Monthly Archives: November 2010

Snobby Joe…Snobby, Snobby Joe!

If you don’t remember the Adam Sandler skit from SNL about the Lunch Lady, then my title is probably lost on you!  For a reminder, here it is Sloppy Joe, Sloppy Sloppy Joe! 
Oh, waking up fully stunk this morning.  Both D and I slept like crap, and today was truly a Monday morning.  One would think that after 4 1/2 days off, that the first day back to work would be met refreshed and relaxed.  Yeah.  Didn’t quite happen like that.  It really just furthered my belief that I need to become independently wealthy so I can stop all this work stuff. 
This morning we really all did scramble a bit.  After breakfasts and lunches were made, D was out the door to take R to school and head to the office, and then I got ready to work.  Fortunately, my first meeting wasn’t until 1pm, so I got quite a bit of catching up done this morning (just because I didn’t work this weekend, apparently doesn’t mean other people didn’t, and I had nearly 300 unread emails.  Ugh).  Breakfast was some brown rice pasta with the acorn squash alfredo and green beans.  I swear, that meal will NEVER get old.  I wasn’t hungry for a real lunch (since I had a late and very filling breakfast), so I had an orange and some pretzels with hummus. 
Since I fully skipped the gym yesterday in order to cook and drink mimosas, I knew this morning that I’d have to do both yesterday’s and today’s workouts.  So after work, I hit the Y to do both my lower body workout I should have done yesterday (squats, lunges, crunches) and the upper body workout scheduled for today.  All told, it took about an hour and fifteen minutes.  Not too bad. 
I picked up R, got home, and started making dinner.  While dinner was cooking, I went for a quick half hour run, which felt wonderful.  Running this time of year is my very favorite.  It’s not hot, and it’s not cold.  There’s a chill in the air for sure, but I don’t have to bundle up.  It’s crisp and clean feeling, and I just enjoy being out and moving. 
I made lentil sloppy joes (the recipe is actually called Snobby Joe’s from Veganomicon), roasted brussel sprouts (fresh trimmed sprouts, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt – roast covered for 45 minutes at 375 degrees….unbelievable!), and tabbouleh that I actually made yesterday.  A very filling and tasty dinner at only 345 calories. 
  My dinner!  Slightly ashamed of the white bread roll, but it’s what I had on hand…
When I went to Whole Foods the other day, I picked up a quart of Mint Chocolate Soy Milk.  I wish I had gotten much more.  It’s unreal how tasty it is.  Remember the chocolate mints you always got at the end of your meal at Olive Garden??  It tastes like that.  But liquid.  Or like the best mint chocolate chip ice cream.  In a glass of soy goodness.  Oh, I could drink a gallon of this a day.  My kids love it too.  Tastiest.  Thing.  Ever.  For right now anyway.  Of course, I can’t buy it anywhere around me, nor could D or I find it online to purchase.  So you know what he did?  He went to our local grocery (Harris Teeter) and submitted a request form to have some ordered and shipped to the store for me.  See?  He’s awesome. 
Tomorrow is a pretty heavy meeting day, but I’m hoping to get to a spinning class as well as a quick run.  I’m thinking I need to get those cycling classes in as much as possible before the Triathlon club starts on Jan 3rd.  While I’m at it, I should probably swim too!  Ugh.  I think I really am going to have to start working out in earnest before work in order to get it all in.  Maybe I’ll run in the mornings since it’s what I’m most proficient in, and then do my other workouts after work.  Ugh.  See??  Another reason I need to be independently wealthy.  I need more time to exercise. 

