Tuesday, February 28, 2012

derby cars and birthday cakes

It's been a busy several days.  My youngest had a birthday, we had a scouting event that went way later than I expected, a birthday boy who is choosing not to nap every day and go to sleep when he wants to at night, and some others who are sick.  My time has been spent cooking, baking, celebrating, snuggling, cheering and reading when I can grab a spare moment.

Hands on hips...his signature stance at the moment.

Normally, socks off in a public place would wig me out...but any chance I can see those baby feet now, I  jump at the chance.  No too worry, once he got up to go play again, I made him put his socks back on.

There it is again, the birthday boy with his hands on his hips...adorable!

 I am no master cake decorator, by any stretch of the imagination.  But, he wanted a fire truck-train cake with kitty cats.  And that's what he got.  Cake recipe courtesy of Dreena Burton...chocolate "cream" cake.  Would it be anyone else??

A very happy birthday to my big baby boy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

cookies, hummus and family stuff

We like cookies in our house.  I usually make 3 batches in a normal week.  That sounds like a lot but my vegan batches that I make only make about 12 cookies in comparison to the larger non-vegan batches.  Our favorite stand by recipe is for chocolate chip cookies.  To be specific, they're Dreena's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies found in her second cookbook, Vive le Vegan!  You can find the recipe here.

What I love about making vegan cookies is I only need one bowl!  Just mix the dry ingredients in the large bowl, measure out the wet ingredients in the measuring cup, and add the wet to the dry.  It's so quick and simple.  And these cookies are everyone's favorite.

I made the cookies yesterday, but went to bed early...I really needed that.  I'd had too  many late nights and immediately after washing dishes last night (9:00pm!!) I headed for bed.

Today I made hummus, Kids Dynamo Hummus from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan.  It was good.  It has cashews, flax oil, just one clove of garlic, and nutritional yeast.  There are also the other hummus ingredients like chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, etc.  Nicholas loves hummus and he liked this one too.  It's a bit more mild than the traditional version.  Dreena has a whole chapter devoted to hummus in this book and I'm looking forward to trying some of the others.


A certain baby boy turns three this weekend.  I cannot fathom how three years have flown by already.  I'll post more on his birth story later. 

Daniel has his pinewood derby race tomorrow night.  It starts at 7pm, which is late for us.  The kids are usually getting ready for bed at about that time, so that will make for a late night.  Daniel's car is all ready to go.  It's pretty snazzy-looking if I do say so myself.

So wish him luck!  He's also working on convincing us to let him stay for the lock-in afterwards.  We shall see about that one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

lotsa cooking

 Eating a vegan, whole foods-based diet means I spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and baking.  And sometimes I have a backlog of recipes that need to be prepared for lunches, snacks, desserts, sides and main dishes.  One afternoon this weekend (I can't remember the exact day, Mommy brain seems to be kicking in tonight...not to mention it's almost 10:30pm!!) I made maple banana loaf, Kinda Corny Muffins , Sweet Potato Lentil Chili, and Maple Pecan Sticky Blondies.  The last three recipes are from Dreena Burton's Eat, Drink and Be Vegan.  The chili was fabulous.  I've made many varieties of chili, but this one was met with rave reviews.  My middle son didn't even complain one bit!  Everyone loved the corn muffins and the blondies and banana loaf are favorites now. 

Tonight we tried a new recipe...I'm often making new recipes.  Thai Coconut Corn Stew (also from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan), served with basmati rice.  I also made garlic bread, per her recipe in the same book.  It's so simple and the boys love it more than the kind I would have bought in the freezer section of the store.  Slice a baguette on a bias, and place it in the freezer for a few hours.  Rub a clove of garlic on each slice, brush with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and a bit of nutritional yeast if you'd like.  Bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes or so (watch it or it'll burn like mine did yesterday!).  Delicious! 

The stew was fabulous.  I think I went a little heavy on the lime juice.  My limes were tiny, but juicier than I thought!  I loved the fresh taste the lime gave the stew, but it was a bit much for my oldest son.  I'll have to be careful next time.

In celebration of Dreena's new cookbook Let Them Eat Vegan , which is set to be released March 13, I'll be sharing some of her recipes with you.  Some are favorites that we make all the time, some will be new.  Dreena has taught me a lot about eating a healthy vegan diet and I would like to share what I've learned with you all.  She has a lot of recipes on her recipe website www.viveleveganrecipes.blogspot.com so you may want to browse around there.  You can also find her on Facebook, she's been posting new recipes lately so be sure to "like" her author page.

On another note, I started the second book in my series.  I'm hoping it won't interfere with my blogging, but there's a chance that I may miss a day or two here or there.  All of you other readers out there understand.

Night, night everyone.

Monday, February 20, 2012

long weekend

I've been away recently, focused on finishing my book and enjoying my boys for a long weekend.  But I've finished the book and I forgot to buy the the second book today at the store.  Also, we had a four day weekend together with the kids.  We decided to take a road trip, our first since we went away for Thanksgiving.  The Grand Rapids Children's Museum was lots of fun.

 The large bubbles were a big hit.

 And also the spinning table.

 Matthew was busy getting some banking done.  But appeared to also be picking up a few things at the grocery store while he was there.

 Delivering mail was fun.

