Saturday, May 28, 2011

Seaside surprises

Keeping with the whole spontaneity thing, Hayden and I just got back from an overnight trip to the beach with my parents. My dad was playing in a golf tournament, which my mom opted to tag along for some fun in the sun. A couple days prior to their departure, they invited us girls to keep my mom company (Matthew had to work, and Jacob had school).

Usually, I'd be pretty good about documenting my meals in pics, but I was having so much fun that I nearly forgot about any food photography. At least, Hayden gave me this cute pose to share. Yes, she is eating cucumbers and seaweed snacks on the beach (I had no idea she'd enjoy the seaweed so much). It just seemed appropriate for the location.

It was nice to have some girl time with my mom again (although we did just go shopping with her on Tuesday, with a yummy lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. The restaurant is very vegan-friendly and willing to make alterations to menu items by request. For example, I got them to make the banana smoothie without the cream; it ended up being bananas blended with ice, but perfect for Hayden and me).

Yesterday, we had brunch at a bright pink restaurant with strawberries painted all over the place. My mom, Hayden and I loved the fresh squeezed (not pasteurized) grapefruit and orange juices, along with bowls of fresh fruit. I even got them to serve me a bowl of spinach that is usually reserved for the omelets on the menu.

I made sure to bring fresh produce in a cooler for the beach, along with some other snacks. I wish I had taken a pic of the papaya, avocado and lime salad I made on the beach, inspired by Kimberly Snyder's salad on her site. Mine had papaya (I had just picked up an organic one from Trader Joe's. Yum!), avocado, a bunch of fresh mint leaves, large coconut flakes (If you purchase from Natural Zing, you can get $6.99 flat rate shipping, within the continental United States, for the Memorial Day weekend) and generous squeezes of lime juice.

Mmmm ... that's making me hungry. I think I'll go make lunch now ...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Projects & finals

I'm always coming up with things to do, but somehow never get around to doing those things. Therefore, I'm happy to report when I check something off the list.

Since I've been keeping myself busy, I don't have much of a chance to check in with my lovely readers. Here's a quick sample of what's taking up my time these days.

Remember how I had gotten quite a bit of cupcake print material?

I had originally hoped to make aprons out of it for sale, although that's far from original. Instead, it's been sitting in my sewing closet, along with my dusty sewing machine (I can't remember the last time I took it for a spin).

Anyway, I spontaneously dusted off my machine yesterday, using it to transform some of the fabric into a simple sundress for Hayden. I was on a roll, so I also made one for my cousin's daughter for her 1rst birthday. I hope she likes it as much as Hayden does.

The funny part is that Hayden is about her size, despite the age difference. They should look cute in their matching dresses.

My friend Becky's son Leo is also on the small side. We finally had another play date with them last week. Here's an updated photo of Hayden and Leo in their car seats.

Jacob has been busy, too, finishing up his 2nd grade year of school. We recently participated in his school's mini Relay for Life (like the one I posted about last year).

Today, I helped him prep for one of his final projects: his costume for the vocabulary parade. He had to pick a vocabulary word from the year and make a hat, banner or costume to represent the word in a parade through the school. He selected "sketch," which suits him well.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you an update. Hope all is well with you, too. Can you believe that I nearly ended this blog almost one year ago?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Comfort food

Not too long ago, I mentioned the fact that I do, on occasion, eat some cooked food, especially in the cooler months. Now that it is warm again, it seems that my love affair with raw is back and going strong (not that it ever fully went away; the amount only dropped a tiny bit).

But, that doesn't mean I'm not eating "warming" comfort foods. I'm just not cooking them, like this raw mac n cheese, I'll get to in a moment.

The other day I told you about the book my hubby and kids got me for Mother's Day ("Raw Food, A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day"), as well as the one Matthew surprised me with for my birthday (Kimberly Snyder's "The Beauty Detox Solution"). I've actually made some of the recipes from Kimberly's book and have plans to try more than a few from the other book, which shocked my husband.

Although I tend to read health-related books from cover to cover and enjoy drooling over the pics in my raw cookbooks, I rarely follow the recipes in them. I'm too busy creating my own recipes, until now.

Since cutting back on the whole blogging thing, I no longer felt the pressure to come up with recipes on my own. For a while, I just kept things simple, sticking to the basics (salads, smoothies, fresh fruits and veggies in their natural state). The majority of the time, this is how I eat, but when I want to mix things up a bit, maybe I should sample what other raw "uncooks" have to offer.

In this case, I considered a raw chef. Can you believe I've had Matthew Kenney's "Everyday Raw" for a year or two and I finally got around to making a recipe from it? The smoothie I tossed together yesterday is very similar to one in his book, which may be why I thought to pull it off my shelf.