Realistic TV vs. Unrealistic TV

Saturday was reserved for Whole Foods.  As much as I love living in the Hampton Roads area, I’ve complained often about our White Bread region.  We lack decent ethnic food restaurants and hippie grocery stores.  I appreciate that we have a Trader Joe’s locally – but they sell “their” brand…which is processed on the same equipment as nuts, so it makes it pretty much taboo in our family.  I get a few things there, but there’s little I can’t get.
I woke on Saturday with a plan.  I’d drive the 2 hrs to Richmond, visit Whole Foods (it’s my closest), hit the Williamsburg Outlet Mall on the way back, and make my way home later.  Alas.  Part of my day went as planned.
I left around 10 am to head to Richmond.  I stopped in Newport News to get a Smoothie, and then headed up the rest of the way to my favorite grocery store.  I listened to my audio book the entire way, so 2 hrs felt like 2 minutes.  Yeah!
I got to the store, and then wandered around as slowly as possibly for a little over an hour.  I picked up some fresh fruits and veggies, tempeh, tofu, wine, vegan “butter”, and some amazing chocolate mint soy milk (which is probably the yummiest thing I’ve ever had).  They also have an incredible buffet line of salads, cold dishes, warm dishes, and soups.  I picked up some sweet and sour tofu, egg rolls, and curry cabbage salad.  After checking out, I sat in the cafe, read, and ate my buffet lunch.  It was wonderful, and I can’t imagine living near a Whole Foods and not taking advantage of what they have (hint hint to my family in WI….you have one in Brookfield…go soon!).
I eventually started making my way back to Williamsburg to do a little Christmas shopping.  I got off the highway, and after a half hour of trying to find somewhere to park (and police blocking the parking lot, and tow truck’s hauling away vehicles parked in nearby lots), I decided it wasn’t worth it and headed home.  I eventually got home around 4, and D decided he wanted to go to the mall.  He was really searching for some jeans, but turns out our closest mall doesn’t have a Gap (who knew??).  We did some shopping, picked up a few gifts,and headed to El Loro for some dinner.
At dinner, I begged D to get a hobby.  He’s extremely difficult to buy for, and I figure if he develops an interest other than computers and video games, I’ll at least have something to focus on when buying him gifts.  He promised he’d work on it!
I have to mention the argument (aka…fun discussion) that D and I had as we were going to bed.  We were all bundled up and deciding what to watch as we fell asleep.  We’re caught up on everything, and it was a toss up between Castle, Burn Notice, Cougar Town, and NCIS:Los Angeles.  I like the NCIS shows, and while D doesn’t like the original show, he’s told me that he likes the LA one.  He made it my choice, so I picked NCIS:LA.  This is when he started complaining about how “unrealistic” the show is.  Really?  I told him he was like those snobby film students who are always looking for enlightenment and realism, and that he can’t appreciate a show for it’s pure entertainment value.  THEN…he said that Stargate is more realistic than NCIS!  That Stargate…once you got past the alien races, teleportation, etc…is more grounded in reality than the ridiculous technology that Naval Investigative Services has…and that their chasing of terrorists in LA is more preposterous than any Stargate episode.  I was pretty much in hysterics by then…both arguing with him and laughing…that I told him I was going to blog about his and there was nothing he could do about it.  Someday…I’ll have to tell the story about his theory of why the cat used to sleep in our son’s room.  Alas.  That’s for a day when I have little to say…
I woke around 8 this morning and made some coffee.  I decided that today would best be spent cooking.  After catching up on CSI, I started going through a couple of cookbooks and taking inventory of what I had in the house.  As usual, I used my little sticky notes to mark the recipes that I planned on making.  I also marked some online recipes, and got busy.
  A few of my cookbooks from today.  The Candle Cafe Cookbook, 1000 Vegan Recipes, and Veganomicon.
  My roasted Acorn Squash prepped to make the acorn squash alfredo sauce that I’m so in love with!
I shuffled D out of the house around 11, and he went to the mall.  While he decidedly sucks at shopping, it was nice to force him to leave the couch.  He did great buying some jeans and clothes for himself that he desperately needed (I think I’ve bought ALL of his clothes since we got married), and he even managed to get some Christmas gifts and some groceries.  Woo hoo!
On Halloween, I made some cranberry and apple chutney.  Mixed with cream cheese and served with pretzels, it’s absolutely awesome.  A took some to school last week, and was asking for more.  We were out, so I made a new batch.  See below.  It’s a chutney of cranberries, apples, and spices.  Yum! 
  Cranberry and Apple Chutney as it’s finished simmering on the stove.
I spent the rest of the day cooking.  I made a spinach and tofu phyllo dish, Israeli couscous with basil sauce, and a black bean and millet casserole for dinner.  I also made two loaves of pumpkin/cranberry bread for desserts.  I also made several mimosas, but that’s besides the point 🙂
The kids played around both inside and outside, and overall had a good day.  R decided to stack all the green-room sofa pillows in front of the computer desk and sat on that instead of the desk chair.  She was very proud of herself.
So that’s been my day.  Lots of cooking, and little else.  I had a lot of intentions of working out, but didn’t quite get there!  That’s okay.  I have the rest of the week to do that!

Black Friday is Better Than Black Monday

For those that don’t know their history….Black Monday was October 19th, 1987.  That was my birthday, by the way.  The biggest stock market crash in history since the Great Depression.  Yeah.  Imagine having THAT for a birthday!

Alas, Black Friday has a much better connotation than Black Monday does.  It’s all about sales and shopping.  I did not go shopping per se (unless Walgreen’s and the grocery count)…but did buy a few things for Christmas online and got some wicked deals in the process!

I slept in today, which was really nice.  I tossed and turned a lot after 7am, but I managed to mostly sleep until 9.  It felt great.  After getting out of bed and brushing my teeth, I made a cup of espresso and watched a couple episodes of CSI:NY before anyone else came downstairs. 

After breakfast, D and I ran a few errands – including getting me fitted for the right size road bike!  I took one for a spin, and can’t believe how much they’ve changed since I last rode one.  The gear shifting is incredibly easier, and the bikes are so light, it’s ridiculous.  Now that we know what size frame I need, it’ll make it much easier to find a good used one somewhere (I hope).  The bike I rode today was $1200, and that’s just ridiculous!  I have to actually DO a triathlon, survive, and decide I want to do another one before I’d be willing to spend any significant money on a bike.  Besides…I’m still obsessed with my need to get over open water swimming!

After the bike store and the grocery store, we went home.  I made my very own pumpkin spice soy latte, packed up for the gym, took M to his friends house, and then went to the Y.  I did an hour of cardio (20 minutes on the elliptical, 20 minutes spinning, and 20 running), and then did my upper body weight lifting routine, which took about 40 minutes.  I did some research last night and today, and put together upper body and lower body workouts that I’ll do until the end of the year on rotating days.  All told, my monitor said I torched 640 calories, so I can’t complain!  I think I could have used heavier weights for the chest fly, but we’ll see….I guess it’ll depend on how sore I am tomorrow.

I got home just before 4, took a shower, and have been pretty much online Christmas shopping since.  D took A driving – and went to pick M up from his friends house.  Dinner was a scattered combination of offerings.  I had leftover Sante Fe Spaghetti Squash from the other night , A had some as well, but on taco shells, D and M had leftover steak sandwiches, and R had a quesadilla.  D and M have been playing video games for the last hour or so, and pretty soon I’ll have to kick them off and reclaim the living room!

Other than taking R to swim lessons and going for a run, I don’t really have any plans for tomorrow.  I imagine that will mean much cooking and knitting…and maybe getting to the yoga class I didn’t get to today.

