The Crazy Wreath People Are Back

FOOD

It’s amazing what you can do when you wake up WAY to bloody early.

Breakfast was black coffee, reheated tofurky, and a baked potato.  However…I ALSO…(before work even!).

Made some tofu eggless salad, pressure cooked a batch of chickpeas I had soaked overnight, and made up a rice cooker full of Thai Red Curry rice/chickpeas/veggies (my Dad replenished my supply of Thai Red Curry Spice!).

Crazy kitchen morning, but I was up and figured I’d knock out all those things I was going to do after work.

Lunch ended up being Tropical Smoothie.  I packed up my rice curry, and forgot it on the counter when I left this morning.  Totally bummed on that one.

After work I had yet another baked potato!  They are my new favorite magical food.

I wasn’t hungry much at dinner time (since my after work potato was at 530pm!), but I munched on some Mary’s Gone Cracker’s and edamame.

Oh, and I just baked up a batch of vegan apple cider glazed cookies from the vegan cookie book my parents got me for Christmas last year.

FITNESS

It was another cold day…but it wasn’t wet…so I bundled up and went for a run.  It was again fantastic, and I’m giving credit to the potato.  Far be it from me to actually give myself credit, huh?

So my neighbors are clearly getting into the holiday spirit (I, myself, don’t typically get all Christmas-y until Dec 23 or 24th….).  Maybe I’m a minimalist, or maybe I was unobservant growing up, but I am of the belief that one Christmas wreath adorning your home is enough.  Maybe it’s a VA thing, but the past couple of years I’ve noticed that many of the houses I run or drive past have at least a wreath in every single freaking window.  It seems so wild to me that anyone would take the time to hang a dozen or so wreaths on their homes.  And I think some of the neighbors try to out do each other.  I’ll keep you all posted as I count them!  I think the record last year was one house with 23 wreathes on it.

LIFE

Today was a pretty good day.  Work was productive, and the meetings I had were enjoyable.

D and I met up after work and looked at furniture.  Two of the kids need new bedroom suites soon, and we wouldn’t mind getting new living room furniture in the next year or so.  It was fun to browse around, but the furniture sales people were annoying and pushy.  I thought about taking my Dad’s salespeople approach (growling), but I decided to keep completely silent and let D brush them off.

After work, I pulled up my month’s-end budget to see how I did to what I planned (Expected vs. Actual).  I was pretty dead on in most categories, so was pleased there.  The one I think I’m happiest about was groceries!  After taking massive inventory of the food in my pantry and freezer, I did most of my meal planning around what I already had.  Even with a big holiday meal, I spent 1/3 of what I did the last month.  More for Christmas, right?!

Well, it’s time to shoo my kids off to bed, pack up the now-cooled cookies, and then hit the hay myself!

And What’s YOUR Imaginary Grace???

FOOD

Breakfast was coffee and the rest of my vegan green bean casserole.  I really did have intentions of oatmeal or something, but it was sort of calling my name when I opened the fridge.

For lunch I met up with D and had some Japanese soba noodles with veggies and a spring roll.  Have I ever mentioned my insane love of spring rolls??  They’re practically in their own food group.  Like onion rings and popcorn (though in all honesty, I rarely have onion rings anymore, and when I do get them, I eat 2 or 3 and then can’t handle the grease….if I weren’t lazy, I’d make my own baked ones).

I had no plans for dinner.  I’m trying to break my habit of daily grocery shopping, and I’ve been doing great all month – but that was contingent on my meal planning and grocery shopping on Sunday’s…which I did not do this week.  I had every intention of doing it, but D and I were running errands so late, that I simply ran out of time.  At least I used food I had at home and still managed to NOT hit up the grocery!

So I ended up making pasta and putting hot/buffalo Gardein Chickn Wings on it.  Not the most appetizing looking dish, but with the wings only being 90 calories for 4 (yeah…regular hot wings can’t say that!), it was still a filling and tasty dish.

I've had these in my freezer for about 2 months...
buffalo chickn fettucini...now that I'm looking at it, I really should have thrown some frozen veggies in there....

And….after dinner I had a glass of amaretto on the rocks.

FITNESS

I really wanted to run today, after that awesome run last night, but to be frank….the weather went to crap.  We went from near 70’s for the past week to 49 and rain today.  Eww.  I have to work my way into running in crappy weather, and I draw the line at being wet AND cold.

So I weighed my options…which were really yoga or spin…and I went with spin.  1 – free (well, part of my Y membership, and yoga would have cost me nearly $20 for a drop in), and 2 – in my desire to begin winter Tri training, spin seemed like a brilliant idea.

