I’m Too Old to go to Camp, But Not Too Old for a Casino!

FOOD

Well, for the most part, food has been great. ¬†It’s always a challenge when traveling, but I try to make due the best I can.

can't go wrong with fresh green juice!
can’t go wrong with fresh green juice!

There’s always my favorite of turning everything into a taco….

from Tortilla West
from Tortilla West
homemade refried beans and citrus tofu
homemade refried beans and citrus tofu
spicy mango and tofu tacos!
spicy mango and tofu tacos!

Soups and salads are always make a happy meal…

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And of course when getting a great meal when dining out (as D and I did on Friday), can’t help but take pics ūüôā ¬†Mad props to Burton’s Grill in Virginia Beach for really going above and beyond to make me something vegan and delicious.

mixed vegetable risotto - vegan of course
mixed vegetable risotto – vegan of course
lovely roasted beet salad with caramelized onions and a light dressing
lovely roasted beet salad with caramelized onions and a light dressing

FITNESS

For the past few weeks, most of my fitness has been running.  Some at-home yoga via YogaGlo, but my schedule has been too chaotic to get to classes.

Hopefully that will change somewhat soon, at least a little bit.  I do miss the classes.

LIFE

Well, it’s been busy, but also wonderful. ¬†The chaos of the past few months is still there, but not nearly as overwhelmingly so.

M is still working as a Junior Counselor at an away camp, and loving it. ¬†It’s weird not having him around ¬†– he’s been gone for just over a month, and has another two weeks left. ¬†We did get to see him twice though, because R was a first-time camper this past week!

So we dropped R off on Sunday of last week, and then D and I took a couple of days to go away together. ¬†Without children. ¬†For the first time in 12 years. ¬†It was only for two days, but since it’s not something we’ve ever had before, it was like a honeymoon!

We had an absolutely amazing time in Dover, Delaware at the Dover Downs Casino. ¬†D tried his hand at Craps, but it was too confusing. ¬†I played some Blackjack, but we both ended up spending the weekend playing a came called Spanish 21. ¬†Similar to blackjack, but there are non 10 cards in the deck, and there are a few different rules – but it was a blast and we did well. ¬†By the end of our mini-vacation, we had doubled our money! ¬†Now I really want to learn how to play poker….

getting to the casino!
selfie at the casino!
night 1 winnings :)
night 1 winnings ūüôā

Yesterday we went to pick R up from camp. ¬†She had a blast and very much wants to go back next year, this time for two weeks. ¬†She earned her levels in several areas (swimming, of course), but the biggest surprise was rifflery. ¬†I’m not a fan of guns and won’t allow them in my house, but she apparently is quite a natural. ¬†She shot a spoon 4 times in a row! ¬†Crazy. ¬†There’s a total of 18 activities at the camp (things like sailing, alpine tower, drama, arts & crafts, archery, rifflery, etc). ¬†I will say ¬†having a son who has gone three years in a row and now my youngest – camp (at least this one) is a life changing and very positive experience. ¬†I wish I were young enough to go here! ¬†And I’m so glad my kids get to be a part of it.

Of course we got to see M again, and that was awesome. ¬†So many people came up to us to tell us how amazing M is (like we don’t already know!), and I can’t express how proud I am of him. ¬†He’s already said he wants to work there every summer for as long as he’s able (aka – until he graduates from college).

A had a girlfriend from university take the train down for a few days, so they were incredibly busy.  They spent most of their time at the beach or watching movies.  And now A is gearing up to start her new job this week!