Thankful For So Many Things

The things I am thankful for…
*I have a healthy and happy family that I love so very much.  I get to experience true love every single day
*I have wonderful friends that I am very grateful to know and have in my life
*My husband and I have great jobs with a great company that has always taken great care of us
*I have a healthy and able body, free from illness and debilitation
*I enjoy my life, my interests (although I have too many…see previous post this week), and am pretty much never bored
*I struggle sometimes like everyone else does, but will never overlook that I have a home full of food, love, and silly-ness.  I am thankful that I have floors that need mopping, toilets that need scrubbing, and dishes that need washing.
Today has been a very good day.  First of all, I didn’t have to work, so that’s awesome.  D’s on call, but otherwise he’s off too!  We also decided 2 weeks ago that we were going out for dinner tonight, and not doing the big day of cooking (though I love to cook, so that’s rarely a chore).
I woke up early (as I usually do), and started cooking anyway.  I made my homemade vegan cinnamon rolls.  VERY unhealthy, but VERY good.  Once the dough was going (they take 3 hrs to make), I started up a pot of coffee, and then got my neti pot ready.  I slept well, but when I woke up this morning, my nose was still a mess.  I decided that flushing out the sinuses was in order, and without going into any details, I was highly successful!
R woke up not long after I did, so we hung out for a bit while everyone else was asleep.  It was a peaceful morning, and I can’t complain at all.
The rolls were done not long after everyone else woke up, and I also make some awesome cafe mocha’s in my espresso machine for the older kids. 
  The cinnamon rolls before they were baked…
  …and after!
  Starbucks ain’t got nothing on me! 
I didn’t partake of the cinnamon rolls because they are 636 calories a piece, and I just can’t do that knowingly!  I ended up eating a bowl of brown rice pasta, mixed steamed veggies (broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower), with my favorite acorn squash alfredo.  390 calories, and much more filling!
A few days ago while I was at the gym, I saw a flyer for a beginners Triathlon club.  Since that’s been in the back of my mind for a year now, I figured it was very timely.  I brought it home and taped it to my fridge, where I’ve been staring at it for most of the week.  After talking with D about it this morning, I went ahead and signed up!  Call me crazy, but now my plan is to do a triathlon this summer.  The club meets every M, W, F from January 3rd (my mum’s bday!) until June 10th of 2011.  Aside from doing swims, biking, and running, we’ll have clinics with different groups (like Fat Frogs Bikes) and individual instruction.  I guess now is the time to get over my apprehension about open water swimming!  Final Kick sports (see link at the side of the page) not only does group runs (which I occasionally participate), but group swims in the bay and rides too, so I’m pretty excited about that as well.  I posted on Facebook that I’ve signed up, and of course my cousin replied that she likes tri’s almost as much as she likes running.  I should have known she’s done them!  I know who I’ll be tapping into for advice as the months of training go by….watch out S…you’ll be fielding lots of questions from me coming up!  D and I are going to our local bike store to get me measure and then I’ll be on the lookout for a good used road bike.
After all the fitness reading this morning, I really wanted to go for a run, so I tried getting M to go for our C25K (couch to 5K) training run, when he shook his head violently and told me he didn’t like running.  Huh.  Wish I had known that sooner, or I wouldn’t have eased up on the running so much!  So…I laced up, grabbed my iPod, and took off for a 3 1/2 mile run around 1pm.  Aside from a dog chasing me at one point and scaring me half to death (I ducked into a bush on some guys lawn while he was out working on his car….he knew I was freaking out a bit and helped keep me safe until the dog owner came by), it was wonderful.  The weather was in the high 50’s, it was sunny…but not so much so that it was blinding…and my pace was easy and even.  After the dog drama though, I wonder if I shouldn’t run with some pepper spray or something, just in case the dog in question wasn’t a friendly critter like Jake was (that’s the dog’s name from today…as his owner was screaming it to get him to come back, all while apologizing profusely to me).
I got home, cooled off, then took a shower.  I did some more reading for a bit (mostly on triathlons, bikes, etc…but some about black Friday sales), and then sat and knitted while R watched Scooby Doo movies.  It’s amazing how peaceful today was when I wasn’t scrambling to make a huge dinner feast to satisfy both D and the kids who are omni’s (omnivores) and me.  I’m happy my tofurkey sits in my freezer for another day or two!
Our dinner reservations were at 530pm at 456 Fish.  That’s much earlier than we normally eat dinner, but that’s okay…it’s a holiday!  They had their regular menu, and a special Thanksgiving one.  I had the vegetarian dish, which was artichoke and carrots cut into the shape of pasta, with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes in olive oil.  All veggies, and very tasty!  I also had a baby greens salad and some raspberry sorbet for dessert.  R had some white fish with fries and pasta, A had a pumpkin and crab soup, salmon, and cheesecake, M had a salad, turkey, and pumpkin pie, and D had a salad, ham and turkey, and pumpkin pie.  We were there for 2 hours, had a fabulous meal, and best of all…someone else had to make it AND clean up!
D rented Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and it’s time to settle in, relax, and enjoy what’s left of the day.
I don’t have it in me to do Black Friday shopping this year (that’s what the internet is for), so my plans for tomorrow only involve the gym, running,  and maybe some yoga.  And knitting 🙂  I’m not sure I’ll do ALL of that, but I’m sure I’ll let you know.

When Allergies Attack

No, this is not some reality TV show on Animal Planet or Court TV.  This…is my life.

I have noticed (and probably commented on), and major upward trend of allergy drama the past month or so.  I used to have the most wicked allergies ever.  I spent several years getting allergy shots every other day (when I lived in WA state), and no matter where I was, I seemed to lack the ability to breath through my nose, smell, or taste anything that wasn’t super spicy (that actually explains a lot of my spicy loving-ness).  Nor could I travel anywhere without tissues.

I would spend most evenings with a cold wet washcloth draped over my face attempting to reduce the swelling so I could open my eyes.  My Aunt had a cat, and whenever my sister or I spent any time at her place, our faces would immediately blow up (my sister’s was much worse than mine though).  I used to joke that I had seasonal allergies too – just that it was every season.  I spent about a year being shuffled from one allergy prescription to another, and finally found Zyrtec to be a near wonder drug.  My allergy attacks went from daily to weekly, so all was good.

3 months after my youngest was born (7 years ago), my husband and I (and our kids) moved from WI to VA.  I patiently waited for my allergies to attack…but they never did.  I wasn’t sure if it was moving or having a baby that did it.  I’ve read that having a baby can either relieve or aggravate several things – like acne, hair (mine got less curly), warts, and allergies.  Since my little one has pretty ugly allergies – both environmental and food – I’m guessing she took all of mine (poor baby).

