garlic crunchies.

Double Chicken Soup

Double Chicken Soup

 

Double Chicken Soup

 

Ingredients:

Couple tbls of coconut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)

Onion (finely chopped)

Garlic

Package of chicken sausage w/ green chilies (~ 6 links, other varieties ok as well)

Celery (about 4-5 stalks)

Parsnips (about 4-5)

Annaheim peppers (3-4) *You can use poblano as well or mix it up

Baby portabella mushrooms

Seasoning – I just used kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Appx 2 quarts of chicken stock

Chicken breasts (I used the meat from 3 whole cooked rotisserie split breasts)

 

Directions:

Add the finely chopped onion to coconut oil and sauté until translucent. Add garlic, making sure it doesn’t get scorched. Add your sausage by squeezing the meat out from the casings. (I find this gross, but it was worth it.) Once the sausage is cooked, add in the chopped celery and parsnips. Alternate stirring and letting it sit covered to soften the veggies. After a few minutes when hardy veggies are softening, add in your peppers and mushrooms. (Note: do not add salt until after the mushrooms are browned.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add your chicken stock. (Note: Chicken stock is not the same as chicken broth. It has a deeper flavor, more like homemade stock.) Pull all the chicken meat off of the bones, tearing it up into bite sized pieces. Once stock is warm, add in chicken. Adjust your liquids. I always have cans of broth and/or stock on hand to add a bit more if I used more veggies than planned. Heat up and serve!

This makes a pretty big pot of soup. I don’t really measure things and for this sort of soup, you don’t need to. Just get all the veggies you want in there and add stock according to your preference.  These veggies not to your liking? Experiment! You can use fresh or frozen broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus … almost anything!

I hope some of you will try one or two of the mini-workouts. If you do, I’d be over the moon if you put which workout you did and your time in the comments so we can all cheer you on and congratulate you!

Now, treat yourself to a large bowl of this delicious hearty double chicken soup!

Enjoy!

How I fell in love with a Lava-Lamp

You are turquoise and groovy and a lovely Lava-Lamp and we shall bring you home and call you Lavvie.

Mr. Lavvie

Mr. Lavvie

Over the Christmas holidays we attended a party where there was a white elephant gift exchange. You know the kind where you pick numbers and open presents in order of the numbers. When it’s your turn, you have the choice of opening a wrapped gift or stealing one that’s already been opened. Well, when it was my husband William’s turn, he stole a lava-lamp which had already been opened. I looked at him like he’d taken one too many kettlebells to the head.

“What the heck do you want that for?”

Classic William shrug and smirk.

“Where are you going to put it?” Ginger says, a suspicious slant to her eyes.

“My office,” he said, instead of ‘what’s it to you, Slanty?’

William proceeded to sit quietly against the back wall, flying under the radar so no one would steal his lava-lamp, which is how it came home with us.  Turns out he’s always wanted one and his mother had never let him have one as a kid because it would of course burn the house down.

Lava Lamp

Lava Lamp

For kicks, we plug it in on the kitchen counter and after it warms up, the magic begins. And by this I mean, I become obsessed with the groovy, magical seduction of the lava-lamp.  Who knew of the allure … other then William?

He’s now not allowed to take it to his office unless I have my very own.  Do any of you have a lava-lamp? Or, was there something you always wanted as a kid but weren’t allowed to have?  Did you ever get one? Do tell!

Friday Favorites that are Squeee-Worthy!

I don’t know about you but I very often find myself saying “That is one of my most favorite things.” I feel this way about a lot of things. Some things just make me smile everywhere. You know the kind of things I’m talking about right? Things that are so YOU that you practically bond with them. I believe you can tell a lot about a person from the collection of their favorite things. Going forward, I’ll make a point of sharing some of my favorite things here on my blog on Fridays and I’d love to hear about your favorite things!

At the end of 2011, I blogged about my top five favorite things of the year. This year, I’d like to share with you a few gifts I received for Christmas that I flipped out over because they were totally unexpected and spoke to me.

Not pictured are the bottles of liquor and gift card to Specs (thanks, Mom!) or the purse that my Dad managed to surprise me with when I am almost impossible to surprise.

First up —

 

Custom made Harry Potter coasters

Custom made Harry Potter coasters

This was my first surprise. A good friend gave me these amazingly cool Harry Potter coasters. I squealed.  When I asked her where in the world she’d found them she told me she MADE them, choosing the photos herself just for me. I squealed and did that little jumpy-hand-wavy thing.

Pretty tealight holder

Pretty tealight holder

Then my wonderful sister-in-law surprised us with this gorgeous candleholder. I mean, tea lights and wine bottles.  Hello!

Gorgeous wooden bracelet and ring

Gorgeous wooden bracelet and ring

My lovely sister chose this ring and bracelet and it was love at first sight. Seriously, how cool are these? I love how warm the wood is against my skin. They are totally my style and I think I’ve worn them every time I’ve gotten out of my workout clothes since.

Handblown glass tree

Handblown glass tree

Ok, this blew me away! My wonderful mother-in-law picked my name for our family Secret Santa exchange. I love trees, especially willowy ones because I feel they are dancing and swaying to some beautiful song of nature. This tree is hand-blown glass and was found at the Texas Renaissance Fest. I’m in love with it.

I am Wonder Woman!

I am Wonder Woman!

