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weekend recap and another trip!

Hello!  Happy Monday:)

This morning has been crazy – I got up early to clean our house and then had to stop mid-clean to run and get my hair cut.  I’m still technically not done cleaning, but I’m getting there.  After not posting for the last couple of days, I’ve been itching to check in.  Cleaning can wait!

But it can’t wait too long, unfortunately, because tomorrow morning we are leaving for another cross-country trip, except this time by plane!

We’re headed to Washington D.C.!  Jon has a work conference there this week, and he’s going to let me tag along.  I’ve never been to our nation’s capitol before, so I’m really excited!

We’re leaving early tomorrow morning and coming back on Friday night.  It just so happens that this weekend is homecoming here in Stillwater, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are coming to stay with us Friday night.  So, I’m trying to get our house ready for guests and everything plus getting us packed and ready to leave tomorrow – it’s going to be a busy day since I’ll be tutoring all afternoon.  My excitement is serving as great adrenaline so far, though.  Let’s hope it lasts well into the night:)

This past weekend, we were in my hometown celebrating my mom’s birthday.  I made her a cake, and we took her out to eat and whatnot.  I also led my mom through her first yoga class, which was really fun.  We’ll call it birthday yoga:)

Then we went to church on Sunday and met my grandparents afterward for lunch.  It was definitely a weekend well spent – I loved getting to just relax with family.  One of my favorite things:)

I’m so thankful to have my grandparents in my life:)

Saturday morning I rose early to get a head start on baking my mom’s cake!  Last week Jenna posted a recipe for a Bohemian Wedding Cake (full recipe here), and the minute I saw it I knew it was THE cake for my mom’s birthday.  I mean, it had pumpkin in it – how could it be wrong?

Before I got started baking, though, I needed some fuel.

This isn’t just any green smoothie.  I knew I’d need to be able to ward off my pumpkin cravings (and stay out of the cake batter), so I decided to have a green smoothie, fall style:)  I added 2 big handfuls of spinach, 1/2 cup pumpkin, 1 tbsp molasses, 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1.2 cup almond milk and ice.

Yes, I know it sounds gross, and I must admit I was a bit nervous with that first sip.  But just like adding spinach to a banana smoothie, adding spinach to a pumpkin smoothie doesn’t alter the flavor at all!  It was absolutely delicious, and I still got my greens in.  Score!

I digress.

Back to the cake.

I started by mixing together all the dry ingredients – brown sugar, baking soda, whole wheat flour, white flour, pumpkin pie spice

Then mixed the wet ingredients – pumpkin, oil, vanilla, molasses, 2 eggs.  I almost made this vegan by simply switching to flax eggs, but no one in my family is vegan and I didn’t really have time for experimentation.  So, I stuck with 2 organic, free-range eggs.  I also added a quick store-bought cream cheese icing at the end.

Next, mixed them all together…

And poured ‘em in.

Into the oven it went while I raced around doing Jillian’s 30-day shred DVD and packing!

After it finished baking and I allowed it to cool completely, I added the frosting.

Perfect.

Everybody at the party seemed to enjoy it.  Everybody except my sister that is, who insists that she just isn’t much of a sweets person.

I always doubt my baking, but when my mom had another piece on Sunday afternoon, I knew they weren’t just trying to make me feel good when they said they liked it:)

And for the record, I thought it was delicious!

All in all the weekend was a success!

Now it’s just time to play catch up…and get ready for our trip!

Any suggestions on places to visit or sights to see while we’re in DC??  I’ll be flying solo one day while Jon is in meetings – so any recommendations would be great!

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what’s in a name?

Hi!

Thanks for the support and encouraging comments on yesterday’s post.  Honestly, after I hit publish last night I laid awake in bed for awhile feeling very unsure about my post.  I really do try to always keep it real here, but being open is sometimes freaking hard!

I just don’t want to seem like a complainer, but guys…sometimes life is hard.  On those days it’s kind of a challenge to find a balance between staying positive and uplifting while still being real.

