Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sandwiches and Tacos Make Me Happy

Rose very "sweetly" gave me the Happy 101 Award. According to the rules of this award, I list 10 things that make me happy and pass the award on to other bloggers.

Okay, so besides all of the obvious stuff like my family,friends, and rainbows - here are some of the little things that make me happy.

1) head rubs

2) Libraries. And bookstores.

Watching t.v. shows on dvd in bed with my husband. A couple of our favorites are Friday Night Lights (sooo good!) and Prison Break (I talked about that here, including my Michael Scofield cheesecake.). Right now we are on Season 5 of 24. I really love romantic comedies so I can't believe I'm so into that. I'm such a pacifist and generally don't like violence in movies, but I find myself yelling, "Shoot him!" when someone is remotely a threat.

unexpected phone calls and emails from family and old friends

5) My new necklace makes me happy! One pendant for each kid. (It looks weird because I erased my kids' names from the picture.) My blogging buddy Kristi made this necklace for me. Check out her Etsy shop - she makes cute stuff and her prices are very reasonable.

6) I love to eat citrus fruit the regular way, but I also really love to eat it like this - pull every little bulb of juice apart one at a time. I love the way it feels on my tongue. The other day, the kids and I sat and ate a grapefruit almost entirely this way.

7) This is random, but my oldest son (who is my healthiest, non-picky eater) likes it when I make him a plate of lots of different foods. He calls it "extra stuff." When I ask him what he wants to eat, he says, "I want a plate of extra stuff." And it's just one of things about his quirky personality that makes me smile. This is example of one of his recent "extra stuff" snack plates.
(Breakfast pita with Earth Balance, bell pepper strips, a Brazil nut, pineapple chunks, strawberries, and olives.)
He finished it and said, "More extra stuff, please!"
(bell pepper, olives, almonds, tomato chunks, and dehydrated pancake pieces)

8) Watermelon alone makes me happy, sure, but what REALLY makes me happy is when my parents buy us a watermelon. My mom brings it over, already cut up in a container. I am lazy about cutting things up, so I love it when she does that for me.

9) Sandwiches make me happy. This one is melted Daiya and warm tomato sauce, peppered Tofurky slices, tomatoes, and red bell peppers. I ate this version of sandwich a couple of days in a row because it was so good.

10) Tacos make me happy! This particular one was pretty random, but I don't care because I just love tacos any which way. I think it was just lettuce, steamed broccoli, salsa, and Gardein strips.

I would have passed this award onto Rose, Michelle, Blessed Mama, Jessica, Stacy, Carissa, Shenandoah Vegan, Ali, Michelle, Jessica & Lima, Averie, Marja, and Andrea - because reading all of your blogs makes me HAPPY...but I think all of you already received it - AND some of you received it two or three times; I don't want you to go and get a big head or anything! I mentioned some of my newly discovered blogs (including Heather's) last time with the Versatile Blogger Awards...I'm going to pass Happy 101 to these other blogs that make me HAPPY.

I've Got a List for That - My sister's blog: her life through lists - she's funny and entertaining. She will just LOVE it that I gave her an award...or maybe not.

VEGeneration - I love Diane, and she loves taking pictures of food. From every angle. :)

Tofu Mom - You might enjoy her recent post about buying groceries on a budget.

Ashley's Green Life - She's very sweet and has been "greening" up her life.

Disposable Aardvarks, Inc. - She makes very fun vegan Bento lunches for her kids.

Vegan Dance If You Want To - I think I'm naturally drawn to the blogs of people who live in NYC because I can live vicariously through.

Okay, so once again, there ARE more blogs that make me happy (a few already just popped into my head), but I only have so much time to sit here. It already takes me 2 days to write a blog post because I do it in 5 minute intervals. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Giveaway Winner and Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you for taking the time to enter my CSN giveaway. The winner is...Michelle from lovinlivinvegan! I picked the number 24, which was Michelle. Just for fun, I picked another number to see who came in 2nd place (I'm lame and was a little bored.) happened to be another number that corresponded with Michelle. Clearly, she takes it. Send me your email address, and I'll pass it on to CSN.

