Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas is coming!

Happy Advent!

I have not abandoned the blog. That being said I have been running full tilt since October, right up until I got a virus that put me in bed for two weeks. I have also hosted a birthday party for my five year old Bumper (Where did the time go?)

Currently we are getting ready for Christmas. Two weeks ago I put in 15 volunteer hours at the Bumper's school. The Cafeteria lady and I baked, wrapped, and put angel stickers on  500 sugar cookies to be given out at the Christmas play. It was intense and did not leave much time for anything else.We have three candles on the Advent Wreath.
The infamous sugar cookie

This weekend we pulled down the decorations and managed to put up the outside lights, and the mantle garland, but the tree is still bare and the Nativity still in the box. I have 2 hat and scarf sets to knits, mittens and a blanket to crochet (which the Bumper informed me must be finished by Christmas). We also have yet to send out our Christmas cards, or do the baking. We still need to make Chocolate Chip Cookies, Oatmeal Cookies, Butter Tarts, and a birthday cake for baby Jesus(the Bumper's idea).

In the middle of all this business, one thought anchors me : On Christmas Eve we will go to Midnight Mass and let the gratttitide, love, and joy we have be reflectin on over Advent come pouring forth in song, and praise as we proclaim and celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ! This the core, the most important part. Everything else is gravy.

Peace of Christ this Holiday

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mea Culpa, Socks, and Catch Up

Isn't He Cute?
It has been ages since I have had time to blog. Vegan MoFo was a let down for me this year. Real Life got in the way of my plans, but is how it is sometimes.  Let's just say I ate a lot of veggies burgers and PBJ sandwiches, hardly blog worthy. We are into Autumn now, but the days are still wonderfully warm ( 75F). The Bumper and I have been making the most of the warmth by being out side as much as possible. We stay on the playground  after school until at least 5:00pm.
Shh! I'm Hiding!
It's a Long Way Down!
Up and Up I Go!

 Last weekend we went to a local farmers market which had a corn maze and other activities for kids. The Bumper enjoyed herself thoroughly. She hid in the hay, jumped off  bales, climbed a rock wall, and even finished an obstacle course. It made me tired just to watch her. At the end of the day I had a thoroughly dirty, tired and happy little girl.

Sock Showcase!

I finished my first pair of socks! (Please Insert Happy Dance). I was so excited I did not know what to do with myself, I actually want colder weather just so I can wear them! Naturally I did what any sensible person would do and cast on the second pair right away. This pair will be for my sister and I am hoping to get them finished in time for her birthday in January. It is a pretty long window, but I am a pretty slow knitter.
My Pumpkin Salute!

The weather here has not yet gotten cold enough for me start baking and slow cooking in earnest,  but I did indulge in making some vegan pumpkin muffins for Nana's birthday. Nana turned 69 on October 11 and the Bumper wanted to throw her an impromptu party. We also made a bunt cake complete with frosting and candles (the Bumper helped blow them out),we pinned a ribbon on Nana and the Bumper sang her two versions of Happy Birthday.

Whew! We have been busy! Tonight I am off to a revival meeting at my friend's church. It should be an interesting experience.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Of Peppers and Pretzels

Argh! I had such hopes and I was really excited for Vegan MoFo this year, but back to school laid me flat!. Yes I have more time for writing (the novel takes precedence over the Blog), however there are things I did not count on: The first week of school everybody went a half day, and there was the new sleep schedule to adjust to. I now get up at 6:00am to get the Bumper out the door by 7:45am. Then there are the parental volunteer commitments. I don't mind, I just did not expect to have so may late night meetings to attend. The Bumper also started soccer with practice on Wednesday and games on Saturday.
I am still game to finish out the month and I like the prompts so much that I will be using the ones I miss throughout the coming year.
 Yesterday's prompt was to  make or eat a local dish. I live on Maryland's Easter Shore and the local dishes are not vegan friendly. We are talking scrapple, also called head cheese, which is made from various pig parts, crab cakes, raw oysters, and steamed crabs. So no thank you. There is one Eastern Shore local dish that is vegan: Pepper Relish (I can't eat pepper relish because it makes me break out in hives) and one that can be easily veganized: Pretzel Salad.
The Pepper Relish Recipe is courtsey of my friend Beverly L a life long resident of the Eastern Shore. It is her grandmother's recipe.

