Resurfacing

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Oh, well, uh… hey there.  Been a while.  Like, 19 months or something crazy like that.  I’ve gone back and forth between starting a whole new blog, giving blogging up entirely or pressing onward with this one.  You see, after I graduated in 2012, I realized that I was not living a healthy life.  I was very unbalanced, in more ways than just diet and fitness.  A year later- last November- I began transitioning away from veganism after living the lifestyle for over two years.  I could write a thousand posts on this, and someday I’ll write one (maybe two), but recently two bloggers that I regularly read “came out” as not being vegan anymore (here and here).  I was both inspired by and nervous for them.  Inspired because listening to your body and doing what is right for YOU is a wonderful, brave, beautiful thing.  And I was nervous because people can be downright nasty when it comes to judging others’ lifestyle choices (just read through the comments on those two posts for a taste).

My new motto over the last 7 months has been something along the lines of BE TRUE TO YOU, and I had to take a step back from my vegan blog in order to do that.  I do hope to return in one way or another now that I’m feeling good and have totally done away with any lifestyle labels.  But I really wish we could all just fucking get along.  Let people do what they need to do and leave them the heck alone.  If you’re vegan, that’s awesome.  Show people how accessible and easy it can be, talk about why you’re vegan, but BE NICE ABOUT IT.  The majority of my experience with the vegan lifestyle was nothing but positive, but I did run across some very “passionate” folks that made me feel like total shit when I started eating eggs and meat again.  Instead of running for the kale, I survived on little more than fried chicken and cheese for a couple of months.  You can’t shit-talk or scare someone into being vegan.  Or straight.  Or Baptist.

Anyway, that’s that.  I just wanted to speak up on behalf of Carrie and Jordan.  I also really wanted to say, “hi.”  I’m still here, and I’m doing better than ever.

Our Vegan Thanksgiving Menu 2012

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After a trip to Trader Joe’s (hello, cheap vino!), a mad dash to Market Street and a dreaded race through Whole Foods (soy whipped cream and pre-made vegan pie crusts FTW!) today, I can finally say that I’m ready for Thanksgiving.  Last year was my first time doing most of the cooking for the occasion and I was still a vegan newbie, so naturally I was thrilled when everything turned out even better than expected.  I’m very excited about our menu for this year and wanted to share it here with you.  I also want to hear what you’ll be cooking/eating tomorrow!

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Vegan Thanksgiving Menu 2012

Wine, wine and more wine

Daiya Havarti, crackers and hummus for an appetizer

Meaty Vegan Green Bean Casserole (with extra vegan apple-sage sausage thrown in!)

Sweet Potato Casserole with a coconut-maple-pecan topping (I actually just made this up to the baking point today and it took everything I had in me to not eat all the topping with a spoon)

Creamy Vegan Broccoli and Rice Casserole (the rice is cooking as we speak!)

Vegan Pull-Apart Fluffy White Dinner Rolls (my Mom is making these- they were amazing last year)

Cranberry Sauce (Mom is also making this)

Green Salad (sister C is bringing this)

Pumpkin Pie (Mom is making this, too- with a pre-made spelt flour vegan crust)

Vegan Molasses Cookies (sister E is bringing these)

I think we’re also having wine ;)

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What are you having for Thanksgiving?  I really want to know!

XO,

Sara

Best Prank Ever…

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…or, Why My Siblings and I Are Going Straight to Hell.

I’m the oldest of six kids.  I have three sisters and two brothers (twins).  The boys are the youngest, 21, I am 24 32, and everyone else is strategically spaced 2-3 years apart.  Growing up, life was pretty crazy with such a large family.  I’m really not sure how our Mom survived.  You would think that once everyone made it through their teenage years she would be able to enjoy her well-raised, mature, grown-up children worry- and shenanigan-free, but that just isn’t the case- as adults, we love playing jokes on our poor, sweet Ma.