So the past 7 years I’ve been spoiled.  My allergies reared up in very small doses, and other than a bit in the spring, I’ve been pretty good.  Something must have snapped about 6 weeks ago, because it’s been awful.  I’m back to needing the cold wash clothes every few days, eyes swelling shut and itching to the point I should wear mittens (someday I’ll tell you all about the mittens taped to my hands as a baby with chicken pox), back to taking Zyrtec, and have again begun toting my tissues around with me.  I’ve woken up more days at 4 am with allergy attacks than I can remember.  But today?  Today is the last straw.  I have been sneezing for TWELVE hours!  My nose is dripping and it hurts.  I refuse to think I’m actually coming down with a cold, so it must be allergies, right?  I’m guessing that the near 80 degree weather yesterday awakened some relatively dormant pollen, and they all migrated to my pillow sometime in the middle of the night.  I’m guessing this has been a coordinated attack that’s been months in the planning once they figured out that I’ve been relatively allergy-free for the last several years.  They will not prevail, however.  I beat them once, I can do it again!

As a side note…all this sneezing must be some type of abdominal workout.  If so, I guess it’s maybe a little bit worth it.  It’s also derailed my gym plans for the day, which pisses me off.  I was really looking forward to a new workout circuit I’ve been planning.  Alas.  Friday will by the day for that I suppose.

Yesterday was a pretty good day.  I love short work weeks in one sense – for the very obvious reasons.  In others, it’s tough, because you still need to get 5 days worth of stuff done.  Thankfully it’s been light on the meetings, so that’s helped a ton.

After work yesterday, I was all packed and heading to the gym, when I was hit with an overwhelming need to knit.  So…instead of going to the Y, I went home and busted out a few more inches of yarned wonder.  Eventually, though, my guilt got the better of me, and I went to the gym (just several hours later than planned).  I did my Fitlinxx workout and then came home and knit some more (guilt free this time).  One thing I do have to say – is I rarely sit down or sit still.  I’m always puttering about – either cooking, working, cleaning, or blogging.  It’s tough to get to a point where I feel I can relax.  Knitting is sort of forcing me to do that.  It’s an activity that I’m having fun with, but I can’t do it while doing other things – so I HAVE to sit down on the couch or in bed and actually be still.  I’ve caught up on 2 weeks of the Biggest Loser (which is 4 hrs of TV) and the last 2 weeks of Survivor!  Usually D and the kids hang out and watch things or goof off while I’m off doing my cooking/working/cleaning/blogging things.  So yeah knitting!

On a different note, I’m not sure I’m going to keep going with Fitlinxx – at least not as the only method of strength training.  Don’t get me wrong – I like it well enough – but it’s been 3 days a week for 7 months now – very religiously – and I’m not seeing much in the way of physical changes in my muscles.  I feel stronger, but not sure if that’s the running or the Fitlinxx.  I think it’s time to branch out into free weights.  Problem is, I really don’t know what I’m doing, so I have to get a book or find some workout’s online that I can print out and take to the gym with me.  I think I’ll do that Friday too. 

Cooking has been pretty low key.  I made a Thanksgiving Meatless Loaf from Fat Free Vegan.  I skipped the nuts and the quinoa flakes.  It was pretty good, and I had some for breakfast this morning.  Lunch was Tofu Green Curry at a Thai place with A (it was early dismissal day the kids).  Tonight I’m going to make a spaghetti squash southwestern casserole with black beans, chilies, and spices.  I’m hoping it comes out OK.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I will be very thankful to stop sneezing and dripping.  Here’s hoping!

