Monday, March 31, 2008

200 posts, hooray!

I've posted 200 times to this blog, wow! I've had my ups and downs, but overall enjoy this blog tremendously.
Tonight for dinner we had this fabulous pistachio mint pesto that my sister in law has been making for awhile. The recipe comes from an issue of Food and Wine Magazine that she "borrowed" from her dentist office. I'm not sure the official author but since she has veganized it, I'm giving all the credit to her! Serve it with a side salad and some garlic bread, and everyone will be happy, I promise.

Pistachio Mint Pesto:
1 lb orecchiette (pasta) or any other fun shape
7 ounces unsalted roasted shelled pistachios (1 1/2 C)
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs chopped mint
1 garlic clove (I use 2 large)
1/2 cup parma (make your own by grinding in a coffee grinder equal parts nutritional yeast and almonds [or pinenuts or walnuts] and a dash of salt)
2 scallions chopped
Salt (1/2 tsp)

Toast pistachios, oven at 300-350 for 10-15 minutes. Start water for pasta, cook till al dente. In food processor pulse the pistachios until coarse. Add the oil, mint and garlic and pulse to combine. Transfer to bowl and stir in parma and scallions, season with salt. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 C cooking water. Return pasta to pot, add cooking water and pesto and cook over low heat tossing until coated, 1 minute. Serve with extra parma on the side.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Birthdays, Earth Hour, Foods

We celebrated my step mom's birthday this week. Athena got some snuggle time with her Auntie Claire. She doesn't get to see her much since she is finishing up school at UCLA. Athena and her cousin Oli love listening to Claire read. The other picture is the "dessert" my Dad whipped up for the girls. They were a little disappointed that a cake wasn't going to be served, after all it was a birthday, so I told my Dad that anything would do. They both cleaned their plates in about 30 seconds.

We decided to participate in Earth Hour last night. Athena was very excited to turn off all of the lights. It worked out well for us because the kids usually go to bed between 8 and 9 which was the designated lights out time. We turned out our lights promptly at 8 and read books by candlelight until 8:15. Then we took a walk in the neighborhood until 8:30 to look for other "dark houses". When we came back in, both kids went right to bed. It was nice to have an absolutely quiet, barely lit house. Very peaceful.
I captured the photo below with the flash and was laughing so hard when I saw it.

Athena picked a "scary" book to read in the dark.
And here are the only foods worth mentioning from this week. I made these raw wraps on Monday as per wannabe urbanhouswife's recipe. I love them!
Tonight I made Dreena's "Hide the Lentil Tomato Sauce" burritos. Inside was also some avocado and homemade cashew cheez. These were darn good if I do say so myself, and Rowan absolutely loved the lentil mixture. I'm still working on getting Athena to eat lentils. She had 1 bite with ketchup.
Cashew Cheezy Dip:
1 1/2 cups cashews
1 roasted red pepper
Juice of 1 juicy lemon
1 clove garlic
sprinkle of nutritional yeast
a little water to get it the consistency you want

