December 04, 2022

Harder Than I Thought!

After my recent attempt at doing the 75 Hard challenge and then subsequently quitting, I really wanted to set a more "doable" goal for December. Just 31 days of something that required effort, but not too challenging. So, I decided to try eating only whole foods for the month.

This nifty little chart from the Forks Over Knives website explains the difference between a vegan diet, a plant-based diet, and a whole-food plant-based diet:

Being vegan, I already don't eat animal products. And I thought I was eating mostly whole foods--everything I was making was so much healthier than the things I used to eat, and I haven't been eating many pre-packaged foods (other than a few things that have only whole food ingredients--like Grape Nuts, which have four simple ingredients). And I have occasional vegan "junk" food, but nowhere near as often as I used to.

Anyway, the day before I started this challenge, I was making a menu for the month and as I was reading about a whole-foods plant-based diet online, I discovered that oils and salt aren't included! (A very small amount of sea salt may be used.) This may not sound like a big deal, but I use oil and salt in almost everything when I cook. I make oil-based marinades for tofu, which is my favorite food; I use sesame oil in a lot of the Asian sauces I make; I sauté and roast vegetables with olive oil; I even use coconut oil when I bake.

Still, I wanted to give this a try. I got a new non-stick skillet (which I am going to hide from my family, so it *stays* non-stick! haha) and the Forks Over Knives cookbook (all whole-food plant-based recipes). I felt prepared.

Then the day I started, I felt totally lost! I was realizing that several ingredients I use for various dishes don't actually fit into the whole-food plant-based diet. To do this would require a huge overhaul of most of the recipes I've been enjoying.

I wanted to quit the whole idea, because it was overwhelming; however, I was embarrassed to quit because I'd just quit 75 Hard. I really do want to try to work my way toward eating the healthiest I can, so came up with a compromise: For December, I'll start learning a some different cooking techniques (like cooking without oil, and learning substitutes for foods that aren't whole-food plant-based) and I'll try some new recipes from the Forks Over Knives cookbook.

In January, I'll start with a small goal like like sautéing vegetables in water instead of oil, while still using oil in things like marinades and sauces. Then in February, I can try another small change, like cutting back on salt. Doing it this way, rather than diving right in, will probably work better for me. A lot of times, I *like* jumping right into a big change; but this is just overwhelming. Especially because I was expecting it to be much easier than it is! If not for the salt and oil, I would have no problem with it.

I made tofu a couple of days ago without using the oil-based marinade, and it definitely wasn't as good. It was kind of dry and there wasn't much flavor, since I also didn't add salt. So I'm going to try out some recipes this month that have different techniques (either for marinades or preparation) to avoid the oil and see if I can find something I like. I can also cut back on the amount of oil I use, and maybe I'll start to get used to it.

The Forks Over Knives cookbook looks like a great resource and I think it will be fun trying some new ingredients and techniques for cooking in order to make things whole-food plant-based. While I can certainly see myself being vegan forever, I don't think it's realistic to aim for only eating a strict whole-food vegan diet. Reading "How Not To Die" by Dr. Michael Greger (Amazon affiliate link) has me motivated to make some healthy changes, though. I just learned that I need to do it gradually if I have any shot at making it stick! (or *not* stick, in the case of sautéing without oil, hahaha)

I think something that I have a very hard time with is all-or-nothing thinking. I'm either all-in or not at all. It's something I *know* is a problem, especially when it comes to diet, so I think it'll be good for me to find a good compromise!

December 03, 2022

(Belated) Friday Night Photos

The past couple of days have been so crazy! I probably won't get this done in time to post by 10:00 like I usually do, but it's been a fun couple of days. Jeanie and Shawn decided to take a last-minute trip out here (from Illinois) and I haven't seen them in a while--it was fun to get together with them.

Yesterday, my parents, Jeanie, Shawn, Nathan, Jerry, Noah, Eli, and I went to Brian and Becky's house for dinner. It's become rare to see all three of my siblings at the same time, so I was looking forward to it. When we got there, I let Riley pick out a charm for her necklace.

[Earlier this year, I went to a garage sale and found a bag with a ton of charms. It was only $1, and its had Riley's name written all over it. I gave her one of the chains and told her that every time I see her, I'll let her pick out a charm.]

