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red dirt love

18 Apr

A weekend recap!

Friday

The husband and I are currently re-watching Lost through Netflix.  We started watching it during our time in Thailand and completely fell in love with the show, especially the characters.  One night we decided that we needed a new show to start watching, so we walked down to Night Bazaar, surveyed the available options and after narrowing it down between Grey’s Anatomy and Lost (neither of which we knew anything about), we decided on Lost.  After which, we proceeded to watch every single season within about a month long period (could be slightly exaggerated).  I think the show was technically in season five or so when we discovered it.   We totally fell in love with it, and of course continued watching it once we moved back to the States.  Anyway, it’s such a complex show that we recently decided to re-watch every episode, which has proven to be almost as exciting as the first round.  We’re noticing and catching things that we never noticed before, and the story has become even more amazing.  If you’re a Lost fan, you know what I mean.

So Friday night we had a Lost marathon and ate some pizza in bed.  Yes, in bed.  Our bed is essentially our new living room because my mom and step-dad don’t watch Lost.  We spend a lot of time on our bed these days, which also really reminds me of Thailand because when we lived there our bedroom was the only room that was air-conditioned.  Tropical country + no a/c = no further explanation needed.

I digress.

Saturday

After relaxing in bed (told you) for awhile Saturday morning, we headed to the city to get some house progress done!  Most recently we got our a/c ducts and furnace installed as well as wiring throughout the whole house. With all the progress that’s happening, we’re realizing more than ever that we need to get on the ball with making decisions about the inside.  We met with our design person in the early afternoon, and finally decided on our flooring – it feels so good to have one decision finally made!  Our entryway, kitchen, living, dining and bathrooms will all be stained concrete, and our bedrooms with be a dark brown wood.  I love the idea of juxtaposing the two materials, and I think it will add to the eclectic feel – which makes me happy!

Anyway, after house errands, we met with our accountant – finally finishing up taxes – and then decided to explore some more OKC restaurants, namely Iguana.

The husband had heard about this little mexican cafe, and it sounded divine.  Upon pulling up to it, we knew it was going to be right up our alley.  Situated at the edge of Midtown right beside the railroad tracks, it has a lively, modern atmosphere complete with indoor seating as well as a lovely outdoor patio.  So so pretty.  The service was fantastic – from the waiter who, upon bringing our setup, breezily stated “best chips and salsa in OKC” to the fast delivery of our meals.  And the food was honestly the best mexican food I’ve had in Oklahoma, no exaggeration.  There were a TON of veggie options, and everything (especially the salsa) was ultra fresh and delicious.

I ordered the veggie quesadillas, and the husband ordered a veggie burrito so we could split both.  It was definitely way too much food by the end, and next time we’ll try to restrain ourselves by ordering just one dish to split…but we enjoyed every last bite, only leaving a few remnants behind.

Despite being so full, after we finished eating we walked next door to check out yet another cupcake shop – hey, it was too cute to pass up!  SaraSara Cupcakes is a cupcakery we hadn’t heard of yet.  The atmosphere was adorable, located in a two story old fashioned house – it surprises you when you walk in to find super modern decor.

The cupcake selection was pretty extensive, and the husband and I walked out with a red velvet and a mint chocolate in tow.  To be eaten later of course…in bed.  I’d say the atmosphere of this shop ranks just under Cuppies and Joe (for all you Oklahomans), but above Gigi’s and Pinkitzel.  However, as far as taste GiGi’s cupcakes have still yet to be beat (in my opinion).  Overall though, I’d choose Cuppies and Joe any day if I was looking for a great cupcake + great atmosphere.  Love that place.  No doubt we will be back to SaraSara though, and I will say I think you get more cupcake bang for your buck there!

Last stop of the night was a tiny little shop called Shop Good next door that we just barely noticed on our way back to the car.  Intrigued, we ventured inside to discover a novel little place filled with vintagy and unique clothing, accessories and trinkets.  What really makes it special though, is that every item in the store comes with an attached tag that indicates a specific cause to which part of the profit of that particular item goes.  They currently have a partnership with “The Tapestry Project, an OKC-based nonprofit that’s working to address homelessness and poverty among marginalized women in a deteriorating neighborhood on the south side of the city.” [source]  So not only did I come out with an awesome skirt and tee, but 5% of the cost went toward this awesome OKC charity.  Epic.  I love my city.

Sunday

Sunday started out bright and early with an eventful ten mile run.  We had planted frozen water bottles along our route that morning, thinking they would be partially thawed out by the time we got to them.  Unfortunately, it was quite a bit chillier than past weeks, and upon hopefully arriving to each bottle we realized each time that they were still frozen solid.  Finally at about mile eight, we ran up on some sprinklers working hard to quench the thirst of the yard and sneakily took full advantage of them, getting huge mouthfuls of water as it ran down our chins.  I was a new woman.  We rocked the last two miles and came in at about an hour and fifty minutes.  The weather was absolutely perfect for running – high 50’s with a slight breeze – and now I’m keeping my fingers crossed for similar weather at our race – which is in just 2 weeks!  So excited!

Unfortunately, after spending about 15 minutes looking for the long sleeved shirt I’d ditched and hidden a little too well at mile 2, we were still an hour away from church and were already clearly going to be late, so we just hit up Panera looking way too dressed up.  Though completely unplanned, it was a wonderful breakfast and we spent some time dreaming about plans for the future and all the great things that are happening right now.  Love those kind of moments with the husband:)

More family time ensued in the afternoon when we picked up Olive and then followed my mom, step-dad, and grandparents to our new house.  They hadn’t seen it yet, and we were so excited to show them; it meant so much to us that they came up to see everything.  After the house, we caravanned around OKC, cruising by some cute houses in our favorite districts and then finally ending up at Subway for some quick dinner.