So this weekend is mainly about relaxing, cleaning up the house, doing laundry, shopping, bulk cooking for the week, and working out. ¬†It’s nice to have a day that’s totally normal ūüôā

Until then…some camp pics!

our last #morningpicture for the week as she's being dropped off at camp
our last #morningpicture for the week as she’s being dropped off at camp
our first #morningpicture that was taken as soon as we saw her on pick-up day!
our first #morningpicture that was taken as soon as we saw her on pick-up day!
M is the junior counselor in the middle.  This is his cabin from last week
M is the junior counselor on the left. This is his cabin from last week

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R is in the purple shirt - clearly excited as they made a volcano on the beach
R is in the purple shirt – clearly excited as they made a volcano on the beach

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pool time.  R in the middle in the black suit
pool time. R in the middle in the black suit
goofy girl in the hat!
goofy girl in the hat!
foam sword fight.  M is in blue
foam sword fight. M is in blue

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M leading his activity - which is drama
M leading his activity – which is drama

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R in purple in the front with her friend F!
R in purple in the front with her friend F!
M doing some crazy dance
M doing some crazy dance

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M dressed up as two-faced for their production of batman!
M dressed up as two-faced for their production of batman!
Ginny clearly missed R when she was away!
Ginny clearly missed R when she was away!

Book Review – Part One

Okay, so every now and then, I get the opportunity to do book reviews, and even host giveaways.  Well, I can honestly say that the reviews I have to share are for two very interesting Рand unique Рcookbooks.

While this publisher is not hosting a giveaway, I am allowed to share recipes, and a couple of my favorites are included below.

The name of the books are Vegan for Fit and Vegan for Fun, both by Attila Hildmann. ¬†Today’s review is strictly on Vegan for Fit.

First, I’d like to share a little bit about the author. ¬†Attila Hildmann lives in Germany, and has transformed his life by adopting a vegan lifestyle. ¬†Not only did he lose 77 lbs and advocates veganism for weight loss and health, but he also discusses the positive impact of veganism on the environment and animal welfare (without at all being preachy). ¬†What I found most interesting is that these are the first European cookbooks I have ever had, and they are definitely unique! ¬†Despite growing up in Milwaukee, WI (which has a very large German population), I honestly don’t know much about German food other than bratwurst, German potato salad (vinegary, warm and with bacon!) and liverwurst! ¬†I always had the sense that German food was quite heavy and hearty, and not too focused on vegetables.

Okay, here’s my review for Vegan for Fit!

vegan for fit

Intro

This book contains a separate 10 or so page booklet for Attila’s 30-Day vegan challenge that contains about 40 testimonials. ¬†He bills this as being a unique program, as it not only has the food to eat (which are all in the book), but also has an exercise component and a Facebook group support page. ¬†I really like the FB page component, as studies have shown that weight loss associated with support groups (think the Weight Watchers meeting model) are far more successful than someone trying to diet alone.

There are 150 pages of recipes, and 100 pages of good information on how to do the challenge, how to eat out, success stories, and an entire chapter on motivation.  From this aspect, I loved the set up of the book.

The Recipes

Very nut heavy, and I had a hard time modifying most of them. ¬†Certainly not a worry if nuts aren’t a concern in your home the way they are in mine. ¬†However, I did find it odd that a weight loss book would highlight nuts and nut-butters so prominently. ¬†I started to think that the success stories were really because the challenge participants went from a meat and dairy heavy diet to a vegan one – and not because the recipes are low-fat (for the most part). ¬†That’s not a complaint, but just an observation. ¬†I personally don’t believe all the low-fat hype and think that plant sourced fats, in moderation, are critical to being healthy. ¬†I also think the amount of sweeteners in some recipes is WAY more than needed. ¬†For example, a green tea, lemon, and ginger drink (which I loved plain) called for 3 tbsp of agave. ¬†Perhaps that a cultural component of German cuisine (being sweet), but I found I liked many of the recipes when I cut this way down or out completely.

There were several ingredients I had to Google because they were unfamiliar to me as an American. ¬†Popped Amaranth, for example, is in several recipes. ¬†I actually watched a YouTube video to find out what it is! ¬†It’s sounds awesome though, and have ordered amaranth so I can try it. ¬†Several recipes also called for things like non-carbonated mineral water (which I eventually figured out is just filtered or bottled normal water), agar agar, locust bean gum, and guar gum. ¬†The last three, not things I find on my pantry shelves.

