Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas is Coming

Our Christmas preparations have been underway for awhile. Elfie the Elf showed up December first, ready for a month of hijinks and spying. 

Actually he is a slothful elf, spending days at time in the same place, but he does occasionally change his vantage point. The kids like to write him notes telling him how good they have each been (and how naughty the other has been, hmm!)

Olivia helped decorate by making a handprint Christmas tree.

Jackson opted to paint a nutcracker instead.

I even got in on the arts and crafts action, turning our door into Frosty.

The stockings are hung.

The tree is lit.

Here's a throwback, such baby faces!

I made my annual batch of magic cookies (or Hello Dolly, 7-layer, whatever you call them!) using the PPK recipe.

We've also been eating a lot of popcorn tossed with nutritional yeast. I think I'm late catching onto this, but it really does taste like cheese popcorn! 

These accidentally-vegan cookies came free with my dish soap purchase. For real, HEB, your buy-one-get-one deals are both crazy random and awesome.

Soups are always good for chilly evenings and saving a few calories in preparation for Christmas feasting! This was the Butternut Squash & Apple Soup from Appetite for Reduction. It's made with apple cider and it was super sweet as a result. We all thought it was a little too sweet, for a soup.

Finally, look who we came across in our neighborhood, just hanging out by the gas station! Thank you, hood Santa, for saving us a trip to the mall.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Changing Seasons

Happy Winter Solstice! Sorry for the absence. Tony has been traveling a lot for work, and blogging does not fit into the schedule when I'm on single-parent duty. But he is home now, so I will try to get caught up.

We have had a mild fall, and the leaves did not change colors until early December.

The trees in our backyard looked so pretty for a few days. A nice visual diversion while I have Monster out there to do his business, haha.

Then, one day, all the leaves were on the ground. At pickup time, Jackson and his friends were so excited when they came outside and saw piles of leaves just waiting to be thrown.

Nothing like a good leaf fight to end the school year.

Jackson is on winter break now, and it's going to be wonderful to have both of my kiddos at home with me for a couple of weeks. Tony has to work a couple more days and then he gets a vacation as well. This is my favorite part of the holidays, spending lots of family time together. Preferably in front of a fire.

Today's lunch, Cream of Tomato Soup from Oh She Glows. The Italian-seasoned chickpeas are all stirred in, but rest assured they are there and they are delicious.

Hope you have all been well, now time to go warm up my toes in front of the fire again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Flower Power

Tony brought me some hot pink daisies to brighten up the kitchen. I always love a pop of color!

Jackson made a drum at school, like from Karate Kid II. I don't know what you call it. To me it's just "the drum like from Karate Kid II." Because I am old and 80's movies are my frame of reference.

He was excited to show Tony the minute he got home from work.

For dinner I made the Classic Sesame Noodles from Vegan Eats World, soba noodles topped with a peanut-tahini dressing and pickled cucumbers. Tasty and fast.

Jackson's preschool teacher told me a long time ago to get some kid-friendly scissors and let them go to town, because it is good for their fine motor skills. Sometimes I will give them old magazine pages and they will snip them into pieces. I think they find it relaxing. Tonight they decided to cut out and tape together new outfits for Olivia's Elsa doll.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ciao, Chao

Started out the day making some blueberry waffles. Thanks to the Sinfully Wholesome Waffles from Isa Does It, I'll never need another waffle recipe.

Olivia and I swung by Whole Foods to feed our new Bubbies pickle addiction. I was also pleased to see that our WF has started carrying the new vegan cheese from Field Roast, which they call Chao. I picked up the Creamy Original flavor.

Jackson's school held a farmer's market at pickup time. Yes, from their very own school garden, maintained by the kids themselves. I'm so amazed with this school and the good fortune we had of finding a house in the district. We brought home some arugula and turnip greens.

Putting it all together, I made a panini on ciabatta bread with Chao, tomatoes, basil, and arugula. I have to say I'm not the world's greatest fan of vegan cheeses, but this is the best vegan sliced cheese I've had to date, in terms of texture and flavor. It also melts very nicely! Blended with the other flavors of the sandwich, I really enjoyed it. Olivia loved the Chao! She ate a couple of slices on their own, for a snack.

We also shared some pomegranate seeds.

Now that she has discovered them, Queen Olivia wishes pomegranate seeds were a year-round option. But I think having them in the fall will make them more special and we will eat our fill while they're available.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Natvia and Norbu

The kind folks at Natvia/Norbu recently sent me some of their natural sugar alternatives to try out. Natvia is stevia-based, while Norbu is made from monkfruit. No artificial ingredients! I've been using them in my coffee and smoothies, and I enjoy them both. They both have a pretty neutral flavor, and no aftertaste. Although stevia is my preferred sweetener and I wasn't familiar with monkfruit, I do like the Norbu, although it's not quite as sweet as the Natvia and I have to use more. So it's a matter of personal taste which one you'd prefer, but I can see myself buying either one in the future.

Here's a smoothie I made with blueberries, banana, spinach, spirulina, raw vanilla protein powder, and a packet of Norbu. Looks like the black lagoon, but tasted awesome.

It's another rainy day. We don't get enough of these, so I'm appreciating it.  Jackson also loves rain. He ran around in the driveway until he was nice and soaked.

Olivia and I shared a pound of roasted Brussels sprouts for lunch. That's my girl!

For dinner I made tacos using quinoa taco meat. The seasoned quinoa smelled so good as it was cooking! We topped them with lettuce, tomato, black olives, and hot sauce.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Last Soccer Game

Jackson's soccer season came to an end with a victory, and he scored two goals in a row. Go Pirates!

Afterwards, awards were presented. 

We came home to find our neighbor's cat chillin in the driveway.

We can't have a cat of our own because Tony is highly allergic, so Olivia took the opportunity to love on this one.

For brunch, I made a recipe from a cookbook I won called OATrageous Oatmeals. We had the Tempeh Oat Brussels Sprout Scramble. Not so pretty to look at, but tasty and filling! The oats added body to the scramble, in place of tofu, but there was so much other veggie goodness going on, it definitely didn't feel like we were simply eating oatmeal.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Green Bean Casserole Pizza

Today I was accompanied on some errands by Iron Olivia, ready for action.

Laser blaster go!

After school she was joined by her trusted sidekick, Beard Man.

What could I feed these tiny superheroes and their giant imaginations, but green been casserole pizza

 At the holidays, I turn into a grandma from the 1950s, wanting my green bean casserole and my sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and my cheese ball. I can't wait to make this genius invention again.