Brunch Shenanigans

FOOD

Lots of good eats this week!

My smoothies this week were the lazy kind I pick up at Tropical Smoothie Cafe on the way to work.

I actually made a real meal one morning though, and it was tasty. Tempeh and potato has with onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Topped with tons of hot sauce!

Also an oldie, but goodie! Whole wheat toast with sunflower seed bread and sliced bananas.

Homemade soy yogurt snack.

BBQ tofu and cornbread!

Noodles with pasta and a simple coconut curry sauce.

And of course some tofu green curry on a lunch date with my boyfriend.

Soup for days (and days and days and…days). I made what is still my favorite soup ever. A double batch in the Ninja IQ yielded 26 cups! SO tasty!

I finally checked out Mesob’s Ethiopian in Virginia Beach. WOW. So good and I literally can’t wait to go back. I had the vegetarian plater (though everything is vegan), with Shiro Wot, cabbage and carrots, green beans and carrots, and the house salad with injera bread. I really wanted the Mesir Wot (I LOVE that dish), but they were upfront that it’d take 20 minutes to make that and I just didn’t have time. I have all the ingredients at home, so I should probably try my hand at making it.

Also had a Moe’s salad one day, and then out with my guy – first at one of our favorite wine bars and then dinner at One Fish Two Fish where I had a yummy rosemary gin martini and a delicious off menu vegan dish of spiralized veggies in a spicy tomato sauce.

Yesterday was a big family brunch event. Literally my boyfriend and I, all our kids, and my son’s girlfriend. It was a 2 hr wait, but that was fine. We went to The Bee and the Biscuit and the kids played Uno and we all sat around fire pits (all those over 21 had drinks – which was 5 and that was a HELL of a bar bill, but worth it). Then we went in and had yummy food.

Same wrap I got last time: black bean, potato, spinach, roasted corn, tomatoes. And a side of fruit

FITNESS

Went for 2 runs and then also checked out a new class called Regymen. It’s essentially the Y’s version of Orange Theory. I wore a heart rate monitor and cycled between 3 “stations”. One is treadmills, one is skiers and rowers, and one weights and bikes. There are display monitors around the room so you know what your heart rate is and in what zone you are. It also displays calories burned. In the end I torched 604 calories. Loved the workout. There was perhaps a period where I could’ve thrown up, but that’s ok. Worth it, and I’ll totally go back. Who doesn’t like a workout that makes you wanna cry?

Also did 2 yoga classes. One at the gym, one streaming at home.

LIFE

Pretty typical week. Work, school, family during the week, and fun (and school and cleaning and grocery shopping) on the weekend! I’ve meditated every day, usually in the morning, but if I’m too rushed (or didn’t wake up in my house), I do it later in the day.

On the work front, I hit my 15 year anniversary at my job. I got to pick from a catalog of gifts and got a 4 person tent. Will come in handy when R and I try our hand at camping in a few months! We had that one class at REI and there are a few more there and with a local hikers group I want to do first.

I stopped at a local wine spot while waiting for R to finish up at a school thing.

Not normally a white drinker, but I do love French wine and this was really tasty.

Yeah, I’m short. Feet didn’t touch the ground!

Brunch shenanigans! I LOVE what they do with the outside space to make the wait worth it. Tables, fire pits, a bar, blankets, and a room of games.

Smoke in their eyes made for a goofy shot- but all were warm

After brunch I went home for a bit, then over to my guys house for the night. We watched basketball and a show and had a pretty chill night. After the brunch fun, it was nice to just curl up on the sofa and chill.

And of course the fluffs.

About to get swallowed up by that bush

New morning coffee routine! These two hang out every morning

MY YEAR OF LESS

Ugh. I seriously have sucked paying attention. Which sucks, because I was doing SO well until the holidays. I do have a plan to get back on track – which is basically to reduce going out and only shop when I have a plan.

Home Sweet Home

FOOD

I didn’t snap a pic of it, but my Christmas dinner made by my BIL was Tofurkey sausage, baked potato, sweet potato, and corn. It was very filling and yummy and I couldn’t finish my plate!

Thursday I had lunch with my boyfriend – Thai of course!

Dinner was veggie burgers. Nothing fancy.