After seeing his "Baked Macaroni and Cheese" recipe on Joanna's site (oops, that was a Russell James recipe, but she recently posted about eating Matthew Kenney's mac n cheese. Her baby is so cute!), I've thought about trying it myself, but for some reason, never did. It reminds me of the raw mac n cheese I've made in the past (thank goodness my photography skills have improved since then), although I used Italian seasonings and tomatoes to mimic my mom's cooked version.

Matthew Kenney's raw mac n cheese has a pretty standard "cheese" sauce base, like mine, that he amps up the heat with some chili powder, cayenne, paprika, etc. He also tops his with some crumbled walnut "bread crumbs" before "baking" it in the dehydrator for an hour or so.

The main tip I got from this recipe was how to make the "noodles." In the past (I haven't made mine in ages), I would cut my "macaroni" by hand, which takes forever. Instead, he recommends running the zucchini through a spiral slicer first, and then cutting the spirals into the desired shape. Very cool, especially now that I have one of these gadgets (I didn't when I used to make raw mac n cheese).

You could be in the running for one of these nifty tools, too, as well as a nutmilk/sprouter bag and some glass straws, by entering my blogging friend Robyn's giveaway on her site, Girl On Raw (she attended Matthew Kenney's 105 Degrees Academy ... she has a cute baby, too!). You'll need to make it quick; her contest (not mine; just making sure you're reading this right) ends this Sunday, May 15. Good luck to any and all of you who enter.

But back to this yummy mac n cheese. I'm so glad I have leftovers. I know what I'm having for dinner tonight. So comforting :-)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bittersweet memories

I had no plans of posting today, until I was halfway finished this bright orange concoction (can you see what's left in the bottom of my cup?). Before I polished off the rest, I quickly snapped these pics to share.


Well, I thought you'd be interested in seeing yet another green smoothie in disguise. Seriously, they're greens in there somewhere, hiding amongst this bittersweet combination of ingredients (did you know that bittersweet also means "a dark to deep reddish orange?"). Any guesses as to what's in it?

After filling my blender container with about two thirds to three quarters full of mostly romaine and some mixed greens, I topped it off with a few tablespoons of goji berries (I soaked them for a bit first), an orange (peeled and seeded, of course), mango chunks, ginger, cinnamon and a hefty tablespoon of the coconut cream concentrate I mentioned in this much greener post. The results were very delicious (it's all gone now) and nutritious (far from an original description; I just love how it rhymes). Yum!

This undercover green smoothie won't be mistaken for a coffee beverage like the last one, but it does look like a thick pulpy orange juice. It's a good way to start the day.

Hope you have a lovely day. I know my blogging friend Michal of Lil Earth Muffin is (hey Michal, the purse in the backdrop of these pics is the one I commented back about. It reminded me to mention the award); after receiving the One Lovely Blogger Award herself (you deserve it lovely lady), she passed it on to me, as well as to six other "deserving bloggers" (thank you!).

Now, I guess I need to come up with seven things to share, as I have many times before (hope you don't mind that I decided not to come up with a specific list of deserving bloggers; you all are deserving in my mind). I feel like my life is an open book. What don't you know? Anyway, here's a few things:
  1. My favorite films are independent flicks. I really got into them while working in a video store in my younger days. I could totally relate to the movie, "Clerks."
  2. Also, in my youth, I would paint my nails with crazy designs; no color was off limits. Hard Candy "Sky" (a baby blue shade the founder of the company mixed herself to match the color of her Charles David sandals) nail polish was a favorite, especially after seeing Alicia Silverstone (congrats on the birth of her new baby, appropriately named "Bear Blu") show off her "Sky" painted nails on David Letterman.
  3. This is a continuation of No. 2. I no longer paint my nails with tiny pictures and such, opting for a more classic French manicure or simple pale/nude formaldehyde-free shade, if I even paint them at all (I'm sure Alicia is taking the same natural approach now, too).
  4. My once lovely locks were thick and long, until I decided to perm and color them. Starting as early as middle school, I would experiment with every shade I could get my hands on. I had blond hair, brown hair, black hair (with a streak of my own blond hair shining through when I missed a spot; I had to part it to the other side, so I wouldn't look like a skunk. Ha ha), red hair and even pink. When my 8-year-old son was born (I was blond then), I let my hair grow out to the natural color you see here on my blog.
  5. I am short-legged, meaning that my legs are a tad short for my torso. Although I'm a half inch taller than my mom, an inch taller than my middle sister and an inch and a half taller than my youngest sister, I have the shortest legs out of the four of us. No one seemed to notice until I pointed it out, but due to the fact I was self conscious about it, I always wore heels. Then, I broke my foot and had to wear flats. To my surprise, ballet flats are now my favorite footwear, despite my short legs.
  6. I have very strange taste buds. I love combining odd foods. I actually would eat pickles and ice cream many years before becoming pregnant with my kids (I had a system where I'd top off my pickle chips with a tiny scoop of vanilla as I was ready to eat it). And, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I considered making a raw version of the bizarre treat.
  7. Although I've mentioned this before on my site, the color of today's smoothie made me think of it again. When I was a baby, my skin turned orange due to all the carrots, sweet potatoes and squash I'd eat. Apparently, I couldn't get enough of it. I must have known it was good for me :-)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Like mother, like daughter; sister & brother

Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful mommies out there! I, myself, am a mother of two (for those of you who are new to this blog, I thought I'd fill you in). Lucky me, I have the best of both worlds, as God blessed me with both a handsome son and a beautiful daughter (okay, so maybe I'm a bit biased, but I think they're pretty cute).

Now that I have one of each, I find Jacob gets paired up with my hubby a lot (we sometimes joke that Jacob is Matthew's little clone), while Hayden hangs out with me (she went to church with me this morning, and the boys represented at my mother-in-law's for brunch). Although Hayden doesn't look as much like me as Jacob looks like Matthew, she sure got a bunch of my other traits, especially when it comes to food.

Jacob and Matthew are picky eaters, although I can get them to eat some fruits and veggies at most meals. Hayden, on the other hand, will try anything I give her.

For example, my youngest sister April recently took Hayden and I out for sushi (thanks April). I packed some snacks in my bag, just in case Hayden wasn't into what was on the menu, but I opted not to let her know about them right away. Instead, I shared what I ordered with her (I did the same thing on our last excursion).

First up was a mango salad. She chowed down on a ton of mango (she kept begging for more, saying, "mango, mango!," very enthusiastically, I must add), some lettuce (she prefers crispier varieties, such as the romaine in this salad), radishes and carrot. She also ate most of the nuts on top.

Then, a lady who works at the restaurant remarked about how impressed she was that my little girl was excited about our next plate, which was full of steamed veggies. Hayden had some of each veggie, including zucchini, snow peas (a fave of hers), mushrooms, broccoli and red peppers.

Lastly, she tried the sushi rolls. I ordered the avocado and cucumber rolls. She hallowed out the middle (I knew she'd go right for the filling; she loves avocado and cucumber), and nibbled at some of the outer layer of rice (the next time I'm out for sushi, I might try ordering it without the rice, although that's what makes it "sushi"). The nori was a tad too tough for her that day, so she gave up on it (at least she tried). I'm so proud of her.

So was her aunt April, who posed for this cute pic. I hope to get the two of them together more often. I just know my youngest sister (my other sister already has two boys; Happy Mother's Day Lori!) will be an amazing mom one day.

My son made my heart melt when he let me know how amazing he thinks I am. As I've said in the past, the handmade gifts from my kids are always my favorite, and this year's present is no exception. In addition to the flowers pictured at the top of this post (I'm a huge fan of tulips, as well as daisies, etc.; I'll take them over roses any day ... although they are nice, too), he also presented me with a book he made for me at school.

Here's the cover of the book (with his last name cropped out for obvious reasons).

And here's one of my favorite pages (I'd show them all, but there's a lot of them) and part of his about the author page.

My hubby and kids also got me a this lovely (Jacob actually used that word to describe me in his book) raw food uncookbook, as they know I enjoy thumbing through the ones with the delicious full color photography (I think this one has a photo for almost every recipe). I especially like that the author is a mom, too, who is close to my age. I can relate to her. Very cool.

Anyway, I must get back to the kiddies (below is a pic of what they do when I'm not right there with them; Darth Jacob is having a lightsaber battle with Princess Hayden). I bought a juggling kit (a set of three practice balls and an instructional book) for Jacob last night, so I hope to test it out with him today. Hopefully, we'll both learn how its done. I'll keep you posted :-)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Walking on rain bows

My birthday was sunny (and so far today, too), but there's rain in the forecast this week. Fortunately, I picked up these adorable "rainy day bow ballet flats" from J. Crew on our girls day out (click here if you missed my post about our shopping trip). I just had to share them with you, especially my vegan readers (no leather in these shoes).

Since I broke/sprained my foot (and suffered some nerve damage near my toes) a couple of years ago, I stopped wearing flip flops and heels (my injuries were due to a fall caused by my less than stable high heel flip flops). Instead, I have found a new love: ballet flats. They are my favorite style ever (it's funny how things happen for a reason; I wouldn't give flats a proper chance before my wipe out in heels).

