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My favorite things about Fall

I love Fall.

Do you call it Fall or Autumn? I never say Autumn but I like how it’s spelled. Either way, it’s one of my most favorite times of year.

The only bad thing about Fall is that it means Winter is just a little bit closer. But, except for the snow/ice hazards and the extremely bitter cold days, I have learned to appreciate that season more as well. But let’s not jump the gun. I’m here to talk about Fall because it’s what’s almost here!

I started this post about a month ago when we had a break in our seriously hot weather. But then it got hot again and didn’t feel like the right time to be talking about Fall just yet. Even though it was 94 yesterday, it seems that the cooler weather is just about here to stay and it is almost October so I did not want to delay any further!

I’ve also been thinking about Fall a lot because I work on a college campus and once the semester finally started, the students came rolling in and the restaurants and coffee shops went back to their normal hours (read: later than 2 p.m. and places that have been closed all Summer are finally open!) and there will be other exciting events going on here between now and the Christmas break.

Most days, the mornings have been on the cool side, cool enough as my friend Carrie said “to have a cup of hot tea in the mornings again!” She’s right about that. It’s also been darker in the mornings when I go out to walk Suzie and it’s been getting darker earlier at night. As much as I do love my daylight, it’s sort of cozy when it gets dark early and that makes me want to go to bed earlier, which is a good thing for me.

I have been feeling inspired 🙂 Change is good.

Fall means a lot of things to each one of us. But I think we can all agree that it’s generally a fun time of year. Now I just thought I would share a few of my favorite things about Fall with you 🙂

1. P-U-M-P-K-I-N!

Seriously, as soon as I see this stuff, I’m stocking up again! It’s been too long!

My pantry last Fall

I like to bake with it, put it in my oatmeal, make soup with it, pumpkin dip with ginger snaps, you name it. I’m also excited about pumpkin spice tea and pumpkin flavored coffee (not the syrup but the actual coffee flavor) and anything else coffee shops, cafes  or companies come up with to entice me into trying something. If it says pumpkin on it, I will probably at least give it a second look.

2. Art fairs, charity walks, outdoor events, etc.

Such as the St. James Court Art Show!

St. James is the event that really kicks off the Fall for me and it’s just a little over 2 weeks away. It also has the most unpredictable weather! I believe this picture is from two years ago, while last year we were in shorts! You just never know 😉 But I’m kind of hoping for a chilly morning this year, just not too cold!

The Louisville Walk for Farm Animals

I am one of the co-coordinators of this year’s Walk for Farm Animals (Farm Sanctuary)  on October 22nd and I am really excited about all that we have planned! Last year, we had a decent turnout and raised a good amount of money through our walk and a bake sale that we had beforehand. I’m looking forward to topping all of that this year! If you would like to sign up to walk or donate to my walk page, click here (thanks!)

Mighty Kindness Harvest Hootenanny

The Hootenannies take place in the Fall and in the Spring (on Earth Day) and it’s another time of rather unpredictable weather. Last year’s Fall Hoot was absolutely freezing and then the Earth Day hoot this year kept a lot of people at home because of rain/storms. Hopefully this time we will have a better day. I will be working at the Louisville Vegetarian Club booth this year and I hope my friend Kristin (pictured above in the hat and sunglasses) is there selling her goods again too 🙂

Fall Road Races!

While I haven’t decided to run any races this Fall (yet), I am going to be supporting my friends Farrah (pictured above on right) and Chloe in the Louisville Marathon on October 16th! I know it sounds corny but it’s long been a dream of mine to be on the sidelines cheering for someone else 🙂 This will be the first marathon for both of them and I can’t wait to see them cross that finish line!

3. Haunted Houses and horrors!

Courtesy of Nightmare Forest Louisville

I don’t scare easily but I do tend to jump at loud noises! My husband and I love the Halloween season. Soon we’ll be busting out our collection of horror movies and lining up on a Friday night to go through some scary forest, hotel or whatever attraction we choose to visit this year. We are also big fans of the Danger Run, even though we usually end up arguing and get lost at some point. All in good fun!

