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Sometimes it just takes music

Confession: I am one of those people that thinks you are crazy for dragging out your Christmas decorations right after Halloween. I roll my eyes when I hear Christmas music playing at some stores before Thanksgiving has even had a chance to make an appearance.

There is a natural order to things, why skip over one and go straight to another? And Christmas is such a crazy time of year, why drag it out? I must also add the disclaimer that I worked in retail during the holidays for 6 years, that may have something to do with it 😉

However, I might just get it now. It’s not just a time of year between Thanksgiving and January. It’s a season. It’s a feeling. It doesn’t matter whether you only feel it from December 1-25, or if you start feeling it in October when the leaves start changing, or you feel it all year long. Retail and other craziness aside, it can be a truly wonderful time of year.

What do I have to thank for this? I got visited by three ghosts. Ha, just kidding, obviously! But I did get visited by some new holiday music. That’s all it took!

I still don’t like that music they play at the mall. If I have to hear one more version of “Rudolph” I think I might scream. But a few artists I really enjoy outside of holiday music have put out holiday music albums recently that have suited me better.

1. A Very She & Him Christmas by She & Him

This was one of the “What’s New” albums on Spotify a couple of weeks ago. Zooey Deschanel has a very unique voice. It’s like a young, soft voice that also projects age and wisdom. Does that even make sense? My favorite tracks on this album are “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” (I like how they switched parts) and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

2. A Holiday Carole by Carole King

Carole King could sing the phone book and I would love it. She just has one of those voices that brings me comfort. This album also showed up on Spotify. I guess I should really thank Spotify for my new found holiday spirit. My favorite track so far is “Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday” and when Carole says “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” I really want to 😉

3. Midwinter Graces by Tori Amos

My best friend gave me a copy of this album a couple of years ago and it is always the first one I pop in when I start decorating my house. As the title implies, it’s more of a seasonal album for Winter than it is for the holidays but the themes are interjected. It’s very unique. My favorites are “A Silent Night With You” and “Winter’s Carol.”

If you aren’t a lover of the traditional or commercial holiday songs and you like any of the above artists, I highly recommend these albums.

And now, I apologize if I’ve ever judged you for feeling the holidays early. I’m sure you didn’t care anyway, as the joy you feel in your heart at this time of year is surely stronger than any “bah humbug” people you may have encountered 😉

Okay, seriously, who am I?

A different kind of Thanksgiving

Hello friends! I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving 🙂

Before we left for my in-laws house, I did the 33 minute Yoga Sculpt program on Exercise TV after hearing Caitlin rave about it. It was insane! I was shaking and sweaty by the end of it.

I’d started this one before but gave up on it, but since Josh was in the same room, I think I made myself finish it this time 🙂

After that workout, I needed a snack to refuel!


Then it was time to head out for dinner!

I didn’t take any pictures at dinner because it was a pretty special time and I didn’t want to spoil the moment and be like “Hey, care if I take pictures?”

But here’s what I had for dinner:

  • A delicious three bean salad made by my stepmother-in-law
  • Corn
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Mashed potatoes (which were made special for me without milk or butter!)
  • 2 little rolls that I spread with my own Smart Balance Light
  • Cranberry sauce

I stopped eating when I was full and the food was put away after we ate so it was nice to not even have the temptation there.

We watched some football and at one point everyone (but me) was asleep! See what happens when you don’t eat turkey? Ha ha.

Several hours later, we finally had dessert. I brought my leftover Chocolate Crescent Wraps from Wednesday night.

This Thanksgiving was unlike any other I have ever experienced. It was the first one I’ve celebrated with my in-laws, my first one as a vegan, the first one I can remember that I did not eat too much or feel like taking a huge nap afterward.

In other words, while Thanksgiving was a special time with family, when it came to everything else, it was just an ordinary day. That’s what I liked most about it.

Perfect day

I had a yummy bowl of microwave oats this morning!


