Favorite Food Season + Family, Friends, and Fun!

FOOD

It’s been a fun little bit since getting home (and before hitting the road again!).

I love spring/summer when it comes to produce. Time to bust out ALL the zoodles, salads, and other fun eats. And yes – I bought that salad thingy to see if it’s really as cool as it looked. Eh. I prefer my veggies more evenly diced. Did great for the lettuce though. Will keep trying it out! Haven’t done it for fruit yet.

Also went to a local food and wine fest with my guy, which was a total blast!

Also lots of grilling and other amazing eats (like a vegan butter chicken made with soy curls and served on cauliflower rice!).

And on the road eats…

FITNESS

A few runs but the best was going to yoga with my guy. He had never been before and really enjoyed it, which makes me totally happy.

Also stopped by the Peloton showroom, so that’ll be happening soon too!

LIFE

Busy, but what else is new? I happen to love being busy. Not that I can’t slow down now and again, but there’s so much cool stuff in life, may as well do as much as possible!

The second term for my doctorate is winding down. We’ll have a couple week break before ramping up again. It’s mostly reading and writing, but also doing research on potential topics for my research project/dissertation. I have two topics I’m interested in at the moment, so that’s good. A month ago I was at a complete loss!

The pool has been opened and even got in one day of swimming between the rains and travels! But it is also the season where I try to have my morning java outside on the porch as much as possible!

Spent a night in DC, which was a ton of fun (though it always is) and got to see several of my local friends to celebrate me being in town as well as a friend’s birthday AND his wedding anniversary!

And of course miscellaneous pics of family, fluffs, and life!

Please Can I Go Home Now?

FOOD

I’m realizing that I don’t have a lot of food pics from the past week. I was home for a few days, and then back on the road to Milwaukee and Chicago.

Sushi with my guy

We had a couple annoyingly chilly days, so a spicy tofu and veg soup was perfect

Couple oatmeal dishes. One at home, and one at my sister’s in WI.

Dinner with my sister and cousin. They had vegan meatballs!

Always Thai and smoothies!

Brunch with my mom was a simple spinach salad and a basmati and carrot pilaf

The best meal by far was with a friend of mine who lives in NYC, but was in Chicago the same time as me! We hit up Vegan Plate for an all vegan Thai restaurant. Drunken noodles with soy chicken and a fish-less dish. The drunken noodles were insane! Then it was to Paulie Gee’s for some dessert! They not only have vegan pizza, but they carry the delicious baked yummies from Pie Pie My Darling! I had the carrot cake and vanilla ice cream. D had the chocolate cake. Needless to say – beyond stuffed!

The rest of my meals were provided by the conference I attended. They did a good job of having vegan snacks and my dinner last night at the Chicago Cultural Center was amazing too!

FITNESS

Runs at home, one of which ended in the rain. My hotel in Chicago had a Peloton room, so I had cycling workouts! So thrilled by that. Otherwise yoga.

Actually excited to take my guy to a yoga class this Saturday.

LIFE

Well, as usual BUSY BUSY BUSY.

Got home from Dallas on Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday was work and also my eldest cabbage’s birthday! Yep, A turned 23! Crazy. Didn’t get to celebrate much as she had to work and had school.

Thursday was also the final orchestra performance of the school year. As usual, R and her classmates sounded wonderful.

Friday was work, packing, and then chilling out. Saturday morning I hit the road again! Spent Saturday night at my sister’s. Dinner out, then a movie (Molly’s Game – it was really good). Sunday was a crazy, but fun board game with my sister, nephew, and niece. We all died. Then brunch with mom, tea with S (who I think it’s been about 9 years since I’ve seen!). Then down to Chicago to study and write a ton of papers.

Mon-today was conference stuff – which was really good. Probably one of my favorites. I think it helped that I got to meet and talk to Andy Slavitt about an impassioned topic for me (and him) – mental health care in the Medicaid population. I’m considering this topic for my doctoral research. I have a few other ideas I’m investigating too – I have until October to decide. But anyway, if there was ever an Andy Slavitt fan club, I imagine I’d be the president!