4. Football (sigh…)

I'm bummed he's not playing 😦

Never in my life did I think I would include this on a list of my favorite things about Fall. But the truth is, I do enjoy watching some football. It gets overwhelming when there are several games on in a week or when my husband is in the basement yelling at a particular team and I can hear him two floors up.

He’s not the only one who does this, but I just don’t like it when people get so mad about a game that they say terrible things to a team they claim to be a fan of and they just plain ruin my good time! But most of the time, it’s enjoyable to root for your favorite teams while spending time with family and friends over some chips and salsa.

We used to host Monday Night Football at our house every year but since we just moved and aren’t quite unpacked and my husband’s work schedule is a bit unforgiving (he wakes up at 4 a.m.!) we have decided not to do it this year. I kind of miss it already but hopefully we can get some people together for a game sometime this season!

I’m sure there will be some other adventures that I’m not even aware of yet but I will leave it at that for now. We are still settling into our new house and hopefully someday I will finally sit down and do a before and after post on some of the rooms we have redone and how the place looks now that we actually live here 🙂

What are you looking forward to this Fall? Anything not on this list that I should check out?

Pumpkin Gnocchi

Yes, more pumpkin! I’m glad you liked my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins post from yesterday. Around here, it’s going to be all pumpkin, all the time. At least for a little while 😉

For dinner on Thursday, I decided to try a new type of gnocchi (thanks to Matt’s post from earlier that day).

‘Tis the season!

I was really excited when I found this at World Market, the same place I found my Pumpkin Spice Coffee!

The first time I had gnocchi, I tried the Whole Wheat version and enjoyed that. I was super excited to see a pumpkin version but I wondered how it would taste, since most of my pumpkin consumption is in the form of sweets or oatmeal.

I cooked the package as directed and used this pasta sauce that I believe I purchased at Whole Foods (don’t quote me):

I mixed it with the last of these Boca crumbles which had been in my freezer forever. It feels so good to use stuff up, doesn’t it?

All together! It doesn’t look like much but this really filled me up and I didn’t want to stuff myself anyway because I went to a Body Pump class about an hour after dinner! 🙂

I believe the sauce might have taken away from the taste of the gnocchi but the sauce itself was delicious. I wanted to get pumpkin sauce to go with it but most of the ones I saw contained dairy. However, I did take a bite of one without sauce on it and the pumpkin flavor was still very subtle.

This was a good, healthy meal and very tasty but I think in the future, I will stick with the whole wheat gnocchi. Or perhaps I will try my hand at making some myself?

 What products have you tried recently that left you just slightly disappointed?

Not really Fall

If you asked about weather preferences, I would be the first to exclaim that I am totally a warm weather person! I hate being cold, so cold that no matter how many blankets you throw on or cups of tea you drink, you can’t shake that shiver.

But this year, it’s just been HOT. We hit the 90’s in June and hardly looked back. While that is okay for the Summer months, here we are getting ready to celebrate the first day of Fall and it’s going to be 96 degrees.

So as much as I love Summer and dread Winter, I need a happy medium!

Even though Fall has yet to really arrive, I’ve been getting a head start on my favorite Fall flavors.

001I actually found this tea on our trip to Brown County back in July, I’ve been saving it for a while! 🙂

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I also found some Pumpkin Spice coffee at one of my new favorite places in the world (haha): World Market!

Pumpkin spice coffee!

Sadly, even though I’ve been enjoying my pumpkin beverages, I have yet to actually make anything with “real” pumpkin. But it’s still early. Heck it’s not even really Fall yet.

Side note: has anyone been able to find Libby’s pumpkin anywhere? I’m still on the hunt. Whole Foods brand organic pumpkin just isn’t the same 😦

Aren’t we cute?

Last night when I was getting ready to head upstairs, I walked into the kitchen and had to laugh at what I saw.

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Apparently, Josh and I are getting more alike the longer we are married, both laying out our breakfast stuff the night before.

Can you guess who’s is who’s? Ha ha.

