Jambo Friends!!

FOOD

What a busy week! Mostly excellent on the food front too.

Of course smoothies, salads, and my sunbutter/banana sprouted grain toast. But I also had a vegan houseguest for the past 4 days, so that was fun too!

I made a big batch of rice and lentil stuffed bell peppers for the week.

Thursday I made red beans with vegan andouille sausage, rice, and corn bread. Forgot to snap a pic of it tho!

For a BBQ party on Friday I made a big batch of pasta salad and a southwestern spicy rice salad that both went over well.

Saturday morning NS (my friend and guest visiting all the way from Kenya!) and I went to Yorgo’s Bageldashery where I shared my fav quick vegan breakfast – the Peterman wrap – and some fresh juices.

Sunday morning a bunch of us grabbed brunch at Bay Local where we split a hummus appetizer and a hummus/veg lettuce wrap. He also had avocado toast – which I skipped due to the whole allergy crap.

Sunday night I made orange “chicken” with soy curls. It was amazing if I do say so myself.

Smoothies this morning, and then a last lunch outing before taking NS to the airport. We went to Orapax because they have a huge vegan menu. We got a pizza to split as an appetizer (it wasn’t awesome), the Athenian “chicken” wrap to split (which was very good), and the Mediterranean Beyond Meat burger (which was ok), rosemary fries, and Greek potatoes. Holy stuffed, Batman. The beyond meat burger was a request because it is not available in Kenya. Neither of us were thrilled with it, so at least he knows he’s not missing out!

FITNESS

Gentle yoga and that’s it. It seemed to be getting better, and then over the weekend it sucked. Ugh. I’m literally to the point where I’m just going to go for a run and if I make it without wanting to cry, I’m good.

LIFE

Well, the week started off really busy. I had to get all my work AND school work done by mid-day Thursday. That meant a few late nights and early mornings and zero free time, but it was worth it fully.

Thursday evening NS arrived! One of our good friends was retiring from the Navy after more than 24 years of service (plus his naval academy years) and the masses were gathering. NS came as a surprise – and it was priceless. He and I had been planning for several months, and it was just perfect.

Thursday evening was quiet at home. My boyfriend and BS came over (they met NS in Florida last year) and them, NS, and two of mine hung out for a bit. Not late since NS had just traveled for 30 odd hours to get here, but it was still awesome.

Friday was the retirement ceremony, a ship tour (which I skipped – been there, stationed on them!), then swimming and drinks at my house until going to MM (our naval retiree honoree) for the BBQ with 60+ people. We got home around midnight and crashed.

My girl touring the ship with my friends

Saturday was a beach day followed by a sunset dolphin watching cruise – and there were TONS of dolphins. No awesome shots because the ride wasn’t smooth, but it really was awesome. I skipped the after party (I was wiped), but NS got to hang a bit longer and just uber’d back to my house.

If you look really closely, you can see dolphins

Sunday was brunch with some of the crew and then NS and I went grocery shopping then back to my house where we watched two of my fav veggie documentaries. NS has been pretty much a lifelong vegetarian, but went vegan at the beginning of the year (and LOVES it). We did a lot of Amazon prime shopping for things he can’t easily get back home and just spent a lot of time talking about changing how he cooks, etc. It was really fun to share what I’ve learned after the long time I’ve been vegan.

Sunday night was just dinner with me, NS, and all 3 of my kids. It was a ton of fun and hilarious and I loved that NS could share what a typical crazy dinner in my house is like. Lots of stories, jokes, music, and laughter.

Today was low key. We had our coffee on the back porch and talked – like we had every morning he was here. It is my favorite part of the morning – just sitting outside early and drinking coffee. He brought me two bags of coffee from Kenya, so we definitely indulged in that (the “right” way in a French press and not the drip maker!).

Our friend BR came over with 3 of his kids to visit for a while. Then it was off to lunch and then the airport to say goodbye – for now. I’m really hoping to take R and go visit next spring. Will depend on a few things of course, but I really want to see Kenya.

So – this is why I’ve been a bit absent this last week. It’s been a very busy and wonderful time, and I cannot get over how lucky I am to have so many great friends in my life.

Back to business this week, but with an incredibly happy heart.

Ocean’s Weekend

FOOD

Some fairly typical eats!

Took my young one to Brixx after a Dr appt. Love they have vegan pizza!