Friday, March 21, 2008

Week long update

March 14, Chris and I celebrated our 10th anniversary of dating by a dinner at Cilantro. It was so nice to get to eat an entire meal without cleaning food off the faces of my children, or the floor, or getting someone water, or ketchup or a napkin, etc. My mom watched the kids and they did great.
March 16 we had a family party for Rowan. It was super nice and almost the entire family was there from great grandma to second cousin, from great aunts to uncles. I had a lot of help for the food and of course forgot to take pictures of the delicious spread. It was a pasta theme, 3 types of pasta, I made mac n cheez, a traditional tomato sauce, and my sister in law made this awesome pesto of mint and pistachios. I absolutely love this pesto and so did everyone else. My mom made a salad, and my mother in law brought fresh bread. I made Rowan his own cake, but bought the other cake which ended up being a disappointment. I'd bought cakes from this restaurant before and they were great, but this one was dry and not that flavorful (other than the frosting). Oh well, it didn't matter as the birthday boy had a great day.
Now that Rowan is 1, he is getting more and more into Daddy. He cries when Chris leaves, and follows him around the house. Athena never did that, so it is so nice to see because he tried so hard with Athena but she just could not think of anyone but me until she was almost 3!
Rowan is starting to run now, he says NO (unfortunately I blame his sister for this one!), he is very vocal when he wants something and PERSISTENT. I know it is good, but sometimes I can't believe someone that small can have such strong opinions already. Other words he says consistently are bye, hi, ball, and dog. He loves dogs and cried yesterday when this giant bull dog left the park. He is a real charmer and smiles at almost everyone. He really makes people happy. He is demanding more and more food too. I've fed him just about everything now with the exception of nuts. I'm limiting his exposure to strawberries and citrus since he got a pretty bad diaper rash from a tangerine. He wants to feed himself now, which is messy but adorable. He kept whining for something at dinner last night and I finally figured out he wanted my fork. I got him one with rounded edges and he began to dip it in his bowl and feed himself. Chris and I were thoroughly impressed and tonight he repeated the same behavior even though the rest of us were eating with our hands!
Athena has been on Spring Break, she only goes to school 6 hours a week, but it still seems significant. She is just maturing and getting smarter by the day. She recently became interested in letters and now recognizes many of them and knows the sounds they make. She still says THE FUNNIEST THINGS. She is an awesome story teller, her teacher even mentioned this in our conference a few weeks back. She says things like, "When I gave birth to my baby", when she is pretending to me a mom. She has eagle ears and must listen to my mom friends and I talk more than I realize. She wants me to have 2 more babies, 1 boy and 1 girl. I told her she'd have to talk to her dad about that because he said no more babies and she said, "well, if we ask a different Dad then he might say yes." I thought that was really funny. I am really proud of Athena's growth this year when it comes to making friends and working things out with friends using her words. She used to be VERY aggressive and it was hard for me to deal with. Now, she rarely lashes out and is actually very good at problem solving with friends. She also used only play with her cousin, and now she actually will name off about 5 friends that she says are her best friends.
I've cooked a bunch lately, not too much exciting stuff. I tried the berry goodness muffins from ED&BV and everyone loved them. I didn't like them at first, but the next day I did.

I also made the sweet curry casserole and everyone including rowan gobbled it up. Chris and I had to add some serious spice to it, but as a basic throw everything in a casserole recipe it was great, and had some ingredients I wouldn't have thought of (like apples).
Here is a picture of a dinner that made everyone happy.
We had a busy day on Easter. We drove 45 minutes to my aunt's house out in the country, horses and all. Then we drove to my in laws house for more family fun. Athena and Rowan loved seeing all of their cousins again and hunting for eggs.
Egg hunt #1 at our house.

Egg hunt #2.
Egg hunt #3 (not pictured).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cupcake party

Climbing around like an official toddler.
Eating some "treasures" under the table...gross.
Climbing with cousin Dante.
Looking like such a big boy at his birthday party.

At our playgroup Friday, we consumed 50 cupcakes as a group. That is just crazy! I brought some and wannabeurbanhousewife brough the rest. I made 3 different kinds, all from VCTOTW. First were the cookies and cream, then were chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and organic vegan sprinkles, and the last batch were for my girlie girl, beet colored pink cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles (regular golden vanilla cake on the bottom). They all turned out so well, and urbanhousewife's were delicious too, plus she didn't use any yucky shortening or margarine but successfully used coconut oil instead. Very cool.
We had a joint party at the park for our kids since they share a birthday. Enjoy the pictures.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rowan loves to sweep

He always carries the brooms in the house and all over the backyard. I think it is so funny.

Baby Sugar Free Muffin Cake

I decided to make Rowan a sugar free muffin cake for his birthday today. I didn't have any recipes so I just made this one up.

Baby sugar free muffin cake recipe:

3 tbsp. ground flax or chia as in my case since we were out of flax
2 bananas mashed
3 tbsp molasses
3/4 cup oil of choice
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (i actually forgot this)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup applesauce
1 tiny pinch of stevia (you could leave this out, I was just experimenting)

Preheat oven 350
makes 12 muffins or 24 mini muffins (this is my guess since i made 10 mini muffins and 2 mini cakes with the batter)
Bake for 35 mintues
Rowan enjoyed them served with frozen blueberries!

