Monday, July 30, 2007


I hate to start a new relationship by cheating, but here I am so here we are. I have pictures of food, but all super easy and some pre-packaged. I promise to get better.

This is Parker's favorite quick breakfast; Nature's Path Apple Cinnamon instant oatmeal, organic ground flax seeds, organic blackstrap molasses, and frozen organic wild blueberries. Usually, he asked for fresh slices of apples too, but we didn't have any apples. Served in his new favorite Vegan bowl which I will soon be selling on my website. He's a sucker (and obviously so am I) for vegan made vegan products which say "vegan". Because they can't possibly eat the exact some thing, Dema's favorite is Maple Nut with flax seeds, molasses, and raisins. Breakfast is short order cook time and they have to have different fresh or frozen berries on the side, maybe some soy yogurt, sprouted wheat bread or flax nut bread made at our local natural food store, Strawberry Fields, with Sunbutter and usually Crofter's Organic Super Fruit Spread. Some days breakfast is leftovers. Which leads me to my next cheating food.

For a quick lunch (which might also be breakfast the next day or a snack), once in a while I read for Road's End Pasta Chreese. I never follow the directions and the kids usually make it so no measuring is required. I use the packets in the box and add; organic non-dairy milk, Bragg Liquid Aminos, nutritional yeast, organic flax seed oil, organic beans (usually white beans like cannellini, great northern, butter beans, lima, or sometimes chickpeas), and red pepper flakes. We use my favorite kitchen tool the immersion blender and mix it all together. We don't heat up the sauce and just cover the pasta and usually carrots and peas (sometimes broccoli) with the sauce.I like mine with my favorite hot sauce, Frontera Red Pepper Hot Sauce. The kids like a little on theirs once in a while, but Rob won't eat it at all because it comes from a box. He's a food snob.

The kids have been loving the fresh black berries from our local farmer's market and usually just eat them up before I can possibly make anything with them. I talked them into making blackberry cobbler out of the blackberries last week. We used a peach cobbler recipe from Kids Can Cook Vegetarian Recipes by Dorothy R. Bates. While not my favorite recipe book, it is great to give the kids the book and let them go for it. Parker made this, with a little help from me and it is not too sweet. They loved it...until...Parker bit into a Japanese beetle which apparently blended in with the berries so well I missed it while rinsing them. At first he was appalled that he might have eaten a living thing (he checked it over to make sure it was still in tact and no part of the actual bug had been digested), then he was upset that we cooked a living thing (although I tried to assure him it was most likely dead before cooking), and then he was just put off by the whole thing and upset with me for not being more careful with the lives of others. Sigh, my vegan seven year old might have more than his share of empathy. (He is with me while I write this and he didn't want you all to know the beetle part because he doesn't want you to be scared off from eating cobbler or more importantly black berries. He wants me to assure you this was an isolated event.) I didn't want the rest of the cobbler to be eaten by me so later I went to the store and bought some vanilla non-dairy ice cream and this sweetened the deal enough for the kids to finish the cobbler and left a better taste in everyone's mouth.

Oh, and I found this picture of my guys at our friend Todd's wedding in NJ/NYC in early July. I've decided Rob should wear a tux more often. We are super happy for Todd and his new wife, Katherine. She owns a toy store in Chicago, which you all have to stop by and check out if you are in the area, called Building Blocks (3306 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago). From a vegan standpoint, the wedding was a learning experience for the boys. Parker seems like he's always understood the animal connection when it comes to what many people think of as food, but Dema is much more questioning about these things. At the wedding there was a small pig (yes, the whole thing) and other complete animals served up (beaks, claws, etc.). This really opened Dema's eyes and I think will ensure his veganism for some time to come. We stopped by in Maryland to visit friends on the way out to NJ/NY and we didn't get a chance to visit one of my favorite places, Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary (Rob and I used to volunteer there when we lived in the area). I was very disappointed since I knew that would help Dema figure things out, but the wedding did an even better job of bringing it all home. Parker had a great time dancing the night away at the reception. I wish we'd taken more time to play in the city, but we'll just have to go back again. I took Parker to Manhattan when he was three and we stayed within walking distance of Central Park and took in all the vegetarian restaurants, but Rob didn't come with us so I was hoping to do some family stuff on this trip. We did take an afternoon to ourselves in Jersey City and found a surprisingly vegan-friendly restaurant close to our hotel. Parker has decided to open a restaurant and he was happy to get ideas from this place. They had recycled materials for their tables, chairs, etc. and Parker was very impressed with this since recycling is his mission in life. He is working on his menu as well as the decor. I hope he ends up opening a place since our town is in dire need of a vegan restaurant.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Moving and the Joys of Home Ownership

Rob has helped several people move recently and it is always fun and exciting to see people start on a new journey. Rob's father lived in Rob's childhood home until a year ago and my father still lives in my childhood home so as children we didn't experience moving. As adults we've both moved around quite a bit. Rob hates moving and I enjoy many aspects of moving, but it can be stressful. With every move, Rob swears it will be his last. I never believe him. Here is a picture of Rob moving some lamps on the Xtracycle for friend. I wanted our last move to be a bike move since it was only six miles away, but we spent months moving since due to our house taking seven months to sell so we moved some stuff on the bikes, but some in cars, trucks, etc.