I almost hate to admit this, but she really is the *perfect* target- unsuspecting, trusting and happy-go-lucky.  We’ve played a few good (and harmless) jokes on her in the past (one that involved a large metal frog riding a bicycle and another using some creepy mannequin heads that my sister had held onto from cosmetology school), but for her birthday earlier this month we managed to surpass even our wildest joke-playing dreams and pulled off the Best Prank Ever.

Mom was good about taking each of us to get our pictures professionally taken as toddlers.  You know the drill- standard Cute Outfit, slightly cheesy Sears Portrait Studios backdrop, Mom and photographer making ridiculous faces and obnoxious voices from behind the lens in hopes of eliciting a smile.  Naturally, these portraits have hung in every hall of every house we’ve ever lived in.  And they just happened to be perfect prank material.

While everyone was on board with this gag, let me go ahead and put 100% of the blame on my sister, E, and her boyfriend, T.  TOTALLY THEIR IDEA.  We’re all going to hell, but they have secured front row seats.

The Prank: T replaced the faces of our baby pictures with our current faces.  Sounds simple, but it was quite an ordeal: we had to take the pictures down without Mom knowing in order to scan and measure them all, T worked his face-altering magic and designed the new prints, and then we had to take everything down again to put in the new pictures.  Most of this was done while our Mom was home, too, for an extra challenge.  It took about a month, but we hung the last picture in time for her birthday celebration two weekends ago.

From youngest to oldest…

Adorable Baby Robin:

Creep City, right!?

Sweet little Nowell:

Wonderfully awful, no?

Baby Bonnie (wasn’t she a doll?!):

The glasses make this one.

Sweet lil’ Emily:

Something about the hands makes me very uncomfortable here.

Sweet cheeks, Carolyn:

This is why toddlers should not wear make-up.

And finally, me.  Welcome to Chunkville:

Is this not the most frightening thing you have ever seen?!  I look like some kind of mutant Ricki Lake.

Needless to say, Mom was HORRIFIED.  I’m glad she discovered the pictures while we were all there, because I have a feeling that she would have had a heart attack had she been alone.

Have you ever played a good joke on someone?  Do you like pranks?

I’m not sure how we’ll ever top this one.  Maybe we should give Mom a break?

Have a relaxing holiday week!  I’m already listening to Christmas music, how about you?

XO,

Sara

Partied Out

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Hiya.  So the block party was even crazier than I anticipated.  Our costumes were nothing short of AWESOME SAUCE:

Me + sister C

(I think she should do her hair like that every day!)

And that spandex kept me surprisingly warm until around midnight, when I decided that I was miserable, hungry and tired.  I dashed down the street to the first cab I could find, banged on the window and pleaded with the guy to take us home.  The people inside were headed to the party, and they jumped out to let us in.  I am forever grateful to those kind passengers.  Their selfless deed may have come more from fear of the frantic girl in electric pink tights than kindness of the heart, but still. I’m pretty sure I told the driver that I loved him as I hurled myself into the warm, musky-smelling van.  Sure, the guy drove in circles and obviously didn’t know how to get where we needed to go, but I was no longer freezing and celebrated this fact by stuffing fistful after fistful of gas station-purchased cashews into my hot pink-painted food hole, fully relaxing into the dingy yet comfortable (and warm!) seat that someone else had probably just puked on.

Ah, it was a great night.  A few pics:

My sista E and her man T

Costume parade runway!

Me + J

Random people wanted their picture taken with her!  She’s an awesome artist.  :)

LOTS of people.  It was a very interesting night!

Crowds like that are not usually my scene, but I’m glad that I went.  I had a great time dressing up and acting goofy with my family and friends.  I’m partied out until next year, for sure.

Some recent eats:

Yesterday I made a double batch of OSG’s peanut butter-banana oatmeal

It was SO GOOD this morning!

I topped my oats with a little extra peanut butter, roasted peanuts and a drizzle of agave nectar.  The oatmeal was rich, thick and creamy, with chunks of sweet, ripe banana and peanut butter swirled throughout.

