Growing up in Texas, Kolaches were always a staple for Adam and I. From local donut shops to the Kolache factory, and our favorite stop the Czech Stop Bakery in West, Texas, we have grown up with the idea of Kolaches being Sausage or Sausage and Cheese in a roll, what others might call a pig in a blanket. It wasn't until recently that we learned Kolaches are actually meant to be the same dough recipe but filled with fruit, chocolate, and more dessert-flavors. Our "traditional kolache" was actually considered a klobasnek, which is when the kolache contains meat and cheese. According to some sources, Kolaches migrated to the U.S. with Czech immigrants, while it is belived that immigrated Czech Texans that created the Klobasnek, or the "sausage kolache", while already in Texas. In some areas of Texas "kolache" is the blanket term for all of them, in other areas it is a point of controversy. In fact, in some areas north of Dallas they are just called "pig in a blanket" to avoid ruffling feathers, while more Central Texas is known for calling them by the regular terms.
With a rich culture and something so close to home, Adam and I have missed the classic klobasneks from Texas and make a point to stop by a donut shop (or the Czech Stop itself) and have been working to make our own. Below is a recipe we tried out this week (our 3rd attempt, and the best one yet!). We really tried to diversify our options by making a deli turkey and garlic cheese option, a BBQ chicken and Gouda cheese option, a Bacon and Cheddar cheese option, a coffee cinnamon option, and a mixed berry option. Check out how to make your own below.
Kolaches and Klobasneks
In light of social distancing/quarantine Adam and I have gotten really into fixing up/beautifying our apartment. We recently re-signed our lease and this will be the first place we've stayed in for over a year together, so we are excited to not have to move this summer! One thing on the docket was starting a small balcony garden and fixing up our balcony in general. After a fun trip to Lowe's here are some of the things we decided to plant:
1. Summer Squash
2. Green Bell Pepper
3. Lemon Thyme
6. Country Park Pratia
Next I wanted to go over a few tips and tricks for making your own balcony garden at home! Especially for all of the apartment-dwellers. Check them out below:
1. Look for plants that grow well in your area
So some plants are pretty safe in most areas, one that I've found easy to grow almost anywhere is Basil, but other plants can be a bit trickier. One in particular is flowers - when it comes to selecting flowers looking at not just area and times of year they grow, but the minimum and maximum heats can also be valuable to consider. For instance - a lot of flowers we looked at told us that they should be planted after the last freeze of the year. So spring-summer is what we assumed.
What we did not realize until doing a bit more research is that the flowers won't live past the 80F temperature point. In Oklahoma we have been in 90-100F weather for almost a month now, so it is no wonder those plants weren't responding well! So make sure to double check your plants' temperature range when selecting what will grow best on your balcony.
2. Evaluate length of sunshine
A big part of our plants growing has been looking at how much sunshine they get in a day. Our porch gets little to no sunlight before 2pm, but from 2pm-8pm it gets partial to direct sunlight, so plants that can grow successfully in 6 hours or less sunlight a day are ideal for our balcony. A balcony on the other side of the building gets pretty active sunlight from 7am-1pm, opening them up to a different range of plants to choose from.
3. Don't be afraid to re-pot
When our squash started to have problems we realized that the pot was not large enough. We had a similar issue with the basil and thyme, so we invested in some larger pots and re-planted a lot. The squash pictured in the left photo is 13 hours before the picture on the right was taken, meaning that after re-planting it to a larger pot improved dramatically overnight.
4. Pesticides are important
It started with our bell pepper plant starting to look a little dry and eaten. Our squash was coming out beautifully and growing at a rapid pace, then one day after putting the plants a bit closer together to hit a sunny spot on the porch, our poor summer squash started to take a turn for the worst.
We started to increase the water (assuming it was because the soil was dryer with the increasing temperatures) and that helped a little, but not enough. We really looked at the leaves and noticed they were being eaten by pests. To combat it, we invested in a natural pesticide to help get rid of the pests eating our plants.