Friday morning was a smoothie, lunch was a slow cooker sweet potato, white bean, and kale soup, and dinner was R and I out with my guy and his son at Yard House where I had the gardein orange “chicken”.

Saturday was an oatmeal and banana breakfast, and lunch was busting out the Ninja Foodi for a brown rice with roasted sweet potato and tofu meal. SO good. Plus a BAS (big ass salad). I made a vegan ranch dressing for the salad and for dipping veggies.

Dinner Saturday was out with my guy at the Grilled Cheese Bistro in Norfolk. I had a vegan caprese sammich that was epically delicious. I couldn’t finish it – but I really wanted to! Before dinner, we stopped for drinks at one of our fav eclectic spots downtown.

This morning was a breakfast salad at Whole Foods and then leftover soup for lunch. Snacked on some veggies with dip too.

FITNESS

Friday I did a YouTube spin class in my garage followed by some yoga.

Yesterday I went to the gym and did the weight circuit and then ran 3 miles.

Also – today marked a 14 day streak for daily meditation. I’m using Headspace and love it.

LIFE

Okay, Christmas evening was spent at my sisters with my mom as well. We exchanged gifts and had dinner. After taking my mom back to her place, I walked Kuma and then R and I packed since we were hitting the road early the next morning.

My seester made me vegan cookies!
Little bear and mini moose!
Christmas afternoon cocktails with my sister
My parents look so young!!!
My mom holding me as a baby

Gift from my sister. So funny (and it shouldn’t be – it’s actually tragic)
Jordy getting jealous of my sister snuggling Kuma

Silly text with my guy about Kuma hogging the bed

And indeed, on Wednesday we were on the road by 540am. A quick stop at Starbucks, and we ended up pushing straight through to home with brief stops for gas and to walk Kuma. Traffic was strange – part of I-80 was shut down due to a major accident, so we were routed into Michigan for a bit. All was fine until we got near DC, which sucked royally. We should’ve gotten home by 930, but it was almost 1130 by the time we rolled in. But – felt great to get home.

Kid slept the better part of the 16 hr drive.

Thursday early my guy came over. Excellent timing as he helped save Kuma’s life! She had gotten into some chocolate my son left on his floor (ugh), and thankfully my boyfriend knew how to make Kuma vomit! Hydrogen peroxide on a pancake. Worked like a charm too – poor bear. Once we knew she was fine, we had some wonderful quality time together.

Thursday afternoon R and I went to the SPCA where we promptly fell in love with a 1 year old cat named Mena! She was very outgoing and demanding face scratches. We knew she was meant for us. We filled out the application and went home. Sure enough, the next morning we got the call that we were approved! They had to validate I owned my home and that Kuma was up to date on her immunizations. So – off we went! We’ve renamed her Luna (a name my boyfriend picked out and R and I thought was perfect). Her and Kuma’s meeting was relatively uneventful. I think Kuma is happy to have a kitty again. She’s missed Ginny and Bumble.

Saturday was grocery shopping and errand running, and then an evening and overnight with my guy. We were originally planning to go to Christmastown in Williamsburg, but decided to stay close to home. By the end of the night, we had gone to 3 bars and 1 restaurant. Heard some local music, and then went back to his place. Awesome night all around.

One of our stops was at Grain. I wanted to see the life sized ginger bread house in the Hilton Main where Grain (it’s a rooftop bar) is. And we’ve always enjoyed going there for drinks.

This morning we went out for coffee, and then he headed home while I went to Whole Foods. Went home, ran out again for some errands, and have mostly been just relaxing (aka – bored out of my mind!).

All my kids are now home! M got home from NY yesterday, and A got home from Toronto today! Nice to have them all home again.

And Luna is having fun exploring! The first day she spent much of it under my bed. But she’s been going around a lot, but mostly seems to stay upstairs.

Her food and liter box are in the laundry room, which I separate with a baby gate to keep Kuma out

So it’s been a week of home sweet home for sure! Going back to my old “home” to visit family for the holidays. Then the joy of coming back home to Virginia, which is very much our home now. To bringing Luna to her new forever home. All sweet indeed.

MY YEAR OF LESS

Well, still nothing great to report. Haven’t been overly contentious of spending, and that’s not good – that’s backtracking to old habits.

