Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011

This year we celebrated our first Christmas in California. It looked a little more like September than December outside, and it was nearly 60 degrees - certainly not what we are used to, but a fun change!

Since we didn’t travel back to Colorado for the holiday to celebrate with our immediate families my Aunt Pat and Uncle Tim, who live 5ish hours away, came to stay with us! I was so excited to finally have the space to host my first holiday!!

On Christmas Eve Pat and Tim arrived and we all headed to our church’s Christmas Eve service. After church we went home for a bit to chat and eat some of Pat’s yummy appetizers before we headed out to look at Christmas lights and have dinner at a restaurant - one of my family’s Christmas Eve traditions.


On Christmas morning we all slept in before enjoying opening all of our gifts. Santa came for Gromit and he was super excited to check out what was in his stocking. And yes, we dressed him in dog pajamas that morning just to be cute.



Dave and I made out like bandits on Christmas morning and we have a lot of very generous family to thank for our wonderful gifts! The one thing that we are most excited about is that we were given money towards purchasing a dining room table and chairs! We do have a small, 4-person table in the kitchen area, but we want something a bit larger for the dining room so we can host more than two other people for meals. We are so excited!

After opening gifts we had a yummy Christmas brunch before spending more time hanging out, Skyping/talking on the phone with family members in other states, and eventually giving a driving tour of our new hometown.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday was preparing Christmas dinner. It was my first holiday meal and I was pleased at how it came out! We made balltip steak, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and rolls and Pat made a yummy salad. And then for dessert Pat and I made a really delicious pumpkin cheesecake. It was certainly a feast!


On Monday Pat and Tim had a great idea to take a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I had never been before so I was excited to go. Dave and I still think it is crazy that we live in the same state as all of these fun attractions. We all had a great time looking at all of the animals and Dave took some amazing photos!


After a few hours exploring the aquarium it was time for us to part ways and head to our respective homes. We had a great time spending Christmas with Pat and Tim and really enjoyed their company! Who knows, we may have to get together for every holiday!


I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Deliciously Vegan Fridays

Welcome to another edition of Deliciously Vegan Fridays! I’m a little late posting today but, hey, it’s the holidays; can you blame me? Anyway, on to this week’s recipe: Chocolate - Blueberry Crumble.

I found this recipe in Vegan on the Cheap. Blueberries are a little out of season so I used frozen and I think they worked out great. I was a little intimidated by the vegan margarine, but it really wasn’t bad :-)

Chocolate-Blueberry Crumble

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen blueberries
1/2 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick oats
3/4 cup vegan margarine, melted
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and zest, mixing well. Spread the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie plate. Set aside.


2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, margarine, and cinnamon. Mix until crumbly. (I think I mis-measured and used too much margarine so mine was not quite crumbly. Oops!)


3. Sprinkle the mixture evenly on top of the blueberries. Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 25 minutes.


4. Cool on a wire rack at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm spooned into bowls.


On a scale of 10, we would give it an 8. It would be the perfect dessert after a light meal. Tons of chocolate, tons of blueberries, and a little bit of crunch. Yum!

That’s my recipe for the week. If you made a vegan recipe and would like to share be sure to link up below. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cute holiday find

Christmas updates are coming soon, but until then enjoy this cute video that Dave found. I love the part where Snoopy dances on the piano :-)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Deliciously Vegan Fridays

Welcome to a holiday baking edition of Deliciously Vegan Fridays! This week’s recipe: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Squares.

I found this recipe online here. We made this for a holiday party we went to and everyone seemed to love it! We didn’t even tell them it was vegan… until later ;-)

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Squares

1 1/2 c. chunky peanut butter
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. powdered sugar
2 c. gluten-free/vegan graham crackers, crushed
1 bag vegan chocolate chips, melted

1. Mix peanut butter, coconut oil, vanilla, sugar and crackers together.

2. Press into a parchment-lined 9×13 pan.

3. Pour the chocolate over on the top.

4. Refrigerate for 2 hours (or longer)

On a scale of 10, we would give it a 10. Maybe an 11. It was super easy to make and tasted soooo good. And it disappeared really quickly.

