Category Archives: Uncategorized

Food, Pets, and Theme Parks. My Fav Kind of Week

FOOD

Well, a full week home and I’m back to my obsession with Indian flavors.  And tacos.  Next step?  Blending those obsessions…curry tacos?  Yeah…I’m down for that.  Stay tuned.

I made a big batch of a ginger/carrot soup on Sunday and had that for most lunches this week, along with granola bar leftovers, and fruits and veggies and salads.  Thai too during a working lunch that made me grateful to have a co-worker who also loves Thai food.  And perhaps it’s because I really want Fall to hurry up and get here, lots of oatmeal….which is weird because I don’t typically love oatmeal.

AC and I went out Tuesday night for tacos and drinks.

AC and I went out Tuesday night for tacos and drinks.

oatmeal made with flax milk, blueberries, and generous sprinkling of cinnamon!

oatmeal made with flax milk, blueberries, and generous sprinkling of cinnamon!

a very bad picture of a very good soup....

a very bad picture of a very good soup….

my spices came!  More Indian flavors....and a super spicy Sriracha powder!

my spices came! More Indian flavors….and a super spicy Sriracha powder!

just because it smelled SO good....dried Arbol peppers, sliced garlic, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, and ajiwan seeds sauteing before adding the chickpeas, tofu, and rice!

just because it smelled SO good….dried Arbol peppers, cinnamon stick, sliced garlic, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, and ajiwan seeds sauteing before adding the chickpeas, tofu, and rice!

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final dinner!  A nice kick of spice, but not too overpowering.

final dinner! A nice kick of spice, but not too overpowering.

FITNESS

Yoga…running…the usual.  Despite the hectic week, I did get in a few good workouts.  Two longer runs and two hot yoga classes and one yogaglo class here at home.  In my travels earlier this month, I had the opportunity to introduce two people to yogaglo.com, and hopefully have some new converts!  Seriously, for the price of a single drop-in class, you have unlimited classes for a month.  That’s just cool.

I’m still fretting for my lack of daily data though.  I admit, that when I got my first FitBit (the Force….of which I was one of the lucky ones who got skin burns from wearing it….and then the One, which was nice and tiny…but now somewhere lost in Charlottesville), I became addicted even more so than normal to my physical activity.  How many steps did I accomplish?  How do I rate among my friends who have them?  And if I’m lacking, how many more walks around the block before I’m back in the lead?

On top of this, my GPS sports watch sucks.  I have the Nike+ and while I loved it at first (it’s not bulky on my little wrists), Nike has totally stopped supporting it.  The bloody thing takes forever to connect to satellites before I start running (often leaving me pacing in my drive for a good 10 minutes), and the website…once a fun and interactive game…is now basic and rarely works.  I’ve been asking around on Facebook, and I think it’s time I switch back to a Garmin.

LIFE

It’s more or less been a good week.   Busy, yes, and glad to be back in the office, but also stressful for the early morning and long nights.  Also someone I care about suffered a medical emergency yesterday, and that’s been a concern for sure.  Not for me, but for her and her family.

AC and I were originally planning to hit up a hot yoga class together on Tuesday, but ended up going for tacos and drinks (beer for me, bourbon for her!).

I took R to Busch Garden’s last night for a kick off to the holiday weekend!  Just the two of us, and we did two loops through the park, rode a ton of rides, and enjoyed an incredibly beautiful evening.

in line for our first coaster of the evening!

in line for our first coaster of the evening!

looking WAY too comfortable on a motorcycle (granted, this is an arcade, but still....born in Milwaukee...Haley in her veins....I'm in trouble)

looking WAY too comfortable on a motorcycle (granted, this is an arcade, but still….born in Milwaukee…Haley in her veins….I’m in trouble)

Today I woke up early, did some reading, watched a movie, and finished up all the massive amounts of laundry a big family piles up during a week….most of this before the rest of my family stirred!

Ginny interrupting my reading.  Nothing new.

Ginny interrupting my reading. Nothing new.

Sammie at the vet, passed out on the floor from exhaustion after barking at everyone and every fur baby in the joint.

