Friday, October 18, 2013

Veggie Festivals!

We are so excited about Tampa Bay Veg Fest this weekend! We actually live in a city that has a Veg Fest! Feel happy for us! We have been counting down the days. And it made me think about the Texas State Veggie Fair, which we attended one year ago. I never blogged about it, so here it is. The Texas State Veggie Fair 2013 happens to also be this weekend - Sunday, October 20 in Dallas. We had a nice time - one of the bad things about living in Florida is that I love Texas, and I can't road trip there anymore. As much as I like the vegan food in Tampa, there's nothing like Spiral Diner here.

Here is a little photo journal of our day:

 all day vegan free samples - love!

Tasty Bite was another one of our favorite sample tables, but I didn't get a pic.

Finally - I found a kombucha I liked! I think this was Holy Kombucha. They were giving free samples, otherwise I would have never bought a cup for us to share. I think I've only tried different brands a couple of times before this, and I thought it was disgusting. So maybe I've just been trying the wrong ones? Suggestions? 

 I've forgotten - perhaps this was Spiral Diner?

I'm pretty sure the mac and cheese was Spiral Diner.

 This crust was really good.

These ice cream sandwiches - good idea in theory, but they were impossible to eat. When you took a bite, the icecream just spewed out of it. The cookies were too crisp with the ice cream, and the kids just ended up a sticky mess.

But Deep Fried Cinnamon Rolls
good idea all around.

I did not partake in the corn dogs because...I just's just all too life-like and unappetizing to me. But these are what the kids were probably the most excited about.

Well, except this kid. He was most excited ALL DAY about getting fresh veggie/fruit juice. Poor guy stood in line three times, I think, and every time he made it to the front, the blenders were overheated or something. By the time he got a juice at the end of the day, there was a weird combination of veggies and fruits left, but he was thrilled, regardless.

Kid Yoga!

I've never understood why my kids want to get their faces painted when it is so hot outside! Sounds to me.


And if you are ever in Dallas, 
you have to check out Green Spot!

A healthy gas station/convenience store 
which also includes a cafe!

Someone please expand this idea!
I want more healthy convenience.

 We spent a large amount of time deciding which snacks to take for the car ride.

 Daiya at a gas station!

And best of all...vegan soft serve!!!!

 I'm using a lot of exclamation points in this post!!!!

The kids loved picking their toppings from the topping bar. I bought a Justin's PB cup to break apart into my twist cup in memory of my pre-vegan highschool days. It's what I always ordered at the mall.


Veg Fest will take place at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park

Friday, September 13, 2013

Back to School

A new city hasn't been the only change around here. My kids are going off to school this year; we are taking a break from homeschooling. It's different and weird, and I haven't fully wrapped my head around it yet. It has been good overall, so far. We have always said that we will play it semester by semester and do what we think is best for our kids and our family at the time. For now, this is best. I do not know what the future holds.

A little Night-Before-School-Starts party with root beer floats. (Baby got plain ice cream.) My oldest son doesn't like carbonation, so he had a "milk" float.

Also new to our lives: Planetboxes. I've been eyeing them ever since they came out. They are very expensive, which is why I never bought them before. They were a little gift to myself in honor of this new phase in life when I'm sort of at a loss as to what to do with myself and my time.

A few of their school lunches, so far:
Annie's bunny fruit snacks, Garden of Eatin' multi-grain chips, grape tomatoes, Starlite Cuisine taquitos cut in half, and guacamole with bell pepper strips. They also like it when I put an "after dinner mint" in the middle hole. It's also hard for me to leave a space empty.

Another kid that day had a similar yet slightly different take on the taquito/guacamole meal with mandarin oranges and mango slices. One kid leaves before the other two, so his lunch is sometimes a little different. She also had to share a baggie of fruit snacks with her other brother. (Not fair!)
Mandarin oranges, blueberries, bell pepper strips, half of a Tofurky/lettuce/avocado/mustard (with some hemp seeds thrown in) sandwich, and Veggie Straws. She has since let me know that she is still hungry if I only give her a half sandwich. One thing I often do for her is give her 3/4 of a sandwich (because the sandwich compartment is a little snug) and give the other 1/4 to her baby brother.