That’s my recipe for the week. If you made a vegan recipe and would like to share be sure to link up below. Happy Friday and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas lights

In our house, Wednesday night is date night and every week we try to come up with something fun to do for our designated quality time.

This week we had an awesome date - we had dinner at home and then went to a nearby Nestle Toll House Cafe for dessert. We had never been to one before so we were anxious to see what it was all about. Turns out you can order a custom ice cream sandwich and you could even pick the flavor of cookies and ice cream you wanted for your sandwich. So cool! I got chocolate chip cookies with double fudge brownie ice cream and Dave got the same cookies with peanut butter cup ice cream. Mmmmmm!

After we enjoyed our dessert we took a trip around town to see some local Christmas light displays - and Gromit was happy to be able to come with us in the car. Dave had gone online ahead of time to map out some must-see locations for us.

The first house had a gate where you could actually get out of your car and go on the property to see the TONS of lights they had set up in the lawn. The line for this was around the block so we figured we would try to go earlier on another night to beat the line.

Our tour continued.

One house had a cute Charlie Brown display complete with a little Christmas tree and single ornament.


A lot of the houses we saw had a bunch of random lawn ornaments set up. It was almost too much to take in.


Then, the last house we stopped at was the best house we’ve EVER been to. Ever.

The lights were synced to music and you could tune in and listen on your car radio. Now we’ve seen this before (live and on YouTube) and it seems like people pretty much do one of two things: 1. They sync it to music that everyone else uses to sync lights to, like Trans-Siberian Orchestra stuff, or 2. They have waaaaay too many decorations out and it’s hard to take it all in because things are just blinking left and right and you feel like you might be sent into a seizure. But not at this house.

The music was different than anything we had heard before - there was something Disney-like about it. There weren’t too many decorations and there weren’t too many things on all at once. There were no crazy lawn ornaments, just lights. And get this… there were also synced water fountains and a waterfall.



It was perfect! The best Christmas light show we have ever seen. Even Gromit seemed to enjoy it.

This house is now permanently on my must see list… and I think I’ll be going back to see it again tomorrow. And the next night. And the night after that. You get the idea :-)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deliciously Vegan Fridays

Welcome to another edition of Deliciously Vegan Fridays! This week’s recipe: Super Easy Vegan Chili.

I found this recipe in The Part-Time Vegan. As the name implies, this recipe is super easy and gives you a little bit of flexibility in the ingredients you use so it can suit your taste.


1 (12 oz) jar of salsa
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (14 oz) cans kidney beans or black beans (we used kidney beans)
1 1/2 cups frozen vegetables of your choice (we used a mix of onions and peppers)
4 veggie burgers, crumbled (black bean burgers work great)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Take a stock pot and combine everything in it. Get the mixture simmering over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.


2. Voila! Yummy and super easy chili. Enjoy!


On a scale of 10, we would give it a 9. We really liked the flavor and texture of the chili. After dinner we felt full but not over stuffed. It was perfect for a chilly night!

That’s my recipe for the week. If you made a vegan recipe and would like to share be sure to link up below. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

All I want for Christmas is… a mantle!

When we moved into our house in California one of my favorite things about the house was the fireplace, but I noticed that one thing was missing - a mantle!


Luckily I married a smart and handy engineer who told me that he could build me a mantle and use some existing holes in the brick to support it - so that we wouldn’t damage anything. What more could a girl ask for?!?

A few weeks ago we went to Home Depot to get some wood, braces, and stain - and so began the building process. Dave soon took over the garage cutting wood, staining, and gluing. This weekend he finished up and he installed the final product:


It’s a mantle! And it is so beautiful! And my favorite part about it is that Dave made it for us. It just makes the home more complete, don’t you think? And I’m so glad he got it up just in time for Christmas. My nativity set and stockings needed a place to live!


