Monthly Archives: December 2010

Fortunately, I Escaped! Just As Fortunately, the Cat Did Not!

Tuesday, and the the entire area is still mostly shut down from snow on Sunday.  It’s not so much the snow, as the ability to clear it out, so while D went to work (and said the roads were worse even than the day before), the kids and I were bracing for yet another day stuck in the house.  Ugh.  Have I mentioned before how NOT cool I am with cabin fever??

There was still a ton of snow outside, and the younger two wanted to go out and play in it – finish a snow man and build some tunnels.  I was okay with that, and while they pulled out their (rarely used) snow gear, I decided I couldn’t stomach another day without a workout, and headed upstairs to the dread-mill….I mean treadmill.  It faces a window over the backyard, so I could still see the kids while getting a run in, as well as try to delude myself that I was outside.  I even opened the window to mimic the wind blowing through my hair (it didn’t work…guess I needed to open the OTHER window in the room to get a breeze).

M buried in the snow and R standing triumphantly over him


As I was coming downstairs after my run, the kids were calling it quits from the snow and cold.  While they were drying off and putting their snow gear in the garage to dry out, I hopped in the shower.
So picture this….I’m coming out of the shower…wrapped in a towel all warm and happy and clean, and I see a laser light dancing on my bedroom floor.  I pull open my bedroom door the rest of the way to find my 7 year old standing on the stairs playing with a laser light pen.  I ask her what she’s doing, and she proceeds to tell me that while she was coming in the house, she left the back door open while going into the garage to take off her snow stuff…and was worried the cat (Bumble) had escaped.  So she decided to use the laser light pen to attract the cat and verify that she was indeed in the house.  Before I could find out otherwise.  I would have been annoyed if it wasn’t so funny and clever of her.  Fortunately, Bumble was hiding under my bed.  She hates cold a little bit more than I do, but not much.
I then decided to press some tofu.  Not sure what I was going to do with it, but having pressed tofu around is never a BAD thing.  If nothing else, I make a killer spicy tofu soup that’s always a good bet.



 

My tofu being squished by the TofuXpress.  Pure genius, whoever came up with this.  SO much more convenient than two plates and a can of soup…
D got home from work and by then I exploded.  I could NOT stay in the house anymore!  I didn’t care how bad the roads were, but I had movies due at Blockbuster, and I needed to get out.  We decided to brave the elements, return the movies, and hit Franks, a very local Italian place.  This way, we stayed really close to home, I didn’t have to cook dinner, and we all got out for a little bit!

M giving me a thumbs up.  Not sure why.

D and R playing with iPhone’s during dinner

a candid shot of A smiling.  She only smiles in candid shots.  And since she’s almost 16, seeing her smile is rare enough!

How R eats pizza.  She dangles it over her mouth until she makes contact.  I was attempting to instruct her in the art of two-handed-pizza-eating, but I think I failed.

My dinner.  Eggplant Parmesan – without the cheese.  And pasta (which R ate) and a glass of Chianti.  Very tasty.  I had a salad too, but forgot to snap a shot before I ate it.  I was hungry.

Frank’s Kitchen.  You can’t really tell from this picture, but it’s a totally open kitchen, so you can see them making the food if you want to.  I find this kinda cool.

While the roads were still pretty bad, it was nice to get out for a bit, and dinner was good, so I can’t complain.

D and I were up early today (thanks to Sammie and her demand for breakfast by 7).  I made a big batch of pancakes for the kids, and an awesome blueberry, banana, orange, and chocolate smoothie for me!

Be jealous of the pirate cup.  It’s okay.

Today was the day I knew I’d escape for an extended period of time!  My friend S sent me a text earlier in the day asking me to lunch at our local Indian restaurant.  Of course I said yes, and I started planning my day!

I’m almost done knitting a really long scarf (it’s about 4 feet long right now) – my very first project!   It’s not perfect, but I’m really happy with it.  I’m planning on donating it to a local shelter.  Anyway, I’ve been itching to go yarn shopping and learn more about knitting.  I found a close by knitting shop that has a bunch of classes they offer, so my plan was to go there, check it out, sign up for a class, and then go to Michael’s to buy sale yarn.  My plan worked like a charm!  Class is for two Saturday’s starting on the 8th, and I bought about 10 skeins of yarn at Michael’s for $20 – in fun colors like tangerine, lemon, and some fun blends just for socks!  I figure if I start now, I’ll be set by next Christmas!

I also went to the mall to have links taken out of the watch D got me for Christmas.  The lady at the jewelers was really nice, and I was happy I got to wear my new pretty watch.

I met up with S and had a great lunch of Indian vegan goodness and got to catch up with her about our Christmases.  Then it was off on a couple more errands and then home for a bit.

I had a workout planned with another friend of mine for 415, so that gave me a little over an hour at home.  I sat upstairs, knitted, and watched the most recent episode of the Closer.  Then it was time to get the kids ready for the Y (only the younger two wanted to go….the oldest is kind of a party pooper).  So off we went, R went to the playzone, M to the interactive zone, and H and I to kickboxing!  It was a great class – the instructor is actually an MMA fighter, so it was more of a fighting/training class than a typical cardio kickboxing one.  We worked up a sweat – and worked out any aggression we may have had – and I was happy we went.  It was nice to get out of the house, I know the kids were thrilled to be out, I got to see a friend, AND get a good workout.  Not bad!

After class, H went to pick up her little ones and head back home.  M, R and I hit the pool to swim, play on the slide, and chill in the hot tub.  Woo hoo! 

Because the roads were mostly clear (side streets are still icy after the sun goes down), D and I decided that we were going to go out to the dinner we were SUPPOSED to have on Christmas.  So…off to Geisha we went for hibachi and sushi (vegan sushi of course…and sake!).  It was wonderful as always, and I have most of my dinner left over for tomorrow.

My goofy family.                                             

Look at all those gorgeous veggies!  I want a hibachi grill at home now….mainly because I can’t eat theirs since they use butter.  And because it would be insanely cool.

Onion volcano! 

My broccoli, sweet potato, and avocado sushi.  Awesome.

SAKE!!!  My first experience was with the warm stuff, which was gross.  Tasted like hot vodka.  Then last spring when my sister in law was visiting, a bunch of us went out one night and I was introduced to the unfiltered cold stuff.  Absolutely wonderful.  Like a cold white beer made out of rice.
The plan tomorrow is to go to Trader Joes, Fresh Market, and the Asian Grocery in VB.  If the roads are clear, I really want to run outside.  If they’re not, I’ll likely try to hit a class like spin or hot yoga.  Either way, it’s nice to start getting a life outside of the house back!

I Don’t Deal Well With Lack of Options

The past couple of days would definitely qualify as snow days.  On Christmas eve, I stayed home by choice, so working out in the living room (and going for a run) were perfect.  On Christmas day, of course nothing was open, so working out in the living room was again, a no brainer.  And then it started snowing in the late afternoon of Christmas….

By the time we woke up yesterday morning (the 26th), there was a ton of snow on the ground.  It’s the “Great Snow Of 2010″, and EVERYTHING was closed.  You should have seen our local news, it was the biggest story of the year!  There was no way of going anywhere, and forget the option of running outside….so of course, I didn’t work out.  It finally stopped snowing around 7pm, and we had about a foot of snow outside.  This morning it was still a mess (we have no plows or salt trucks to speak of around here), so it was another day stuck inside.  Of course, I skipped working out again. 