Finally, that same awesome mother-in-law gave me a set of wine-finds. You know those charms you put on a wine glass so you can keep track of it at a party. Only, I use them all the time even when I’m having a glass all by myself because it’s like my glass looking sassy just for me. Well, I saw this cool set of wine finds at our local Christmas Stroll. They are made from pennies. The full set is huge nod to all things superhero. Captain America, Batman, Spidey …. as you might imagine, my favorite one is Wonder Woman!

So tell me, did you get anything for Christmas (or Chanukah, or recently ‘just because’) that made you want to hug it and kiss it and do the jumpy-hand-wavy thing?

Here’s to a great 2013 and many more favorite things!

WritersButt Wednesday – Happy Birthday and Salsa

Happy WritersButt Wednesday!

Earlier in the week I promised on Twitter that I’d give you all my new salsa recipe that is so delicious and easy, you’ll always want to have it on hand. So that’s what I have in store for you. But before we get to that, I’d like to wish WritersButt a very Happy Birthday!!

I can’t believe I’ve been giving you all a weekly (most weeks anyway) post about health and fitness and how it relates to your creativity! It’s been a great year and I’ve loved getting to know so many of you who come each week so see what I have to say.  This weekly segment even led me to my very first live workshop at an international writers’ conference. Later this month, I will travel to Sacramento to present WritersButt to a monthly chapter meeting for a writers’ group. This is so exciting and none of it would have happened if you all hadn’t supported me, enjoyed the tips I had to offer and worked hard on your own at improving your health through fitness and good nutrition.

So, thank you, truly from my heart.

With that said, it’s the start of a New Year. I LOVE New Years. Not because it’s the time of resolutions as many people think of them but because it represents a fresh start, a BIG fresh start. I enjoy the start of a new school year for this reason. The first wildflowers bursting through the ground in the spring to turn their petals to the warm sunshine. The beginning of summer lake days. They all represent a shift, and an opportunity to make the best of what’s next.

Beginnings are hopeful and exciting.

And so are strong finishes! How did you fare last year? Are you feeling healthier, fitter, stronger, more creative?  If not, do you know why?

For 2013, let’s not ‘resolve’ to accomplish a list of tasks. Let’s create routines that will become part of our lives and which will support our lifestyles.

You know what the basics are but let me put them out there again, as a friendly reminder.

  1. Drink Water – 100oz a day!
  2. Get moving – exercise!
  3. Clean nutrition – Food is your fuel, what quality fuel are you giving yourself?
  4. Sleep – recharge, dream, create, recover
  5. Gratitude – A gracious soul is open to amazing gifts.

I’m here to support you! I will continue to use Wednesdays on my blog for recipes, workout advice, health discussions and as a place to use all these things to boost our creativity so that we produce more words that are rich and alive for our readers.

And now for my salsa recipe. I saw this on a TV show and it looked so easy and tasty that I had to try it and tweak it to my liking. I call it roasted, but the ingredients are seared/sautéed in a pan, but whatever.

Ginger’s Roasted Salsa

5-6 vine-ripened tomatoes (fresh organic is best)

4-5 whole cloves of garlic (I use a lot – vary for your taste)

3-4 Serrano peppers (again vary for your taste and ‘heat’ level) *

1-2 jalapeno peppers (ditto above) *

Olive or coconut oil for cooking

Fresh cilantro

Salt/Pepper

*Note: Obviously use more peppers if you like it hot and less if not. Most important though are the number of seeds and the amount of fleshy ribs you have to control the heat level.

**You can add onions if you like or other varieties of peppers like poblano, annaheim, etc.

Directions:

Heat up your oil in a large pan and add in first four ingredients , washed and whole.  Keep turning and keeping an eye on them until they are nice and ‘sweaty’ and slightly seared. Remove from heat.

Veggies in the heat

Veggies in the heat

Trim the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds and ribs if you do not like your salsa spicy. Leave them in if you do. Or go for middle ground and remove some and leave some. You will have to experiment with this.

Trim stems and remove any seeds to control heat level

Trim stems and remove any seeds to control heat level

Put all cooked ingredients in a blender, add in some kosher salt and cracked pepper and as much cilantro to your tastes. I like a lot.

Into the blender with cilantro and seasonings

Into the blender with cilantro and seasonings

 

Blend to the consistency that you enjoy and then …. ENJOY!

I LOVE salsa. If you have a tried and true recipe you’d like to share, put it in the comments so we can all collect more salsa recipes. You can’t have too many!

Have a great week.

Even Hags need love

My kids crack me up. All the time. They crack each other up. There is no shortage of humor at Casa Calem. Often there is no shortage of yelling and bickering but thankfully, the laughter is usually more.

How do you know when you’ve raised siblings that truly love each other?

When you see this handmade label affixed to your daughter’s door, lovingly put there by her older brother.

YOUAREAHAGLOVE DUNCAN

YOUAREAHAG.
LOVE DUNCAN

May they always adore each other!

Any of you parents have a similar story of sibling-love? Please, do share!

WritersButt Wednesday – 2013 BRING IT!

Happy New Year WritersButt Warriors.

I know I’ve been MIA and for that I’m sorry. I have been spending time with my family and trying to manage the house-natives. 🙂

I promise to be back in full force next Wednesday with tips, motivation and recipes for all your health and fitness needs.  In the meantime, I ran across the video from my Dad and Uncle Ron that is purely AWESOME in 3D coolness.

Let’s make 2013 EPIC in all ways.  Your dreams and goals deserve nothing less than all you have to give them!

Don’t hold back!!!!!

 

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