Monday, November 29, 2010

Vis Per Mare

Jason jetted off this afternoon to join his carrier strike group in San Diego before they hoist anchor tomorrow and head out to patrol the seas for at least seven months. It was an emotional morning for both of us, but we parted with smiles on our faces and love in our hearts.

The U.S.S. Carl Vinson's motto is Vis Per Mare--strength from the sea. I'll need a bit of that as I while away the months on the home front, but my dear man will need even more of it to deal with the unique challenges of living on an aircraft carrier.

This song came on my iPod as I drove away from the air terminal, and I swallowed my tears just enough to sing along:

Bon voyage, my love.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Foodie Friday: Thanksgiving Recap

It's Foodie Friday! Foodie Friday is my weekly feature that gives you a window into my kitchen. I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to read cookbooks, and I love to inspire people to give vegan food a chance. Thus, Foodie Friday was whipped up and baked to perfection.
So it's Saturday. So what? We vegans have post-Thanksgiving food comas, too!

We started our Thanksgiving off with a steaming cup of the most decadent hot chocolate I have ever tasted. Thanks to Angela for passing on the recipe to me. The secret: coconut milk. It's so rich that a small mug goes a long way. Jason couldn't even finish his, and he loves chocolate even more than I do.

Jason prefers to have traditional Thanksgiving food, so I always make our tried-and-true favorites, like mashed potatoes and stuffing, and, of course, a Tofurky. For a vegetable side Jason wanted corn.

Even though I was making classics, I still wanted to try some new recipes. I picked corn fritters and fennel and garlic mashed potatoes from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. Everything tasted great, and I was especially pleasantly surprised by how my fritters turned out--perfect on the first try!

After stuffing ourselves with all of that, we didn't have room for dessert, so I made it yesterday instead. Since Jason had pumpkin pie for his birthday treat, he requested brownies for Thanksgiving. I was determined to make a seasonally-appropriate version, so I fired up the Googles and found this recipe for pumpkin brownies. I ditched the frosting, veganized the batter, and dumped in a whole bunch of chocolate chips. Verdict: delicious! The pumpkin keeps the brownies moist, and the chocolate chips give you a delicious little prize in every bite.

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs (I used Ener-G)
2/3 cup pumpkin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar using a hand mixer. Add egg replacer and mix well. Mix in pumpkin. Stir in remaining ingredients. Grease an 8x8 inch pan with a dab of your shortening and spread in batter in an even layer. Bake for 40 minutes.

Tonight I made us a delicious mac and cheese to go with some of the Thanksgiving leftovers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One Week

No, not the Barenaked Ladies song (although it is a great song and I thoroughly enjoyed the BNL concert I went to in college).

One week is the amount of time I have left with Jason before he deploys to places unknown aboard an aircraft carrier next Monday.

In true Navy fashion, he found out today that he has to have his bags ready tomorrow. Tonight we'll be scrambling to collect all of the odds and ends that a sailor needs for seven months at sea. Emphasis on odds.

I encouraged him to begin this process two weeks ago. I reminded him that this is a holiday week and they'd likely be loading up cargo well ahead of time. Does my husband listen to my voice of reason and heed my warnings to plan ahead?

(Oh my god, I am my mother.)

Of course not. And I don't blame him for being a little less than motivated to leave. I would be pretty concerned if he were raring to go.

So tonight we pack, and you've all been spared the sentimental tome that I was writing in my mind. For now, anyway.

And please will me the strength to not shed a bucket of tears for every item we put in the sea bag.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Foodie Friday: These Recipes Were Stolen from Maris

It's Foodie Friday! Foodie Friday is my weekly feature that gives you a window into my kitchen. I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to read cookbooks, and I love to inspire people to give vegan food a chance. Thus, Foodie Friday was whipped up and baked to perfection.
When I was in high school, my drama teacher had some pencils specially made that said "Stolen from Dee Greenberg." With tens of dozens of students always needing something to mark their scripts with, she went through pencils fast. I, of course, took one of these pencils, and I still have it today. It's one of those things that I just can't get rid of, even ten years later. Yes, I am incredibly sentimental.

I'll be keeping this week's recipes for years, too--in my bookmarks, at least. They're both from Maris of In Good Taste, from whom I've stolen before... repeatedly.

First up, curried pumpkin soup. To veganize, simply swap the butter and milk for your nondairy replacements of choice. I used Smart Balance organic whipped buttery spread and 8th Continent original soy milk, which were great.

Next I made Maris' warm quinoa salad with roasted sweet potatoes and sage. I tucked it into some roasted acorn squashes to make it extra special. Jason refilled his squash and then ate it when he was done using it as a bowl.

