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christmas number two

Happy Christmas week!

I got up yesterday feeling like Christmas was already over, and I had to remind myself that there is still almost a week of fun still to go:)

On Sunday we went to my mom and step-dad’s.  Saturday night I had done so much baking and cooking…I was worn out by the time we got there!  We still had such a great time though.  There really is nothing like going home for the holidays, you know?

My mom had already cooked a full Christmas dinner on Saturday for the other side of their family, and she worked so hard to cook one for us as well.

And especially once I added the dishes I brought, there definitely was not a lack of food.  It was great!

vegan broccoli casserole – I liked it, but no one else did.  I’d call that a successful failure I suppose:)

vegan garlic knots that were amazing (in my humble opinion of course:)

vegan pumpkin brownie pie - I made this at Thanksgiving, but this time I made it in pie form and loved it just as much!!

and gingerbread cookies!  I made one for each person with a little hint on it:)

haha

and my plate at dinner – I couldn’t resist a little bit of mom’s mashed potatoes.  Other than that I filled my plate with all vegan delicious food, and I honestly didn’t miss a thing- vegan broccoli casserole, pumpkin seed salad, vegan garlic bread, and quinoa pilaf.

I’ll be posting recipes and more pics of everything I made in the coming week!

It wasn’t just about the food though of course.  We had a great time just hanging out, listening to music, and of course opening gifts!

Olive and her Christmas present from her Aunt Cristen:)

I’m so thankful to have been able to enjoy another Christmas with my family – now we still have 2 more to go as we head down to south Texas this week!  This morning I am running around like a crazy person trying to get Christmas cards mailed out, Outbox client gifts finished up, gifts taken to my tutoring students (I made them gingerbread cookies as well:), laundry done and everything packed!  It will indeed be a miracle if we make it out of here by our estimated leave time of 3pm, but we’re sure as heck going to try!

Tonight we’re headed to my Grandpa and Grandma’s to see them for a little bit and give them their gifts.  It is always sad for me when I’m not at my Grandma’s house on Christmas, but I am also really looking forward to seeing our McCoy side grandma’s.  We’re spending the night at my mom’s tonight and then heading out Wednesday morning!

I’ll see you guys tomorrow!

Hope you’re all having a great week!

p.s. Sorry if this post seems a little……high strung.  That’s kind of me right now:)

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God of hope

Boy, last night was crazy.

One of my students, Bomi, asked me the other day what is one of my bad habits.  I should really call her right now and update my answer.

One of my worst habits is procrastination.  For some crazy reason I didn’t even get started on finding recipes for dishes to take to Christmas until about 5pm yesterday evening.  The same thing happens every time – when I finally started researching, I got really excited and ended up with a list of 5 different dishes that I wanted to make.

Needless to say I had a hay-day in the kitchen until the early hours of the morning.

There was a lot of this.


And by 2 am my kitchen looked like this.

And I had done some cleaning up at that point!  Scary.

Honestly, I had so much fun – the husband and I downloaded some new upbeat Christmas songs, and I was jamming away while my garlic bread rose and little gingerbread men came to life (dishes and recipes coming soon!).  The only way it could have been any better is if it had been 2 pm instead of 2 am.  But you can’t win ‘em all, right?

I finally stumbled into bed at about 3 am, and mere seconds after my head hit my pillow, I knew I was in for a rough time.  I just could not fall asleep!  I was so wired up and my mind was racing with everything I needed to do still and with thoughts about the future.  I get real deep when I’m delirious.

I tossed and turned all night long, not really falling asleep at all until about 5:30 am and then waking up again at 7.  Finally at 7:30 I hit the point where there was no going back to sleep.  It was all over.

So, I laid there in bed and again my mind started racing.  The lack of sleep was hindering any chance I had at rational thinking, and I started fretting over things that are going on in my life right now.  I began to analyze everything, creating “what if” scenarios in my head and then scolding myself for letting my mind run wild.

