Main Street Vegan Academy – Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

<<<<UPDATE>>>>. The giveaway has ended – huge congrats to Karen for winning!!

Yes – you read that right.  Free stuff.  Right at Christmas no less!  So you know what, read on, enter, and get yourself something you know you want anyway 😉

Book Layout

I’m the owner of dozens of vegan cookbooks (easily), and have reviewed quite a few in the past few years as well.  I like to start by checking out the layout.  Some go right to business – the recipes and only the recipes.  Some start with tips on how to veganize your kitchen – great for newbies or people looking to increase plant-powered meals in their lives.  Some still go into the explanations of why a vegan diet is great – health, environment, animal ethics, etc.  Everyone starts at a different point – or have different reasons for wanting a book of all plant based yumminess.  You may be a long time vegan looking for something fresh and new.  Or an athlete looking to get leaner and stronger.  In a new relationship with a non meat-eater.  Or an animal activist who just can’t be a part of animal husbandry and cruelty.  Or an omnivore who just knows they want to increase their intake of wholesome plant-based eats.

Whatever your reason, a glance at the book layout can help you decide if this is the book for you.

Since this book is coming from Victoria Moran – the founder of Main Street Vegan Academy, and JL Fields – my fav down to earth vegan recipe creator – you know it’s full of no-nonsense advice, and they did so in their “Coaching Corner” comments sprinkled throughout the book.  These consist of additional research materials or advice from academy grads.

The first two chapters are informational, and go into things like debunking typical vegan myths, and how it’s okay to be on whatever journey you are to being more plant-based.  For many of us who choose to eat this way (or explore what it may mean), it’s common to be confronted by our meat eating family and friends with questions like “where did you get your protein”, and “how can you be healthy”, and “plants have feelings too”.  And just as frustratingly, there’s nothing worse than the “vegan police” who like to tell you that you aren’t “vegan enough”.  These chapters are loaded with information in a non-confrontational way (which is extremely important to me in a mixed-dietary and non-judgemental household), and are a great read.  For those that don’t care and/or are well educated, it’s easy enough to skip past it.  I wouldn’t though.  As a vegan for 14 years, I still found great resources and well articulated perspectives.

Chapters 3-8 are tons of yummy recipes.  Everything from breakfasts to salads, soups, main dishes, one-pot dishes (my FAV in a busy family), and desserts.

The final chapter is called Vegan Outside the Kitchen, and is personally my favorite.  It focuses on things like dining out and how to talk to kitchen staff without being a condescending asshat, to taking veganism off your plate and into your fashion and beauty habits.  This is the Gandhi chapter of “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Recipes

So – as you can see from this picture – the sticky notes represent the dishes I want to make.  Some I choose because I have everything I need to make it.  Some because they’re flavor profiles I know I love, and some because they offer new ideas, techniques, and flavors.

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I made Cheesy Broccoli Rice (because – who doesn’t love that?!?!) and Nutmeg Chocolate Chip Bars (always on the lookout for a dessert for school lunches for my youngest).  The rice was SO easy – all in the rice cooker (and those who know me know I’m an appliance cooking junkie – and JL is the queen of appliance recipes – serious – check out her other books Vegan Pressure Cooking and The Vegan Air Fryer – I have both and you won’t be disappointed).

I also made Veggie Mac, because it provided exactly what I was looking for – a new way to make a classic comfort food. And that, my friends, is the recipe I want to share with you.  Nothing like a cheezy, noodley, pot of goodness with all kinds of sneaky veggies in it.

Veggie Mac – by Brill LoSacco, VLCE from New York

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes – Russet or Yukon Gold
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cashews (or 2/3 cup soaked raw sunflower seeds for a nut free option – which I did)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon (or 2 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni (regular vegan or gluten-free, depending on your dietary needs)

Directions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat for the pasta
  • In a small pan, combine potatoes, onion, carrots, and water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  • Once the large pot of water comes to a roiling boil, throw in the tablespoon of walt and the pasta.  Cook according to package directions until al dente.  Drain.
  • Combine cashews or soaked and drained sunflower seeds, garlic, tahini, mustard, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic powder into a high-speed blender or food processor.  When veggie mixture is finished cooking, add it (water included) to the blender.  Blend until completely smooth.
  • Toss the sauce with the pasta back in the large pot.
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making the sauce
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final dish!  Just look at that creamy lusciousness!