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Since moving to OKC, our weekends have become so much more full.  We are LOVING all that there is to do here – the neighborhoods to explore, new restaurants to try, streets to walk.  We love to go, do, see – and the city lends itself to that so much more.  We’ll always love our little college town, and every visit back there will be so sweet…but I think I can officially say our hearts now belong in OKC.  I’m so thankful for the opportunity to make our home here, and so excited for the future.  I know OK isn’t a popular city, and many people probably still think it’s red dirt and cowboys, but it truly has so much to offer, and I hope we’ll be able to offer back to it in the years to come.  And besides, a little red dirt never hurt anyone anyway. 🙂

What’s your favorite thing about the city you call home?

another busy weekend

11 Apr

Good morning!

The weekend flew by so fast, as always, and it was as full as ever in the last two months.  Friday evening the husband and I stopped by our house after work to see how it was coming along.  It really is incredible how much has been done this week.  Last Sunday our house looked like this:

And this Sunday it looked like this:

After we signed the papers and everything it literally felt like absolutely nothing happened for weeks, and just when we were starting to become a little bit concerned they really got going on it.  Here’s the progression of the last month in pictures:

We’ve now got about 2 months and 11 days until our anticipated close date…we’re so ready!  And another couple pics just for fun:)

haha – jumping pictures are not my strong suit

looking into our living/dining room from the entryway

After checking out the house Friday evening, we re-visited one of our favorite new restaurants.  The last time we went to Cafe 7 was last Sunday with some friends, and we knew there was so much more that we wanted to try.   This time we both got something different, and it did not disappoint.

I went with the margarita pizza, which had marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, spinach and tomatoes.  Delicious!

I ate about half and took the rest home because the husband and I had grand plans to split a cookie.  Seeing as how Cafe 7 is only about a mile from our new house, I’m sure we’ll be back many more times.

Post dinner we decided to head down to an area of OKC called the Plaza District.  We went there during the day once before, but on the first Friday night of every month all the shops are open, there’s live music, street vendors, food, and all kinds of other fun stuff like the Humane Society pups up for adoption.

As you all know, now would not be the best time for the husband and I to adopt a new dog, but I wanted to take this guy home so badly!  I think I’m having puppy withdrawals:(

Anyway, Saturday we had an appointment to pick out the lighting for our house and then we met up with the husband’s parents for lunch and to go see the house.  Lunch was a cute little restaurant that sits right on the lake, called Louie’s.  We actually had this place in our old town, but we didn’t go there very often…only once I think.  It was excellent though – great atmosphere, great food – actually the best fruit I think I’ve ever had at a restaurant.

black bean burger with avocado = amazing

iPhone pics. eh.

On Sunday the husband and I got up early to do our long run.  Honestly, I was not looking forward to it.  On Friday, I had experienced one of the absolute worst runs of my life.  Every step was brutal – my lower back hurt, my shins hurt, my quads…everything.  In retrospect I really should have just thrown in the towel probably, but I really needed to get in the mileage, so I did my best to push through.  I had kind of an emotional breakdown after it…I think the pain and frustration brought out all these pent up emotions – stress, tiredness, feeling like everything is all out of whack right now – and I just needed to let it all out.  I was really feeling down.  Thankfully the afternoon improved drastically because my interview went really well, and the husband booked me an afternoon massage.  He really is the most thoughtful husband in the world.

But back to the long run.  We were slated to go 9 miles, and the first 4.5 went pretty well; I felt a lot better than I anticipated I would.  We ended up doing sort of an out and back route, and it was only when we turned to head back that we realized how windy it was.  With the wind at our backs we barely felt it, but all of a sudden it felt like we were running into a wall.  Flashbacks to our marathon 2 years ago kept popping into my head as we fought our way back.  Hills, wind, the whole bit was the essence of the last 4.5 miles…and there were definitely some walking breaks.  However, we both somehow got a second wind with about a half mile left and finished at about an 8:30 pace.  No matter what the majority of a run is like, I always feel as if I’ve redeemed myself when we finish strong and happy.

The rest of Sunday included breakfast at Subway, lots of IcyHot, a long nap, and a visit to our baby.  The best way to end a weekend I think.  Now for another busy crazy week!

How was your weekend?

great books and other stuff

1 Apr

Despite the fact that it’s Friday and the weather has made vast improvements, I am dragging today!  The culprit?

This book.

Yesterday I was killing a little bit of time before picking the husband up from work, so I ran across the street to Border’s because they’re having a huge closing sale.  After wondering around for awhile, my eyes landed on the cover of Euna Lee’s memoire.  I am a big fan of memoirs; I just recently finished two different ones, Thin is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls – two books that could not be more different, but were equally engaging and wonderful.  I highly recommend both, but to give you fair warning, The Glass Castle is very harsh and somewhat disturbing at times…like when you see something so devastating that you want to look away, but you just can’t.  But in the end it shoots straight to your heart as it speaks of redemption and the ability to rise above any situation, and I walked away feeling inspired and more aware of the world.