Now it’s starting to feel more like Christmas! Thank you Dave for doing such a fantastic job - you’re the best husband ever!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Deliciously Vegan Fridays

Welcome to another edition of Deliciously Vegan Fridays! This week’s recipe: Penne and Broccoli with Tomatoes, Walnuts, and Raisins.

I found this recipe in the book Vegan on the Cheap. It looks like there are a lot of ingredients involved but really I just needed to buy the broccoli, penne, and tomatoes. This is super easy to make and didn’t make a huge mess or require lots of pots an pans. That alone makes it a winner in my book!

Penne and Broccoli with Tomatoes, Walnuts, and Raisins

1 pound broccoli, cut into 1/2 inch florets
1 pound penne
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/3 cup raisins
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar

1. Steam the broccoli until just tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Drain, run under cold water to stop the cooking process.


2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the penne over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes.

3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Add the walnuts, raisins, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juice, crushed tomatoes, and sugar and simmer until the liquid reduces slightly.


4. Add the cooked broccoli and toss to heat through.


5. When the pasta is cooked, drain well and return to the pot. Add the broccoli mixture and toss gently to combine. Serve hot.


On a scale of 10, we would give it a 8. Again, this recipe made a ton of leftovers so we have been enjoying it for lunches all week!

That’s my recipe for the week. If you made a vegan recipe and would like to share be sure to link up below. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Our little escape artist

It's been a few days since Gromit's paw incident and he seems to be doing much better. He's putting weight on his foot and is acting a little less lethargic now that his pain killer doses are decreasing. He was doing so well that late Monday afternoon I decided that I could run to the grocery store really quick and leave G at home.

I was gone for about an hour and when I got home I found a happy dog who had removed the bandages from his foot and was licking his stitches. Ack! I dropped the groceries and scooped him up and ran to get my first aid supplies to re-cover the foot.

Please excuse the quality of the photos since they were taken with my cell phone. I was the easiest thing to grab.

The after hours vet clinic told me that it would be ok to leave his foot unwrapped since we had a vet appointment the next day to assess his foot - as long as he didn't lick it anymore. They suggested we purchase an e-collar (cone) so we could be sure he wouldn't get at his foot when we weren't looking. So when Dave got home from work (because I wasn't going to leave G unattended again) we headed out to get G a cone.

I thought that I should also lightly cover his foot because it looked like it was still oozing and bleeding just a little bit and it would be safer to have it covered while we were out and while we were sleeping. This is my poorly done, make-shift foot wrap. It looks like I don't have a future in veterinary medicine.

Monday night we put G in the cone, wrapped his foot, and went to bed. I woke up every hour or so to check on G because I was so worried about him. Everything was fine until my alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. so I could give G another dose of pain killers. I got up and looked around and couldn't find him anywhere. I turned on the bedroom light to see that he had backed himself under our bed to catch the cone between the bed frame and the floor and slid out of the cone. On the other side of the bed was my bandage that he (again) pulled off his foot. I found G under the bed. We had a little escape artist on our hands!

Clearly this dog is too smart for his own good.

So I re-wrapped his foot, gave him his pain killers and brought him into bed with me so I could keep better track of him. We slept there together until 9:00 a.m.

I kept him with me all day Tuesday until we went to the vet. The vet said that I now needed to leave the bandages off so his foot could air out (except when he goes outside - I need to cover it then) and helped me to better secure the cone to G's collar so he couldn't slip out of it anymore.

He now has to wear the cone any time that I can't be right next to him and when we go to bed at night. G is NOT thrilled. Can you tell?

He hates the cone so much that when it is on him he just sits there and gives me the "I hate you" glare or pouts with his head down. He won't lie down unless I'm holding him or walk unless I'm walking right next to him. Let's just say this makes sleeping and going outside to potty very interesting.

The stitches will come out late next week so let's hope we can all make it through until then.

