Friday, February 5, 2016


For my birthday, Tony ordered me a light-up sign from a local furniture store. It was custom made, so it took awhile before it was ready. But now it shines proudly in our living room, and I love it.

Relaxing is one thing Jackson and Olivia know how to do. PJ's until lunchtime? Why not.

Casseroles are a relaxing way to cook. One dish, easy. I made the Quinoa Cauliflower Biryani from Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen, except I used broccoli since that is what I had. The flavors are just so complex and it tastes very healthy, not heavy at all, in spite of technically being a casserole! I have been cooking a LOT from this book lately, get ready for a whole post on all the good stuff I've tried.

Bonus Olivia, because I can't even with her posing.

She got lots of compliments at school on her pigtails, so now she is willing to let me style her hair more often. Yay!

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Jackson and Olivia had the day off school recently for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I read them a book from the library about his life. Their reaction can basically be summed up as "incredulous." Like, what do you mean, white kids couldn't sit with their black friends on the bus? Our community is so diverse and that is all they have known, so it seems fundamentally wrong to them to discriminate based on skin color. It was a reminder that such prejudices are not natural, they are taught. But never in our home.

For breakfast I made them blueberry oat squares from Plant-Powered Families.

Then we spent some time at the bounce house. My camera is not good at capturing motion but I wanted to catch their looks of excitement in the block pit. I always appreciate school holidays to spend a little extra time with these monkeys.

For dinner I made hummus tortilla pizzas, another idea from Plant-Powered Families. The kids loved topping their own pizzas. Jackson, who usually avoids greens, even piled on a bunch of basil! Dreena is so smart about kids.

For dessert we enjoyed some two-ingredient ice cream -- frozen bananas and cocoa powder -- topped with roasted peanuts. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Daruma Ramen

A couple of weekends ago, we attended an open house at Canopy, an artist compound on the east side. Besides a number of interesting little galleries, the compound is home to several artists' studios, which were open to the public on this afternoon. I was happy for our whole family to have the opportunity to chat with professional artists and hear about their creative process.

Afterwards we had lunch at Daruma Ramen, which needs to win some kind of award for being the tiniest restaurant in Texas. Get ready to dine communally because that's all there is room for! And once you have a big bowl of hot ramen in front of you, you will stop obsessing over whether you just accidentally grazed this stranger's elbow and how awkward it is that you can hear every word of their conversation while you peruse the menu.

Daruma offers two different vegan bowls. I went with the regular veggie ramen, which came loaded with greens, avocado, tomato, carrots, and onions, atop a glorious pile of perfectly al dente ramen noodles. I asked for a bowl of chile paste on the side, to make it just as spicy as I wanted. This is the best ramen I have had in Austin.

So good, in fact, that we came back the next week. Cedar fever was killing me, and a bowl of hot, spicy broth was calling my name. This time I had the veggie miso ramen, with bok choy, fried tofu, and scallions. Just as good, and my sinuses were cleared up for at least a good hour afterwards. 

On neither visit were any of us brave enough to try the soy sauce-flavored soft serve. Doesn't the cone look like he is just taunting you, daring you to try it? Maybe next time, cone. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Lately I have been doing quite a bit of food prep on Sunday afternoons. This goes hand-in-hand with trying to eat more whole foods/less sugar. Having healthy food ready to go makes it much easier to avoid just grabbing a bowl of chocolate chips and calling it dinner. Not that I, umm, ever did that *wipes chocolate smudge from chin*.

Roasted tofu. I just toss it with 1 tsp. olive oil, salt and pepper. Easy to throw in anything for some extra protein.

Steel cut oats. Better for me than rolled oats, but take too long to prepare in the morning when I am trying to get everyone out the door. So I make a few days' worth in advance and divide into portions. In the mornings, I pour in some soymilk and a dollop of peanut butter, microwave for a minute, and dig in.

Blueberry waffles. Jackson eats these every morning. (From Isa Does It.)

Roasted chickpeas. Toss with 1 tsp. olive oil, and change up the seasonings. These were seasoned with adobo for a savory flavor.

I also make Tony some kind of grain salad to take for lunch a few days each week, saving us $$ since he doesn't have to go out to eat every day. This week I gave him quinoa and black beans with a cilantro lime dressing.

An oldie-but-goodie that Olivia devours as an after-school snack, Averie's peanut butter chocolate chip protein balls.

Oh She Glows' Glo bars, the only granola bar we make anymore! So easy and good.

Prepping gives me more time to sit down during the week and enjoy my kids in the moment. Like that moment when Olivia dumped out her piggy bank and rolled around in the loose change.

Monday, February 1, 2016

What Winter?

For our family, the hardest part of winter is not being able eat at all the Austin restaurants with outdoor playscapes. (Yes we have it pretty rough.) However, this winter appears to be cancelled, so we have been able to dine al fresco quite a bit.

El Mercado is always a favorite, with their beer garden full of playground equipment.

Their spinach enchiladas are tasty, also.

Monster, caught lying on my pillows like he owns the place. Look at that face, he does not even care.

Friday, January 29, 2016

New Year's Day

Tony has a tradition of eating a big old steak on New Year's Day. I know, so lovely. Well, he is vegetarian by default about 90% of the time, so we compromise on this tradition. This year, we met up with my parents for lunch at Roaring Fork, a "wood fired" type restaurant in North Austin.

You know, the type of place where they serve your family-size sides of mashed potatoes and street corn in their own little cast iron pots. 

Blackberry margarita swirl had me swirled. Not really. It was like medium-strong. But yummy.

There is nothing on the Roaring Fork menu for vegetarians outside of the salads 'n' sides. I had a salad with arugula, goat cheese, figs, and candied nuts.

After lunch, Jackson helped me smudge our entire house with sage. Hippie alert! But it smells soooo good.

Out with the old, in with the new!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Voodoo Child(ren)

Recently we surprised Jackson and Olivia with a visit to Voodoo Doughnuts, which has been around for a long time in Portland, but just recently set up shop in Austin.  We took them on a mystery outing, parking and walking up 6th St. without telling them where we were going. When we came to the source, they were only a little excited.

Not all of their donuts are available vegan, but several are, including the namesake voodoo doll donut. If you stab it with the pretzel stick, it oozes jelly! Now, I am not a big donut person. About 2-3 times a year, I crave a donut. That's it. But when I have that craving, I want a good donut, not some gas station Krispy Kreme crap. And this was a goooood donut. Thick frosting, no skimping on the jelly filling, and the donut itself was fresh and light and chewy. 

Jackson and Olivia went with the (not vegan) bubblegum donuts. The frosting really did taste exactly like bubblegum, it was a little unsettling, but delicious at the same time.

Saucy box!

As we walked back to the car, we encountered the usual 6th St. randomness.

Honestly, the only way I could possibly love them more? If they were also pizza.

For dinner I attempted to even out the donut indulgence, with a nice healthy pot of barley vegetable soup (recipe from Celebrate Vegan.)