So...I said I would post about the super fun awards I've received! I think I'll break it up into 2 posts so that you don't get sick of me talking about myself. My first award was from the very-fit Heather at Where's the Beach? I loved finding her blog because not only does she provide lots of yummy food pictures and recipes and seem super fun, we discovered we live in the same area!

So the rules for this award are:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Tell 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award on to 10 bloggers you've recently discovered and you think are fantastic!

Thank you, Heather, for my award!

1. My younger son is entering kindergarten. My 3 year old will also be at home this year. My 10 year old will be starting his second year of public school. We homeschooled him for K-2nd grade. There's a good chance he will be homeschooled again, but for now, we think this is the best thing for him and his needs. I blog more about homeschooling and our family life at Academy at Thousand Oaks.

2) I was an Elementary Ed. major in college. So was my husband. That's how we met. We fell in love over file folder games and science projects.

3) I also had an English Minor. I taught 9th grade English for 2 years before we started having babies. When I was little, I mostly wanted to be a teacher or a writer. So now I get to homeschool and blog, which works for me.

4) I had thyroid cancer almost 8 years ago. My oldest son was 2 1/2, and one of the most traumatic things about this for me (besides being told you have cancer) was having to wean him from breastfeeding. My surgeon was not secretive about the fact he thought I was nutso for crying about weaning a child he thought was too old to be nursing in the first place. He apologized later because his wife told him that there are, indeed, moms who choose to breastfeed longer than a year. So, yeah, I don't have a thyroid now, which isn't very fun. My dad and brother and many other family members have messed up thyroids, too.

5) I am sensitive, stubborn, and self-conscious. Even though I'm totally the person who answers, "What do you want to do?" with "I don't care; what do you want to do?" - I'm actually pretty controlling...

6) which is interesting for me because I'm a Christian. I don't desire to be in control, but my willful nature takes over a lot

7) I grew up in southwest MO, and it's where I long to live now. Either there or NYC. I realize these places are complete opposites. I'd like to either live at "home" where most of my friends are - or in my favorite city with tons to do.

I feel like I'm being really wordy and narcissistic.

Let's deflect with a cute picture of my kid.

He had recently discovered our milkshake maker in the cabinet. I guess we hadn't used it in his memory. (My cabinets are a wreck, and I'm in the process of organizing them.) They were excited to use it. We hadn't had "icecream" milkshakes in awhile (we've gotten so used to our frozen banana shakes). We've been stocking up on the Purely Decadent coconut milk ice cream lately - it's normally $4.99 at Whole Foods (and probably $5.99 at Kroger); it's been $2.99 at Kroger and $3.99 at WF!

And here's my fabulous hubby with our oldest son, when we were at the River.

Can't leave out my cutie pie 3 year old (left), with her cutie pie 3 year old cousin.

Now to pass on the award:

Vegan Fox (She hails from the Ozarks, my home; what's not to like about that?)

Scottish Vegan Homemaker (Well, she's a vegan homemaker like me but much cooler because she's Scottish.)

Busy Vegan Mama (Another stay-at-home mom - she's fairly new to blogging; stop by and say hi!)

Food Feud (I just like it.)

Living Food Junkie(great food AND other great ideas)

Okay, I'm actually going to stop at 5 (I could keep bragging about my fellow blogging buddies all day.) only because I've got to feed the shorties who are standing next to me, saying, "I'm hungry." Over and over again.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Catch Up: my cooler, the movie, and the river

I occasionally hear my friends complain about being overwhelmingly busy - in a way that they just don't feel like they would ever catch up. I always nod understandingly, but honestly, I don't always feel that way. I feel like I do catch up sometimes, at least to a point, and I can usually shrug away the rest of it. Not this summer, though. I feel like I'm having one of those dreams...have you ever had one of those...when you're trying really hard to go quickly - like you're running late or someone's chasing you - but you can barely move.

I feel that way right now. I'm flailing about in the water.