Tonight I fly home, and I’m SO ready to see the people I love and sleep in my own bed!

On a fun note (ish – it doesn’t start out fun, but bear with me)….I suck at sleeping. I’ve had insomnia issues for almost 15 years. I’m a lot better than I was, but still struggle with it. Coupled with being a freakishly light sleeper, I rarely sleep soundly. In an effort to help, my guy got me a white noise maker. We had stayed with friends a few weeks ago, and they had one and I slept great! So, I used it all this week, and I have to say – it was miraculous. I slept so well. Crazy for this tiny little disc thingy.

And of course, miscellaneous pics from the week! And while it’s been great, can I please just go home now??

Peanuts Suck Less Than They Used To

FOOD

It’s been a mixed bag of at-home meals and dining out. Nothing really new there to be honest. Did have one quick trip to Dallas, which is always yummy 🙂

Smoothies always rule!

As the weather warms up (and it’s FINALLY warming up!), plenty of salads! (Pay no heed to the butter – it wasn’t mine! )

Last time I was in Dallas (last October) we went to a restaurant called Mesa Mayo. OMG. The food was amaze balls, but so were the margaritas. I fell in love with the Serrano Berry. My travel partner in crime loved the avocado one, but since I’m allergic to avocados, I could not partake. However, being in Dallas earlier this week, I sure as HELL went and got my Serrano Berry! And studied at the same time 🙂

Last night I went out to dinner with my girl JG from grad school! She took me to a place called True Kitchen. She picked it due to the great selection of vegan eats for me. I had an amazing cucumber Tom Collins, a tempeh, lettuce, and tomato sammich, kale salad, and sweet potato hash. And we shared a hummus plate. SO GOOD.

I also tried Poke for the first time at a place called Low Key Poke. And while I was recently told it was a Hawaiian tuna dish, this place described themselves to me as “Chipotle for sushi”! So, I had the green tea rice, tofu with a soy and sriracha sauce, and tons of veggies. It was really yummy and spicy!

Other misc eats!

Like this awesome seitan gyro wrap! Recipe is from Zsu Dever’s book Vegan Bowls. Only I made it as a wrap instead. Kids love it, and it’s supper tasty. Enough for leftovers for the oldest cabbage to take to work.

FITNESS

The hellacious coughing finally stopped around Sunday/Monday. Until then, it was just the walking, yoga, and some strength training – as long as it didn’t set off coughing fits.

Otherwise I ran in the hotel gym. Felt good to run – and even though I hate the dreadmill, I hate not running for 2 weeks even more!

LIFE

Been a very busy and awesome week. Last Wednesday my kids booked me for a massage in a salt room at a local place called Green Leaf and Pebble Tea Spa in Virginia Beach. It was incredible. 60 minute massage and they give you an extra 30 in the room to do whatever you want – nap, meditate, etc. I mostly just laid there enjoying the peace, but had to get pics too! My sinuses were a mess, but being in that room helped so much. I picked eucalyptus as my aromatherapy addition just for that reason too. And of course it’s a tea spa, so I had tea too! Licorice – and it was killer. I don’t like black licorice, but they gave me a sample and I was hooked. So tasty!

I had some dryer issues (basically, had to hire a chimney sweep to clean out the ducts. Who knew?). So while I had to wait a week for them to come, I did have to hit up the laundry mat one time. It actually ended up being kinda cool. Aside from not being cheap ($2.50 per wash!), they had WiFi, and I was able to get 4 loads of laundry done in an hour, study, and do a webex. That, my friends, is multi-tasking!

Thursday I had a happy hour/dinner with a colleague from IBM. Of course I had to take her down to the Oceanfront of beautiful Virginia Beach! She’s from Pennsylvania and had never been down this way before. It did start to rain just as we were leaving.

