Saturday, October 31, 2009

October Closing Thoughts

Today is the last day of Vegan MoFo. It's a good day to mark the beginning of my new diet. I think those 15 pounds of Daiya found their way directly to my you-know-what. Look, I know it's not always polite to talk about your weight. Obviously, we all come in our own beautiful shapes and sizes, and I only judge myself. I'm 5'3", I have no thyroid, I'm not genetically skinny, I have short legs (ha), and this is a subject I'm always going to struggle with. I am currently 20ish pounds heavier than my "normal weight." I never lost all of it after I had Sissy, but I did lose all but 10 pounds of it...then I gained back 13 the past 6 months, which is so depressing. (It was sort of emotional eating. It's kind of been a weird 6 months. Which led me to stop regularly exercising. And I just like to eat. It was also my thyroid medication, which is always being adjusted. ) It's not all about the scale; it's about how I feel. And I do not feel like myself right now. Plus, if I was going to even think about having another baby (my poor husband will fall over when reading that), I need to take action now because...historically...ahem...I've been known to gain 60 pounds while pregnant.

I've already started this week replacing a meal each day with fresh juice. I go over to my parents' house to walk on the treadmill, then use Dad's juicer. Thursday, I made carrot, beet, celery, apple, orange, mango. Friday, I made beet, apple, orange, pear, grapefruit, carrot. I'm talking about it because I think it's important to have goals for yourself, and I also think it's a good idea to announce those goals publicly. It's accountability. I don't need to be making doughnuts right after I said I'm trying to lose weight...I could secretly make them and just not post the pictures...I won't do that, though!
I'm going to get back to more raw foods and more vegetables overall. Today, I tried out Kristen's Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce. Loved it! Here is the link to her recipe. I really enjoy her blog (I've mentioned her before) because of the great raw recipes (I've also purchased one of her ebooks.) and also because of the way she honestly shares what is going on in her life, including travels, infertility problems and and her recent pregnancies. I like food blogs that "say a little more."

Anyway, this sauce was great as a dip for raw veggies (would also be good with chips, I'm sure) and as a sauce for a veggie burger (which I did for Ryan today) or as a salad dressing.

Strangely enough, today I discovered I love...raw celery sticks. If you would have asked me before if I loved celery, I would have been very neutral about it (I always just use it in recipes). I think the mistake of celery is not cutting it into thinner strips, like above. I think I've also never gotten into celery because it's always served with ranch dressing or full of pimento cheese, when I was young I never got into the habit of eating it. I like it just as much as baby carrots now. Poor celery; I really didn't give you a chance before.
Since this is the last day of V MoFo, I went through my pictures and here is every other picture I have taken of our food the past few months. Guacamole with flautas. I rolled up a corn tortilla with refried beans (sealing it with a little of the beans) and fried them in a skillet. The kids ate these up.
Spinach-Artichoke Dip - I threw a bunch of ingredients in the blender, sort of versions of this recipe and this one. It was mostly spinach, artichokes, Vegannaise, garlic, non-dairy milk, Galaxy Foods Parmesan, and Daiya cheese. It was the richest, most gooey and sinful thing I may have ever eaten. It was so good that I can assure you I won't be making it anytime soon.
Potato salad from Veganomicon...we've made this and the book's macaroni salad a few times this summer, and they were both great recipes.
Minestrone with low-sodium vegetable broth, cannelini beans, kale, carrots, squash, zucchini, and hemp seeds sprinkled on top. Garlic toast made with Serenity Farm Bread, which we love. Serenity Farms Bakery is located in Leslie, Arkansas. If you're ever driving up Hwy. 65, stop at the location that is also a small health food store or downtown where the cute bakery with a wood-fired brick oven is located. We love their bread. It's made without yeast, sweeteners, additives, or oils.
Baby carrots, just barely steamed, with spices (I felt very fancy making this kind with the stems; I never had before.), steamed greens with garlic, steamed butternut squash with walnuts and a little agave nectar drizzled on top, and grilled cheese sandwich with tomato. I wrote about this kind of "uncheese" and the cookbook I love here.
Enchiladas...for the record, here is my favorite enchilada recipe. I didn't use that one this time. I always make my own enchilada sauce because I have yet to find one to buy that doesn't contain sugar. Does anyone know of one? I just mix, in a pan over low-medium heat: tomato paste, water, a little cornstarch, salt, a little garlic, and a little chili powder (can't make it too spicy for Tornado). I covered the pan with a little sauce, dipped each tortilla in the sauce, then rolled each up with more sauce, black beans, brown beans, corn, and chopped zucchini.
So don't even THINK you're going to see me eating anything like these cheesecake bites anytime's not going to happen.