I asked if I could take her picture with the charm necklace, and this is how she posed--hahaha! (Clearly, she clearly had been playing with her make-up kit.)

She had already done Jeanie's make-up (Jeanie made sure to let me know that her face looked so pretty because Riley applied the make-up!) and she wanted to do my make-up, too. Of course she could. 

Apparently, she wasn't as careful applying my lipstick as she was with Jeanie's. As for the rest of my face, Jerry said it just looked like I got stung by a bee, haha.

Riley also asked Jerry and Nathan if she could do their make-up as well. Nothing says "I'm a good sport" like allowing your four-year old niece to put make-up on your face! (And paint your nails.)

Riley's "Jerry face"

Lucky Uncle Nathan

Naturally, my mom had the idea for a family photo only AFTER we had our make-up done! (Brian took the photo with his camera, so I don't have it.)

Noah and Eli have been hanging out quite a bit recently, and I love that. They don't have much (if anything) in common, so I like it when I see them talking and laughing together. I asked if I could take their picture; I love my boys <3 

Noah always surprises me with how good he is with kids. He says he doesn't want kids, but he likes Luke and Riley because "they talk like adults". Brian and Becky never used "baby talk" with them, so they really do have conversations like little adults! They had so much fun chasing Noah all over the house.

I walked into the living room to talk to Jeanie and I did a double-take when I saw what appeared to be the lower half of a body lying there. I burst out laughing because, well, who expects to see that? Jeanie is an occupational therapist and she had this amputee torso in her car because she teaches people how to wrap their residual limbs after surgery. Riley wants to be "a nurse like her mom", so Jeanie thought it might be fun for Riley to learn how to wrap, too. (Jeanie said she stores the bandages in the underwear--she wasn't trying to stuff them, haha)

Before leaving, Riley had one more makeover to do--on Jeanie's hair.

Jeanie and I made plans to run together this morning, but it was SO WINDY that it woke me up--I could hear branches hitting the sides and roof of the house, and then it sounded like a freight train was outside. So, we didn't end up running.

I went over to my parents house to see them again today (they're leaving tomorrow morning). I was eager to talk to Shawn and hear about his rehab experience (Jeanie actually did a guest post about what it's like when you're husband is in rehab--you can find that on this post). We sat down to chat, and the next thing I knew, it was three hours later and everyone was going to bed! So I didn't get a good chance to catch up with Jeanie. However, she mentioned that we should go out and visit them soon--I've been wanting to go for months, but things were crazy here for a while. I think we're going to try to go later this month.

I only have a few other photos from this past week and they are totally out of place here, so I'll just save them for Friday. Have a great weekend! xo

December 02, 2022

(Almost) Wordless Friday

I just got home from a family get-together at my brother's house, and it's almost 9:00 PM. I had so much fun, but I also have a killer headache, so I'm going to save my "Friday Night Photos" post for tomorrow--there are some fun ones from today! Here is a teaser photo... hahaha

December 01, 2022

Three Things Thursday: Things I Wish I Knew As a Kid

While I was painting my bedroom today, I was trying to think of a topic for "three things" today. I have no idea where this one came from, but I thought it would be interesting: Three Things I Wish I Knew As a Kid.

When I say "kid", I'm just referring to younger days--say, up to age 25 or so. When I still had no clue how the world worked ;)

1. Stretch marks and loose skin are permanent.

This may sound very shallow, but back when I was a teenager, I guess I never really thought about it. I remember getting stretch marks on my upper arms first; followed by my upper thighs. I had no idea what they were! If I had known, I don't know if it would have stopped me from binge eating or overeating in general, but even when I learned what stretch marks were, I guess I assumed they would go away when I lost weight.

I remember being on a class trip in eleventh grade and I was sitting with a boy I liked. He (innocently) asked me "what happened" to my arm (he genuinely didn't know what stretch marks were). I was embarrassed and told him that I'd burned it when I was a kid, so it was scarred. (From that moment on, though, I stopped wearing anything sleeveless.)

Hmmm... after writing this, it makes me wonder if, later on, when he learned what stretch marks were, did he feel embarrassed for asking?