Plus…I could go swimming after with R.  So I picked her up from her after-school program when I left work, and we hit the Y.  I did the spin class while she played in the Play Zone, and then we goofed off in the pool for a half hour.  Much fun.

So about my class.  I really enjoyed it, but my instructor was a wee quirky.  The class itself was great, in the sense she didn’t treat us like jack rabbits (up, down, up down…every 2 seconds), though she did kick our butts with long and steep hills (hello…in SE VA we HAVE no hills…).

She was nice and had pretty decent music selections.  On to the quirky things….

1-she was very dramatic each time she had us add tension.  She’d say “add” like I imagine a surgeon on a soap opera saying “scalpel”.

2-she kept repeating “fight for it” at strange intervals

3-she had her eyes closed quite often as she totally concentrated…on her workout

4-she would speak lyrics to the song that didn’t make sense.  Such as….English Beat’s I Melt With You came on, and there’s a part where the lyrics say “dream of better lives, the kind which never hate/dropped in the state of imaginary grace”.  Right after that, she says…and what’s YOUR imaginary grace?!?!  Again, very dramatic.  And weird.

Would I take her class again – yes.  She was nice and the class seemed more to mimic road riding than I’m used to experiencing.  Will I have to keep myself from giggling when she does and says strange things.  Yep.

LIFE

Today was spent mostly wrapping up a very long project that I was on in another state.  Part of me is sad to think I may not have a reason to go back to Morehead City, NC!

I made a goal to complete all of my Xmas shopping by the end of this coming weekend.  I’m pretty on track for that, which makes me all sorts of excited.

R and I were at the gym pretty late (even packed jammies for our post-swim showers), so there hasn’t been much “down time” at home.  It was breeze in the door, make dinner while she knocked out most of her homework, and then do some paperwork reviewing with D, and then make my blog post (which is a two-fer Tuesday!).

Now…bed.  Good night 🙂

If I Marry a Potato, Am I a Bigamist?

FOOD

Everything has been leftover related for the most part.  I’ve done no shopping (a sort of goal of mine…to actually eat up the food in the house), and it’s been nice!

I’ve eaten the leftover Mac N Trees as well as doing the tofurky wrap thing again, which was totally awesome.

I had a business lunch yesterday (where the vendor pays), and we ended up accidentally at a Thai place, which I never complain about.  Free Tofu Green Curry?  Yeah….okay!

My favorite thing had to be a mid-afternoon baked potato.  I hadn’t eaten in several hours, but planned on running before dinner.  I needed something quick, and I didn’t have any bananas or bread or anything that I would consider a quick pre-run snack.  So I popped a potato into the microwave, and noshed on that.

I flew through my run.  Like…bottomless energy, faster than normal pace, smile on my face the whole time sort of run.  I love potatoes!!

Dinner was a grilled tofurky kielbasa (D’s become the wicked grill master lately), which I ate with sauerkraut and some baked beans.  Not gourmet, but still yummy.

I was in my jammies and about to do dishes and bake cookies, when I got an SOS from one of my very good friends.  So…I threw on some jeans and performed a friend intervention.  After a beer or two (and an onion ring or two), I took her home, and then came home myself.  I love having good friends who are always there for me, so I of course will always be there for them too.

FITNESS

First of all – I did the strength training DVD again.  Yep, that’s twice in one week.  Be amazed (because I sort of am!).  I actually intended to do it Sunday, but the errands D and I were out doing ended up taking 5 hrs, and we were just gone all bloody day.  So Sunday turned into a rest day, and I had to make up for it on Monday.

After the DVD, I drank some soymilk and then worked with R on her homework.  My intention was to run later in the evening, but D was out Xmas shopping, so I ended up going for my run while he was out.  If I hadn’t, it would have been well after dinner before I had the chance.  This way, I was back and showered before we ate.

Like I mentioned earlier, it was an amazing run.  Everything about it felt great (except the areas where there were no street lights and I couldn’t see the ground I was running on!).

LIFE

This past weekend was really nice.  D and I were talking about how much we both really needed such an amazing weekend.  We spent a lot of time together as a family, watched some movies, ate a LOT of food, and really just chilled out.  Sunday was a bit hectic, but that’s not a bad thing either really.