Hang in there, Little Guy!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Paw trouble

Saturday evening was a great evening... at first. Our friends Kendra & Danny and their two cute kiddos came over for dinner and then we all headed to our downtown area to watch the local holiday parade and tree lighting. The kids had fun and Gromit enjoyed getting pet by all of the passers by during the parade.

When Gromit was saying hello to another dog we noticed that he wasn't putting any weight on his back right paw. We checked it out but it seemed to be fine. A little while later he was still not putting weight on his paw so we ended up carrying him for the rest of the evening. When we got home we re-examined the paw and saw that one of his pads was swollen and pink.

Dave let G into the backyard to potty and when he came back in the top of his paw was bleeding! We don't know if it popped or if he was biting at it or what but we quickly sprung into action. We rinsed the paw with water and sterile saline solution to clean it out. Then I wrapped his paw in gauze, a protective bandage, and covered the whole thing with one of Gromit's socks to prevent him from getting at it.

It was recommended that we take him to the after hours emergency vet clinic to have it checked out to make sure nothing was still lodged in there and to avoid incfection. After two and a half hours in the waiting room (apparently it was a busy night) we were finally able to see the vet.

Long story short, they say something must have gotten stuck in his paw 3-5 days ago and Saturday night it came to a head and exploded, like a zit. To be sure that whatever was in his paw is gone they recommend minor surgery to check it out. We agreed to the surgery and had to say goodbye to our little baby for the night. He was NOT thrilled about wearing a cone before his procedure.

Dave and I got home a little before 2:00 a.m. and tried to get some sleep before going to pick him up before 8:00 a.m. I certainly didn't sleep very well knowing he was in a strange place and having surgery on his paw. Poor little guy!

I went to pick him up at 7:30 this morning and the vet told me everything went well. She flushed out a small seed pod from inside his paw during the procedure which seemed to be the cause of his pain, swelling, and bleeding. We don't know how or when it got there, but we are just glad that it is out and he can get to feeling better soon. He is on antibiotics and pain killers and his paw is bandaged up to protect the stitches he received after they worked on it. We'll continue to give him some extra TLC and treats and will follow up with the vet in a few days.

Feel better soon, Gromit!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Deliciously Vegan Fridays

Welcome to another edition of Deliciously Vegan Fridays! I’m hoping that someone will link up and share another vegan recipe with us this week! Even a salad with no toppings that include animal products or meat is technically vegan so feel free to linkup and share what you made even if it seems simple. This week’s recipe: Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash.

I found the recipe online here. I thought it was really easy to make and didn’t require rare ingredients which makes it super easy to pick up the needed items at the store. I still had some leftover soy cheese from the pesto recipe I made a few weeks ago so that made it even easier. The only hard part was getting Dave to agree to eat squash (because he hates squash), but he was a good sport and was willing to try it out.

Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash, cut in half
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 medium red pepper, diced
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp vegan tzatziki
1/2 cup shredded non-dairy cheese (I used soy cheese)
Salt, pepper, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste

1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scrape to remove the seeds. Rub a little bit of olive oil on the inside side, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the two halves on a cookie sheet, with the inside part facing down. Roast in the oven at 375F for 50 min or until tender. Allow to cool for 30 min.

2. Use a fork to scrape the inside out, forming spaghetti-like clumps of squash. Just scraping it will cause it to look like spaghetti - no special moves necessary.

3. In a pan, sauté the onion and pepper on low. Then add the spaghetti squash, corn, black beans, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and spices, and cook for another 5 min, stirring occasionally. If you’d like, you can stir in Tzatziki to make it more creamy.

4. Transfer the squash-bean-corn mixture back into the now hollow squash skin. Top with some shredded soy cheese. Stick it back into the oven for about 5 min until the cheese has melted. Scoop out and enjoy!

See?! Super easy and we thought it tasted pretty good. The only thing I would do differently is drain and rinse the black beans before adding them to the skillet. On a scale of 10, we would give it a 7. This recipe made a lot of food so we’ll be having leftovers all weekend :-)

That’s my recipe for the week. If you made a vegan recipe and would like to share be sure to link up below. Happy Friday!