Pepper Relish

14 red peppers
10 green peppers
12 onions
3 cups vinegar
2 T salt
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard seed
Clean onions and peppers, removing seeds and  white pulp from peppers.
Grind in food processor to fine consistancy
Put in large pot or basin and pour boiling water over. Let sit five minutes.
Drain in colander and pick out large chunks.
Prepare syrup in large pot. Add pepper mix and boil 25 minutes. Can in
hot jars and seal. Makes 6-7 pints

Pretzel Salad

Pretzel Salad is made with crushed pretzels, cream cheese, sugar, frozen strawberries, and strawberry jello.
I subbed the dairy cheese for Tofutti brand and omitted the strawberry jello since I couldn't find vegan gelatin.

2 cups pretzels crushed
1 tub non-dairy cream cheese of choice
2Tbs of lemon juice
3/4 cups vegan margarine
1 package of frozen strawberries
3TBS + 1Cup sugar (divided)
Preheat oven to 400F

Crush pretzels and combine with margarine and the 3Tbs sugar. Line the bottom of a greased 9x13 glass baking dish. Bake at 400F for 8-10 min until set. (pretzels should be brown but not burnt)
Take out frozen frozen strawberries and put in bowl. Stir in lemon juice and 1/4cup sugar. Let sit for 10-15 min or until there is a layer of strawberry juice syrup at the bottom of the bowl.
Mix together softened cream cheese, and 1 1/2 cup of sugar, spread over crust, top with strawberries and refrigerate until chilled through.
This version does not have the traditional jello-like top layer but it is still delicious. If you have access to vegan gelatin by all means use it. Just prepare according to package directions and pour over the frozen strawberries before putting it in the refrigerator.

Happy Eating!
p.s. Most versions use a layer of whipped cream too, but I don't like it that way.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Throw It In a Bowl and Call It a Day

Quick and easy? Sign me up! I do not have time for fussy recipes. In the time it takes me to cook supper the Bumper can undo all of the house work I have done for the day. Now a microwave a veggie burger or dog is fast and can be tasty, but they also full of  additives that I do not want in my regular diet.  Since we are in the middle of a heatwave here on Maryland's Eastern Shore I decided to make a super easy cold salad, from this Vegetarian Times recipe.

What I like about this salad is I already had every thing on hand in my refrigerator, the only substitution I made was fresh mango. Unless it is disguised in a smoothie I don't really like the taste of frozen mango. I will use them if I have no other choice, but I prefer fresh.

The Bumper's favorite quick and easy vegan recipe is cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine: just rinse and eat!

 On the tofu scramble from yesterday? I think a half teaspoon of cumin will suffice.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vegan MoFo: Such Fond Memories- Just Like Nana Made (Not Exactly)

Okay so the prompt for today was to recreate a meal from your childhood. I figured a good way to approach this would be to ask my mom what my favorite meal was when I was a kid and then veganize it. I expected her to say something like pizza or spaghetti and meatballs, or tater-tots and fish-sticks, or even beef stroganoff. All of which I definitely liked. Nope none of the above. Apparently from my mom's recollection, my hands down favorite meal was dat da dah dah: Spinach and egg over rice. Does anyone else hear the wamp wamp wamp music?

Apparently I was a budding vegetarian way back when. Just so you know the freak fruit does not fall far from the tree the Bumper's current favorite is spinach pizza with vegan cheese. Well this is vegan mofo, so what did I do to make this dish vegan? I swapped out the egg for that perennial favorite tofu. Yep yet another tofu scramble recipe as if the Internet wasn't awash with them already. I am, however, pretty free wheeling with the tofu scramble and I never expect it to taste like eggs. In fact I think I would be grossed out if it did. Instead I played around with garlic, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper to get something savory and that would complement the spinach. Not quite the dish of my youth, but tasty and cruelty free.