It was then that I turned to the one person I know is always there.  I started praying.  I started praying for joy.  I asked God to give me a peace in my heart because He is in control of my past, my present and my future.  He has a specific plan for me and He will work out that plan, regardless of how much I try to interfere and make it my own.  I asked him to embed that truth in my heart and to help me live by it every second of the day.  To help me give up my plans and my anxieties and hand it all over to him.  And just trust.

And suddenly, my heart was filled with relief.  It was as if I had taken a peacefulness pill, and the medicine was slowly spreading throughout my body reaching from the crown of my head all the way down to my toes.

And I felt His peace. And His joy.

And then I felt the husband’s steady breath on my shoulder.  And I felt Olive’s warm and furry little body curled up on my other side.  And I felt the coziness of my warm house and my bed.

And I was filled with thankfulness.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rom 15:13


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christmas shenanigans and a discount!

I have spent the last 30 minutes waiting for the announcement of the winner of Project Food Blog.  I honestly cannot imagine being one of the finalists right now – my stomach is so nervous and I didn’t make it past challenge 3!

In fact, it also caused me to make lunch twice.  I was so distracted I left my corn tortilla chips in the oven for way too long and they ended up looking like this:

In went another batch – good thing they only take 10 minutes to bake!

Much better.

I finished off the last of the chili for lunch, and it made me sad.  Definitely going to be cooking up another batch soon! The husband is begging for it.  Not even kidding:)

Yesterday was full to the brim of Christmas shenanigans!  I have to be honest, there are some things going on right now that are causing me to struggle with remaining joyful each day.  You know when there is something in your life that you just wish was different.  In other words, you have plans that don’t exactly match up with God’s plans.  Well, that’s kind of where I’m at right now.  The biggest thing I’m doing to try and maintain a joyful spirit and focus on all of the blessings in my life is praying for gratefulness, perspective, trust and patience every single day.  Nothing calms my fears like spending time with Him.

The second thing I do is just stay busy with everything that’s going on right now…focusing on living in the moment (as I tell my yoga students every Wednesday).  Yesterday was definitely busy and it warmed my spirit to focus on such fun aspects of the holiday season: giving gifts and sending Christmas cards!

The husband and I sent gifts to all of our business clients.  The peppermint bark is probably not vegan…but neither are any of our clients.  ha.  And while I still try to only make and buy vegan food, even when buying for others, the packaging was designed just so that I could not say no to the husband’s pleading eyes.  What can I say? He’s a sucker for classy packaging…and I’m a sucker for him.

And now for our personal card

My parents-in-law gave me the bird stamp for Christmas, and I’m pretty much in love with it. I just want to stamp everything I own.

We put hours and hours of time into these cards!  I kid.  We really pulled them together rather quickly, especially compared to cards we’ve done in the past.  Like two years ago when I handmade each and every card.  They were cute.  But it will be a long time before I commit to that again:)

Anyway, plans for this weekend include finishing up our Christmas shopping and then going to my hometown for Christmas on Sunday.  I’m still trying to decide what to make to take for Christmas dinner. I’m wanting to make some kind of salad – like a grain or pasta salad…and then definitely a dessert!  Must decide soon!

And now for some exciting news!

Ecolissa is offering all ChiaSeedMe readers 20% off anything in her shop!

“Ecolissa carries only fashionable eco friendly and vegan woman’s clothing and accessories.  [They] specialize in dresses and easy to wear separates.”

[source]

Not only does Ecolissa carry dresses and tops, there is also a plethora of cute accessories available as well. I’ve had my eye on a couple of items – and I love knowing that they’re eco and animal friendly!

Here are some items I love:

I’ve wanted a scarf like this since it got cold, and I think this one is adorable.  And so cozy looking:)

To receive the discount just type in the code “vegan20″ when you check out. The offer is good through the end of the month!

Now go get your shop on:)  There are some awesome gift ideas as well!

Happy Friday everyone!

