Sunday, November 27, 2011


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I just love the atmosphere, being with family, and especially the food. Normally we have to cram three huge meals into our Thanksgiving day, but luckily this year, we split it up between two days. Our family time wasn't as rushed and it was so much more relaxing. 

We didn't eat with Luis's family until 7 o'clock on Thursday, so we just hung out at the house all day while I cooked and did some cleaning. I didn't make much this year- just some cornbread, sweet potatoes (my favorite food in the entire world), and Snickerdoodle bars that I found on Pinterest, which were amazing!

This year, only the adults ate in the formal dining room and the kids all ate in the kitchen. There are 21 of us in the immediate family, so sometimes it's just easier that way!

We ended up not going home until 2am. The men and kids were in one living room watching movies and the women stayed in the other, chatting and drinking wine. 

On Friday, we had our Thanksgiving dinner with my mom, stepdad, and my sister. It doesn't matter how old you are, it's always comforting to eat your own family's traditional holiday foods. No one's stuffing compares to my mom's. 

This was my second Thanksgiving spent as a vegetarian. I didn't stress about it much though. I still ate everything I wanted, just minus the meat :)

The whole weekend was pretty great. Friday night we put up our Christmas tree. We listened to Christmas music and drank egg nog and did all those little cutsie things you always picture yourself doing when you're an adult with a family. Anyway, I decided on all silver this year and am very happy with how it turned out. 

Saturday we slept until 11:45! Just so you know, that almost NEVER happens with a two year old. The highlight of the day was going to Pearland to HEB Plus. If only the stores down here had a better organic selection. Ugh.

Today we slept in (again!) and took Olivia to see Puss in Boots. We loved it and Olivia actually managed to stay near her seat for the entire movie.

Perfect weekend. I wish we were always as thankful as we are on Thanksgiving. The world would be a better place is we all took the time every day to appreciate all the good things in our lives. 

Snickerdoodle Bars
  • 2 2/3 cups AP flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch turbinado sugar

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan. Combine flour baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and set aside.
2.) In a large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar for 3-5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and beat until smooth.
3.) Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and turbinado sugar in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.
4.) Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool before cutting. Makes 20-24 bars.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Vegetarian Chili

I'm making myself try new things lately. I've never liked eggs or beans. Ever. But not getting enough protein is almost always a concern of vegetarians. I've started trying new recipes and I've actually come to like a lot of them. I made this chili tonight and it was really good! I might alter it a bit next time and make it a little less runny. So here it is- vegetarian chili:

What you need:
4 cups of water, divided
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

What to do:
Over medium-high heat, add 3 cups water and next 9 ingredients (through white beans), stirring to combine. 

Combine remaining water and tomato paste in a separate bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended. Stir tomato paste mixture into bean mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Ladle soup into bowls and top with cheese if desired.

I actually let mine simmer for around 30 minutes just because I was waiting for Luis to get home from work. This is the perfect recipe for a cold winter evening. Luis loved it and food has to be really delicious for him to not want meat with it. Win!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

iPhone Dump

During Sunday Dinner last week, Luis snuck off and hung out with the kids.

I straightened Olivia's hair the other day! It's crazy how long it actually is when it doesn't have her normal wave to it. Unfortunately, it was really humid that day, so it didn't last long at all.

I made Quiche on Monday! This was my first attempt (and my first time ever trying it at all) and it was amazing! It's a new family favorite for us. Olivia even loved it because she thought it was pizza! Ha. I'll have to post a recipe soon :)

We got some rain this week, thank God! Olivia and I watched it forever. She loves the "watey."

There's a small park only about three blocks from our house, so we walk there a couple times a week. Olivia loves it and it's a good way for me to force myself to exercise. Ha.

I made Ratatouille for dinner tonight. The recipe needs some tweaking, so once I have it down, I'll post it. It was pretty good, though. 