I Have WAY Too Many Interests

This was a really good weekend.  The past couple have been, and for that I am thankful.  I already posted about Friday and most of Saturday, so I won’t bore you with repeating myself (I am like my father…I can re-tell the same story a thousand times).  Saturday evening was a girls night out at Red Star in Town Center.  It was low key and a good time.  We left around midnight when it started getting loud.  Oh the days where I didn’t go out until after 11pm…now I want to be home and in bed by then!
Sunday was a good day too.  I went to Organic Depot in VA Beach, and guess what…they had Tofurkeys!!!  I cannot express how excited that made me!  I’ve been looking for weeks.  I even went to Amazon.com, and they were out of stock.  I seriously thought they went out of business or something.  And the funny thing is, I went out there to get a few other staples…nutritional yeast (it imparts an almost cheesy quality to my foods), Ezekiel bread, and a few other items I can only get at the hippie stores.  And lo and behold…I’m browsing the freezer section and they have them!  I’m nearly giddy as I call D and tell him. 
After Organic Depot, I went to Sam’s Club, and then to the library.  I’m about halfway through the 2nd Belgariad book, Queen of Prophecy.  Since there are 5 books, I wanted to get to the library and check out the audio books before I finish my current one.  Of course, they only have books 3 and 5, so I’ll have to reserve book 4 online.  That’s okay though, I’m good for another 15 hrs of listening or so.
After the library, I stopped home to drop off all the stuff I bought, and to grab M and R and take them to the gym so I could do my Fitlinxx routine.  D planned to take A driving (and running MORE errands!).  They went to Michael’s (the craft store) and then to the mall.  A is hoping to find a seasonal job, if they’ll hire 15 year olds. 
After I got home, I started making dinner for D and the kids.  I made them fish, baked potatoes, and mixed steamed veggies.  My dinner though, I started when I woke up in the morning.  I have a fuzzy logic rice cooker that has a timer on it.  It makes so much more than rice – though it does that fabulously.  It also makes cakes, soups, porridge’s (like oatmeal, etc), and apparently, I can make beans in it too!  I made the following recipe, though I skipped the Dulse flakes since I didn’t have any (it’s a seaweed substitute for salt) Black-Eyed Peas and Sweet Potato.  The woman who writes this blog is someone I follow on Twitter.  It’s also the month of vegan food blogging (called MoFo…month of food…), and she’s one of the MoFo bloggers.  I saw this recipe and thought it would be really cool to try.  It was so cool, and so tasty.  I served it on a couple of corn tortillas, and only 250 calories later, had an amazing and filling dinner.  With some red wine of course! 
Today I woke up, took a shower, and made some pancakes for breakfast (always a favorite).  I made lunches for the kids, D, and I , and was off to work.  All my meetings today went well, though I didn’t get much done because of them.  I’m just glad it’s a short week due to the holidays. 
After work, M and I went for a run, and then I crafted for a bit before making dinner.  They had steak, pasta, and green beans.  I had more black eyed peas, sweet potato, and avocado tacos!  And red wine of course!
Right before I went to the Outer Banks with M last weekend, I was reading my VegNews magazine.  There was an interesting article in it about how one of the unintended benefits of the down economy is that more people are gardening, canning, knitting, etc – people are making things.  They’re getting creative and frugal, and that’s a really good thing.
Of course, this got me thinking about my own desire to “make” things!  I started crocheting a blanket SIX years ago that I never finished.  It’s been 3/4 of the way done, sitting in a zipped up bag in my closet for SIX years!  My mom taught me the basic single crochet stitch when I was a kid.  Many years ago, I bought an incredible book called Crocheting In Plain English that is so easy to follow, even I could use it.  On the drive back from NC, I decided that I was going to get that blanket out of my closet and finish it up.  Before I can finish this story, I have to explain something if you’ve never read my blog before.  My youngest daughter R (who is 7) is severely allergic to both peanuts and tree nuts.  We found out the hard way (like most people do), after she ate a peanut butter cookie while at the soccer game of my eldest daughter A.  R was 4 at the time.  We have a zero tolerance policy for any and all nuts in the house, and to be honest, I don’t ever eat them anymore.  It’s irrational, but I’m “mad” at them for the harm they can cause my little girl.  Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled blog…I got home, went up to the closet, and grabbed this bag that I haven’t opened up in years.  I sit on the couch, and start pulling out this nearly finished blanket (it’s burgundy, off white, and green), thinking if I get it finished, it would make a lovely Christmas gift.  As I’m reaching in and grabbing everything, I see a very large bag of opened mixed nuts lying in the bottom.  I freaked out, packed it all back up, and immediately took it out to the trash.  That’s how long it’s been since I’ve even opened this thing up.
Of course, I still have this burning desire to “make” something.  So…I grab A (she’s the artist, after all), and we head to Michael’s!  My entire goal was to buy some yarn, some new crocheting hooks, and maybe a pattern or two.  I walk in, and am immediately distracted by the Christmas stuff!  I had mentioned to D that I really wanted to decorate this year (normally we’re quite the minimalists), and nearly keeled over at all the things I could “make”.  I saw all these raw materials for making wreaths etc, that I decided I really needed to.  Of course, I didn’t know where to start, so I took some pictures with my phone of some finished projects hanging on the walls…and proceeded to buy fake flowers, plain green wreathes, and beads.  After wandering for about a half hour randomly throwing things in my cart, I finally make it to the yarn aisles.  After another half hour of feeling overwhelmed by yarns, and needles, and patterns, and hooks, I find a simple pattern for a scarf, grab some new crochet hooks, some pretty yarn of green, cream, and white, and make my way to the front of the store.  All told, I only spent $30, and I felt good about that!
  R and my first attempt at making our own wreath!  I’m thinking I need to buy some lights, and then it’ll rock.
  My eldest daughter A.  She’s the artist and has taken quite a bit to sewing.  She made this stuffed bunny on Saturday out of a pair-less sock she found.  He’s wearing a monocle.  That’s cool.
I decided last week that I really want to learn how to knit.  I saw a TON of cool patterns at the store, but they all involved needing that skill.  I tried teaching myself many years ago and failed miserably.  I follow several crafty people on Twitter, and after announcing I wanted to learn, got many replies and emails on websites with videos, beginner books, etc.  From everything I could tell on my research, knitting is much more versatile that crocheting can be (though it’s fun and seems to involve less need for coordination – which is always a concern for me).
When I went to the library yesterday, I picked up several knitting books.  While I was at the gym, D and A went to Michael’s specifically to get me some knitting needles and yarn to play with.  Today, I started to learn to knit!  I sat in front of my computer watching the instructional videos, reading the book, looking at the pictures, and eventually getting the hang of a couple of stitches.  What was funny is that M – who is 13 – walked into the room, asked me what I was doing (I told him I was knitting), and proceeded to chant “knit one, purl two”.  I’m not sure how he even knew what that was, since I just learned the purl stitch this afternoon.
  Cats decide they want attention when THEY want attention.  It matters not what you want.  They tend to want the most attention when they realize you are busy doing something other than trying to gain their affections.  This is my cat – Bumble – who is sitting ON my instructional book and trying to eat my knitting needle.
  This is Bumble batting at the end of the needle and trying again to devour it.
  When I removed her from the desk where I was busy trying to learn my new hobby, she decided that attacking the yarn would interrupt my endeavors.  She eventually grabbed it and ran off – tangling herself up in it in the process.  Her name is Bumble after all…she has almost as bad coordination as I do.
  This is R showing off the scarf I made for her.  This was a crochet project that I finished yesterday.
So here I am with an ever expanding field of interests…cooking, running, yoga, baking (no, it’s not the same thing as cooking), gardening (which I haven’t done, but feel the need to), canning (though I need a new canner), crocheting, knitting, rock climbing (did it once, loved it, but no clue how to go about pursing this particular interest), wanting to do a triathlon, crafting, volunteering, learning foreign languages (don’t ask), reading, meditating (haven’t done it, but would love to learn), traveling (don’t do much of that, but want to)….you get the idea.  Too many things excite me, that it’s tough to focus on any of them.  I have come to the conclusion that I need to become independently wealthy so I can do nothing but pursue my interests.  In the mean time, I’ll just keep working, exploring, and loving everything.  I guess there are worse things than that.

Oh Hot and Sweaty Room…How I’ve Missed Thee

I hate it when I go more than 36 hrs between blog posts.  I think I’m a bit like Dori from Finding Nemo…I’m sometimes afflicted with short term memory loss.  I usually have to look at my work calendar and try to re-create my day.  Sad when my barometer is what work was like…

So my last post was Wednesday – the potluck debacle day.  I can tell you honestly that the kickboxing class did more than kick my tush while in it…it was sore for 2 days after too!  I woke up Thursday and my lower back was sore.  Not the type of sore where you pull a muscle or anything….the type of sore where you work an oft unused muscle.  To be honest – I wasn’t unhappy about it.  I was excited that I had found a muscle group that I must have been ignoring.  Now that I see this in print, I guess it may be a little strange for me to think “yeah, back pain!”.