Lunch date with my guy. Veggie fajitas!

Totally amazing chili with my favorite sweet cornbread. I’m always hunting for new chili recipes used this recipe – added 1 cup of soy curls, skipped the refried beans (I was out), and cooked in my Instant Pot on high pressure for 12 minutes. Seriously amazing.

Went to dinner with my friend NL before she went back home to PA. We shared a mezze platter and I grabbed this beet salad.

This is actually my daughter A making homemade cider

My guy and his youngest came over for dinner on Saturday. Made creamy mushroom pasta, maple roasted sweet potatoes, balsamic & garlic roasted brussel sprouts, and 3 loaves of homemade French bread.

Baked oatmeal with chai spices

Roasted butternut squash and apple soup

Meatless Loaf, mashers, and Tamari mushrooms

FITNESS

A couple runs, but then just really gentle yoga because I think I pulled something in my calf as it was sore for days. Feels much better now though, so think I’m good to run again!

LIFE

The past week has been fairly busy, but good. Lot’s of time spent on school work, but that’s not new. We had a group project, which is often a pain in the butt, and since I really took control from the beginning, I was fielding calls and messages from my 9 classmates trying to get this project done. It was more complicated than it needed to be, but we got it done and I’m quite proud of it.

I went out to dinner last Wednesday with a girlfriend and had a great time. Did get to see my guy a bit too, so that’s always fun.

While I was out, R tripped while she was stretching her wrist and got hurt. I Aced it when I got home after doing an examination – no deformations, etc. It still hurt 2 days later though, so off to her Dr we went. X-ray shows no break, but if it still hurts by Wednesday – we go to ortho, as not all breaks can be seen, especially of the wrist. So far – my guess is we’ll end up at Ortho…

Friday i went out with SMS – who I probably haven’t really seen in 6 years! We went to a local wine bar and then to grab dinner. Was awesome to catch up. I’ve missed her.

Saturday my guy and his son came over for dinner and we watched Ocean’s 11. I rented Ocean’s 8 to watch the next day and wanted a warm up movie! It was a fun time, as always. A & M both had Halloween parties to go to so we didn’t see them the rest of the night.

Sunday was low key. I was up early and watched Ocean’s 8. So – I love the Ocean’s movies. Though 12 kinda sucked. But anyway – I know 8 got tanked in reviews, so I waited until Redbox. I don’t mind splurging the $1.87, even if it sucked. I actually liked it. No Oscar movie to be sure, but still fun. Good homages to the original, and a totally killer cast. Fun twists, just like the originals. Well, as I’m in the last 5 minutes, A wanders in and wants to see it. I suggest watching Ocean’s 11 first. So she does. And as she’s about to watch Ocean’s 8, R walks in. The two of them watch it while I make dinner and watched it with them. Even more fun the second time! After it was over – and both girls loved it – R watched Ocean’s 11. She liked 8 more. Anyway – definitely an Ocean’s weekend.

Today was a really early morning coffee date, work, and some school stuff (not enough).

The weather has definitely cooled off, so we’ve been using the fireplace! Of which Kuma is a BIG fan…she’s also incredibly lazy. But cute, so that’s ok.

Ignoring me and pretending it’s not time to get up

Giving me major stank eye when I gave her crap for still being in bed when I got out of the shower

MY YEAR OF LESS

A quiet week overall. Trying to make up for the bday weekend splurge! Shopping was a minimum, even in the grocery category – only spent $26 on groceries this last week. I have SO much food in the house, I should really cook more of what I have – so that’s what I did. All my meal plans were based on what I have on hand, though some fresh produce is always necessary.

Fortunately, this has always been my motto. If I haven’t used it in 6 mo, likely don’t need it

Concert and a Kitchen Marathon

FOOD

Well hell, where to start??

Sunday was an epic kitchen day. It started with my normal routine of meal planning, which includes generating a grocery list, shopping, and then coming home to prep. I do want to interject here for a second that I spent a grand total of $45 on groceries for my family of 4 for an entire week! $38 at Lidl (that place is amazing!) and $7 at Harris Teeter for the two things Lidl didn’t carry. Anyhoo, I share because it’s pretty damned cool.

So I sometimes do a “little” batch cooking or prep on Sunday’s. Usually in the form of prepping fruits and veggies to make them easy to grab and eat, or maybe a soup, a salad dressing, and occasionally a dessert (I dislike baking, so it’s rare. Besides, I have a daughter who loves to bake, so why take that pleasure from her?!?).

