Category Archives: family

An Old-Fashioned Christmas

I hope everyone’s holiday break was as wonderful as ours! After a quiet holiday with my parents, I flew out to Michigan to spend the remaining part of the year with Matt and his family. Rosie and I were separated for a long ten days, and while I missed my little meatball, I had a blast in Detroit and Toronto. I’ll be playing catch up this weekend and telling you all about the places we visited, where we ate, and, off course, where we shopped!

The beginning of the season starts, for me, when I break out my favorite holiday albums. I usually have this gem on repeat at home and in my car! KC, forever!

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This year, I opted for a jewel colored theme for wrapping presents. As with stationary and other paper ephemera, I collect unique wrapping paper for various occasions throughout the year. This one is a two sided kind I picked up at IKEA several years ago.

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With some rainbow colored popcorn from a new gourmet popcorn shop in town, these gifts added an unexpected pop of color under the tree! I picked up my dad an original cast recording of Porgy and Bess on a 78, and ordered my mom a Lentil ornament and sticker. My favorite part of the gift giving is filling everyone’s stockings with their favorite candies and little trinkets. Dark chocolate oranges, petit fours, marzipan, and a fresh orange each, these stockings hold traditions that nothing can replace. I usually try to get some chocolate coal for my dad’s stocking, but I couldn’t find any during my last minute venture out into the crazed retail world. Next year, pops!

My parents put sweet little surprises in my stocking as well! I have so many little collections, lovely smelling soaps being one of them. The French Macaron and Rose & Green Tea bar soaps my mother found are not only pretty in perfect pink, but smell sooo heavenly! The best surprise was the Leo Zodiac candle I’ve been dreaming about for months. I plan on finally lighting it on the 23rd this month, my half birthday, and making some special wishes!

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Rosie will be with me everywhere I go with this Boston Terrier keychain- how cute is she? Rosie herself picked up several presents this Christmas, too, from family to friends all the way in Washington state. She’ll be sharing her holiday fun over the weekend!

While we enjoyed some delicious treats, I still owe my mom a Yule log! My favorite flavor in the past has been to make a white chocolate one with fresh raspberry filling and marzipan mushrooms, but she has requested a dark chocolate one. I can’t wait to show you the finished product! They are so fun to make!

So, did all of your holiday wishes come true? What was your favorite item to give or receive?

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The Beauty of the Canine

Our holiday weekend took a turn on Sunday when one of the family dogs suddenly and unexpectedly took ill. Sweet Dolly awoke with severe intestinal issues from an unknown cancer, and crossed the Rainbow Bridge later that night. With the help of my Vet Tech “sister-from-another-mister,” my mom was able to keep her comfortable throughout the day. Dolly was a half Basset/half English Shepherd mix, whose father, our giant, red-headed Basset, Hubert, had a gone to the Bridge as a result of bloat (very common in the breed), a year and a half prior. Her mama, fluffy blonde Zooey, and her many brothers and sisters, cleaned and loved on her during the day, and said their goodbyes when it was time.

The emotional capacities of dogs are widely discussed and debated, but I think that anyone who has any kind of pet, knows that they all have the ability to feel something. We all know that they can tell the difference between happy and sad, and Rosie knows how to get some “happy” attention from me just by smiling, but do they feel emotions such as grief and loss? Zooey, Dolly’s mother, instinctively ran after us, a look of anger across her face, as we took Dolly outside that night. We can easily question whether it was because of propriety feelings toward her flesh and blood, or was it love for her child who was being taken away? The following day, dirt and grass put back into place, my dad found my Great Pyrenees, Astrid, sitting beside Dolly’s grave, in an area she never sits, gazing off into the distance. The next day she would do the same.

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Dogs have an innate sense of smell, so why shouldn’t they have an innate sense of feeling? While we can track brain activity and test them all day long, I think our pets possess an ability to understand, to emote, to just know, in a way that cannot be measured or qualified by evaluations or trials. It stems simply from their hearts, in a knowledge of unconditional love and understanding that we as humans only wish we had.