Sammie at the vet, passed out on the floor from exhaustion after barking at everyone and every fur baby in the joint.

Ginny napping on top of a shoe box on D's dresser.  I just couldn't NOT take this when I saw her paw on her cheek...

Ginny napping on top of a shoe box on D’s dresser. I just couldn’t NOT take this when I saw her paw on her cheek…

Tonight my son is having a LAN party (Local Area Network…an IT-geeky way of saying everyone brings their own computer, we hook them up to our network, and they play games like crazy all night long and eat junk food).

D is out at the Oceanfront taking sunset and star pics, and R and I are relaxing and having a quiet evening!

So yeah.  Really nice to be home, be with my family and friends, eat good food, and sleep in my own bed!

 

There’s No Place Like Home!

FOOD

I’m not even going to go into the rest of the travel foods.  Most were simple – oatmeal and fruit breakfasts at the hotels, salad lunch and dinners, and one disastrous Thai food meal where I got violently sick 10 minutes afterwards.

The fun part is coming home and being back in my very own kitchen!  Below are the highlights since I got home!

spinach, mint, banana, and raw cacao smoothie

spinach, mint, banana, and raw cacao smoothie

homemade granola bars that have been a huge hit with the family

homemade granola bars that have been a huge hit with the family

salad cup tacos!  Simple romaine leaves with refried beans, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and hot sauce

salad cup tacos! Simple romaine leaves with refried beans, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and hot sauce

my fave quick-pickled spicy cucs.  Sesame oil, crushed red pepper, rice vinegar, and a small amount of sugar.

my fave quick-pickled spicy cucs. Sesame oil, crushed red pepper, rice vinegar, and a small amount of sugar.

Happy Herbivore's cabbage soup.

Happy Herbivore’s cabbage soup.

oatmeal with a boat load of cinnamon!

oatmeal with a boat load of cinnamon!

Pan roasted cauliflower with Indian spices (mustard seed, garlic, ginger, cayenne, and turmeric) with some chickpeas over basmati rice.

Pan roasted cauliflower with Indian spices (mustard seed, garlic, ginger, cayenne, and turmeric) with some chickpeas over basmati rice.

FITNESS

Since getting home, I’ve gone to one hot vinyasa class (which was one of the most challenging classes I’ve had in a long time….) and also went for a very steamy run.  Crazy, but I found the long run in the hot and humid weather with sweat stinging my eyes easier than the 60 minute flow class.  I guess it’s not that crazy – yoga is not as easy as people often think!

LIFE

I am incredibly happy to be home.  The work travels were good, don’t get me wrong, but two weeks in hotels and away from my family is just too much.  I have no idea how traveling consultants do it – would completely drive me nuts.  The only up side was I went to bed ridiculously early most nights and read about 4-5 novels.  Oh, I also got my nails done and had a massage one night.  That was cool.

D and the kids did a great job of keeping down the fort while I was away.  Summer is winding to a close, A is back at university, and R and M are trying to do as little as possible while they still can before their school starts up!

For me, it’s been grocery shopping and laundry, reading and relaxing at home.  We were supposed to get together with friends tonight for some grilling and fun at our place, but LC isn’t feeling well, and early this afternoon I got socked with a nasty sudden-onset head cold.  It’s a bummer, but we’ve rescheduled and the fun will commence then!

A local yoga studio has been hosting an Ayurveda workshop and consultations this weekend.  Here’s a definition if you don’t know what it is! I went last night, and it was wonderful.  I’ve always been interested in ancient medicine (especially over conventional drugs when it can be effective), and this was not disappointing at all.  I’ve done a lot of reading about Ayurveda over the years, but meeting and talking with a practitioner surpassed all my ideas of what it would be like.  She gave me some recommendations that I plan to take very much to heart (especially in areas of insomnia, hives/stress, etc).