And to be perfectly honest, there is nothing that drives me more crazy here in blogland than when people come across as perfect on their blogs.  While I didn’t actually address this issue yesterday, it did come up in the comments.  It seems that most of you feel the same way.  Let’s just lay it all out there – there have been times when I’ve considered no longer reading some blogs because they just seem too perfect.  And whether they are perfect or whether they’re not – it really doesn’t matter – it is a negative force in my life to read about it everyday.  It’s extremely difficult to avoid the comparison trap when all you read each day is the perfection in people’s lives.  I have to constantly keep myself in check with this issue – finding myself trying to measure up to someone else’s style, recipes, photos or exercise routine.

And speaking of exercise routines, this would probably be an excellent time to make known that the husband and I will no longer be running our November half marathon. You know, the one that was originally supposed to be a full marathon?  After a lot of contemplating and discussion, we’ve decided to step back from racing for now.

With trying to get our own business off the ground + Jon working full-time and me almost full-time, there really isn’t enough time for training.  We tried to make it work, but sleep was the main thing being sacrificed.  We try every night to get in bed before 11pm, but when there are deadlines to meet sometimes it’s just not an option.  And seeing as how getting adequate sleep is one of the most important parts of long distance running, it isn’t healthy or smart for us to keep pushing it.

Being the perfectionist that I am, this decision was really difficult for me at first.  And to bring this full-circle, I realized that a lot of it was due to comparing myself to other bloggers. When you see countless bloggers running so many miles a week, it can make you feel like a failure if you’re not doing it too.  In my quest to defeat perfectionism though, I was able to step back and realize that my life is not the same as anybody else’s…and therefore I have to make the best decision for my body and for Jon.

Besides, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but the husband designed the branding for the entire race – from the participant’s guide down to the finish banner.  So, we’ll be running all over the place on race day, getting photos for our website (and cheering on all the runners!). I’m super stoked about it – I love races! Although I know I’ll be wishing we were running, I’m glad we’ll be going to support everyone and our business!

So that’s that.

Now that we’re through all the heavy stuff – let’s move on to the food!

Breakfast this morning was a green monster, per the usual.  Oh, green monster, how did I ever live without you??

I spent the morning working on my yoga class for tonight and trying to get iPhoto and Flickr to be friends.  The story of my life.  They are currently on speaking terms, though we still have a loooong way to go.

About 10:30 I got so hungry, so I heated up one of my favorite whole wheat pitas and had a big blob of creamy hummus for dipping!

So, if you follow me on twitter, you may know that I had a major life experience this morning.

I lived through my first earthquake!

You have to understand, Oklahoma does not get earthquakes. Like, ever. I never would have dreamed that I’d ever feel one.

So, picture this.  I was sitting on my couch with Olive looking up idioms for tutoring students and dealing with flickr when all of a sudden I heard a sound like the entire house rattled.  I actually didn’t feel anything, but it was such a strange noise – I literally thought to myself “that sounded like how I’ve heard earthquakes described.”

I glanced at Olive to see if she heard it, and she was sitting up with her little ears perked looking around.  However, here is a prime example of a downside of working from home.  There are no other adults around to confirm that you’re not crazy when crazy stuff happens!

So what did I do?  The only logical thing – I went on about my business and forgot about it.

About 30 minutes later, I went to check my phone and realized I had about 5 missed calls and 2 texts from the husband, and a text from my mom, wondering if I’d felt the earthquake and making sure I was okay. ha!  I couldn’t believe it.

Anyway, apparently it was a 4.3 on the scale and was felt all the way from north Texas to Arkansas and everywhere in between.

With all that excitement I completely forgot about lunch, and suddenly I looked up and I had 15 minutes till I needed to leave for tutoring!  Considering everything I still needed to do before leaving, I knew a lunch on the go was in order!  So, I whipped up a brown rice cake sandwich with natural peanut butter and half a banana.  It was delish.  But somewhat messy.  Have you ever tried to bite into a rice cake sandwich? Unfortunately I failed at getting a picture in all the madness.  I lived through an earthquake – can you blame me?!?

By the time I got though with all my tutoring appointments and taught my yoga class I was starving for dinner.  Enter leftovers of my favorite meal.

cooked spinach, vegetarian refried beans, rotel tomatoes and vegan (Daiya) cheese wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla a doused in spicy enchilada sauce.  With a side of baked corn chips (corn tortillas) and homemade guacamole.

