Saturday, May 24, 2008

My treat

I've been so busy lately that I had to take some time for myself. Tuesday was a special treat for me, as I made the decision to not live by my watch and just enjoy the day (my sister was nice enough to pick up my son from preschool and look after him while I was gone - thanks Lori!).

So, what did I do with this free time? Well, to start, I finally used the gift certificate I got back at Christmas for a much needed full body massage (thank you T.T.!). I felt very relaxed after that; it is amazing how you don't really realize exactly how tense your body is until the tension is gone.

Next, I went shopping, something I rarely have the time to do by myself. When I do shop, I usually have to just grab what I need/want, pay for it and get out of there. But, this time was different.

I know it sounds cashew cheesy, but I felt like Pretty Woman. I purchased some clothes from Martin & Osa, where I basically had the store to myself and all of the sales staff tending to my needs. They brought me a water and informed me about the call button in the dressing room (sometimes I think I'm so simple, ha ha).

After some retail therapy, I decided to get something to eat, so I made my way to the food court to check out the salad place on the corner. When I have my son with me, I end up picking a spot more suited to him, but this time, I could go wherever I wanted.

Now, there isn't anything over-the-top about the place I selected; it just catered well to the raw foodie. It had a menu full of salad and wrap combinations, but also allowed you to build your own out of fresh ingredients (no wilted lettuce here).

To start, I was able to choose from iceberg, romaine, mixed greens and spinach as the base of my salad. I, of course, selected mixed greens. Then, I had them toss in cucumbers, carrots, sprouts, artichoke hearts (not raw, but I love them), walnuts and avocado. It was all mixed with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Yummy.

Recharged with that tasty salad, I did my grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, where I also treated myself to these lovely flowers (I'm a big fan of Gerber daisies). The bright orange color complimented the organic peaches and sweet apricots I also picked up while I was there.

Then, I headed home to see my boys, who allowed me to relax at home, too. I now feel refreshed :-)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Where'd the time go?

That's something I ask myself all the time. It seems like yesterday that Jacob was a little baby getting his first tooth, and now he's already lost it.

He's been begging me all week to show the rest of you by posting about it on this blog. So, since it is Friday (his usual posting day), I thought I'd share this milestone today.

Losing his first tooth was definitely a big deal to him, especially when all the other kids in his preschool class have already lost theirs. He walked into the classroom with a big grin on his face, exposing the gap where his tooth used to be.

Speaking of going to class, he also completed preschool this week (I registered him for kindergarten last week). Doesn't he look cute in his graduation cap? It was so breezy at the graduation ceremony/picnic yesterday that I was lucky to get a pic with him wearing it.

Despite the windy weather, the kids still had a blast on the beach, playing in the sand and putting their feet in the water. The event turned out much better than expected, although we all felt we might blow away during the actual ceremony.

Eating also was a bit of a challenge, but more about keeping the food on the plate as opposed to what to put on it. I ended up having two ears of corn (not raw, but a much better choice amongst the buffet of chicken, burgers, mac and cheese and cookies), a salad made out of the topping for the burgers and some raw veggies I brought from home.

Now, I am enjoying a banana, mango and peach green smoothie before heading off to work. Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend :-)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

More gifts from the heart

As I said in my last post, sometimes the best gifts are those handmade with love. Today, we are celebrating Matthew's grandmother's birthday, so we decided to show our love for her with yet another gift from the heart.

At first, we thought about giving her the typical family photo, since she likes them so much (Matthew's uncle suggested we give her Jacob's baby album, but she'd have to fight him for that). Instead, we opted to give her something with a bit more personality.

It started as a collage idea, using our headshots and some of Jacob's artwork. But then, we discovered we were out of ink in our photo printer.

No worries; I just sketched out the photos, adding Spongebob character bodies, which Jacob colored in with his crayons. He picked out the characters. He, of course, got to be Spongebob, while Matthew flexed his claws as Mr. Krabs and I tried a spacesuit on for size as Sandy Cheeks.

I hope she gets a kick out of the final results, which we had framed. If not, we also picked up some cookies, candies and fresh flowers for her.

Speaking of flowers, they seem to be a theme lately. My son got me the one I showed you in my Mother's Day post, and I gave some to my mom and grandmother, too. You also probably remember the fruit bouquet my sister made me for my birthday (I sure do).