They passed Athena's taste test and Rowan "enjoyed" them too although I don't know how much he actually swallowed. They were very moist (a little too moist), but not too gooey and they held together fine. I thought they were OK, nothing I'd crave, but a good sugar free recipe. It is always hard at their first birthday, when all of the sudden you are expected to let them have a gnarly sugar laden dessert. I think I will put frosting on his cake on Sunday though since I doubt he will eat much of it, but he didn't need the sugary stuff more than once! I am a sucker for that frosting face.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rowan's Birth Story

As promised, here is his story. I never wrote one until today, and am going off memory and some notes taken by Chris during the event. Warning, it is very long, and probably boring unless you are a birth junkie.

Rowan was due March 1, 2007, but that day came and went uneventfully. By March 12, I was getting anxious. I remember waking up late that morning, a Monday, and thinking that today had to be the day because all of my friends birthed by 11 days past their due dates. It was a warm morning and Athena realized that all of her summer clothes were too small from last year so we made a plan to go buy her some shorts. We were headed out the door at 10 am when the phone rang. It was the chiropractor's office reminding me that we had missed our 9:30 appt. I told them we could come by later, but not right away because I'd promised Athena our shopping trip and I figured it would be our last before the baby came. We went to Mervyns and Athena picked out 2 outfits. Then we went to her chiro appt. After that appt., we stopped for burritos and were home around 1:30. When we got home, I felt some very very mild contractions, and I thought, this has to be it, it just has to be. My inner urge was to go curl up and rest some more, but my brain was telling me "you have to keep moving and get this baby out today". So I mustered up all the energy I could and brought in the trash cans from the curb, and watered the garden for about 30 minutes. I carried buckets and buckets of water up the hill in our yard, trying to get things going. I was still feeling these tiny contractions, but I didn't want to over do it so Athena and I went in for a nap at 2:30. I couldn't sleep, but I rested with her for a couple hours. My stepmom/dad came by around 5 to pick up Athena and have her play over there and eat dinner. I didn't let on at all that I was feeling anything because I didn't want it to be a false alarm. I was having regular contractions at this point, but could still talk, I knew it was it, but I still didn't want to believe it because he was so late, and I thought what if this isn't it? Chris got home at 5:30 and I mentioned to him that I should probably be walking but that I just felt like resting. Chris made dinner and I went to bed, but I was pretty uncomfortable so I got the yoga ball out and was just resting on it. Chris called me for dinner and I remember eating really fast because I didn't want to get another contraction. I finished my plate of food while sitting on my yoga ball and then went back to resting on the ball. The contractions were coming every 5 or 7 minutes, but weren't too intense. At 7:30 I told Chris I'd need the pool soon. At 7:40, I said, "Go get athena before it is too late!" I wanted her in bed asleep so I could focus on laboring. Chris got home at 8:20 and gave Athena a bath and read her 2 books. She came in to nurse and I was trying hard to keep it together but the contractions were getting more intense. She latched on for a couple of seconds and I got a super strong contraction and was like, "OK, all done!" and gave chris this look like get her out of here! Chris got Athena in bed and started to get the pool ready but he was taking too long. As soon as Athena was in bed, everything started getting crazy in my body, I felt like things were really moving, I finally knew that this was it, no turning back! Chris realized the pool had a hole and was trying to patch it up and I was kinda panicking and I told him just to fill the bathtub and that I NEEDED to get in the water NOW. He drew a bath, but just as I was getting in to the bath he had the pool all patched up. It was 10:30 now. My contractions were still 5-7 minutes apart lasting over a minute now, but it was hard for chris to measure because I'd get a long one, and then right away a short one. We called my mom at 11 to come over and be ready in case Athena woke up. I rested in between contractions, and laid on my back in the pool, squeezing Chris's hands during each contraction. It was the only thing that got me through them.