Instagrammed, because I’m obsessed.

Barbecue roasted pumpkin seeds from the pumpkins we carved last night!

Super freakin’ tasty, from this recipe (second seasoning blend on the right)

The seeds were awesome sprinkled on my salad today for lunch!  That’s baby spinach, cabbage, red pepper, ‘shrooms, tomato, zuke, raw ranch dressing (from Let Them Eat Vegan), BBQ roasted pumpkin seeds and a big spoonful of classic hummus.

Also from Let Them Eat Vegan (best cookbook EVER), tonight I made Dreena’s Mushroom Pecan Burgers:

These beanless patties are made from sautéed onion, mushrooms, garlic, oats, sage, tamari, tahini, balsamic vinegar, parsley, toasted pecans and a few others goodies, and they made for one fantastic burger.

They browned up perfectly and held together quite well, too.  I did add a couple extra handfuls of oats to the uncooked mixture because it seemed too wet to me, but that was an easy fix that worked nicely.  Kitchen intuition!

For dinner I had my burger on sprouted grain sourdough bread with Dijon mustard and Vegenaise…

…plus a kale salad with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and sesame dressing:

It was a pretty amazing meal!

I froze four of these ‘shroom burgers for easy meals later on.  I love homemade veggie burgers.  :)

I guess this kind of turned into a What I Ate Monday post.  That’s everything, although I think I’m going to go have a couple of cookie dough balls and some vanilla almond milk in a few.  ;)

Did you do anything Halloween-related this weekend?  What are your plans for Wednesday?  

I’ll be taking my little monsters trick-or-treating, of course.  They put my costume to good use post-party:

Maniacs.  :)

Goodnight!

XO,

S.

Saturday

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The Halloween Block Party is tonight!  *squee*  I probably have no idea what I’m getting myself into and I know I’ll be freezing the whole time, but that’s okay.  I’m pretty sure that’s what whiskey is for.  :D

Recently I made Oh She Glows’ vegan Rolos and also her Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls.

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Both of these exceeded my expectations.  Angela’s stuff is *always* good, but I was seriously floored by how straight-from-the-bowl, cookie dough-like those little balls of heaven tasted.  Magic happens when oats, cashews, maple syrup and chocolate chips come together in the right proportions, friends.  And the Rolos called for only FIVE ingredients!  The date caramel is out of control.  My only complaint would be that neither of these recipes made nearly enough, so my advice to you is to double both recipes from the start.  Keep these babies in the freezer and watch them disappear at lightning speed!

I’m making these next.  :D

Last night I brought dinner to M‘s place.  She had surgery on Tuesday and the weather had just turned cold, so something easy, warm and comforting was in order:

Grilled cheeze sammies made with sprouted grain sourdough from Whole Foods (!), the new (to me) Daiya cheddar cheese and Earth Balance plus store-bought tomato basil soup.  You guys, I don’t eat processed cheeze or faux meat regularly, but this was DYNAMITE.  This Daiya was perfectly gooey and melty and creamy and rich, with a sharp-tangy-salty flavor that neither of us could get enough of.  The soup was pretty good, too, and together this made for one of those meals where a random, “mmm, man” makes it’s way into a good part of your mealtime conversation.

For dessert, I brought along a handful of those cookie dough balls plus a pint of vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream:

Bliss.

We ate this and watched old Sex and the City episodes, and it was pretty much the perfect evening.  M is my favorite and my best.  :)

(Anyone else miss Charlie and Lola?  My absolute favorite kid show EVER.  Yo Gabba Gabba comes in at #2.)

Today I took the kids to Denton’s Day of the Dead festival, which was a lot of fun.

We need to carve pumpkins this weekend!  This year I definitely plan on roasting up a bunch of the seeds, too (dig the sesame seed version!).  Carving pumpkins isn’t exactly my favorite thing in the whole world, but it’s only once a year and of course the kids love it.  I’m not very crafty but I do love digging the pumpkin innards out with my hands!