I finally figured it out this evening.  I don’t like NOT having options.  When it’s my choice to go to the gym or pop in a DVD…cool.  When I CAN’T go to the gym or for a run outside…forget it.  Working out at home becomes a chore that I can’t handle.  It’s dumb, but I really think that’s why I’ve stayed in jammies the past 2 days.  All I want to do is run outside or hit a class at the gym, so of course if that’s not a possibility…nothing will do.  It’s a newly discovered character flaw that I’ll have to work on….

On a totally unrelated note…

My dog Sammie was born on a farm in WI (she’s a yellow lab).  She spent the first year and a half of her life living there.  Her first winter was a hoot, and she relished being in the snow.  And then…we moved to southeastern Virginia 7 years ago, and she lost her love of all things wet and cold (as did I….though to be truthful, I never loved the cold).

She will avoid going outside at all costs if it’s raining, and forget the cold….she loves to bask in the backyard in the sun and will spend hours out there on a warm day.

Then it snowed Xmas day and yesterday.  A LOT.  For where we live, a foot of snow shuts us down for days at a time.  The kids were digging it (to a degree, then they even got sick of the snow), but Sam would only go out for a little bit at a time.  Something must have flipped in her sometime in the late morning today.  She spent HOURS outside today.  Every time I went to check on her, she had snow all over her head and she looked at me like I was crazy for staying in the house and keeping warm.  She’d come in every once in awhile to thaw out, and then run back outside to play.  It was cute, and if it wasn’t so snowy and cold (and if I actually had boots), I would have taken pictures of her.  Alas, I didn’t.  I did get a few of the snow though.  I can’t express enough how strange that is around here.  It snows once in a great while, and almost never sticks – hopefully that’ll help put the pictures below into perspective.

While D decided to go out and clear as much snow as he could (it was still snowing, but he was getting cabin fever), I decided to get creative.  I took the leftover strawberry/banana soft serve ice cream and decided to whip it up in the vitamix into a makeshift daiquiri.  I have to say, they were ALL very good :)

corner of the back yard

views from the back door.  The door was as far as I’d go

view from the front door

D heading out to rake (yes you read that right…RAKE) the driveway since we don’t actually have a shovel!
soft serve daiquiri!!

snowy honey


The rest of the day was spent watching movies and knitting.  We watched The Town, Salt,  and Toy Story 3.  During all of the movies, I worked on knitting a scarf and got quite a bit of it done!  D was still sick, but at least he seems to be on the upswing.
Today I had to get out of the house.  Aside from the wicked cabin fever, it really was a necessity.  D actually went to work today (only 3 of them made it into the office – likely all Midwesterners like us).  My cupboards and fridge were bare after the holidays and the snow, so I went out.  We don’t have an ice scraper, so my husband left a SPATULA in my van so I could scrape the windows!  After 20 minutes of running the defroster and scraping with my spatula, I was finally able to go.  I nearly got stuck in the end of the driveway, but managed to get out and hit the (very icy and unplowed) road.  I went very slowly and eventually made it to the store.  They were pretty heavily picked over, but I managed to get a few bags of groceries.  I’ll admit, I did get quite a bit of junk food in addition to the fruits, veggies, and tofu.  We have a policy around here…bad weather = junk food (though it’s usually Nor’easters or hurricanes that keep us shut in).  On the way home, a bunch of snow from the roof fell onto the hood, and I couldn’t see.  I ended up stopping and brushing the snow off so I could finish the half a mile drive home.  Gotta love it.
I made a wonderful Anatolian red lentil stew today with wheat berries and chickpeas for dinner.  I also made a fruited couscous in the crock pot that came out wonderfully – even the little one liked it. 
I did some surfing, and found a great deal on a plane ticket from VA to San Francisco (where D’s brother lives) as an early bday present for him.  It was only $250, so now D gets to see his brother for the first time in a couple of years, and do it over his bday weekend in Feb!
While dinner was cooking, D worked on fixing the downstairs computer, and R and I played (and I lost) a game of Sorry.  So while it was a pretty good day, I’m hoping to be able to get the heck out of the house tomorrow and go to the gym!


We Just Can’t Do Traditional If We Try

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

I really hope that everyone had a very wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas.  And if you don’t celebrate, hopefully you’re having a very relaxing and happy weekend.

The whole weekend for us has been pretty low key, though most of our holiday’s are since we don’t have any family in VA.  Friday I spent much of the day cooking, working out, wrapping gifts, and puttering around the house.  D spent most of it (successfully) fixing the dryer!  Yeah, my handyman!

He had to take it apart…twice…but it stopped squeaking!



I busted out another workout video (another P90X one), and then went for a run.  It was a little chilly, but I found I over dressed and quickly over heated.  I wore long yoga pants, a long sleeve technical shirt, a hoodie sweatshirt, and a running jacket.  I was comfortable when I headed out, which should have been a clear indicator that I’d get hot.  Oh well, it was still a nice run and felt good to get some fresh air.

I made a couple loaves of fresh bread and rolls.  It was fun to make 3 loaves at once in the kitchen aid.  It certainly makes quick work of it, that’s for sure. That appliance has gotten one heck of a workout lately with all the power baking, but it’s always being used.  D was picking on me today that my 25 lb bag of flour from Sam’s Club is getting close to needing replacing already.

Bread cooling.  One loaf for sandwiches, one for freezing, and rolls for dinner.  It’s a yummy bread recipe from Vegan Lunchbox, called Blue Ribbon Bread.  You can use any cooked leftover whole grains in it.  In the past I’ve used polenta.  This time, I used quinoa.  Came out wonderfully, and everyone loved it.



A big green salad with dinner.  With all the treats and junk food, it felt very cleansing to have a huge salad.  I craved one so much, I made another one just like this for Christmas morning breakfast (for just me though….)

Christmas Eve Dinner!  Tofurky, roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, and onion, and a beautiful eggplant “gratin” made with vegan cheese and a homemade tomato-orange sauce.  And red wine of course.  Need to get those antioxidants in!



A couple of days ago, I started a batch of sprouts.  I soaked the sprouts over night, rinsed them a couple times a day, keeping them in the dark.  Then the last day (day 5), the cover comes off so the sunlight through the window can develop the chlorophyll and make them bright green.  Unfortunately, there was no sun, and I was left with some pretty sad looking sprouts.  They didn’t grow nearly as tall as normal, and they’re a pale green instead of being vibrant. 



Between cooking and working out, I hung out in my bedroom wrapping a big portion of the family Christmas gifts.  I had done a good job of keeping up with buying and then wrapping within a day or two…until the past 2 weeks.  Since most of the gifts were ordered online – and many came while I was in FL – I had a bunch to do.  D did all the big boxes though, which was perfect for me.  He’s better at wrapping anyway, and usually gets stuck with the lion’s share (it’s a fair trade since I do most of the shopping!).

Bumble decided that the best way to help me was to eat the ribbon.  I guess it kept her from crawling inside the tree and knocking all the ornaments off.  Anyone else have a cat and realize you can’t have any ornaments on the tree on the bottom foot, or they end up on the floor??

We have a tradition in our family on Christmas eve.  Everyone opens Christmas Eve jammies, and a family game.  This year’s game was a combo pack of Clue, Scrabble Slam, Sorry, and Monopoly Deal.  We played a game of Clue and had a blast.  It took forever and has changed a great deal since I was a kid, but it was still much fun.  A won…it was Professor Plum, in the Theater, with the Rope. 
After the game, it was time to shuffle the kids off to bed so D and I could get to work.

