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

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

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

M buried in the snow and R standing triumphantly over him

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


My tofu being squished by the TofuXpress.  Pure genius, whoever came up with this.  SO much more convenient than two plates and a can of soup…

D got home from work and by then I exploded.  I could NOT stay in the house anymore!  I didn’t care how bad the roads were, but I had movies due at Blockbuster, and I needed to get out.  We decided to brave the elements, return the movies, and hit Franks, a very local Italian place.  This way, we stayed really close to home, I didn’t have to cook dinner, and we all got out for a little bit!

M giving me a thumbs up.  Not sure why.

D and R playing with iPhone’s during dinner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My goofy family.                                             

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

Onion volcano! 

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

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

I Don’t Deal Well With Lack of Options

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

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

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

On a totally unrelated note…

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

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

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

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

corner of the back yard

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

view from the front door

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

snowy honey

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

We Just Can’t Do Traditional If We Try


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Only Cucumbers Get Pickled!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Pumpkin spice muffins.

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

 The packed little bucket of baked goods

Buckets for all!

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

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

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

 This is me before the festivities began. 

 A couple of the girls, D and A…

 H and D…

 and C and C!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 My green smoothie before the Vitamix blended it…

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

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


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

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

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

He’s the one actually looking at the camera!

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

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

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

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

R had pancakes.  Surprise surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


No, This is NOT the Hospitality Suite!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 My baked tofu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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