This bowl contained oats, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, a tsp of pancake syrup, and topped with peanut butter and chocolate chips. Perfect.

I ran out of regular coffee at home (still have decaf) but I had recently bought some Stash chai green tea, so I had that instead of coffee. I used to do this a lot more in the past so I think I’ll get back to it.

For lunch, we celebrated mom’s birthday with the family at Calistoga Cafe. You might remember my last visit there. It’s a good place, a lot like Panera but with it’s own uniqueness.

I got the Monterey Veggie wrap (with no feta) with a pickle and some chips. It was yummy and filling!


After lunch, we went with my parents and grandmother to a local theatre to see this very amazing and touching locally-produced movie called “The Perfect Gift” which was the perfect movie for me to see going into this holiday season.

As a Christian, this movie meant a lot to me, but I also think that regardless of your beliefs, it would be a good movie to see because the overall message is that we need to put the love back in Christmas. So go check it out if you are in the area.

During the movie, I ate some Twizzlers 😉

It took me forever to settle down and finally make dinner. Since I was so indecisive, I snacked on a carrot + hummus while I pondered.


Eventually, I got started on making Mama Pea’s black bean burgers, substituting a few ingredients based on what I had on hand.

I also cut the recipe in half to make 2 burgers since I’m the only one eating them (I saved the other one for lunch this week).


The last of my couscous 😦 It’s okay though, I bought a ginormous bag of brown rice this weekend!

I also had some salad with hummus aka the perfect salad dressing.


After dinner, I had my second viewing of “Food, Inc” so I’ll be doing a post on that soon. I swear, I could watch that movie over and over and get something different out of it every time.

For a snack, I had my last 1.5 pieces of cinnamon chip bread with peanut butter and chocolate chips.


And tea!


Hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was pretty perfect. But I’m ready to start a new week! It’s a short one too, only two days of work, woo hoo!

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Is it at your house, nearby or do you have to travel out of town?

I’m so glad we’ll be staying in town this year, having dinner with my in-laws. We’ve been together for 10 years, married for 4, and this will be the first holiday we’ve celebrated with them on the actual day. 🙂

My heart is changing

Within the first five minutes of watching “Food, Inc.” I was in tears. But I feel like before I can do a full review of the movie, I should watch it again. That’s the beautiful thing about owning it on DVD 🙂

My vegan friends on Twitter also alerted me to the movie Earthlings so I need to watch that too, although I’ve heard that will be difficult, emotionally.

For breakfast yesterday, I had an old favorite:



Oh it was so good to have oat bran again. I love my oats but I prefer oat bran. Something about the texture or something. Check out this post I did on the two a while back.

After breakfast, I went mall walking with my aunts and did 3 laps  3.6 miles. I had wanted to do more but I thought I had a long day of errands and I didn’t want to wear myself out early.

But then the day got crazy! Josh broke his glasses and they were his spare pair so we had to make an emergency trip to get some new ones which took a few hours out of the day.

I have to say though, his new glasses are HOT. Wish I had a pic for ya 😉

Thankfully I had snacked on some nuts before we left home but when it was time for lunch, I was starving! We went to McAlister’s Deli where I got the veggie with no cheese or dressing and some regular Sun Chips.

A couple hours later though, I was hungry again so I broke out a new purchase from the store on Friday:


Finally! It was on sale for $3.99 which is still more than I like to spend but it’s usually almost $6 so I knew it was a good time to try it out. With some peanut butter of course.



Really good! Not as good as the English muffins, but hey, what is?

Last night, at our church, we had a Thanksgiving Missions Banquet. Everyone brings Thanksgiving-type food in massive amounts and we get to hear a program about the missionaries from our church and the work they are doing. It was quite a night!

I made a salad for my table consisting of romaine lettuce, carrots, and red, orange and yellow peppers. I also made my own salad dressing for the first time: a homemade vinaigrette!