I'm very excited about the time change. A lot of people don't like the time change. My husband is the #1 un-fan of the time change. I say, every year, I'm going to buy him one of those artificial light therapy boxes. I rather like the dark; it's cozy. I like the extra hour. It usually does wonders for me. I feel like I haven't really caught up from last spring. Maybe, just maybe, this will be exactly what I need to get me back on track with life.

Happy Time Change
and Happy Halloween, for those of you who care.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Here's To Michael

Ryan and I reached a pivotal milestone in our lives...

We finished Prison Break.

It has been with us almost every night for many months...and I'm sad to let it go. We even waited about a week after we finished the four seasons to watch the 2 hour movie, The Final Break. I couldn't bring myself to watch it because 1) I was so emotionally exhausted after the finale, and 2) I knew as soon as we watched it, that would be it. I didn't think I would cry during the movie because I had cried enough during the finale, and because I already knew months ago what was going to happen. (I can't help it; I always look at spoiler sites.) Well...I was choking sobbing. I kept apologizing to Ryan because I was crying so loud. I was gasping for breath I was crying so hard. Good grief. Obviously, I needed for this to end so I can move on with my life.

Our movie watching party in bed was complete with a homemade cheesecake.

In food processor, I crumbled Barbara's Bakery Snackimals oatmeal animal cookies and Health Valley graham crackers. I added enough melted Earth Balance and agave nectar to press the crust into the springform pan. (I love springform pans. They're one of my favorite kitchen-y things.) This made a really easy, great crust.

Beat together 2 8 oz. packages of vegan cream cheese, 2 cups of sour cream, and 1 cup organic sugar. Add 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 TBS of egg replacer, and 1/2 cup water and continue mixing until creamy. Pour into sprayed pan. Cook at 300 degrees for about an hour and a half. Let it sit in fridge all day or overnight.

For sauce, I mixed fresh chopped strawberries, strawberry fruit spread, and a little organic sugar in a pan and let it sit. I poured it on the cheesecake and let it sit in the fridge long before I removed it from the pan.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Saturday Was a Great Day

Saturday was a great day.

It really was. It was one of those days I didn't want to see end. It was one of those days that the whole day was good, not just part of it. The whole weekend was that way, actually. (Other than the fact that Rush was running a fever by the end of the night, and it's never fun to worry about a baby being sick.) I only wish my lil' sis, Tracy, had been able to come. :(

Friday night, we drove to my brother's house in Branson. Since it was "Friday Night," we didn't tell the kids where we were going. Just told them we were going on a little trip, we were spending the night, and we were meeting "someone new." They guessed "Grace and Owen's house." The kids all fell asleep on the way because it was kind of late, and they didn't have naps. Tornado woke up when we were pulling off 65, peeked his head up, and barely opening his eyes, said, "I was right. We're going to Grace and Owen's!" 7/9 of the kids eating breakfast (with their daddies). What a fun place when we're all together.
The "someone new" was Ghetti and Roni's brother, Ethan. Ethan, The Dog.
We went to my "hometown" to meet up with - as Tara described it on facebook - "long lost family." Chris and Brenda were my parents' best friends when we (my siblings and I) were growing up. We spent an immeasurable amount of time with them and their two daughters, who happen to be around my sisters Cary and Tracy's ages. They would stay at our house until 3 a.m., playing cards or trivia. They really were like our family...and since we all moved to Arkansas...we hardly ever get to see them...which is really sad. So, Saturday I felt like "all was right in the world again."

They have a beautiful home on wonderful land, and it just really felt refreshing being there. There were 13 adults and 15 kids present. We were missing 2 adults (Tracy and also Tara's husband). The kids loved having all the open space to run and play with each other.

See? Didn't that just look like a great day?

Next, we went to visit my Grandpa...
The little kids were asleep when Tornado and his dogs marched to the top of the hill behind Grandpa's house.
overlooking Grandpa's house...this is the town I lived in when I was born...and it's all very sentimental to me...

I want to move home...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pasta, Four Ways

Isn't it pretty and bright? And it was delicious, too. The top spaghetti was mixed with basil walnut pesto and peas. The next one was a nutritional yeast and nut based cheese sauce. The next one was just marinara with seitan, olives, and tomatoes. Finally, the last one just had olive oil and spices with broccoli. I added strips of stir-fried squash, bell peppers, and more broccoli to separate the different kinds. Plus, Dash is much more willing to eat his veggies if they are "on the side."

This is one of my favorite places to look at beautiful dishes of food. They're always so well presented and photographed. I wish I could LIVE in their house.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seen and Heard Lately

Thought I'd throw together some of what has been going on the past couple of months. Don't want to leave anything out. And since I'm never going to feel like I'm caught up on much in life right now...maybe if I was caught up with my blog, I would feel maybe a little sense of completion.The Branson branch of our family came down to meet their new little doggie cousins. This is Owen with Ghetti.
And Grace with Roni. These kids have been wanting a pet as much as my kids have...and their parents had been wrestling with the idea of getting one - for their kids' sake. Their mom was convinced they were going to get them a cat (because a cat is a little less needy, a little less work). They hadn't been here five minutes when their mother (and kids, my brother stood off to the side, shaking his head...although, he DID sneak in some puppy lovin', too) was convinced this was just the kind of pup they needed, too. (And they are now the proud owners of Ghetti and Roni's brother, Ethan...:)...we can't wait for them to all play together!)