Have a good weekend! It's gonna be a busy one for us. Shopping, a birthday party, an engagement party, and then just our normal weekend festivities :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eat Food

“...There's a lot of money in the Western diet. The more you process any food, the more profitable it becomes. The healthcare industry makes more money treating chronic diseases (which account for three quarters of the $2 trillion plus we spend each year on health care in this country) than preventing them. ” 
 Michael Pollan, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual

So I just wanted to brag a little bit for a moment. 5 weeks ago (as of tomorrow) I decided it was time to go back to my vegetarianism. I had a few different reasons: 1) I just like the idea of saying I'm a vegetarian. I'm not ashamed to admit it. 2) Although I'm not a huge animal rights activist, I'm completely against the way animals are treated in the name of money here in America. 3) I'm also against the way Americans consume meat. And 4) being a vegetarian forces me to eat healthier all around.

I had noticed that I was gaining weight. And yes, I know, I was at a perfectly healthy weight. My BMI was 22, right in the middle of the recommend 18-25 range. BUT I know my body. I'm not an extremely active person, I don't have a lot of muscle, therefore the extra belly weight is not necessary. And, of course, my eating habits weren't what they should have been.

Well, anyway, 5 weeks ago I stopped eating meat and increased my fruit and veggie intake. I had set a weight loss goal of 1 pound per week. I'm down 7. I'm officially at my lowest weight since having Olivia 2 years ago and only ONE pound away from my pre pregnancy weight. (Yes, it took me a while, haha.) And this is without any exercise, just changing my eating habits. I'm not really the kind of person that works out, unless it's fun, which is why I'll be buying a bycicle in the next couple of weeks.

Even with good results, I still need some motivations. I just finished reading Food Rules by Michael Pollan the other day. I highly recommend it!

It's 64 rules about what to eat (food, not the processed food-like substances we find in the grocery stores these days) and how to eat. Pollan is not a vegetarian, so his advice goes for everyone. 

I'm currently reading another of Pollan's books and so far it's just as good as the last. 

I'll write more about it once I finish!

Luis has seen amazing results. He hasn't fully commited to a completely plant-based diet yet, but he has cut down to only having meat at dinner 2-3 times a week. 

I've currently lent out my Food Rules book, but once I get it back I'll post a few of my favorites :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Olivia's 2nd Birthday!

I can't believe I'm just getting around to posting about this! On Saturday, my little stinker, the light of my life, my best friend and soul mate, turned 2 years old. She was so excited about her "happy day" party and kept asking me if family members would be there.

Her cake was made by a lady that makes all the Leija's cakes and we weren't disappointed. We also got cake balls that were seriously the best thing ever made. The red velvet ones almost made me want to turn my back on all my healthy ways.

Cherish and Camden came early and helped me set up some decorations. I have no idea what I would have done without them. They're the best! And Olivia thinks so too.

All the kids at the party, minus Matt and the babies. All of Olivia's favorite people in the world. And I got them all smiling!

Two of Olivia's favorite people ever- Tia Mia and Aaron.

She did so good hitting her pinata! Of course, she wasn't nearly strong enough to break it, but she gave it quite a good try. Plus, she shared willingly with all the other kids, so I was proud.

An exhausted birthday girl after a day full of fun!

We had her two year check up on Monday. She currently weighs 26 pounds and is 35 inches tall. She's in the 40th percentile for weight, which is up from 25% at her last check up, and 80th percentile for height, which is up from 75%. Basically, I have a tall and skinny little girl.

I LOVE her pediatrician. We discussed our vegetarianism, not because I doubt that it's safe, but just because other people like to question whether Olivia is getting all the nutrients she needs. Dr. B said Olivia is perfectly healthy and that children can be vegetarians, too. Even though I already knew that, it was nice having a doctor confirm it!

So, here I am, the mother of a healthy, fun, vegetarian, beautiful, and smart little two year old girl. I never thought this is where I'd be at just 23 years old, but I would never have it any other way.