I’m nearing completion with the Christmas shopping!  I anticipate being done by the end of this coming weekend.  The big gifts for the kids are done, most of my family, and I got D’s, which I’m excited about.  I do have a few more things, but mostly, I’m really happy with the progress.  I am never ever done this early, and usually pay tons just to ship gifts since I get them so late in the game.

Well, I need to head out for work.  I meant to write this last night, but with my unexpected plans, it was way too late by the time I got home.  So who knows…maybe we’ll get another two-fer post today!

I’m an Overachiever Because I Play with My Food

FOOD

What can I say….LEFTOVERS!!!  That is certainly what this holiday weekend is about.  And not just reheating what we ate on Thursday (though that’s happened too), but getting fun with it.

Breakfast on Friday was a leftover wrap.  I threw a little bit of everything (except the apple pie) into a warm tortilla; Tofurkey, sweet potato casserole, salad, and green bean casserole.  Very tasty and filling – and a great pre-workout meal.  I will say the sweet potatoes dominated the flavors, but it was still fun to eat.

it's a wrap!

Today, breakfast was some cold diced Tofurkey on the rest of the leftover salad with a home-made dressing from a week or so ago.  Again, very yummy.

incredibly simple, but was definitely craving some raw food this morning. With the tofurkey on top, definitely kept me full for hours

Dinner was a combination of leftovers and a different side dish.  I made Panini sammiches with leftover Tofurkey, vegan mozz cheese, spinach, and avocado.  I have a cuisinart griddler that we use a LOT, but this is the first time I actually used it as a Panini press.  It was quite cool.  Even though S called me a overacheiver when I was texting her what was for dinner.  She’s just jealous 😉

prepping the sammiches for the Panini press

Served with a side of Mac N Trees (a yummy vegan macaroni and “cheeze” dish with broccoli from Appetite for Reduction), and dinner was a huge hit.  R had two huge helpings of the Mac N Trees – which made me really happy since it’s such a healthier version than the traditional alternative.  I used brown rice pasta, and no one seemed to notice at all, so this was not only low cal/fat, but gluten-free too.  Bonus!

For dessert I made Root beer Float Cupcakes!  When I went to Vida Vegan Con in August, we were given a copy of My Sweet Vegan in our swag bags.  I admit that it took me awhile to read through it, and I wish I had sooner.  What makes this book so different is how whimsical her desserts are.  I mean…root beer float cupcakes is brilliant.  I made them this evening, and it was totally fun to watch everyone’s faces as they ate them and realized they tasted JUST like rootbeer floats!  I will say, I couldn’t find root beer extract in any local store, and D ordered some for me from Amazon.  It came yesterday, so this has been on my to-do list for several days.  They didn’t disappoint!

cupcake, chocolate ganache, and vanilla frosting
a TON of leftover chocolate ganache. I'm sure I can think of lots to do with this...like maybe just get a spoon and eat it as-is!

FITNESS

Even though I wasn’t too glutenous on Thursday, I still wanted a good workout when I got up on Friday.  While D napped (he had eaten SO much on Thanksgiving, he couldn’t sleep), I popped in a strength training/interval workout DVD.  I rarely use DVD’s because I get annoyed with the repetition after the first time I do it, but I have to say…I only have pretty light weights at home, I didn’t want to go to the gym, and without either a workout partner or a video, I’m NOT going to strength train.

I have to say, the workout was good, and even though the weights were pretty light, I’m sore everywhere today.  In a good way, but still.  I plan on doing it tomorrow again….

About 20 min after my DVD, I decided I still felt great and had a ton of energy, so I went for a run.  That, in retrospect, may have been a mistake.  The run was great until about half way, when I just lost so much steam.  I made it through, but that last half wasn’t too much fun.

LIFE

It’s been a nice weekend, most definitely.  The weather has been beautiful (high 60’s-low 70’s during the day), and we’ve enjoyed it.  During the day, the front and back doors have been open, and last night, we went to Busch Garden’s for opening day of Christmas Town.  This is their 3rd year, and it’s better than ever.  Every “country” (we live by Busch Gardens – Europe) is decked out with beautiful lights and even fake snow.  They run about half of their rides, but the draw is really the lights.  We just ended up having a great evening wandering around, loving the scenery, visiting the local artist bizarre, and totally loving the nice weather.

I did some online Black Friday shopping, and got a few great deals.  I’m now done with D and mostly done with M.  Lots left for R and A, but at least we know what this year’s “big gift” will be for each of them.

Today, I took R to gymnastics, brought her home, and then met up with S for a late lunch and a couple of beers.  We haven’t seen each other since we were up near DC, so it was high time to catch up.