The tree and all the gifts positioned in the Green Room (called such since the walls are green and we didn’t know what else to call it!).

Had to throw a picture of Bumble disappearing into the pile of presents.  I don’t know if she was looking for hers…or going after a nice big bow to munch on.  I’m guessing the latter.

We went to bed around 1130, and fell quickly asleep (at least I did).  D’s been sick the past few days (flu-like sinus garbage), and since he’s on call, is a little leery about taking NyQuil for fear of sleeping through his pager going off.
The kids roused us around 730, which wasn’t too bad.  The coffee was already ready to go, so we went to the green room to see what Santa brought!  The carnage was over pretty quickly, and I think everyone was happy. 
After breakfast was over, I caught up on some blog reading and then did another P90X workout.  Typically we go out to the movies on Christmas, and D and I had decided we were going to go out to dinner rather than cook.  Unfortunately, D is just getting sicker, and going out wasn’t in the cards.  I went out to Blockbuster, rented a few movies, and then came home trying to figure out what the heck to make for dinner.  I’m out of pretty much everything, and nothing is open (except 7-11).  After going through the pantry and the spice shelves, I decided to make a variation of this – curried lentils with roasted vegetables and some lemon rice.  For the lentil recipe, I used 4 carrots and 4 Yukon gold potatoes instead of the mushrooms and bell peppers (I didn’t have any mushrooms on hand, and D doesn’t like bell peppers).  I also skipped the cayenne pepper (the little one wouldn’t be able to eat it).  It came out amazing, and everyone really liked it.  D even had 2 huge helpings, which is saying a lot when it comes to my “hippie” food.  The lemon rice is my favorite.  I soaked 2 cups of basmati rice for a half hour, and then put it, 3 cups of veggie stock, and 4-5 whole garlic cloves in the rice cooker.  When it was done, I fluffed the rice, added 4 tbsp of vegan margarine and 4 tbsp of lemon juice.  I put the lid back on, let it sit for 10 minutes, and stirred it up.  It has such a good flavor, and I love making it when cooking any Indian inspired dishes.  It may not have been a very “traditional” meal, but that’s no big deal to us.  Heck…our original plan was to go to our favorite Japanese restaurant for dinner! 
The rest of the evening was relaxing and feeling sorry for D.  He’s been a heck of a trooper, but it’s time to put him (and the rest of the kids) in bed and call it a day.  While today was a fairly “normal” Saturday, we truly did have a nice Christmas and I can’t complain at all.
Good night to you all, and I hope your day was just as wonderful

Not Only Cucumbers Get Pickled!

I wanted to take a moment from my regularly scheduled blogging to say hello and thank you.  I started this blog just over a year ago as a way to document my adventures in training for the Shamrock Rock N Roll 1/2 Marathon, as well as my cooking and life adventures.  In the beginning, I don’t think anyone really read it, except for the occasional family member.  As the year has gone by, and I’ve run a few races (including my first FULL marathon), I started looking at my stat counter and where readers are actually from.  Most are family and friends that I know personally, but I’ve been seeing more and more readers that I DON’T know.  I can’t tell you how excited I get when I see people who’ve stumbled upon my blog from one link or another, and I am very happy that my writing may entertain or inform you just a bit.  So feel free to say hi, post a comment, send me an email, follow my Facebook page, or forward me on to anyone else who needs a laugh!  And if you have a blog you’d like me to read – send it on!  I love reading other people’s stories (not only on being vegan or running), and connecting with everyone out there.  So keep reading, and don’t be shy!

Well as predicted, I went a little ape on the baking Tuesday evening and yesterday.  It was a lot of fun, and I had a blast putting together my gift buckets (2 for $1 at the dollar store – WAY cheaper than cookie tins!).

cooling sugar cookies and chocolate chip!  I know chocolate chip cookies aren’t exactly holiday style, but who doesn’t love them?!

 After they cooled, I put them in my tins to clear up counter space.

 Brandied fruit bars.  I pretty much winged it on this one.  I have a recipe from a Holiday Cookie book that I used as a guideline.  I had dried tropical fruits on hand, so I used that (simmered in brandy to soften).  Instead of orange or apricot marmalade, I used a peach-mango preserve.  I didn’t actually eat one, but A said it was really good!

 mini lemon bundt cakes.  Another recipe from the Joy of Vegan Baking, though instead of one big bundt cake, I made 12 little ones!

 Pumpkin spice muffins.

 chocolate brownies.  R was a little afraid at first that I made them only for my friends…but I promised there would be some left over for her.

 The packed little bucket of baked goods

Buckets for all!

The festivities were scheduled to start between 4 and 430.  Since I threw the group together, I wanted to be there early.  D got home from work around 345, and we left right away.  He didn’t stay of course (this was a girls night, after all!), but he was my designated driver (hello.  It’s called Wine Wednesday!).  He stopped in, said hi to a couple of the girls where were already there, and then proceeded to rearrange the buckets on the table so they were in color order, and no two colors were next to each other.  He’s so cute.

Most of the girls were able to make it, so there were 10 of us total, and we had a really good time.  We drank several bottles of red wine (two of the girls got a bottle of white!), some appetizers to share, and regular meals too (though I didn’t….apparently wine was the only nourishment I wanted).  We pooled some gift cards (A still had the gift card she won at my house at our Vegas party last spring!), so between that one and two other’s in the group, we each only paid $20 out of pocket.  Not too shabby!

I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, and if I had been thinking, I’d have asked our waitress to take a picture of the group.  Alas…hindsight and all.

 This is me before the festivities began. 

 A couple of the girls, D and A…

 H and D…

 and C and C!

 And while I didn’t get a picture of her, L made me homemade pepper vodka!  It’s special for my bloody mary’s!  I have to wait 7-10 days, so I think this will be perfect on New Year’s.  And I’m REALLY excited to do something with those peppers too!

D came and picked me up from Carrabba’s around 8.  He arrived earlier than I was ready to leave (which was my fault since I texted him that we were wrapping up).  All the girls wanted him to come inside, but he refused since he was in jammies.  None of us would have cared, but that’s okay.  They all did come by the van to see him though, so they likely saw his jammies anyway!

I was quite pickled, and went to bed shortly after getting home.  Today was a working from home day, so that was good.  I was surprisingly not feeling badly when I woke up – just thirsty!  D kissed me goodbye, and left for work.  I had coffee and some toast!

R wanted to go to her daycare today because her friend was back from vacation and she wanted to play with him.  So I took her for a quick haircut and off to day care before running home for my team meeting webex.  Between catching up on emails, I finished the laundry and the kids picked up the house.  I decided it was time to workout!  I didn’t want to run outside (just not up to the cold, and I’m still lacking in good cold weather running pants), and the treadmill still isn’t situated in the new gym upstairs.  I also didn’t feel like hoofing it to the gym to workout there, so I busted out a workout DVD and used my (pitiful) hand weights and exercise bands.  It was a good workout though, and I busted through an hour of squats, push ups, lunges, and other crazy stuff. 