(Ahem.)

I guess we should make a store run this afternoon to buy some pumpkins, then.  What are you doing this weekend?  If you’re in the area, consider coming out to the big block party!  Here’s a sneak peek at part of my costume:

I’ll be alternating jumping jacks with shots of Jack Daniels to stay warm.  ;)

(Um, anyone want to come over and clean my mirror?  Filthy!)

Happy Weekend!

xo,

Sara

Crazy Hair, Link Love & Costume Talk

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Today was crazy hair day at E’s school.  Naturally, O wanted to participate:

When I dropped E off I noticed all the other kids’ crazy ‘dos and realized that some of them looked how my hair looks all the time.  EVERY day is crazy hair day for me.  It’s part straight, part wavy and part kinky-curly, especially the under layers near my neck.  It is completely out of control.

In my mid-twenties I would spend an hour blow-drying  and straight-ironing it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

Madness.

As a kid I had no clue that you weren’t supposed to brush curly hair, so I walked around looking like this:

Cringe City

These days it doesn’t seem to matter what kind of styling technique I use- the minute I walk outside my hair rebels and does whatever the heck it wants to anyway, so what’s the point?

Inevitably my unmanageable locks end up being scraped into a messy ponytail at some point over the course of the day:

I’m really low-maintenance when it comes to make-up and the same is definitely true for my hair.  I just can’t be bothered.

How much time do you spend on your hair every morning?

I need help.

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Enough hair talk- how about a little link love?  Stuff I like from around the Internets, in no particular order:

Speaking of Halloween, what are you and/or your kids dressing up as this year?  I haven’t dressed up in ages but am finally participating in the festivities this year!  I have an especially tragic costume planned for a big party this Saturday, and you’ll just have to wait and see how it all goes down.  I will say that neon green legwarmers are involved.  :D  Pictures forthcoming!  The last time I dressed up was in 2005 when I was pregnant with E- I was a nun.  A pregnant nun.  Yeah.

This year O is going to be The Hulk and E is a freaky zombie dude.  Lets take a look back at their costumes from the past four years:

2008

(before O was born)

2009

2010

2011

I guess I made E wear the same costume two years in a row.  That is both awesome (saves $!) and awful (again!?) at the same time.  That picture of O as an elephant KILLS me!

As a kid I remember dressing up as a “punk rocker” many times.  What a badass.  What was your favorite costume growing up? 

Happy Wednesday!  Halloween is only a week away.  :D

XO,

Sara

Post-test + Workouts + Protein Powder

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Hellooo!  My exam is O-V-E-R, ova.  It was brutal.  I’m not sure how I could have better prepared myself, either.  I felt good about a lot of the questions, but some of them left me blankly staring  at the test booklet, slack-jawed, like some sort of test-taking zombie.  In any case, I did the best that I could and it is out of my control at this point.  I won’t get my test score back until after graduation on December 15th, so I might as well enjoy the fact that I no longer have anything to study for (!) and start looking for a job while I finish out my internship.  I can now spend my evenings watching an absurd amount of reality TV and unlearning the wealth of knowledge that I have acquired over the last couple of years as a college student.  (I watched about five minutes of Jersey Shore recently and I swear I could not remember my own name afterwards.)

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Yesterday was the Texas State Veggie Fair!  It was such a good time and the event was a huge success.  I’m beat today because we got to the fair at 11am and then I volunteered from 2-7, so by the day’s end I had been on my feet for several hours.  I shouldn’t complain, though, because so many people poured their heart and soul into this thing and I have a few friends that were at the fair at 6am for set-up and were still there when I left at around 7pm.  Total veggie rockstars, most def.  I didn’t get a chance to snap many pictures, but I did see a tiger…

He was mighty fierce.

Also, a Beatles fan.