The rest of this evening has been spent cooking, cleaning, and writing!  I’ll probably spend the rest of the evening catching up on the posts of the past few days, and double checking my Xmas budget!

Until then, here are a couple of pics from this evening!

Bumble sitting on R's lap. She was very proud because the cat pretty much never sits on her...
D and R with Bumble

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

FOOD

Well, today, more than any other day, centers around food.  Neither D nor I have family near by, so many holidays, we opt to either go out, or have something small at home…but often not the “traditional” fare.

This year, we had quite a big meal, and stuck to more commonly accepted traditional fare.  We probably cooked enough to feed 20 people, rather than just the 5 of us, but it was still quite a lot of fun.  Is it sad that I’m already outlining and planning what to do with the leftovers??

I’ve mentioned this before – but I feel it necessary to point out again – I am the only vegan in my house.  Do I wish more people in my life were?  Of course.  Do I believe everyone has the right to choose?  Most definitely.  I have my own reasons for veganism, and my family mostly understands those.  But in the end, I would no more force them to choose a political party, religion, or college major anymore than I would force them to choose their dietary preferences.  I hope they always choose healthy when available, and take more care understanding the origins of their food, but in the end…I had the right to make this choice, and I believe firmly that others do to.

That said – D did everything involving the turkey.  I just couldn’t touch it, it creeps me out.  Even many years ago when I DID eat meat, it creeped me out.

Sorry…felt the need to say that while I outline today’s menu.

Tofurkey w/stuffing and roasted veggies – vegan

Grilled and brined Turkey

Mashed potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes – vegan

Stuffing

Gravy – both turkey gravy and vegan gravies were made

Salad

Roasted maple carrots

Green Bean Casseroles – we had two.  One vegan, and one “traditional” with the cream of mush soup

Rolls – vegan

Apple pie – vegan

Pumpkin Pie

So, clearly there was no shortage of wonderful food for all of us to enjoy!

simple salad
my spicy green bean casserole!
TOFURKEY
sweet potato casserole
roasted carrots
my dinner plate (the first helping, anyway...)

Oh, and I’ve discovered (thanks to my friend CE), that I absolutely love DiSaronno amaretto on the rocks.  I’ve been sipping on a glass most of the afternoon, and it’s delicious.

FITNESS

Between cooking adventures today (after the pies, but before everything else), I went for a run.  It’s a beautiful almost 60 degree and sunny day, so I was very happy to lace up and get out the door.

Today I did some sprints during my run as well.  Now that I’m rebuilding my base mileage, I also want to increase my speed.  I spent 20  minutes alternating a 1 minute sprint followed by a 1 minute recovery.  Not a LOT of sprints, but the first I’ve done in over a year!

LIFE

The past few days have been hectic, but good.  I got to go to R’s school yesterday for her lunch, and hang out with her and her friends.  It was nice to talk to all the kids (even was inspired for her big Xmas gift this year), and see how happy she was that I was there.  Since it was an early release day, her “lunch” was at 1030, so I just hung out in the lunch room with the kids and goofed off.

I will say, it was nice to see in person how they manage her peanut/tree nut allergy.  She sits at the end of the table with another boy who also has a severe peanut allergy, and then their friends come and sit with them once they prove they have “safe” foods in their lunches.  The room mom has known R for years, and always keeps and eye out for her too, which makes me feel more relaxed.

I did agree to bake several treats for the Xmas party.  Since learning that one of R’s classmates also has a gluten allergy, this is totally spurring my already heated desire to make gluten-free goodies!

Last night D took R to see Arthur Christmas.  They both declared it an amazing movie, which was cute.  I made a simple dinner for A, M, and I, and then worked on my newest knitting project while watching Extreme Couponing with A.

Here’s my take on that show:

They’re crazy.  They exhibit the same traits as someone with gambling problems, alcoholism, or hoarders.  They were after the high of the deal, and not so much about what they were getting.  While yes…it’s amazing you can buy $1500 of stuff for $10, but why would you WANT 600 toothbrushes and 30 packages of soap?  These people were showing off their “stockpiles” like they had their own mini-marts in their garages.  Don’t get me wrong…I love using coupons and getting a good deal, but I don’t NEED 600 bottles of shampoo.  Just because they’re free or nearly free, doesn’t mean I should stock up.  The only caveat to that is if those stockpiles go to good causes; a women’s shelter, a refugee camp, etc.  Most of the shows I saw (we watched several hours of the TLC marathon last night), the people who were couponing, were not donating their massive hauls.