It just seems so unfair that the choices we make as children (I think I started binge eating when I was about 10--maybe even a little younger) can cause permanent damage and we don't get a second chance. I've never known what it feels like to have a flat stomach without stretch marks or very saggy thighs (I have a lot of loose skin there as well as stretch marks). I've never been able to wear shorts (not just because of how they look, but because it was never comfortable when my thighs would rub together). 

Something I found fascinating recently, however, was that Eli discovered stretch marks in a couple of spots where he's built a lot of muscle. He lifts weights and probably lifts the heaviest in his class; yesterday, he benched 275 pounds! (The average adult male benches about 135 pounds.) I asked him if the stretch marks bothered him, and he said no--that in the gym, guys see them as sign of impressive strength. Is that interesting?! 

But anyway, I do wish I had known that if I made better choices, I wouldn't have stretched and scarred skin as an adult. Which leads me to my second one...

2) Tanning is horrible for your skin.

I used to go to a tanning salon with my friend Sarah in high school; we'd probably go 2-3 times a week. I thought it was completely innocent! Girls would lie on the beach to tan or, in the colder months, go to tanning beds. I wish I knew then that Sarah was going to die at age 31 from melanoma--maybe we wouldn't have gone tanning.

When we think of smoking cigarettes, we know it pretty much goes hand-in-hand with lung cancer. That was drilled into my brain when I was in elementary school--"don't smoke or you'll get lung cancer". Nobody warned us of tanning, though. Did you know that more people get skin cancer from indoor tanning than people who get lung cancer from smoking? (source). That's fascinating!

I also remember being told that it was healthy to have a tan. Tans were safe--a healthy glow--but sunburns were miserable for "a few days". I wish I had known that there is no such thing as a safe tan and that the damage has already been done--you can't untoast bread, and in this case, your skin is the bread. ("You can't untoast bread" is one of my favorite analogies and I probably use it way too frequently! Haha)

When I was about 15, I went camping with a friend and her family. She immediately wanted to lie on the beach to get a tan. Even though I am not a fan of the beach OR the sun, I agreed. A few hours later, I had blisters on my face, neck, and arms. It was the worst sunburn I'd ever had. I didn't know it at the time, but it increased my risk of skin cancer by a ridiculous amount. 

Whether it's from sunburn or tanning, skin damage accumulates from the very first tan or burn. ONE indoor tanning session before age 35 increases your risk of melanoma by 75%! (source) Would I still have tanned if I knew that back then? Maybe. Was it worth the risk? Heck no! I have sun damage on my face that was caused from my teenage years.

Okay, enough of the public service announcements, haha. 

3. When people are mean to you, *most* of the time it's because they're insecure about themselves.

When I was in the fourth grade, I was teased mercilessly by a boy named Richard. I never knew that I was overweight until he started calling me "Shamu" and doing things like putting a sign on my back that said "Wide Load" (yes, that really happened). I became a wallflower. I tried not to draw any attention to myself and I started dieting to try to lose weight. In fourth grade! I think this was around the time I started binge eating and eating in secret, as well; I was ashamed.

In retrospect, I can clearly see the signs that Richard didn't have a great home life. He had dirty, greasy hair and was also more overweight than I was--but I didn't think of that back then. I never noticed it at the time, but he didn't have any friends. I also wasn't the only one he made fun of; my friend Sarah (a different one) was nicknamed "Snots" because she had to blow her nose a lot. He also asked her if she wanted him to bring her some turtle wax because her dad was bald. BAHAHA! It's so funny to think about now--if I had known back then what I do now, I would probably be an entirely different person today.

It's something I've tried to teach my boys; and maybe my parents even tried to teach it to me but I just didn't listen. If you're not "cool" in high school, it feels like your life might as well be over. And then later in life, you learn that it's usually the "uncool" kids who are the most successful and interesting adults!

I'm glad that I was never the bully in school, but I do wish I'd stood up for the kids who were bullied. If I could go back in time, I would have befriended them and not stand by while people made fun of them. When I think back to how badly some kids were teased, it makes me wonder how they managed to make it through high school. And I certainly hope that they can see now that their bullies were probably insecure and just projecting those feelings on someone they perceived as an easy target.

So there it is... in a nutshell, I wish I'd have known to take good care of my body because what we do as kids can cause permanent damage; and I wish I'd have been my 100% true self without caring one iota of what people thought of me!