My (and my kids) thoughts:

I love a good creamy pasta dish – which is the main reason I picked this one.  I loved it sprinkled with tons of pepper.  I think I’d love it with peas added next time (though I’m a pea junkie and try to find ways to add them to pretty much everything!).  I can see adding crumbled tempeh for a more chili-mac type dish for a full meal, or as a side dish to some yummy BBQ tofu.

We are a nut-free home due to allergies, so I was happy this recipe came with a nut-free option.

My youngest – R – the pickiest eater of the bunch (mainly because she has life threatening peanut and tree-nut allergies, so new food spooks her), thought is was “ok”.

M loved it – even took a break from his video games to try it – he was only taste testing – and then proceeded to keep the bowl, telling me he loved it.  Big praise from the biggest meat eater in the house.

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with his “um, this is mine” face

And then there was A – my eldest and most likely to eat like me – her exact words for this (and the other dishes) was “dude, this is lit”.  High praise indeed.

And – awesome leftovers for the week’s lunches!  Not to mention all the other sticky notes to make meals for the week (Friday is already scheduled the One Pot Rice and Beans dish!).

Last Notes

Many of the recipes in this book call for nuts in some fashion.  Cashews for creamy dishes and peanut butter for some, just off the top of my head.  Most don’t have a nut-free option for the recipes.  For someone like me, that can be pretty limiting.  With a child with a life threatening allergy and a no tolerance nut rule in the house, if they can’t easily be converted and I see that many recipes with nuts, I may not splurge on it.  I’ve been cooking since I was 8, so it’s pretty easy to know how to modify a recipe, but for others, it may not be so.

That said – there’s a wide variety of recipes in this book, and I know it’ll be a mainstay in my home for many years.

Giveaway

Now it’s the part you’re waiting for, right?  HOW DO I GET ONE??  Well, you can do a few things.  You can buy it here.  You can beg someone who loves you to buy it for you.  Or – you can win one from me!

You may be wondering how!  Super simple.  Comment below that you’d like a copy.  Honestly, that simple.  I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner on the day after Christmas.  That way – if you didn’t get what you wanted, you still can get something totally groovy JUST FOR YOU.  Yep.  That’s how much I love you.

So – leave a comment below letting me know you’d really like a copy of this book, and on 12/26/17 I’ll draw a winner.  You’ll promptly get a book send directly from the publisher.

Peace friends!  And happy eating!

~Crissie

Happy Halloween Week!

FOOD

Been fun being home for a solid week now – especially because I can spend so much time in the kitchen! Seriously – I feel sorry for people who don’t like to cook. The joy of creating something, and knowing exactly what’s in it – and then feeding people you love.

It also helps to have plenty of leftovers to take to the office to limit going out to eat all the time. Thrifty single-mom finances at work 🙂

Made a yummy roasted butternut squash and apple soup. So simple really – roast the squash, sauté some onion and garlic, peel and steam an apple (I have to peel it due to my allergy) – then toss is all in the blender with veggie broth and some GF flour. Soup for days!

This is probably my very favorite salad. Kale is so hearty, you can make this and it lasts for days. This one is kale, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, quinoa, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds tossed in a lemon-tahini dressing.

And when you have a lunch meeting at the office and offer to bring the grub – everyone eats like me!!

One of my favorite easy snacks. Herbed tofu and slices of tomato.

Of course it’s officially Fall, so that means ALL THE PUMPKIN THINGS. Simple but tasty pumpkin pie with silken tofu, brown sugar, pumpkin, and all the right spices.

And since I was gone for 5 days and my kids failed to eat the bananas (brat children), I had plenty to work with to make fun baked things. Enter – chocolate chip banana bread! I needed oat flour but didn’t have any – so I wizzed some oats in the Vitamix and made my own.