After my workout, I really wanted something hearty to eat.  I had only picked at a few things during the day, and was finally feeling really hungry!  I came across this split pea soup recipe reading Susan’s blog yesterday, and since I had everything on hand, I whipped up a batch in my pressure cooker.  D and A had some too, and I proceeded to can the rest in my pressure canner, and have 6 jars cooling on my counter as I type this!

By dinner time, I really just wanted something light and full of intense nutrients.  Enter the green smoothie!!!  Today’s smoothie had one cup of water, one cored (but not peeled) green apple, some frozen pineapple, an orange, a lime, and a handful of spinach.  I was looking for my flax seed, but am apparently out.  Anyway, it whipped up this day-glow green concoction that was very good.  It was VERY tart – and maybe next time I’ll only use half a lime.  But it was still really tasty!

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve!!!  Hard to believe that it’s already here.  I plan to do a lot of cooking tomorrow, gift wrapping, and hopefully go for a nice run while it’s sunny!

 My pea soup.  It was really very tasty.  Another amazing recipe from FatFreeVegan!  With the leftovers canned already, I won’t run out any time soon!

 My green smoothie before the Vitamix blended it…

…and after!  Notice the Disney Tervis?  Yeah…I just got that last week!

So now I’m ready to wind down for the night and hopefully get a good night’s sleep.  So good night everyone….and don’t forget to say HI!

 

Nope, I Don’t Eat Meat. NOT the Same Thing as Gluten-Free, Sorry. Thanks For Trying Though…

Yesterday was a very busy day.  After getting the troops off to work/school, it was time for me to head out for my day of meeting fun.  I had meetings at 3 different locations yesterday, so I probably spent more time in my car than my office!  That’s okay though, because they were all pretty good (for the most part).  Two were even conference calls, so I could combine meetings and driving.  How’s THAT for productive?!

Because of the snow last week, M’s band concert was moved to Monday night.  I was thrilled because I would have missed it otherwise.  It was a nice concert, and it’s amazing how much these kids have progressed the past couple of years.

He’s the one actually looking at the camera!

After the show, we did a quick stop at Subway and Target.  I was making gift bags for my team with some homemade goodness, and needed bags and tags. 

We all went to bed pretty early.  A and D seem both to be coming down with something, and I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a few weeks now, so we were all toast by 930.  With today being the last day of school for the kids until after the New Year, it was nice to hit the hay early.

D and I woke up earlier than normal, so that made for a non-rushed morning…which is highly unusual for us!

I made black bean taco’s on corn tortillas and topped with Daiya vegan cheddar shreds for breakfast.  The recipe is adapted from this awesome blog.  I used black beans instead of black eyed peas, and doubled the siracha.  Fabulous.

R had pancakes.  Surprise surprise.

Before eating breakfast, I whipped up a batch of spicy chocolate muffins for my gift bags (I wanted them to be fresh).  Vegan of course, they had cocoa powder, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne pepper.  The recipe is from The Joy of Vegan Baking.  One of the first things I think a vegan “gives up” is desserts.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t feel I’ve lost ANYTHING by becoming vegan.  In fact, I think quite the opposite.  I am healthy and happy, and probably for the first time in my life, I experience foods from so many cultures and can really taste it all.  I’m more adventurous in the kitchen, and am always making I think a wider world opened up to me, and I absolutely new stuff up. I love how I eat.  With that said – it’s tough to find a dessert that doesn’t have eggs, butter, cream, etc.  Once we were aware of R’s severe nut allergy, we pretty much stopped having sweets in the house unless I baked them (and Oreos.  My family LOVES Oreos, and they’re safe for R).  I don’t typically have much of a sweet tooth, so it didn’t bother me TOO much, but sometimes a girl wants dessert.  Just before last Christmas, I saw a review in VegNews magazine for this book.  Of course I bought it, and have really had a whole world of baking opened up to me.  I’ve always been a cook, but never really enjoyed baking, so it’s been fun.  I’ve picked up two or three vegan baking books since then, but this is still my favorite, and is very informative. 

When they were cooling, I took a bath and got ready for work.  I put together my gift bags (the canned cranberry/apple chutney, cream cheese – my friends are omni’s – pretzels, a muffin, the recipe for the muffin, and an ornament from Disney World).  No big deal really, but it felt good to make something to give.  I even got a text from C tonight about the muffin.  She’s getting the 6 left over tomorrow!

Once the bags were done, I hit the road for my first meeting of the day.  After that, I was off to a farewell lunch for one of my staff.  She’s moving to the DC area and transferring to our hospital up there.  Good for her.  Sad for us.

Lunch spot was her choice, and she picked Abuelos, which is a newer chain Mexican restaurant at the mall.  I wasn’t going to complain, but I was there once with D about a year ago (we stayed 10 minutes).  NOTHING on their menu is vegan friendly.  Their beans are all made with bacon, and their rice is made with chicken stock.  Oh well, I can work around pretty much anything.

After we were all there and the waitress came, I asked if she could have a meat and cheese-less salad thrown together for me.  She mentioned that they have a separate vegetarian menu, and would I care to look at it?  Nice – maybe I could get something from that without cheese.  She breezes past the table and hands me a binder and leaves.  I open the binder…and it’s an employee manual!  I found it interesting that they’re not allowed to wear earrings…but it had nothing to do with food.  I did see a sheet of paper shoved in the pocket portion of a list of gluten free foods – which is all the meat – but nothing about vegetarians.  I’ve never had anyone confuse the difference between someone on a gluten-free diet, and someone who didn’t eat meat.  My first thought was “moron”, but really…if you’ve grown up on a typical American diet and don’t know anyone who eats a specialized diet (either by choice of allergy), how’s she really supposed to know the difference?  Oh well.  She came back, took our order, and had the salad made :)

My salad, which was actually quite tasty.  Lettuce, avocado, tomato, onion, raisins, oranges, broccoli – I think they threw in every veggie or fruit they had – and I appreciated it.  With a tasty raspberry vinaigrette, I was a happy diner.

I went back to the office after lunch for an afternoon meeting (which was actually very pleasant) and then headed out.  I stopped at the grocery on the way home to pick up a few more things for baking bonanza!  We’re having a girls Wine Wednesday tomorrow, and I’m making up gift boxes of baked joy.  So far I’ve made brownies, pumpkin muffins, bread, and some cookies.  I want to bake a few more types of cookies, and then I’ll package those up for the group tomorrow.

On a totally unrelated topic…
I’ve noticed something strange about my dog.  For those that know Sammie, she’s just strange anyway, but it turns out she’s clever and sneaky too.  She has her bed in a designated part of the kitchen (it’s really where an eat-in dining room would be, but we have a dining room and eat there….so it’s a big space in the kitchen reserved pretty much just for her).  I keep her bed between the bathroom/laundry room door and the wall.

Where Sammie’s bed is SUPPOSED to be.  This is where I put it..

Every time I come into the kitchen, THIS is where I find her bed. 

Do you see the difference???  I keep moving her bed off of the vent where nice cold air comes in the summer and nice hot air in the winter.  I couldn’t figure out why it kept moving…so I spied on her after moving it to see what the deal was….

My sneaky pups is MOVING the bed from where I think it should be to where she thinks it should be!  My guess, is she wants the heat billowing up through her bed and onto her belly when she’s sleeping.  She’s making her own electric blanket.  Sneaky, clever little girl….

And here she is.  Don’t let the cute exterior fool you.  She’s a cunning little monster. 