I had a 6-pack of bell peppers from the week before and some leftover quinoa too, so I figured that was perfect to make some stuffed bell peppers in the slow cooker!

It was a simple dish – stir fry onions, garlic, and the diced bell pepper caps, Beyond Meat crumbles, tomato sauce, quinoa, red wine, and fresh basil and oregano from the garden. Slow cook on low for 4 hours, and there are 6 meals!

Then, using a Happy Herbivore recipe, made a quinoa, kale, and cucumber salad with a tahini-mint dressing. Kale and mint from our garden, the cuc was a gift from another garden. 2 more meals for the week!

And I needed to make some homemade yogurt. 15 hrs in the incubator because I love it tart, and then overnight in the fridge. I will say, I’m not sure I’m going to love this batch. Harris Teeter only had their brand of soy milk, and I usually use Westsoy or Eden. But I figured it’s got to be basically the same. When it finished this morning, it looked fairly separated, so my guess is it’s NOT the same. I’ll check it in the morning – see if it’s at least good for cooking with if not eating

The basil was really going wild so I made a batch of low-oil vegan and nut-free pesto. I used This recipe. Skipped the sunflower seeds, and just rolled with the rest. Made two jars, one of which I gave to my guy.

I was gifted several cucumbers, so I busted out the Salad Shooter and shredded them up. They’re in a rice vinegar, crushed red pepper, and raw sugar marinade.

And of course I needed a dressing! The herb garden is exploding, so I wanted to make something fun. I made this creamy herb dressing, but subbed a homemade tofu sour cream. Seriously, it’s amazing.

And then – the beets. One of my favs – OJ, raw sugar, cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard in the Instant Pot.

And finally, I baked a cake. An orange/blueberry/lemon bundt cake.

So yeah. Yesterday was busy! While I was cooking, my lunch was herbed tofu on toasted Ezekiel bread with Daiya cream cheeze and freshly picked tomato from the garden!

Today – a smoothie, falafel wrap, lemon sorbet, and one of the bell peppers. And a slice of cake 🙂

FITNESS

Nothing Saturday – was running around like crazy after getting home from New York. Sunday I went for a run and this morning I did spinning.

LIFE

Saturday I got home, unpacked, showered, and got a quick manicure before heading out. A bunch of us went to see Dave Matthew’s. 14 of us with lawn seats. Can’t complain – it was free and honestly a good show. Thing is…I’m a rebel. My guy and I got separated from the group as we left the limo bus and got to the entrance. And as we were walking, noticed that the back row of covered seats was empty. So – when no one was looking, we hopped the rail and got to enjoy the show in seats – and out of the rain! Not everyone was thrilled, but alas.

After the show it was a limo back to Town Center and a quick drink before Ubering home.

Sunday was the cooking marathon, laundry, and studying.

Today was work and then I bought my new floors! If all goes well, they should be installed the weekend of Aug 3rd. DEATH TO CARPET.

All in all, a great weekend!

And Kuma – who is still not on board with this whole #becomingamorningperson thing. And because I forgot my journal when I went to NY – even though I stuck with the 530 am wake-up time – I decided to not fast-forward in the journal, so technically, Hell Week isn’t over yet. Soon. But not yet.

She can’t even….

Chill Week with a Side of Coughing

FOOD

Home for a whole week! Actually, I’m home for two full weeks before hitting the road again (Dallas and Chicago coming up!).

Split pea soup in the instant pot!

Brown rice, lentils, and spices with coconut milk in the rice cooker

Tofu noodle bowl with pineapple and edamame

Out for a working lunch – love it when I get to pick the place! I do have a soft spot for a good falafel

Of course tofu green curry

Creamy mushroom stroganoff

Smoothies (always)

A brunch date – eggplant, beet, and roasted bell pepper salad with fresh squeezed OJ mimosa

Seitan gyro wrap

FITNESS

Do massive coughing fits count for ab work?? Seriously, been a rough week. Can’t run, but once I wasn’t feeling like death, I have been walking. Gentle yoga at home and some easy upper body weight training as long as it didn’t trigger any coughing fits.