From 11:30 when my mom arrived, until 12:30, i made frequent trips to the bathroom and just kept laying in the tub. I tried to go on my hands and knees because my back hurt, but the pain was too intense. I really hated going to the bathroom because I'd get these major contractions, like crazy crazy and they wouldn't go away until I was sitting down so it was super hard to stand up and walk.
12:35, Chris called my midwife Vickii and gave her the update.
1:00 I was throwing up, I remember being super happy it was into a bowl this time and not all over the bed like with Athena.
1:30 or 2, Vickii and her assistant arrived. I remember feeling relieved to see them. I also remember wanting Vickii to check me but she said I need to get out of the water in order to do that, and so I said I'd wait until later. I also remember Vickii asking me to try and breathe through a contraction rather than making the moaning sound that I was making. I think they were trying to help me conserve energy. I was all pissy about it but did and it was OK, but I really preferred the moaning. Around 3, I did get out and got checked, I was almost fully dialated 9 and 3/4 or something like that. It was reassuring because I wasn't sure I could continue much longer (like I had a choice!). At some point, I don't remember, Vickii had me laboring in my bed on my side because Rowan was posterior, I remember that it was awful on the bed but I really wanted him to turn so I did labor there for a little while.
I got back in the water but it just didn't feel right. I think I was cold and was needing a new position. At some point I wound up on the toilet and I stayed there for quite awhile. I was trying to push but nothing was really happening. I was pushing just enough to get me through the contractions. They brought me food, but the contractions were coming so fast I could hardly chew, it was the last thing I wanted at that point but I was fading, I'd been laboring all night and had thrown up everything, I needed energy. I managed to eat a few sharkies and bites of raw bar, but I was NOT happy about it. Still I trusted everyone around me and just did it, hoping it would help me because I was starting to feel weak. Around 4:30, Vickii asked me if I needed help with the pushing, since I felt like it wasn't working out for me. I was so happy when she said this because I really felt like I didn't know what to do. Once she guided me through a few pushes, I felt like I was back on track and was getting ready to get this baby out. An hour went by, and I was still on the toilet, squeezing chris's waist during each contraction and pushing down as hard as I could. I can't remember why, but Vickii encouraged me to get into a hands and knees position at this point, oh yeah, it was because I was swelling and they needed to ice my bottom area. I was so out of it, I was like, "where can i go on my hands and knees?" and vickii gave me a few suggestions, on the floor of my room or how about the bed, it would be most comfy. I was scared to move to my bed, but it was time, the bathroom felt crowded with 4 grown adults in it. They helped me to the bed, I thought I was going to lose it but they did. As soon as I got to the bed I got seriously determined to get this BABY OUT. I pushed and pushed and at 5:50 AM, Tuesday March 13, Chris caught our baby. He quickly announced that it was a boy, and they passed him through my legs to me. He was so beautiful and I thought he looked big, but probably about the same size as Athena at 8 lbs 12 oz. I immediately asked for my mom and chris to go get athena who had amazingly slept all night through my labor noises! She came in all rosy cheeked and happy to greet her baby brother. She had said it would be a boy all along but I was not convinced either way. I held Rowan in my arms awhile and then decided I wanted to get the placenta out and to "get it over with". Vickii said the chord had stopped pulsing and gave me the choice of delivering the placenta right where I was still holding the baby, or we could cut it and have me get back up and push it out while Chris held him. I was like, let's cut it, because I knew if I got up I'd be super quick pushing that thing out, and I was. We all snuggled together on the bed after that and my sister came shortly after that.
It was time to weigh and measure Rowan and we were all curious. Vickii kept saying, "Look at those feet!" They were huge. It turned out I had just delivered my 10 lbs 9 oz, 22 1/2 inch boy at home in our bed. I was so elated. It was very hard those last few days before he was born. I was very anxious and uncomfortable, but now I hardly remember it at all as it was definitely worth it. Rowan Elliott has been such a wonderful addition to our family. He makes us all laugh and smile. I am in awe sometimes that Chris and I created these kids, it is just too crazy for me to understand sometimes. So, happy birthday Rowan, you will be 1 in just over 24 hours.
My mom and my sister took Athena out to breakfast while I got cleaned and a couple stitches. And that about sums up our story.