Also…most of their hauls were either non-food items, or crap food we shouldn’t eat so often anyway.  200 boxes of cocoa puffs and 60 containers of Oreos.  Not one single person had produce or non-processed foods in their carts.  I sort of found it all pointless.

Today, though, is all about enjoying and reflecting on what is good in our lives.  Inspired by my friend S who put her “top 10” list on Facebook today, here is my shot at a list of things I’m happy for (in no specific order).

1-the love of my family and friends.

2-healthy and happy children

3-an amazing, loving, and passionate marriage to my best friend

4-Sammie and Bumble.  A crazy dog and cat, who after 9 years, still pretend they can’t stand each other, but I’m pretty sure it’s an act

5-a great job that I love to do, find challenging and rewarding, and get the honor to do it for a fabulous company that cares about the people in our community

6-good food

7-having the ability to pursue the things I love to do; read, run, cook, play, and travel, just to name a few

8-living in a time where social changes are happening all over the world, and getting to witness that

I hope that you have something you are thankful for – and have the ability to sit back and realize that…as crazy as life can be, and as stressful as situations get…that there is good in your life and in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nope. Not a Purist….

FOOD

Today was full of hot and spicy food!  Except for my coffee, which was just hot.

For breakfast, I had the leftover super-spicy curried cabbage, but put it into corn tortillas.  So a little Indian/Mexican fusion breakfast!  It was very tasty.  My own little curry burritos!

that's a lot of yellow on my plate. I wonder what it would have tasted like if I put tomatoes or avocado or vegan sour cream on it!!!??? Ohhh....gonna try that....

I will admit that my lunch wasn’t the most balanced thing I’ve ever eaten, but it was SO good.  I had a big vat of popcorn with nutritional yeast and Vulcan Fire Salt.  This came with my spices last Christmas, and I haven’t really known what to do with it (though duh…it gives you ideas ON the bottle, plus The Spice House’s website).  Anyway, this stuff is a blend of salt, tabasco, habanero, citrus, garlic, shallots, cumin, allspice, and vinegar.  My Dad mentioned the other day that the catalog says to put it on popcorn….so I did!  I dumped a TON of it on a big pot, added some nooch too, and devoured it.  It was so tasty.

For dinner, I had a big salad with a homemade vegan ranch dressing.  The recipe was almost exactly the Sanctuary dressing in Appetite for Reduction, but I added horseradish powder to it for some extra kick.  The dressing is pretty thick, so it’ll double nicely as a veggie dip or sammich spread.

okay, so my salad came from the salad bar at the grocery. Don't judge....I DID make the dressing!

FITNESS

So I was in a bit of a funk today (stress levels are up again), and knew that a good workout would put my head in a better place, but of course the problem with being in a funk is that you really don’t WANT to do anything.

I toyed around with hitting up a yoga class after work, or maybe going for a swim or spin class.  I didn’t find a yoga or spin class at the time I wanted, so I ended up going for a run after work.

Since I started running again after my back injury, I’ve been taking it really slowly.  I’ve used the last 6 weeks to not only work on rebuilding my base mileage and endurance, but to also run without headphones.  I figure since my runs are only 3 miles or so, I could use this as an opportunity to learn to run iPod-free.

That’s what the running purists do.  “Real” runners don’t wear headphone.

pffffft.  (Bill the Cat impression).

I am living proof that I am NOT a running purist!

I did my best.  I even enjoyed several of the runs.  But today, I just wasn’t having it.  I was feeling funky, and the last thing I wanted to do was be inside my own head, thinking about all the things stressing me out right now.  I wanted to escape, and darn it, that meant the return of the iPod!!!!

And ya know what??  I got through almost 2 chapters of my audio book (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and had a FANTASTIC run.  So ha!  Eat that, running purists.

disclaimer…if you prefer to run without headphones…good for you….as long as you don’t think you’re better than the rest of us!   🙂

LIFE

The day started out rough because I hardly slept last night.  These cyclical boughts of insomnia probably get to me more than any little stressors in life do.  The lack of sleep (and staring at the clock thinking….”if I fall asleep NOW, I’ll get 3 hrs”) just makes sucky things seem worse, and little things seem sucky.

At least it’s an abbreviated work week, right??

I will say the highlight of my evening was having my 8-year-old R just say that “she needs to upgrade her application to 1.9 because the sever version is 1.9, and she can’t play on the server until her’s is upgraded”.

Yeah…to be the daughter of two IT people is pretty cool.