But back to the book of last night.  I read a few pages right after I bought it and knew right away that it would be hard to put down.  After running a couple of errands and making the trek back home, I picked it back up; three hours and 275 pages later I stumbled into bed.  Lee’s account of her time in captivity in North Korea took me on a journey that ended in a renewed thankfulness for the most important things in life and a new perspective of how God leads us through the toughest of times.  Thought provoking and emotional, at times I felt I was right there with her as she agonized over missing her baby and having no certainty over her future – and upon her arrival back home where she embraced gratefulness, safety and those she loved most.  I loved it.

This morning I had plans to get some work done at Starbucks, but I just had to finish the last 15 pages or so.  This is my problem with books – if they’re riveting enough to keep me flipping the page, then I simply cannot walk away from them.  Gets me every time.  Having rushed out of the house in a blur of bags, laptops and keys this morning, I didn’t have time to eat breakfast, but Starbucks perfect oatmeal to the rescue once again!  The best option for breakfasts on the run.

topped with dried fruit and nuts

I also wanted to toss in one my favorite easy lunches that I had yesterday.  I’ve made a version of this before with just black beans, but the spices in this one had me over the moon.

Baked sweet potato with leftover Amy’s Chili poured over top. And a side of kale chips.

This could even be a portable snack to take to the office (which I’ll be needing soon!) if you have a microwave.  Maybe subbing out the kale chips for a bag of steamable broccoli?   I just love little meals that are warm and homemade tasting, but take minutes to prepare.

I’m so happy it’s Friday (duh), and I’m so excited because the husband and I are going to the OKC home show this weekend.  We’ve got some serious house decisions to make in the next week, so hopefully we’ll come away with some direction and inspiration.

Have a lovely weekend!

What is your favorite book you’ve ever read?
If I had to choose one, I’d probably say Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible – read it while we lived in Thailand, and could read it a thousand more times.  Side note – the other day I was re-listening to My Sister’s Keeper in the car, and I had this sudden realization that books can take on a whole new meaning and impact with each time you read them.  There are different things going on in my life right now that cause me to read it in a completely different way than last time.  Love that about books.

camp coffee cake

7 Jan

I spent the summer of 2003 and 2004 working at a summer camp for kid’s in the hills of Missouri. I was a boat driver by title, but I also taught everything from mountain biking to diving to archery.  I still cannot believe that parents left me alone with their children and a bow and arrow.  Or a boat motor for that matter.

Those were the best summers of my life and the worst summers of my life.  The morning call would blare over the speakers in our cabin (John Tesh in person some mornings!), and we would have 15 minutes to get up, get our kids in motion and book it to the dining hall.  Many mornings I would sneak out of our cabin before the sun rose and tiptoe down to the lakeshore, where I would meet my best friend, Ann.  We’d grab a couple of kayaks, shake all the spiders out and head off across the lake to the rock cliffs on the other side.  Once we reached them, we’d rest our paddles across our laps and sit forever, just talking about nothing or something.  The water was like reflecting glass, so perfectly still, the only ripple a consequence of the slightest shift of our kayaks.  And then, at the last possible second, we’d grudgingly head back across the lake to resume our positions.

Ann and I with the husbands at her wedding reception

As a counselor I was forbidden to have a cell phone, so the summer was filled with daily races to the main office, hoping there was a letter with my name on it.  The husband and I had only been dating about a year, and two months away from him seemed beyond eternity.  I would sit each night, listening to the bugs outside.  Flashlight in hand, I’d write and write and write hoping that my words would convey to him just how much I truly missed him.

Not only were we not allowed to have a cell phone, but we were also not allowed to bring our own food (I know).  The dining hall was pretty much hit or miss, but there were two things in particular that they were famous for: lasagna and coffee cake.

The coffee cake in particular was my favorite, and I can still remember the taste of brown sugar as if it was just yesterday.  I remember exactly the way it looked on the cheap, plastic serving dish and the way it crumbled ever so slightly when my fork would slide into it.  Bliss I tell you…bliss.  I believe I had only experienced coffee cake maybe once in my life before that, and since then I honestly have not eaten it again.  The husband hates it when I make absolute statements like that, but I promise it’s true:)

From time to time my mind has drifted to thoughts of that coffee cake, and I’ve had visions of sinking my teeth into a warm square of it once again.  And I’ll tell you, if I stumbled onto that exact same recipe made by the exact same people again I’d snatch it up in a second.  But you guys know me.  If I’m going to branch out and make it myself, I’m going to veganize it and healthify it.  Because that’s what I do. It makes me happy:)

Which brings us to the other day.  I was browsing the pages of my awesome new cookbook Vegan With a Vengeance,  given to me as a Christmas gift by my lovely friend, Grace.  I’ve wanted VWV for a long time, and I’m so excited to finally get to dig into it!  Awhile back, I unknowingly baked a chocolate muffin recipe from it, and the muffins were to die for, and ever since I’ve been itching to get my hands on a copy.

Anyway, so I was flipping through and suddenly my eyes landed on a recipe for blueberry coffee cake.  I did a double take.  Vegan blueberry coffee cake!  The best part was that I already had all the ingredients waiting in my pantry except for soy vanilla yogurt which I ran out of last week.  So, I grabbed my purse, grabbed the husband and headed to the health food store.

A half hour later, this:And this:

And this:

Then, finally…this:

Did it taste exactly like the coffee cake of my camp counselor days?  Honestly, no.

But it was oh so delicious.  I could go on and on, telling you about how moist it was and how it had just the right amount of sweetness – not sickly sweet – but soul satisfying.  But instead I’ll just be honest and say that I’ve had a slice of it every morning for the last 4 days, and one day I had it for lunch as well (my appetite has been a little funny lately, but that’s another story).