Any good suggestion of what I should make to take to Christmas dinner? I need ideas!

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party at the mccoy’s

Yesterday I played hostess for Jonathan’s team-members from work – they all came over during lunch for their annual Christmas party.  I love hosting people at our house, and it doesn’t really happen that often for some reason.  Maybe that’s why I like it?

Anyway, I spent about 5 hours Monday night making the infamous sugar cookies that had actually begun to feel like a thorn in my side.  I wasted so many batches of cookies, and in the end I went with a tried and true recipe that was posted on Jenna’s blog a couple weeks ago. The funny thing is that it’s almost exactly the same as another recipe I had found on a different blog awhile back (Jenna adapted it from there) – I guess it was meant to be!

Once I found said recipe, I thought it would be smooth sailing the rest of the way.  That is until 9:30 pm, when I realized that I was 1/2 cup short of Earth Balance. Nooooo!  It’s unbelievable how many trips I made a across town in order to finally accumulate all the ingredients necessary for these cookies.  The thought of making one more almost killed me.  Besides that I didn’t think our main grocery store in town carried it, and the health food stores were all closed.  Sigh.

So I called Food Pyramid, crossed my fingers while I waited on hold about 3 different times, and then begged the guy on the other end to “puh-lease tell me they had Earth Balance.”  Praise the Lord, they had it!

So by the time I got home, I already had invested an hour in cookie making, and there wasn’t even any dough mixed up yet!  It was about 15 minutes after that that I realized these cookies have to chill in the fridge for an hour before being rolled out.  It was just not my night.

Finally, with a lot of time and even more hard manual labor (rolling out that dough is a challenge!) I finally came out with a decent sugar cookie at about 1:30 am.  The only part left at that point was the decorating.

Let’s just say I am a very amateur decorator.  As in, I’ve never done it before. It’s funny how this little fact didn’t really cross my mind until 1:30 am Monday night, when I began mixing up the icing.  Honestly, the icing part came out looking pretty bad, but the cookies tasted great and by the time I got them all tied up in their little bags, the icing wasn’t that noticeable.  Next time I might would try a different recipe….this one was a little bit thin and soft…but after a little fridge time it hardened up enough and ended up being okay.

Vegan Holiday Sugar Cookies

originally and only slightly adapted by Jenna from here.  I also made a couple slight changes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar sugar
  • 2 whole egg replacements (Ener-g brand)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (Tofutti brand)

Directions

  • Cream together the Earth Balance and sugar.  Add one “egg” at a time as you continue mixing.

  • In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and mix well.
  • Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the vegan cream cheese and mix only until combined.
  • Allow dough to chill for one hour.  Note: the dough will be very crumbly!  This is normal.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Remove dough from fridge.  Knead the dough on a floured surface so that it begins to stick together.  This is the part where you need some serious arm muscles.
  • Divide the dough into two or three sections.

  • Roll one section out to about 1/4 inch thick.  Use cookie cutters to create shapes.

  • Repeat with other sections of dough.
  • Bake for twelve minutes or until light brown around the edges.
  • Decorate with pretty (or not so pretty) icing!
  • Cookies may be stored in a tightly sealed container or placed in the freezer for up to 2 months.

For the icing (recipe found here):

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp almond or soy milk
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Mix powdered sugar and milk until smooth.  Next, beat in (by hand is okay) corn syrup and almond extract until icing is glossy and smooth.  Divide icing between bowls and add drops of food coloring until desired color is reached.

After cookies are decorated, place them on a cooling rack and put them in the fridge until icing hardens.

For the main meal, I made vegan chili (yes, again), but I used a different recipe than I have used in the past.