LIFE

Well, as usual for spring, my allergies turn into something menacing. It’s been a long 9 days of it already. I’ve kicked most of the bad parts (sore throat, major headaches, low grade fever, ear ache), but am still a little stuffy and this damned cough won’t go away! Finished my round of antibiotics yesterday, so hopefully this will all go away soon!

Other than that, been a pretty chill week. Lots of work and school work mainly, and evenings with the munchkins. Saturday I took R for her haircut. Our salon is down at the beach, so of course I had to bring Kuma! She was welcome in the salon, but after her saying hi to everyone, we went outside and sat at a table. She charmed the tourists and I studied until R was done.

Me napping instead of studying!

Went out for a little bit on Sunday for a brunch date. Otherwise it’s been a very tame week! The most exciting part is my daughter started nursing school yesterday! All while working nights in the ER. So proud of her!

No More Dread Pirate Cat!

FOOD

Weather is warming up, so I ditched the oatmeal and am back to my regular scheduled smoothies. Checking out a new protein powder this week – Garden of Life Raw Chocolate. I have to say, I’m a fan! Vega is still my all time fav, and I always have at least one of theirs on hand. Currently the vanilla protein + greens. Both are good though and keep me hella full (especially since I don’t actually like food in the mornings).

Monday was taco fun! I made some homemade pinto beans (recipe below), though I halved it to prevent leftovers. My kids SUCK at eating them. I also made this tofu recipe, with a few mods. I used agave instead of honey (you know, bee vomit. Some vegans choose to use honey – I don’t), and added 1 tbsp of olive oil to the sriracha/agave to coat the tofu. Then I air-fried for 20 minutes at 350, shaking after 10. Layered rice, beans, tofu, and veggies, using tortilla chips at scoops!

Crissie’s Pressure Cooker Pinto Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 bag pinto beans, soaked overnight or quick soaked, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced (I prefer any but green)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker (I use an IP or a Cuisinart electric PC that has a sauté feature – if yours doesn’t do this step on a stove top)
  • Sauté onion, garlic, and bell peppers until soft
  • Add cumin, oregano, and stir
  • Add beans, add enough cold water just to cover
  • Add bay leaves
  • Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. I know it sounds like a long time (and it is), but the purpose is to make the beans fall apart so you get that refried bean consistency
  • Let the pressure release naturally
  • IF there is excess liquid, pour it off. You don’t want it soupy
  • Remove the bay leaves and use an immersion blender or potato masher to purée the beans
  • Add the wine, vinegar, and salt and pepper (I usually use 1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper)
  • Simmer 10-15 minutes

Also had several other yummy eats. Veggie burgers, silken tofu “eggless” salad, and a red Thai curry soup with veggies and tofu too.

Last night we went out to eat – it was Dining Out for Life in 60 cities across the country to raise money for local AIDS service organizations. Participating restaurants donated a minimum of 25% of their proceeds to LGBT Life Center here in our area. My delightful dish was a chimichuri salad with a Beyond Meat burger!

FITNESS

I actually made it to hot yoga this week!!! Woo me! And I’m fully sore too. Went to a vinyasa flow class and it fully kicked my butt. Love it.

Also several runs too. Been a stressful week, so that helps keep me sane.

LIFE

So our cat Ginny is a long haired sweetie pie. However, she had so many knots and mats that I started calling her the Dread Pirate Cat (get it – dreadlocks)? Anyway, Monday she had an appointment to get shaved. Now she looks like a lion, and it’s a little ridiculous, but I imagine she feels much better. And it turns out she really was just fluffy, and not fat!

The rest of the week was primarily work and school. It was definitely tough to focus this week – too much personal stuff going on. But, it’s not like I don’t get my stuff done, just been a little less enjoyable. Oh well.

Picked up the last of the plants for the garden! Cucumbers, zucchini, and yellow squash.

After working really hard for a long time, my eldest A learned on Tuesday that she got accepted to nursing school! Her cohort starts May 7th. Going to be a lot of work for her – she works full time too – but I know she can do it and I’m so incredibly proud.

Last night was definitely the best of the week. It was awesome to get out and about and de-stress with one of my favorite people. Honestly, it was a near perfect evening.

I’m looking forward to the weekend. It’s a friend’s bday costume party tomorrow night, and if I can get my papers finished, a theme park trip too!

Until then, other fun pics, including proof that Kuma hates mornings, just like the rest of us!

I Drank the Kool Aid (oh, and a recipe too!)