Jason had steak night tonight, so I took it upon myself to get creative with puff pastry and some leftovers, including the warm quinoa salad from above and rice and pea soup from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. The concept is good, but I need to refine it and figure out how to make the puff pastry stay together better.

Next Friday: Thanksgiving food roundup!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


After being awake for more than 32 hours straight, seeing that picture this afternoon sent me into near-hysteria. I still crack up every time I look at it. Jason has been looking over at me and shaking his head all evening.

I managed to stay awake all night long, and after my EEG this morning, we went to Starbucks and I caught my second wind. I eventually took a nap for a couple of hours after Jason went to work, but then he got home, so naptime was over. Since then, I've washed the EEG goo out of my hair, enjoyed some delicious Taco Bell (because Jason thought I looked too tired to cook), and guffawed repeatedly at the hovercats.

Seriously, look at them! Hovering!

I think I need to go to bed.

Or an addict.

Over the summer, I had my annual physical and lady inspection. Things were all good under the hood except for one little thing in my labwork. It seems I have hematuria, high red blood cell count in the urine. It was news to me, so they redid the labs a second time, and then a third time. After three positive tests, it wasn't likely to be a fluke or laboratory error, and we'd ruled out the simple causes like a urinary tract infection.

Hematuria can be a sign of bad things like kidney disease or cancer, so I was sent out to a urologist in Fresno to pee for them. If anything has come out of this experience, it's that I am a pro at peeing in cups now! The urologist made me get a CT scan to see if there was anything lurking in my midsection. And then finally, last Friday, I got a cystoscopy, during which the doctor inserts a lighted tube through your urethra and into your bladder to get as up-close and personal as possible.

I'll tell you, the feeling of something going in through the out hole is not pleasant. It basically made me do this:

A Comprehensive Glossary Of Gifs

Once the tube was in, they pumped my bladder full of distilled water to inflate it for optimal visibility. And what that really means is that the liquid was spilling out of me and puddling on the table under my bare butt and there was nothing I could do about it because there was a tube holding my hoo-hoo open. But soon enough, the doctor had seen what he needed to see, and with one ripping, burning tug, the tube was gone.

There was nothing in there, of course. No bloody tumors, crystals, gremlins, nothing. Apparently I'm just one of those freaks who has lots of red blood cells. I'll go back to the urologist in six months for another round of labs, but as far as I'm concerned, it's just another example of me being an overachiever.

In other health news, I started seeing a new neurologist after my little fainting spell during my arm lump removal in September. He thinks that I might have been misdiagnosed years ago (and wrongly medicated ever since) and that perhaps the events that occur when I pass out are not actually seizures, but rather non-epileptic convulsions. It sounds hokey when I say it, but his theory actually makes a lot of sense. I'll be having a series of tests over the next couple of months to see if he's right, starting tomorrow (today, actually) with a sleep-deprived EEG. I've been up all night, and will have been up for about 24 hours when I go in for the EEG in a few hours. Weee! Luckily Jason was able to get permission to miss work to take me to my appointment--I sure won't be in any shape to drive myself.

Lately, though, I don't have to do much to stay awake at night. The good old California air pollution is getting to me in a bad way, and nothing prevents sleep like not being able to breathe properly. A recent Forbes article titled "America's Dirtiest Cities" said:
"The biggest problem spot in the country is California's San Joaquin Valley, where farming, industry, car culture and topography collide to trap smog. Wildfires contribute to the problem."
Guess where we live? I finally had to give in and go get some help from my doctor. So now antihistamine pills and nasal spray are part of my daily routine. My medicine cabinet makes me look like an old person. Or an addict.

I'm going to take a nice long afternoon nap when I get home.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Foodie Friday: Yo ho ho and a bottle of...

It's Foodie Friday! Foodie Friday is my weekly feature that gives you a window into my kitchen. I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to read cookbooks, and I love to inspire people to give vegan food a chance. Thus, Foodie Friday was whipped up and baked to perfection.
My parents and sister are big fans of these cooking posts. They might be the only ones--it seems like nobody reads blogs on Fridays. Regardless, it's a fun way for me to look back on my culinary meanderings.

After the smashing success of my Daiya grilled cheese and nachos, pizza was the obvious next step. I dumped a bag of the cheddar on top of a raw take-and-bake, and what came out of the oven was melty, stretchy, cheesy goodness. I am totally sold--other vegan cheeses don't even compare!

I love you, Daiya. Now get in my mouth.

I don't think my potato head husband will ever get tired of spuds on his dinner plate, so I try to mix it up and make a new variation every now and then. One of my recent favorites is rosemary fingerling potatoes with caramelized shallots from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.

Because Jason was in Massachusetts for his birthday and sick when he got home, I made his birthday treat a bit late this year. It was definitely worth the wait, though. He requested pumpkin pie, and let me tell you, the recipe I picked out goes to 11. Why?

