I’m Too Old to go to Camp, But Not Too Old for a Casino!

FOOD

Well, for the most part, food has been great.  It’s always a challenge when traveling, but I try to make due the best I can.

can't go wrong with fresh green juice!

can’t go wrong with fresh green juice!

There’s always my favorite of turning everything into a taco….

from Tortilla West

from Tortilla West

homemade refried beans and citrus tofu

homemade refried beans and citrus tofu

spicy mango and tofu tacos!

spicy mango and tofu tacos!

Soups and salads are always make a happy meal…

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And of course when getting a great meal when dining out (as D and I did on Friday), can’t help but take pics :)  Mad props to Burton’s Grill in Virginia Beach for really going above and beyond to make me something vegan and delicious.

mixed vegetable risotto - vegan of course

mixed vegetable risotto – vegan of course

lovely roasted beet salad with caramelized onions and a light dressing

lovely roasted beet salad with caramelized onions and a light dressing

FITNESS

For the past few weeks, most of my fitness has been running.  Some at-home yoga via YogaGlo, but my schedule has been too chaotic to get to classes.

Hopefully that will change somewhat soon, at least a little bit.  I do miss the classes.

LIFE

Well, it’s been busy, but also wonderful.  The chaos of the past few months is still there, but not nearly as overwhelmingly so.

M is still working as a Junior Counselor at an away camp, and loving it.  It’s weird not having him around  – he’s been gone for just over a month, and has another two weeks left.  We did get to see him twice though, because R was a first-time camper this past week!

So we dropped R off on Sunday of last week, and then D and I took a couple of days to go away together.  Without children.  For the first time in 12 years.  It was only for two days, but since it’s not something we’ve ever had before, it was like a honeymoon!

We had an absolutely amazing time in Dover, Delaware at the Dover Downs Casino.  D tried his hand at Craps, but it was too confusing.  I played some Blackjack, but we both ended up spending the weekend playing a came called Spanish 21.  Similar to blackjack, but there are non 10 cards in the deck, and there are a few different rules – but it was a blast and we did well.  By the end of our mini-vacation, we had doubled our money!  Now I really want to learn how to play poker….

getting to the casino!

selfie at the casino!

night 1 winnings :)

night 1 winnings :)

Yesterday we went to pick R up from camp.  She had a blast and very much wants to go back next year, this time for two weeks.  She earned her levels in several areas (swimming, of course), but the biggest surprise was rifflery.  I’m not a fan of guns and won’t allow them in my house, but she apparently is quite a natural.  She shot a spoon 4 times in a row!  Crazy.  There’s a total of 18 activities at the camp (things like sailing, alpine tower, drama, arts & crafts, archery, rifflery, etc).  I will say  having a son who has gone three years in a row and now my youngest – camp (at least this one) is a life changing and very positive experience.  I wish I were young enough to go here!  And I’m so glad my kids get to be a part of it.

Of course we got to see M again, and that was awesome.  So many people came up to us to tell us how amazing M is (like we don’t already know!), and I can’t express how proud I am of him.  He’s already said he wants to work there every summer for as long as he’s able (aka – until he graduates from college).

A had a girlfriend from university take the train down for a few days, so they were incredibly busy.  They spent most of their time at the beach or watching movies.  And now A is gearing up to start her new job this week!

So this weekend is mainly about relaxing, cleaning up the house, doing laundry, shopping, bulk cooking for the week, and working out.  It’s nice to have a day that’s totally normal :)

Until then…some camp pics!

our last #morningpicture for the week as she's being dropped off at camp

our last #morningpicture for the week as she’s being dropped off at camp

our first #morningpicture that was taken as soon as we saw her on pick-up day!

our first #morningpicture that was taken as soon as we saw her on pick-up day!

M is the junior counselor in the middle.  This is his cabin from last week

M is the junior counselor on the left. This is his cabin from last week

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R is in the purple shirt - clearly excited as they made a volcano on the beach

R is in the purple shirt – clearly excited as they made a volcano on the beach

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pool time.  R in the middle in the black suit

pool time. R in the middle in the black suit

goofy girl in the hat!

goofy girl in the hat!

foam sword fight.  M is in blue

foam sword fight. M is in blue

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M leading his activity - which is drama

M leading his activity – which is drama

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R in purple in the front with her friend F!

R in purple in the front with her friend F!

M doing some crazy dance

M doing some crazy dance

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M dressed up as two-faced for their production of batman!

M dressed up as two-faced for their production of batman!

Ginny clearly missed R when she was away!

Ginny clearly missed R when she was away!

Book Review – Part One

Okay, so every now and then, I get the opportunity to do book reviews, and even host giveaways.  Well, I can honestly say that the reviews I have to share are for two very interesting – and unique – cookbooks.

While this publisher is not hosting a giveaway, I am allowed to share recipes, and a couple of my favorites are included below.

The name of the books are Vegan for Fit and Vegan for Fun, both by Attila Hildmann.  Today’s review is strictly on Vegan for Fit.

First, I’d like to share a little bit about the author.  Attila Hildmann lives in Germany, and has transformed his life by adopting a vegan lifestyle.  Not only did he lose 77 lbs and advocates veganism for weight loss and health, but he also discusses the positive impact of veganism on the environment and animal welfare (without at all being preachy).  What I found most interesting is that these are the first European cookbooks I have ever had, and they are definitely unique!  Despite growing up in Milwaukee, WI (which has a very large German population), I honestly don’t know much about German food other than bratwurst, German potato salad (vinegary, warm and with bacon!) and liverwurst!  I always had the sense that German food was quite heavy and hearty, and not too focused on vegetables.