Dessert was simple.

two little oranges (only a portion is in the picture)

All in all I’d say it was a banner day – a nice way to balance out yesterday methinks:)

Oh, one last side note.  I’ve told you guys how much I love meeting with international students, right?  Well, I love it more and more everyday.  Hanging out with them is so refreshing + I think I learn more than they do!  Awhile back I mentioned one of my students, Nada, who is super sweet but also beyond talkative and a bit high maintenance.  Well, she really threw me for a loop on Monday.  We were chatting along just like normal when all of a sudden she said “blah, blah, blah…when the little one comes.”

Say what?!

“Little one?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah…I’m expecting. Did I not tell you that?  I’m due in January.”

“Um negative on that.  I would remember if you had told me that.  I’ve been meeting with you for weeks – how can I not know you are pregnant?? So, is it a boy or a girl?” I asked.

“It’s a girl.”

“Aww, how sweet (beginning to get over my initial shock at this point). So what are ya going to name her?”

“Well, I have a couple of names in mind, but one I’m really leaning toward….Lupus.”

“Ahem. Excuse me?”

“Lupus.  That’s what I’m going to name her.”

So, I then had to gently explain to my sweet little Egyptian student that Lupus might not be the best choice.  I mean, sure it’s cute and all…but oh the pain it will cause for that poor child!

I felt bad to shoot her down, but I also felt it my duty to shelter the baby from a lifetime of humiliation.

Oh the joy of international students:) And I can say that because I was one.

Now that I’ve sufficiently talked your ears off!  I’ll be signing off.  I’ll see you all tomorrow!

G’night!

P.S. I can only imagine the google searches that will come forth due to this post!

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$6 well spent + spicy chia black bean burger

This morning Jon and I slept in a bit, then got up and headed to the Farmer’s Market!  We are really trying to stay on a strict budget these days, so I planned to only use the cash that was leftover from our trip last week….which was $6.

I repeat.  $6.

We didn’t really need anything, surprisingly, so six bucks isn’t quite as ridiculous as it sounds.  Last week I had picked up some fresh blackberries and they were so good!  I was dying to get some more this week.  The vendor I bought from last week was out, so I had to get them from another.  Guess how much they were.

$6.

Ha.  So, I spent my entire budget on blackberries!

Breakfast – decaf iced soy latte (by way of gift card!) with a bowl of berries

They have already been worth ever cent so far.  Delicious:)

Now that we are crackin’ down on our budget, I’m really trying to utilize all of our leftovers.  Hence, this salad for lunch.

chopped fresh spinach, broccoli slaw, corn, leftover black bean burger (recipe below!), vegetarian refried beans, salsa, a sprinkle of cumin and chias

This was just okay.  I had let the second batch of black bean burgers cook a little too long the other night, so this was a bit dry and crumbly. It did the job, though;)

For our anniversary celebration (our anniversary was actually Thursday) last night, we went Cafe 501, a really nice little place in the city.  Jon had been there once a really long time ago, but I had never been!

And enjoy we did.  It was really wonderful.

free bread and garlic oil while we waited – we each had about a piece and a half

Appetizer – hummus with roasted red pepper and garlic.  Served with warm pita bread.

I really could have just ordered this and been perfectly fine…and full.  But of course I didn’t realize that until I had already ordered my meal and eaten about half of the hummus!  eek.

I did thoroughly enjoy this salad, I’m not gonna lie.  And all it’s sweet, crunchy, feta cheesy goodness. It was made up of a bed of fresh greens, feta cheese, spiced pumpkin seeds, granny smith apples and a lemon vinaigrette dressing.  Dressing on the side as to avoid floating lettuce:)  I ate about half.

After dinner we had planned to go to a movie…but alas, we were both tired, and it sounded much better to just head home and cuddle up in bed  to watch something (Isn’t that always better anyway?).  And that we did:)

Okay, now for the two recipes I promised yesterday!!

