Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

This weekend we went to see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It was cute and entertaining, for sure (although, I'm still a little confused by Baby Brent and the birds Flint invented...I think I must have been divvying popcorn during those explanations). We had been excited about this movie coming out for at least 6 months. Because of Tornado's obsession with weather, he loves this book. I sometimes get nervous about books being made into movies, and at first, I was thinking, oh, no this is nothing like the book, but it turned out to be okay that way. And there are many similarities, as Tornado has been pointing out all weekend. There was even a little love story in the movie, just for me.

Before the movie, we had our little CWACOM meal. We picked a few foods from the book. During the meal, we put ourselves into character by saying things like, "I wish it would have rained some juice today; all we have is milk," and "Hope it snows some popcorn later for the movies."
First, though, the kids had worked really hard drawing pictures of food and cutting them out to hang above the table. We taped them to clear "fishing" line, hung from the lights.
Tornado made this sign for the table that said "Welcme to Chewandswallow." We ate peas...
...and a "hurricane of bread," "fifteen-inch drifts of cream cheese and jelly sandwiches," and of course spaghetti (made from quinoa and rice flour - something new we tried; it's rich in protein) and "meat"balls, and mashed potatoes with Earth Balance (..."it's funny, but even as we were sliding down the hill we thought we saw a giant pat of butter at the top, and we could almost smell mashed potatoes."). This was perfect for Tornado because, for some reason, he always wants to eat mashed potatoes with spaghetti. He never gets that combination from me, though, because I'm more of a "cook only one thing per night" kind of mom. Googie always makes them both for him, though.

And a "wonderful Jell-O setting in the west." It wasn't actually Jell-O, of course; it was our gelatin-free Natural Desserts Jel filled with chopped strawberries. The other day we were talking about how we should stop calling it "Jell-O," and I told the kids we need to make up our own name for ours. Dash automatically said, "Jelto." So Jelto (pronounced Jel-toe) it is.
It was Tornado's idea to use this picture he got out of one of his Highlights magazines. I photocopied it to make place mats for everybody.

After a nap - we ALL, every single one of us, went into a deep sleep - we headed to the movies, which is conveniently only a couple of minutes from our house. Ryan was paranoid I was going to get in trouble for my overstuffed purse that contained two bags of organic microwaved popcorn, little popcorn bags for divvying, a container of melted Earth Balance, a salt shaker, napkins, juice boxes, 3 packages of Annie's fruit snacks, a baggie of dark chocolate, a water bottle, and 2 soda bottles for Ryan. (For the record, the kids and Ryan - not me, though - do often eat movie theater popcorn; I was just in a "sick of all the junkfood my kids are always surrounded by" mood this particular day.)

I just wrote a long explanation regarding our recent obsession with Prison Break (we're on season 2; it's what we watch after the kids go to bed) we're always on the "look out" now and suspicious of people and things out of the ordinary (we even sneak up on one another now and jokingly look through each other's belongings) we think we're so smart now about these things, we'd for sure be able to get out of prison or any jam, for that matter...but I deleted it because you might think I've gone a little kooky.

Regardless, sneaking food in the theater is no problem; who did Ryan think he was dealing with here? I had a whole speech prepared about how I would tell them if they know what's best for them, they'd turn and walk in the opposite direction before I call the Consumer Protection Agency over my rights to healthier food and slap them with a lawsuit so big, they'd be ruined! Of course, it didn't really come to that because the theater doesn't even check tickets, let alone for contraband food in unfortunately, I'll have to wait for another opportunity to try out my new, tough street cred...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

First Day of Preschool

I forgot to post pictures of Sissy and Dash's first day of preschool, which was about 2 weeks ago...I wasn't going to put Sissy in school this year, but she loved it so much last year. Then...the first week of school this year - she was not havin' it. She and Dash totally flip-flopped. He didn't like being dropped off last year, and she liked it. Then this year, she cried the first few times, and he was fine. However, she's fine now and seems to have gotten in the groove. She always grins really big and says, "I no cry!" Speaking of I was typing this, she just did something cute. She was sitting here on on top of the table, getting ready to eat her apple slices, and she said, "God, thank you my food," with her hands in front of her. And then she burst into giggles because she sort of thinks praying is funny. She doesn't really understand it yet.
Dash was very proud and excited about his dinosaur backpack. It's still all about dinosaurs with him.