I don't mean that as a complaint. I'm having lots of fun in the water. Just ready for the list of things hanging over my head to be checked off. And I'm starting a job this week! (Okay, so those of you who work real 8-5's are going to think my job is ridiculously wimpy, but it's a commitment, nonetheless!)

So on to a little blog catch up (and I'm still catching up on my blog reading, too - if you get 5 comments from me at once, you'll know why)...

As a part of offering my CSN blog giveaway (which is open until Sunday night!), I also was blessed to receive a gift certificate of my own. It was a tough choice! I considered some of the things you guys said you'd want (Really considered that cotton candy maker, blessedmama! That looks fun!). We ended up picking out this car cooler that plugs into your car. We are always on the go - whether cross country or just around town. With 3 kids and always bringing food and drinks along with us wherever we go, keeping it all cool is constantly an issue. We always have to get fresh ice or re-freeze our ice packs when we reach our destination. So hopefully this will make our lives a little easier! We purchased the electric adaptor to go with it so that we will have a ready-made fridge to carry into our hotel rooms! (Go to my other blog to read my full review.)

I kind of have dorky movie taste so don't judge me. :) I had been really excited about going to watch Beezus and Ramona. I took the kids one day (complete with our illegal movie snacks), and we loved it! I got teary-eyed several times throughout. Here is one of the kids' containers - filled with carrots, grapes, Sharkies organic fruit chews, fruit roll-ups, and Averie's Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls. Yes, there is a lot of sweetness in there.

They also took baggies of veggie straws.

They ate everything.

While my sister and her kids were visiting, we (including my parents) drove about an hour and a half to the Buffalo River. My brother and his family drove south about the same distance to meet us all. It was my entire family, besides my sister Tracy and brother-in-law Andy. It was super fun, as it always is with my family.

my hastily made mock chicken salad sandwich

I started to eat, and my lovingly sarcastic brother called out, "Don't forget to take a picture of your food!" It is a phenomenon to him that I regularly photograph my meals. I told him I'm not the only one who does it, but I don't know if he believes me.

my dad

We stayed until sundown.

More catch-up soon...I need to accept my awesome awards I've received and write about my fun anniversary trip with Ryan.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Scooby Dooby Doo

I told you I would tell you why my sister Cary was eating out of a dog bowl. I'm not the only one around here who had a birthday in July.

So did Roni and Ghetti!

We went with a Scooby-Doo theme.

My nephew and niece weren't as eager to don the masks. I think they may have shared the dogs' feelings - that we were all a little crazy.

When I told my mom she was invited to her "granddaughters'" (she just LOVES it when I call them that) birthday party, I think her exact words were, "You've got to be kidding me."

While I finished fixing lunch, the kids became little Scooby and the Gang detectives, in search of the missing dog treats I'd hidden around the downstairs.

Next, the kids opened the dogs' presents.

I think they liked their gifts!

We (humans) had chips, salsa, and grapes. This was the dog's "appetizer" plate. We called the pawprint treats their "Scooby Snacks."
(I think everything is vegan; the green ones have vitamins/minerals included that may or may not be.)

I put together super long sandwiches, made of toasted Rudi's Bakery bread, olives, bell pepper strips, lettuce, mustard, tomato slices, avocado, salad dressing, Gardein Chick'n Strips, Vegenaise, and cucumbers.

Just like Scooby would like 'em.

We had used these (new & food-safe!)dog bowls at my oldest son's 9th birthday party, which had a Fetch Ruff Ruffman theme (Fetch is a smart and witty game show host dog on a PBS Kids show, for all of you non-parent/PBS Kids types.).

the dogs' cake
I wasn't sure how my hodgepodge of ingredients was going to turn out so I just put the batter in 3 mini (Easter Egg shaped) pans. I looked at these recipes, then kind of came up with my own. The cakes were mostly made from brown rice flour, oats, peanut butter, and shredded carrots. I threw in a little oil, egg replacer, and a tsp. of baking soda. It turned out so well I wish I'd just one big cake.