I also whipped up a batch of Cajun blackened tofu – of which R snatched more than half to eat. I also made a pot of caulipots (mashed potatoes and cauliflower together), and some homemade BBQ sauce. Totally fantastic lunch, if I do say so myself! (And look – I just did). One of many smoothies I had this week. Of course, I usually have one per day. Nothing better than starting your day with pretty much your entire fruit and veggie needs!I’m a big fan of meals that start with a baked potato. This one – with a yummy mushroom gravy and a side of sriracha tofu.Lunch today was actually quite the disappointment. The cocktail was awesome though, so that’s redeemable. The salad had to be made twice (yeah, vegan means hold the feta!), the Gardein was super chewy and kinda icky, and the waiter lied about the first dressing he brought. Long story – the dressing that salad came with had honey – so I asked for the other dressing (a Dijon balsamic). He brought the wrong one – I sent it back – he came back with the right one, claiming it was the first one (HELLO, it was a different color and flavor!). I can handle mistakes – not everyone really understands the difference between vegetarian and vegan – but to lie about it? Ugh. And finally, dinner tonight! Remember about being a fan of baked potatoes as a base for a meal? Seriously – totally under appreciated.The two kids who are home (one is at a conference) had the top version. Baked spud – but in the air fryer! Hello – life freaking changing – topped with refried beans, vegan cheddar cheese shreds, and sautéed mushrooms (in broth with liquid smoke, maple syrup, and soy sauce).The one on the bottom – mine – had the refried beans and vegan cheese, but no ‘shrooms – instead I had lettuce and a spicy coconut yogurt topping.But back to this air fried baked potato. Not going to tell you how to do it – because I learned it in JL Field’s book today! If you have or want an air fryer – you legit need this. The Vegan Air Fryer is so worth it.

FITNESS

I canceled the gym membership we rarely use (I really just like running and yoga anyway), but have been slowly building a home gym in the garage. Pretty new to weight training – to be honest, I think it’s SOOOOO boring – but I also know how important it is. I’m not getting any younger ;). Not that I’ll ever feel my age!

As much as I hate mornings, I’m trying to adjust to workouts before work vs after as I increase my social calendar activities! No more school and recent single life, means more time for friends and fun. That means it gets in the way of my normal evening workouts.

So 2-3x per week of weight training, and runs and yoga the other days. Runs are more like jogs (except today – had a bit of extra energy to burn) as my right quad keeps healing.

Not the cutest, but it’s functional. In the box is a power tower that I’m waiting for my son to put together (ahem – if you’re reading this M….please put this together!).

LIFE

The week started out with a Witch’s Tea with my eldest, her best friend (my D3 – aka, third daughter) and her mom at a Victorian museum in Norfolk. It was a lot of fun, the tea was yummy, and since the snacks weren’t vegan, A actually packed a picnic basket for me! She made a totally yummy pinwheel wrap of spicy hummus, tofu, cucumber, and tomato.

Monday night is bowling night, and of course my team dressed up. I kept up with the witch theme, and we had a total blast!

Of course the next day was Halloween! It is my absolute favorite holiday (followed by St. Patrick’s day!). I naturally wore a costume to the office. Which included a big meeting (about 40 people or so) at our largest hospital – to which I was the ONLY one in costume (they were all in suits). It was totally worth it though.

The rest of the week was pretty chill. Work, family, friends, a movie, brunch, furniture shopping, and sweet fluff balls. Can’t complain about life at all!

My now 14 yo daughter found this in her room this week – from a mommy and me trip we took to Florida when she was 8.

R had a scary allergy attack – covered in hives from her ears to her waist – and what made her better (besides a high dose of Benadryl) was a Kuma bear, blankets, tortilla chips, and movies! And at night, a snuggly Bumble while she’s trying to read in bed.To be honest – I don’t actually think her hives were related to her peanut OIT therapy. When I’m freakishly stressed, I get hives. She’s had a rough week, and I think that’s what it was. Her hives weren’t on her face or throat, nor did she struggle to breath – all things one would expect from a food allergy reaction. Regardless, we’ve moved back to evening doses for a week or two just to be sure.

Just some fun fluffs.

Today was literally the only day I had time to sit out on the back deck and enjoy my java in peace (in my Depeche Mode mug from the concert!).

And I’ve decided to end my Saturday with a bit of a Harry Potter movie marathon! And if you notice the title of the first one – you know it’s the British set. There are a few more scenes in these, and it’s the original Philosopher’s stone vs the American Sorcerer’s Stone. Getting the first 3 in before bed, and then try to get as many as possible tomorrow before heading out boating with friends! 80 degree weather in November? Hell yeah.