I was at the heart hospital all day, but it was pretty much a good day (when I wasn’t anticipating it to be so).  That’s always a nice thing – when your day is better than you thought it would be.  The only down side is AFTER I got to the office, an extra meeting was thrown on my calendar, which meant no time for lunch.  Thankfully, I always have a Clif bar in my briefcase just in case I’m left without a meal opportunity.  It was a bit smooshed, but I really didn’t care by 130pm when I was ravenous.  I do feel like it was a little wasted though.  Clif bar’s are my pre long-run (or race) meal, and I feel like I shouldn’t eat one unless I’m going to run right after.  Oh well….

I left the office around 4 and headed straight for Moe’s for a taco salad.  As much as I’d like to avoid it – I have to have the shell.  It’s just not the same without it!  Of course by the time I ate, it was going on 5pm, and it ended up being my dinner as well.

I spent quite a bit of time baking on Thursday evening.  I popped in my headphones, finished up book 1 of the Belgariad (Pawn of Prophecy) and started up book 2 (Queen of Sorcery).  I baked a very wonderful vegan apple cake.  It’s very dense, and not very cake-like at all, but it was awesome!  I did finally use my flour sifter for the first time…and my hands got sore!  Sifting 3 cups of flour is much more difficult that one would think!  I also made chocolate crinkle cookie dough.  I didn’t realize until I was half-way through that it was a dough that needed refrigeration for at least 1-2 hours after it was made, so after the dough was finished, I put it into a container for the night.  I have to say…thank goodness for my Kitchen Aid.  It makes very quick work of all the baking that I’ve been doing.  And with the holiday’s approaching, I’ve been bitten by the baking bug indeed.

Friday morning I actually baked the cookies from the dough I made the night before.  That’s the second time this week I baked cookies before work!  It makes me feel a bit like wonder-mom!

Friday was a very low key day.  I didn’t have any meetings for once, and I got a lot done.  I also went to the Y for my Fitlinxx workout, so I felt very productive indeed.  Cookies.  Work.  Gym.  Nice!

D and I went to the movies last night to the cinema cafe to see Inception.  It came out last July, but that’s okay.  Our cinema cafe shows 2nd run movies, and we ordered some food (chicken tenders and fries for him…onion rings for me…and a bucket of beer to share!).  It was a very good movie, and it was nice to get out a bit.

A couple of days ago, the Groupon deal of the day was for a hot yoga studio on Virginia Beach.  It’s about a 20 minute drive, but it was only $40 for a 10 class punch card.  Considering the drop in fee is $16 per class, it was quite a savings.  I woke up early this morning (thank Sammie, the wonder pup), and I had a few minutes of free time.  After having some coffee, roasting an acorn squash and a spaghetti squash, and making some vegan pancakes for R (she had swimming and needed good fuel), I went to an 1130 hot yoga class.  It was wonderful.  Very packed, but fabulous. It’s been so long since I’ve gone, that it was probably that much more awesome.

After class, I stopped at the farmers market and then the grocery to pick up things for dinner (tacos).    M had a few friends come over at 2 and then D took them to meet up with a few more friends to see the Harry Potter movie.  We bought his ticket online 2 days ago to make sure he’d get in.  I really want to see it…but there’s no WAY I’d go on opening weekend! 

S brought Jack (her wonder pups) over for a bit, and he and Sammie played while I had a couple classes of wine and S and I hung out.  After she left, I took a shower and am getting ready to leave for a fun filled girls night!  Speaking of which….I’m going to be late if I don’t get a move on! 

White Bread People

This is my very generic term for people who only eat typical American fare – and fear anything with an unfamiliar or “ethnic” flare to it.  It started with my annoyance at “white bread grocery stores” who never carried any of my “hippie food” (as my hubby and kids call it) – and living in the suburbs in the Mid-Atlantic, this is pretty much ALL of the grocery stores.  It has spread to the sometimes aggravation at people, though that’s not really right or fair since I don’t expect people to judge me based on what I do or don’t eat; it’s too self-righteous of me to judge others.  Still…I will admit that at times it bugs me to no end.

Monday afternoon I realized that I had to cook the veggie sides for a Thanksgiving Potluck the next day.  I always volunteer for the veggie sides since I know that if I bring them, I’ll at least have something I can eat.  Anyway, I had decided to make a butternut squash dish and a roasted brussel sprout dish.  I stopped at the grocery on my way home, and loaded up on a bunch of things (like mushrooms, tofu, squash, fresh brussel sprouts, etc).  I get home and (thankfully) check my email….the menu for the potluck was posted and someone was already making a squash casserole and brussel sprouts!  I’m just glad I bought the industrial sized can of corn!  Anyway…I decided to still go ahead and make a recipe of roasted onions and butternut squash from my Veganomicon book.  It’s not one that I made before, but I love this book and figured I couldn’t fail.  Boy…was I wrong.  It took me nearly 2 hrs to get the dish finished (I was also making dinner in the midst of all this).  What I ended up with did NOT taste good.  In the book’s defense – it was supposed to be onions, squash, and chestnuts.  I decided to forgo the chestnuts and just make the recipe with everything else.  It sounded like it should taste good based on the ingredients.  It didn’t.  Thank GOODNESS for that stupid can of corn!  It was after 9 and there was no way on earth I was going to cook anything else.  Corn would have to do.

While I was drafting my blog posting on Monday, I was also texting with my friend S (yes, I’m a wicked multi-tasker).  I was mentioning my butternut squash debacle and how I was going to just bring the dared corn to the potluck.  There’d be so much food, NO one would notice.  But noooo….she had to tell me how unacceptable it was that the vegan bring canned CORN…and how I had to just whip up a batch of hummus or something else.  Ugh.  So I decided to take a totally awesome chickpea and lentil Moroccan dish.  And corn.  Yeah…awesome food from me!