On Friday, R had a really big appointment. For those long-time readers, I’ve chronicled the last 16 months of her working on something called OIT – Oral ImmunoTherapy – which is a protocol to help build immunity to food allergies. R has a life threatening allergy to peanuts, and additional allergies to several tree nuts. Well, after 16 months, it was time for her food challenge! She had been eating 3 peanut M&M’s for the past 7 months. The food challenge basically goes like this – eat 5 grams of peanut butter, wait a half hour, eat 10 grams, wait another half hour, eat 15 grams. If all goes well, that’s a pass, and she’s safe to eat peanut stuff freely. Though to maintain immunity, she would have to eat something with peanuts everyday.

First of all – R HATES the taste of peanuts. Watching her every day eat her dose, it looks like she’s being tortured. She opted for peanut butter and saltine crackers.

Well, about 8 minutes into her first dose, she started to have a reaction. Sore throat and some itchiness. When it didn’t resolve (it can often be caused by anxiety), and she was monitored the entire time – her breathing and vitals, etc – they gave her prednisone and Benadryl to resolve her symptoms. We hung out another hour and change and then went home.

So – she didn’t pass the food challenge. And as discouraging as that is, it’s still incredible progress! That dose just 18 months ago could’ve been deadly. So, we have a choice to make. Keep doing the dose, slightly higher (at 4 peanut M&M’s) and then try the challenge again in 4-6 months, or just stay at the 4 peanut M&M’s indefinitely. At this point, she’s cleared to fly in terms of peanut exposure – what she’s eating daily is way more than any accidental exposure she’d face – and leave it at that. If she has no desire to free eat peanuts and peanut containing foods, then mission accomplished. We haven’t made a final decision on that yet, and technically we have 4-6 months before we need to. So for now, peanuts still suck – but they suck less than they used to.

Before we left the hospital, she did have her blood drawn to retest her for treenuts. Sometimes they can be outgrown, and her severity to treenuts was MUCH less than peanuts. So if she’s clear there, she’s clear to fly! That was her big goal. And especially now with her Dad living on the other coast, it really is important so she can visit him.

Saturday was a really fun day. R had an adjudicated orchestra competition up in Williamsburg. After their performance (which include schools all over VA and NC), all the kids went to Busch Gardens for the day! They played amazingly well and won first place for High School orchestra! In between activities, I parked myself and studied. And had a cider too…

After getting home Friday eve, it was a quick shower and then going out with my guy. I was leaving the next day and wouldn’t see him for a bit. We went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Norfolk then for drinks. Good times and then back home!

Sunday was coffee on the back deck, packing, studying, chilling with the kids (ones who were awake anyway!), and then eventually heading to the airport for a late afternoon flight. It was direct, so I got into Dallas at a pretty reasonable time.

Then it was work and then spending time with JG! We went to the movies – of which I entirely blame her for picking something shitty! We saw I Feel Pretty. Apparently she didn’t look at IMDB ratings. I did. I had low expectations. She was sadly more disappointed I think!

Then there’s random pics of the fluffs. Like Kuma who really just wants to sleep. All the time. And Ginny who can get comfortable in what looks like uncomfortable positions.

I also had a little extra time yesterday, so got a mani and pedi and went from reds/burgundies, to pinks! Ready for summer! Helps that on Monday the pool was opened and will be swim ready early next week! Perfect timing as the weather really heats up.

Shenanigans, Horses, and Awesome Friends

FOOD

Been a combo of quick eats and meals out and some travel.

Smoothies of course, and seem to be vacillating from chocolate to vanilla depending on my mood!

Also whipped up a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins with some overly ripe bananas.

Simple pasta dish with Beyond Meat crumbles and marinara. Fast and always a quick crowd pleaser.

Salads! Again lazy by topping it with a Boca vegan burger, but whatever. Don’t judge. It was balanced 🙂

Tofu green curry (duh)

Vegan enchiladas (another dining out for life meal event).

Cauliflower steak.

And this, my friends, is a paffle! A spot in Charlottesville that makes sammiches out of puff pastry-turned-waffle. Mine is a gf vegan one stuffed with tofu scramble!

Lunch in Richmond with H – these delightful things called “garden balls” and a rice noodle and tofu sesame dish too.

FITNESS

Runs and strength training workouts!