November 30, 2022

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 79

Remember the post I wrote recently called "On This Day"? It was on November 22--that wasn't any special day to me, but I decided to post photos that I'd taken on November 22 throughout the last 20 or so years.

One of the photos was of me wearing a red sock monkey onesie (pajamas) in 2015. I loved those pajamas! But they got to be too big for me and I got rid of them. I wrote on the post that I wish I still had them because they were so comfy.

Today, Jerry gave me a surprise gift--another sock monkey onesie, identical to my other one! He'd apparently read my post and then searched them out on Poshmark. I love them :)  However, at the rate things are going, they just may become too small--ugh. Well, I'm keeping them anyway.

Which leads me to my weigh-in. Every week I just keep feeling more and more discouraged. Disappointed. Worried. Annoyed. Angry. Frustrated. Even indifferent sometimes.

Surprise, surprise--the scale was up again.

I was at 137. I'm not too upset about the actual number; I'm just really worried that I'm going to continue to gain like I have been for the last six weeks or so and then fast forward a few months and I'll be right back where I was last year.

A couple of months ago, I was done trying to lose weight and I just wanted to see if I could figure out maintenance--something I've never done before. I was doing really well, and it felt so NATURAL.

Until it didn't. I don't know what happened! I had finally started to accept that I might actually keep the weight off this time--something just felt so different about it--and then my appetite became ravenous. I have some ideas about what could have possibly triggered it, but they don't seem very likely. (When I was super stressed out and overwhelmed, my appetite was pretty much gone. So when some of my stress was relieved, it's possible that my body was making up for it.)

I know I'm eating too much and I know that if I continue to do so, I'm going to gain back every pound I just spent a year and half losing. It's depressing to think of it that way! I know people will tell me I'm being too hard on myself, and maybe that's true, but I can't help feeling disappointed that I'm *still* dealing with this.

Last week, I wrote that I talked with my therapist about the overeating and she gave me "homework". A few people asked what it was; it wasn't anything mind-blowing. She just gave me a worksheet and asked me to write down a few notes whenever I would overeat or eat compulsively:

1) "Something happens" (Activating Event--in my case, overeating)
2) "I tell myself something" (Belief/Stuck Point--in my case, "I'm going to gain back every pound and then be fat for the rest of my life")
3) "I feel something" (Consequence--in my case, anger at myself and worried)

Then, instead of telling myself something like, "I'm going to gain back every pound and then be fat for the rest of my life" --yes, I know that's dramatic; I tend to catastrophize everything--I should come up with a statement that is more productive. Telling myself I'm going to gain back every pound isn't helpful or productive--so I'm supposed to think of a productive statement instead, whether I believe it or not.

She told me that this activity may or may not be helpful, but I said I would give it a try. And so far, I haven't found it very helpful. I still have negative and unhelpful thoughts, and I'm not sure what to replace them with!

Tomorrow, I'm starting a month-long challenge of eating only whole foods. I was writing out a meal plan today and I hadn't realized that I can't have oil! It's going to be harder than I thought. I always cook with olive oil, and it's kind of a mindless habit. But I think this will be kind of fun--another sort of cooking adventure. No added salt and no oil?

When going through my recipes today, though, I realized that a lot of them are already whole-food plant-based recipes. I'll make several of those and I'll try out some new recipes as well. I'm just glad that I can still have tofu. Never in my life did I imagine that tofu would be a favorite food--I actually crave it pretty frequently!

Anyway, I'm getting off on a tangent here, and it's already past the time I usually publish my posts (10:00 PM). I was painting the bedroom and I didn't realize how late it had gotten. I'm going to put my sock monkey onesie back on and read some of my book before bed. I *really* hope that I have a good weigh-in next week! (Even if I don't lost weight, I'd like to stop gaining.)

November 29, 2022

A Goal For December

I've mentioned several times that I've been struggling hard with food lately--eating too much and too frequently. A couple of months ago, I was doing great! I had zero cravings for junk food and probably 95% of what I ate was unprocessed. I felt awesome, too.

Over the last several weeks, I'm not sure what happened, but I started craving junk food again. I noticed that once I eat something sweet, I crave sweets for about three days--and it's SO hard to get through those few days without feeding the craving. I know that if I can power through, the cravings will stop; it just feels so hard in the moment!