I head into my main hospital that morning with my briefcase and laptop and a bag with a crock pot of chickpeas and lentils, a can of corn, a can opener, and a corning ware dish to nuke the corn in.  After my morning executive work group meeting, we have 30 minutes to prep for lunch.  I reheat my stew and pour it into the crock pot to keep warm, and then microwave my back up dish of canned corn.  The buffet is set, and it’s quite an impressive spread of typical Thanksgiving fare like turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, rolls, pies, cupcakes, and a bunch of other things.  We sit to eat, and not a SINGLE person had my chickpeas and lentils except me.  Of course, they ALL ate the corn…and I ate just the chickpeas.  I had a lot of comments on how good it looked and smelled, but in the end…foreign foods = something different = scary….so no one tried it.  That, my friends, are White Bread People.  They have no idea what they’re missing.  I really should have just bought an industrial can of peas in addition to the corn and not tried so hard. 

I left the hospital that afternoon hungry.  I’m probably the only person who can go to a potluck and leave hungry.  As it turns out…the only vegan-friendly dishes WERE the ones I made.  I had about a half of a cup of the chickpeas, and just chatted with everyone.  Not long after I finally left…I ended up grabbing some Thai food.  Yeah.  Only me.

I went to another meeting at a different location about a new hospital we’re working with in very southern North Carolina.  I’ve been tasked with doing an evaluation of their exiting IT systems to see where they’re at and to determine what it will take to upgrade them to meet the meaningful use criteria from the government on Electronic Medical Records.  I have to do a bit of travel, but it doesn’t sound like I’ll have to do much after an initial site visit.  Most I can do remotely, and I’ll really just be babysitting some consultants, so that’s cool with me.

Tuesday was Upside Down Dinner night.  That’s where we make breakfast for dinner.  We made sauteed potatoes, bacon, biscuits, and omelets.  I think I had pretzels and hummus (still full from Thai food lunch).  We watched Monday’s episode of Chuck, and then got ready for bed.  All in all, it was a good day.

Today was a mixed day to be sure.  My first meeting was at 7 this morning.  I hate early meetings!  At least it was a conference call, so that helped.  I did get Indian food for lunch, so that can only mean good things.

D took the day off to take A to the DMV and get her learners permit.  She’s 15 1/2 today, which is the exact day she’s eligible to get her temp license.  In 9 months precisely, she can drive legally (pending successful passing of drivers ed and her DMV road and written tests).  Kinda scary, but cool at the same time.  I envision 9 months from now cooking dinner, running out of lemons or something, and sending A to the store with $5 to get me lemons!  Or soy milk.  Or mushrooms.  Or toilet paper.  Or pretty much ANYTHING since she’ll become my gofer.  Hee hee.  I’m very happy she’s on her way to being a legal driver indeed.

After my last meeting of the day, I came home.  After working for a bit more, I grabbed R, hit the YMCA and went to a kickboxing class while she was in the PlayZone.  It’s been a really long time since I’ve done that, and it was fun.  It was a killer workout, but I had a fun time.  When I got back to my car and checked my phone, there was a distress message from a good friend of mine.  She needed me, and the answer was wine!  I took R home, said hi to D and M (who auditioned for a role for an upcoming play in his drama club this evening), and then took off.  We went to our favorite Wednesday spot ($10 off a bottle!), had some food, drank some wine, and chatted with our fellow bar patrons.  It was a nice time, and I hope it distracted my friend from her upsetting afternoon.

So now I am home. I took a bath and am getting ready for bed.  Tomorrow is going to be a long and painful day, so my trip to the gym will be MUCH needed at the end of it….

Remember Goonies??? Yeah. My Kids Mimicked Chunk

Remember that pumpkin pie I made last Thursday?  Well, I stopped at the grocery on Friday to pick up some whipped cream for it, and the pictures below are what happened.  Don’t get me wrong…they put it ON the pie too….just in addition to that, they decided to reenact a scene from Goonies where Chunk empties the can of whipped cream into his mouth.  I guess it was their extra dessert.
    M’s 2nd dessert (kinda like a hobbit I guess)
  A’s second dessert
I tried going to bed pretty early on Friday, and was mildly successful.  I had to get up at 445am on Saturday for the drive down to Nags Head.  I woke M up around 545, and we hit the road at 6.  Of course because I’m ALWAYS early, we made it down by 715 ish – a full hour and fifteen minutes before we needed to be there – so we stopped at a local bagel shop for breakfast.  We made it to the rec center where the Expo was, and got our jobs assigned!  We were assigned to passing out race bib’s, and a few times, M was moved to handing out the Booty Bag (it’s a pirate themed area).  We had a total blast.
  About 20 minutes before the doors opened and the runners started piling in.  M looks a bit sleepy!
I think he was organizing paper clips

Smiling while chatting up some runner

Sharing in our job of handing out race numbers was a retired couple.  We had plenty of time to chat, and they told me how they vacationed in the Outer Banks every year for 27 years, and after they retired in 2003, they moved there and made it their home.  They were a really nice pair, and helped look out for M (even though he was never more than 5 feet from me!). 
After our shift was over at 1230, we walked around and checked out the Expo, picked up a few t-shirts, and then left for lunch.  Our retired friends recommended what they thought was the best Mexican restaurant in town, and that’s exactly where we went!  We were both very hungry and ordered way more food than we could eat.  We got chips and guacamole, he ordered pulled pork nachos and a taco.  I got a layered tostada thing with black beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole, and an extra side of rice and beans.  We had about a quarter of the food (IF that), and packed the rest of it up.  Our hotel did have a kitchen, after all!

My awesome tower of Mexican delight. 

After lunch, we drove down to Hatteras Island where our hotel was.  I didn’t realize just how far from Nags Head and Kitty Hawk it was, but it was a nice drive.  M watched the Matrix on the way down, and I listed to an audio book (The Pawn of Prophecy).  We drove through a bunch of little towns, and at one point, the island was so narrow, that I could see ocean on either side of me.  It got a bit spooky when there were sandbags piled up in Rodanthe, and sand and standing water in the road.  The waves crashing were intensely beautiful.  I was too chicken to stop for a picture, but it was very pretty.