Okay, here’s my review for Vegan for Fit!

vegan for fit

Intro

This book contains a separate 10 or so page booklet for Attila’s 30-Day vegan challenge that contains about 40 testimonials.  He bills this as being a unique program, as it not only has the food to eat (which are all in the book), but also has an exercise component and a Facebook group support page.  I really like the FB page component, as studies have shown that weight loss associated with support groups (think the Weight Watchers meeting model) are far more successful than someone trying to diet alone.

There are 150 pages of recipes, and 100 pages of good information on how to do the challenge, how to eat out, success stories, and an entire chapter on motivation.  From this aspect, I loved the set up of the book.

The Recipes

Very nut heavy, and I had a hard time modifying most of them.  Certainly not a worry if nuts aren’t a concern in your home the way they are in mine.  However, I did find it odd that a weight loss book would highlight nuts and nut-butters so prominently.  I started to think that the success stories were really because the challenge participants went from a meat and dairy heavy diet to a vegan one – and not because the recipes are low-fat (for the most part).  That’s not a complaint, but just an observation.  I personally don’t believe all the low-fat hype and think that plant sourced fats, in moderation, are critical to being healthy.  I also think the amount of sweeteners in some recipes is WAY more than needed.  For example, a green tea, lemon, and ginger drink (which I loved plain) called for 3 tbsp of agave.  Perhaps that a cultural component of German cuisine (being sweet), but I found I liked many of the recipes when I cut this way down or out completely.

There were several ingredients I had to Google because they were unfamiliar to me as an American.  Popped Amaranth, for example, is in several recipes.  I actually watched a YouTube video to find out what it is!  It’s sounds awesome though, and have ordered amaranth so I can try it.  Several recipes also called for things like non-carbonated mineral water (which I eventually figured out is just filtered or bottled normal water), agar agar, locust bean gum, and guar gum.  The last three, not things I find on my pantry shelves.

But all this said – the recipes were incredibly unique, and quite a change of pace from typical books I see.  The entire chapter on Great Drinks was probably my favorite, and I definitely have new regulars in my rotation.  I also completely loved the Caprese Vegan Style recipe, and used the tofu not only on salads, but on toast too.  The Whole Grain Rice Pudding was very yummy and a nice dessert.  But my absolute favorite thing was a drink!

marinating rounds of pressed tofu.  no cooking necessary - but takes on that wonderful mozzarella-like quality

marinating rounds of pressed tofu. no cooking necessary – but takes on that wonderful mozzarella-like quality

Caprese breakfast!

Caprese breakfast!

1 cup hot green tea, 1/2 squeezed fresh lemon, some zest, and a small piece of sliced ginger.  I skipped the agave - it didn't need it.

1 cup hot green tea, 1/2 squeezed fresh lemon, some zest, and a small piece of sliced ginger. I skipped the agave – it didn’t need it.

I give to you – the Silken Tofu and Cinnamon Shake!

It’s incredibly east – and amazingly tasty.  It’s simple – almost too simple – but is low fat and high in protein, making it a killer after workout drink too.

Blend:

*7 ounces of silken tofu (I buy the Mori-Nu in bulk from Amazon, so always have some on hand – and since it’s the hermetically sealed packages, lasts in the pantry for months)

*3/4 cup ice

*4 tsp agave nectar

*1 tsp cinnamon

*1 pinch salt

Yep, that’s it.  It tastes like Christmas and I’m fully hooked.

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Final Verdict

I feel grateful that I was approached by an international publisher to review Attila’s books.  While there are edits that may need to be made for this to be an American mainstream success (mainly on the ingredients that aren’t common here), I think it would be a great addition to any cookbook collection.

The recipes are all quite easy, and if nuts aren’t an issue in your life, then I’d definitely recommend it.

I’m not so sure I agree that this is a diet or weight loss book, mainly due to the high nut and sweetener content of a high percentage of the recipes.  However, I do think the promotion of whole-food, plant-based  food is always going to lead to health benefits – whether done so intentionally or not, and Attila’s chapters on health, motivation, and exercise round it out nicely.

 

Two-Thirds of Kids are Bilingual (my own study results below)

FOOD

Not too many pics to post because a lot of what I’m making is for a book review, so you can be dazzled by those later :)

Aside from some of the new fun eats, I have also had other grub too.  Tomato/cream cheese toast seems to be the top of my happy list still, and I’ve had some variation every day since NS introduced me to this culinary delight a week ago.

Also salads, baked spuds, smoothies, and juice.  You know…the usual.

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I don't drink coffee much other than my 1 cup of plain joe when I first wake up, but today was not only exhausting and less than fun, that I not only needed an iced soy latte before going into a meeting I was dreading, but a dark chocolate hit too.  Though I ended up giving the chocolate away....

I don’t drink coffee much other than my 1 cup of plain joe when I first wake up, but today was not only exhausting and less than fun, that I not only needed an iced soy latte before going into a meeting I was dreading, but a dark chocolate hit too. Though I ended up giving the chocolate away….

Tofurky kielbasa, bun-less, won a bed of sauerkraut with Dijon and ketchup!