RUM! I made Robin Robertson's pumpkin pie with a hint of rum (from 1,000 Vegan Recipes, of course), which calls for dark rum, the most piratey of rums.

And I only used a little bit of the bottle, so no one will be asking this for a good while. You know, probably not until next week, if we use the rest really sparingly.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stuff I Like, Volume 5

I'm totally ignoring the tidal wave of junk that's been bringing me down this week. Having date night with Jason Tuesday night was a high point; we had dinner out and saw Beauty and the Beast at the Saroyan Theatre in Fresno. I curled my hair and wore dress pants, both of which I hardly ever do anymore. It was good to get out of my usual at-home uniform of old t-shirts and sweatpants, and feeling pretty and put together lifted my mood quite a bit. It was a lovely night away from reality and I only thought about Jason's upcoming 6-8 month deployment a few (hundred) times while we were out.

So as not to dwell, I'm keeping things 100% materialistic today. I cannot live without these things:

  • Progressive International collapsible salad spinner: How is it possible that I've been exclusively herbivorous for well more than a decade and only just got around to buying one of these contraptions over the summer? I don't know, but I have been gleefully spinning all manner of washed leafy foodstuffs since I got it. It also stores washed, shredded lettuce nicely in the refrigerator for a few days--longer than the bagged stuff stays fresh. Plus, look how itty-bitty it smooshes down to!

  • August-to-August day planner from Mixed Role Productions: I got my first one in 2001 and have had one every year since. I write birthdays, appointments, and other events in it, of course, but I also keep a schedule of Jasper's insulin injections and what the cats have had to eat each day--important when managing kitty diabetes. They also have a traditional January to December version, but I got used to using the school year-based version so I've just kept on buying them. Picking a color is one of the most agonizing decisions of my entire year.

  • iHome iH15 LED Color-Changing Speaker System: Jason got this for me for cheap by cashing in his expiring frequent flyer miles. I'd been coveting it for months because of the color-changing light feature. It makes a great night light and/or dance party mood-setter. It doesn't have a clock built in, but that's fine with me--I got it because I want to take it from room to room with me without having to constantly reset a clock. I use it as a night light (shut up) when I'm sleeping alone. It's bright enough to illuminate the creepy corners of our room but not so bright that it prevents me from falling asleep.

  • Burt's Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream: Had this face wash been around when I was a teenager, I would have used it every day on my Exxon Valdez spill of a face. I'm now approaching 30 at warp speed and don't need to combat oily skin as much as I used to, so I only use it every few days. It's a brisk, refreshing departure from the milder cleansers that I use the rest of the time, and it leaves me with that squeaky clean feeling that some cleansers for "mature" skin don't have.

  • Samsung Intensity II phone: I finally upgraded my phone last weekend. Gone are the days of the flippy phone; I'm now all systems go with a QWERTY keyboard and internet access. Fancy! The Intensity II comes with the Social Beat app that lets you access Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, and more through one interface. If you're not willing to spend hundreds of dollars on an iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry, this is a reasonably-priced alternative. But the biggest selling point for me was that it's bright blue. It also didn't hurt that one of the pre-loaded ringtones is called Popple Tone. Popple, as in these guys:

I'm pretty sure that phone was made with me in mind.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On the mend

You guys are never going to believe this, but the dent I put in Jason's car (when I backed it into a truck) is gone! It just popped out all by itself after he drove the car a few times. All that's left of the damage is some scuff marks. Lucky me! Along with the car, Jason has bounced back from his mystery illness last week, too.

Jasper and I are also on the mend from our respective lump removals. My incision is slowly but surely fading from red to pink and now it's just a matter of time and moisturizing before it turns into a normal old scar.

Jasper had a followup vet visit today. It started off rough, because he peed all over the carpet and my shoe when I went to put him in his carrier, and it only got worse when we finally arrived at the vet's office. Jasper was nearly paralyzed with fear because the place was full of big, enthusiastic dogs. They had mercy on us and ushered us into an alternate waiting area and then a private room, rather than out in the lobby. His leg is healing nicely, albeit slowly because his ability to heal is hampered by his diabetes. But with or without his gnarly leg, he is my same old lump of kitty love:

He sleeps next to my pillow every night, purring his furry little heart out.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Cats

After I saw some funny videos of rescued big cats at a sanctuary going absolutely bonkers playing with Halloween pumpkins, I wondered if my cats might also enjoy some gourd toys.

First, go watch the videos over at List of the Day.

Cute, right? Who knew lions and tigers were into squash?

Here's how it went with Lola:

Jacob and Jasper were similarly disinterested. It wasn't even worth posting the videos of their reactions.

At least I got some cute pictures.