We eventually made it down, and checked into our very old fashioned hotel (we had KEYS….not little plastic cards…but real KEYS).  It caters a lot to fisherman – both sporting and commercial – and while our room was nothing fancy at all, we had a kitchen and a deck with a gorgeous view.  See below.  Not bad for $70.  You can watch the commercial boats come and go with their catches, and even book a trip on a charter. 
Taken from our deck on the 3rd floor. 
View around sunset from the dock
Another deck view
Yet another deck view!
The name of the dock 🙂


View from our room near sunset



Our dinner spot

We drove around looking for something to do and couldn’t really find anything.  The Outer Banks as a whole pretty much shuts down after Labor Day, and with the hours we were volunteering, we had a hard time finding anything open.  M and I wanted to play mini-golf, but nothing was open.  We eventually decided we were hungry, and used my iPhone to find a place.  We found Rocco’s Italian Restaurant, and I called to make sure they were open.  The woman who answered the phone let me know that it was the last night they were going to be open for the season (which means closed until Memorial Day), and when I asked how late they’d be open – her answer was…depends on the business…7…8 maybe.  M and I jumped in the van at 630 so we’d be sure to at least get dinner!  It was okay…service really stunk and took forever, but it was 50% off due to it being the last day open, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

At this point, my current camera (which really is just an old one), fully died, and I couldn’t get it to take any more pictures, so there aren’t any!

We went back to the hotel and fell asleep while watching the Harry Potter movie marathon on ABC family!

We had a great weekend, and I’m very glad that we volunteered.  I wish there was more open and to do down there this time of year, but that can always wait until spring or summer next year. 

Fun Days with Food!

Most of my bad mood is gone!  Working from home yesterday helped, so that’s totally wonderful.  I had several conference calls and webex’s (virtual meetings), but did it all in the comfort and happiness of my jammies.  The kids were off school, but R wanted to go to her daycare to play, so I took her in the morning before my first meeting started.  A and M were on house cleaning duty while I stayed in the green room (it’s the color of the walls…) and worked. 

Between meetings I made a vegan pumpkin pie.  Pumpkin pie has always been my very favorite, and one of the few dessert items I missed after going vegan 4 years ago.  But…as time has gone by, my cooking skill have gotten even better, and I’ve learned how to make baked goods with no animal products.  Of course one of the first things I had to do was re-create pumpkin pie!
Because it’s made with silken tofu, it has virtually NO fat, but tastes as I remember pumpkin pie to taste.  After blending canned pumpkin, tofu, and spices, I poured it into the crust and baked for 45 minutes.  It had to cool and set in the fridge for a couple of hours, but what I ended up with was very tasty.  A had a slice too (with whipped cream), and we were in heaven!
  I was too lazy to take it out of the fridge after my daughter and I ate some….
M had a friend come over and spend the night.  Since I took the day off for Friday, I wasn’t concerned about it being a week night.  Since D didn’t care (and he had to work), M’s friend came over.  D took them to Buffalo Wild Wing for dinner as I drove down to Nags Head, NC to attend the volunteer orientation for the OBX marathon weekend.  It was a quick and easy trip, and when I got back into town, I met up with my friend S at Wild Wing Cafe for a spicy vegan wrap and a beer. 
Today was simply a day off, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I woke up with D to see him off to work, and while the kids were asleep, I made some cinnamon rolls and banana muffins.  They all were up by 830 am, ate, and goofed off all day.  I took M’s friend home at noon, and ran some errands.  One of them was to stop at D’s office and unlock his car because he locked the keys in it.  It was funny, because I can’t remember the last time either one of us did that.
After running a few errands, I got home and started cooking.  I made a crock pot dinner of a Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil stew.  It’s one of my favorites that you can add a hot sauce to at the end in the to taste.  I like my uber spicy, but the two younger kids don’t.  I make the hot sauce in a separate batch so each person can use it at will.  It’s also fabulous on other things, and I’m thinking of canning a bunch soon to share.
For Christmas either last year or the year before, I got R a traveler’s kit from National Geographic.  It came with a travel bag, “passport”, maps, etc.  She got really creative today and packed her bag and played “safari”.  At first she said she wanted to go to Egypt – which I thought was awesome considering how much I’ve always wanted to go there (my eldest is named after Egyptian history, and I have two Egyptian tattoos).  Then she said England seemed cool.  Nice, that would be an awesome adventure for her too.  In the end…she settled on South Dakota.  Strange, strange little girl.
I also decided to make a vegan Shepard’s Pie.  It’s made with white potato, sweet potato, onion, garlic, mushrooms, tofu, spices, and a veggie broth.  I poured it into a pie crust, topped with another layer of crust, cut some holes in it, and baked for a half hour.  I’ve never made it before…but it was ridiculously incredible.  I could eat this all day, and will definitely make it again.  Wow. 
  Don’t let the color fool you.  It’s HOT.  It’s middle eastern inspired, with chilies, caraway seeds, coriander, olive oil, and lots of garlic.  It’s called Harrisa, and it rocks. 

This is the stew with the hot sauce added.  It’s amazing, but will burn your lips right off if you’re not careful!
  My Shepard’s Pie of Amazement.  I took a bunch of different recipes to build it, but it’s something I’ll have to make again.

This is my little girl just before she departs the green room for South Dakota.  Apparently wearing a hat makes it an adventure.

This is the medal M and I got for volunteering at the OBX marathon this weekend!  OBSE = Outer Banks Sporting Events.  We got some green Race Crew t-shirts too.  We’re leaving at 6 tomorrow morning, and I’m really excited!  I hope to have a bunch of cool pictures of the weekend to share.
So that has been the past two days.  I’m looking forward to this weekend very much.  M and I are working the Expo tomorrow morning, and the race finish line on Sunday.  I’m hoping to do some fun stuff with him while we’re down there too.  I’ve been looking for a head boat to go out and take him fishing possibly, and also found a shipwreck museum.  If that doesn’t work since it’s the winter season, there’s Roanoke Island Festival Park, where you can learn about the lost tribe first hand (or as first hand as you can get now), and since he’s a big history buff, that may be pretty cool too.  Or we’ll just tool around and explore someplace we’ve never been.  Either way…I’m really looking forward to it.