Better Late Than Never? The Thanksgiving Recap.

Don’t forget to enter the PHIX Energy Drink giveaway.  A winner will be picked tomorrow (12/2)!

Is there a statue of limitations on Thanksgiving Recap posts?  If so, hopefully I’m coming in under it.

Thanksgiving By the Numbers:

23  - hours in the minivan driving all over Texas

21 – Hours in the minivan that we had the DVD on during our travels.  Let’s just say we can all recite The Incredibles, Kim Possible, Richard Scary’s Busytown Mysteries and Berenstein Bears in our sleep.

8 – Pounds of clementines/cuties that my husband, kids and I ate in the 5 day trip.  Literally.

3 – Number of hay bales that my kids played on for an hour at my grandpa’s farm.

5 – People who drove my  grandpa’s new tractor: Grandpa, the husband, me, our daughter and our son.  It was the first time for the last three people on that list.  I can add ‘drove a tractor’ to my 2011 accomplishments now.

1 – Number of times my girl made it all the way across the big monkey bars at the park in our grandpa’s small town that we’ve been coming to with her 6 years.  Her first time.  You can see the excitement and pride in her face.

3 – Dishes I contributed to the Thanksgiving Meal.  A Holiday Salad with the Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette Dressing from Oh She Glows, a vegan pumpkin ice cream pie and a quinoa dish with roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, cranberries and apples.

2 – Siblings that I am so very grateful for.

At least 3 – Hours I spent gazing at and trying to get a grin out of my new niece.  Seriously, don’t you just want to nuzzle those little cheeks?  She smells as good as she looks.

5,000 – Steps taken by my kids and their cousins as they ran, ran, ran all around my grandparent’s land the day after Thanksgiving.

Children’s 4/5 – Size of my daughter’s coat that my sister could fit into.

1 – Number of times we had to pull over the car and let my little guy use the bathroom on the side of the road because he ‘ree-yee, ree-yee has to go the bathroom right now!’  Not too bad for 20+ hours in the car.

It was a great week of eating, loving on family and feeling so blessed to have so many great people in my life.

What They Ate Wednesday – Halloween Day Eats

For this weeks What I Ate Wednesday hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons,

I’m posting What They Ate on Halloween, they being my 6 year old daughter and 3 year old son.   Or, keeping with the day’s spirit, A Day of Food in the Life of a Queen and Spiderman.

Because I knew they’d be consuming some trick-or-treat candy, in all it’s refined sugar, artificial color & flavorings, corn-syrup containing, no-nutritional-value-unless-you-count-the-peanuts-in-snickers glory, my approach was to load them up on good stuff throughout the day, right up to the moment I unleashed them onto the streets of our neighborhood.  I also wanted to make it fun.  I like doing theme dinners for holidays, like my Valentine’s Day Pink and Red Dinner and green foods for St. Patricks Day.

Breakfast:

20111101-230008.jpg

oatmeal + cinnamon+ coconut milk + halloween sprinkles

Lunch

For The Girl

pear, carrots+peas+corn, avocado, pumpkin shaped pb&j

For The Boy

celery + carrots+ cheese quesadillas

‘boo!’

After school, we headed to Whole Foods and did their little Halloween Scavenger Hunt.  They got to go to each section of the store and trick or treat.

Look at the goodies they got (for free):

Lucky for me, they don’t like dark chocolate.  :)

It almost makes up for the crazy high prices of that store.  Almost, but not really.

After also picking up the normal free kid’s snack from the customer service desk, they got to eat it  in the car.  My girl chose fruit leather,

20111101-230043.jpg

and the boy chose a juice box.

20111101-230052.jpg

Miraculously, none of it ended up on his shirt or the seat.

Dinner

We came home and ate a Halloween-themed tostado dinner.  (I’m all about the tostados lately).

I present….

The Jack-O-Tostado

Tostado+Guacomole+Carrots+Beanito Chips+ Red Pepper

The Tombstone

Tostado + Refried Beans + Baked Corn Tortilla in the Shape of a Tombstone

The Spider 

Beanito chip, refried beans, carrots

You could definitely get more creative with these, but the kids were anxious to eat and get outside.  There was candy to be had!