1tsp olive oil
1 bag (roughly 2 -4 cups) of fresh or frozen spinach. Take your pick scrambles are pretty forgiving.
1 package extra firm tofu. ( drain and press lightly)
1tsp cumin
1-2tsp powdered garlic or 1 clove fresh minced.
1-2 tsp turmeric
1 tspt nutritional yeast(optional)
Sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning optional
dash of salt
dash of pepper to taste.

Lightly saute spinach in olive oil ( about 5min or until spinach starts to wilt but is still bright green) in a large frying pan.Crumble the tofu and add it and the spices to the spinach. Cook until tofu is completely coated with the spices and warmed all the way through. Serve over rice.
To save time you can steam spinach in the microwave, scramble the tofu in the pan, and serve when tofu is done. Like I said this recipe is forgiving. Play with it. I always do.

Happy MoFo

P.S. I know this isn't MoFo related, but I am on the instep of the second sock, here come the toes!

Crumble tofu into pan

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Vegan Mofo : Breakfast

My hands down all time favorite vegan breakfast is Post Punk Kitchen's Puffy Pillow Pancakes Yes  this is an old photo, but it still the best one I've taken even though I have made the pancakes many times since then. They turn out puffy and pillow-like every time, except for the first time I made them on our new flat top stove-- then they were little inedible hockey pucks. Still vegan, just not fit for consumption.

 However much I like them I can not have them every day, or I would end up looking as puffy as the pancakes. So most mornings it is more mundane fare. Including oatmeal or cream of wheat with bananas or other seasonal fruit. Now that school has started for the Bumper, both of us have to get up a lot earlier than we have become accustomed to. Cold cereal to the rescue. Fast, easy and as long as we stick to plain oat, rice or corn brands, vegan. Just add non-dairy milk of choice, my favorite is unflavored soy and the Bumper's is vanilla almond, and eat. Easy. Peasy. And for this mom on the go? A staple.

I am open to trying new things, like avocado on toast, but the Bumper  has put in a request for carrot pancakes. Does any one know a good vegan, kid-friendly recipe?

Happy Start to Vegan Mofo!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It Is Amost Here
It is coming and I am excited!
Almost as excited as when I finished turning the heel on sock#2

Stay tuned

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tuesday's Are For Making

1. A dishcloth- knit out of Lily Sugar and Cream Cotton Colors
2. A cheerful blanket  using Stylecraft yarn and a pattern from Attic 24 

3. The infamous second sock, unfortunately I don't remember the name of the yarn only that I bought it at Hancock Fabrics
4. A page in a coloring book- when I get a spare moment I thought I'd give it a try
5. The novel 500 words worth- I am pleased, though hoping to up the creative output soon.

 These are all the things I am currently working on. Let me set one thing straight, though, I do not have vasts amounts of time to do these things. I do them on a catch as catch can basis. I can knit, crochet, sew or color in about 10 -15min increments, usually before bed. I carve out an hour a week for the writing, which is the only thing I do in a solid block in the morning. This also explains why it takes me a long time to finish a project. I enjoy doing these things, so I make time for them. Some days a little more or less gets done. If I am making time for exercise, then less gets done.
So what are you making?


Monday, August 10, 2015

Meatless Monday - Banana Bread

I thought about saving this meatless Monday post until September, but then I asked myself why I was waiting. I have no good reason.  This is my absolute favorite hands down go to recipe  for banana bread. It is a life saver in the hot summer months when banana ripen faster than we can eat or freeze them.  I use this recipe from Post Punk kitchen

When I first made it I did not have access for vegan margarine so I used 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup applesauce. I also reduced the sugar to one 1/2 cup of brown sugar. This time I made it with Earth Balance brand, and the Bumper and Nana liked it a lot. They also liked the addition of the chocolate chips on top.

It can be made ahead, made into muffins, and freezes well. What is not to love? It is Bumper tested and Pre-school approved. I can't really say more without sounding like a paid advertiser for Post Punk Kitchen, which I am not. The only bad thing I can say is that while making banana bread I did not get a lot of knitting or crochet done, so the sock, blanket and dishcloth are all still about the same size they were on Friday.