Tofurky kielbasa, bun-less, won a bed of sauerkraut with Dijon and ketchup!

FITNESS

I went to the gym yesterday and it absolutely reinforced how much I hate the gym.  What I really wanted to do was go to a yoga class, but couldn’t find a class that was suitable for my schedule.  There were also no gym classes (like spin or zumba) going on at the gym – which is one of the rare occasions I go.

Anyway, I did use a spin bike that has a monitor mounted to it and you can take a virtual class.  While I enjoyed the spin part, the program had audio issues – where the Bollywood-esqe music way overpowered the instruction.  It made it a bit difficult to follow.  After that, I hopped on the elliptical.  Again, not my fav thing, but I wanted to workout!

LIFE

I must admit that the past two days have been frustrating.  Not going into too much detail other than to say rude difficult people suck.

I have, however, learned an interesting thing about children.  My children.  Or at least one of my children.  M – is bilingual.  You may wonder how, with him being 17, I didn’t know that.  It’s because I just found out last night….

So M is away being a junior counselor at camp.  I send him emails everyday, detailing the adventures of the family he’s left behind this summer.  Well, he finally replied to me yesterday!  While out enjoying some MUCH needed “off” time with D last night to catch the last part of the USA v. Belgium game and have a beer, we were chatting (after the game, of course) and I read him the email our son wrote to me.  In that email, M mentioned that he also emailed D with a list of things he’d like us to send him in a care package.

Then D read me M’s email to him.  And we both started laughing our butts off.  You see, in M’s email to me, he’s very sweet and respectful…and short and to the point.  In M’s email to my husband, however, he “speaks” totally different.  So when we get home from our evening out, we ask our daughters (19 and 10) if they speak differently to us.  R said no…A said “absolutely”.  So there ya have it.  2/3’s of children are bilingual.

Allow me to prove it….these are the actual emails from M.

Hey mom! It’s great here and I have some fantastic news. 

I have been offered an extra two full weeks to work. I got evaluated today and my bosses said that I have been doing fantastic and they’re letting me stay longer than intended
That’s really it, I’m sending dad the list of stuff I’d like you guys to mail me :) :) :)
Lots of love
and…
hey there man. I just replied to ma’s email earlier, so holla at a brotha for that. And I finally have an opportunity to email you and ask for stuff to get mailed to me!  (insert three smiley faces with tongues sticking out here…)

Here goes everything. Some of them seem weird, but counselor life is intense brah. 
•My foam swords. Trust me. 
•Chips. Preferably the purple Doritos. Tons please I love snacks
•soda. Please mayne. I love me my sugar. Gets me going ya know?
•candy. Same reasons as before but candy, homie
•new earbuds. Mine have broken. 
•my ipad
•my alarm clock iPod Dock 
•my snuggie
•a clipboard 
•random request I know, but the chocolate protein bars. Thems so goooood

and finally something important to human survival:

•a water bottle
I know it’s a lot but thanks for everything. I love you all. #camp
Seriously.  Two completely different languages.
D's working nights this week, and sent this to me today to cheer me up.  It worked.

D’s working nights this week, and sent this to me today to cheer me up. It worked.

What can I say?  I'm a fan of Tim Howard.  The USA goal keep set a record last night for the most saves in a single match in ANY World Cup.  SIXTEEN.  The USA didn't advance, but man oh man, they rocked it.  And despite being a diehard Chelsea girl, I'm going to watch Everton (another EPL team), just to see Mr. Howard play.  And he's a vegetarian, so even better!

What can I say? I’m a fan of Tim Howard. The USA goal keep set a record last night for the most saves in a single match in ANY World Cup. SIXTEEN. The USA didn’t advance, but man oh man, they rocked it. And despite being a diehard Chelsea girl, I’m going to watch Everton (another EPL team), just to see Mr. Howard play. And he’s a vegetarian, so even better!

today's morning pic...in matching hats!!!

today’s morning pic…in matching hats!!!

Bomb Threats, Good Food, Sweating, and the Supreme Court. Been a Wild Few Days!

FOOD

D grilled dinner last night, and we had corn, broccoli, and Tofuky kielbasa with all the trimmings!  I skipped the broccoli (mainly because it’s one of R’s favorite things in the world and she ate mine!) but definitely enjoyed the rest.

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This morning was a creamy green smoothie of coconut water, mango, avocado, hemp seeds, spinach, and frozen pineapple.

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Lunch was one of my simple faves – carrot and ginger soup!

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And dinner was a toasty sammich on sprouted grain bread, Daiya chive and onion cream cheese, sliced tomatoes, avocados, cucumber, and red onion.

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FITNESS

Stop the presses, I actually went for a run today.  I was feeling well enough to go for a short run – so only two miles – but darn if it didn’t feel awesome!  I have a new audio book to enjoy, it was nice and warm, and felt great to be out in the late sunshine.  I didn’t have quite the energy I normally do, but I really needed to lace up and sweat!

LIFE

So I think I mentioned that D and I usually go to Busch Gardens every year on our anniversary – without kids – and spend the day.  This year we just couldn’t with our work schedules, so we planned for the weekend.  I still wasn’t feeling well enough for that yesterday, but that ended up being a good thing.  A bomb threat was called in, and they evacuated much of the park, and kept the England area closed for quite some time.  For once, I’m glad we didn’t go!

R started day camp today, and had a great time.  Therefore, the morning pics are back!!