Today was my last day in the office until after the holiday.  I’m working from home tomorrow and Thursday, and then it’s family fun time for the rest of the year.  Even D is getting a few days off next week, so that’ll be nice.  I doubt we’ll do anything, but I’m looking forward to having as little to do as possible!

 

No, This is NOT the Hospitality Suite!

I’m literally minding my own business….surfing the internet and watching a re run of Law & Order in my hotel room Thursday evening, when I hear a party going on next door.  It’s maybe 530 pm, and I hear a knock on my door.  I get up and look through the peep hole.  It’s a man in a white button down shirt and a tie.  I figure it’s a hotel employee, so I start to open the door.  As it’s opening, he says (with a Cheshire cat grin on his face), “I’m here for the hospitality suite!”.  He takes one look at me, decides he’s in the WRONG place, and leaves.  I shut the door, wondering what he could possibly be talking about.  After the party next door got a little more rambunctious than I was comfortable with, I decided it was time to head out for dinner!

I’m walking out of the hotel, and I see a couple of girls dressed in dresses so short, that it was frightening.  I think I have underwear that covers more of my bum than these dresses did.  I start a bit with the realization that they are “working girls”!  OH…so THAT’S the hospitality suite!!!!  And it’s right next door to mine.  Figures.

By the time I got back, the festivities must have wound down.  I watched some TV (Vampire Diaries marathon of course) and went to bed.

Friday was slightly better than the rest of the week for my class, but not by much!  We had almost 2 hrs of interfaces discussion – which was the only real worthwhile time the entire week, and then had to take a test.  Being who I am, I wrote “the instruction and materials presented this week have not prepared me to take nor pass this examination” on the bottom of my test.  Ha.  REFUND.

Since class ended at noon and my flight wasn’t until 630, I decided to head back to Orlando and Downtown Disney for a bit more gift shopping.  It had finally warmed up, and was nearly 80 degrees!

 This is a picture of a tree in Downtown Disney (don’t mind the strange guy sitting there…he didn’t look like he was moving).  The tree is made up of game parts from Clue, Life, and Scrabble.  I thought it was neat looking.

 I stopped at the Margarita tent for a Wildberry Margarita while I shopped.  It was quite tasty….and they used a Vitamix, which made me happy, since I use mine every day (at least once).

After some shopping and a nice lunch as Wolfgang Puck’s (spinach salad and butternut squash soup), I headed back to Melbourne for my flight.  I turned in my car and headed to check in.  All went smoothly….until I hit security.

I was selected to go through the full body scanner.  Joy.  I’m wearing a t-shirt and yoga pants, so I should be good, right?  WRONG.  I go through the scanner and am on the other side waiting for the “results”.  As it turns out, a man in a suit who works at the airport walked through the scanner just after my stay in it.  As I’m standing there, the airport lady takes my arm (very gently…she was very nice and I realize was just doing her job).  She starts palpating my right forearm.  I have no idea what she’s looking for, but looks a bit disturbed.  As it turns out, the suit had his picture taken in the scanner and confused my image for his…so his watch showed up – and since I was in a t-shirt with bare arms – they were feeling my arm to see if I had something embedded underneath!  After the confusion, I went through the scanner again and was cleared for my flight.  What a very bizarre experience.

My flight takes off more or less on time, and I head to Atlanta.  I had an almost 2 hr layover, so I grabbed a bite to eat and went to my gate.  We boarded on time, and I was (mistakenly) hopeful for an on time departure.  Alas, we sat there for 45 minutes before take off.  I wasn’t annoyed though since they were holding the plane (it was the last of the day heading to Norfolk) for the late connectors.  If I were on a late connector, I’d want the plane to wait, so again, it didn’t really bother me.

My traveling companion was a nice guy from my area.  We chatted much of the way, and then I spent the rest of the time reading.  We finally landed around midnight, and I was very happy to see D just past the gate.  Unfortunately, we waited nearly an hour for luggage to come out.  Ugh.  We got home around 145am and headed to bed.

Saturday was swim lessons and a bowling bday party for R.  D took A and M to see Tron Legacy (Tron was one of D’s favorite movies).  By 6pm, I was painfully tired, having slept only a few hours before the pups woke me up at 7am for breakfast.  I lounged around the house doing some laundry and cleaning.  I made dinner (turkey and stuffing for D and the kids, stir fry mushrooms, a lentil stew, and a roasted butternut squash dish with vegan “cheese”).  After dinner (while catching up on Chuck and Survivor), I made a soft serve dessert in my Vitamix that was both healthy and delicious. 

 My soft serve yumminess.  I adapted it from Vegan Epicurean.  I skipped the nuts of course due to R’s severe nut allergies, and the ginger as well since D isn’t a big fan.  It was just 1 cup of water, 2 cups of frozen strawberries, 3 frozen bananas (I’ve taken to freezing bananas in chunks when they’re starting to get too ripe), and a half teaspoon of cinnamon.  Blend on low to mix, and then on high.  4 mounds start to form of soft serve goodness that’s basically 100 % fruit.

D stayed up with the kids watching a movie and I went to bed early (just too wiped to stay awake).  I woke up early again today (thanks to Sammie), and found R on the couch watching TV!  I made some coffee, and started planning my day.

I pressed some tofu yesterday and today I marinated it and baked it for sandwiches or wraps or salads.  It’s an Asian theme with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, umbeshi vinegar (it’s a Japanese plum vinegar), brown rice vinegar, and crushed red pepper.  I baked it, but honestly haven’t eaten any yet. 

While that was marinating, I went on my first real run in over a week!  My chest cold is pretty much gone, so it felt great.  It was cold and windy, but still wonderful.  Right after my shower and getting dressed, I got a call from S to go to bottomless Mimosa’s at Wild Wing.  We had 2 hours and the place was packed.  Turns out, you really CAN chug mimosa’s if you have to.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but it can be done.  Gotta get your money’s worth, right!

 My baked tofu.

Every St. Nick’s I get the kids a gingerbread house kit.  Usually, A is the only one with the patience to actually decorate it.  This year was no exception.

 Part of the roof broke, so A decided to make an inside scene as well.  So creative!

 I made homemade pizza for dinner tonight.  Here’s a picture of D decorating his. 

 R’s finished product!  Plain cheese pizza on a pizza plate.  The plates are new (a la Disney) and really the only reason I even made pizzas tonight.  Don’t judge.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I was to start canning my excess food, so I did that this evening!

 The VERY steamy waterbath canner at the conclusion of preserving the cranberry/apple chutney!  D kept warming his hands over it like it was a camp fire.

 My new pressure canner!  I made a crock pot Moroccan chickpea stew today.  As soon as the crock was done, I made up 7 half-pints of preserved goodness.  It’s nice knowing it’s there for weeks or months to come if that’s what I wish.  I just need a bigger pantry now!  I told D he has to build me some shelves in the attached garage.

My finished work!  It took most of the evening, but I’m quite proud!

This will thankfully be a short week at work.  I’m looking forward to it, but even more so to the holiday break.  I hope it’s peaceful and productive.  I’m just very happy to be home!