I hadn’t had pumpkin oats in quite some time so this was a treat!

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This bowl contained: 1/2 cup oats, 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, 1 tbsp White Chocolate Wonderful and 1 tsp chocolate chips.

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Like dessert for breakfast 🙂

If you are an oatmeal lover, what is your favorite combination?

Say chreese!

It has been raining ALL DAY here. But even though the weather is nasty, I’m feeling rather inspired tonight. I’m telling you, I’m generally a happy person but I think this vegan diet has made even more cheerful.

For breakfast this morning, I made a nice pot of stovetop pumpkin oat bran!

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Mid-morning, I snacked on a new product that Bianca sent me in a very awesome and thoughtful care package. I was so excited to try it!

I left my camera at home so I couldn’t take my own picture, but the strip pretty much resembled beef jerky, only a slightly different texture and tasted a lot better (to me).

I usually don’t bother with a lot of “fake” meat stuff but the taste and 10 grams of protein was totally worth it! I loved the barbecue flavor too.

Here’s the rest of my stash:

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Don’t worry, I’m sending her some good stuff too 🙂 I’m so excited to try everything!

My stomach started growling for lunch at 10:45, which surprised me – that’s two days in a row now! But I listened to myself (and Carrie) and ate anyway. My body is more important than waiting for an “appropriate” lunch time.

For lunch, I had leftover black bean burger on a slice of Ezekiel toast with broccoli and lots of hummus on both. Sorry for the lack of picture, it was delicious.

After lunch, I got a massive chocolate craving and somehow managed to find Green & Black’s at the bookstore, who knew?

 

This was my first time ever trying this and I was impressed. I ate half and saved the rest for another rainy day 😉

My pre-post workout snack was another Clif bar…chocolate chip peanut crunch. It was just okay, I won’t get it again though. The regular chocolate chip is so much better!

Since it was raining, I ran/walked 1 mile on the treadmill and not any more because I just wasn’t feeling it. But it was a good warm up before I went and did some weight training.

  • Lateral pulldown machine (50-60 lbs) – 3 sets x 12
  • Chest press machine (30 lbs) – 3 sets x 12
  • Bicep curls (15 lb bar) – 3 sets x 20
  • Tricep presses (12 lb bar laying on balance ball) – 3 sets x 15
  • Calf raises (holding 15 lb bar) – 2 sets x 25
  • Lunges (with bar) – 2 sets x 15 each leg
  • Crunches on balance ball – 2 sets x 25

It felt like I really didn’t do much at the time but when I wrote it all out just now, I can see how much I did do 🙂

I was so excited to make dinner when I got home! It featured another new product (thanks again Bianca).

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I showed this to Josh last night and he said he wanted to try it! I was floored so I knew I just had to make it ASAP.

I followed the recipe, using water and then I added a spoon of Smart Balance Light when it was done cooking.

The rest of my dinner included Mama Pea’s Pumpkin Spice Roasted Chickpeas (I’m stalking her this week!) and some cauliflower.

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The Mac & Chreese (I laugh every time) was pretty good! Josh even said “it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever had but it’s not the worst either.” I expected him to make a face and spit it out but he didn’t, he ate his entire serving!

It gives me hope that he might try some more vegan stuff in the future 🙂

I think I would like to try another flavor next time to see what it tastes like. The texture was a little different and it had a slight aftertaste but other than that, it was good. Much better for my tummy than real mac & cheese!

Dessert was the other half of my banana soft serve with the usual toppings.

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With the colder weather, lots of yummy treats in my pantry and the urge to hibernate, I have decided I need to re-implement a “cut off” time for eating at night.

Unless it does appear that I am truly hungry, I won’t eat anything after 9:00 p.m.

It’s 9:35 right now and I’m totally fine. Going to have some tea before bed. Good night 🙂

Bunch of geniuses

Last night for dessert, I made Gena’s banana soft serve. Gena = Genius!

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Then for breakfast this morning, I opened up this enormous can of pumpkin.

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I grabbed the huge jar at the store when I saw it because apparently there is a shortage.