First up - Spicy Chia Black Bean Burgers


Ingredients

  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed, drained and mashed
  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed (minced will work)
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp avocado (mashed sweet potato will also work)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Directions

  • Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
  • Divide and shape mixture into four patties
  • Heat George Foreman grill (or skillet) and coat with olive oil
  • Cook patties until crispy

recipe adapted from The Eat Clean Diet Recharged

I made these once before, but this time I tweaked the recipe and cooked them on our George Foreman rather than the stovetop, and they worked quite nicely. They do tend to be a bit more fragile than your average beef/turkey burger, but these held together just fine!

We enjoyed them on Ezekiel buns; I only had the bottom part of the bun and ate it with a fork.  Also added broccoli slaw, spinach, pickles, onions and hummus.

Hi husband and Olive.  hehe.

We also had some baked fries on the side.  I cut up one whole russet potato, spread the pieces on a cookie sheet, sprinkled with a little of this (seasoned salt, garlic powder) and a little of that (ground red pepper) and baked at 400 degrees for about 20 – 25 minutes, flipping them every once in awhile.  Don’t forget to spray the pan really well before you lay on the fries! Not that I’ve had a problem with this or anything:)

Tasty!!

Okay, next up is a recipe that isn’t really a full recipe.  More of a how-to of sorts.

As you all know, I participated in the Foodbuzz Ultimate Banana Split Challenge by making this baby

I wasn’t able to eat the entire thing (as no self respecting person would:)…but the three bites I did inhale eat were out-of-this-world!  It tasted every single bit as indulgent as it looks.

To start, I used my food processor to make 3 different kinds of banana soft-serve.  I added a small handful of strawberries to the first batch, about a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the second batch and a tablespoon of natural peanut butter to the third batch.  Each batch contained one whole banana.  All you do is process a frozen banana until you achieve a smooth, creamy consistency.  Then add your extra ingredient (the possibilities are mind boggling) and process until mixed well.

I froze each flavor for several hours so it would be the right consistency for scooping.

Next I made the coconut whipped cream.

First things first – leave your mixing bowl and beater in the freezer for several hours so it is very cold.  Next, poke a hole (or several) in the bottom of  a can of Thai Coconut Milk (only the full fat version works).  Let the milk drain out the bottom.  Use a can opener to open the top, at which point you’ll see the thick coconut fat.

Scoop the fat out into your mixing bowl.  Mix until smooth, but don’t over mix.

Next add about .5 to 1 cup of powdered sugar and continue mixing until it becomes a whipped consistency. Ta-da!  Vegan whipped cream:)

recipe found here

I know I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but I have some big news coming up in my next post!  Remember in this post when I said I have “a few other things up my sleeve?”  Well one of those things is going down tomorrow! I am so excited…and I can’t wait to tell you guys.

Talk to you later!

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Electrolux #splits: Classic Vegan Banana Split

Are you ready for this?

I have something exciting to share with you today!

As someone who has had one grandma pass away due to cancer and another grandma fight (and win!) a battle with cancer, I am passionate about contributing in the pursuit of a cure to this devastating disease.

I’m sure many, if not all of you have or know someone who has battled with cancer, and you probably possess just as much of a desire to fight back as I do.

For this reason, the moment I heard about this exciting opportunity to help raise money and tell everyone about the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF), I knew I couldn’t pass it up!!

“…the mission of OCRF is very straightforward: to fund research to find a method of early detection and ultimately a cure for ovarian cancer.”

Not only does the OCRF fund research through four different grant programs, they also strive to educate women about ovarian cancer in an effort to make a difference in the lives of those who are at risk.

It is through the diligent dedication and commitment of people just like you and me that the OCRF is able to continue in this crucial pursuit.

In an effort to raise money and help spread the word about the OCRF, Foodbuzz is teaming together with Electrolux and Kelly Ripa by sponsoring a sweet summertime challenge and a Top 9 Takeover for Featured Publishers!

During these long summer months, when the air is so thick you could slice it with a knife, Foodbuzz knows that one easy and healthy way to stay cool is by indulging in your favorite summertime treats!  That is why they’ve created the ultimate banana split challenge!

The best part is that for every banana split submitted by a Featured Publisher, Foodbuzz will donate $50 to the OCRF! Also, Foodbuzz will select the top 9 banana splits posts to be featured in the Top 9 Splits takeover!