You all know I love goals and challenges--sometimes I get too ambitious and I quit (like 75 Hard), but sometimes I really enjoy them and I finish whatever it is that I set out to do (like a blogging streak--I haven't missed a day since December 2019).

I've been thinking this week about how badly I want to get back to feeling in control and not having any sugar cravings, and just feeling my best. I've been reading (very slowly, but surely) the book "How NOT to Die" by Dr. Michael Greger (Amazon affiliate link). It's all about how diet relates to our health and how "food is medicine" (it sounds really boring by my description, but it's actually very interesting!).

The book inspired me to want to try eating whole-food plant-based for a month. I'm currently still eating a vegan diet, but there are a LOT of junk foods that are vegan. I think challenging myself to eat whole foods for a month might be just what I need to get rid of the sweet cravings and feel good about my choices again.

Jerry made my favorite whole-food recipe last night--beans and greens! The first time he made this, I must have been having a rough day (or week or month) and it was SO good and comforting. And now it's a big-time comfort food for me. Thankfully, it's super healthy! Here is the recipe that he follows. (He uses collard greens instead of kale, and great northern beans--I like it better that way--and he adds an extra can of beans in there, too.) 

Of course, I'd love to eat whole foods all the time and not just for a month, but I think setting my sights on a short-term goal will help me to work on long-term goals afterward. (Does that make sense?) I can pretty easily control myself with "junk" foods that aren't sweet--like tortilla chips, for example--so after the challenge I may add stuff like that back in. I love lentil tortilla soup topped with some tortilla chips! It's the sweets that do me in.

I already know a ton of recipes that are made with whole foods, so it will just take some time to put together a menu for the month. I like the idea of a menu for the whole month so that I don't have to figure things out on the fly. I can make extra sauces and things to freeze for later in the month, too. I also like to prep ingredients here and there throughout the day so that I can cook dinner super fast, and it obviously helps to know what I'll be making.

As far as what is considered a "whole food"... I am just going to use my best judgment. There isn't a black and white list as to what is a whole food and what is not, so I may eat some foods that other people may not consider to be "whole" (nutritional yeast, for example). Something like maple syrup is controversial, too--it has a ton of sugar--but because it's one of the least processed sweeteners out there, I'll still use it to add to sauces (a lot of Asian sauces that I make call for some sort of sweetener) and things like that.

So anyway, I'm just going to use my best judgment and not be ridiculously strict. The whole point is to eat food that makes me feel good! I'm going to keep a simple journal, too--hopefully that will help me figure out the effect certain foods have on my body and cravings, etc. I'm looking forward to doing this challenge! Let's just hope that I stick with it ;)

November 28, 2022

(Almost) Wordless

I had another busy day working in the bathroom, and I'm exhausted! Jerry made beans and greens for dinner (which has become my most favorite comfort food) so I'm going to keep this "wordless" and just post a picture (or three).

I figured out a way to hang the hexagon cat shelf thing, so I hung that up in the bedroom today. I have the holes in it pointing downward--I'm going to add a shelf underneath so that the cats can jump down (or climb up) through the holes. They'll be able to go from shelf to shelf.

I painted the inside of it gray, but I still have to paint the outside of it; I just wanted to make sure I could hang it first!

There is a rectangular hole in the wall at the back of the hexagon that leads to the top of the closet in the bathroom. When it's done, I'll post photos of all of it so it'll make more sense!

November 27, 2022

A Super Quick Bathroom Update

Finally... color! :)  A very bold choice, and I was super nervous to do it, but I *love* it!! I'm waiting for the caulk to dry and I have to hang the shower curtain rod, and then we can take a shower in our own bathroom. I can't even describe how much I am looking forward to having our bathroom back. I will never take it for granted again. (Sharing with two teen boys is not fun.)

There is still a lot to do. Today I cut the molding for the top of the closet, but I still have to paint it (you can kind of see it in the top left). Jerry has to finish the floor, and then I have to install and paint floor trim. I have to paint the inside of the closet (I want to do white so that it's not super dark in there), paint and hang the closet door, paint the bathroom door, cut and install shelves in the closet, and THEN I can finally get to work on the bedroom.

