Sunday, November 22, 2015

Soul Food in Tallahassee!!!

One of things I love most about being vegan is being "forced" to essentially narrow down restaurant options to those that are vegan-friendly, and often times, ALL vegan.  Such is the case with "Soul Vegetarian Restaurant," as they popped up on Yelp with awesome reviews (especially for their mac&cheese) AND with claims of half-off platters and sandwiches on Sundays...#nobrainer !!!

As we looked at the menu, we deliberated over what side to get with the famed mac&cheese (PETA deemed it as one of the top 5 vegan mac&cheese dishes in the country!)...When we couldn't decide, they offered samples...the kids and I tried the yams, and Jillian's reaction of wide eyes and "oh WOW!  Those are REALLY GOOD!" was echoed by the rest of us.  I also had the same reaction to the sautéed eggplant.  BEST eggplant I've ever had. 

This eggplant (below) was incredible.  I told J and E that I would give them a Jolly Rancher if they just tried a bite . . . Everett decided, "it's not worth it..." Jillian was very hesitant, but tried it and actually admitted it was "pretty good!"  

Richard and I got the black bean burger with sides of mac&cheese and yams and mac&cheese and eggplant, respectively.  
As if the picture above didn't already confirm it, yes, the mac&cheese was very much worthy of being lauded.  Just like the real thing...but waaaaay better!!!

This black bean burger was freaking.awesome.  It had a blend of bbq sauce, honey mustard, and cashew cheese on it, with the "usual fixins."  Richard even made the bold claim that it was the best black bean burger from a restaurant that he's had!  

The kids split a platter, after assurance from the lady working there that it would be plenty to split...that included a protein (they got TVP in bbq sauce - super yummy!!!!!), 2 sides, (mac&cheese and yams), and cornbread!!!!

This is half of the platter brought out for the kids, after I had divvied everything up . . . and apparently, after the cornbread had been sampled...

Comfort vegan food at its best, and a fantastic start to a vacation where I'll be cooking a lot less than usual!

A few family pics before hitting the road again:

Richard jokingly putting Everett in a sleeper hold, after I commented on how E should try to sleep some in the car, since he's had a bit of a fever (likely caused by having gotten the flu mist (a couple of days prior). 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Life and Greek Mythology, according to Jillian

It all started with Jillian talking about how sometimes her head gets overwhelmed to think about why she is the way she is, and then about the perspective on life and the way things are, as if she were someone else.  Then, because she said she feels like Greek Mythology has a more interesting way of describing how the earth and life, etc. came to be, she expressed something she mentioned earlier this week:  that it seems like there should be a different word used to describe "God."  And then, how, in GM, the gods are more of a *species* of their own (made up of gods and goddesses)...suddenly, she's telling me about "Chaos" (a force) creating "Gaia" (the earth/land, I believe), then Chronos, Uranus (yes, she giggled), Metas (sp?), etc.

She basically ended up spending about 30 minutes giving me detailed information on the chronology of how and what things happened in GM.  I told her that she should write down everything down/make a big poster or something that illustrates and describes the confusing nature of all of that stuff.  So now, naturally, she has announced, "I'm going to write a book on Greek Mythology!" . . . And is currently working on the cover page.

A little bit into our convo (we had both been working on projects in the craft room), I decided to use my voice recording app to get it all "on tape" - glad I did, because, as usual, there were giggles about this or that, me asking questions jokingly that referred to common expressions, and then cute things like the fact that somewhere in all of her explaining, she referenced something - I think a battle - and said, "that reminds me of a song...'Love is a Battlefield'" (I asked her if she knew who sang it, and she said, "Pat? . . . something.").  We eventually stopped talking because, "agh, I can't concentrate - I like this Foo Fighters song!!" (Richard had put on one of their records in the other room) . . . 

So there you have it - a little peek into the brain of my 9.5 year old daughter!  :)

This is what my crazy looks like.

Because, why wouldn't someone want to know what creative and crazy looks/feels like?

When you're so creatively inspired, that:

THAT'S what got you out of bed, but...

You force yourself to meditate for 10 minutes and slow down, after which...

You race downstairs to your craft room, where...

You can't move quickly enough to keep up with thoughts and ideas, so...

You create piles of fabric scraps that would seem like a mess to an outsider, but are quite the opposite from your own perspective, however...