Anyway, these particular ballet flats are extra special because they bring back memories of a pair of red rain shoes I used to wear in high school. They, too, were purchased at none-other-than J. Crew. Actually, I think they were really gardening shoes (so silly 'cause I'm terrible at gardening), but they looked like some slick loafers to me. I wore them with most everything.

My mom and I instantly remembered the red shoes when we spotted these updated ballet flat versions at the store. I was hesitant to get them at first, but my mom insisted on buying them for me. Thanks mom.

And, for those of you who were patient enough to read down to something food related, here's what I put in my morning smoothie today. Can you believe that it is a green smoothie (sure doesn't resemble this one)? Looks like the berries and mixed greens (some of them were red/purple) kind of took over.

This refreshing smoothie contains mixed greens, fresh mint, basil, lemon, cucumber, strawberries, pineapple and spirulina. Oh, and I may had added some cinnamon and ginger, too. It's a lot going on, but it's delicious :-)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A taste of yesterday

In my last post, I mentioned the possibility of posting about my birthday shopping trip with the girls (my mom, sisters, Hayden and yours truly) yesterday. To keep it simple, I decided to share a snapshot of my day in pictures. Here's a taste of what happened:

First of all, I awoke to this cute little chalkboard message designed by my in-house artists, Matthew and Jacob. They knew they'd have to get creative to make sure I'd receive their b-day wishes first (I tend to get up way before the two of them; I'm a morning person, but they're not). It wouldn't be long before the phone would start ringing with calls from my Granny (my mom's mom) and Poppy (my dad's dad). So sweet.

Although it was my birthday, I still crammed in a cardio/mat workout (Tracy Anderson, of course) before hopping in the shower to get cleaned up. I opted to dress comfortably (sipping on Sarma's cilantro shake, while I got myself and Hayden ready), as I was planning on doing a lot of clothes shopping. Jeggings and a t-shirt were the perfect choice to easily slip in and out of while trying on tons of stuff.

My hubby joked that I should snap a pic of me in the dressing room. I'm sure he was thinking of something a bit naughtier, but I humored him with this humdrum shot of me in this cute tank. I bought it, so I felt less guilty about taking a picture of me in it (I know stores don't encourage such behavior; please don't report me. Ha ha).

However, the bad behavior continued in another store when we spotted some hats. Inspired by the royal wedding (of course I watched it; it brought back memories of seeing Princess Di walk down the isle on television with my mom when I was little), my mom, Lori (my other sister April didn't meet up with us until later in the day) and I just had to try some on. The camera briefly came out for the following pics:

Lori checked out her topper in the mirror.

My mom and I posed together in ours. You can see how I took the pic with a mirror trick.

And then Hayden sported a tiny fascinator.

Unfortunately, she wasn't very fascinated by it.

She was much happier when we moved on to some other stores. I'll save you the details and move on to lunch. Let's just say I fulfilled my mission of putting together a new spring/summer wardrobe. Now that's what I call retail therapy.

Anyway, we had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, although none of us had cheesecake. We had a lovely waitress, who brought out a special appetizer plate for Hayden.

My little lady was excited by her plate, which had some banana slices sandwiched between the usual slices of bread. She devoured them ...

... and most of my strawberries before I got a chance to take this pic. I ordered strawberries without the cream off the dessert menu for my appetizer. Eating fruit first allows them to digest properly.

Hayden and I happily shared the rest of the berries. Yum!

She also snagged some of my salad. They kindly swapped out the cheese for avocado, as per my request.

Although she likes raw greens, Hayden wasn't down with the sauteed spinach, but I ate every last bite ...

... as well as my snow peas and veggies.

Okay, so maybe Hayden took some of those, too (she looks so funny with a snow pea hanging out of her mouth like a lizard tongue), but she shared her sweet potato fries with me :-)

My sister April (who had been at her dance company rehearsal) met up with us after lunch for a quick visit (and a bit more shopping) before I needed to head home for date night with my hubby. I was so happy to have my mom take this shot of her three daughters together. It's rare these days to have my sisters and I altogether at the same time. That makes this pic extra special ...

... as well as this pic of April saying goodbye to Hayden at the end of the day. I taught Hayden to say April, which is a really big deal around here. The boys took much longer to learn her name when they were little. My nephew actually called her "wawa" instead.

I don't know about you, but this post is getting a tad bit long. So, I'll leave you with my dinner from last night. I'm so easy to please. I just had a salad from Chipotle (I like to get the vegetarian salad with just extra lettuce, extra guacamole, extra fresh tomato salsa and more lettuce on top; perfection!) ... and some organic vegan chocolate (hey, it was my birthday).

Thanks to my girls for spending the day with me. I love and appreciate you. Today, let's take it easy :-)