Guess I’m No Quitter After All

Okay guys, I really came close to quitting blogging.  Part of it was because I know how sparse my posts have been, and I also started to feel I lost my blogging mojo.  Since becoming single, I’ve spent so much of the past few months finding my “new normal”, that I just felt a little out of touch with how I’ve blogged in the past.  But today I realized I’m not actually done, so I guess I’m no quitter after all 🙂

FOOD

There’s literally no way possible for me to show you the eats of the past 6 weeks.  Actually, I probably could, but that would just be way too long!

It’s been pretty typical fare: smoothies, soups, curries, baked potatoes, and the like.  A lot of traveling too, so some more fun eats as well.

made some homemade soy yogurt! Love this stuff. I make it super tart so it can be used in place of things like sour cream too

nice krispies!

spicy tofu soup!

Of course I had a TON of meals on the road the past month.

my survival basket from Whole Foods in San Jose (wine, fruit, etc).
this, my friends, is called a Paffle. It’s two waffles, with tofu scramble in the middle! A bit challenging to eat, but so creative!
can’t go to Florida and NOT go to Epcot. Well, I guess maybe you can, but I know I can’t! It was the international food and wine fest, which was just perfect

I was in Tampa for my bday and the group I was with sent this to my room. Very sweet (even though I didn’t eat it, it’s the thought that counts!)
Dallas had the BEST Mexican and Tex-Mex fare ever.
ugly pic, but amazing fajitas!

oddly super-green curry. But yummy.
got to see my good friend JG in Dallas! Lovely evening with wine and Thai food!

typical hotel vegan food offerings….
so the conference in Dallas specifically asked for dietary needs. I said vegan. NOTHING they served was. So they went and got me two bananas one morning. Ugh.

FITNESS

As it happens, I tore my right quadricep in that soccer game in mid-September, so I was sidelined for weeks!  I was allowed to eventually do gentle yoga, but otherwise it was walks and upper body workouts only.

Just yesterday I finally felt fully ready to get back into some of my normal routine.  So – I went to Hot Yoga!  Hopefully this week there will be more of that, and some runs and boxing too.  Being still just never works well for me.

hot, sweaty, stinky (I imagine anyway), and incredibly happy!

 

LIFE

Well, let’s see.  Lots in the past 6 weeks of course.  I had trips to San Jose, Tampa (with a side trip to Orlando), Charlottesville, Williamsburg, and Dallas.

me an my soon to be ex brother in law (but will ALWAYS be family) in San Jose!
hands down my fav theme park

Also, my youngest went to her first school dance!  Homecoming – and I wonder where my little girl has gone.

hair appt – where Raven the miracle worker actually tamed her crazy curls

And other fun stuff!

bought this at Epcot. Couldn’t help myself (Disney junkie that I am!). Micky heads with the epcot ball design
waiting for my flight home from Tampa
part of my 7 hr delay on my flight to Dallas
me and the oldest cabbage at Howl o Scream!
out with HT for wine flights, olives, and hummus
silly selfie out walking Kuma
me holding my baby boy (okay, JG and KG’s baby boy) and R’s 3rd bday party.
at our IT charity Nerd Golf event
all three in the same space without trying to eat each other. Clearly I’m cooking and they each think I have something they want
came home from some travels to find this on the fridge. Man, I love my kids…
carpooling with the eldest as her car was in the shop

Ginny wanting to come with me
with friends at Wine Fest!
and by FAR the best bday meme I got! This from OPR (who I also saw at Howl o Scream)

 

 

 

D&D

Oh wow, a whole 3 months have gone by.  I promise, it’s me, not you.  A lot has been going on in my world the past few months, and I am summing them up with D&D.  No, not Dungeons and Dragons.  And no, not a misspelling of my bra’s cup size.

It’s sort of a bad news/good news thing, so I’ll start with the bad so it can end on a high note.

D #1 = Divorce.  Yup, who knew? I hope you understand that I don’t want to get into details because writing them isn’t fun and I’m pretty sure reading them isn’t either.  But, it’s a part of my life and will be shaping a lot for me as a single mom. He left the state to be with his new love and I don’t have family in the area, but I DO have a lot of friends and a great network of support I can lean on if I need to.  So, I imagine this is the best for both of us now.  Make no mistake – I don’t hate him.  I’m disappointed, but all I want is for everyone I know to be happy, and if this is what it takes, then so be it.

