Wednesday, May 27, 2015

So. Much. Rain.

The deluge continues! It's been weeks now. I feel terrible for those affected by flooding. We've been lucky in our neighborhood. Aside from a few tree branches down, we've had no damage and our power has stayed on. 

Olivia loves to put on her boots and splash around in the puddles until she is soaked.

I warned her that her rain boots are not waterproof and her feet will get wet if she jumps into standing water. But in her mind, getting all wet and muddy just means that she gets to take a bath. So, win-win.

For dinner I wanted something warm and comforting, and I'd also been craving Indian food. I made the Coconut Cauliflower Chana from Get It Ripe and it hit the spot. That's good, because it made a ton! I served it over rice but I will serve the leftovers with naan bread to change things up. The coconut makes it so different and delicious! I guess that's a South Indian thing. So good.

After Olivia was warm and dry, she helped me frost some cupcakes. I made lavender-rose cupcakes by steeping lavender buds in some almond milk, which I then used in the batter, and adding rosewater to the buttercream frosting. The basic vanilla cupcake recipe is from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World. I swirled together pink and purple frosting to represent the rose and lavender.

How is the weather where you live?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

I know, I am just now getting around to posting about Mother's Day. Better late than never! Jackson made me a sweet little handprint bouquet at school.

The whole family got me a few kitchen goodies I had on my Amazon wishlist. I received a rotating cake stand for cake decorating, a new nonstick skillet, and a popsicle mold!

We went to Counter Culture for brunch. As you'd expect on a holiday, the restaurant was busy and the wait was long, although worth it of course. Our server brought us some chips and salsa to pass the time.

I also entertained myself by taking pictures of Tony among the Caribbean colors and tropical plants that line the patio.

Jackson and Olivia both ordered the blueberry pancakes.

Tony had the Tofu Rancheros, a tofu scramble with corn, beans, avocado, and salsa served on tortillas, with a side of home fries.

I had the East Side Quesadilla, stuffed with cashew cheeze, seitan sausage, potatoes, onions and peppers. It came with salsa and spicy aioli. Best quesadilla I've ever had!

Tony and I also shared a side of tempeh bacon, which was so good. 

Hope all the mamas out there had a lovely day!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Austin Bakes for Nepal

Hi guys! I don't usually blog on weekends, but I am trying to get caught up on my posting. Yesterday was a typically busy day for us. First, I delivered some baked goods to Whole Foods for the Austin Bakes for Nepal bake sale. This was my first time getting involved with Austin Bakes. They organize bake sales around the city to help natural disaster survivors far and wide. In the past, they have baked for Austin (flooding), neaby Bastrop (fires), as well as Japan (tsunami). The after effects of the Nepal earthquakes are still being felt, I heard there was a landslide only yesterday, so very awful. The least I could do was use my baking skills to help raise a little money for relief efforts.

Olivia helped me get all our ingredients ready and we talked a little bit about Nepal. I don't want to scare her talking about natural disasters too much, since she is only five, but I do want her to empathize with families who are going through tough times and understand that we should always try to help out.

First we made Cookies and Cream Cupcakes (recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.)  I wanted them to be eye-catching, so I found some cute little polka-dot wrappers at Michael's.

We also made Cowgirl Cookies (from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.) These were some seriously hefty cookies, studded with chocolate chunks, pecans, and coconut.

Finally, also from VCIYCJ, Peanut Butter Cookies topped with roasted, salted peanuts. 

The bake sale was just kicking off when I dropped off my items. I hung around for a bit and I was happy to see lots of customers coming by to check out the goods. Some people just gave donations and didn't even want any treats, which was so kind of them!

In the afternoon we attended a wedding. The dress code was country casual and none of us own cowboy boots, so this is what we came up with.

The wedding was held on a ranch out in Dripping Springs, it had a really rustic vibe.

A true Texas wedding!

Olivia and Jackson were feeling festive.

I was, too. It was a sweet, romantic ceremony and a fun reception.

However, throughout the evening, the heavy rain that started earlier in the day got even worse. During the toasts, the lights kept flickering on and off in the lodge. We all listened to the rain pouring down on the patio's tin roof, and anxiously watched the rising creek water.

The ranch grounds started to flood and we all moved indoors. I didn't get any pictures after it got dark, but this whole patio was underwater including at least one of the lodge's screen doors which blew off and floated out onto the patio.

Finally around 9:00, some friends said they were leaving before it got worse, and we decided to follow. Tony took Jackson and ran to get the car and pulled it up as close to the lodge as he could, but there was still a dirt path that I had to get down with Olivia.  As I carried her, my flip flops were sucked off into the deep mud! I didn't care, I was just glad to make it to the car safely. There was about a two-mile dirt road to exit the ranch. We hadn't gotten very far at all when a guy ran up to our car and told us to turn around. Everyone ahead of us was stalled out because the road was flooded. So we parked and watched people hiking back from their stalled vehicles, and debated what to do. While we were listening to the storm and considering our options, Jackson and Olivia fell asleep in the backseat. A ranch staffer knocked on Tony's window and let us know the flood was getting worse and we should plan on staying the night. He apologized that there wasn't really anywhere to sleep. Some guests were still up at the lodge, hanging out, but since the kids were already asleep we resigned ourselves to sleeping in our car until morning.