The (Temporary) End of a Dream

So this has been an unpleasant week.  In a very concise nutshell:

1-travel hell.  See last post about a travel experience that really should be reserved under “you just can’t make stuff like this up”.  Flight straight out of a nightmare and a garish hotel.  This will seem funny.  Someday.
2-in FL.  Sunny right??  Try 30ish most of the week.  So not fair. I’m wearing a hat and gloves and scarf.
3-class.  I’m here for a 4 day class to learn ALL about a new system my customers bought.  It’s been a waste of time for the most part.  Disorganized, unprofessional, networks crashing, no relevant information or ability to answer my questions.  Can we say REFUND???
4-I’ve had a chest cold since Friday and can’t run.  Rules say if the cold is above the neck, run it out.  Below?  Rest or get sicker.  Crap.  Running may have kept me sane this week.

I did have some good moments though. 

Both Tuesday and again today, I had Thai food from Thai Hana – summer rolls and (drum roll please) tofu green curry.  Surprise, surprise.  Both times were fabulous.  It was more fusion than straight Thai, but I think that made it even better!

This was my appetizer.  They are steamed spring rolls (think egg rolls, but not fried).  The roll itself becomes almost gelled and sticky.  It’s filled with cubed steamed tofu, lettuce, cabbage, bean sprouts, and carrots.  Served with a sweet and sour sauce, I have to say that I really love these.

Tofu green curry.  Both days I abstained from the regular side of white rice and stuck to just the tofu and vegetables.  This is where the dish was more “fusion” than strict Thai.  The dish had tofu, Thai basil, bell peppers, and corn in a green curry sauce with coconut milk.  I really have to learn how to make this.  It really does defy description with how yummy it is.  So for anyone reading with a good green curry recipe or Thai book, bring it on my way!

I did a small workout, though nothing along the lines of what I wanted.  I wanted to run.  It’s like the Queen song I love so much, I Want to Break Free!  I want to run and stretch my legs and push my body and just MOVE for as fast and as far as I can.  Alas, the cough has gotten the better of me, so I stuck to a quick paced walk.  It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was better than nothing.  I’m pretty confident that I’m going to rock a good run on Saturday after I’m back home to my wonderful Virginia.

I spent a couple days at Downtown Disney doing some shopping for the kids.  Of course, I forgot the antenna balls (for the cars…we always have Disney themed antenna balls – except when Bumble ate the 4th of July one this year…).  So, I’m going tomorrow after my last class and before my flight so I can pick up just a couple of more things!

I have discovered a new guilty pleasure in the form of a TV show.  The Vampire Diaries has been on a marathon on the local CW channel.  I’ve probably watched 2 hrs or so per night, and I LOVE it.  I’m totally adding this to the recording queue when I get home.

I’ve done several video chats with D and the kids, which has made a week long trip seem a little less awful.  We spent some time talking about our 10 year plan, which makes me happy.  I’m excited to see 10 years from now.

On a sad note (but don’t feel too sorry for me, it’s my choice), I am putting on hold my triathlon plans.  As much as I want to do it and know I can rock it, I’m not willing to pay the $$ for a new road bike.  D and I have been looking for a good used one, but haven’t been able to find anything.  It’s probably prudent to put it on hold a bit and just focus on the running.  Maybe in the spring when everyone who bought new bikes for New Year’s Resolutions decides to give up and list on eBay or Craig’s List and I can get one at a discount, then maybe.  But right now, I’m absolutely not spending the money on getting into a sport I’m not sure I’ll even love!  The financial commitment is too much (a true tri bike can cost more than a car!) and  I have better things to do with that much cash.  When the time comes, it’ll be there, and I have a few marathon’s under my belt by then.

I’m hoping to get a good night’s sleep, have a great last class tomorrow, and travel home with no plane issues.  I’m looking forward to working a couple of days and then taking the holiday’s off.  My plan is to run.  A lot!  And do some yoga and get into a strength training groove.  I’m also going to start using a pressure canner to preserve all the leftover food I make – the lentil chowders, Mediterranean stews, etc.  I like the idea of preserving in single servings for my lunches.  I also think I’m going to send them to my Dad and make him try them too!  He’s the most adventurous about my food (just ask him the sweet potato story)!.






Just Can’t Seem to Escape the Cold!

The Sunshine State it may be, but it’s COLD! 

I slept horribly last night.  It was after 1am when I finally feel asleep, and I couldn’t get my room at a comfortable temperature.  I think part of it is when I sleep, I like the room a little chilly, but with heavy blankets.  This room has a very thin blanket over a sheet, so I just couldn’t get comfortable. 

I woke around 7, head pounding, so I tossed around for another 2 hours.  I crawled out of bed, had a broken coffee pot replaced by housekeeping, lounged about for a bit until I felt better, and then got it together to head out.  I had a banana and some pineapple that I picked up last night, so I was caffeinated, fed, and ready to roll.

My original plan was to go to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, but it was just too cold.  I drove the hour into Orlando and went to Downtown Disney to do some Christmas shopping.  After a while or walking around in the freezing cold, I stopped for lunch at Portabello’s.  It’s the second time I’ve been there, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

 I started with a side salad.  I wanted to do what I could to fill up on veggies so I wouldn’t be tempted to gorge on pasta.  It was very good, but a little overly dressed with the balsamic vinaigrette. 

 Along with my glass of Malbec (hey…it was REALLY cold, and I needed to warm up to brave the outdoors to shop some more), they brought a whole head of roasted garlic on a plate of olive oil with a basket of rolls.  I ate one of the rolls and lots of the garlic.  I have to figure out how they do this and start making this at home.  A lot.

 I ordered a side of seasonal roasted vegetables.  I love veggies, so it was a two-fer for me.  I got to fill up on much more veggies and much less pasta.  This was summer squash, red onion, and bell peppers roasted in olive oil.

 My pasta dish with a big roasted Serrano pepper!  The waiter explained that the chef doesn’t slice it to give the customer the option of how much heat they want.  It was very good, but after everything else I ate, I only made it 3 bites in.  I guess I achieved my goal of not gorging on pasta.  A little bit of a shame though, since it was very tasty.  Alas, my hotel room has no fridge, so I didn’t keep any  left overs.

I did a few more hours of shopping and got some cool stuff for the kids.  It was nice, but very cold.  After that, I decided to check out the Universal City Walk.  It’s supposed to be Universal Studio’s version of Downtown Disney – shops and dining.  I was underwhelmed.  Maybe it’s a different experience in the summer weather or when it’s warm, but today, I lasted about 30 minutes, and left.

I went back to my hotel, chatting with my friend S on the way.  When I got back, I took the pictures of my tacky room.

This is the view from my bed.  No wonder I couldn’t fall asleep last night!

My bed and the light gold walls.  See the sphinx on the wall?  Crazy….

The hotel room bathroom.  Isn’t it just awful?!? 

After chatting with D for a bit, I decided I should probably grab some dinner.  I found a Panera on Yelp and headed over there.  It ended up being in a nice shopping center, so I drove around a bit, but then went in to eat.  I had the pick two, and got a bowl of veggie soup, a Mediterranean veggie sandwich (no cheese), and an apple as my side.  I stuck the apple in my bag to have for breakfast tomorrow.

I got back to the hotel room, did a quick video chat with D and the kids, and now I’m off to bed.  I have a training class tomorrow, and if I’m breathing better, hoping to either go for a run or hit a local yoga studio.  So wish me luck, and I’ll check in later!

It’s a Bloody Good Thing I Have a Sense of Humor

What a crazy day.  My dad always said that our family had luck…it just wasn’t GOOD luck.  I have to say I agree.  I’ve had a few very bizarre things happen (like a diesel semi bottoming out in my front yard and causing a hazmat situation…things like that), and most of my friends think I have a black cloud.  I personally wouldn’t say black.  But I’d definitely say grey!