Her birthday is coming up next month, so I need to get my thinking cap on for her. Any ideas? She also made me this great mix CD I'm listening to right now. Here's the playlist:

1. Ruby Blue/Roisin Murphy (my other sister choreographed a dance to this song; I didn't have a clip of that one, but here is a clip I found of her dancing.)
2. Mercy/Duffy
3. Rehab/Amy Winehouse
4. Fidelity/Regina Spektor
5. American Girl/Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
6. Bust a Move/Young MC
7. Downtown/Petula Clark
8. Catch My Disease (Live)/Ben Lee
9. Hide and Seek/Imogen Heap
10. Across the Universe (Bonus)/Rufus Wainwright
11. Extraordinary Machine/Fiona Apple
12. Umbrella/Mandy Moore
13. In the Sun/Joseph Arthur

I hope you enjoyed listening to these tunes as much as I have.

Later today we'll be heading to a local Chinese food restaurant for the birthday gathering. Now, you would think I'd be at a loss for raw food there, but Rawbin assured me I wouldn't starve (or have to give up my rawness) at this place. She gave me a tip about their Mongolian grill; the last time she was there, she selected the raw ingredients she wanted and skipped the cooking part. What a "cool" (literally) idea :-)

I've been making out very well at these events lately. For instance, I went to a mother-daughter banquet at my grandmother's church last weekend, where they traditionally have a salad buffet.

Now, one would suspect this to be a raw no-brainer, since salads are like a raw foodie staple. However, the rest of the cooked world defines "salad" a tad differently. Last year, I filled up on fresh strawberries and corn chips (I know; not raw) just to remain vegan in a sea of mayo-based pastas, tuna/chicken salads and cheesy (and I'm not being funny) dishes.

This year, I came prepared with a huge chopped salad marinated in an Italian vinaigrette. I made sure to have enough for everyone, while still leaving a hefty helping for myself.

But, when I arrived at the function, I was surprised to find that this was not the only raw vegan option. My Aunt Judy brought a southwestern-style salad accented with corn and lime, while my Aunt Susan made sure there was a basic salad with lettuce, tomato and dressing on the side. There were also a couple veggie salads and a ton of fruit. I was so full, but I wasn't about to complain :-)

Wish me the same luck tonight. I'll be sending well-wishes back to you, too. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

By the way, happy birthday grandma!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Being a mom myself, I'm going to make this brief, so I can start enjoying my day, as well. But before I go, I wanted to wish all the other mom's out there a very happy Mother's Day.

I also would like to share a gift I got from my little one on this special occasion. Yes, he and Matthew gave me some store-bought presents, but the one that mattered to me the most was this flower in a pot Jacob made for me in his preschool class.

I always enjoy the projects he brings home, and this one was definitely a favorite. I just adore gifts made with love. Hope your day is filled with love, too :-)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The "rawyal" treatment

In the past couple of years, my mom and I have started a birthday/Christmas tradition (this is my gift from her and my dad on each of these occasions) of going to D.C./Georgetown for a day of shopping/eating at some of my favorite places. Now, since I just celebrated another year in this wonderful world we live in, we headed back into the city yesterday to enjoy another day of fun.

This year, we condensed our trip a bit, so we could be back in time for my sister's dance recital (her last one as the president of her current dance company; she'll be moving on to another school next semester). However, we still managed to make the best of every minute we had out together.

Our first stop was Teaism, one of my mother's favorites since I introduced it to her more than a year ago. There are three locations from which to choose. We selected the Dupont Circle one.

I first saw it featured on "$40 a Day," when I was on my Rachael Ray kick. At the time, I actually recreated many of the recipes she sampled on the show in my own kitchen, but it was a special treat to try them in the very same restaurants she highlights (my personal fave out of the places on the show would have to be Tommy's from the Cleveland episode; in my pre-raw days, I would rave about the Rice Dream shake I had from there).

My mom likes to follow in Rachael's footsteps by indulging in the ginger scones and Teaism chai, although opted for a iced green variety this time with the addition of some zhenzhou pearls (blueberry-size tapioca balls at the bottom of the tea).

Now, I know these "pearls" probably aren't raw, but I decided to treat myself to the experience just for the fun of it. You just can't over analyze everything you consume.

So, since this was my special day, I added some "bubbles" to my fruity rooibos tea, too. However, I did skip out on the scones (I made sure to fill up on my green smoothie and fruit before I left the house; these days, that's all I consume before noon).