Enough of that, right?!  On to the good news!

D #1 = Darden!  That’s right – after a freakishly challenging MBA program, I graduated last month!  That, my friends, has been the biggest reason for my long absence – between work and school, I barely had time to breath, much less cook consistently and blog.

But, while I’m filling up my newfound free time in some creative ways, it’s also nice to now I’ll have the time to focus on getting my blog rolling once again.

I admit that in April and much of May, I didn’t eat too much.  Not a good thing – and not healthy – just couldn’t.  Thankfully, as life is developing a routine, my appetite is slowly coming back.  Lot’s of good things like smoothies, salads, stir fries, and wine 😉

I also spent many early morning’s in April and May (like 3am morning) going on what I lovingly referred to as “rage runs”.  Mainly because it sounded fun, but it really was how I chose to work through some emotions during that time.  I’m now back to working out at normal hours, which for me is usually sometime after work.

You pretty much already have my major life updates.  Lot’s going on at work, and I’m also getting involved in my local start-up entrepreneurial community, which is really exciting.

Otherwise, just keeping busy and working with my kids and my friends on developing our “new normal”.

So that’s it for now.  I’m going to work on a blog face lift in the coming weeks (it is a season of change in my life, after all!), so stay tuned there.

Until then, some pics of the past week or so, and we’ll chat soon.  Promise 🙂

found a way to bring the two cats together in a close proximity. SINK WATER
lovely gift from a very lovely friend
Bark and Brews! R and I took Kuma to the Botanical Gardens. Pups welcome all Sunday’s in summer!
nap time in the pool for R
R and her cat Ginny 🙂
my cat – napping in my spot on the back deck
Ginny looking busted in the bath tub
the new morning picture!

still my fav pace for java in the morning
Kuma snuggles
my gorgeous girl

Managing A Few Days Without Total Chaos!

FOOD

It’s been all homemade eats the past few days since getting home from FL.

coconut water, chocolate Vega powder, mango, and banana smoothie!  Was my first of the week, and was out of decent greens
coconut water, chocolate Vega powder, mango, and banana smoothie! Was my first of the week, and was out of decent greens
that was rectified on Sunday when D went grocery shopping, so Monday's smoothie was vanilla Vega powder, 2 clementine's, water, and spinach.
that was rectified on Sunday when D went grocery shopping, so Monday’s smoothie was vanilla Vega powder, 2 clementine’s, water, and spinach.

I know the bottle says Shakeology, but I don’t use it.  Not that I don’t think it’s packed full of nutrients, but I had an allergic reaction to their vegan vanilla a few months ago.  So, I still to Vega most of the time and Sunwarrior on occasion too.  To be honest, I don’t use protein powders all the time, but when I’m making my smoothie as a meal replacement or I know it needs staying power (or when I know I’m a bit lacking in some vital nutrients), I’ll toss it in.  After a week of travel and mostly eating out, I tend to add them to my smoothies.

I also did a lot of batch prep on Sunday’s.  That included some of the Happy Herbivore meals and salads.  I have to admit, I’ve become addicted to the Fitpacker container system the past few weeks.  It makes storage a breeze and takes up less space.

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D grilled Saturday night, and I begged for a repeat of the awesome portabello burger I blogged about last time!  With some grilled squash and mushrooms and air fried french fries, it was a fun and tasty dinner (that I didn't have to cook!)
D grilled Saturday night, and I begged for a repeat of the awesome portabella burger I blogged about last time! With some grilled squash and mushrooms and air fried French fries, it was a fun and tasty dinner (that I didn’t have to cook!)