The piles aren't enough - you must find paper and pen to make note of "categories" to create scraps of order within the piles so that all of your (literally) dozens of thoughts/ideas can be managed and addressed and properly categorized with corresponding fabrics, but...

Your brain and stomach keep yelling at you, "EAT SOMETHING, DAMN IT!"  So...

You begrudgingly run (yes, run - clearly that meditation is working) to the kitchen, and...

Since you have to wait on your oatmeal to finish cooking...

You decide that for whatever reason, people should know about the crazy that resides in your head, and so...

You finish your rapid-fire iPhone blogging while eating your (now ready-to-eat oatmeal), and...

You get back to the creative and crazy that sits in front of you:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


(GOTD #2 is still in progress, but it is ALSO yoga-based, and expresses gratitude for yoga teacher, Miranda...but she whipped our butts last night and my body is still working on allowing my brain to catch up and write about all of the wonderful benefits of practicing hot vinyasa with her!) 

Okay, on with GOTD #3!
I'm feeling very "Om," post-yin yoga . . . Kinda like my Munchkin doing a tree pose, as she tried on the new dress that I finished making last night (more pics of that in a future post):

Why?  Because it's hard not to be absolutely amazed and grateful for what the body can do - on its own, and then, with a bit of helpful guidance.  Sometime last year, Stephen suggested using the yoga block to "teeter-totter" my head closer to the ground during seated wide-legged straddle.  And ever since then, I've been able to comfortably lay my forehead down in front of me, as we hold that position for 5 minutes.  It feels amazing to reach that point, where you can just s-t-r-e-t-c-h forward and RELEASE. And rest the head on ground in front of you.  Feeling the stretch of the legs, back, arms.

Think on that.  Stretching.  Releasing.  Relaxing.  But finding "your edge."  Slight discomfort in pushing yourself.  But strength and growth and pride in doing so.  This is yoga.  This is life.

Gratitude for patience, guidance, and for my body.  Gratitude for my yoga practice.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Soul Work

Soul work, in light of the Charleston incident and how we can learn, grow, and hopefully, progress as a country...

This started out as a paraphrased interpretation of Aaron White's powerful sermon this morning at church, that was to be a simple Facebook post.  However, as often the case, my thoughts lacked brevity that is usually preferred in that social medium.  And so, here we go...

I wanted to share - and hopefully, inspire others to think about their own soul work, as it is something that each of us can work on in ways that can make a meaningful, positive impact on the variety of communities that make up our country.

We have much soul work to do as we aim to be responsibly and joyfully human.  Admission of participation in a problem allows us to have power to change an issue.  Each of us accepting this responsibility is necessary so that we may ALL experience what it means to be joyfully human.

Aaron's sermon was so moving that as Jillian and I drove home from church, I felt the need to share this past week's events with her and to have a discussion about what our role in that is/might be, what it can and needs to be, and that although it may seem daunting and frustratingly overwhelming, we have to redirect those feelings into action.  That action can be both big and small - within and outside of us.  Action is important, as fear, frustration, hopelessness, concern, worry, etc. - all those feelings - if we do not adopt the mindset to be part of the change, sitting on those feelings just promotes a stagnant, unproductively frustrating state of being within ourselves and our community and country.  Action and being a part of social justice promotes breaking out of a problem that is not limited to our country's history, but is very much a part of our country's current struggle.

Then, since Jillian was seeming especially patient and receptive, I was able to tie-in some of this past week's yoga teachings regarding the importance of recognizing and letting go of attachments and how that concept might relate to learning mindfully do the soul work Aaron spoke of this morning.

Lots to think about.  Even more to do, with mindful, responsible action. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Gratitude of the Day, #1

GOTD:  the practice of yin yoga under Stephen Bison's mindful direction.  

Yin is about so much more than just holding a pose for longer than usual.  It's more meditative, encourages reflexion, contemplation, and working within oneself to grow and transform within the mind and spirit.  

Stephen has a gift - to be able to effectively convey, inspire, and nurture these ideas through his calming, authentic personality and interesting analogies and metaphors shared during practice.

Today, I want to make note of his crab and monkey stories, illustrating the importance of letting go of attachments.  I hope that I'll be able to remember them when I feel discomfort in releasing my own, internal attachments that weigh down my spirit.  Thank you, Stephen, for being a lighthouse for your yogis.