The Bumper has two more weeks of camp and then school starts. We are both ready. She is lonely and wants other kids to play with and I am ready to kick up the daily writing.


p.s. I am pretty sure I have blogged about this banana bread before, but it is seriously good enough to warrant another post.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Check In

It is already August. Wow! We are making the most of our time before school starts in just three weeks. The Bumper has been in half day camp at our local YMCA. She loves it! She has made friends, played games, learned new songs, and gone swimming twice a week. The three hour break I get gives me time to run errands, clean house and write. I feel so much more like myself when I get to write.
We have been able to eat fresh tomatoes and green beans this week. I can not say enough how glad I am to be eating garden vegetable. The taste is worlds away from winter tomatoes that look pretty on the outside, but are soft, bland and mushy on the inside. Accorinding to Nana we should be feasting on these beauties well into September.
Speaking of September, I plan to participate in Vegan MoFo (Vegan Month of Food) again this year. I had so much fun last year I decided to give it another go. I like the challenge of coming up with recipes and blogging everyday.
On the craft front: second sock is getting longer, blanket has more stripes and dishcloth is almost finished.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Rule: No Hair Cuts Before Mom Has her Coffee

The Bumper cut her hair today and I am mad. I am crazy, sad, hurt frustrated mad, see red scream out loud so the neighbors cross to the other side of the street mad. I know she is only four and a half. I know it is only hair. I know it will grow back. I wish I could say I was the cool mom who took a sip of her coffee shrugged and said "Oh well, it will grow back. You cut it and now you have to live with it." Nope, not me, not by a long shot. I freaked out, lost it and went bonkers. I yelled at her, wanting to know why she would do such a thing. She said she wanted to be like her favorite Disney heroine, Mulan, who cuts her hair off  with a sword. I suppose I should be grateful she used scissors instead of a kitchen knife.

Here's the kicker though; yes I was upset because she lied to me when she got the scissors and told me she wanted to cut out paper shapes (she is allowed to do this) yes I was upset she disobeyed me because I have told her before not to cut her hair, but I was even more upset because she cut off all of her lovely baby curls. It is unreasonable and illogical, but it felt like a slap in the face. She looks so much like her father: his smile, his walk, his hair color. Everyone always comments on how she much she resembles him; except for the eyes-- she has my blue eyes, and the curls.

So when I saw her chopped off hair instead of a simple act off childish foolishness, I saw an act of defiance, rebellion and rejection of me. It hurt. A lot. When the Bumper saw the anger on my face, her eyes grew wide and she said in a small  voice "I did something bad didn't I?. I told her that yes she had. She did not say she was sorry, she said "I was wrong. Will you forgive me?"

How could I stay angry in the face of such a request? Especially when I think how often my Heavenly Father has forgiven me for my sins, for my disobedience, and my rebellion. I took my child in my arms and told her I still loved her and I did forgive her; but I was not going to take her to the hair shop, she would have to live with the haircut she gave herself. The Bumper asked me if her friends would laugh at her (and truly she does look a fright). I replied honestly that they probably would. She nodded once, squared her little shoulders, took my hand and set off for day camp.

Yeah I am still mad, but I am also proud that as little as she is, she is accepting the consequences for her actions. That is something some people never learn.

Now I am going to go knit to take the edge off.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Meatless Monday- Front Yard Gardening

Who made up the rule that gardens should be regulated to the backyard? Tucked away out of sight like a guilty secret. I think the front yard is the perfect place for gardening. I can see the nodding heads, just as long as I keep my front yard for flowers lovely spring or summer blooms: merry marigolds, bright peonies, pretty pansies and the like, maybe even cute little herbs, but nothing so crass as vegetables! What  would the Home Owner's Association say? Well fortunately we live in an area with no HOA.  We have tomatoes and peppers growing in the front walkway and I love it! Next year Nana has decided to put the vegetable patch in the front as the front yard gets better sun because all the trees are in the back.  I am all for this. More gardens mean less mowing, but that is next year for now, I am happy to pick tomatoes at the same time I pick up the mail and newspaper.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Catching Summer As She Hurries By

Marigolds are loving the rain!