But all this said Рthe recipes were incredibly unique, and quite a change of pace from typical books I see.  The entire chapter on Great Drinks was probably my favorite, and I definitely have new regulars in my rotation.  I also completely loved the Caprese Vegan Style recipe, and used the tofu not only on salads, but on toast too.  The Whole Grain Rice Pudding was very yummy and a nice dessert.  But my absolute favorite thing was a drink!

marinating rounds of pressed tofu.  no cooking necessary - but takes on that wonderful mozzarella-like quality
marinating rounds of pressed tofu. no cooking necessary – but takes on that wonderful mozzarella-like quality
Caprese breakfast!
Caprese breakfast!
1 cup hot green tea, 1/2 squeezed fresh lemon, some zest, and a small piece of sliced ginger.  I skipped the agave - it didn't need it.
1 cup hot green tea, 1/2 squeezed fresh lemon, some zest, and a small piece of sliced ginger. I skipped the agave – it didn’t need it.

I give to you – the Silken Tofu and Cinnamon Shake!

It’s incredibly east – and amazingly tasty. ¬†It’s simple – almost too simple – but is low fat and high in protein, making it a killer after workout drink too.

Blend:

*7 ounces of silken tofu (I buy the Mori-Nu in bulk from Amazon, so always have some on hand – and since it’s the hermetically sealed packages, lasts in the pantry for months)

*3/4 cup ice

*4 tsp agave nectar

*1 tsp cinnamon

*1 pinch salt

Yep, that’s it. ¬†It tastes like Christmas and I’m fully hooked.

001 (Medium)

Final Verdict

I feel grateful that I was approached by an international publisher to review Attila’s books. ¬†While there are edits that may need to be made for this to be an American mainstream success (mainly on the ingredients that aren’t common here), I think it would be a great addition to any cookbook collection.

The recipes are all quite easy, and if nuts aren’t an issue in your life, then I’d definitely recommend it.

I’m not so sure I agree that this is a diet or weight loss book, mainly due to the high nut and sweetener content of a high percentage of the recipes. ¬†However, I do think the promotion of whole-food, plant-based ¬†food is always going to lead to health benefits – whether done so intentionally or not, and Attila’s chapters on health, motivation, and exercise round it out nicely.

 

Two-Thirds of Kids are Bilingual (my own study results below)

FOOD

Not too many pics to post because a lot of what I’m making is for a book review, so you can be dazzled by those later ūüôā

Aside from some of the new fun eats, I have also had other grub too. ¬†Tomato/cream cheese toast seems to be the top of my happy list still, and I’ve had some variation every day since NS introduced me to this culinary delight a week ago.

Also salads, baked spuds, smoothies, and juice. ¬†You know…the usual.

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I don't drink coffee much other than my 1 cup of plain joe when I first wake up, but today was not only exhausting and less than fun, that I not only needed an iced soy latte before going into a meeting I was dreading, but a dark chocolate hit too.  Though I ended up giving the chocolate away....
I don’t drink coffee much other than my 1 cup of plain joe when I first wake up, but today was not only exhausting and less than fun, that I not only needed an iced soy latte before going into a meeting I was dreading, but a dark chocolate hit too. Though I ended up giving the chocolate away….
Tofurky kielbasa, bun-less, won a bed of sauerkraut with Dijon and ketchup!
Tofurky kielbasa, bun-less, won a bed of sauerkraut with Dijon and ketchup!

FITNESS

I went to the gym yesterday and it absolutely reinforced how much I hate the gym. ¬†What I really wanted to do was go to a yoga class, but couldn’t find a class that was suitable for my schedule. ¬†There were also no gym classes (like spin or zumba) going on at the gym – which is one of the rare occasions I go.