D went out to our local Pride Fest last night and today to support the LGBT community as well as take pictures, so I’ve barely seen him so far this weekend.  M is spending time with friends since being gone all summer as a counselor, and R and I have been lazing about.  Life gets back to normal next week (work, swim team, school stuff) and I really am looking forward to it!

while trying to read a magazine, Ginny jumped right on top of it.  She has absolutely no sense of when NOT to crawl in your lap...and especially loves sitting on any reading materials.  Just ask my Dad - when he was here and would read the morning paper, that's exactly when Ginny decided his lap was where she needed to be....

while trying to read a magazine, Ginny jumped right on top of it. She has absolutely no sense of when NOT to crawl in your lap…and especially loves sitting on any reading materials. Just ask my Dad – when he was here and would read the morning paper, that’s exactly when Ginny decided his lap was where she needed to be….

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman with a Rental Car and Flat Tire…

FOOD

Before I get into the drama that inspired the post, I will have to say I’ve had some INCREDIBLE meals in the past several days!  I’m only going to go into detail about two of them, but in addition to those, I’ve had some great salads, soups, and curry.  Pics will follow.

Friday night, LS and I went to Elizabeth’s Gone Raw in DC!  I have wanted to go there for years, but it seems I’m rarely in DC on a Friday night (they are only open on Friday nights!).  They do a 6 course raw and vegan tasting menu, and we opted for the wine pairings as well.  Oh, and everything came from one of three farms in the VA and PA areas.  Truly farm-to-table.

I know it's geeky, but couldn't help taking a pic of the sign out front!

I know it’s geeky, but couldn’t help taking a pic of the sign out front!

the organic wine and beer list at the bar as I awaited LS's arrival

the organic wine and beer list at the bar as I awaited LS’s arrival

bottomless kale chips.  I seriously don't care who you are or what you THINK you know about kale, but these are simply amazing.

bottomless kale chips. I seriously don’t care who you are or what you THINK you know about kale, but these are simply amazing.

our menu!

our menu!

Amuse course - a chilled curry zucchini soup with golden raisins.

Amuse course – a chilled curry zucchini soup with golden raisins.

Starter course - a sunflower sprout Caesar salad.

Starter course – a sunflower sprout Caesar salad.

Appetizer of beet tartare with a sunny side up "quail egg" which is a dehydrated yellow cherry tomato and a circle of vegan cheese.

Appetizer of beet tartare with a sunny side up “quail egg” which is a dehydrated yellow cherry tomato and a circle of vegan cheese.

Intermezzo - this dish is an apple and celery sorbet.  LS had this, but due to my apple allergy, they brought me something different.

Intermezzo – this dish is an apple and celery sorbet. LS had this, but due to my apple allergy, they brought me something different.

my intermezzo - a watermelon and hibiscus sorbet.

my intermezzo – a watermelon and hibiscus sorbet.

the Entree - which even our waitress described as "stupid good".  A tomato and morel risotto made from VA grown green papaya and a squash blossom stuffed with a ridiculous wild garlic and cashew creme.

the Entree – which even our waitress described as “stupid good”. A tomato and morel risotto made from VA grown green papaya and a squash blossom stuffed with a ridiculous wild garlic and cashew creme.

finally, the Dessert course.  A three layered dish of chocolate ganache, jungle peanuts, and a date and maple layer, topped with a cappuccino and cinnamon foam.

finally, the Dessert course. A three layered dish of chocolate ganache, jungle peanuts, and a date and maple layer, topped with a cappuccino and cinnamon foam.

Last night I was in Charlottesville looking for a place to eat and wandered into Parallel 38. It’s a fun little place I literally stumbled upon.  Their entire concept is that all their dishes, and most edible food, is grown along the earth’s 38th parallel.  This includes Spain, Italy, Greece, Napa California, and our own Charlottesville, Virginia.  It’s a Mediterranean tapas restaurant, and they also had a vegan menu, which made me very happy!

my menu from Parallel 38

my menu from Parallel 38

beet and arugula salad with a champagne foam dressing

beet and arugula salad with a champagne foam dressing

 

tabbouleh

tabbouleh

citrus Yukon gold potatoes that I think are the best thing I ate all week.  And that's saying something.

citrus Yukon gold potatoes that I think are the best thing I ate all week. And that’s saying something.