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Pumpkin oat bran with chocolate chips, WALNUTS, and peanut butter. Genius.

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My parents took me out to lunch after church and since Josh (who is not a fan of Mediterranean food) was at a meeting, I took the opportunity to talk them into going to Shiraz so I could get my favorite falafel!

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Genius. Thanks Mom & Dad!

I was pretty full after that and didn’t eat again until dinner, when I made Mama Pea’s black bean burgers. Talk about a genius!

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I made these once before, but this time I used the red onion the recipe called for and barbecue sauce (which I subbed for the Worcestershire). I also made the whole recipe this time and have plenty of leftovers. Genius.

I steamed a side of broccoli and made a slice of toast, putting Smart Balance Light on both. Organic ketchup on the burger.

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This was seriously good, I enjoyed making it and eating it.

In lieu of exercise today, I ended up cleaning my entire apartment, even vacuuming both floors and the stairs too! Genius.

It really feels so good to have so much done and to have everything in order before starting a new week.

Now I’m watching the new Robin Williams special on HBO. So far it’s just okay, but in general he is a comedic genius, in my opinion.

Tina is a genius for showing me this snack via her blog several months ago.

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A great end to a pretty awesome day. Good night!

Two months

Happy December everyone! I can’t believe it’s here already. Thanks everyone for your sweet comments, I had a much better day today 🙂

I have been vegan for 2 whole months now. It sure seems like it’s been a lot longer than that and slight mishaps aside, I think it is going really well.

For breakfast this morning, I had pumpkin oat bran with raisins, chocolate chips and peanut butter.

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This breakfast almost held me until lunch but around 10:30, I got a little hungry so I snacked on some almonds.

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Lunch was totally awesome today! I didn’t blog about it before but I made this awesome tofu on Sunday night:

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And then today, I had the leftovers, plus some broccoli topped with salsa!

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I had just the broccoli but wanted to put something on it badly. This was a great choice, I highly recommend it. I think next time, I’ll try hummus. But sometimes I do like broccoli plain, just not today.

Lately, I have been buying the Kroger brand tofu and I have to say, it is really good. I might actually prefer it. The texture is great and it bakes really well (425* for 20 minutes).

Later in the afternoon, I had half of this Clif bar:

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Then I hit the gym for some weights!

I warmed up with 15 minutes of running on the treadmill (about 1.3 miles) and then got to pumpkin pumping iron 🙂

  • Chest presses
  • Military shoulder presses
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Lateral raises
  • Front raises
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Calf raises
  • Core: Back extensions, crunches, side crunches, reverse crunches, leg lifts, etc.

After the workout, I ate the other half of my Clif bar. I’ve noticed it makes a big difference to eat before and after a workout to keep me from being ravenous when I get home from work.

On the way home, I started thinking about what I wanted to have for dinner. Brown rice and vegetables just sounded so boring, plus I’d already had a few vegetables today.

Hmm…what to have for dinner?

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PB&J oatmeal, of course!

Sometimes you just have to go with what you are craving. This was delicious and really hit the spot, especially on a cold night.

After my dinner settled, I went for a walk with my friend Candy again. She is due to have a baby any day now so we’re trying to move things along, ha ha. But it was a good walk and I was hungry again when I got home!

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Times two! Tortilla chips are a food I love a little too much but I finished off the bag and won’t replace it any time soon 😉

Hope Tuesday and the first day of a new month has treated you well. I love the beginning of a new month, it makes me so motivated to try something new or start implementing a new healthy habit.

What new goals are you setting for this month?

Good night friends!

My first trail run

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

I was blessed to be off work today so I took full advantage. I slept until 7:45 (that’s late for me) and got the day started with some pumpkin oat bran.

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Complete with some raisins AND chocolate chips…because I just couldn’t choose.

In lieu of coffee (because I’m out at home), I had some stash green tea 🙂

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In one of my favorite mugs!

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Although now it reminds me of the poor chicks in Food Inc. Moving on…

Since I knew I was going for a run today, snacking was crucial. For a pre-run snack, I went ahead and “tried” one the dessert I made for tonight.