Can you feel the anticipation?  They also had a pumpkin shaped jello jigglers and some mangos and tangerines.

The Main Event

Okay, the WIAW part is over, but I thought I’d share some pictures from the night:

A Queen (don’t call her a princess, unless you want to be corrected) and Spiderman

We trick or treated with some neighbors – smurfette x 2 + a queen

Family Photo

 The neighbors handed out pumpkin martinis again.  Mmmm.

The Loot

Hope you all had a happy halloween!  

You Can’t Judge a Gift by it’s Baby Wipe Wrapping

I go to my mailbox and find a key.  The key that means ‘you’ve got a package.’  Excitement builds.  I unlock the package mailbox with the magic key and find a big baby wipe box:

But they have my dear, dear friend Ginnie’s return address, and I know she wouldn’t waste either of our time shipping baby wipes from Minnesota to Texas.  Plus, she’s the one with a child still in diapers, so if one of us was going to get baby wipes in the mail, it would be her.

I open it to find this:

I’m intrigued by the Crazy Day Rescue Supplies, but, because I love anticipation, I open the gift sack first to find

a sweet card, some candy coated sunflower seeds and my very favorite flavor of tea.  I love that she knows that I like Green Jasmine.  The only thing that would make it more enjoyable would be enjoying a cup in her presence.

After a happy sigh, I moved onto the mysterious Crazy Day Rescue Supplies:

Do I have the most awesome friend or what?  Seriously!

I think every day has it’s crazy moments, so really, crazy day rescue pretty much means everyday treats.  Right?

Plus, Ginnie, in her infinite wisdom, was smart enough to send all that in a baby wipe box.  Which means I can keep all those goodies in a place that my kids or husband would NEVER look.  Genius.

I’m off to eat some chocolate.  It’s been a crazy day, you know.

No (Wo)Man is an Island

I’m a pretty independent person.  Some (like my parents, siblings and husband) might say stubbornly independent.  Generally, if given the choice to spend time in a group or alone, I’ll choose alone.  I like my space.  I like being alone with my thoughts.  I like being alone.  Which makes stay-home motherhood interesting, but that’s for another post.

I’ve always liked solitude, but think it started in earnest in college.  During my four years at a really big university, Texas A&M, I made several friends, but never really found a core group.  During my season at Texas A&M, at least in my group of acquaintances, the focus was 1. finding a spouse and 2. getting a degree.  In that order.  The class ring is a big deal at Texas A&M (meaning every student gets one) and I often heard girls talk about hoping to graduate with a ring on both hands.  Meaning a class ring and an engagement ring. ps – I graduated with only a class ring

Of the girls I became friends with (and still consider many friends today), there was a rotating door of who was available to hang out with depending on who was dating at the time.  Since I didn’t date much, I felt like I was second best, like I was the person to hang out with if your boyfriend was busy or if you were between boyfriends.  Thus, I learned to be quite content hanging out alone, as I wasn’t second best to myself.  Also, I had many friends who had majors that were less demanding than my science major, so I also had to spend more time studying than most of my friends, which also lead to more alone time.

I loved the freedom from rigid schedules that college allows.  I loved having accountability only to myself.  My days were mine to plan. Yes, I had some nights where I really wished I had a boyfriend or a best friend who wanted to spend time specifically with me.  But I didn’t just want anybody.  I wanted someone who I actually enjoyed being with, not just someone to pass the time.

I started dating my now-husband just after we graduated.  We conveniently waited until we left the city we lived in together for 4 years to start dating.  Don’t tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor.  Our relationship started on a backpacking trip through Europe with friends and continued through 2.5 years of living in different states as I went from an internship to graduate school.

I loved graduate school and almost immediately found myself a part of a group.  The graduate students in the program were almost all from out of state and we bonded immediately.  I found a group of people who were very motivated students, but also understood that this was our last chance at college life.  We worked hard and played hard.  I had a boyfriend (the now husband) who I loved and who appreciated the real me.  I had friends who were like me in some ways and also different enough that I got exposed to many different cultures, viewpoints and backgrounds.  Those 2 years in North Carolina were some of the best of my life.