Our move from Maryland to Illinois when I was in my last trimester of pregnancy with our first child (almost eight years ago now!) was a roller coaster ride. My dear brother, Jim, and his significant other, Carol, were life savers. They flew out to Maryland and helped us pack two U-Haul trucks (the first one ended up being too small...who knew you could accumulate so much stuff in a two bedroom condo). This put me behind the wheel of one of the trucks (not where I wanted to be) and Rob in the other and Jim and Carol on the plane back to Illinois. Of course, my U-Haul breaks down just as we get to the mountains, I don't have a cell phone, I'm hormonal/tired, I have no idea when Rob will notice I'm no longer following him...long story and interesting Virginians later, we make it to Illinois with our stuff none the worse for wear. It was all for the best and moving to Illinois became much more permanent than the one year stint we expected. Rob has fallen in love with my hometown (he couldn't wait to leave when he lived here before) and it nice for all of us to have my family close by. Here is picture of the kids with my sister, Karen. She is pretty much the only person we've left the kids with and one of their favorite people.

Okay, if anyone is still reading, on to the joys of home ownership. In our old neighborhood we lamented the lack of trees. Fast forward to a few weeks ago on a Friday night. We had heavy rain, but not much wind and I wake up in the middle of the night to this awful sound (of course, everyone else slept through it). I wake up Rob to get him to investigate and he reluctantly goes downstairs and "looks around" (less than a minute) and he is back in bed sleeping. I can't sleep for a while since I know something happened. Then I hear a knock on the door around 6am and I have a police officer on my back porch. He just points to a tree and our power/phone/etc. lines. Our neighbor's tree (which desperately needs to be trimmed) has dropped a large branch on the lines which stretch from the utility pole to our house. I said in a sleepy daze that it isn't our tree. The police officer and the power guy (who I now noticed in the background) said it didn't matter. We needed to get a certified electrician there right away to fix our line. The pole attached to our house had been ripped off and that was the noise I had heard. Great. Several hours later and almost $1000 it was repaired. The local guy was great to get there so quick on a Saturday and even let Rob help which saved us some money. Rob considered becoming an electrician after this, but I'm happy to have him away from live wires. Of course, if we make a claim our State Farm agent said our premiums will go up and we have a $500 deductible anyway. Grrr. Why do we have insurance??

We live in a college town so people moving out of the area is pretty frequent, but we are especially sad about our friends/neighbors leaving soon. Mike and Alison (and their dog Percy) are the greatest neighbors and they are so patient with the kids (even having vegan cookies and other treats on-hand and sharing their tractor toys). Luckily, we'll probably be able to visit them, but it is super sad for us anyway.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Since my kitchen is a disaster and we've had a crazy schedule lately, I don't have a lot of fun food stuff to share so I'll babble on about other things. Although, here is the obligatory vegan pizza shot. My husband made the crust from Nonna's Italian Kitchen Delicious Home-Style Vegan Cuisine by Bryanna Clark Grogan (one of our favorite cookbooks and he is excellent at making crust and usually uses at least some whole wheat flour instead of just all purpose unbleached) and my seven year old did the rest. He cut up and added the farmer's market squash, carrots, and black olives. I believe the sauce was from Byranna's book as well. I tend to pile on too many toppings, but my oldest son is great at finding a balance.

Okay, I guess I should introduce my main characters. My husband is Rob, my seven year old son is Parker, and my three year old son is Dema. I can't find any recent pictures of the three of them together so here is one from the beach at the Outer Banks, NC from last year.

I'm in my last trimester and we really don't have a great idea of when we conceived. I've been performing my own prenatal checks and I'm measuring around 33 cm. This is big for the 29 or 30 weeks I was thinking. It isn't an exact science so I'm not worried. I do feel HUGE and as big as I did when I went into labor with my other two children. We'll see when this little one comes. I keep thinking Sept. 13th, but it could be as late as Oct. 2nd (I'd be totally surprised though). I was within a day of predicting my last two births, but this pregnancy has been very different from the start so we'll see. The boys can't wait to see their sibling. Parker talks to the baby all the time. He can't wait to help out with the baby. Dema just wants to hug, kiss, and squeeze the baby when it comes out.

In November of 2006, we moved from a youngish house (it was about 9 when we sold it, but we moved in when it was around 2 years) in a "suburban" neighborhood to a 100 year old house closer to downtown.

We love the house, the neighborhood, being able to walk to downtown, the bus service right to our door, it is easier for me to bike to places, etc. While we have all the positives, it is a challenge for us to keep up with an older house. Rob has certainly risen to the occasion. He is currently working on taking out all the "finished" parts to our basement. It is a long story, but we had some mold issues in the basement and the "dark room" was not something we needed and was causing some of the issues. The basement should not have drywall in it and there is an old shower/toilet (can't bring myself to call it a bathroom) which in the words of my 3 year old is "Decusting!". I should have taken before and after pictures of the basement, but believe me, Rob is working his butt off.

We are looking into selling our one and only car. We'd love to live car-free and if I wasn't having another child it would be fairly easy (we've gone 3+ weeks without the car before). Our Xtracycles, our primary source of transportation, are great for hauling two kids, groceries, ladders, lumber, etc. We love the Xtracycles so much, I decided to stock their products in my business since none of the bike shops in town carry the Xtracycle. We are looking into other cycling options for hauling three kids. We think the Xtracycle plus our Chariot trailer will work once the baby comes, but Rob thinks I'll be hauling a little too much weight and Parker is big enough to add some pedal power so maybe a modified tandem. If anyone has suggestions, we are open. We are also lucky to be on a bus route. Although, it takes a lot of planning and you can't be in a hurry to get anywhere. The buses run every 30 minutes (not every 10 minutes like we were used to when we lived in the DC area) and they stop running in our neighborhood pretty early.

I should have food posts soon and hopefully more exciting ramblings, but I'm running on very little sleep so this is the best I can do today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Birth of a Blog

As if the world needed one more blog, I am now embarking on my blog to add to the multitude. I expect to cover vegan food/cooking, maybe some unschooling/parenting issues, and anything else comes to mind.