LIFE

Well, been great and busy! Last weekend was theme park fun! The week was crazy – couple nights out and then a weekend away for my grad school reunion weekend. I’m telling you, nothing like hanging out with 20+ of your friends! Many came from out of state just to be here.

We arrived Friday morning, had sessions and catching up with friends and professors, then a cocktail reception and a class party at a local brewery.

The second day was at the Foxfield horse races, which was amazing. We had a private chalet, food, open bar, etc. Then all of us went to dinner on the downtown mall. It was hard to say goodbye to everyone – but thankfully we do a good job of keeping in touch and getting together regularly when we can.

Sunday, after wrapping up, went to Richmond to have lunch with my girlfriend H, then home! I was supposed to go see Infinity War with the kids (bought tix way early), but wasn’t feeling too hot and had school stuff to wrap up, so they went, had a blast, and I’ll hopefully go in the next week or so.

And of course, fun pics of fluffy ones!

Ginny just happy I brought my suitcase home for her!

Kuma getting yet MORE toys

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 Forgot How to Watch TV

FOOD

Hard to believe I’ve been home for two straight weeks! Other than an overnighter in Richmond visiting my girlfriend H.

That means, lots of home cooking! Breakfasts were usually oatmeal or a smoothie. I did have tofu scramble two days in a row though! One morning at Food for Thought in Williamsburg on the way up to Richmond, and one at Shore Dogs in Richmond. I was feeling quite spoiled!

I also learned to grill! Well, ish. I’m still starting out, but I got a gas grill and the first attempt was quite the success! Buffalo tempeh, corn on the cob, potatoes, and portabello mushrooms.

Also made a few different chilis and soups. Up at H’s house we made a sweet potato/black bean chili and cornbread. So yummy! H was excited to use a fancy new pan.

Other chilis!

During spring break I had some special guests over, and while they were working hard outside, I made lunch! Pineapple/tofu stir fry, pizza, and chocolate chip cookies!

It got a little cold for a few days, which was perfect for BBQ tofu, mashers, mushroom gravy, sweet carrots, and my favorite kale salad with oil-free lemon tahini dressing and some homemade sangria.

Also had some yummy meals out.

FITNESS

Sadly, still haven’t gotten to yoga, but there have been plenty of runs!

LIFE

Overall, been a great two weeks. Spring break week I worked from home most of the week. The best part though, is I have a garden! I’ve had a small herb garden for years, but have always wanted a large enclosed one. The one time I tried to grow veggies, the local critters got their fill while we had almost nothing.

It was built over two days, and I’m forever grateful to the little construction team that made it happen.

The trip to Richmond was really nice. We stopped at my fav cidery up there – Buskey’s. Seriously, the jalapeño lime is amazing! The manager made us Bloody Mary’s with their organic vegan Bloody Mary mix, and it was so tasty.

Then we went to H and C’s house where we made dinner and hung out at talked all night. B was visiting from Seattle, and he came by too. I hadn’t seen him in 5 yrs, so that was really cool.

I took R to the movies yesterday to see Tomb Raider. Actually the second time I’ve seen it, but I really liked it and I knew she’d totally love it.

Last night was really lovely out, so we went boating with M and R. We cruised around for awhile and then pulled into a spot for dinner and drinks. Then it was back to my house to hang out with my son and his girlfriend.

Otherwise, normal life! Cribbage club, work, wacky pets, and lots and lots of studying! This week was particularly intense on the school front. I worked ahead a lot, so I was able to knock out all the papers fairly early in the week, with finishing the biggest one today. So I found my Sunday late afternoon with me being bored. House was clean, food prepped for dinner, and I needed a mental break from school stuff. After an hour of reading the news and chatting with the kids, I actually turned on the TV. I don’t have anything against TV, I know I used to watch it, but the past 6 yrs or so saw a significant decline in it – mainly because of school and work and family and social lives. After deciding I didn’t want the commitment of a movie, I threw on How to Get Away With Murder and decided to blog and start dinner 🙂 I guess I forgot how to watch TV!