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part of Sunday's dinner was some zucchini and yellow squash noodles pan sauteed with garlic and Italian seasoning.
part of Sunday’s dinner was some zucchini and yellow squash noodles pan sautéed with garlic and Italian seasoning.
I also dig my baked spuds!  This is some maple baked beans with cruncy cabbage
I also dig my baked spuds! This is some maple baked beans with cruncy cabbage
oh look, another baker!  This one has steamed green beans mixed with hummus on top with some hot sauce.
oh look, another baker! This one has steamed green beans mixed with hummus on top with some hot sauce.
big bowl of yummy vegan Pho!
big bowl of yummy vegan Pho!
Monday's lunch - a BAS and some spicy mac made with quinioa gluten free noodles
Monday’s lunch – a BAS and some spicy mac made with quinoa gluten free noodles
hot and sour tofu soup with onion, bell peps, and green beans.
hot and sour tofu soup with onion, bell peps, and green beans.
and another baker, but just with cabbage and hot sauce this time
and another baker, but just with cabbage and hot sauce this time
this is HH's Bayou Bowl!  Brown rice topped with a cajun style lentil and veg.  And cabbage for crunch because that's my thing
this is HH’s Bayou Bowl! Brown rice topped with a Cajun style lentil and veg. And cabbage for crunch because that’s my thing
and tonight's dinner of spicy tofu tacos on corn tortillas with veggies on top
and tonight’s dinner of spicy tofu tacos on corn tortillas with veggies on top

FITNESS

Still doing the Beach Body on Demand workouts.  I honestly do like them because there’s variety (my Achilles heel in DVD based workouts).  I’m in my final 7 days of the 21 Day Fix program workouts and I admit to feeling pretty darn good.  And much stronger.  And possibly constantly sore 🙂

I’ve also joined a really active challenge group with a coach who totally understands vegan nutritional needs, so I’m pretty stoked there.  Plan to start the kick boxing program on Monday, which aligns with completing the current program.

Of course I have my 3x per week runs too!

this is me and my helper Ginny doing Yoga fix on Sunday.  I have to say that working out at home thrills her in very odd ways.  She loves to either work out with me or be near me when I do.
this is me and my helper Ginny doing Yoga fix on Sunday. I have to say that working out at home thrills her in very odd ways. She loves to either work out with me or be near me when I do.

Last night was Cardio Fix.  I’m trying to work out more in the mornings, but it just wasn’t happening on Monday.  I had to be at the office before 7am, and that would involve getting up around 430, and that’s just silly.  So, evening working it was.  By the way, I’m not sure why I’m smiling.  There’s this exercise in this video called Surrender’s, and I’m pretty sure they’re evil.

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Today was a 3-fer workout.  Upper Body Fix first, and because that was challenging by didn’t wipe me, I followed it with a 4 mile run.  Then this evening, R and I went on a bike ride when she got home from school.   3 laps through the neighborhood for a total of about 30 minutes.

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LIFE

Well, it’s been a nice few days!  I’ve only been home for a few, but they’ve been pretty chill.  For the first time since grad school started, it felt like a normal weekend!  Saturday M had some friends over (that we’ve known since they were young) and D grilled.  It was hanging out and being silly mostly.  I also did the week’s meal planning and D did the grocery shopping while I studied.

Sunday was laundry, cleaning, batch cooking, a school team meeting, studying, and watching a movie!  We watched Moana, and I loved it.

M’s car is screwed up, so we’re currently sharing my ride.  So he’s been taking me to work so he can go to school and then picking me up in the evening.  While it’s a bit of a challenge, it’s not the end of the world.  Not sure his car is worth fixing yet, so we’ll see.

It’s been really nice out (80 over the weekend, chilly yesterday, but 70’s today and 80’s tomorrow before winter comes back and we’re in the 50’s).  We’re definitely taking advantage of THAT!  Kuma has been hard to keep inside, and Bumble has been joining her in the yard too.  Ginny sticks to her window watching and is just happy the house is opened up!

So, hope you’re having a good week so far!

D making a goofy grill face.  Since it's technically still winter, it's dark by dinner so he wears the head lamp when grilling!
D making a goofy grill face. Since it’s technically still winter, it’s dark by dinner so he wears the head lamp when grilling!

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Monday morning picture!
Monday morning picture!

 

Namaste from India!

FOOD

Just a few short days after my last post, I was on my way for a 2 week stay in India!  While I have managed to find plenty of eats, the “vegan” concept is still a bit foreign.  I usually get offers of boiled veggies, fish, and chicken.  Still – it hasn’t been all that challenging considering the plentiful vegetables and legumes!

congee with fresh ginger
congee with fresh ginger

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yes - nice hotel :)
yes – nice hotel 🙂

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LOVE the guava especially!
LOVE the guava especially!