I'd sort of rather my kids just be with me 24-7 rather than putting them in school, of course, but the way he gets to RUN SO MUCH and play ball, etc. outside on the playground or in the indoor gymnasium...just can't be exactly replicated in our home. At least, not daily. He definitely has great playmates in his sister and brother - and parents. And that's absolutely the most important thing. But we think this is a good time for him to go out and play awhile each day, and Dash is the type of kid that needs constant stimulation and direction...left to his own devices, trouble may ensue. I love picking him up from school and watching him run around with his little friends he's made. He's got one little boy in particular that he's usually with. I thinks it's all just a fascinating experience - watching what your child becomes, how he chooses to be when you're not around. And he's always sweating when I pick him up. He just has absolute fun there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vegan Doughnuts

Here is a sampling of our homemade vegan doughnuts we made tonight. We used this recipe from VegWeb. I think they turned out great. Tornado helped me top them with chocolate frosting with and without nuts, glazed and glazed with sprinkles, sugared/jelly-filled, and powdered sugar/jelly-filled. This recipe made a lot of doughnuts, and it was fairly easy. I mean, anytime you work with dough, it's a little bit of work, but the dough turned out so perfect, and I was so focused on...VEGAN DOUGHNUTS!...I didn't mind the extra work. Yummy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Week Long Affair With Daiya

I have a new love...Daiya cheese. The vegetarian world is all abuzz with the news of this product that melts and is actually stringy (stringier, at least, than most vegan cheese) like dairy cheese. I'm also really happy with the ingredients - they use plant based ingredients like cassava. It's soy-free, gluten-free, preservative-free, cholestrol-free, etc. 33% less fat than regular cheese, they say.

Here are some pictures of just a few things I made. For those of you who think it's funny that I take pictures of my food to post, this is what we vegans call Vegan Porn. I didn't make that up.

I didn't get a picture of the big, real pizza I made using it, Here is our olive, pepper, squash bread pizza, though.
more bread pizza with spinach, tomatoes, and the cheddar style Daiya
My whole wheat wrap with melted Daiya, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, salsa, and my other new favorite thing - shelled hempseeds. LOVE them. They are a great source of omega 3 & 6 Essential Fatty Acids and provide all of the essential amino acids (among other things, like iron, folic acid, zinc...a lot of other good stuff). Two tablespoons contain 11 grams of protein. We love to sprinkle them on top of garlic bread.
And I melted it on top of spinach fettucini with a pesto/nutritional yeast sauce, olives, broccoli, hempseeds, beans, and tomatoes (on the side for Dash's sake). I also made grilled cheese sandwiches, a cheesey dip for my tamales, tacos, and quesadillas.
See what it does.

I'm actually getting ready to order some more right now. Much more at once, now that I know you can freeze it. Can't wait for it to start showing up in stores around here (the extra cold pack/2 day shipping fees add up)...For now, it can be ordered from Vegan Essentials, Pangea, and Cosmos Vegan Shoppe...

Monday, September 21, 2009


the newest little addition to our family...

...Ghetti! Yup, we got a puppy.

And why get one, when you can get two?! Also introducing...Roni!

on our ride home from getting the pups...Labor Day

Tornado, holding Roni for the first time

Yes, it is great fun, apparently, to get in the crate with the pups. The kids have really enjoyed having pets. We knew they would. It's not like we actually needed to add another responsibility to our lives. It could be argued that this was the LAST thing we needed. But we've had them for two weeks now, and so far, so good. We made ourselves consider the prospect of getting a puppy for at least 6 months before we went forth.
It has really been a group effort, taking care of them. All five of us chip in pretty equally, I'd say. It was really important to us, for our children to grow up with a dog(s). They're doing really well on the housetraining front. The only stressful moments I've had were during the two days it rained last week, and Ryan happened to be away on business. It was not fun for me, constantly taking them out in the rain, then bringing in wet dogs.
They are such good little buddies. We love how they play together. We could have just gotten one, and she would have basked in the sole attention of her human family, as dogs are happy to do. I just couldn't bear leaving without her sister, though. Truth be told, we almost left with her brother, too. :0 We were sort of like...maybe if he hasn't found a home in a week or two, we'll get him, too...he found a home, though. Good thing; it was too tempting. We feel great about them snuggling up together at night or when we have to leave the house for a few hours.
the day we brought them home...they're already a little bigger than this.
We thought long and hard about names for a good week and a half after we knew we were getting them. I was really impressed - and amused - with the kids' name choices. When I would ask Dash if he had any new name ideas, he'd immediately announce some new idea, right off the top of his head. Here are a few of his picks: Shikkon, Sheefy Poo, Charlo, Hershico, Hanger Pen, Carly (we almost went with this one). He also was big on "Assa" and didn't understand why we wouldn't go for that one. I suggested "Asa" instead, and he asked, "What's wrong with Assa?"