Yesterday was a long day.  Because R slept in our room after her ER visit, neither D nor I got any sleep.  R woke up at 7am, so I was up by 702 when she was squirming around.  I couldn’t be upset though, because as soon as I opened my eyes, she was beaming up at me.  So we crawled out of bed quietly to let D get some more sleep, and we went downstairs.  I’m not feeling well at this point, but still not sure if it’s because I’m coming down with something or because I’m exhausted.

So I made coffee and then R requested waffles.  Can’t say no after her ordeal, so I made a batch of home made waffles.  To be fully honest, she asked for pancakes first.  I said sure, I’d make some.  She asked if they “were the kind that was already made in the freezer”.  I said no, I’d make them from scratch.  That’s when she changed to waffles.  I’m thinking that was an insult to my pancakes, but I’m not sure…

I made a mixed breakfast for me.  I boiled 1 oz of brown rice pasta and threw in some frozen mixed veg of cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots.  Then I used some left over lentil chowder and then the acorn squash alfredo.  The combination was very, very good.

I finally woke D up just after 10 because I had some errands to run and I needed to pack.  I was home after an hour or so, and started cleaning and packing.  The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, though we did get R a desk for her room (which made her feel very grown up).  I tried going to bed early, and managed finally around 1030.

I woke up at 7 this morning, had some coffee and some Ezekiel bread toasted with sunflower seed butter, and then the adventure began.  D got me to the airport on time, and I checked in with no issues.  Yeah Norfolk.  My flight was on time, and I landed in Atlanta exactly as planned.  Woo hoo.  So far so good! My travel companion was an odd man who made lots of noises with his mouth, but otherwise it was pretty calm.  My flight was supposed to leave at 1250pm for FL.  That gave me a little over an hour to get to my gate, go to the bathroom, call my family, and catch up on Twitter.  Here is where things went downhill.  Fast. 

The plane broke.  No kidding…broke.  They announce that they’re working on it and our new departure time was 130pm.  Okay.  No biggie.  I packed snacks (awesome seeded crackers, smoked tofu, a pint of blueberries, and multi grain puffed cracker things), so I was okay to wait a bit more.  I’m never confident when I travel that I’ll be able to find healthy vegan options in the airports.

I sat there reading twitter and my kindle, snacked on all the blueberries, a couple crackers and some tofu, and was okay.  Then there’s an announcement that they found us a new plane, and we’d have to switch gates and our new departure time was 220pm.  Plenty of time to hit the bathroom, pick up some water, and still board.  Cool.  Long day, but okay.  I wasn’t feeling too terrible at all – just the chest tightness and occasional coughing of green, but I was no infecto lady!  220 comes and goes.  No plane.  They announce it’s now going to depart at 250.  Okay, that’ll get me to FL by 5.  Not 2 like planned, and I was going to skip driving into Orlando, but that was okay.  There’s always tomorrow.

At 230 the new plane landed, and I started to think I’d actually get out of Atlanta.  Of course with looking out the window for the plane to arrive, I couldn’t help but notice that it was snowing.  In Georgia.  Oh Lord, this can’t be good. 

By 245pm, Delta had us boarding our plane.  There were a lot of people grumbling, but I was still in a surprisingly cheerful mood.  No sense getting worked up over anything I can’t control, right?  It’s a tiny plane and I’m not thrilled, but I got to my aisle seat and settled in.  And we waited.  And waited.  Around 315, the pilot comes out to tell us that the reason for the delay is that none of our bags are on board (they were on previous flights that somehow made it out of Atlanta without us), and they were making sure they were all accounted for before we left the gate.  Okay cool.  I appreciate that – would hate to have my luggage go missing.  Been there, done that.  Of course they have to re-distribute the weight on the plane since there are no bags, and one person did have to move from the front to the back.  How scary is it that one 220 lb man made the difference in the plane’s ability to fly??

At least through all this, they left the cabin door open so we could all still use our electronic devices.  So I’m texting with friends, updating facebook and twitter, and reading my Kindle.  By now, pretty much everyone on the plane is complaining quite loudly.  I think that was as bad as the delays really.  Whining isn’t going to fix anything. 

After another 15-20 minutes, the pilot comes on and explains that the plane needs to be de iced.  Of course this is Atlanta, and they don’t have the resources to do this the way Chicago or New York would.  So here we are – in the busiest airport in the country – and all the planes have to line up to be de iced but a very limited number of de icing trucks.  He tells us that we’re 8th in line to push back from the gate, and then 15th in line to de ice.  Ugh.

We push back from the gate, go a few feet, make a u turn, go a few more feet, and then stop.  And we’re stopped for a good 15 minutes or so.  I decide I’m a bit hungry, and get up to get my snacks from the compartment above my head.  As soon as I stand up, one of the flight attendants comes sprinting up to me, telling me that the fasten seat belt light is on and I cannot get up.  I apologized, and explained I didn’t think it mattered because we weren’t moving.  She wasn’t nice, but gave me my bag so I could get my stuff.  I decide that angering the flight attendant wouldn’t be wise.  Besides, she’s getting enough lip from angry passengers.  It’s not her fault, so why make it worse?

Well, apparently not everyone felt as I did.  A large man at the rear of the plane got up, apparently to use the bathroom (which the lady behind me said was REALLY gross…I’m thinking it wasn’t cleaned between the previous flight and ours).  The attendant told him that he had to sit down, that it was a safety rule since the plane was technically in motion (since we’d left the gate, but really weren’t moving).  He started yelling.  She started yelling.  And all hell was going to break loose.  She told him that if he didn’t sit down, that she was going to tell the captain.  Of course he yells to her “Fine.  Go tell him!”.  She stomps away, informs the captain, and then gets on the loudspeaker….and very rudely…starts telling everyone that they can’t get up, that she’s not going to be held liable for someone falling and getting hurt, and that these rules are for our safety.  And if we don’t like it, we can go back to the gate.  And oh by the way…if we go back to remove unruly passengers, we’re not leaving Atlanta today because they’re shutting the airport down”.  Here I am wishing I had thought to use my iPhone and film her to post on You-Tube!  She wasn’t wrong, but she was nasty about it, which was really unnecessary.

So after waiting, and de icing, and waiting some more, we were finally airborne at 520pm.  Joy.  Nearly 3 hrs stuck on a plane that wasn’t going anywhere, after spending 3 hrs in the airport waiting to go.  Long Day.

The only highlight was the conversation with the gentleman sitting next to me (who’s name I didn’t get).  We somehow started talking about running, and he told me that his wife ran marathons and did triathlons – and that she just did Ironman!  It was really neat listening to him explain how she manages to train, work, and take care of a family – which is always something I’m worried about being able to juggle.  She’ll run at 4am, get the kids up and off to school, bike 50 miles, and then go to work.  Get the kids, make dinner, and sometimes workout in the evenings too!  It was very inspiring and I could tell he was very proud of her.  He let me know that where I’m at in FL has a lot of running stores, so as long as I’m not feeling bad, I’m going to try and hook up with a group run while I’m here.  We talked a bit about blogging, facebook, and twitter, and it was funny trying to explain why anyone would want to read things like this that a complete stranger writes.  I told him that facebook was great for communicating with people you know…and twitter is great for meeting people you don’t.  For me, I find Twitter fun because I get to “meet” people who are like me.  I don’t know a single other vegan in my family or friends circle.  So it’s neat to communicate with people who are.  Anyway, I’m rambling again, sorry.