FOOD

I have to say, the Instant Pot is pretty cool.  I’ve seen several bloggers write about it, and after several months, decided I needed to have one.  It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and dutch oven all in one.  I’ve used it at least 4 times since I got it this weekend.  Aside from the week’s worth of steel oats I made, I used it to make basmati rice (in about 4 minutes!), stew, a pot of beans, and a new dish too (keep reading for recipe)!  It’s official.  I’ve drunk the pressure cooker kool aid.

Sunday night I made tofurky, roasted carrots, basmati rice, and mushroom gravy.

I love that the family gets so excited for Tofurky night!  It was so good, and there were no leftovers!
I love that the family gets so excited for Tofurky night! It was so good, and there were no leftovers!

Monday and Tuesday were nearly identical green smoothies for breakfast (though they’re purple!).

water, pineapple, orange, banana, spinach, and frozen berry blend.
water, pineapple, orange, banana, spinach, and frozen berry blend.

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Monday afternoon was broccoli soup, and dinner was a veggie burger on corn tortillas with ketchup, mustard, and cabbage.

3 mason jars (2 cups each) of creamy broccoli soup.
3 mason jars (2 cups each) of creamy broccoli soup.
I love the cabbage for crunch. Yummy and quick meal.
I love the cabbage for crunch. Yummy and quick meal.

Lunch today was leftover soup, and dinner was fun in the Instant Pot!  You can use a regular pressure cooker too.

all my ingredients, ready to go!
all my ingredients, ready to go!

Crissie’s Pressure Cooker Lentils, Rice, & Cauliflower Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ginger root (I use the jarred ginger rather than mincing fresh root – reduce to 1/4 tsp if you use ground)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder (I used hot curry)
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  •  1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup brown rice, rinsed
  • 3 1/2 cups water or veggie broth (I used Better than Bullion veggie base)
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  • use the saute feature of your electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot (for a stove top pressure cooker, use medium heat) and cook the onion and garlic in a little bit of broth or water until translucent.
  • add ginger, cumin, curry powder, and mustard seed.  Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  • add lentils, rice, and water or broth and close the cooker.
  • Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes.  Quick release.
  • Add cauliflower, remaining 1/2 cup of water, and salt.  No need to stir.
  • Close the cooker and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes.
  • Let it naturally release.
  • Stir and eat!
topped with cabbage for crunch!  A one pot meal that's filling and healthy.
topped with cabbage for crunch! A one pot meal that’s filling and healthy.

FITNESS

Sunday I went for a run in my new neighborhood!  I did a nice 4 miler that included a loop around a local park.  It was really nice.

Today I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill and checked out a new piece of equipment – a cross trainer.

LIFE

It’s been a really good couple of days.  Sunday was tea, organizing the new house, chilling by the fire, grocery shopping, booking the spring break trip for me, R, M and one of M’s best friends (D has a big project and can’t take off, so M’s friend is coming instead) and Yahtzee!  R and I had a rematch and she won.  Then we all played, and M won.  I came in dead last.

D getting quite serious about his scores
D getting quite serious about his scores
Ginny showing us all what it means to nap in front of the fire place!
Ginny showing us all what it means to nap in front of the fire place!
and how to stretch out an nap on R's bed
and how to stretch out an nap on R’s bed
and how to nap with blankets pulled up to her head (she naps a lot!)
and how to nap with blankets pulled up to her head (she naps a lot!)
some chai tea
some chai tea
and me hanging by the fire
and me hanging by the fire

Then it was back to normal!  Work, school, and life!

Monday #morningpicture
Monday #morningpicture
Tuesday #morningpicture!
Tuesday #morningpicture!

GOAL CHECK-IN

  • all my grub has been healthy and balanced.  Woo hoo!
  • I snacked on some pretzels and hummus, but otherwise no gluten
  • haven’t gone out to eat the past few days (and not too often the past week, other than the vegan meet-up)
  • exercised twice since Sunday!
  • been planning meals and prepping in advance.  Soup, pre-shredded cabbage, diced up fruits and veggies, big pot of curry, etc.
  • no weekday wine.  Had two glasses on Sunday while cooking and playing Yahtzee.
  • have not meditated at all since moving
  • haven’t slowed down any – in fact, I think my pace has picked up.  Too much going on, and I’ve had no real down time in weeks.  It’s starting to show with hives coming back, so I need to work on that.