We had no cell reception this whole time, but I was able to edit photos on my phone, so this is what I did while we sat in the dark listening to the crazy storm.

Finally, about 11:30, Tony made his way back up to the lodge to see if there was any news. While he was there, the owner came in and said that the road had become drivable and if anyone wants to try to leave, they should do it now, because another round of storms was due to hit any minute. Tony raced back to the car and I could see lots of other guests slogging towards their cars as well. We made a caravan out along the dirt road and luckily everyone was able to get through the low areas and get back onto the paved roads. I was soooo glad we did not have to sleep in the car! I do lots of yoga but I still would have been super sore in the morning. Very happy today to be home safely, but thinking of those in the towns of San Marcos and Wimberley which were completely flooded last night. Hundreds of people have lost their homes.

On a positive note, Austin Bakes for Nepal raised over $7000! Now, I am thinking there needs to be an Austin Bakes for San Marcos/Wimberley soon...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hot in Here

Our air conditioning stopped working about three weeks ago and we have been going back and forth with our home warranty company trying to get it repaired. It's not too unbearable or anything, since it's only early May and temps are still in the 70's-80's. It is just getting a bit tiresome and hopefully will be resolved soon. In the meantime, feet emerging from the attic has become such a common sight that it no longer startles Monster.

He spends a lot of the day pressing himself on the cool tiles and drinking ice water.

We have been spending more time than usual out of the house, taking advantage of the free air conditioning in restaurants and other place. One afternoon we tried a Chinese restaurant near our house, Inchin's Bamboo Garden. I am usually super wary of Chinese restaurants. Having worked in one, I know that they like to toss meat into everything, even the tofu and vegetable dishes. But, Inchin's actually advertises itself as "Pan-Asian," and I heard from a friend that they have a secret vegan menu. The multitude of sauces that greeted us at our table seemed like a good sign as well.

The vegan menu was indeed brought to me on request, and it was extensive! I started with the veggie spring rolls.

The vegetable Singapore noodles were spicy and filling, just what I wanted. I had fun trying out all the different chile sauces until my mouth was on fire. I have been craving hot foods lately -- either I'm pregnant (haha, no) or my body is trying to deal with the absence of AC by making me sweat!

The service was friendly and it was a nice calm environment, not too loud. Now I want to go back to Inchin's like ten more times and try out everything else on the vegan menu! 

After lunch we ran a few errands, and before heading back to our stuffy house, we decided to hit TCBY. I went with my usual, Silk chocolate almond.

The kids love citrus sorbet, normally they want orange but this time they branched out and had the red grapefruit. Yum!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Summer Cut

For the longest time, Olivia had been trying to grow her hair long like Rapunzel. Unfortunately her hair doesn't grow super fast, and it was getting a little damaged and had some split ends that needed to be taken care of. Still, I feel that her hair is part of her body, so it should be her say. She surprised me this morning by asking if she could get a short haircut. A couple of her little friends had recently gotten short bobs, and I guess she wanted to join the club.

She was excited/nervous/proud about getting her first "big girl" haircut. She sat up tall in the chair and moved her head as instructed by the stylist.

Back view...

Front view...

OK, I can't even deal with how grown up she looks. And it's so easy to take care of. She was not a fan of having the tangles combed out each morning and now that is not an issue.

Nearly as pretty, but not quite of course, was this fruit tart that we made later in the day while the air conditioning guys were working upstairs. I used the recipe from Vegan Pie in the Sky, with a shortbread crust, cashew cream filling, and lots of lovely fruits glazed with apricot jam.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Quinoa Bowl

The quinoa bowl is Tony's favorite vegan meal. There are lots of recipes available, but sometimes I will just come up with something on the fly. Today, I tossed in artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, chickpeas, sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic, basil, and a lemon-olive oil-oregano dressing.

Olivia and I made our monthly Costco run today. We were offered samples of their new vegan burger and it was delicious, so I bought a box. I also picked up my usual tofu. We eat a moderate amount of tofu and I always like to buy organic, non-GMO. 

Our usual staples. Real maple syrup, real vanilla extract, and organic frozen blueberries. Always a bargain, nowhere else has these items cheaper.

Costuming, roller-skating, and Swiffering. Girl can multi-task.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dental Assistants

I rarely eat fruit for breakfast except in smoothie form, but I've been loving raspberries lately.

Jackson and Olivia had a dental cleaning this afternoon. I immediately loved the new hygienist when she asked if they wanted to put on some gloves and give her a hand.

They each took their turns with "Mr. Thirsty" the air-sucker. It was a fun and successful visit. Still zero cavities for either one.

For dinner I made my favorite lasagna, the one from Appetite for Reduction. 

So full of goodness - cauliflower, spinach, tofu ricotta, and lots of tomato basil sauce!