I’ll still be on the lookout for one of the white aproned, chef hatted cooks from the summer of ’04, but until then…

Did you go to summer camp as kid?  What’s your favorite memory (food or otherwise) from those days?

hello from texas

23 Dec

Hello!

Well, we’re finally in south Texas!

On Tuesday we left home and headed to my hometown to see my grandma and grandpa.  We went and grabbed some dinner with them and then ended the night at their house opening gifts together!  It was such a great time spending the evening with them – it’s not everyday we get them all to ourselves;)

It was also a perfect example of how sometimes there are sacrifices involved when eating vegetarian/vegan.  There are a lot of ways to plan ahead and avoid less than ideal food situations, but sometimes there’s just not much you can do.  The restaurant we went to was mexican, and I wasn’t too worried about it because usually mexican restaurants have options – I usually go for black bean tacos (just ask them to sub out beans for meat) or veggie fajitas.  But this particular restaurant didn’t have black beans and their refriend beans and rice were not vegetarian.  They did have fajitas, but they were twelve dollars and I just couldn’t bear to spend that much.  So I went with the guacamole and ate it with a flour tortilla and some chips.  I wasn’t there for the food anyway:)

Anyway, the next morning we got up fairly early and hit the road, heading south.

After a long, but fun day of driving, we finally arrived in south Texas around ten o’clock.  We started out at about nine thirty in the morning and ended up in Dallas around one o’clock where we stopped at the mall to make some exchanges and grab some lunch.

For Christmas my mom gave me running shorts from Lululemon (insert excited squeal:), but after trying them on I decided I needed a different size.  I have to admit it was so hard to go in the store and not want to buy ten other things, but thankfully I resisted.  I did get my shorts exchanged though, and I can’t wait to wear them – they’re my first pair of running shorts from there, and I’ll definitely do a review over them soon!

For lunch I grabbed a salad from one of those salad places I love so much.  Sadly, this particular one just did not measure up – they didn’t chop up everything in the salad before putting it into the bowl, so there were giant leaves of lettuce, giant nuts, giant artichoke hearts (I broke them up into pieces myself) etc.  I was a bit disappointed, but o’well.   The rosemary roll that came with it pretty much made up for it though – it was delicious!

After lunch and shopping we got back on the road for the last five hours of our trip.  Here is a little hello from the road that I tried to post yesterday, but due to the remote country roads of south Texas, it didn’t quite work out like I planned:)

As you can hear we jammed out to the husband’s new Sarah Bareilles CD, which we both happen to love, and the trip went by fairly quickly.

First things first this morning, I headed out for a quick speed walk, just to get my blood flowing a little bit.  I have to be really careful when we’re visiting family for an extended period of time.  If I don’t make a point to get some exercise and eat well I end up not enjoying our time here quite as much and I go home feeling less than stellar.  So, after my walk, I showered and headed to the store to get some healthy food to have around.

Just the basics…you know:)  Later we stopped by the store again and I grabbed a sweet potato, some broccoli and squash and a couple of Amy’s frozen burritos.  This is a meat/seafood eating family, so I always need something on hand for meals. I really wish I had grabbed a couple cans of Amy’s soup from the health food store before leaving town.  It really like it a lot better than the frozen foods, but I can’t find them here, so I’ll make due!  I usually plan ahead so much more, but I just completely ran out of time this year.

Anyway, today has been a fun first day – we’ve gotten to see a lot of family and just enjoy spending time hanging out.  Unfortunately my MIL is really sick and we ended up in the emergency room with her for a little while this afternoon.  She seems to be feeling a little better tonight, and I’m praying she wakes up feeling better tomorrow.

For dinner tonight we stopped by the best little restaurant – Geo Burrito – have you heard of it?  It’s basically kind of like Chipotle or Qdoba, but I think it’s even better.  Any mexican restaurant that offers brown rice and vegetarian refriend beans is a win in my book:)

I ordered a bowl with brown rice, refried beans, black beans, corn, lettuce, pico, salsa and guacamole

I seriously wish we could get this place in Oklahoma.  The guy who works at Chipotle told me the other day that they’ll be getting brown rice soon.  I haven’t seen it yet, though, so I’m not holding my breath:)

Anyway, before I go I wanted show you guys the cookie cutters I used for the sugar cookies and gingerbread men since several readers have asked about them. I bought the set of at William Sonoma, and even though I debated about the purchase for a half hour in the store that night, I definitely have not regretted buying them.  I love using them, and it has been so fun to personalize cookies for Christmas gifts!

They are super easy to use and even easier to clean.

As you can see, the set comes with premade phrases as well as all the letters in the alphabet plus extras of the most common letters.  You simply slide the letters you want to use into the grooves and then use it like you would any other cookie cutter – it’s that simple!

It seems that they are all sold out online, but I’m sure they still have them in the stores.  There is also a set that is not Christmas related that could be used year round!  I may have to splurge on those as well:)

Halley mentioned that she spotted them the other day and bought them as a last minute Chrismtas gift for her mom – what a great idea!

And while we’re on the subject of the cookies, I’ll be posting the recipe for the delicious vegan gingerbread cookie recipe tomorrow – you have to make them if you like gingerbread at all.  They are soft and chewy with just the perfect amount of gingerbread flavor – perfect for Christmas afternoon with a cup of hot tea:)

Only two days left until Christmas – hope you are all enjoying every moment!

By the way, don’t forget to stop by Ecolissa and use the 20% discount offered to ChiaSeedMe readers!  Use code “vegan20” to get your discount.

note: I am not being compensated in any way by William Sonoma – I simply love them and wanted to share!

happy happy friday

10 Dec

Happy Friday!!