Edamame, baby carrots, grapes, gardein sliders, trail mix, and a Justin's pb cup. My daughter sometimes sweetly asks for TWO mints when she sees me packing her lunch.

Cheezey kale chips (which I put inside the sealed container to keep them crisp), fresh mango slices, bean/olive/palm hearts salad, baby carrots, and Tofurky slices. (If it looks like I rolled up the carrots, I did not.) And of course, a mint.

Bell pepper strips, peanut butter pretzel pillows, pistachios, a sandwich with tofu and veggies, mango slices, a Nibmor chocolate mint square...and a mint!

You can pick the magnet set you want for the outside of your lunch box. You should remove these when you wash it. My oldest son chose the Andy Warhol art set. I had no doubt that was the one he would choose.
My 8 year old son chose dinosaurs.
To be honest, I had no idea how he would embrace the Planetbox. He is so weird sometimes. He is my child who gets embarrassed about everything. (The other two kids are extremely confident in themselves and their choices.) I thoroughly questioned him before I purchased him one because I didn't want to waste money. He is too embarrassed to bring grilled or baked tofu in his lunch. Once at our home school co-op he was so embarrassed by what I had put in his lunch, he immediately zipped it back up and just didn't eat that day. He will take tofu if it is hidden on a sandwich and all other forms of meat alternatives are acceptable. 
He is the same way about a lot of things in life - clothing choices and family PDA, etc. His older brother is very affectionate, and it's the end of the world if he tries to hug his brother in public. Oh, and I put little notes in their lunches on the first day of school. He said he hid his immediately, but he is afraid someone saw it. So no more notes for him. I am understanding, though, because I was very self-conscious when I was young, too. I mean, I try to include a nice mix of fresh and processed in their lunches. His lunch does sometimes look slightly different than theirs. (No salad. There are certain veggies that are acceptable, and some are sooo embarrassing.) He does like his lunchbox, though. For now.
My 6 year old daughter chose fairies.
I'm going to get them each a different set of magnets (which are only a few bucks) for Christmas. What I like about these boxes: they're cute, they have compartments which are fun to fill, and I only have to clean one object, not lots of little containers and cloth baggies. We have a Laptop lunchbox and like it, but I was constantly misplacing all of the containers or realizing one piece was dirty as I was trying to pack a lunch. Each Planetbox comes with two sealed containers, one small and one larger for liquid items. We don't use them too often, but they are nice to have.
I put ketchup in one of the small containers the other day, and my son and his teacher couldn't open it. Somehow it got sealed up tight, maybe with ketchup. I still can't open it. I have no idea how to get that lid off; any ideas? I hate wasting a solid stainless steel piece.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Independence Day and Our New City Revealed

Here is the next clue in our big move reveal:


I actually had a correct guess (and loved all of your other guesses!) by: Candyce! She guessed...Tampa! So Candyce is the winner! (Do you live here? If you see this post, I'd love to know!) Yup, we have moved to Florida, fulfilling Ryan's lifelong dream of living near the ocean. The kids love the new activities to choose from, and we have had a lot of fun, so far. But, like I think I wrote before, it has been a lot of work - with a lot more work in the near future.

part of our breakfast

We had a nice 4th, making it a priority to celebrate and to take the day off from household pursuits.

We spent the day on the beach, taking the ferry to Caladesi Island. We made it back in time to feast upon veggie burgers, corn on the cob, tater tots, and watermelon.


Why, yes, there is an extra person seated next to Ryan. As if we didn't have enough to do already, we are currently hosting a young teen from Eastern Europe. He is actually a social orphan, living in what is called an internat, an orphanage/boarding school. He's great; we adore him! If you are interested in knowing more about this, you are welcome to read about this program on my family blog.

You can also get a glimpse of the piles of boxes in the background that I need to address.