This was hands down the best vegan chili I’ve ever made or tasted.  I put a little more time and effort into it, and it showed.  I don’t know what everyone at the party thought, but the husband and I are seriously loving it.  If you need to make a vegan chili, don’t hesitate to try this one – it’s fantastic

The World’s Best Vegan Chili
adapted from this recipe

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can low sodium diced tomatoes (not drained)
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannelini/navy beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn

Directions

  • Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet.  Add onion, bay leaves, cumin, oregano and salt and saute until onions are tender.  Next add bell pepper, garlic and green chilies and mix thoroughly.
  • As vegetables are cooking, combine crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, beans and corn to crock pot.
  • Stir in vegetable mixture and then add chili powder and black pepper and stir until combined well.  Allow to cook on low for several hours.

The cookies and chili weren’t the only thing that ended up being a success, the party was pretty fun too!

Let’s be honest though.  In the midst of my hosting duties, I really spent a lot of time holding this pretty baby, Sophie.  She’s my husband’s boss’ baby girl, and she is an absolute doll.  I really wanted to just keep her…but unfortunately it didn’t work out:(

All in all we had a great time.  I was so happy that the cookies finally were a success. I’ve put so much time and energy into them, and it felt so good to see the finished product.  Now I just need to make a couple more batches…

This week has been crazy so far and is only getting crazier!  I’m trying to finish up last minute Christmas shopping this week because we’re having Christmas with my family on Sunday.  Then next week it will be off to south Texas to see Jon’s extended family!  It’s sad that this season has to pass by so quickly – I can’t believe it’s already almost here!

What is one thing you’re hoping to get for Christmas this year or the one thing you’re most excited about giving?  I know it’s not about the gifts, but it’s still fun to give…and receive!

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christmas number one

Well, I have to say that McCoy family Christmas weekend was an epic success.

We started the weekend off strong on Friday night when my mother-in-law announced that there would be intermittent BINGO going on all weekend – with prizes to boot!  At random moments one of my parents-in-law would make the call “it’s BINGO time!” at which point we’d all gather round for a chance to win.

This is my mother-in-law completely in her element – bingo by her side

and a grab bag of prizes just within reach:)  love it!

Saturday morning we got up first thing and got to cookin’!  It has become a yearly tradition for us to make meals for older folks in the church and then take them with us as we go caroling from house to house.

This year we made bean soup, corn bread and banana bread.  The phrase “how many McCoys does it take to _____” was thrown out a lot throughout the morning:)

Another important event on Saturday was the celebration of my MIL’s birthday! So so thankful for her:)

the original mccoy family:)

After a couple hours of visiting and caroling, we headed back to the house to get dinner ready.  I am the only vegetarian in the family, so many times I will either just eat the sides that are made or I’ll roast up a batch of veggies.  I went with the latter this weekend, and even threw in some potatoes and edamame.  Protein, check! Carbs, check! Veggies, check, check!

I coated them with a mix of olive oil and random seasonings.  Unfortunately I went a little heavy on the red pepper, but other than that they were pretty good!

While we enjoyed dinner, little Miss Olive enjoyed chewing on her new favorite toy given to her by her grandparents:)

And then it was time for gifts.  My mother-in-law completely goes over the top with the gifts – she and my father-in-law do so much for us.  It’s seriously outrageous.  We had a great time – I love getting to watch people open gifts…so fun.  And opening some myself wasn’t bad either I suppose:)

Unfortunately my mother-in-law had a bit of hard time this weekend because on Thursday night she was rooting around in her closet for something and a five pound dumbbell fell and landed on two of her toes.  I felt so bad for her…I think she was in more pain than she would let on…but of course it didn’t stop her from serving all of us all weekend.  It’s just who she is:)  I hope I can be as sweet and selfless as she is when I have children someday.

All in all it was a great Christmas with the family.  It’s kind of nice to have one Christmas done, but still have almost two weeks of Christmas fun to go…I like it!

Merry Christmas from us! Jon, Candice and Olive

Olive refused to look at the camera.  I think she was a little bitter about the sweater.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Stay tuned tomorrow for round three of the perfect vegan sugar cookie + a discount offered from one of the coolest online boutique stores around!

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