Tornado didn't have as many strong opinions for names. His ideas were "Hersha," which I liked and "Danger Ranger" (after the cartoon; I said we would have considered this if we had been getting a boy).

I got great enjoyment when Dash very dramatically suggested, "I know! Fluffy!" or "I have a great idea! Blacky!" like these were the most perfect, original names ever.

Ryan thought of the name "Getty," which he and I automatically loved and had pretty much decided upon. Then one day, the kids got stuck on wanting to name the pups after food items. I just couldn't get into the idea of naming the dogs after objects, although I really wanted the names to be their ideas, not mine. I couldn't get past my love of girl names that end in the "ee" sound (like Sissy's real name). They were thinking of objects that are black and white. There was, of course, the suggestion for "Salt" and "Pepper." Then Dash suggested, "White Cheese" for the white one. Because, he pointed out, "Cheese is sometimes white." My sister helped them figure out "Olive" and "Roni (which would be short for Macaroni)." And Tornado wanted to go with "Olive" and "Sand." (We were at the beach, at the time.)

Ryan and I were talking about how we did like the name Roni (I felt like I had to name them something I'd actually name one of my kids) and that would make the kids happy because we could tell them it was short for Macaroni. But we really still loved "Getty." Then, it dawned on us...not Getty but Ghetti because that could be short for Spaghetti. And that is the story of their names, and how we all ended up happy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beach Vacay...Asheville and Laughing Seed Cafe

On our way home from the beach, we (along with my parents) made a stop in NC to visit my late great aunt Mert's sister and brother-in-law (my sister and Andy actually went to visit them last year). I (sadly) don't have any pictures from this stop because it was an emotional experience for me. It was all I could do to keep from sobbing the entire time, let alone take a picture.

My aunt Mert died a few weeks before I turned 18. She and my uncle Donald were like grandparents/second parents to my brother, sisters, and I. He passed away just a few years after she did (both from lung cancer). None of us have ever really gotten over it...her sisters are all still alive, and it's amazing how much they look like her. Their voices/NC accents are just the was really nice to visit with them. My kids kept pointing out that Vera had the same kind of dolls (crocheted dolls that Mert made) that we have.

They took us over to Mert's gravesite, which none of us had ever visited...the reasons we didn't attend the funeral are complicated and vague...Donald tried to insist we not make the long trip, I was in D.C. on a school trip, I had never even been to a funeral at this point, etc....anyway, it was one of those things I had always planned to do...go to Pink Hill and pay my respects to one of my most important people of my life...Our next big stop was Asheville, North Carolina. I have visited Asheville a couple of times before, and I love it! If you've never been there, it's a fun place to go. Ryan said it would probably be the perfect city for the two of us to live. Perfect mix of beautiful mountains with the civilization of great restaurants, people, and things to do. The downtown has great shops and places to eat. I wish we had more time to spend the night/do some things while we were in the area. I figured we could find a good place to eat, at least that would be something. We had caught up with Cary and Andy, who'd made a top at Duke, his alma mater. They were just finishing up eating in Asheville, too, so they walked over to our place with us.
Dash enjoyed feeding a treat to "Buddy" who happened to be passing by.
We had to wait a half hour or so for our table, but Cary, Andy, and the kids visited with us while we waited.
The restaurant we ate at was called Laughing Seed Cafe, which is one of the favorite vegetarian restaurants in Asheville, I think. I realized as we walked up, I had eaten here before.
It's located on Wall Street, this adorable little street. The kind of street with cute streetlamps, trees, and the sidewalk is even flat with the road. Like if I had to pick a street in the world to live on, this would be a contendor.
Ryan ordered the Wild Mushroom Risotto Cakes - finished with a truffled beet creme and roasted corn relish. Served with seasonal sauteed greens. It's fun to eat food that is truffled and "finished" with something.
I ordered the hempnut burger...a hearty combination of hempnut and millet, delicately seasoned and served with basil aioli and vegetables...(I'm not making this stuff up; I'm pasting from the menu.) The kids got rice/bean/tofu/veggie bowls.
It's just really, really hard for me to not order dessert when I'm at a place like this. Whether I'm hungry or not. Whether I'm 20 pounds overweight or not. So I got this delicious coconut cream type pie that had berries on the side. And a cute little flower stuck in it.
At least I had this to think about when I got back in the car (after spending the night in Knoxville and stopping for lunch at one of the largest Whole Foods I've ever seen...there was even a separate Whole Foods Body store for skincare, clothing, etc.) for another 10 hours of driving (well, riding...somehow - heehee - I managed to make it the whole vacation without driving; thanks, Ryan!) and arrived home to face this...
and this...
and this...
and also this...everything from our car.