Miscellaneous eats of the week!

today's breakfast salad Ala Whole Foods

today’s breakfast salad Ala Whole Foods

soy latte

soy latte

green juice

green juice

hotel breakfast

hotel breakfast

this crazy sangria margarita thing that was surprisingly good

this crazy sangria margarita thing that was surprisingly good

another breakfast salad, this one from Wegman's

another breakfast salad, this one from Wegman’s

tofu green curry with eggplant.  It was too oily for my liking

tofu green curry with eggplant. It was too oily for my liking

Tom Ka soup - that was ridiculously good

Tom Ka soup – that was ridiculously good

FITNESS

My workouts of the week have consisted mostly of dread mill runs and Yogaglo classes in my hotel.  Today, however, was different!

I actually was able to make it to a yoga studio and take a regular class.  The only hot yoga studio that C-Ville has is a Bikram one, and I’m not a fan (too militaristic for my tastes – no mind/body connection) so I opted for a vinyasa “lite” class at a little studio called Opal.  I thought it was cute that the name of the class was Over Easy.  It wasn’t overly challenging as far as the pace went, but we certainly got into some deep poses that left me feeling the effects the rest of the day.  Good effects, but definite reminders that I need some more hip openers in my life!

Oh, and I got to use my brand new Manduka yoga mat for the first time, so that was totally awesome!

LIFE

Well, what can I say?  It’s been busy.  I was in Maryland from Saturday-Wednesday.  On Wednesday morning, I went to the southern suburbs of DC until Saturday.  Early Saturday, I left to meet my husband and daughters to move A into her dorm, and then I went to Charlottesville, where I will be until this Tuesday.  Then it’s off to Harrisonburg from Tuesday until Friday, when I can finally go home.  I’ve only slept in my own bed once in the past two weeks, and I’m really ready to get back!  (first week was an air mattress, then it’ll be two weeks in hotels by the time I’m home again).

All this chaos aside, it’s been really good and productive on this trip.  The conference was good, and the DC trip was highly informative and is laying the groundwork for a project we’re starting.  The next week will be more of the same for that.  I’ve gotten to travel with some very cool people – both personally and professionally – and I am not disappointed in any of it, other than I wish I was home.

M came home from camp today for the final time this summer (unless he goes back for Labor Day weekend – which they’ve asked him to do!) and A is moved back on campus for the start of her sophomore year.

On the morning I left Maryland for Virginia, I made it much faster than I anticipated!  I stopped for a quick breakfast before heading to work, and texted D.  So if you’re a new reader – D does a great job of planning my meals when I’m away.  Especially when I dine with consultants, I don’t always have a say in where we go – so he calls, talks to chefs and the restaurant staff, to be sure I have a good vegan meal, and not just a collection of crappy side dishes.  Below is a transcript of our conversations….where I accidentally typed RAT instead of EAT….

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When D and I first met, I had a pair of purple Doc Marten’s with shoe laces from my college roomie’s mom that say US Customs.  1-800-Be-Alert.  The first thing D said to me upon meeting was “because the world needs more Lerts”.  I took this pic of the helo pad on Wednesday and texted it to him – because the world needs more Lerts.

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So Friday morning, I woke up really early with the intent to catch a 6 am hot yoga class in the area I was staying.  I’m all set, and go out to the hotel parking lot to find…..a flat tire on my rental car!

Last Saturday when I picked up said car from Enterprise, the tire pressure indicator light was on.  The clerk at Enterprise assured me this was a glitch, as the auto shop they use checked everything repeatedly and there was nothing wrong with the tires.  Yeah.  Liars.

So anyway, it’s 540 am, I have a flat tire, and am supposed to be to the hospital by 9.  The car rental place doesn’t open until 9, so I hit the stupid treadmill, get ready for work, and wait to call them.  By 9, I am freakishly annoyed.  I get the clerk on the phone – who happens to be the same person who gave me the cursed car to begin with.  I promptly instruct her that I need a NEW car…now…because I have meetings to get to.

I get a call back that none of the Enterprise locations in my area are being helpful, and the store manager feels that it would be faster if I could just get the car fixed.  And by the way, do I know how to change a tire?  Short answer – yes.  My answer – no way in hell am I changing a tire on a rental…and end up getting accused of dinging or denting someone.  And to be honest, it’s been so long since I’ve changed a tire, I didn’t want to risk it!  So….roadside assistance is called and I’m assured I’ll be on the road by 930.  Yeah.  Liars.