Both graduate school and a serious relationship (that lead to marriage) taught me that while independence is good, it’s also nice to be a part of something.  Whether that’s a romantic relationship relationship, a true friendship, a team, a club or a blogging community, we need something that allows for growth as a person and allows us to help others grow too. Life gets tricky and it’s awfully wonderful to have people to help navigate the rocky path.

I think that learning to be content on your own is essential.  It is a skill I hope I can impart to my children.  I will always enjoy time alone.  But it’s also quite nice to feel connected.

Which leads me to these past few weeks.

For the first year of so after we moved here, I felt a little isolated.  We were meeting people and such, but with all that raising two little munchkins entails, there wasn’t a lot of time to devote to building new friendships.  Plus, you can’t exactly add ‘make a new friend’ to your weekly to-do list.  Friendships take time.  I don’t like forced friendships.  I like the organic friendships that come naturally and easily.

Lately, though, I’ve started to feel like I’m a part of something.  And I like it.  A lot.

Through the friends I’ve made blogging and the encouraging comments they leave, to the mysterious friend who ‘boo-ed’ us this week (left a bag of halloween goodies on our doorstep), to the friend who voluntarily offered to watch my little guy (for 6 hours!) so I could volunteer at my daughter’s first field trip, to my old friends who are always up for a phone call, I’ve felt appreciated, loved and valued.  And it feels nice.  Thank you friends.  I’m glad you don’t let me do it alone.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.

John Donne

What I Ate Wednesday – What Day Is It Anyway?

Happy Wednesday!  It’s time for What I Ate Wednesday hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons.  Having Monday off school for Columbus Day has really messed with my head – are you sure it’s not Tuesday?

Today’s WIAW turned out to be a ‘Day in the Life’ kind of post. Here is my Tuesday.  I mean Monday.  No, wait, Tuesday.

I got up and packed some lunches:

ravioli + marinara, cantaloupe + pears, chickpeas + peas+ peppers, applesauce

chickpeas+ pasta, broccoli, apple, tortilla + cheese

After dropping off my daughter at school, my little guy and I came home for a bit.  I had some tea and a pumpkin chocolate chip oat bar (recipe coming soon).  ps – I loved the comments last week and seeing that many of you re-use tea bags.

I took the little guy to his preschool (notice that my blog tends to be updated on Tuesday/Thursday?) and headed to get my tires rotated.  Don’t tell me my life isn’t exciting.  While in the waiting room, which is immensely more pleasant when not trying to entertain a 3 year old and keep him away from all the tire displays, I read this new-to-me magazine and was impressed with the content and message.

20111011-180051.jpg

I headed to Target.  I know, I know.  First, Discount Tire.  Then Target?  How do I manage such an exciting life????  I picked up all kinds of randomness, but how can you shop Target any other way?  Grapes, a candle, some glow bracelets, yoga pants and this cardigan and tank combo.  Can I pull it off?  Be honest.  It’s horizontal stripes and it kinda hugs my belly.  What do you think?

20111011-180104.jpg

I came home, made some lunch and spent some time on the computer.  I’ve been unplugged for a few days, which was nice, but it was also nice to catch up on some blogs and other news.

Quinoa Tabouleh (recipe from the Cleanse), celery, carrots and a boiled egg

I gathered up some library books to return,

20111011-180113.jpg

made some iced tea, 20111011-180128.jpg

And left to pick up my munchkins from their respective schools.  The little guy wasn’t ready to wake up yet.

20111011-180142.jpg

We hung out in the front yard for a bit after school (hello wonderful weather) and I enjoyed a blueberry kombucha.

20111011-180150.jpg

We came inside and the kids built a fort/made a mess while I baked some cookies for Bible Study in the morning.  It is the pumpkin gingersnap recipe from Peas and Thank You blog and they are my favorite cookie to make right now.  Perfectly spicy and so flavorful.  I had a couple.20111011-195330.jpgAt 5 the kids and I went to the gym.  They headed off to the kid’s area and I went to Athletic Interval.  It kicked my tail in a very good way.  The teacher is this tiny, very buff lady who has the best energy and is so inspiring.  Very good use of an hour.  We came home to a ready dinner, thanks to the bread machine and crockpot.

white bean, corn and carrot soup, bread + butter

After dinner I ate a few at least ten spoonfuls of this yumminess.