For the bedroom, I have to install and paint molding; make and hang the shelves for the "cat wall"; and prep, prime, and paint the walls and ceiling. I'm sure there are more, but those are the priorities right now.

Tonight I'm trying to figure out how to hang the hexagon cat shelf I made a while ago and it's making me crazy. The placement of the studs in the wall is making it nearly impossible (I say "nearly" because I am determined to find a way to do it). I wish I'd planned it out when I was building the wall--I would have strategically placed the studs where I needed them.

Anyway, I'm actually keeping this post short today--I'm motivated to keep working! It's fun now that I can see the progress :)

November 26, 2022

RECIPE: Mulligatawny Soup

vegan mulligatawny soup

I made this recipe a few weeks ago and planned to post a recipe review, so I took all the pictures. Then I realized that I couldn't post it because it came from a recipe book! I emailed the publisher to ask for permission to post the recipe here but I didn't hear back from them... until a few days ago. Thankfully, they gave me the go-ahead to share the recipe. (I don't like to post reviews of recipes that aren't freely available.)

This recipe is from "How it all vegan!", a vegan cookbook by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer. It's an old book that I got from a thrift store.

The name of this recipe, Mulligatawny Soup, caught my eye at first; and then when I read the ingredients, I thought it sounded super interesting. It was unlike any other recipe I'd seen before, but it still used common ingredients (nothing weird in this one!). The coconut was especially intriguing.

A google search just now showed me that it's not unusual at all--Mulligatawny is a common Indian dish. This particular recipe, however, is different from the few that I looked at, so I have no idea how authentic this is. 

This cookbook is kind of fun to cook from because there are no pictures. Normally, I like cookbooks with pictures for every recipe! But to make something with a weird name and not having any clue what it's going to look like in the end was kind of fun.

Here is a printer-friendly version, if you want to skip my beautiful food photography ;) 

First, the ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
6 cups vegetable stock
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 large potatoes, cut in cubes
1/2 cup rice
1 small red pepper, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1 cup cauliflower, sliced
3/4 cup grated coconut
3 tsp. lemon juice
3 tsp. cilantro (optional)

A lot of ingredients, but nothing strange! It didn't specify to use sweetened or unsweetened coconut, so I just assumed unsweetened and that's what I used. Also, I chose not to use the cilantro. As usual when I make new recipes, I prepped all of the ingredients first so that I didn't have to rush while cooking.

The "vegetable stock" powder I have is a homemade blend (recipe can be found here). I just add it with water for the vegetable stock in recipes; it's easier than having containers of stock around!

I thought it was a bit awkward to slice the cauliflower instead of cut it into small florets (and if making it again, I would choose to do the florets).

First, you sauté the onions and celery in oil in a large soup pot over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

Then you add the spices, soy sauce, veggie stock, carrots, potatoes, and rice. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.

Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the peppers, tomato, cauliflower, coconut, lemon juice, and cilantro. Stir together and simmer 5-10 more minutes until vegetables are tender.

Remove half of the soup and purée in a blender or food processor.

Then pour it back in the soup pot and stir to mix it all together.

And this is what it looked like when it was done:

Thoughts? It was very good! It was surprisingly creamy, considering there weren't cashews or coconut milk in it. To me, it tasted like a smooth, spicy curry. The curry powder I have is on the spicy side, so the spice level may vary, depending on the brand of curry you use. I loved all the different textures and I thought all of the flavors went together really well.

I can't remember if the kids ate it, but I know Jerry and I both really liked it, and we each had leftovers the next day. The creaminess and the spice made me think that it's the perfect winter comfort-soup. Next time, I'll make some bread to go with it. It's a great soup to make when you've got some veggies to use up! I think I may add some tofu next time, too--because everything is better with tofu ;) 

November 25, 2022

Friday Night Photos

Yay for Friday! This week feels a little off because of Thanksgiving, but after how busy the last few days have been, it's nice that we still have a whole weekend ahead :)

I've spent the last three days going back and forth between the kitchen (cooking) and the bathroom (painting). I finally decided on a paint color and I painted the first coat today. It's VERY drastic--but I love it! It's still drying right now so it looks splotchy--if it's dry enough for a photo before I go to bed, I'll add it here.

First, a few pictures of the nieces and nephews...