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On the whiny news front, I’m going to complain about the Supreme Court today.  I know the religiously minded conservatives think this is a win, and I even understand why.  And I get it, not just from a religious perspective, but from from the standpoint of a business owner not wanting to do something they morally disagree with.  However, I disagree overall because I feel it’s yet another attack on women’s rights (a frighteningly growing trend) and equality of healthcare.  I don’t know many religious people who don’t believe in birth control anymore, so maybe I just don’t get it after all.  I personally think it’s a cop out to try and not have to spend any money on employees.  All that aside, everyone should be scared.  We mock other countries – like Islamic nations – who’s religious law is the only law.  Where girls are married off young, honor killings are OK, and people can be executed for choosing a different faith.  Part of the foundation of our country is the freedom from that, but the more we let some people’s religious values govern the laws of the land, the slipperier the slope we will be on.  I find it inherently wrong for anyone’s religious views (doesn’t matter the religion) to play a role legally.  And once we allow things like this, it has the potential of opening Pandora’s box.  And that’s scary to me.

On the exciting news front (and a much lighter subject!), I’ve been given three books by publishers to review for the blog!  Two are something I’ve never come across before, and the other will be more along the lines of the traditional giveaway.  I’m really excited, and have been spending as much free time in the kitchen as possible to get research done!  Stay tuned!  Made something totally unique this evening and loved it.  I have high hopes!

So with that, I’m going to go do dishes and then drag my nearly recovered butt to bed.  Hope you all had a great Monday, and will have a wonderful week ahead!

And just because it made me giggle…

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The Green Goblet, Simple Food, and Fevers

FOOD

It’s been a week marked by simple food.  My hours at work haven’t been conducive to cooking, and coming down with a nasty infection on Friday has left me with very little appetite.

My favorites this week have been simple veggie soups, salads, smoothies, juice, and toast.

arugula, asparagu, and quinoa salad at California Pizza Kitchen.

arugula, asparagus, and quinoa salad at California Pizza Kitchen.

pea and barley soup

pea and barley soup

toast with vegan cream cheese, tomato,avocado, and fresh pepper

toast with vegan cream cheese, tomato,avocado, and fresh pepper

green juice!  Kale, spinach, apple, and lemon - in a beautiful goblet that D got me for our anniversary from the Luray Caverns

green juice! Kale, spinach, apple, and lemon – in a beautiful goblet that D got me for our anniversary from the Luray Caverns

The NS special (and my current fav), toast with vegan cream cheese and sliced tomatoes

The NS special (and my current fav), toast with vegan cream cheese and sliced tomatoes

FITNESS

Well, there was that one day of yoga!  Other than that, nothing.  And it’s definitely upsetting.  The long hours and lack of sleep have finally caught up to me, and my body has just shut down.  I have been spending the few forcible hours in bed making new training plans though, so that’s always exciting.

LIFE

Despite ending up in urgent care on Friday, it’s actually been a good week for the most part.  There were definitely some emotional moments (people working their butts off with little gratitude expressed for what they do), but overall, a very good week.  It feels great to have this week behind me though, won’t lie about that.

Mine and D’s anniversary was Wednesday!  We usually take the day off to go to Busch Garden’s, but with my go-live this week and his next (yes, we work in the same field), neither of us could take a weekday off.  We did go out to dinner with the girls, and then A took R home and D and I hung out solo for awhile.  It was a really nice night.

This weekend has definitely not turned out as planned!  D and I intended to have our BG day yesterday – as it’s the last weekend of the Food and Wine festival.  Sadly, my getting sick has completely derailed that idea.  I spent a big part of Friday night sitting in my car with the heater blasting because I was freezing.  D was quite dismayed by that, but it was too cold to be in the AC’d house for me.  My fever broke by Saturday morning, but the body aches, headaches, and general feeling of crappiness was just too much to get over.  I even napped – and I never do that!

I am on my feet this morning, and even baked some blueberry/lemon muffins.  I still don’t feel 100%, but I’m light years ahead of how I felt on Friday.

Bumble keeping my company as I waste the day away lying in bed, waiting to feel better.

Bumble keeping me company as I waste the day away lying in bed, waiting to feel better.

I was feeling dizzy and nauseous, so I decided to look up the side effects of the antibiotics I’m on.  The list scared the crap out of me (and the two I’m feeling are on it), so I stopped reading it.  Reinforces that I’m glad I’m putting so much of my lifestyle into disease prevention and hopefully avoiding ever becoming a walking chemical cocktail.  Don’t get me wrong – medications are necessary and I don’t advocate NOT taking them when needed.  But I also believe that much of the illnesses that plague society today are preventable with a healthy lifestyle, and if it’s possible to avoid the meds by taking responsibility for one’s health, that that seems the smartest avenue.

M has had his first full week as a junior camp counselor!  He’s having a great time, and here are a few pics of his adventures with the boys from last week.  He has the youngest campers, and this week he apparently has some older boys.  He loves camp, and is definitely in his element.  He won Employee of the Week last week too!  I knew this was right up his alley.

mateo mateo 6 mateo 4 mateo 3 mateo 2

Barely Controlled Chaos

Okay, so this is clearly going to be a normal narrative instead of the breakout.  Once again, too much time has passed (sigh).  Three weeks, though I think about doing a “quick post” every day.  And then realize I have so much I want to say, that “quick” isn’t going to happen – so nothing happens.