Roadside assistance shows up at 11 am, and I get the donut on the car.  I’m then instructed to drive to a place in the middle of nowhere called All Tune and Lube to get the tire fixed.  The store manager is waiting and I’ll be on my way in no time.  Yeah.  Liars.

After an hour of waiting, I ask what’s going on.  Turns out the tire cannot be fixed – it must be replaced and Enterprise has to authorize the expense.  They’re working on it, but it’ll likely be several hours before a tire can be located and brought to this location.  By now I’ve contacted everyone I work with to apologize profusely.  It’s noon, and I’m pissed off and hungry.

After another half hour, I call Enterprise – who hasn’t actually gotten a call from the tire shop.  They insist that the tire shop will have it under control.  I officially lose it.  I tell them I don’t care what they need to do, but they will get me in a new damned car in the next 20 minutes or all hell was going to break loose.  I’m in a strange city, alone, in the middle of no where, missing work, and HUNGRY.  Hell hath no fury…..

A very FBI-esque black suburban picks me up 15 minutes later, takes me to an Enterprise location and puts me in a snazzy new car.  It was a lot of drama to get there, I’m incredibly annoyed.  My entire day was shot, I missed yoga, had to run on a dread mill, and was half starved (okay, that parts a mild exaggeration), missed all my meetings, all to end up in a new car…which is what I had asked for to begin with.

At least I had dinner in the city with LS that night.  It made up for it totally!

After meeting my family to move A into her dorm yesterday, I drove up to Charlottesville, took a nap, and then went to the movies.  Saw Hercules…mainly because I’m a sucker for anything mythology based and I like the Rock.  It was only ok, but the last 10 minutes and closing credits made up for everything it lacked.

And today was a quite day in C-Ville.  Yoga, walk around the downtown pedestrian mall where I took pics of the community chalkboard and sat in a cafe outside to read and grab a late lunch.  Now I’m in my room, doing laundry, and wondering how early I can go to bed :)

And that, my friends, was my weekend.  Hope you all had one that was awesome, and with slightly less drama!

Road Trippin with Custom Vegan Eats & Drinks!

FOOD

Well, I’m back on the road again!  I swear, it’s been a crazy year for this.  This trip is two weeks, so there won’t be any homemade meals being posted.

That’s not to say I won’t have good food though!  As much as possible, I hope to choose where I dine and keep my grub healthy and simple.

I arrived to the National Harbor on Saturday evening, and dinner was with some colleagues at a place called the Cadillac Ranch.  As you can imagine, not a vegan-friendly restaurant.  Even had a mechanical bull.  I was able to get a shredded cabbage salad that wasn’t too bad.  The Rock n Roll Kool Aid was fantastic though.

Yesterday though, was just amazing.  A company from California that I’m working with is here, and asked me to recommend a local DC restaurant.  The first that came to mind was Art and Soul!  If you recall from this post, I went there back in May to a custom vegan feast!  D had contacted them to make me a special early Mother’s Day meal, and they totally knocked it out of the park.  This time, it wasn’t just me.  It was one of my co-workers plus four people from this California company.  And while I’m the only vegan of the group (and they again, killed it!), absolutely everyone loved their meals.  From the appetizers to the main courses, desserts, and custom drinks, everyone was raving when we left.  So Chef Art….you have some new fans who will definitely be checking you out whenever in town!

a baby greens salad with watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, and a sherry vinaigrette

a baby greens salad with watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, and a sherry vinaigrette

an amazing vegan tomato risotto

an amazing vegan tomato risotto

three flavors of sorbet!  The pink one was my fav - strawberry lemon.  The darker purple was blackberry (also good), and the dark pink one was a super tart raspberry.

three flavors of sorbet! The pink one was my fav – strawberry lemon. The darker purple was blackberry (also good), and the dark pink one was a super tart raspberry.

a vegan version of a drink that JW had.  A few different vodka's and chambourd and it was just amazing.

a vegan version of a drink that JW had. A few different vodka’s and chambourd and it was just amazing.