He tried as hard as he could.

This explains a lot of what
my life is like right now.

And this makes it worth it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Big News!

We have BIG NEWS in the Vegan and So Forth family!!!

No, we aren't having another baby. Not anytime soon, at least.

All 8 of us (Jenny, Ryan, 4 kids, 2 dogs) have packed up and moved across country. It hasn't been easy - what were we thinking, moving with a very active toddler?! - but we are looking forward to new adventures.

I'm also looking forward to having Internet again. Bear with me as I attempt this post with my blogger app. I have no idea how the format and photos will be.

WHERE did we move? Here are a few clues:

1) about 1,000 miles from our old home in Arkansas

2) We didn't move to NYC. :(

3) Here are the two Whole Foods in our area if anyone recognizes one of them.

Any guesses? You aren't allowed to guess if you know me in "real" life and actually know already. I will be back when I can see over the stacks of boxes, and technology is with us again.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Wild Cow

During a bout of insomnia around 3 a.m. the other night, I began reading through several of your blogs. It made me miss you all (well, more than usual, of course)! I just haven't been into blogging lately (as it seemed like some of you had voiced as well), but I'm pushing myself through my writer's block! 

I sometimes do not blog because I am so backed up with blogging material, I don't know where to begin. My OC side wants to go in order, but I determined to blog whatever pics I had last taken with my phone! Fortunately, it was decent material.

A couple of weeks ago, we found ourselves traveling through Nashville on an ARDUOUS trip home from somewhere (a location I'll disclose at another time). A good meal was the only thing that promised Ryan determination for the remaining 6 hour drive. And he had to drive because we had so much stuff in our car, he wouldn't have been able to fit his legs on the passenger side. Short legs come in handy sometimes.

We stopped at The Wild Cow and remained as patient as possible standing with 4 kids (who somehow remained fairly vertical with inside voices) during our wait, which turned into at least 45 minutes. I suppose the popularity should be seen as a good sign. It was even a weird time to eat, like 3:00 p.m.

My oldest son ordered Nachos with all the extra topping choices like fajita style seitan, peppers, and onions and avocado (around $10). They come topped with homemade salsa verde and homemade vegan sour cream.

The other kids ordered beans, rice, and a plainer version of the Nachos to share.

Ryan ordered the French Quarter Dip (homemade seitan, mushrooms, and onions marinated in a Creole seasoning; served on a wheat hoagie with au jus dipping sauce: $8.50) and Garlicky Kale (yummmm) as his side.

I opted for the Caesar Salad (fresh spinach and green leaf lettuce tossed in homemade dressing; topped with cashew parmesan, seasoned croutons, pumpkin seeds, and grilled tofu, $8.50). It was really delicious, but I have been obsessed with salads lately. I've even been eating salads for breakfast most mornings.

I remembered that I never blogged about our only other trip to The Wild Cow, which was during our 2010 Cross Country Road Trip to NYC. I remember not being overwhelmed with the experience, but you know, maybe it was because of the circumstances rather than the food. 

Something had been majorly wrong with our car, and Ryan had to drop us off at the restaurant while he went to find a mechanic. I don't remember what that sandwich was I had ordered for Ryan to-go (I'm guessing Buffalo Grinder, and it sure does look good to me), but I had the Wild Reuben. During our second visit, I didn't remember having that the first time, so I almost picked it again. I'm so predictable. 

I do remember being sad that the kids' meal consisted of a piece of bread with Daiya melted on top. But kudos to The Wild Cow for the probably mark-up of that meal. I also didn't love the raw pie I had last time, and I usually love raw pie. So I guess those were my only complaints. Maybe I just wasn't as used to raw pie in 2010 as much as I am now. I should say, though, that the kids weren't at all displeased with their meager offering. They thought it was cool to get cheese toast at a restaurant.

The Wild Cow is entirely vegan unless you ask specifically for non-vegan (hormone/rennet-free cheese) to be added to your meal. That's nice that you have to ask for non-vegan, rather than the other way around.