The good news is that the project I keep talking about sucking up all my time is nearing it’s end.  The last big go-live was this past Saturday – and it was the biggest so far.  It’s crazy and busy and totally wonderful.  This is what I love most about my job.  I spend months – sometimes years – bringing something from an idea into reality.  Watching people use it, solving their problems, and making a positive impact on patient’s lives in the process is the most amazing experience.  It’s crazy, there are meltdowns and issues and successes, and it’s certainly impossible to please everyone – but it’s totally my element and I totally thrive on it.

So I worked Saturday night to Sunday morning (9pm – 8am) and then immediately went to NS’s house.  She was hosting our vegan meetup group for a Bunch Ado About Nothing party.  Bloody Mary’s, Mimosa’s, and excellent grub.  My contribution was the spicy vodka!  I worked all night and wasn’t able to make any food, but someone has to supply the booze.  I was planning to nap for a bit, then party with the crew, but ended up just staying up, partying with the crew, then going home.  It was one of the more chaotic days in recent history, but totally awesome.  I managed to stay mostly coherent despite lack of sleep, so that was a bonus.

I’ve also been all over the state in the past 3 months doing one go-live or another, so that involved a lot of traveling.  This most recent trip to the DC area I did combine with some much-needed days of fun.  I took my girls with me and we spent a day in DC, a day in Philly, and a day in NYC.  Back to DC, work, then back home.  A whirlwind mini-vacation, but oh so worth it.

Aside from work stuff is trying to spend as much time doing things to balance my life.  Cooking, yoga, running, working on personal projects, reading, and spending time with my family.

My son is working as a junior counselor at an away camp this summer, and I took him last Thursday.  He’s doing great and totally loving it.  I’ve always seen M as someone who naturally shines in anything that involves helping people.  He’s passionate about social justice, helping people, and is just an overall amazing kid – he’s caring and sweet and funny as hell.  I think his latest is wanting to be an actor – which is totally cool because he rocks at it.  Personally, I’ve always pictured him as a teacher or social worker!  My parents want him to be an engineer, because as my mom once put it “building bridges helps people.”  I suppose she has a point there too.

My oldest seems a little lost this summer, and I feel for her.  She’s struggled to find a job (home from University), misses her friends, and is bored stiff.  She’s now planning on volunteering all summer, which I think will be good for her.

R has graduated to middle school!  That is crazy to me.  She’s totally nervous about 6th grade and going into the biggest middle school in our state, but I think she’s going to be great.  I wish she had as much confidence in her as D and I do!

For those that don’t already know, I’m a major soccer fan.  And as a bit of trivia for all the haters who think the “arrogant US” created our own word for their “football” – here’s a bit of trivia.  We didn’t.  It was a British term when they shortened what they called Association Football to soccer (to differentiate from other footballs, such as Rugby).  It was prevalent in British writing for a long time, and it’s where we got the word.  We kept using it, and as soon as we did – they stopped.  It slowly disappeared from their sports writing, and now the rest of the world thinks we just like doing things differently, when in fact it wasn’t us.  Just saying – bugs me.  For more deets, read here.

To that end, we’ve been glued to every game we can.  Watched England vs. Italy in New York, the USA vs. Ghana game in DC, and last night’s game in bed with my husband and girls (I had been awake for almost 40 hrs, and just couldn’t hit up a pub to watch it).  Talk about a nail biter.

So now I will just leave you with some pics.  Certainly not all of the last three weeks, but a few ;)

so the date was wrong - it was actually the 14th, but it was still SO cool.  The very first one, and I got to see some blogging peeps from NYC!

so the date was wrong – it was actually the 14th, but it was still SO cool. The very first one, and I got to see some blogging peeps from NYC!

it's like a food truck, but for cute clothes and accessories.  In Philly (apparently common in NYC too).  R got a cool Lego bracelet.

it’s like a food truck, but for cute clothes and accessories. In Philly (apparently common in NYC too). R got a cool Lego bracelet.

I never, ever get tired of seeing this, or anything in DC.  So far, my fav town ever.

I never, ever get tired of seeing this, or anything in DC. So far, my fav town ever.

Tonks' final resting place.  A beautiful urn that R picked out, engraved with her words of farewell.

Tonks’ final resting place. A beautiful urn that R picked out, engraved with her words of farewell.

THE LIBERTY BELL!!!  My youngest has been obsessed with it for a few years, so we just had to go when in Philly.  It was cool, though smaller than I was expecting.

THE LIBERTY BELL!!! My youngest has been obsessed with it for a few years, so we just had to go when in Philly. It was cool, though smaller than I was expecting.

spent the one day in NYC in at the Chelsea Market area.  My favorite so far in NYC (in my 3 trips...which isn't much and I've seen less than is actually there!)

spent the one day in NYC in at the Chelsea Market area. My favorite so far in NYC (in my 3 trips…which isn’t much and I’ve seen less than is actually there!)

019 (Small)

Highline park.  It's an old elevated railway that has been reclaimed by nature and is now a nurtured green space in the city.  It was totally amazing and glad friends recommended it.

Highline park. It’s an old elevated railway that has been reclaimed by nature and is now a nurtured green space in the city. It was totally amazing and glad friends recommended it.

Highline

Highline

Highline - old tracks with some plants breaking through.  Nature always finds a way!

Highline – old tracks with some plants breaking through. Nature always finds a way!