I’m so excited that it’s the weekend finally.  Like I mentioned earlier this week – we are having Christmas with the husband’s side of our family. We’re heading out tonight and staying until Sunday.  There will be food.  There will be caroling.  Enough said.

I had lots to do today to get ready, so I started off this morning with an energizing juice.  I used more veggies this time than I ever have before, and I have to admit I was a little nervous for my first sip.

(don’t worry, the cucumber isn’t bad – the red spots are from the beet:)

The more veggies you use, the worse the color gets – this one had parsley, swiss chard, 1/2 a beet, 1/2 cucumber, 2 carrots, small piece of ginger and 1.5 granny smith apples.  Honestly…it wasn’t good or bad.  It was kind of a neutral taste, which I’ll totally get on board for because this thing was packed with vitamins and nutrients!

As soon as I guzzled it down, I headed out the door to PiYo.  I came “this close” to not having any students show up today.  I guess it’s just that time of year where everybody is busy and it’s cold outside so people don’t want to get out.  Anyway, at about five after, 2 girls, whom I had never seen before in my life, walked in.  Praise the Lord!  It was kind of fun leading a class of two new people as opposed to my new regulars.  I felt like I was kind of looking at my class through a fresh lens.

Anyway, after PiYo I met with HeyKyoung for tutoring and then I headed home to get some baking done!

For lunch I decided to break open this bag of dry soup that I randomly picked up at the store one day.  It’s Bob’s Red Mill brand, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong.  I added 1 cup of soup mix to 2 cups of water and 2 cups of organic vegetable stock.

I also tossed in:

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper

I let it simmer for about an hour while I got busy on some cookies!  And just as I was finishing up my last batch, it was piping hot and ready to go!  I also dug out some leftover cornbread from earlier this week and spread some Earth Balance on it. Yum!

I highly recommend this soup for a quick and healthy meal.  Even though it had to simmer for an hour, it took all of 5 minutes to throw it all in the pot…plus, you can make a big batch and have it for leftovers too!  It was tasty:)  I love soup in the winter.

Now back to those cookies.

I knew I wanted to make the classic Super Charge Me Cookies – they’re a no brainer because they’re vegan, healthy, energizing, delicious…and they have chocolate!  What more do we need to say?  Oh, also every non-vegan who has ever tried them has given them two thumbs up.  Especially the husband.  They’re his favorite:)

Besides the SCM’s I wanted to make a new and slightly different recipe as well.  So, I cracked open my trusty old copy of Eat Drink and Be Vegan where I found a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies.  Perfect!

By the time I subbed in dried cranberries for the raisins and added just a sprinkling of vegan chocolate chips, they weren’t exactly oatmeal raisin anymore, but I think they were even better!

Dare I say I like these just as well – maybe even better – than Super Charge Me’s? gasp.

They are good.  Really good. I can’t wait to see what the husband thinks.

Now that I’ve got all my baking done I’m off to get packed, do some last minute Outbox work and load up the car before we leave.  We finally got all our wrapping finished up, and I just have to tie on a few last minute bows (the best part).

By the way, I’m still on a vegan sugar cookie mission, but I’m waiting on our health food store to get in vegan cream cheese.  Oh, the joys of living in a small town.  I’m hoping to have my first batch done by Tuesday.  I’ll keep you posted:)

Have a great weekend everyone! And thanks for reading ChiaSeedMe:)

What is your favorite tradition that your family does during the holiday season?

yesterday, i drank tea

6 Dec

Hi!

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty great – it’s really hard to not have a good weekend during this time of year methinks.  I know it’s not the happiest time of year for everyone out there, which makes me so sad.  This year I’m really trying to be thankful in every moment. One of the best moments was Saturday night, when the husband and I cruised around OKC looking at Christmas lights.  There’s an area of town where the houses are huge and breathtaking, and every year it seems they have a competition to see who can put up the most extravagant lights!

The husband and I spent much of Saturday out and about, finishing up our Christmas shopping for the McCoy side of our family.  We do a small Christmas with this side a couple of weeks early, and it’s this weekend.  I can’t believe it’s almost already here!  I’m so excited – and I’m even more excited now that we got our shopping done…nothing like waiting ’till the last minute.  We actually still have to pick up one more thing this week, but otherwise the next few days will be about wrapping, baking and packing.  I’m looking very forward to two of these.

While we were shopping, we got distracted for a little bit in the Teavana store.  Have you been to one?  I’m loving tea more and more everyday lately, and I’ve been eying several different loose leaf teapots for awhile now.  I finally splurged and got one!  I’m feeling a tinge bad about spending money on myself right before Christmas, but I’m happy that I’ll have my favorite loose leaf tea to drink throughout the holidays!  In my defense I probably wouldn’t have bought it for myself had the husband not insisted…but that’s neither here nor there I suppose.  I do have a pretty sweet husband though:) just sayin.

So yesterday, I drank tea.  And a lot of it.

Here’s she is!  Well, most of her anyway.  This is what she looks like all ready to be filled with water and popped in the microwave.

After removing her from the microwave – she now has the tea sieve (not sure if that’s what you call it?) back in


prepare one teaspoon of tea

and dump it in

now we wait

and wait

and wait

and now the best part – we pour!

I’m obsessed with this little teapot, so expect to see a lot of it!  The coolest part is that you can steep the same tea leaves up to 3 times within a 24 hour period – when you consider that, the price isn’t bad at all!