Home for the Holidays!

FOOD

Most of the time since the last post has been on the road and away from home, but not all!

PRT – or pre-road trip was all about cooking up what I already had in the house. I didn’t want to grocery shop when no one would be home.

One meal was a Gardein skillet thing. It wasn’t bad.

There was oatmeal and smoothies for breakfast. And since I had 2 blocks of tofu, pressed that and made jerk tofu, coconut rice, and tamari mushrooms.

Then it was road trip food, of which I’ve taken very little photographs. We packed a lot of snacks, so that was mostly what we ate. Also got a falafel at a rest stop in Chicago! That was fun.

There was one fun night at a restaurant in Youngstown, OH – which turns out to be where one of my coworkers is from! Salad and pasta primavera.

Oh, and my sister did homemade pizzas last night. Tried the So Delicious Mozzarella for the first time. It was good, though I think I still like Daiya better.

FITNESS

Nothing since I left on Friday – didn’t even pack workout clothes. Winter in Wisconsin – I’m not running outside!

But the few days before I went to the gym each day.

LIFE

So this holiday season is a bit unique. It’s my first one without all my kids with me since having them. My oldest is in Toronto celebrating with her soon to be husband’s family. My middle is in Albany meeting and celebrating with his girlfriend’s dad and family.

So, R and I came to my hometown in Wisconsin to spend the holiday with family. It started with a road trip Friday morning. An overnight in Ohio, and arrived late afternoon on Saturday.

Day 1 and all excited! Also, grandest Kumaventure yet!
The rest of the 2 days was largely R and Kuma sleeping

Elevators confused her…

Ah Chicago. Did not miss your traffic…

On Sunday was my big family party, which was awesome. First time all the cousins have been together in at least 10 years – mainly because I don’t often come home. My cousins all have kids now, and many are similar ages to R, so she had a totally great time – which made the whole trip worth it.

My cousin hosted the party at my sisters house. Fun tags on the wine!

R and her cousins goofing off in the game room

All the cousins’ kids! So fun to see them all together
My BIL wearing his white elephant gift – one I brought

The youngest cousin!
Me and most of my cousins. I really do miss them all.

Christmas Eve R and I and my niece and sister went to see Mary Poppins, which was really good. Then had pizzas.

Today is a quiet day. Will go over by my mom’s in a few hours, spend time there, then bring her back to my sisters for dinner and gift exchange. All told, a quite and nice trip home – though I miss my older two a lot and hope they’re having a great time.

Tomorrow we hit the road for our journey back to VA!

Last Thursday the kids and I actually exchanged our gifts. My youngest got me a Ninja Foodi! I’m SO excited. I used it that night to make the jerk tofu. Can’t wait to get home and play!

I’m also looking forward to NYE. That evening my boyfriend and his kids and me and mine are having our Christmas. I’m very much looking forward to that.

Otherwise – fun times!

End of day 1 travel selfie sent to my guy. Of course he had to send me one too!

Kuma and Jordy getting to know each other
Kuma, my sister, and I watching Bird Box on Netflix Saturday night.

Next 3 pics are a progression of my Aunt feeding Kuma….

My Year of Less

No comment 😏

Fiesta Time!

FOOD

Okay, it’s only been a few days, but one of those consisted of about 6 hours of cooking and I think I should get some type of award for that.

And the fact that I can write such a long sentence with very little punctuation and it’s still grammatically correct, but that’s a whole different story.

But, we shall go in order…

I had oatmeal Friday morning. No smoothie though (was out of a few ingredients).

I also started pre-cooking for the Saturday party by making my spicy green sauce and homemade seitan for the arroz non pollo.

Friday night a stop at one of our fav wine bars and then dinner out with my love having a strange lemon pasta thing that was odd, but tasty.

Saturday morning he, his young one, and I went to brunch. Portobello bagel with hummus, fruit, and a tropical mimosa followed.

Saturday we had a Latin dinner party! I made black bean and sweet potato tamales, 2 empanadas (one corn, one a TVP-based “beef” taco), cheezy arepas, slaw, and the arroz non pollo (a rice, veggie, tomato, and seitan dish). My guy made the plantains, which were killer.