Highline

Highline

pizza monster in DC

pizza monster in DC

me and my girls!

me and my girls!

R on a hot day, trekking around DC

R on a hot day, trekking around DC

the view from the Jefferson Memorial.

the view from the Jefferson Memorial.

R getting really into the USA vs. Ghana game in Chinatown (DC).  When Clint Dempsey got his nose broken and blood was everywhere, she was hooked :)

R getting really into the USA vs. Ghana game in Chinatown (DC). When Clint Dempsey got his nose broken and blood was everywhere, she was hooked :)

never get tired of seeing signs in two languages

never get tired of seeing signs in two languages

BAS!!!!

BAS!!!!

a to-go green smoothie

a to-go green smoothie

Whole Foods!

Whole Foods!

veggie soup with some spiralized zucchini

veggie soup with some spiralized zucchini

Histology humor.  Took a pic of this in the gross room at 2 am the other day.  The gross room is where they put all the surgically removed body parts onto slides.  We've started calling it the disgusting room....

Histology humor. Took a pic of this in the gross room at 2 am the other day. The gross room is where they put all the surgically removed body parts onto slides. We’ve started calling it the disgusting room….

Bloody Mary partay!!!

Bloody Mary partay!!!

mine, NS's, and KP's Bloody Mary's at the vegan meet up yesterday

mine, NS’s, and KP’s Bloody Mary’s at the vegan meet up yesterday

So in a nutshell, my life, especially for the past seven months, has been barely controlled chaos.  I can’t complain, because I do love it in some ways, but I can honestly say, I’m looking forward to life evening out soon.

Roller Coaster Week of Goodbyes & Celebrations

FOOD

The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity.  As such, meals have been quick and easy; mostly wraps, salads, and smoothies.

I’m still totally excited that D has started a daily smoothie habit!!  His choice Friday was a green smoothie (with kale, no less) that just blew me away!

I didn’t have a chance to take many pics, unfortunately, but here’s what I did manage to snap!

Not all smoothies need to be green, and this was the perfect pre-workout smoothie of flax milk, banana, vanilla, cinnamon, and a dash of maple syrup.

Not all smoothies need to be green, and this was the perfect pre-workout smoothie of flax milk, banana, vanilla, cinnamon, and a dash of maple syrup.

This is from the ever trusty Whole Foods salad bar.  Tons of traditional stuff like lettuce, onion, pepper, tomato, etc, but then topped with dolmades, quinoa, and Brazilian rice.  No dressing needed with all those fun flavors

This is from the ever trusty Whole Foods salad bar. Tons of traditional stuff like lettuce, onion, pepper, tomato, etc, but then topped with dolmades, quinoa, and Brazilian rice. No dressing needed with all those fun flavors

 

FITNESS

Well, getting laced up and back on the road has been more challenging than I thought!  I suppose it takes a little longer to recover after surgery than I anticipated, but at least I can get started again.

This week was punctuated by short runs (and I mean short – like 2 miles) and hot yoga.  In fact, I took my eldest to her first ever hot yoga class!  She did great, and claims she really loved it and wants to do it again.  We’ll see though, because I saw the look on her face during class, and “love” isn’t the expression she was conveying :)

LIFE

This has been an incredibly long and somewhat sad week.  Having just gotten home from a work trip on Tuesday, I noticed that one of the kitties really wasn’t moving or eating.  I brought it up with D, and turns out Tonks had been acting like that for a couple of days.

Ginny and Tonks are rescue kitties we were lucky enough to bring into our lives last July. They had been discovered in a fast food garbage bin, and were destined to be part of our family.  R took responsibility for them, and they were very attached to her (and she to them).  We learned back in October that both were positive for the Feline Leukemia virus, likely gotten from their mother when born, so of course we had discussions about needing to cherish every day, because the virus, while it may stay dormant, can also make them very sick.

Well, that day had come for little Tonks Tuesday afternoon.  And just shy of what we guess is their first birthday, her little body just couldn’t stay healthy anymore.  We spent a few hours with her at the vet to say goodbye, including taking her outside in the sunshine.  R is devastated, and we’re all quite sad.  She was the quiet and gentle one, but if there was a bowl, box, or hat lying around, we’d find her in it.  Our motto for her has been “if she fits, she sits!”  Here are the last pictures I will be able to post of little Tonks.

R sitting with Tonks out in the sunshine.

R sitting with Tonks out in the sunshine.

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On a happier note, last night was M’s theater award show (think the Tony’s, but for high school drama).  My son was in several performances this year, and won an award for one of the categories he was nominated for!  Here’s a proud family pic.

Order from left to right: A, M, D, me, R

Order from left to right: A, M, D, me, R

Today happens to be M’s 17th birthday!  Wow, how times flies.  It’ll be a fun family day, and I know we’re all looking forward to it.

So it’s been quite the roller coaster week.  Losing Tonks, but then moving to a celebration of my son.  It reflects the ups and downs of life – just happening all in one week!

So I hope you all have a great week!

On The Road Again!

FOOD

Well, this is going to be more about me eating on the road!  I left Saturday in the early afternoon for a work trip.  Thankfully, I’m home MUCH earlier than planned (Tuesday vs. Friday!).

I brought a bunch of bananas and oranges with me for hotel breakfast.  Other than that, my meals were out and about town.  I don’t have pics of all, but here are the highlights.