When I got my tea, I was happy to see that the cup was compostable, although the straw probably wasn't. But, it was cool to see how this straw was designed specifically for the purpose of allowing the little tapioca balls to fit through it. My mom even snapped a picture of me drinking mine with it.

Our next stop was American Apparel. I wasn't allowed to take any pictures inside, so I got a few shots right outside the front entrance. Just look at those legs. I got a "kick" out of them. I just adore their socks, which I stock up on frequently. They are especially nice during the cold winter months, although I can still be caught wearing a pair of the athletic-style knee socks when my mom gets me out on the tennis court (she is quite the tennis fanatic).

Across the street was H&M, which we hit up next. Oops, I forgot to take pictures, so you'll just have to envision it yourself. Besides, I think most people have been to one before anyway.

I almost brought the camera into the dressing room with me, but I was afraid of what might be going through other people's heads when they would catch a glimpse of the flash going off behind the dressing room door. I wonder if anyone would try to stop me form taking pics in the store then.

Yikes, I suddenly realized we were running behind schedule, so we were off to Java Green, were I got the royal, no make that "rawyal" treatment.

Java Green has been one of my favorite places to eat for the past couple years, although there wasn't much to choose from for the raw foodie (I have to admit that I've sampled a few of the cafe's cooked vegan specialties, which are very good). I love it's commitment to the community and the environment.

But, all that is about to change (I'm referring to the raw options, not the commitment to the community and the environment), according to my Give It To Me Raw friend, D.J. As the owner of Java Green, as well as one of Dhru's buds (he told me about how Dhrumil of We Like It Raw introduced him to the whole raw lifestyle 3 years ago when he showed up at the restaurant with a huge container of agave), he has made the decision to expand the raw menu to include more meal options, drinks and even raw ice cream.

I would have gotten a seaweed salad (a staple on the usual menu) and some kombucha, but D.J. insisted I try the spinach salad with avocado and this lovely ginger dressing he created himself. It was intensely spicy and delicious. Can I get some more of that?

Instead of the kombucha, he also sold me on the raw chocolate milkshake, which was the perfect balance to help cool down my taste buds. My mom even thought it was fantastic, and suddenly didn't feel bad about serving me fruit for my birthday dessert while the rest of my family had the traditional birthday fare. This shake took the cake :-)

D.J. is such a sweet person, taking time out from his own meal and conversation (my apologies to the beautiful girl he was talking to at the time) to personally take my order, serve it to me with a smile, tell me more about the new raw side of Java Green and even pose for pic with yours truly.

The build-your-own raw smoothies, raw milkshakes and other drinks are already available on the menu, and more meal options should be officially added as of next week (Rawbin and I have to go back soon; I'll keep the rest of you updated). He also plans on adding some raw desserts as soon as he can find someone with some commercial kitchen space; Jeff, are you reading this?)

Before I left Java Green, I purchased one of the cafe's logo t-shirts and a necklace made out of acai seeds (all the proceeds go to various causes). I just love the vibe at this place; it puts a smile on my face :-)

At this point, it was around 2:45 p.m., and we still needed to go to Lush, Kiehl's and wherever else we had time to go to on the strip in Georgetown before catching the metro at the Foggy Bottom station at 4 p.m. So, we did some speed-walking from Java Green to end up at Lush by a little after 3 p.m. (it was a little further than expected, but was great exercise; I just wish it wasn't 80 degrees at the time).

To our surprise, I had time to get a quick hand treatment (my mom took this unflattering shot really quick, since you really aren't supposed to take pictures inside the store. I look like I have a double chin. Ha ha. I guess that's what you get for breaking the rules), which sold me on one of the products (for my hands, not the chin).

Then, we still had time to pick up everything we needed at Kiehl's, pose in front of this Barney's window that caught my eye, stop for a beverage to go and make the hike back to the metro station. We arrived there at 4:02 p.m., so we had to wait until 4:12 p.m. for the next train. Oh well, we still made it home in time to have ice cream cake and fruit (I had the fruit), in celebration of my b-day before heading off to my sister's dance recital.

She danced beautifully, although my hubby had trouble capturing it in the following shots (again with the rules; no flash photography, so he did his best without a flash), and the one she choreographed got the biggest applause. I'm so very proud of her :-)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Green is the new yellow

It's been a while since my last Jacob-inspired Friday post, and now that I've had two back-to-back entries, he wasn't about to let me forget his.