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I wrote about how I was pretty much forced to tone down my exercise routine a few weeks ago, and I can already tell that it was the absolute right decision.  I feel more balanced than before and I have a whole lot more energy, so clearly I had really been overdoing it.  My routine went from intense cardio 3 x week, hour-long weight workouts 3 x week and 1 day of yoga to something along these lines:

  • Sunday: 45-90 minutes of power yoga
  • Monday: tabata intervals, light leg work (band work, deadlifts, calf raises- no more weighted lunges or squats for these knees!), abs & stretch (total time=30-40 minutes)
  • Tuesday: upper body weights (45 minutes-1 hour)
  • Wednesday: 45 minutes of power yoga
  • Thursday: tabata invervals or cardio with lower body focus + abs
  • Friday: 45 minutes of power yoga
  • Saturday: cardio similar to Thursday or OFF

I am LOVING doing yoga three times a week!  Power yoga requires you to squat, lunge and balance in different ways that really work your lower body muscles- try sitting in awkward chair pose for 10 breaths and tell me that your biscuits don’t start burning.  :)  I’ve been a fan of Kristin McGee, Bryan Kest and Baron Baptiste for a while now, as I’ve been practicing yoga weekly for a couple of years.  Since I increased my practice to three times per week, I ordered a couple of new DVDs: Yoga From the Heart by Seane Corn and this Power Yoga workout from Jeanette Jenkins.  I haven’t tried Jeanette’s workout yet, but you guys?  I AM IN LOVE WITH SEANE CORN.  I adore her style of teaching and how she links emotion, forgiveness and empowerment with each breath and movement.  It is really something, and exactly what I need in my life right now.  Plus, she really focuses on walking you through the proper form for each pose, something that everyone can stand to assess from time to time no matter how advanced a yogi you are.  :D  It was definitely love at first downward-facing dog.

Anyway, I feel much better having eased up on the hardcore activity.  My knees don’t bother me nearly as much as they did a month ago, which is awesome.  All of my clothes still fit, which is really all I care about- I can live without visible abdominal muscles but I really don’t want to have to buy a whole new wardrobe.  ;)  I believe that the above routine will keep me fit and it feels good to be exercising for pleasure again.  I tend to do what I’ve been doing forever without periodically reassessing my goals and motivations, and that’s not a good thing.

When was the last time you reassessed your exercise routine?  How do you know when it’s time to take a rest day or switch things up?  

So, that’s the fitness scoop.  Now on to food!

Last week I made:

Kathy’s Pumpkin Chip Cookies with pecans, pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips.

(They are absolutely delicious- the perfect fall cookie!)

Vegan Cinnamon Bun Granola :D

I can’t even begin to describe how good this made the house smell.

(It tastes pretty freakin’ dynamite, too.)

Daily Garnish’s Spiced Pumpkin Cornbread, aka THE BEST cornbread in the entire universe.

(Seriously.)

4-Bean Chili 

This was, like, the best meal EVER.  I am so happy that I get to eat it all week long.

If you make one thing this week, let it be that dang cornbread.  Go forth.  Buy some cornmeal.  If you’re anything like me, you already have 18 cans of pumpkin puree in your pantry anyway.

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Ever since I got into making green smoothies regularly I’ve been on the search for the perfect vegan protein powder.  I found a brand that I really love but have been dying to try Sun Warrior because of all the rave reviews I keep reading about it.  I finally bit the bullet and ordered a big bag of the chocolate flave:

It’s definitely good, but it’s not better than my usual Lifetime Life’s Basics plant protein powder.  Not taste-wise, at least.  I’m not sorry that I bought it, but my absolute favorite protein powder of all time is still Life’s Basics with greens.  Nothing else compares!

Do you use protein powders?  What kind is your fave?

I really want to get my hands on some good peppermint extract and make a peppermint patty smoothie with a little chocolate protein powder mixed in.  I saw a version on Instagram not long ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

I’m off to watch some trash on TV read an engaging, heartfelt, life-changing novel.  ;)

See ya later!

S.