To participate in the challenge, I have created the Classic Vegan Banana Split!

This split is loaded with homemade goodness.  Three generous scoops of homemade vegan banana softserve in three classic flavors: peanut butter, strawberry and chocolate!  Topped off with made-from-scratch vegan coconut whipped cream, sprinkled with carob chips, dusted with chia seeds (of course!) and crowned by two happy cherries!

I am so honored and excited to be a part of this challenge and to be involved with a company who reaches out to support cancer research.

Now go make your own banana split and stay cool!

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this girl knows what she wants

So, I’m not the only one who knows exactly what I want in my food.

For awhile now we’ve been having trouble with Olive not being able to um….let’s just say “hold down her food.”  It finally dawned on us yesterday that she might just be trying to tell us something.  Maybe losing your lunch at least once a week for no apparent reason isn’t totally normal.

After a short visit to the vet, we decided to change her food.  You can’t just change it overnight, though.  You see, if we switch her cold turkey lamb, we’ll risk having problems at the other end.  The trick is to sift in the new food just a little at a time and after about a weeks time be completely done with the old food.  Well, that only works if the ahem person involved agrees to continue eating the old food.  As opposed to only picking out the new food kernels of course.

Exhibit A.  This is what we found after having incorporated the new food in with the old.  If you look closely you can see that there are bits of food under her bowls.  She also had trailed it all across the kitchen floor.  So, we decided to do a little test to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.

Exhibit B.  Olive is given an Olive sized bowl each of California Natural (the old food) and Prairie (the new food).

Exhibit C.  When given the go-ahead, Olive immediately goes for Prairie.

Exhibit D (not pictured).  Trickster Dad stops Olive mid-gulp and quickly switches up the bowls to see if she chooses the same one again.  Of course she does.

Lastly, dad gives Olive the California Natural bowl and scowls as she turns her nose up at it.  He then proceeds to give her the Prairie bowl, which she immediately devours.

Folks, we have a verdict.  Now we’re left scratching our heads and wondering “has she been throwing up as an act of rebellion because she doesn’t like her food? or is she allergic?”  We may never know.

Onward and upward.  Today Jon and I proudly made it out of bed in time to get in a workout.  We had planned to break our sweat at the gym because it is so dang hot outside, but we were pleasantly surprised when we stepped outside and it felt only like a cool 80 degrees.  Without hesitation we abandoned our gym passes and headed to the street.  After putting in a quick 20 minute run, we came back to get O for a walk.

Shortly after our run, I was reunited with this guy

2 big handfuls spinach
1 cup soy milk
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 scoop Amazing Grass
1 tbsp almond butter
ice

Because of vacation and a lack of groceries since, I have not had a green monster in a couple of weeks!  It was a grand reunion.  Tomorrow I shall be reunited with overnight oats methinks.

I spent most of the morning at the coffee shop working on some stuff and sipping on a nice iced soy latte.

Now I know how this looks.  Let me explain.  When Jon and I decided to commit to our “no eating out for a week and that includes coffee” challenge, we agreed that we could still get coffee drinks from The Daily Grind.  Jon worked there for five years during college and we’re still good friends with the owner, so we have a prepaid card and we are only charged a dollar per drink.  I know, I know.  It still seems like we’re cheating, but technically no money changed hands, so I vote that we’re in the clear.

On a more honest and admirable note, I did pack my lunch so I wouldn’t be tempted to grab something.

Thank you Mister whole wheat tortilla broccoli slaw sprouts hummus and tempeh wrap.  You saved me from making a decision I would later regret.  Just a warning for tomorrow, though.  A good friend whom I haven’t seen in some time asked me to meet for lunch tomorrow, and I agreed.  Hey, life happens.  And the point of the challenge is still being driven home.

And dinner…

Carrots, onions, bell pepper, squash and zucchini sauteed in Evoo and doused with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and Nutritional Yeast.  Served over a bed of Soba noodles.  A go-to favorite.

Followed by banana soft serve with a bit of Maranatha Chocolate Almond Butter mixed in.

The rest of the day consisted of a long overdue phone chat with my college roommate, starting to clean out our office and chilling with my sweet husband.

I’m off to bed now!  G’night!

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