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I’ll post more about that later!

Then, we hit the trails at Seneca Park for an awesome, fun and challenging 5 mile trail run! The trail itself was 3.1 miles so the rest was around the track and back and forth to the car.

I was a little nervous on the trail, but thankfully I did not fall! And I liked being unfamiliar with the course because I couldn’t tell how far we were going which is a good thing since I like to psych myself out. There were some really challenging hills on the course too, so this course was great for me – I stink at hills. I can’t wait to do it again!

My legs were feeling it by the end of our run, but they felt GOOD. We stretched and then headed back home where I proceeded to inhale this banana with PB.

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Then I soaked in the tub for a while, listened to some indie rock on Pandora, and then finally got an appetite for lunch.

I started with some salad + hummus:

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Then I heated up leftover brown rice, stir fried veggies and black beans from leftovers this week.

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I think this dish was inspired by Heather’s husband CD who likes to refuel with stir fried veggies too! But I can see why he eats it – it hit the spot and was perfectly filling too!

I had a few chocolate chips after lunch 🙂

I watched some Dr. Oz since I’m never home to watch his show usually Cutie Bob Harper was on there too. Yay! Then I felt like I needed a nap, so why not? 

I slept for 2 hours!

I’m getting ready for girl’s night potluck now but I felt sort of hungry so I snacked on some mixed nuts to hold me over.

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And now I am feeling some more tea (it’s getting cold here) so I think I’ll get to that. See ya later!

Have you ever ran on a trail before? What did you like or dislike about it?

Double pumpkin

Constantly on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin oats, I got another idea from Lindsey at Sound Eats, who put pumpkin butter in hers recently. Why hadn’t I thought of that?

I also scrolled through some old blogs of mine from last year to see what I did back then…

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This bowl contained:

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup soymilk
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • Mixs ins: light pancake syrup, pumpkin pie spice
  • Toppings: Almond butter, pumpkin butter

It is definitely the best one yet 🙂

I think it was the combination of using the pumpkin butter, plus cooking it with soymilk instead of water which I hadn’t done in a while.

Of course, oatmeal is always good to me. Read my Examiner article on why you should eat it everyday!

Day 17.2: The Great Pumpkin

Before I left home earlier, it really started getting cold in the apartment. But I’m still not turning the heat on yet! Supposedly on Monday we’ll be back in the 60’s so I don’t want to have to turn it on and then right back off.

So I knew it must be pretty cold outside and I needed to layer it up!

Long socks, check.

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Warm hoodie, check.

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Silly face picture of self in hoodie, check.

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I went to the new Target and it was so nice! Everything was new and clean and the grocery carts and baskets were so much more ergonomic and comfortable to hold on to. I was really impressed with the handle of the basket (it doesn’t take much for me, ha ha).

But, I wasn’t all that impressed with their groceries. I did appreciate the wider selection than other Targets but so many items were overpriced. The one shining star I did find on this trip was a ginormous 2-lb. container of oats for $1.50!

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That ought to last me a while 😉 They also had some natural PB on sale for $1.88 so it was still a good trip to make. I ended up going to Walmart and Kroger too though.

Here’s my stash: I spent $46 this time, still trying to work my way down. It would’ve been less if we didn’t need some non-grocery items this week.

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Not too shabby!

When I got home I was so ready for lunch but I did not feel like making a salad like I was going to. Perhaps it’s because of the big container I just bought but all I could think about was oats. Here was my thought process…

Can I have oats for lunch? What about vegetables? Hmm…

Well, YES!

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Pumpkin (a vegetable!) peanut butter and jelly oats! This hit the spot in a major way. I’m so glad I went with it 🙂

Now, I know some of you may not consider pumpkin to be a vegetable and that’s fine. I know all the reasons why it is considered either a fruit or a vegetable and sometimes both by some people.

But, I’m just curious…what is your opinion? I always consider it a vegetable. I group it in the same category with sweet potatoes whether that is correct or not.

Pumpkin: Fruit or vegetable? Answer in the comments 🙂