If you'd like to read more about Stephen, his yoga practice, and his inspiring words, check out his blog here:

Namaste, y'all.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Thrown Together, Wrapped Up, and APPROVED by ALL!

After teaching a full day of sewing classes today, I was almost instantly met with the unavoidable, obnoxiously persistent question that sneaks up on me every afternoon/early evening:

"Mommy?  What's for dinner?"

Cue the following thoughts, written as they likely played through my head:

Ugh, I need to do something with that ginormous bowl of pinto beans I soaked and cooked the other day . . . immersion blender?  Ninja blender?  Burritos . . . flautas . . . crap, still have an equally ginormous bowl of sliced and steamed squash.  Puree and throw into freezer for later?  Sneak into blended beans?  AND shredded zucchini I need to use for zucchini bread.  I think I have enough for 2 or 3 loaves.  Maybe I should just freeze the zucchini.  Why do I do this to myself?  Produce is such a pain.  All these things to make before they're just sad and unusable . . . but this is what I've chosen.  It's better for us.  You know you always feel awesome and healthy and satisfied when you cook and eat this way.  Suck it up, woman.

And so, this is what I came up with - I referred to a random recipe in one of my cookbooks for a little bit of help to know what types of spices to add, but this is pretty much all me, doing my best to use what's in the fridge and ready to go:

Like I noted in the recipe - some of these are estimates, and I just kinda went off how it looked in terms of a burrito filling.  Also, "nooch" is slang for nutritional yeast.  It tastes awesome, and since it has lots of good stuff in it (see link), I like to add it wherever I can, if there's a chance it'll taste good, or at the very least, not make something worse!  

Also, as mentioned at the end of the recipe, if your kids are anything like mine, and often need a little extra "something" to make something more "okay" and/or pleasing to the eye, you can add a few sprinkles of cheese on the tops of their burritos while they're still hot and just out of the oven.  Yeah, at this point, the recipe veers from being vegan, but my plan is to slowly wean the kids off of these rare occasions where I use dairy...and figure out a homemade alternative or just forgo it altogether in the future . . . because I just haven't been able to find one in stores that I like.  Until then, I still have some real cheese on hand for them.  My meals remain vegan, though.  :)

So anyway, how did the experience go?

Well, Jillian requested some "sour cream" to dip her burrito into, and I provided Everett with his usual, favorite dipping fare (guacamole).  

Richard and I both used the guac and I added a little of the "sour cream" to my plate as well.

And BOOM.  Those burritos were freakin' awesome.  And no fights over eating a side of veggies, either!  Because they were all hidden in the bean mixture!  Even Jillian said, "You should come up with more recipes, Mommy!  This is the best!"

Yippee!!!  Success!!!

If you decide to try out my recipe, lemme know how it goes - especially if you had kids try it, too! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mindfulness Through Sewing.

Many of my students are currently working on their first in the spirit of that, I thought I'd share the quilt I'm working's only the third quilt I've done (the first was another onesie quilt, for the same customer/friend's older child, and the second was a t-shirt quilt for a church friend that was in the Peace Corps and wanted the various shirts she collected in her travels to be made into a blanket).

For me, this kind of VERY long-term project represents so much more than just "a quilt" - it represents something that I hope I can help each of my students to realize:  that each creation - however simple or complicated, is a learning experience to be proud of.  The easy projects provide the opportunity to learn confidence, sometimes giving way to experimenting with new techniques. The more difficult projects provide an opportunity to practice patience and mindfulness, all the while, recognizing that there is beauty in the learning process, for we can't grow and become better without making mistakes and might as well power through these moments doing something we love, right?

Each creation is a stepping stone.  Even for this 34 year-old teacher of sewing!  I learn to think and explain and offer advice in new ways with each of my precious students.

We are all our own teachers and teachers to others.  The important thing is to strive to be mindful enough to recognize and, at some point, implement, those moments within ourselves and the ones offered to us by outside teachers.

And so, the cycle of creating, learning, and teaching continues - sometimes one at a time, sometimes simultaneously, as this rewarding discipline, hobby, skill, art form requires so many facets of the mind and of the inner spirit that drives us forward.

Thank you for allowing me to teach your children sewing - it really is so much more than just a machine or's an opportunity to become more mindful and present in the moment.  And to learn and grow from that place of awareness, with the bonus of a beautifully unique creation to be proud of all that went into it!