I've always been a fan of do-it-yourself projects and making something found more personal through refurbishing it. This specific project came about this past May when helping a close friend move in to an apartment near ours. When moving she had this old, paint-chipped wooden chest that was her own DIY dream she never got around to. She asked if anyone wanted it, offering to donate it if not, and Adam and I decided to take on the challenge! We already know where we'd like it to go in our house, and we haven't had a big project together since building all of our furniture a year or so ago.
We found that, while not as cheap as we'd hoped to fix-up, the chest project was surprisingly easy! If you have your own furniture you'd like to refurbish or repaint, check out our process for ideas/inspiration of your own.
1. We had to sand it down. The whole chest was originally black, with some strips of white primer sticking out. We attempted to sand by hand with just sanding paper, but about 15 minutes and 2 back aches in we bought ourselves a Black+Decker electric hand sander to save ourselves some time. The picture above is after we finished sanding!
2. Priming the chest. This part was surprisingly easy. This is after the first coat, we ended up giving it 2 coats of primer but it was ideal! We also primed the metal parts since we planned to paint those as well.
3. Step 3, we painted the chest a bright turquoise! This is a color that matches our bedroom color scheme that we also felt could be versatile in the living room if we ever re-located it. The goal is to put it at the foot of our bed to sit on when tying shoes, etc. We painted this with 2-3 coats as well to make sure it was really one solid color.
4. The final product! We finished the metal with a few coats of black to really pop. While it took a few days this project was pretty simple and easy to replicate at home with furniture you find at a garage sale, thrift store, or maybe something you already own.
For about 5 weeks now Adam and I have really changed up our work out regimen and diet. This is due to a lot of things, from cooking at home more, more time from working from home/social distancing, the weather being nice enough to run outside again, etc. We have had some progress towards both our goals and towards our weight-loss, so I wanted to share where we are with our progress right now, and what some of our end goals are.
We currently run 3-4 times a week, as well as do 2 body weight work outs either after running or on non-running days. Our running routines have been:
Week 1 - walk 1 mile, run 1 mile, walk 1 mile
Weeks 2 & 3 - walk 1 mile, run 2 miles, walk 1 mile two days; 6 400m sprints another day
Week 4 - walk/run 3-4 miles one day, timed mile, 1-2-1 walk-run another day
Week 5 - 1-2-1 walk-run two days, 3 800m runs another day, 35 minute run another day
Our body weight workouts have included combinations of:
Dips, Push-Ups, Mountain Climbers, Squats, Planks, Glute Bridges, Leg Lifts, Donkey-Kicks, Sit-Ups, Side Crunches, Bicycles, Jumping Jacks, Quick Feet, and other strength-building exercises usually in sets of 10-25 in circuits of 3-5.
Our diet has kept some habits - we are getting a lot stricter on our Intermittent Fasting and working to stick with our 12pm-8pm eating window, and sometimes even shorten it to 3pm-7pm if our schedules work out that way. This has made a big difference in helping us to avoid overeating because we are able to have our bigger/preferred meals on those days since we are looking at 500-800 calorie meals instead of the 300-400 we've always struggled to keep in the past when we at 3 meals a day.
We have also really worked to eat cleaner. We eat way more salads than I ever thought I'd eat, and we keep our house stocked with fresh fruit and yogurt for quick smoothies or parfaits. We also eat in themes by week, for example - this week is very Southern Italy focused with lighter pastas, chicken, fish, capers, asparagus, cauliflower rice, etc. Last week we were really into trying somen and soba, with lots of fresh vegetables, and it lead into us making a veggie-heavy fried rice at the end of the week. Keeping it fun has made it really doable.
We also have started looking at what gives us heartburn/acid reflex and trying to cut it out. A big one for me is alcohol. After this weekend with family I realized how much alcohol gave me acid reflex and have decided to cut back a lot. Other areas are our guilty pleasure foods (Insomnia Cookies, Dominos Pizza, McDonalds Chicken Nuggets, etc.) If we need to eat out we really evaluate where we should eat and what we could order that won't leave us being so sluggish. Tropical Smoothie and local taco places have been a life saver as examples.