So, here is a pic of the two of us after he gave me my birthday present from him Wednesday night. He got me these organic cotton Spongebob pajamas, which I proudly wore to bed. They were the perfect compliment to his Squarepant Underoos.

It made him so happy to have mommy and son matching attire. Just look at the expression on his face. He was bouncing around all night; it's amazing that we ever got him to go to sleep (seriously, we didn't get much sleep).

Happy Friday :-)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Great Sage! Could those be a durians?

As promised, today I am going to fill you in on the little adventure Rawbin and I took Tuesday. I'd like to refer to it as our durian quest (it's about time the two of us got our hands on some, and there was no better time to make this trek than in honor of both our birthdays).

Now, since I did manage to take my camera, I'll spare you the lengthy text. So, here is a photo summary of our day.

Our first stop was the H Mart in Catonsville, Md. Rawbin had gotten a tip that this particular market carried our prickly stinky fruit.

As you can see, we found what we were looking for, so we posed for this pic in the produce section. Rawbin's durian weighed in at 8 pounds, while I selected a smaller 6 pounder. We also picked up a few extra items, including some dried persimmons (sorry, no photo, but I think they looked a little like donuts).

Obviously, we weren't posing for Glamour Shots; the durians are the focus in this pic.

After seizing the treasure at the end of our hunt (wow, that didn't take long), we headed on to Conscious Corner in Clarksville, Md. to celebrate our find. For those of you unfamiliar with this location, it is the home of Roots Market, Bark, The Nest and Great Sage (you may have seen this veg-friendly restaurant in an issue of VegNews magazine).

Our first stop was Roots Market, a small organic market, which even caters to raw foodies. Just check out the refrigerated section of prepared raw snacks (you have to see it to believe it, so I made sure to get this shot), in addition to various other raw ingredients and bulk foods (not pictured, although I did pick up these raw cacao and goji berry chunks of energy from the bulk section; I know I could've made them myself, but sometimes it is nice to have someone else do it for you).

I picked up some of the basics, like my favorite Artisana Coconut Butter (not to be confused with the usual coconut oil; coconut butter has some of the meat blended in, too). But, I also made sure to get some birthday treats for myself, including High Country Goji Berry Kombu Cha, edible flowers (I enjoyed these alongside some heirloom tomatoes in my salad last night, pictured below) and a nonraw Vosges Black Pearl Bar (hey, it was for a special occasion, and Natalia Rose said it was okay. Besides, it was good quality dark chocolate, flavored with wasabi, ginger and black sesame seeds - I bet I could make a raw version next time I want some).

All this talk about food was making me hungry, so we headed over to Great Sage, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, for a bite to eat. Everyone there is so nice; they recognize gluten-free and other various dietary restrictions, preparing your meal as you request.

I had this strawberry and asparagus salad, which I opted to have avocado added to it. I also sipped on a Sunrise smoothie made from strawberries, mango and white grape juice.

Rawbin shared her hummus plate with me, too. She ordered it with extra veggies instead of the usual pita chips. Then, she continued with these flavors in her main meal - this Mediterranean wrap, minus the wrap, and served on a bed of lettuce. She also ordered a maple walnut smoothie.

We had so much fun at the restaurant that we just had to pose for a couple pics. Here is Rawbin and the tree she had been focusing on behind me during our meal.

And, there's yours truly being my usual goofy self in front of the waterfall art I had been admiring the whole time we were there (you can't tell in the pic, but there is water running through it).

Lastly, we went to the Nest (a little eco-friendly boutique, which sells organic cotton, bamboo, soy and hemp clothing, vegan footwear, jewelry, books, gifts, etc.), but unfortunately, left empty handed. I need to save some money for this weekend when my mom and I go shopping in Georgetown/D.C. (I love Lush and American Apparel; I'm wearing a shirt and tank from there in the photos) and to lunch at Java Green (they have added more raw items to the menu; I can't wait to check it out).

But, before I move on to this weekend, I need to tell you about the durian, which we sampled at my mom's house. Now, maybe we don't know anything about selecting the best one, but after sampling both, I have to say I don't care for them. At least I had the chance to experience it for myself. For now, it will be a large contribution to my mom's compost pile. Oh well, we can still say we tried it :-)