Friday, December 24, 2010

Mommy's little helpers

I've got my own little elves. Just look at them putting the finishing touches on our Christmas Eve table decor.

Their Aunt Karen thought it would be a great idea to use personalized placemats tonight made by none other than my creative crew (Jacob and Hayden, of course). It was the perfect project for the start of our holiday break (Jacob is off from school until next year; ha ha, my dad would always say that, as if he meant a whole year from now).

The three of us (I got to help, too) had a blast yesterday making placemats for all twelve family members at the table tonight. I hope they like them. I know Jacob and Hayden are happy with theirs. What do you think?

Hayden definitely had a better reaction to her placemat than she did to Santa this year. I hope he didn't take it personally. She really has been a good girl :-)

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside again

I had to add "again" to the title, as I've already used that song. I guess I just like it.

Anyway, it really is cold outside. I wish I was back in Florida where it was warm (in the high 70s and low 80s when we went to Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot Center, Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios Islands of Adventure), until our last couple days there. I should have purchased this cute little cupcake hat for Hayden on our 86 degree visit to the Magic Kingdom, as it dropped to the 50s the day we headed to Universal Studios (it was so cold in contrast; the lady at the gate had to use her hand-warmer on my index finger to get it to register on the fingerprint reader).

The next day, we got home to 20 and 30 degree temps (we drove straight home, which was an all-day affair. This is how Hayden entertained herself on the trip; gotta love those Crayola Color Wonder markers). Brrr ...

It actually snowed yesterday for Jacob's birthday (happy b-day to my 8-year-old). Uh huh, he really believes it snowed for him; he was hoping it would.

But back to those warm Florida memories. Hayden and I had fun posing for this mock surfing pic.

Jacob helped his sister steady herself on the surf board, too.

We all got really wet on the rapids ride at the Animal Kingdom.

And, check out our four little things (My son Jacob, his cousins Cameron and Colin, and my daughter Hayden) in their warm weather tees.

I'm feeling warmer already, especially with a mug of Hot Choco-Maca Zing. I tested out the recipe on the Natural Zing blog. You can check out the post here. I also reviewed a skin cream, and added my favorite raw cookie recipe from last year. Yum!

I'm still a little worn out from the trip, Jacob's birthday festivities and holiday events (a little maca and chocolate is a good remedy for that), so I opted not to post new cookie recipes this year. At least you can check out my archives ("Cookies Galore" and December 2009).

But don't worry; I'm still in the holiday spirit. Taking a Disney vacation this time of year really puts you in a Christmas mood, as there are loads of decorations, holiday music, displays, parades and other special programs.

Here's just a sample of what we saw:

The whole gang in front of the Dr. Suess display. There's my dad, sister April, sister Lori with her son's Colin and Cameron, and husband Darren, my mom, my son Jacob, my daughter Hayden, my hubby Matthew and me.

Minnie Mouse was in the Christmas parade at the Animal Kingdom.

My hubby and I posed in front of the most amazing light display at Hollywood Studios. You'd have to experience it for yourself. It is all set to music. The bubble "snow" was the best part.

Happy holidays! :-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Maca Sure is good

My family and I recently returned from a fun Orlando vacation at Disney World and the Universal Studios parks. The end of our trip is bittersweet, as it's nice to relax in familiar surroundings, but hard to leave the warm weather behind (thank goodness my sisters and I got Harry Potter scarves as souvenirs; BTW, did anyone catch the HP movie marathon over the weekend?).

At least I had a yummy sweet treat waiting at home for me. The kind people at Sequel Naturals had sent me some Organic MacaSure Chocolat bars to sample. I had hoped to receive them before the trip, but they were well worth the wait.

As you know, I try to only review products I actually like, so lucky for me, this was chocolate (my biggest weakness) from one of my favorite companies. Of course, I liked it.

Although my blog is mainly raw, I do sometimes indulge in cooked food lately (no secrets here), especially if it's good quality dark chocolate. I would have loved to add pieces of these bars to my overnight breakfast oats (I used to add protein powders and nut butters to my soaked overnight oatmeal years ago, but I have to give Gina, a.k.a. the Fitnessista, credit for bringing this concept back into my life with such a cute name; her signature version is called "The Breakfast Cookie" due to the way she shapes her original recipe), but I still enjoyed other Sequel Naturals additions instead.

On my vacation, I'd mix a serving of dry oatmeal with half a packet of Vega Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer, Whole Food Smoothie Infusion or Shake & Go (you may remember my review post when it first came out; now it comes in convenient individual snack packs which are perfect for "packing"), half a pouch (that's right; I said "pouch") of individually wrapped nut butter (another trip-friendly product), a mushed ripe banana and either water, nut milk (I bought some almond milk while I was there) or coconut water (I used the packaged stuff on my trip; I've heard that Brendan recommends this O.N.E.), and let it set overnight. Sometimes I'd also stir in dried fruit, nuts or Vega bar chunks.

Today, I didn't hesitate to try a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough oats with broken bits of MacaSure Chocolat mixed in. Delish! The chocolate paired well with my combination of oats, Vega Shake & Go in Vanilla Almondilla (my fave of the flavors), almond butter, banana and coconut water.

Speaking of chocolate chip, MacaSure Chocolat would also taste yummy in my raw cookies and cupcakes (I've been known to form them into mini doll cakes), as I occasionally like to intermingle raw and cooked. Some of my fellow Vega Community members have got the same idea. Just check out these scrumptious cookies posted by Jill, as well as her MacaSure Chocolate Orange Coconut Balls. Mmmm ...

For an extra special treat, I melted some MacaSure Chocolat on a slice of cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread topped with berries (from my freezer as they are no longer in season), similar to when Chef George Duran made chocolate breakfast sandwiches on "Ham on the Street." Usually, I wouldn't have a taste for the recipes on his show, but this time, I made an exception. Besides, my version is probably better for me, although it's still a little on the naughty side.

The MacaSure Chocolat contains maca, as if you couldn't guess. Here's what the brochure had to say:

"Indulge your senses and reward yourself - without compromising your commitment to your body. MacaSure Chocolat is permission to succumb to your chocolate craving, apology-free." (I like the sound of that).

"The complementary blend of 70% cocoa, organic dark chocolate with maca is a great way to enjoy the benefits of premium maca. Each deliciously decadent bar of MacaSure Chocolat contains 4000 mg of premium, organic maca, renowned for its hormone-balancing, energy-increasing and libido-enhancing properties." (I told you it was a little naughty. Ha ha).

These bars are definitely packed with maca; so much you can really taste it. I love its malt-like flavor and the way it makes me feel. I don't know if it's just a placebo effect, but I could get used to eating this stuff. Thanks Sequel Naturals :-)