It's a bit of a drive for us, about two and a half hours just one way.  But the kids didn't seem to mind.  I got some reading in and became heavily involved in my book, needing to spend every spare moment reading.  I love a good book like that.

After a slower-paced four day weekend, I'm looking forward to the routine ahead of me for tomorrow:  the grocery store, putting away said groceries, making soup (a new recipe for me...check back tomorrow), and piano lessons.

Wishing you all a good evening and a happy Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

pie and salad

Yesterday was Valentines Day.  Chris and I had a school event to attend, so I didn't have time to blog after we got home.  However I made this pie yesterday in celebration of the holiday and my sister was wanting me to talk about it, so here we are!  Say hello to Three's Company Pie.

It's a lovely thick, rich, smooth pie with chocolate, banana, and peanut butter.  There is no soy or sugar added, sweetened with only a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup.  You might think it would be lacking in sweetness...not the case.  It's rich, chocolatey and delicious with just enough sweetness.  And my toughest critics were able to have a piece tonight.  Approved by all boys, even the pickiest of boys ate his right up...after removing the slice of banana from the top...silly boy.

You may guess that this is a recipe courtesy of Miss Dreena Burton.  And you are correct!  It is from her new cookbook Let Them Eat Vegan that is coming out March 13.  She was generous to share the recipe early with us and you can find it here.  Another thing I loved about this recipe is that I had all the ingredients in my pantry and freezer.  I just happened to have some whole wheat, vegan pie crusts in my freezer because they were on sale a while back.

Today my favorite almost-3-year-old and I had breakfast with a friend.  It's been a social week for me having had coffee (tea for me actually) yesterday morning, a wine-tasting even last night, and breakfast with another friend this morning.  It's been a nice change from my normal "Groundhog Day" type of days where each day seems to be a copy of the next.  Anyway, since we had a big breakfast this morning I felt like I just wanted a salad for lunch.  I made a simple salad of romaine, spinach, carrot, cherry tomato, avacado, and walnuts.  I made a quick batch of Dreena's Living Cesar Salad Dressing.  It's creamy, tangy and was really yummy on this salad.  It's just what I needed for a light lunch.

The cold seems to be working its way through the boys.  The cough lingers the longest and the littlest boy finally slept through the night last night.  I was very happy and ready and raring to go this morning.

Wishing everyone a good evening.

Monday, February 13, 2012

full circle

Today went from tea to yoga to sunbeams in February to lots of clean dishes.

I've noticed lately that my life is having many full circle moments after moving back to my home state.  My boys are attending the school that I used to work at in college.  Some of the same teachers still work there, and I love seeing their faces.  It's a dream come true having them go to the school where I began my love of the Montessori method. 

My niece always looks at my oldest son like this...adorable!
I took my two oldest boys to see The Nutcracker.  I remember when I saw The Nutcracker for the first time.  It was with my best friend and we had on lacy dresses and nylons for the first time.  The things one remembers!!  It was about 30 years ago and at the same theater where I took my boys.  I got teary-eyed several times during the performance.  It was fabulous.

My full circle moments come with even the simple things like grocery shopping.  There was a small health-foods store that I loved browsing when I was in college.  It was in an old house and very small, but fun to look at all of the different products they carried that they didn't have at the bigger chain store.  They've since moved and have a fabulous selection of produce and bulk items, which is usually where you can find me. 

I'm so happy we were able to move back to this place I love, but I miss our friends and community we had back in Wisconsin.  There are no regrets, only that maybe we can visit them more often.

I'm looking forward to finding more full circle moments.  Does anyone out there have any of their own they'd like to share?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

happy weekend

It was a late night for us.  Daniel had his first sleepover with his best friend from school.  It was a fun night of movies, popcorn, and Legos.  They were up bright and early, ready to start their next day together. 

So far today brings more Legos, Nerf guns, and snow.  We're heading into town soon to stretch our legs and we look forward to Daddy's return home this afternoon.

Have a great weekend everyone, I'll bring you more fun, food, and boy stuff next week.  Time to head out and enjoy the softly falling snow.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

denial and daydreaming

Tonight I'm going to pretend that my living room floor does not look like this.

Can you see the train set way in the back?  Still in the foyer by the front door?  Yeah, we haven't cleaned it up yet.  All bets are off when Daddy's out of town.  Meaning, he isn't here to get up in the middle of the night to go on a fire call, so I don't have to pick up the toys.

Since it's winter, and a pretty mild winter at that...I thought I'd reminisce about our beautiful summer that we had last year.  I didn't blog much over the summer because we had lots of company come to visit.  It was such a fun summer, I loved having our friends and family here.  I hope they all (and even those who didn't make it...ahem, you know who you are!) can come back this summer.

Our favorite place, the Sleeping Bear Dunes.  The dune climb,

and Pierce-Stocking Scenic Drive.

Uncle Frank and Aunt Donna from out East.

Uncle Bob and Aunt Karen (with Grandma) from out West.

The annual Cherry Festival Airshow.  My beloved Blue Angels were not here last year, nor will they be here this year...I have to wait until 2014... sigh

But, we do love the U.S. Coast Guard.

It can be a bit loud for little ears, even Momma ears too.

Matthew, contemplating life.

The beautiful waters of Lake Michigan.

Fishtown in Leeland on July 4th.

Ah, I can almost feel the hot air on my skin...can't you?

A little more daydreaming tomorrow.  Good night.