A Moveable Feast

Rosie and I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday! We’re plant-based in this family, so we enjoyed a delicious, guilt-free, vegan feast. My darling Matt and I spent a leisurely afternoon cooking at my parents’ house, taking our time to make everything from scratch, and catching a few glimpses of the parade. Because Matt is Canadian, this was our second Thanksgiving celebration, the first having been in October for him.

The Menu:

Roasted Beets in Balsamic
• Roasted Garlicky Potatoes
• Sweet Potato Soufflé
• Roasted Cabbage
• Orange & Brown Sugar Carrots
• Traditional Sage Stuffing
• Brussels Sprouts
• Vegan Loaf with Mushroom Gravy (store bought)

‘Tis the season for root vegetables, and we’ve been cooking a lot of them, and specifically, beets. I absolutely despised beets growing up and refused to give them another try until just a few years ago. My friend, Rebecca, and I were at one of our favorite local haunts, The Bee’s Knees, a couple of summers ago, where she was happily eating a beet & peach caprese. The dish was certainly pretty- ruby red beets, luscious peaches, crumbled goat cheese, and fresh basil, all drizzled with balsamic vinegar. She encouraged me to try it, saying she makes the same dish and promised that I would at least love hers when she made it for me. This was before I went fully vegan again, so I summoned up all my courage and picked up my fork. She was right- it was perfect. Thus began my love affair with beets. I had always felt like a bad Lithuanian, not staying true to my heritage’s adoration of this hearty vegetable, and now I am pleased to say I feel worthy of my Eastern European genes once again! My dad has always loved them, so now he can no longer tease me or try to trick me into eating them!

So, yesterday, we roasted beets, and I sautéed the greens in balsamic. If you have never cooked the beet greens, you absolutely must next time (as long as they look fresh and green). They’re so delicious and full of nutrients. It’s also a plus when you can use the whole product in a meal.

Balsamic vinegar and garlic played huge roles in our dinner this year. We had an ample supply of garlic and since Matt and I are big fans, we used it in just about every dish. He roasted purple baby potatoes with a simple combination of garlic and olive oil, while I roasted cabbage (again, with the Lithuanian heritage), in garlic, olive oil, and balsamic. I also tossed some whole carrots in an orange, brown sugar, and balsamic mixture, having been inspired by EverKind‘s Thanksgiving blog post. We rounded out the meal with my special sweet potato soufflé, my mom’s dressing, Brussels sprouts, and a surprise vegan loaf with mushroom gravy that my mom had gotten for us. Needless to say, we have lots of leftovers, some of which I partook in for lunch today!

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I’m usually the self-professed Queen of Baking, but was so into cooking the meal this year, I ended up not making a dessert. I definitely felt weird not having anything sweet to produce! I’ve been feeling a little under the weather today (another Thanksgiving tradition and one I’d be happy to get rid of), but that hasn’t stopped my craving to bake. EverKind shared a quick and easy recipe for Holiday Dessert Rolls, and not wanting to exhaust myself even further by making a big production out of dessert, I decided to give this time-saver a try. The best part? I never knew that Crescent Rolls are vegan! I grabbed a can of them at the store, the chopped up some semi sweet chocolate, grated some cinnamon, sliced up a banana, and baked at 375° for 11 minutes. Topped with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, a little more grated cinnamon, and a drizzle of some Ah-Laska chocolate syrup- voilà!

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Paired with some soy nog spiked with cinnamon, my sweet tooth has been satiated.

But I wasn’t the only one to have a nice holiday- Matt made sweet Rosie a special plate of scrambled eggs (she’s not vegan 😉 ) as a treat last night- she’s such a lucky lady!

And with that, the holidays are officially here! What are you looking forward to the most this season?

Happy Holidays!