Sunday naturally started off with a cleansing smoothie after the feasts of the night before. Lunch was leftovers. For dinner we went to cinema cafe. I had popcorn and fruit punch….

This morning I threw a batch of Spanish rice into the rice cooker while getting ready for work (ran out of the arroz non pollo). Threw a couple empanadas on it for my work lunch. Breakfast was a banana and coffee.

Dinner was mac no cheese!

FITNESS

Weather was odd, so I did get a run in, but also did some spinning on my bike in the garage. Never got to the gym…

LIFE

Probably one of the coolest things was having the downstairs powder room finished! They did an amazing job.

With school being done until Jan 7th, I’ve been reading for fun. Always my paranormal fun stuff, but also been reading a lot of nonfiction. Currently loving Where Good Ideas Come From and re-reading The Lean Startup and Blue Ocean Strategy.

Also upped my meditation game in the mornings, which has been nice.

Friday night I spent at my guy’s house. Saturday we went to breakfast, toured a local island we like, and then hit up a tienda before he took me home so I could get cooking for the masses!

Saturday was the Latin Fiesta dinner party! All told, there were 13 of us. A combination of my friends, my kids and their friends, my boyfriend, and his son. The living room was a major video game battle zone while the “adults” hung out in the dining room drinking and talking.

Extra props to my friend MM who brought and made these yummy peppermint drinks! Whipped vodka, peppermint vodka, coconut cream, and grenadine. YUM.

Oh, and MM and his wife RM brought Kuma the BEST gift. It’s a bucket of popcorn with 3 popcorn balls that come out. She loves it. She pulls out the popcorn balls and drops them at my feet one by one. I throw them, then the bucket (which she whips back and forth to “kill” while bringing it back). Then I stuff the popcorn balls back into the bucket, and we do this until she tires out. It’s so much fun.

M gave snuggles AND snacks. Kuma is in love…

Sunday ended up being super chill. I admittedly got freakishly bored, but persevered. The evening ended with going to see Mortal Engines with my youngest, my middle, and his girlfriend. Oldest couldn’t come because she started her new job as an ED Tech! In less than a year she finishes nursing school – so excited for her to move into a clinical role.

Today Kuma didn’t want to get up (neither did I really), but eventually she did, and then it was a Monday at the office.

Tonight has been cooking, cleaning, blogging, and reading!

MY YEAR OF LESS

Seriously no updates. I’m feeling pretty self-conscious about that honestly. But that’s the point of blogging – to have a written account and accountability, and I have literally failed since November. Due to holiday’s, I’m not sure it was entirely avoidable, but I’m absolutely positive I could’ve done better. And I will….

Taking Procrastination to a New Level (but still getting my stuff done!)

FOOD

Been a fun week in the kitchen. Breakfasts have been both smoothies and oatmeal most days, though I did have soup a few times too.

Thing is – I love smoothies. I love getting fruits and veggies (and often protein via some Vega or Garden of Life) first thing in the morning. But – when it’s cold, it’s less appealing. So by combining my smoothies with oatmeal, I’m finding that not only am I full for HOURS, I’m also more inclined to enjoy my smoothie since I also have a warm dish.

Speaking of soups….made three different ones this week! A broccoli “cheddar” that was amazing, a roasted mushroom that probably needed less onion (per my guy – he HATES onions) that I didn’t blend well enough, but for a non-onion hater, it was yummy, and a huge batch of lentil/veggie soup that we ate for days….and days and days.

Both the broccoli and mushroom soups came from his book:

The lentil was made up. It’s sort of a mix and match recipe…

  • 1 bag green lentils
  • 9 cups veggie broth
  • 3 tbs Tamari (gluten free soy sauce – could use soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos)
  • Veggies & spices of choice!
  • Slow cook on low 8 hours

I added corn, potatoes, onions, and carrots for veggies. And oregano and thyme for spices.

Hot soup and fresh bread ready when we all got home from work/school!

With a big dollop of Earth Balance

Added quinoa to the soup for breakfast yesterday

There was also a big kale salad. I LOVE a good kale salad, and it’s perfect to make in big batches because the heartiness of the kale means it keeps for several days without getting soggy. And since the death lettuce (aka, Romaine) is still out there, all the more reasons to stick to kale as my green of choice.