20111011-195303.jpg

Then it was off to bedtime stories, laundry and, now, some blogging.  All in all, a pretty good day.

Pseudo Roughing It

We spent this last weekend with some other families in Concan, Texas on some cabins along the Frio River.  It was our first visit to these cabin and we had a fantastic, relaxing time.  It was so nice to be unplugged, outdoors and with friends.  Each family had a little cabin and the kids loved running from cabin to cabin to play.  I loved watching kids get to enjoy being kids – getting dirty, exploring, pretending and laughing.

Saturday morning started with a community breakfast.  There was so much good food – you can see some of it in the picture below.  Notice my little guy positioned front and center in front of the food.  He’s my kid.

I contributed pumpkin scones (from Peasandthankyou.com) and some pumpkin muffins.  There was fruit, waffles, bacon, deviled eggs, juice, coffee, scrambled eggs, sausage biscuits, breakfast tacos and an egg bake. Needless to say, no one when hungry.

Breakfast Chatter:

After breakfast we did some exploring.  We wandered to the river for some wading and rock throwing.  My little guy is happiest when he can throw rocks and not be scolded.

We did some crafts.

We got approximately 62 kids (at least it felt like that at times) to be still and pose for a group picture.  You better believe there was bribery involved.The dads took the kids fishing and no one hooked an eye or body part.  My little girl caught the biggest fish – apparently catfish like organic white cheddar cheese sticks.  Who knew?  

While the dads and kids were occupied, the mamas enjoyed a happy hour on the porch.

We had some four legged companions for happy hour:

After dinner, we enjoyed a pseudo-campfire (a lantern in the fire pit) due to the burn ban.  While I love sitting around a fire, I don’t love the thought of supervising 62 (approx.) kids running around a fire.  The ‘lantern in the fire pit’ set-up was just fine with me.

We did light a fire in the barbeque grill for some s’mores and they were enjoyed by all.  S’mores are one of the most perfect foods ever, in all their sticky, messy glory.  

Sunday morning we had to forgo our planed hike due to a large rainstorm that came in Saturday night.  While it was a bummer to miss the hike, we, like all water-starved Texans, were thrilled to get rain.  It did make for some muddy packing up and car-loading and I think we took home 5 lbs (approx) of dirt from the cabin site.  Not the souvenir I was planning on, but the one we ended up with nonetheless.  We did get a family picture:

It was a near perfect weekend.

Photo Friday

Gems from my phone this week:

20110819-084528.jpg

 

 

Good home-brew Kombucha (in a re-used bottle)and an even better book.  Anyone read State of Wonder?  I finished it on Tuesday but it’s been on my mind all week.

20110819-084602.jpg

 

Because I couldn’t think of a good reason to say no, I let the kids wear dress up clothes to the grocery store.  First time I’ve ever shopped with Spiderman….

 

Spiral Diner – Eating Vegan in Cowtown

Last week, while visiting my parents, I was lucky enough to both meet up with a dear friend and eat with that friend at the Spiral Diner in Ft. Worth, Texas.  Ft. Worth is often referred to as Cowtown, as an homage to it’s cattle driving and thriving stockyard past.  Like much of Texas, people like their meat.  Lots of meat.  That’s why I’m so excited to visit a restaurant like the Spiral Diner that sits proudly in the middle of Cowtown and serves exclusively vegan fare.

20110729-075139.jpg

Lunch is served.

20110729-075156.jpg

Close up of my Super Summer Salad.  It was honestly the best salad I’ve had in months.  Greens, oranges, strawberries, carrots, cucumbers, edamame, red peppers, avocado, peas, agave roasted pecans (that were the perfect combination of salty and sweet) and a raspberry poppyseed vinagrette.  It was sweet, crunchy and so refreshing on yet another 100+ degree day.  As my friend could tell you, I ate every.single.bit. of the salad.  There wasn’t so much as a carrot shred left on my plate.