I had a roasted tomato stuffed with a small diced ratatouille with a balsamic glaze.  That was awesome.

I had many salads, soups (both a cold gazpacho and a warm tomato veggie), sammiches, and even Indian one night!

gazpacho soup with a grilled veggie and hummus panini at the post-event brunch with HF.

gazpacho soup with a grilled veggie and hummus panini at the post-event brunch with HF.

tomato and veggie soup

tomato and veggie soup

a mangotini at the Indian restaurant!

a mangotini at the Indian restaurant!

At home, D made Tofurky spaghetti last night, so yay for him!

FITNESS

Sunday was the Run Like a Girl 4-miler with HF!  It was a great time, and we gabbed the entire way (naturally).  I will say that unlike my area, Richmond is really hilly, and my legs were definitely feeling it!

HF and me before the race!

HF and me before the race!

I did my #5adaymeditate on Saturday, but truly forgot on Sunday and yesterday.  That’s bummed me out, but I’m back home and able to use my meditation cushions and get back to it!

LIFE

It has been a good few days.  I left in the early afternoon on Saturday, checked into my hotel, and then went to the Food & Wine fest at Busch Gardens!  It was very nice.  I walked around, had some wine, read a book, and in general had a relaxing evening.

walking into England and the new London Rocks! show.

walking into England and the new London Rocks! show.

Go-live was Saturday night, and that went very well.  Then it was up early on Sunday to drive up to Richmond and meet HF.  We did the event then went to brunch after.  I was back in my hotel by 130 or so, cleaned up, checked in on my team, and went back to Busch Gardens for a repeat of Saturday!

part of the festival is fun food facts from around the world.  This was one of my favorites!

part of the festival is fun food facts from around the world. This was one of my favorites!

Monday was at the hospital all day and then an early dinner and back to my hotel room.  Today was early meetings, and then came home!  I have one more work trip coming up in 2 weeks, so since the project went so well up there, I didn’t feel that I needed to stay all week long this time.  I miss my family, and would much rather be home with them!

As for tonight, I imagine it’ll involve laundry, cleaning, cooking, and hopefully some yoga or boxing!

Vegan Family Challenge Week 2!

Okay, so it’s been 13 days.  What the heck?  It’s not like I haven’t been home, but where does the time go!?!?

FOOD

Family vegan week 2 was also very great.  Lots of Tofurky sammiches, hummus and veggie pita’s, green smoothies, tempeh breakfast sammiches, and LOTS AND LOTS of mac no cheese!  Also lots of permanent changes that I’m totally thrilled about.

I also had a great dinner from AE on last Saturday night.  It was nice to get out (she lives about 2 blocks away), so it was a perfect evening with her and her beautiful little girls!

AE made a wonderful spinach and roast squash salad and roasted broccoli, and I contributed the mac no cheese!

AE made a wonderful spinach and roast squash salad and roasted broccoli, and I contributed the mac no cheese!

I’ll be doing a recap later – in the words of my husband and kids – about what they thought of the 2 week vegan challenge!  So stay tuned for that!  Until then, pictures!

a monster green smoothie!  One new development is that D now has a daily smoothie habit - which thrill me to NO end!

a monster green smoothie! One new development is that D now has a daily smoothie habit – which thrill me to NO end!

Went to lunch with my oldest, and had Tofu Green Curry!  Always a fav.

Went to lunch with my oldest, and had Tofu Green Curry! Always a fav.

Sunday morning, jammies, green smoothie, and reading a yoga book.  Yep.  Perfect.

Sunday morning, jammies, green smoothie, and reading a yoga book. Yep. Perfect.

A yummy pita sammich stuffed with grilled tofu, dijon mustard, and tons of crisp veggies.

A yummy pita sammich stuffed with grilled tofu, dijon mustard, and tons of crisp veggies.

Moe's taco salad!  Proof that there are some yummy vegan options out there when there's no time to make anything yourself.

Moe’s taco salad! Proof that there are some yummy vegan options out there when there’s no time to make anything yourself.

Cajun tofu, fettuccine alfredo, and green beans

Cajun tofu, fettuccine alfredo, and green beans

nothin sexier than watching your man make tofu!

nothin sexier than watching your man make tofu!

M's fav - the tempeh "sausage" and hasbrown breakfast sammich

M’s fav – the tempeh “sausage” and hasbrown breakfast sammich

more green smoothies!

more green smoothies!

a green smoothie theif

a green smoothie theif

my fav use for the old egg slicer.  Makes the perfect silken tofu pieces for tofu eggless salad

my fav use for the old egg slicer. Makes the perfect silken tofu pieces for tofu eggless salad

FITNESS

I’ve been doing lots and lots of yoga – being careful not to push my body past what it can do, and to mostly avoided twists and inversions due to the nature of my surgery.

However, as of my Thursday post-op appointment, I am now fully cleared to run again!  And what better way to kick that fun back off than with a race event??  Tomorrow, HF and I are going to participate in the Run Like a Girl 4 miler event in Richmond.  This organization was formed, originally, to raise funds and awareness for ovarian cancer.  And while that is still the primary focus, it has expanded to include all female specific cancers.  This is a topic very close to both HF and I, so we’re both looking forward to it.

LIFE

Well, it’s been a wonky couple of weeks.  While I have been mostly home recovering, I’ve also been working a ton (which is good – I’d have gone stir crazy if I were home and bored!).