Aside from drinking tea, upon my dear husband’s initiation, we also cleaned out our long overdue fridge.  The kind of clean out where you remove every last thing, take out the shelves and scrub.  It wasn’t pretty.  I think it’s one of the worst jobs, but also one of the most rewarding.  Afterwards, I finally went to the store and stocked up on food for this week – I got lots of stuff for juicing (organic carrots, tomatoes, beets, kale, apples, cucumbers, bell pepper) as well as ingredients for Vegetarian chili and homemade vegan cornbread. But not just for us.

Tonight we’ll be stopping by our friends’ house to take them chili and cornbread.  They just had a baby last week, and I can’t wait to get my hands on that baby girl (Carissa, if you read this, don’t be freaked out:).  I debated for about 5 seconds over whether to take them a vegetarian meal, since they are not vegetarian.  But one thought about having to handle beef, and the decision was made.  I decided on chili because I think it’s a vegetarian meal that many meat eaters will love.  You can bulk it up with lots of beans, veggies, and spices, and they won’t miss a thing!

I’ll be back tonight with recipes for chili and cornbread – and hopefully some irresistible baby pics!

Are you more of a tea drinker or a coffee drinker?

How would you feel if someone brought you a meal that was vegetarian (if you’re not)?  Would that bother you?

chia seeds are like weight training

11 Nov

Hello!

Thanks so much for the sweet comments on my Thailand post from yesterday.  Reminiscing about our time there is near to my heart, so I’m super thankful that you guys enjoy hearing about it. I’m sure there will be more to come:)

Today was rainy and dreary here in Oklahoma, which lent a kind of peacefulness and relaxation to the day.  And laziness I suppose:)

I pretty much rocked it out at the gym though, getting in 4.5 miles on the treadmill and lifting arms, chest, back, legs and abs.  I have to admit, I am so thankful that I can spend more time at the gym these days.  Last year it was a major feat to even make it in the front door, and I’m well aware that this is probably a very small window in my life in which I can spend almost as much time there as I want (within reason of course) – I’m really trying to take advantage of it!

As soon as I walked back in the door of my house, I headed straight to my blender.  Minutes later I was guzzling this:

Chocolate milk!

Actually, it was better than chocolate milk.  I blended one and a quarter cups of unsweetened almond milk, 2 tablespoons of Vega Shake and Go Smoothie powder and some ice.  I have become a huge fan of Vega in my green smoothies, but this was the first time I’d had it just in milk.  I’m telling you, this will become a regular occurrence for post-workout fuel.  It has many of the benefits of Amazing Grass, but also boasts 11 grams of complete protein per serving.  Perfect to repair muscles after an intense workout.  As much as I love my Amazing Grass, I think if my wallet forces me to choose, I’d have to go with Vega at this point.  It truly is the only protein powder I’ve ever actually liked.

Anyway, by the time I got back from the gym, showered and dressed, and caught up on some email, the husband was pulling up outside ready for lunch!

I swiftly got to work making hummus, and it was the most troublesome batch of hummus I’ve ever created.  First, my food processor broke.  As soon as I turned it on it started making this really weird noise like a dying engine and then I started to smell something burning.  Oh-kay!

Time to bring in the reinforcements.

Enter…the Magic Bullet.  My biggest problem with the Magic Bullet is that it is too small.  And the lid gets stuck and won’t come off if you leave it processing for too long.  Which of course happened today.  So, I ended up with a big mess and a bad attitude.

But at least I also came out with a veggie pita.

This pita was super basic, layered with a generous helping of homemade hummus, broccoli slaw, pickles and chia seeds.  mmm.

This was kind of a light lunch, so it wasn’t but a few hours later and I was ready for a snack.

soy yogurt, chias, raw oats and unsalted almonds

More chias!  I told you they’d be back in the picture around here.  Chia seeds are kind of like weight training for me.

I don’t realize how much I miss them until I bring them back!  And once I start, I just can’t stop.

I spent a large portion of the afternoon researching vitamins.  I’ve never been a big vitamin person, aside from B12, because I believe that you can get all the nutrients you need out of a healthy diet.  But I know that sometimes I slack on getting in the right amounts of certain foods, so I’m going to start incorporating some vitamins into my day.  For the most part, it can’t hurt…and it just might help in certain areas!  I especially did a lot of research about vitamins and acne.  Yes, I’m still have problems with my skin. Honestly, it is as bad as ever, and I’ve kind of come to a breaking point.

Anyway, I need to do a little more research, but once I settle into which ones I’m taking, I’ll do an update.

Onto dinner.  I’ve known pretty much all week that I was going to make tofu for dinner tonight, but I hadn’t yet decided how I was going to make it.  I set up the tofu to press around 5, then started looking around for a good marinade or sauce.

And I found this.

Indonesian Tofu with Peanut Butter
original recipe found here


Ingredients

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed and sliced
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Directions

  • Heat large skillet over medium heat
  • place tofu slices in skillet and press down with spatula until brown.  Flip and repeat on other side.
  • Once tofu is cooked through (browned on both sides and chewy on the inside) pour peanut sauce over tofu and continue to cook for several more minutes.
  • Serve over rice or noodles

I served this tofu over a bed of soba (buckwheat) noodles with a side of broccoli.  While it wasn’t the absolute best tofu I’ve ever tasted, it was pretty dang good and I would definitely make it again.  The husband actually raved and raved about it, so if I don’t make it again, he probably will! We did both go back for seconds, too, if that tells you anything:)

After dinner, the husband had the brilliant idea of making chocolate muffins together.  I don’t know where he gets these crazy schemes, but who am I to complain?  We scrounged around for a recipe and came up with one that sounded decent, but required a quick run to the store.  An hour later we were back home, mixing up some chocolatey goodness.