Today I hit up a very early dinner (like 4 pm) because I intend to be asleep by 8.  It’s been a rough day, and I’m beat.  I stopped by a local Thai place, and while I loved the soup and the flavor of the green curry, I was annoyed that the tofu was fried.

Tom Ka soup is one of my favorites!

Tom Ka soup is one of my favorites!

again, loved the flavor, but the tofu was not only fried, but they were huge pieces and that took away from meal too.

again, loved the flavor, but the tofu was not only fried, but they were huge pieces and that took away from meal too.

FITNESS

Yoga in my hotel room and a day spent hiking around DC is about the extent of my workouts since Friday.  I was hoping to get a run in today, but it just wasn’t in the cards.  If it rains tomorrow (and its supposed to), I’ll just hit up the hotel gym, but I’d much rather run outside in the harbor area to soak in the beautiful surroundings.

The closest yoga studios are in Alexandria, which isn’t walking distance for me, so that’s a totally bummer.  As always though, I hit up Yogaglo when I can’t make it to a class.

LIFE

Last week was mostly quiet and easy going.  My parents were visiting and I took  the week off from work.  They left Friday afternoon and I spent most of the day cleaning, grocery shopping, and packing.

Saturday I drove M back up to camp!  He is working the final week of summer camp, and was really excited to be back.  I then had about 5 hours of driving in order to get to the DC area after dropping him off.

view from my hotel room.

view from my hotel room.

Yesterday I took one of my CA colleagues to the National Mall where we spent a few hours admiring the monuments (which never gets old…no matter how much time I spend here!), and then it was time to clean up, see a lecture being put on by another colleague, and then the dinner of dreams at Art and Soul.

Washington Monument!  The plan is to take a nighttime tour inside tomorrow night!

Washington Monument! The plan is to take a nighttime tour inside tomorrow night!

we stopped to listen to a group of men singing next to the WWII monument

we stopped to listen to a group of men singing next to the WWII monument

Korean War Memorial.  An absolute favorite of mine.

Korean War Memorial. An absolute favorite of mine.

Today was full blown conference fun and then a solo walk through the harbor and an early dinner.  And now….I’m lying in my hotel in my jammies, watching cable, and wondering how soon I can go to bed!

from my walk through the harbor.

from my walk through the harbor.

Family Time!

FOOD

Well, I didn't take pictures of everything the past few days, but have had some incredible meals!

Saturday my parents arrived fairly late afternoon/early evening, and after 3 days of road tripping it here, wanted to keep things simple. Soup, salad, and sammiches. I made two soups – one a spicy tortilla, and one a red thai curry. A big salad with all the trimmings (including my fav pressure cooker orange beets!), several dressings, and a variety of panini pressed sammiches – my favorite being a marinated and baked tofu, loaded with tons of veggies and a mustard/nutritional yeast/mayo combo sauce.

Sunday was M's choice because he's finally home from camp! He picked Italian, so it was an all-out Italian dinner.

my plate…pasta with a spicy vodka sauce, salad, and roasted tomatoes and onions!

Monday evening we went out to a place on the oceanfront. While everyone enjoyed their food, the service was horrible and it took nearly 2 hours total. And it was rainy, so we didn't really even enjoy the scenery. Oh well.

Last night was Moe's, and tonight we're going to cinema cafe for dinner and a movie.

 

 

FITNESS

I went for a run on Saturday morning before my folks got here, and another one Monday. Hoping to lace up and head out for one here shortly as well!

Today I took my young one out to the trails for a bike ride. Nothing major, just a leisurely 5 miler. It's a really hot day, and certainly didn't want to push it. I also wanted to do something fun with her, and she's quite the little athlete.

No yoga, but boy do I need it! D and I are sleeping on an air matress, and it's not exactly comfortable. I'm a little sore, but nothing a good yoga class won't fix!