And with that, I conclude my beach vacation exposé...

Beach Vacay...last night walk

We took our annual last night walk on the beach for 3 handsome boys!
my sister Cary and niece Winnie

Dash and his hero, Papaw
If she doesn't want to smile, she's not going to smile.
"You can't make me, either!"
I mean, seriously, you can never run out of things to do with sand.
all of us

Tornado, with his beloved Googie

This was taken right after someone told us to "act like we're in love." Ryan said, "I'm not that good of an actor." SO funny, honey.
Andy and Sissy, dueling harmonicas

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Beach Vacay...Part "I've Lost Count"

We ate with Cary, Andy, and the kids one night at Brixx Wood Fired Pizza in Wilmington. After a hummus appetizer, we chowed down on the pizza.
Wood-roasted Vegetable...wild mushrooms, broccoli, onions, peppers, oregano, tomato sauce and vegan cheese
the Rustica...mushrooms, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and roasted garlic with vegan cheese
After pizza, we went to Luna Pops, a very cute place with cute all-natural popsicles. They even had this little picnic table outside for the kids to sit. I'm holding back from posting the pictures of Cary leading the kids in an impromptu game of Charades. Googie and Papaw got to enjoy a dinner out by themselves. Later that night, Andy and Ryan got to go out to a "guy movie."

One day, just the five of us went on a search for Poplar Grove Plantation, which was built in 1850. Besides giving tours of the house and buildings, etc. on the land, they have a really cute farmers' market. We only made it for the tail-end because we had a hard time finding the place. I bought some homemade, all-natural foam pump soap, some vegetables, and two precious dresses for Sissy. A lady makes these dresses out of vintage fabrics, lace, embroideries, etc., and I had a really hard time picking out the two I wanted. I wish I could sew better!
Cary and I had found the greatest little health food store called Tidal Creek Co-op early in the trip. I made about four different trips there during the week. It was SO vegan-friendly; I loved it better than Whole Foods. They had great sandwiches, wraps (unchicken salad wrap with cranberries, etc. - yum!), macaroni salads, and desserts. I consumed several berry sauce- covered cheesecake slices during the week. It had a cookie dough type crust that I'm going to have to try to make. We picked up food for a picnic on the Poplar Grove estate.
There was a fun little playground on the property, as well. Gee, I feel a little scared now, looking at Sissy up there. After our afternoon at Poplar Grove, we hit a few stores to buy some "secret things." I'll tell you what the secret is soon in a post. (NO, I'm not pregnant.)
Not only were we vacating in a great spot with lots to do, more importantly we had time to spend with family that we are normally separated by 6 hours. We got to bond with Rush, who is 2 months old. The start of the really fun make-the-baby-smile age. Somehow Googie and Papaw have finagled their way into being Winnie and Rush's favorite play friends in the house. I've got to up my game a little.
Catch Phrase Champions...I'm sure that Cary and Dad are going to try to argue that they were the champs (and maybe they did end up winning more games one night), but I really feel that Andy and I are the reigning champions. What I do know is that I loved playing games with the adults after the kids went to bed. Learned a new fun game - Rack-O, and I haven't laughed in awhile as hard and much as I did when we were playing CP...had some pretty funny situations.
Lotta love going on around here...Tornado fell asleep on Uncle Andy just a few minutes after I took this picture.
One morning, the kids painted seashells they had gathered.