I used to say this to my students all the time last year…but if you haven’t listened to a word I’ve said so far, hear this:  I will be popping in tomorrow to give you the recipe I used for these muffins.  As soon as I do, you will want to drop everything and head for the kitchen.  They really are that good.  Here’s a little sneak peek for you.

He just couldn’t wait one more second:)

I’ll see you guys tomorrow!  Happy (almost) Friday!

Question: Do you take vitamins regularly?  If so, which ones and why do you take them?

*I was given the Vega powder in my HLS swag bag, but have not been compensated in any way for this review.

Burt's Bees Review

8 Oct

Happy weekend friends!

I am so glad this week is over.  For some reason it seemed ultra long – maybe because of our crazy weekend and not getting much rest.  It’s never good to start the week already worn out.  At least we were worn out from too much fun, though!  Well, that and driving a million miles anyway.  Oh, and pulling together hosting a dinner party in a span of about 5 hours.

Speaking of that dinner party…if you haven’t heard, the results are out for Project Food Blog round 3.  Bad news, bears….at least for me.  There will be no round 4 showing up on ChiaSeedMe.  Of course I’m a bit disappointed, but it’s okay. Not everyone can win, right?  And I’m super excited to follow along and see some amazing entries for the rest of the challenges.  One last time, I have to say thank you so much for your sweet support and votes…I never would have made it as far as I did without all of you:)  Love you guys!

Now, onto the review I promised you all.

As you know, about 2 months ago I started having some issues with my skin.  It was not pretty.

I haven’t really had a problem with my skin since high school, and I can assure you I did not appreciate having to re-live it.  I basically broke out in several areas on my face and also on my neck.  I really didn’t freak out at first…I can handle having a bit of a breakout.  But then it continually worsened…and worsened…and worsened. Finally it got to the point where it was very uncomfortable – painful and itchy – plus I felt very self conscious about it, not wanting to go anywhere without make-up on.

At the time I was using the Mary Kay skincare system.  And no, it’s not just for older women.  I know that’s what you all are thinking:)

I’d been using MK for about 5 years, and really liked it for the most part.  But over the last several months, I had been feeling more and more bothered by using chemicals on my face.  As I talked about in a previous post, I am so careful about what I put into my body, – why shouldn’t my face get the same consideration? So, knowing that I would probably break out if I switched up my cleanser, I decided that if I was already broken out it was as good a time as any to go ahead and make the switch. Sounds logical, right?

I decided to try Burt’s Bees Acne Solutions because it is almost 100% natural, and I have used other Burt’s Bees products in the past that I really loved.  At this time I was really starting to struggle with feeling distraught over my face.  It had become worse than ever…and was making me so uncomfortable, so I started researching online about natural remedies for acne.  Basically I discovered that the following are things you can do to improve skin through natural means: drink tons of water, eat more raw fruits and vegetables, cut out dairy, sugar and caffeine and drink fresh juice.

I immediately made the decision to go full force with all of these things.  For the next week I ate only raw (with the occasional piece of ezekiel bread) until dinnertime, drank lots of water and cut out all the potential culprits.  You may not believe me, but I’m here to tell you it worked.  Within about 3 days, my face was noticeably more clear. I had no way of knowing if it was solely due to those changes or if it was a result of the Burt’s Bees.  Or both.

Either way, I got comfortable…and lazy.  I’m not going to sugar coat it.  The weekend came, my in-laws were in town, and everything went out the window.  Basically, I reverted back to the way I had been eating, which is mostly healthy anyway (as you guys know), but definitely not raw until dinner.  I had caffeine several times and didn’t pay much attention to my water intake.

FAIL.

Within about 2 days, my face was right back to the way it had been.  I was so frustrated.  I felt like I had let myself down big-time. I also felt pretty sure of the fact that the improvement in my skin had been mostly due to dietary changes and not the change to Burt’s Bees.

So, you’re probably thinking I went right back to my “clear skin regimen” right?  Wrong.

I had to answer some serious questions for myself.  Was I willing to carry on that kind of eating lifestyle long term?  Was that realistic for me? Sure it was healthy.  Sure it made me feel really good.  Sure it probably would have even helped me let go of “the last 10 pounds.”  But after some serious soul searching I decided that it wasn’t worth it.  I love food too much.  I love cooking meals and eating oatmeal and squash and nut butter…and I like having the freedom to enjoy these things any time during the day. Call me crazy. While I knew I could surely live that way for awhile, it just wasn’t a good long term solution for me.

So, I decided to give Burt’s Bees until the end of my current supply to see if it would start working to clear things up.  I also decided, upon the suggestions of a couple of readers, that I would try replacing the BB moisturizer with coconut oil, to see if maybe I was overmedicating my face (there is salicylic acid in the BB cleanser and moisturizer).  So, I did that for about 2 weeks.

Finally, the day before yesterday, I used the last bit of cleanser.  Unfortunately, my face is in just as bad of shape as it was before.  I really wanted to have a different outcome for this review, but it just didn’t happen.  I wanted to be able to say that I used only natural means to have healthy, clear skin.  And more than anything I wanted to not feel the need to put chemical laden skincare on my face. I can’t tell you how bad I want that – just ask the husband:)  Poor guy.