Our Overall Goals
So all of this started because on Saturday, May 16th I woke up in a really good mood and went for a run. I set a goal for myself to run 5 miles comfortably by the 4th of July. That has since been postponed to the end of the summer to increase my mileage at a pace that won't injure Adam and I, but it is coming along. We started with 1 mile and have increased from there!
We set a goal to be "active people" which we have always defined as people that always work out, make up days they miss, and actively think about the eating choices they are making. We are hopeful that if we can keep it up it will feel more natural by the end of the summer.
For our weights, Adam has a goal of 165lb and I have a goal of 140lb with the hope to achieve them at an attainable pace over the next year.
Our Progress So Far
Here are different weights and dates so far for that side of our goals:
Adam -> 194lb November 7, 2019 -> 186lb May 20, 2020 -> 180lb -> June 12, 2020
Vana -> 164lb November 7, 2019 -> 157lb May 20, 2020 -> 151lb -> June 12, 2020
We took photos for progress, but aren't comfortable posting them just yet since our goals are still in progress.
We do have pictures of our running progress; for our 1 mile running time we have improved by over 2 minutes, going from a 12:30 mile time to a 10:17 mile time. We also have increased from only being able to run 1 mile without walking to being able to run 2&1/2 miles without walking!
Adam and I are often inspired to cook based on food we see on TV. On Saturday we were watching a show and the actors were eating somen noodles in one scene and soba noodles in another. There was ice floating in the noodles for the somen and I wasn't sure why. I started looking up recipes for somen and soba, and discovered that there is more to soba than just the warm soup I'd had in the past. In Japan it is common to also be served cold as a light and refreshing meal. Additionally, since soba noodles are made with wheat and buckwheat they are less caloric than regular spaghetti noodles. We wanted to try it for ourselves so we found soba noodles on amazon and bam! We made a really refreshing
Refreshing Soba Noodle Salad
Coming back from Hawaii gave Adam and I a lot of ideas for fun food recipes and flavor profiles. One of our favorites was the fruit parfaits we had at Goofy Cafe, and we couldn't wait to make our own version once we got home and settled. With papaya, mango, yogurt, honey we brought back from Hawaii, and granola.
Hawaiian Inspired Parfait
The last week of February and into the first week of March Adam and I spent some time in Oahu, Hawaii and had an absolute blast! I wanted to share our itinerary and some fun stops we had during our trip for anyone planning to visit Oahu whether in general or during those months.
Where We Stayed
We were very fortunate to be able to stay on the Hickam Air Force Base in Oahu with some very close friends from college. We stayed with them for all but one night of our trip, that extra night being at the Hale Koa Hotel, a hotel designed for active and former military members and their friends and families.
While this situation is not possible for everyone, if you are traveling to visit friends/family on the island and looking for a trip on a budget, I may have some good tips for you!
What We Did
We really tried to get a combination of local life, military life, and tourist life over the week we were there. There were still some things we just didn't have the time to do, but we didn't leave feeling like we missed out at all! Here is our rough itinerary:
Day 3, Waimea Valley, North Shore, Dole Plantation, Luau:
Day 4, Relaxing, Beach Time:
Day 5, Swap Meet, Dim Sum, Aulani Disney Resort:
Day 6, Liliha Bakery, Date Night, Hula Grill:
Day 7, Parasailing, Makapu'u Point:
I will post more soon about what we ate, what to pack for Oahu in February, etc. soon! I apologize for my blogging absence for so long, with COVID-19, a crazy work schedule, and other life things happening it has been hard to find time/motivate myself to write; but I appreciate you for reading!
Pictures or it Didn't Happen:
I am a student affairs professional, an amateur chef, and an adventurer at heart.
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