They say time flies when you are having fun, well it also flies when you have an active four year old. This summer has been all about ice-pops, sprinklers and parties. We are enjoying ourselves tremendously, but it has left very little time for blogging. The Bumper is in summer camp every morning, swimming three times a week and digging in the dirt with Nana. We have also been making the birthday party rounds. So far every weekend in July the Bumper has gone to a party and there is no end in sight. Superheroes are the theme among the pre-school set, but Bumper has wanted to wear princess dresses. When one of her friends challenged her about her choice, she promptly replied "Princesses are superheroes!" I am not going to argue with that.

Because one thing at a time makes too much sense.

I have been busy writing on my novel and I am super excited, the writing is going well and I am starting to like my characters. I am still working on my second sock; I started a dishcloth, and a blanket. 

This Sunflower says perfectly how we feel about the heat!
The weather here has been hot and muggy. We have had lots and lots of rain, great for the grass; not so much for the mower. Remembering how cold it was this past winter, however, I am not complaining!  For the most part the past few weeks have been too hot to play in the day, but since daylight still lingers past seven in the evening, there is plenty of time to go outside once things cool down. Bumper loves stalking fire flies in the long tall grass at the back of our yard. I like watching her, it never fails to put a smile on my face. This is also prime reading weather, and while I have been indulging in a marvelous mystery series revolving around knitting, Bumper has been patiently listening to her read along books and coaxing extra bedtime stories out of me!  Bumper has told me she can't wait for winter to comeback so she can play in the snow and eat maple sugar candy (syrup snow). As for me I am enjoying these rapid fire days as best I can, even if it is when I flop into bed sweaty and exhausted.

Hope, wherever you are, your summer is going well.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Meatless Monday- Dessert

Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate. Did I mention the chocolate? I wanted to bring a dessert to our fourth of July celebration, which started on the third and finished on the fifth (we take our parties seriously around here). So I headed over to my go to website for vegan desserts: Chocolate Covered Katie. I decided to try "The Ultimate Chocolate Fudge Pie"

Wow just wow. The recipe name sounds like it will take a long time  and be super complicated, however making it was really easy; albeit messy. The Bumper loved helping stir in the melted chocolate chips and licking the spatula. I wish I had taken a picture, but my hands were too sticky at the time. It turned out rich and not too sweet. If you do not like dark chocolate then this is not for you. I happen to like both dark chocolate and desserts that are not too sweet. There were only two pieces left at the end of the night. The Bumper and Nana both loved it and neither guessed the secret ingredient. I'm not telling them what it was, because they do not have to know it wasn't as fattening as it tasted. I love it when I can make a dessert, besides fruit, that is reasonably healthy.

I used Enjoy Life brand semi-sweet vegan dark chocolate chips and I chose maple syrup as my sweetener, but I think agave or cane sugar would work just as well. I also used an accidentally vegan store bought crust, but now that I have a good food processor; the next time I make this I will make the date oat crust from scratch.

p.s.  sock two is slowly getting longer.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

America the Beautiful

Today is July 4th, Independence Day, and this year we are spending it with friends at an out door picnic followed by sparklers. While I love a rousing rendition of the 1812 overture complete with canon fire, flag waving and fireworks; today I also want to celebrate our National Parks. Our National Parks are one of the this which make the United States great. I am fortunate enough to live only 30 minutes from the Assateague Island National Seashore. It is a refuge for birds, deer, and wild ponies. At various times I have seen Great Blue Heron's White Cattle Egrets, and once even a Glossy Billed Ibis. I am thankful such place exist and are protected for the future. Someone once said civilizations rise and fall, people come and go but the land endures.
Happy Fourth of July!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Meatless Monday- Fire Up the Grill

Roses, not asparagus, but very pretty
Two words: Grilled Asparagus.

I had never had grilled asparagus before yesterday. Having it grilled changed the way I viewed this under appreciated vegetable. It was bright green and tender with out being mushy. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures, because it got eaten before I could take any. Nana brushed it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, wrapped it in foil and put it on the grill.