Kale, quinoa (I tend to make a big batch of some grain on Sunday’s to enjoy thru the week – this week it was quinoa), tomato, blueberries, cucumber, and onion. Topped with one of my fav tahini dressings from Oh She Glows. I often skip the oil and replace with water though.

So I got a Ninja Cooking System with Auto-IQ just over a year ago (right before Thanksgiving last year), and kind of forgot I had it. But, since having to move furniture around to get the floors done, I found it again in the bottom of the hutch. I realized I hardly use it, though it’s a really groovy thing. So I tried to use it for several things this week. I used it for the batch of quinoa (I typically do stovetop or in the rice cooker), but also played with the Auto-IQ for making the broccoli soup (came out perfectly!) and used it with the slow cooker feature for the lentil soup. Definitely going to keep that sucker out more often. It has 4 features – slow cooker, stove top, steamer, and baking. But also the IQ feature is cool. Been using the recipe book it comes with to get a better sense of how to use it for my needs, but it is fun.

R and I went for pizza one day between major errand running, and out for Thai once for dinner with my guy and his youngest.

Yes, I fall on the “pineapple belongs on pizza” camp. Come at me.

FITNESS

Runs and yoga. It’s been cold, and running in the cold (really, doing anything in the cold) isn’t something I dig. I’m thinking of adding in swimming a few days a week. I really, really miss swimming.

LIFE

Been a good week! Started off with grocery shopping – which is something I actually really enjoy.

Lot’s of school work and studying, which is nothing new, but still went well. My term ends next week Friday, and I’m trying to avoid the last minute push to get stuff done. I mean – I’m a master procrastinator, and certainly suffered from that this week, but I’m still ahead and determined to stay that way so I can enjoy the week and the break before my next term starts in January.

It was also the Feast of St. Nick’s! We celebrate by putting up our decorations on the night of the 5th, and everyone gets a small gift and treats on the morning of the 6th.

My oldest A loves to cook – especially bake – and has been looking for something to document her recipes.

R specifically asked for ear muffs.

And I got this for M! An old blogger friend has her own Etsy shop called Rap Mugs, and this was just perfect!

And of course Kuma got treats too!

The rest of the week was coffee, silly selfies between me, kids, and my guy, a fun (and cold) night out at a football game, getting the side table for the reading spot, and Kuma in her various forms of mostly being lazy.

Trying to get in by A and sleep…

MY YEAR OF LESS

Well, November stats are in and they’re BAD. I got away from daily tracking, and it’s crazy how easy it is to spend a small fortune just going out to eat. Like $800 worth! Clearly blew it last month. This month may be tough due to holiday travels, but I seriously need to get my butt in gear. So I’m calling November a total fail….ugh.

And while I’m done Christmas shopping – I went over budget there too.

Thankful for Everything Except the Ankle Injury

FOOD

Let’s get the non-Thanksgiving pics out of the way first!

On Wednesday, I had ramen and my very first bubble tea with my guy! Mine was coconut milk with Oreos.

Wednesday night was one of my fav chili recipes – Chili Con “Carne”. It’s from one of my older cookbooks – Vegan Lunch Box from 2008. I don’t dust it off very often, but I can’t seem to part with it either when I do my book donation purges every few years. This particular recipe is practically worth the price of admission, so I keep it around.

Today I had lunch with my guy and his youngest – a BAS (no Romaine, thank you!). Dinner was leftovers.

So what did we do for Thanksgiving? Other than have a really nice evening, there was ten tons of food too.

Breakfast was toast with sunflower seed butter. And a mimosa!

Will prep now – this was an Omni gathering. I only cooked vegan eats, though my guy made 3 dishes (1 vegan, 2 not) and my son’s girlfriend brought 3 dishes (2 vegan, 1 not).

On Wednesday I baked ten tons of cookies. Choc chip that actually weren’t that good (won’t use that recipe again) and my normal oatmeal raisin cookies that do rock.

On Thursday, the marathon began! But first – snacks. No meals other than the “big feast”, so snacks are put out for everyone to munch on, and get put up about 2 hrs before meal time.

Son 2 made me realize I forgot the dessert hummus this year!