LIFE

Well, most of the updates are because my parents are here! It's been mostly low key, hanging out at home, catching up, and watching movies. The weather has been sketchy, so that hasn't helped. Last night we all watched Rear Window, and my kids (19, 17, 10) all loved it. It was quite cool. We've also watched Shadow Recruit and Transformers 3. What can I say, we're a movie family.

And after 6 weeks, the prodigal son is home! Dad, R, and I went to pick up M from his junior camp counselor job. I've really missed him, and am happy he's home. He seems pretty happy to be home (though also misses everyone from camp).

 

Taking Time for Me

I find it funny that I took such a long break from blogging this time, not because I was busy, but because….for the first time in a year….I actually had free time.  I wasn’t being pulled in a million directions for 20+ hours per day, and found some time to relax, spend time with family and friends, and not feel pressured to “get something done”.

FOOD

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine last night about how we’re not cooking nearly as much as we usually do.  And she’s totally right – I can’t remember the last time I had my bulk-cooking Sunday!  Most of my meals are super simple; smoothies, salads, sammiches, and dining out.  Not exactly bad by any means, but I am now aware at how much I miss spending hours in the kitchen whipping up goodness.

So here’s a sampling of the grub I’ve enjoyed in the past week or so.

literally a "kitchen sink" smoothie.  I was heading out of town and used this as a chance to use up fresh fruits and leafies.  Lasted me two days and was awesome!

literally a “kitchen sink” smoothie. I was heading out of town and used this as a chance to use up fresh fruits and leafies. Lasted me two days and was awesome!

very simple salad with strawberries, sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinegar

very simple salad with strawberries, sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinegar

basic chopped salad with a bit of lime juice and pepper for flavor

basic chopped salad with a bit of lime juice and pepper for flavor

green smoothie!  Can't remember what was in it though :)

green smoothie! Can’t remember what was in it though :)

just a pitcher of water from last weekend with a sliced orange.

just a pitcher of water from last weekend with a sliced orange.

PHO!!!!!

PHO!!!!!

the NS special :)  Toast, cream cheese (vegan, of course), and sliced tomato.

the NS special :) Toast, cream cheese (vegan, of course), and sliced tomato.

toast with avocado and pickle

toast with avocado and pickle

a Whole Foods salad bar special.

a Whole Foods salad bar special.

FITNESS

Running and yoga!  I average doing each about 3 times per week, but do find that on a weekend day I will try to do both.  It often depends on what type of yoga I’m doing.  If I’m going to class, it’s pretty much always hot yoga.  If I’m doing yoga at home, then it varies based on how I’m feeling and what classes on Yogaglo seem appealing.

I am starting to look for a new running watch.  I’ve had a Nike+ GPS sports watch for about 3 years now, and to be frank, I don’t really like it.  I like the size (not bulky for my small wrists), and certainly the data, but otherwise, I’ve had problems.  It doesn’t connect to the satellites quickly – often times I have to pace around a good 5-10 minutes before it’s ready to go.  It also doesn’t upload the data well, and since Nike stopped supporting wearable sports electronics (since their partnership with Apple), even the site that used to be fun is bare bones.

So I’m not sure what I’ll get, but I’m definitely in the market!

LIFE

The past two weeks have been busy, but not necessarily in that chaotic way that seems to hallmark the past year or more.  I did have a 3 day work trip last week, and I took some time to go hiking on one day.

I’ve spent time with friends, including dinner and fun times with AC and HF and a yoga class and dinner with LC.  I went to the movies (can’t remember the last time I did that!), gotten a pedicure, and have gone out to dinner with my family a few times too.

D and I have also cleared out two rooms in the house.  One will be my yoga/meditation room and one will be his photo studio.  We’re both really excited to be able to have dedicated space at home for these activities that are so important to us.

Chaos will be reigning again here shortly, so my brief respite was probably that much more important!  My parents are visiting this week, and then I leave for a 2 week work trip!  Hopefully this will be the last of them until next year.  Two weeks away from home and living in hotel rooms is not my idea of a good time.

In the mean time, a few fun pics of random life in the past two weeks!

morningpicture

morningpicture

Sammie holding my foot

Sammie holding my foot

another morningpicture

another morningpicture

brat cat stealing my water!

brat cat stealing my water!

 

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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