20110729-075218.jpg

My friend had theSweet Luv’us Hummus lovus hummus wrap which has baked sweet potato, hummus, broccoli, cucumber, avocado, salad greens and spicy walnuts.

20110729-075237.jpg

I tried a chocoalte chip cookie from the bakery case for dessert.  It was dense, just sweet enough and fantastic.

20110729-075252.jpg

Friends for almost 20 years. ps: she had just come from a job interview, thus the suit.  In our minds we are still the 15 year old high school freshman trying to figure out the meaning of life while choreographing a dance routine to Flashdance’s What a Feeling and sharing a love for all 80′s movies.  Love you Melissa!  And I want my two dollars.

Continue reading

Weekend Dump Post

Back in the days that I got paid actual money for my time and efforts (i.e. had a job), we often had big meetings to brainstorm new food products, concepts, marketing strategies, line extensions and the like.  After the brainstorming meeting (often called Ideations – which I think is one of these made-up corporate world words) there would be a re-cap meeting, usually called a Dump Session.  It was a time to (1.) wish we could just go back to our desk and do all the actual work/emailing that hadn’t happened all day because we’d been locked in a conference room ‘ideating’, (2.) eat even more and (3.) get the key team members in the same room to compare notes and key takeaway points*.

* ‘Takeaway Points’ is another one of these phrases thrown around like ‘Ideation’ Go ye forth to a big company interview and work those words into your answers…..  also include ‘cross functional collaboration,’ ‘ margin management,’ and ‘lowest hanging fruit.’  

Now that I get paid in valuable intangible currency, like hoping my children don’t grow up to be ax murderers because they had a mom who stayed home with them, I don’t do too many Ideations**.  Nor do I identify the lowest hanging fruit** for cost saving efforts with my cross functional team** in order to practice responsible margin management.**  But, I can still do Dump Sessions.

** see how I did that?  ps, to any of my food industry friends who read this, we all know that the low hanging fruit is long, long gone.  Heck, the whole fruit tree orchard is picked dry….

Official Dump Session List for the Last Few Days in My Horribly Exciting Life

  1. I got to meet the very sweet Lindsay from Cotter Crunch last week white I was en-route to the Dallas area.  We met at the original Whole Foods, which was almost orgasmic (not the meeting Lindsay part, because that would be weird, I’m referring to the sacred (and overpriced) ground of the flagship Whole Foods store).  Lindsay was kind, funny and earned high marks in my book for not batting an eye (at least that I could see) when my little guy sneezed and sent snot flying out of his nose and down his face.  That, my friends, speaks volumes about her character.  I just hope it didn’t serve as unintended birth control….
  2. I managed to spend less than $20 at the flagship Whole Foods.  If that doesn’t deserve a spot on this list, I don’t know what does.  Self control, people, self-control. That and shopping with a runny nosed 3-year-old who needs to go to the bathroom.
  3. I got to meet up with some friends from my short-lived second job in Ft.Worth at the wonderful Yucatan Taco Stand.  While the job left something to be desired, those two ladies did not.
  4. A delicious lunch with a long time friend at The Spiral Diner, a vegan restaurant, in Ft. Worth featured one of the best salads I’ve had in a long time.  Post coming soon.
  5. My kids got to experience their first trip to Chuck E Cheese.  If they could write, they’d definitely include it on their weekend Dump List.
  6. I got another one of those heavenly tamales at the San Antonio Quarry Farmer’s Market.  Mmmmmm.
  7. I finished my second batch of kombucha and started my third brewing. I’m a fermenting machine I tell you.
  8. I went to an Athletic Interval class at the gym today and I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle in my abs.  I didn’t even know that was possible, but I don’t think it’s a good sign when your abs are numb/sore immediately following the class and you have to move around for the rest of the afternoon like you’re 9 months pregnant.  Has anyone else pulled an ab muscle?
Okay – I better get to bed and let my poor abs rest.  Holding up my big head is hard enough and then I go and make them do too many full sit-ups with weights.
Hope you all had a good weekend and a good Monday.  Don’t forget to cross functionally collaborate!