Fun in the water
Yesterday was father's day here in the States. First I lit a candle, in the Bumper's Dad's memory, at church, the we spent the rest of the day with the Bumper's godfather, who is a great dad in his own right, and his family. The Bumper played outside until dark, and the rest of us chatted either on the back porch or inside the house where it was cool. A quiet (not really because the Bumper was very loud) Sunday with family and friends.
Hope your weekend was as pleasant.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Meatless Monday- Too Hot to Cook

Summertime tends to lend itself to meatless eating. The weather gets hot and indoor cooking is best done outdoors on the grill. I hope to write and inspiring post about bountiful berries and fresh from the garden vegetables done up on the grill. This is not that post. It is too hot and humid. So for Meatless Monday I bring you: Salad. Yep, salad. Not just any salad though, Fast Food Salad. (Please cue dramatic horror theme of your choice).

When the family decides to bring home fast food, depending on where they go, it can be a disaster. Most of the time as a vegetarian the options are quite limited, and as a vegan they can be worse. I am thinking about the ubiquitous ice-berg lettuce salad with large wedges of tastesless tomatoes a few scraps of carrot, onion and covered in cheese (left off for the vegans). So the salad Nana brought home was quite a surprise. It featured mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes,  and edamame with a spicy vingarette that was alos vegan, all Nana had to do was ask for the chickedn to be left off! I was impressed and grateful. The landscape is not as bleak as it used to be.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hats, Socks and Down by the Riverside

Finished just in time!
A long way to go
Even though Summer has yet to start officially, we are in full holiday swing over here. The Bumper has had camp the past couple of weeks, which has allowed me to keep working on the novel and to finish up the baby hat I was making for a friends daughter in law, good thing too because the baby shower is this weekend and I just barely managed to pop it in a bag and send it with with my friend. It seems I have started something with the sock, once my sister saw the finished product; she asked for a pair of her own! I think I'll finish my pair first, but luckily for her I had a while back picked out the yarn I wanted to use if she ever asked me.
Into the woods
Down by the river
Around the bend

A couple of days ago Nana graciously offered to watch the Bumper and I went for a walk. I love walking and I love that I live where I can safely(for the most part) do so. As I went on this particular walk I made sure I stopped and looked at the beauty around me. The way I took some of my picture it looks like I live way out in the country. That is not so. I live in the city, not the city center, but not far from urbanized areas. I followed the trails that led through the woods and down by the river, and I thought about how the city I live in was once a major port, not as big as Baltimore, but having seen its fair share share of river traffic. On the day I took my walk the river stank. It was hot and humid, the river just sort of sat there stagnant and smelly. At one point I peered over the edge of the bridge to see if I could spot any fish. I did not see a single one. All of this made me sad, as pretty as the view was, I wanted it to be more than pretty; I wanted it to be alive.

Over the bridge
Environmentalism, and conservation are not buzz words to me, they are a part of how I live my life. My mother taught me the we should take care of the earth because it is one of God's gifts to us. I want the Bumper to grow up in a world with clean air and drinkable water. I want the woods to have wild animals in them; I want there to be forests period. When I walk I pick up trash that I see and put it in a trash can or recycle bin, I am teaching the Bumper to do the same. It may not make a difference in the grand scheme of things, but maybe it will.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spring Walk

Way back in mid-April we had spat of good weather, and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. I was feeling a bit down that day, and I find taking a walk often gets me out of my negative head space. On that day I was in no particular hurry and I did not have anywhere pressing to be. Nana was watching the Bumpers, so I was free to meander as I pleased ( I really enjoy days like that because they are few and far between). As I walked along tree lined streets festooned in an array of blossoms, I couldn't help but feel very thankful.  Usually when I go for a walk I am in it for the exercise and hurry along hardly noticing my surroundings, but on that day I stopped frequently taking lots of pictures.

I took the time to explore, discovering along the way hidden trails in the park, geese nesting, front yards with white picket fences, a fire station with our country's flag flying in the brisk breeze.  There were times I just stopped, stood still and smiled. It took awhile, but I realized I felt happy. Such a small thing, but there it was.  Little by little and day by day I am recovering more of myself.

P.S. Still in a mad dash to finish the hat and booties.