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salad w/hummus as a dressing has become a total favorite
salad w/hummus as a dressing has become a total favorite

FITNESS

Yoga every day!  I certainly went for runs before heading to India, but haven’t since I’ve been here.  The air quality is such that I wouldn’t go outside anyway – even with a group, and our crazy long days in residency leave me little desire to do hard cardio.  So – every morning has been yoga and it’s been great.

LIFE

Well – I’m in India!  This is the last of my non-US residencies, and I have one more of those (in April) before graduating in May!

I arrived in Mumbai in New Year’s Eve.  Despite being awake for about 38 hours, I still hit up the NYE bash at the Opium Den bar in the hotel with several of my classmates.  Many others went to Dubai to stay with a classmate and ring in the new year.

I spent a week in Mumbai and, like much of what I’m seeing of India, it’s a study in contrasts.  There are those who are very well off (2-3% of Indian’s are wealthy by international standards – and that’s a LOT of people, considering there are 1.2 billion people.  That means there are more wealthy in India than the total population of Australia!), a rising middle class, and some abjectly poor.  And you can see it all in a very short radius.

Mumbai has heavy British influences, though with an Indian spice.  I found much of it quite pretty.

view from my room - the Arabian Sea and the Mumbai skyline
view from my room – the Arabian Sea and the Mumbai skyline

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my class in front of the Gateway to India
my class in front of the Gateway to India
beautiful train station
beautiful train station

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yep - that's a guy with a really big gun....
yep – that’s a guy with a really big gun….

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a women's co-op we visited.  founded more than 50 yrs ago, the goal is to employ women to help them provide for their families while still getting to stay home.
a women’s co-op we visited. founded more than 50 yrs ago, the goal is to employ women to help them provide for their families while still getting to stay home.
one of the Mumbai slums
one of the Mumbai slums
a gift from the co-op
a gift from the co-op

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We left Mumbai after a week, flew to Delhi, and then took a 6 hour bus ride to Agra.  It took 3 hours to get from the airport to the highway because traffic is so horrible – and it’s always this bad.

view from the front of the bus :(
view from the front of the bus 😦

We rolled into Agra quite late, checked into our rooms, and went to bed.  We had to be in the lobby by 6am to get to the Taj Mahal before it opened – hoping to see a sunrise, but it was foggy (or smoggy).

in my Agra hotel room.  Do not distrub me!!!
in my Agra hotel room. Do not distrub me!!!
tried to call the front desk to ask about my Wi-Fi - but didn't know how!  Tried 0, but no answer.  Oh well.  Just went to sleep instead.
tried to call the front desk to ask about my Wi-Fi – but didn’t know how! Tried 0, but no answer. Oh well. Just went to sleep instead.

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lots of baboons!  They like to steal things from people - especially food.
lots of baboons! They like to steal things from people – especially food.
this one won a little battle with a friend over the ownership of this bottle
this one won a little battle with a friend over the ownership of this bottle

From there we went back to the hotel for breakfast, then off to the Agra fort.  That was amazing!

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built to protect a palace, it was a total maze.  Designed that way in part to confuse incoming troops, but mostly to stop stampeding elephants
built to protect a palace, it was a total maze. Designed that way in part to confuse incoming troops, but mostly to stop stampeding elephants

Then it was lunch, and finally to a market and temple.  That particular trip was completely chaotic, but like nothing else I’ve seen.

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Then it was to the train station, back to Delhi, into a new hotel, a reception (which I admit I skipped so I could shower!), and then back to business today.

While here, I’m definitely embracing a different wardrobe!

on the way down to class this morning
on the way down to class this morning

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Tonight I’m off to have dinner with a co-worker’s family!  He’s from Delhi, and his mom and sister are making me dinner.  SO excited!

On the non-India front, I promised pics of the finish painted guest room.  Plus I can’t leave you without a few fluff balls and morning pictures!

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she loves laundry day
she loves laundry day
seeing Rogue One the night before I left for India
seeing Rogue One the night before I left for India
M and Kuma passed out on the sofa!
M and Kuma passed out on the sofa!
me as I landed in Mumbai
me as I landed in Mumbai
me and two of my awesome classmates
me and two of my awesome classmates

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