I finally get off the plane, get my rental car, and my luggage, and headed out.  I got to my hotel, checked in (it’s about 730 now), and decided I’d like a light dinner and a glass of wine.  Yeah.  No luck.  The lounge is closed on Sunday’s and no room service either.  Ugh.  I get to my room, and am prepping to head out for a bite.  I’m sitting in my hotel room and here a chirping noise.  A minute later, I hear it again.  Lovely – the smoke detector battery is dying.  I call the front desk, and they switch my room, so I haul all my luggage back to the lobby to get my new hotel room key, and off I go.  I will take pictures tomorrow, but my room is simply hideous.  It was probably cool in the 80’s. It has a tacky Egyptian theme.  Half the walls are black, the other gold.  There are papyrus paintings hanging everywhere, and sphinx masks on the walls.  It’s pretty comical.

Anyway, I headed out to a walmart up the road.  I needed to get some fruit for the morning, and some wine for tonight.  I stopped at an Asian restaurant and grabbed a dinner of steamed vegetables and tofu.  I think I’ve eaten more tofu in the past 15 hrs than I have in the past 2 weeks!

After getting back to my room, I hopped on the web cam to see D and the kids before bed, took a shower, and decided I needed to blog while my adventures were fresh in my mind.  So there ya go.  Lesson of the day?  Don’t travel with me.

I leave you with a quick list of do’s and don’t’s of travel (based on my day today):

1.  DO shower the morning before your flight.
2.  DON’T wear perfume or cologne.  In a tight space, it’s awful.
3.  DO wear freshly laundered clothes and jackets.  Nothing like sitting next to someone who’s jacked still smells like last year’s dumpster dive
4.  DO stay in your seat, and your seat alone.  You may be tall or wide…but you did not buy the seat your neighbor occupies.  Suck it in, suck it up, and stay in your space.
5.  DO be nice.  Nothing good comes from being otherwise.
6.  DON’T fidget.  Smacking your lips, twitching your leg, whisteling, etc….always upsets your travel mate.  It’s annoying.
7.  DO NOT bring smelly snacks.  That’s also gross.
8.  DO NOT fight your way onto the plane.  It’s not going to leave without you – no sense pushing your way and cutting people off to get to the front of the line prematurely.
9.  DO NOT travel to places that can’t handle bad weather.  Namely, Atlanta.  (but to be fair, they got stuck taking flights that should have gone to the midwest and north east, so they had probably a worse day than I did).

Off to bed I go, hoping for a much more peaceful and uneventful day tomorrow.  Good night :)

Don’t Start a Phone Call With the Words "Don’t Panic"

Because that’s EXACTLY what I’m going to do.  What does it say about me when a conversation has to start like that?  Anyway.  This is going to be a relatively short post because it’s midnight and I’m pretty exhausted. 

Today was a typical morning.  Breakfast was made (scrambled sandwiches for the family, a green smoothie for me of banana, orange, mango, blueberries, and kale), lunches were made, husband and children were successfully shuffled off on time.

I only had one meeting today, so yeah for that!  I had a lot of work to wrap up before heading out of town all next week, so I’m glad it was a peaceful day. 

A couple of days ago, I told M that he could invite friends to go to Busch Gardens this evening right after school.  So a couple of his friends rode his school bus home with him, and pretty much as soon as they got home, we left.  We were in the park by 530pm, and it was already full dark.  Fortunately, it was pretty empty, so the lines for the nicer things were short.  M and his friends went their way (with the expectation that they text every hour to let me know how they were), and I went mine. 

I first went on the sky ride, which was just beautiful.  I got to see all the lights from above the park, and that was just neat.  I walked through the entire theme park, and was pretty much frozen shortly into it.  I did get to see the show in Ireland (for those who don’t know, the Busch Garden’s theme park in Williamsburg, VA is broken up into European countries as it’s theme), which I never did before because the lines were always so long.  It was pretty – about a dozen singers doing Christmas carols, and a small orchestra.

After that, I needed some warming up, so I bought some hot tea and found my way to the heated tent seating in England.  I brought my Kindle and my book light, and figured if all else failed, I’d just hang out and read.  I did that for about an hour, and even though the tent was warmer than the outside air, it was still extremely cold to me.  Last week I was thinking that I missed living in a colder climate and the snow and everything, and maybe someday I’d go back to it.  Today I realized the folly of my thinking.  Being cold sucks.  A lot.  Snow is pretty to see or visit for a very short period, but give me white beaches over white snow any day.

I eventually gave up and went to the van to blast the heater and warm up.  Very shortly after, M called to tell me he and his friends were frozen, and could we go?  It was about 845 pm, and we left to grab a bite to eat and then drive the 45 ish minute drive home.  We were just finishing up eating, when my phone rang.  It was my husband.  In his exceptionally smooth voice says, “Honey…don’t panic.  It’s probably nothing to worry about, but I’m going to take R to the hospital.  Now she’s probably fine, but she ran full tilt into the treadmill, hit her head, and has a black eye sprouting.”.  Of course, I want to completely panic.  I don’t want to upset M (he’s very close and protective of his little sister), but I start telling him that I want a head CT or MRI done to make sure there’s no head trauma, etc.  Anyway, I quickly paid the check, and then we piled in the van for the drive home.  I dropped one friend off at her house, and the other friend is spending the night, so we came home.  After we got home, I went over to the hospital to see how the little patient was.  She seems fine, the PA checked her for any neurological problems, and other than a shiner on her right eye, she’s okay.  Of course we have to keep an eye on her for any symptoms, but they really strongly feel she’s fine. 

It’s amazing sometimes, but for pretty much everything, I am the one who keeps it together.  I don’t panic about work, finances (even when things are scary), daily life in general.  But holy cow, when it comes to the kids and their health, I’m a complete mess.  When my eldest was 3 and lost a fight with the corner of a wall and sliced her head open – D took her to the ED (I was at work).  When I got there, the nurse pretty much made me leave the room because my hysterics were the worst, and A was dealing with the stitches and everything just fine.  When M had hives head to toe, I’m scared to death he’s going to have airway issues and stop breathing.  D took him to the ED.  When A broke her arm (and I was 1800 miles away at a conference), he spoke very calmly to me – almost like I was a child – to keep me from panicking.  My youngest had several scary febrile seizures when she was under the age of 2 (which are incredibly common, by the way).  I melted down like a useless puddle every single time.  Someone gets a cold or feels run down, and I’m running every doomsday scenario in my head.  But only when it comes to my kids do I become a total blubbering and useless heap.  When D was sick, and we were going through specialists for two years like other people go through socks – I kept it together.  Yes I was a mess, but only those very close to me knew it.  With the kids though, I can’t keep it together.  I’m guessing this is normal and it certainly explains why D has to start phone calls in the way that he did.  It doesn’t stop me from panicking though.

So they should be home from the hospital soon (I wanted to stay at the ED with them, but really can’t rationalize having one of my older kids’ friends over without an adult in the house.  It’s a rule of ours – if we’re not home, they can’t have friends over), and R gets to sleep in our bed tonight.  She’s thrilled, though D and I won’t get any sleep with her there.  That’s okay though.  It’ll still make me feel better!