Anyway, I did use a spin bike that has a monitor mounted to it and you can take a virtual class.  While I enjoyed the spin part, the program had audio issues Рwhere the Bollywood-esqe music way overpowered the instruction.  It made it a bit difficult to follow.  After that, I hopped on the elliptical.  Again, not my fav thing, but I wanted to workout!

LIFE

I must admit that the past two days have been frustrating.  Not going into too much detail other than to say rude difficult people suck.

I have, however, learned an interesting thing about children. ¬†My children. ¬†Or at least one of my children. ¬†M – is bilingual. ¬†You may wonder how, with him being 17, I didn’t know that. ¬†It’s because I just found out last night….

So M is away being a junior counselor at camp. ¬†I send him emails everyday, detailing the adventures of the family he’s left behind this summer. ¬†Well, he finally replied to me yesterday! ¬†While out enjoying some MUCH needed “off” time with D last night to catch the last part of the USA v. Belgium game and have a beer, we were chatting (after the game, of course) and I read him the email our son wrote to me. ¬†In that email, M mentioned that he also emailed D with a list of things he’d like us to send him in a care package.

Then D read me M’s email to him. ¬†And we both started laughing our butts off. ¬†You see, in M’s email to me, he’s very sweet and respectful…and short and to the point. ¬†In M’s email to my husband, however, he “speaks”¬†totally different. ¬†So when we get home from our evening out, we ask our daughters (19 and 10) if they speak differently to us. ¬†R said no…A said “absolutely”. ¬†So there ya have it. ¬†2/3’s of children are bilingual.

Allow me to prove it….these are the actual emails from M.

Hey mom! It’s great here and I have some fantastic news.¬†

I have been offered an extra two full weeks to work. I got evaluated today and my bosses said that I have been doing fantastic and they’re letting me stay longer than intended
That’s really it, I’m sending dad the list of stuff I’d like you guys to mail me¬†ūüôā ūüôā ūüôā
Lots of love
and…
hey there man. I just replied to ma’s email earlier, so holla at a brotha for that. And I finally have an opportunity to email you and ask for stuff to get mailed to me! ¬†(insert three¬†smiley¬†faces with tongues sticking out here…)

Here goes everything. Some of them seem weird, but counselor life is intense brah. 
‚ÄĘMy foam swords. Trust me.¬†
‚ÄĘChips. Preferably the purple Doritos. Tons please I love snacks
‚ÄĘsoda. Please mayne. I love me my sugar. Gets me going ya know?
‚ÄĘcandy. Same reasons as before but candy, homie
‚ÄĘnew earbuds. Mine have broken.¬†
‚ÄĘmy ipad
‚ÄĘmy alarm clock iPod Dock¬†
‚ÄĘmy snuggie
‚ÄĘa clipboard¬†
‚ÄĘrandom request I know, but the chocolate protein bars. Thems so goooood

and finally something important to human survival:

‚ÄĘa water bottle
I know it’s a lot but thanks for everything. I love you all. #camp
Seriously.  Two completely different languages.
D's working nights this week, and sent this to me today to cheer me up.  It worked.
D’s working nights this week, and sent this to me today to cheer me up. It worked.
What can I say?  I'm a fan of Tim Howard.  The USA goal keep set a record last night for the most saves in a single match in ANY World Cup.  SIXTEEN.  The USA didn't advance, but man oh man, they rocked it.  And despite being a diehard Chelsea girl, I'm going to watch Everton (another EPL team), just to see Mr. Howard play.  And he's a vegetarian, so even better!
What can I say? I’m a fan of Tim Howard. The USA goal keep set a record last night for the most saves in a single match in ANY World Cup. SIXTEEN. The USA didn’t advance, but man oh man, they rocked it. And despite being a diehard Chelsea girl, I’m going to watch Everton (another EPL team), just to see Mr. Howard play. And he’s a vegetarian, so even better!
today's morning pic...in matching hats!!!
today’s morning pic…in matching hats!!!