Started with a pumpkin pie (which we still haven’t eaten!). Then green bean casserole, butternut squash au “gratin”, 2 tofurkey’s (one in a crock pot, one baked), sweet corn bread, sweet carrots, two gravies (one that came with the tofurkey’s and a homemade mushroom one) and stuffing with wild rice.

My guy made the mashers (vegan) and also made corn pudding and brought smoked turkey.

My son’s girlfriend made two types of croissant dishes – the dessert one was vegan – and a big batch of sangria!

And because I’m really paranoid about dishes coming out at the same time, I employ the sticky note method! R mocked me for it a little, but hey – it worked. Everything came out at the same time!

There were 9 of us in all. Me and my three kids, my guy and his two, my son’s girlfriend, and his best friend – who’ve I called Son 2 for years. And we had MORE than enough food.

And by the end of the night, my heart and belly were very full! And how could it not be? I was surrounded by many of the people I love most in the world, so yeah – it was a perfect day.

FITNESS

So, inspired by the run that didn’t suck on Monday, I wanted to run on Wednesday too. BUT, it was too cold for me (31 degrees), so this happened…

And I typically hate dreadmills, but I really wanted to run, so here I found myself. I was 19 minutes in, and my right calf cramped so badly I actually had to stop. That sucked. But I hopped on a recumbent bike for 20 so I still got a workout in. The upright spin bike put too much pressure on my calf, but was fine on the recumbent. Guess that’s one benefit of going to the gym…

Yesterday before cooking I did a walk/run – only about 20 minutes because I didn’t want to press my luck. Was fine though.

Today I went for a hike! REI has their #OptOutside campaign again this year, and I do like the idea and there just so happened to be a meetup group going to First Landing State Park for a 3 mile trail hike that sounded perfect. So, I signed R and I up, and my guy had thought to go too – though that fell through. And frankly, at 7am, R didn’t want to go anymore either (freakishly cold, and she hadn’t had a great night’s sleep), so decided to go anyway! There were 6 of us (though 21 originally committed), and while it was wicked cold, after a half mile or so, was warmed up enough to really enjoy it. Everyone was chatty, so the time really flew.

After, I met up with my guy and his son for lunch, and then went home. I took off my shoes and sat by the fire before going over to my desk to get studying. My ankle started to feel a little sore, and after 20-30 minutes, was agonizing. Now, I did trip during my hike over a root – didn’t fall, but it was less than graceful. But I felt fine all the rest of the hike and after, so I can’t be sure that was it, but I have no other explanation.

So RICE it is! Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevate. It’s largely feeling better, just can’t rotate it without pain. For awhile there, it wasn’t weight bearing at all. Ugh – finally get my running mojo back and I get this. ARGH.

LIFE

Can’t complain! (Other than the ankle drama).

Wednesday was some work and errand running. Including finishing grocery shopping. Behold – my list…

My accent chair arrived, and I’m fairly pleased. Kids love it. It’s not a long term chair, but definitely wanted something in the study other than the desk and the book shelves. It’s a place to read, etc. Need to pick up a side table, hopefully this weekend.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and a really wonderful day. My oldest works night, and was working, but came home, slept until 2, and then got up to spend the day with everyone before going back to work. My guy came over fairly early (his boys started their day with the other side of the family and then came over by my place). We took a run to Starbucks to get java and see M, who had to work. We spent the rest of the afternoon cooking together, which was a lot of fun, while the kids all watched the Lego movie. Watching them watch it and laugh and sing was really fun. Good thing I have a HUGE sofa – all of them sprawled out on it.

Then it was dinner and everyone in food comas. Let’s just say that things were much more tame after the eating ended. Then it was cleaning and dishes for me while everyone just relaxed and slowly dispersed.

Kids in food comas

And today was up early, hike, lunch, and school work. One of the contractors came to assess my half bath, and I should have that estimate tomorrow. The guy my coworker hooked me up with was a no-reply and no-show, so that sucks. Still have two tho, so hopefully those will balance out.

All told, awesome couple days!

And Kuma!

They were both cold!

Kuma snuggling the cooler my guy brought over on thanksgiving…

MY YEAR OF LESS

Not a lot of updates on here. I picked up things needed for the big feast of family. Got A’s Christmas gift, and had lunch out twice.