Sissy and Clara - cute, little cousin pals. This is just a still from our new video recorder. And one of these days, we WILL learn how to post some videos on here.

My nephew Pierson couldn't have drawn on a more perfect black bean goatee. The kid loves beans.

Cary, Winnie, and Rush also got to meet their doggie relatives the weekend they were here. Too bad Puddy missed out on the fun.

look at that little face

How could I have failed to mention the Chicago Diner cheesecake my sister brought with her from Whole Foods in St. Louis?! Thank you, again!
I didn't want to leave little Rushie out of this post.
In not so cute puppy news...they are like completely different dogs when they are soaking wet from their bath. I told the kids it's just like in Harry the Dirty Dog (Harry gets so dirty they don't recognize him; they think he's another dog and go out looking for their dog.). If I didn't know any better, I would never assume these were ours.

Here we are excited about our 15 pounds of Daiya cheese we got in the mail. I seriously cannot keep Sissy from making these crazy faces in pictures sometimes. She and Dash are experts in absurd faces. We also had to try Allison's Gourmet Fudge...since we were paying for the freezer pack with shipping anyway. It was yummy. I probably wouldn't order it again just because it tastes like fudge I can make. What I WOULD order again (so if anyone needs a Christmas idea, hint, hint) is Allison's Gourmet Almond Toffee. Mmm.
Sis has learned at school to associate stickers placed on the body as a positive thing. They get a sticker on their hand as they're leaving if they had good behavior. Now she often wants a sticker on her hand. And one day, she wore these around on her face all day.
THIS is what we saw on the road in front of our house. I'm surprised Dash didn't want to scoop it up and bring it inside. You're never coming to our house again, are you, Lori?
THIS was the first day in awhile that didn't require coats or umbrellas. I insisted that we go outside and soak in the goodness...and again, today I sit here, looking at the pouring rain outside my window.

Tornado planned this activity all on his own. He told us we were going to go on a nature walk and find leaves, pine needles, etc. to make pictures. All I had to do was bring out the glue, crayons, and paper, and they stayed outside, busy with this for quite awhile.

We were excited to get our 2 sets of popsicle molds in the mail. We only had 5 individual molds before, and that was clearly not enough. Now it's easier to make bigger batches at once. These are BPA free and a lot better than our old ones, as far as removing them from the mold. However, it still takes a bit of effort to remove them. I think the silicone kind can be removed without running it under water...if anyone needs another Christmas gift idea, hint hint...

There was a lot of painting going on one day...Here, Tornado is making a gift for his cousin Grace.
I've been looking at this thing for weeks. Dash brought it in and said he wanted to add it to his cicada shell collection. Do we have a cicada collection? Oh, probably around here somewhere.

We got to enjoy the 1st b-day of our little friend Atticus. The kids are eating their "mush" at the cute Goodnight, Moon party.
At another b-day party of a classmate, Dash got to have Mom and Dad to himself for a few hours. It was at Johnston's Pumpkin Farm near Greenbrier, and they had so many great activities planned for the kids, including this ring toss.

Dash, with his veggie dog...he EVEN got a dinosaur painted on his face. It doesn't get much better for him than that. The other day, he wanted to know information about something mechanical, and I said he would have to ask Daddy about it because I didn't know. He said, "Daddy is really smart. And so is Troodons." (FYI: Troodons are thought to have been the smartest dinosaur. I never told him this, though. I think he might have learned it on Dinosaur Train.)
Look at these fun Organic Ladies we bought at the store. They weren't the greatest tasting apples we've ever had, but they sure were cute.
Dash and Daddy have been participating in the Micro division of Arkansas Rush soccer. The kids work through different skills during practice, alongside a parent and led by the coach. Dash LOVES it. He is always showing me things he learned. It's fun to have a kid on a sports team. This is our first experience with that. (Tornado=not interested.)
Sissy has always been so sweet about saying "thank you" without being reminded. A few days ago, I gave her a popsicle, and she said very exuberantly, all in one breath, "Thank you you're welcome!"
And once again, lest anyone should think my life is storybook, organized, and glistening...Pam, these are especially for you. And for the record, I even photoshopped some of the messy faces of my children in the pictures above.
the seemingly permanent condition of my photo/scrapbook long as it stays like this, I will not be able to work here...we're going on about 6 months now...

And then there's also the seemingly permanent method of storing my daughter's clothes...
But, at least, now my blog is up to date.