D spent last weekend on the mountains taking pictures (will have to post some soon, because they are wonderful).  He went to the second highest point in Virginia to take shots of the meteor shower, and then spent several hours under the mountains in the Luray Caverns taking pics of those!  I’m definitely a huge fan of the Blue Ridge Mountains, so I absolutely love these.

I went to a Meditation Essentials class at my yoga studio.  I’ve wanted to learn to meditate for a very long time – I know how wonderful it is for the body and brain – but never really knew how to get started.  This was a perfect class, and I have since started my own #5adaymeditate challenge for the next month.  I know I need to start small, but also need to be consistent or I won’t ever progress.  I’m happy to say that taking just 5 minutes a day to do this has been great.  I’m shocked by how much good only 5 minutes does.  I’ll eventually up the time, but for now, it’s about establishing a regular practice and using the tools I’ve learned to silence the constant swirling thoughts in my head.

I am heading out of town this afternoon for a week of work in Williamsburg, VA.  I can’t say I’m not excited, but that’s where my fav theme park, Busch Gardens, is – and it also happens to be the Food and Wine festival!  So we all know where I’ll be hanging out when not working!

And of course I’m making the short trip up to Richmond in the morning to meet up with HF for our run and to hang out for a bit.  I’m looking forward to that too, I haven’t seen her in a few months.

So I’ll leave you with a few pics of the last two weeks, and will hopefully write again soon!

Tonks deciding that the top of my dehydrator is the perfect place to nap.

Tonks deciding that the top of my dehydrator is the perfect place to nap.

R loves to set up a "bed" on the floor and sleep there.

R loves to set up a “bed” on the floor and sleep there.

A making some fresh OJ

A making some fresh OJ

Bumble always lies on my back if I'm lying on my stomach.  Here I'm trying to read, but couldn't resist a little selfie with her on my shoulder.

Bumble always lies on my back if I’m lying on my stomach. Here I’m trying to read, but couldn’t resist a little selfie with her on my shoulder.

morning picture!

morning picture!

these two kill me.  Sammie and Ginny are best friends.

these two kill me. Sammie and Ginny are best friends.

Ginny totally in attack mode one morning.  No toes were safe....

Ginny totally in attack mode one morning. No toes were safe….

When All Else Fails, Kill Them With (Vegan) Comfort Food!

Because of the whole surgery thing, still can't workout – so I'm not bothering with my normal layout.


Yesterday was my oldest daughter's 19th birthday! I think she overall had a very good day, some spent with family, some spent with friends, some of it on the beach, playing mini golf, and just being a normal teenager.

For her birthday dinner, A asked for a Tofurky roast, and I was more than happy to oblige! While I made that in the house along with a quinoa/brown rice/garlic grain dish, D whipped up his grill master skills and made corn, broccoli, portabello mushroom caps (marinated in broth, balsamic, and garlic – my fav combo), and asparagus. Everyone agreed that dinner was epic.

We always make homemade birthday cakes (because of R's nut allergies eliminating bakery options mainly), and this year was a strawberry cake with fresh pureed berries. It was really good.

After my blog post yesterday, a Twitter friend commented that perhaps I forgot what it was like to transition from a standard American diet to a vegan one. I didn't just jump into loving kale and green drinks – it was a much slower progression, often recreating my fav foods and comfort foods before I found my “healthy” dishes. So even though last week was good, I focused on creating a meal plan this week that's going to be more familiar for D and the kids.

So here are a few things I whipped up today.

While I started my day with a green juice (that was just me!), I made pancakes with fruit for everyone else. R had apples, A and M had grapes, and I had watermelon. D slept through breakfast, so he just missed out entirely :)

 

Lunch was a pita stuffed with tangy grilled tofu (which D whipped up last night), avocado, red onion, and lettuce. And a baked mac no cheese that everyone loved.

I also made some fresh bread for lunch sammiches this week and some homemade pesto from a basil plant in my kitchen.

Dinner was a pizza party! We've always done homemade pizzas, but tonight, we did a total of 5 smaller ones so everyone else can see how awesome vegan pizza can be! Here are the results:

BBQ chick'n pizza! Barbeque sauce, fresh chopped pineapple, and some Gardein Chick'n Scallopini breasts, thawed and chopped. This was the overall family favorite.

Vegan Margherita Pizza with fresh pesto! Tomato sauce, pesto, Daiya Mozz shredds, and thinly sliced roma tomatoes.

Super Veg! This is MY personal favorite. Tomato sauce, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic, broccoli, artichoke hearts, tomato slices, red pepper slices, black olives, and carmelized onions (which I made with some sucanant and balsamic).

Veg and Cheese was pizza option #4. It was a combo of 2 & 3, with some Daiya and a few less veggies, but with pineapple!

And finally, pizza 5 was a repeat of #1, but with Gardien Chick'n Tenders instead of the scallopini.

Everyone was happy and stuffed today – so for that, I'm greatful to @_ivegan for the great tips yesterday!

The rest of the day (when I wasn't cooking) was spent in bed. Quite frankly, I over did it a bit today, and am paying for it now. What can I say…I don't “rest” well.

Here's hoping you all have a great week! Our will be filled with some vegan comfort foods, that's for certain. And while it's not kale, it's still all much healthier than the standard alternatives – and that makes me incredibly happy (not to mention, no beings came into harm in the making of these fantabulous meals!).