The tops are decorated with yogurt and shredded carrots.

The human party go-ers enjoyed Scooby Snacks made especially for them. I thought these tasted really good!
("R" is for Roni, and "G" is for Ghetti, if you didn't figure that out.)

Scooby Snacks Recipe
(which I veganized from this recipe)

2 cups flour
Egg Replacer amounts for 2 eggs
1 cup oats
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients. If there is not enough liquid to stir all of the ingredients, add a tiny amount of "milk." Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. Can be cooked for a shorter time for chewier cookies, or a longer time for drier, crisp cookies.
We even sang Happy Birthday to them.
I may have even heard my Mom join in.

Puddy was much more interested in the cake than his canine cousins.

Goody bags for the kids - and Puddy.

His bag contained various dog chews and treats.

The kids' bags consisted of Scooby and Gang coloring sheets, stickers, and even Scooby band-aids.

Roni and Ghetti were freshly bathed and dressed up. They were nervous because they thought their heartthrob, Scooby, was actually going to show up. :)

Funny that once she put the mask on, she just left it on while she played Legos.

One week left for my CSN $40 giveaway. (Remember, you can buy practically anything you want with this!) There are only 37 entries so your chances are still pretty good!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Birthday Celebrations Continued

My sister and her 2 kids came from St. Louis for a visit last week. We packed in lots of fun activities - and lots of food.

This is Cary.
I'll explain later this week why she was eating out of a dog bowl.

Cary is a (vegan-minded) vegetarian. I am not so fortunate to have vegan/vegetarian friends in "real" life (I mean, of course, I have all of you!), but I love that my sisters and I have this commonality.

the mixture before cooking

Friday night, we hung out with them at my parents' house. It was Cary's idea to make veggie burgers with this recipe from The Front Burner. It is mostly black beans, carrots, and oats. And we used sunflower seeds instead of pumpkin seeds. This was a great recipe that I would definitely make again.

We had our veggie burgers with all of the best stuff to go along with them.

Cary gave me beautiful, wooden bird earrings.
My parents gifted me with these white dishes.
Thank you all!

Cary and Mom had a little surprise up their sleeves. They had ordered this cake from Whole Foods, and Cary decorated it up all fancy.

I'm not used to having fancy birthday cakes. What a treat!

What is NOT a treat...turning thirty...five...sigh.

Mixed with a little Soy Delicious, there was approval all around.

That was my cutie nephew and niece.

As if all of that wasn't enough, my other sister Tracy (who is my youngest sibling) had been planning on making me a vegan birthday meal. Tracy was vegan around 10 years ago and has gone through various periods of veganism and vegetarianism over the years. She's back, though, in full force, and I'm glad - because she's a great cook!

And I feel certain I should mention that she didn't want me to take her picture. She was feeling a little awkward in our mother's shirt.

This little guy, however, loved discovering he was wearing the same kind of shirt as his Papaw.

first up on Tracy's menu: Manicotti from Vegan with a Vengeance

She also made Isa's Seitan Portabello Stroganoff to spoon over homemade mashed potatoes (with skins, like I like it). This was amazing. We all loved it. My dad said, "Don't take this the wrong way, but it doesn't taste vegan." I do think he meant it as a compliment.

Our dad is so cute. He actually will eat and appreciate anything vegan we make him. In fact, when he hears us talking "vegan" and discussing recipes or whatever, I think it makes him feel left out; he'll say, "I'm thinking about becoming vegan," just so he can "fit in." :)

I am afraid my husband will not want to go back to my boring cooking after this flavorful meal. Stroganoff is not something I would have ever picked out of a cookbook to make (I'm a little one-track minded.), much to Ryan's dismay. Everything was really delicious.

Thank you, Tracy. This was such a great birthday gift.

We had the hardest time with our photo shoot, trying to take a good picture of ourselves. Or even getting ourselves in the frame.

I'll let these cuties take over instead.

I'm hosting a $40 CSN giveaway. I will draw a winner on August 15th!