But I honestly hit a breaking point this week.  I stood in the aisle at Walgreen’s for about 20 minutes, trying to decide whether to try a different all natural system, or whether to go with something that isn’t all natural.  I made the executive decision to sacrifice my desire for all natural, choosing to go with something that would really clear up my skin, a system called AcneFree. I left feeling kind of defeated honestly.  But now, just 2 days later, my face has improved by about 75%, no exaggeration.  It’s almost like night and day.

And then this morning came.

I noticed right after I washed my face that it was starting to sting a little bit.  I decided to forgo my usual foundation in an effort to let me skin breathe.  When I showed up to tutor Hey-Kyoung, she looked at me inquiringly and asked me why my face was all red.  Gotta love her honesty:) I instantly yanked my mirror out of my purse, and upon gazing into it realized that my face was indeed red…and kind of splotchy.  Great.

So, now the dilemma lives on.  What to do?  I’m considering alternating using the AcneFree system and a natural cleanser/coconut oil.  Not totally sure that’s a good idea though.  I should have seen this coming – going from using all natural, gentle products to a super intense product full of chemicals…it’s not wonder my poor face is reacting this way.

All that being said, I still do believe that Burt’s Bees is a good product.  If you are looking for an all natural skin care system, and you aren’t having serious issues with your skin already, then I would highly suggest trying it.  They have multiple different products – masks, scrubs, toners etc. My face always felt very clean and healthy (aside from the breakout) after using it.  And I felt so good about using an all natural product.

The one negative is that it seemed to not last very long.  For the combined cost of $28 (cleanser+moisturizer), I really would expect it to last for more than one month.

So, that is the very loooong review of the product.  Sorry this post is quite the novel…but it’s been quite the process this last month!  As always, I’m open to any tips or suggestions you guys have…but mostly I just wanted to give a review of the product.  And if there is any question, I was not asked to do this review and have no connection to the company.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!  Get some well-deserved rest and enjoy the beautiful fall weather if you’ve got it!

a thai kind of night

27 Aug

Last night we had a special visitor!

Bjorn was a part of the team we worked with in Thailand, and he now lives in California.  He was in town last night, so he and Jon had dinner together and then they came back to the house afterward to hang out.

I had my weekly scheduled chat session for my photography class, so I couldn’t go to dinner.  And when Jon told me they were going to our local Thai restaurant I was so bummed because I’ve been craving Thai food.  And I wanted to spend time with Bjorn of course!

So what’s a girl to do when she’s home all alone and craving Thai food?

If you said get take out, shame on you;)

Classic Cashew Veggies

Ingredients
snow peas
zucchini, sliced
canned baby corn, cut
organic carrots, chopped
broccoli, chopped
mushrooms
brown rice
3 tsp low sodium tamari
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp arrowroot powder
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
chia seeds
raw cashews

the sauce lineup:)

Directions

1.  Add olive oil to wok
2. Heat olive oil over medium heat
2. In a small bowl, mix together tamari, maple syrup, arrowroot powder, rice wine vinegar
3. Place chopped carrots and broccoli in wok and stir fry for several minutes
4. Add baby corn, zucchini, snow peas and cashews to wok
5. Pour liquid mixture over veggies and stir fry for 10 minutes or until desired softness is reached (I like mine to be a bit crunchy)
6. Add mushrooms and cook for just another couple of minutes
7. Pile veggie mixture atop a bed of brown rice, sprinkle with chia seeds and enjoy!



and the star of the show

This was just as good or better than what I get at the restaurant – and it was so fast and easy!!  The cashews definitely make this dish, though, so give your right arm if you have to, but don’t leave out the cashews!

It was an interesting change to cook for one instead of two.  Cooking for one has it’s perks…such as no worries about the husband rejecting my sauce (I told you he’s brutally honest).  But I have to say I much enjoy cooking for two – the company in the kitchen can’t be beat.  Jon and I usually cook together – read: I cook and he entertains me.  It works:)

However, I have to say that sometimes the husband comes through and creates his own unique spin on things.  He’s the one that inspired today’s lunch.

Haha, just kidding!  I actually did have this meal for lunch, but I decided to spare you the pictures because the box truthfully is prettier than the meal itself.  But I’m positive the meal tasted better than the box did.  Not that I would know.

Here’s what the husband really did inspire

This is one of his favorite “inventions” and he’s so proud of them.

I taught my PiYo class this morning and then went straight to campus to tutor my new ESL student, and by the time I got back home I was starving and craving mexican food in a big way.  I don’t like to eat frozen meals too often because fresh food is so much better!  But it is nice to have one on hand for those days when you just want something super fast and easy.

But I couldn’t have mexican food without chips and salsa and seeing as how we didn’t have any tortilla chips I went with this healthified version.

Basically just cut a corn tortilla into 8 pieces, place them on a cookie sheet, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt!

Bake it for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees, watching carefully to make sure there’s no burnage.  You want the edges to get barely browned and crispy!

Pair with some homemade salsa, and you’re set!

I’m gonna go sit down, put my feet up and sip on a Pom spritzer for just a bit before I get some more work done.  The friendly people at Pom Wonderful were kind enough to send me a case of Pom juice to try out, and I’m loving it!

There are so many ways to use it, but for starters just mix it with some seltzer water and ice

It makes a perfect afternoon pick-me-up, and it’s full of antioxidants to boot!

Diet coke – be gone!

Btw – the company didn’t ask me to review this product...I just tried it, loved it and wanted to share it with you all!

Happy Friday to you all!!

Who does the cooking (and cleaning!) at your house?