Brian wanted to do something fun with the kids while Luke is out of school for Thanksgiving, so they took a short trip to the everglades in Florida! He rented a convertible for them (it's not pink and purple with unicorns on it, unfortunately, which was Riley's request) but they were excited to ride in it!

I haven't heard about their trip yet, but Becky sent me this picture. I love that Luke and Riley are so close--I'm sure they posed like this all on their own. The last time I went over to babysit them, when Luke got home from school, Riley ran over to him to give him a hug and ask him how school was. 

This is Hunter! Laura (Jerry's sister) sent me this picture yesterday. Isn't that smile adorable?! (Hunter is the result of when I went with Laura to have her embryo transfer--I got to watch on the ultrasound as they transferred the embryo to her uterus--and it was so cool looking! I was thrilled when the transfer was successful, and now look at him. So sweet.)

This is Shelby, who will be three in a week! I cannot believe how fast she's grown. It's funny how all four of my nieces and nephews have super-blonde hair.


Yesterday, we went to my mom and dad's house for dinner. I brought over the vegan stuff that I made: seitan "turkey", mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, stuffing, and cranberry sauce (well, the cranberry sauce was from a can--my favorite, haha). Becky and my mom tried the green bean casserole and said they would never have known that it was vegan (I got the recipe for the condensed cream of mushroom soup from Plant Power Couple). Everything turned out really good! Jerry was thrilled that I made stuffing and that it tasted like the stuffing he's used to. 

I also made not one, but TWO pies! I made a pumpkin pie (that actually turned out really good--I don't have a picture, but I used this recipe). And I just had to try out a pecan pie to see if my dad would like it. As you know, it's tradition for me to make my dad a pecan pie for his birthday and for Father's Day. My recipe has butter and eggs in it, so I tried out a vegan recipe that was actually suggested by a reader. (You can find the recipe here. It's by the same food blogger that posted the pumpkin pie.) It doesn't look great in this photo, but it was AMAZING. And it's made with tofu!! (I use chopped pecans rather than halved, because it's easier to cut--so it's not very pretty, but it's practical.)

The verdict? My dad said it was good, but he likes my other pecan pie better. (I kind of knew he'd say that.) My mom said she was completely "sold" on the vegan pecan pie. I would totally use this recipe again. I was amazed that it stayed together so well--that was what I thought would be impossible. The pie crust that I always make is already vegan, so I was glad to be able to use that--it takes literally three minutes to throw together. (Here is the recipe for my dad's favorite pecan pie)

Becky and I walked over to where my parents had a puzzle set up and we started to look through the pieces. Then we got sucked in and started working on it, and my mom came and joined us. We were able to make some progress on it! It's a tough puzzle. (Also, I learned that my dad doesn't allow himself to look at the box when he does puzzles, because he thinks it's cheating--crazy, right?)

When we got home, we set up the Christmas tree. Jerry is totally in his element from now until Christmas--it's his favorite time of year. Oh, and this is a crazy coincidence: yesterday, while working on my blog post, I was looking for a meme to include in the post while Jerry was scrolling through TV. Right as I found the meme I wanted to use (the one about Home Alone), Jerry started a movie. The second he pressed the button, I asked him (without looking up), "You're watching Home Alone?" and he said yes, thinking that I watched what movie he chose. I literally had ZERO idea that he was putting on Home Alone, or even starting a movie! I only said that because of the meme I was looking at, and I figured he was probably looking for a Christmas movie. We were both kind of stunned and we laughed about it.

We got a new tree-topper this year...

And here is my annual "I Spy" picture... can you find Little Duck?

The second after I took this picture, Duck stumbled out of the tree, doing a back flip and landing on all fours. Half the ornaments came down with him, hahaha. 

Duck was sleeping on my head again. It's SO comforting to have him purr right next to my ear. Seeing the Christmas tree made me think about last year and how Duck ate that yarn and needed surgery. (I knew something was wrong that morning because he was hiding under the Christmas tree and refused to come out for food.) It was horrible! I'm so glad that he's okay and he still likes to sleep on my head.

And Phoebe has been super cuddly lately, too. She looked so sweet asleep on my thighs like this.

Well, it's 9:00 PM and I haven't had dinner yet, so I'm going to go find something to eat. I'm starving! Have a great weekend :)  xo

Featured Posts

Blog Archive