Me in early labor:
Welcome Rowan.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tag, I'm it

I've been tagged by VegMomma:
This is really harder to do than it sounds for some reason. Hmmm.
1. I was the valedictorian of my high school even though by the final report card sent after graduation, I actually wasn't #1 anymore.
2. I was a kindergarten teacher before the kids entered my world. I sometimes find it surprising I have no real desire to go back to that since I spent so much time and money getting to that place.
3. I was super painfully shy in high school, but now feel like I can talk to just about anyone.
4. My husband and I actually went to high school together, although we weren't friends during that time (but did know of each other since he was friends with my brother). We re-met while I was in my final year of college (undergrad) through my brother and were playing music together. I was trying to learn how to play guitar but gave it up after awhile because I wasn't getting good fast enough!
5. I went vegan when I was 18 and I immediately stopped getting debilitating stomach aches.

*I will tag Wannabeurbanhousewife, MindlessRamblings, DaytoDayVegan, and anyone else who wants to play.
Link to your tagger and post these rules.
Share 5 facts about yourself.
Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Guacamole Bowl

We went to the guacamole bowl today. It was a fundraiser for a group my (extended) family is very involved in called Sports for Exceptional Athletes.
Here is a description of the event "The 5th Annual Law Enforcement Challenge Guacamole Bowl will take place on Saturday, March 8th from 10am-2pm at the Balboa Park Club. This fun event 'pits' community teams against each other and law enforcement vs. the media to see who makes the best guacamole. The proceeds are benefiting SPORTS for Exceptional Athletes.
The Guacamole Bowl is open to the public who are invited to come out and sample all the great guacamole. A $5 admission fee will get you a bag of Mission Tortilla chips and all the guacamole you can eat."
It is such a great event, we all enjoyed it. Chris and I each tasted over 20 types of guacamole (there were a few non vegan ones) and the kids each had just 1 mild one that they loved. There was a mariachi band that the kids loved too. They were from a local high school and were seriously impressive for being a bunch of kids.
Chris and his mom also took Athena to the puppet show next door. Athena loved that of course. It was a super nice day so we ran around in the grass for awhile before heading home to put Rowan for a nap. The past 2 days he has only taken 1 nap, he really is almost 1 and I can't believe it. I'll add some pictures later. I am feeling too tired to download pictures at the moment, and feel like I may be coming down with a little something. Off to go set my clocks ahead.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Backyard Fun

Athena convinced me to fill up the water table and pool yesterday. Rowan loved it and walked around with 2 shovels all afternoon. I love this weather before it gets too hot and we are all sweating and complaining and slathering on sunscreen. Now, off to get some inspiration for dinner...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

It seems like it has been forever

These are the blueberry bounty buns from Vive!

I feel like I haven't posted in awhile, things have been hectic and the weather has been beautiful which means I spend my days outdoors, and my nights, when I usually blog, catching up on all the stuff I should have been doing during the day. But it is so nice out, I just can't stay home and clean house.
Also, Rowan had his first ear infection and his ear drum ruptured. That wasn't fun at all but he is so much better now. Chris was sick, again, and was out of commission for 2 days which left me running the household solo. Anyway, I haven't cooked much but I did host the 1st ever San Diego Vegan Families potluck and it was so much fun. I had been wanting to start something like this for awhile as we attended some vegan meetup events, but were usually one of the only people with kids so we didn't get to talk to many other people much since most were scared away by us having children present. The potluck was so much fun, and so delicious. I couldn't stop eating. It was pretty hilarious because in the end, we realized we had forgotten to take photos but scrounged up the scraps to make a plate to photograph.

Lemon poppyseed and Blueberry muffins from fellow vegan blogger Julia!
So delicious mac n cheez from Val. (I was eating this stuff for days!)
2 bean chipotle lime hummus from ED&BV.
Our staged plate featuring banana french toast and some fabulous roasted potatoes from Lindsey at Day to Day Vegan. Plus tofu ranchero from Natalie at Wannabeurbanhousewife. I made my usual pumpkin waffles but I know I don't need to show a picture of those since they've been featured in this blog so many times! There was more food I'm forgetting but you get the idea.

While I was putting Rowan for a nap, Athena got herself ready for dance class. Didn't she do a nice job on her hair?! I put the pony tail in but she did the rest. She got compliments all day long about her do. 1 mom at playgroup even thought I did it myself!

We are trying to get Rowan ready for his birthday by asking him, "How old are you?" and then showing him 1 finger. He is starting to get the idea! Now if he'd only stop moving as soon as I get the camera ready and focused!