Somehow I managed not to photograph any of that 😦

But here is my dinner plate:


It wasn’t perfect but I did the best I could. I don’t know if the sweet potatoes had butter on them but it didn’t taste like it. The green beans and corn were fine, but the stuffing may have contained a meat broth (since my friend Beth told me she had the hardest time finding one at the store that didn’t). Also not sure about the rolls, they may have contained eggs and/or dairy.

I sort of felt bad at first for compromising my diet a little bit. Of course it made my life a little easier, but it also frustrated me that I couldn’t have done better. It honestly made me feel a little guilty, especially after seeing that movie.

But I’m not perfect and I’m still new at this, so I kept that in mind and enjoyed my night.

I skipped on dessert since I knew there were no vegan options, but my mom sure did have a beautiful birthday cake…Happy Birthday Mom!


I did have a cup of decaf though 🙂 And a slice of cinnamon toast with PB and chocolate chips later in the night.

We headed home after the banquet to watch the UFC pay per view at our house. Thank goodness, one of my fighters FINALLY won. The losing streak has ended at last!!

Last night was sort of practice for Thanksgiving for me. I didn’t realize how much there is to consider. Vegetarian is easy, just don’t eat the meat. But when you think that stuffing has meat broth, mashed potatoes have milk (and sometimes butter), desserts have eggs and dairy. Yikes.

Whatever your diet may be, how are you going to handle Thanksgiving? Are you looking forward to it or is it making you anxious?

Day 26: Making adjustments

I just realized that today is exactly ONE MONTH UNTIL THANKSGIVING!

This has made me realize that I have been indulging in some things lately that I don’t usually and it’s time to make some adjustments before we get into the holiday season.

To start the day off, I had some healthy, filling oatmeal with apples, cinnamon and peanut butter for breakfast.


I decided to give the Pumpkin Spice Silk another try so I heated up about 1/2 cup and then poured coffee on top of it.


BINGO! This tasted great and what a more affordable (and vegan) way to enjoy pumpkin in my coffee 🙂 Next I’m going to have to try Mama Pea’s version!

Snacked on some peanuts for the first time in a while (for me).


Then for lunch,  I had leftover Vegan Refried Bean cakes which I turned into a sandwich with some spicy mustard!


I also had some carrots and a new type of hummus on the side.


I picked this up at Whole Foods over the weekend. Once again, it was just okay. I’m going back to the good stuff after this 😉


After lunch,  I went to class and tried not to fall asleep. I managed but I still yawned quite a bit. Exercise Science is an interesting field to me but we’re still making our way through all the body systems and I’m finding it rather dull.

Later in the afternoon, I snacked on some soy yogurt.


This stuff was way too sweet and made me realize that I have been consuming more sugar lately than I am used to. There’s one adjustment I’d like to make. I need to find a good brand that has lower sugar. Some are better than others. And I definitely need to stick to plain and put my own stuff in it.

After work, I went for a 4 mile walk. I had it on my “agenda” to run tonight but it was one of those days where I walk just sounded like a better idea. I really enjoyed it and my legs are definitely still tired!

For dinner, I was having a major bread craving, so I made this ciabatta loaf I picked up at Kroger (take and heat):


I also made a nice salad of Italian style greens and a drizzle of Italian dressing.


Then I heated up some leftover Hot Tamale Vegetable Pie with a side of bread 🙂


All together now…


I’m so glad I took the time to figure out what I wanted and made a healthy and enjoyable dinner. The only thing missing was some good wine, but that is another thing I am trying to keep to a minimum. I am secretly hoping somebody brings some on Wednesday at Girl’s Night 🙂

With just one month until Thanksgiving, what goals are you hoping to work on?

I’ve also decided to join Caitlin, Bobbi, and many others in the Pile on the Miles challenge that begins on November 1st!

While I have no goal of winning this thing, since there are some really dedicated runners in this group, I do want to make it a goal for myself to get in lots of miles, either through walking or running, between now and Thanksgiving.

This is why I love Mondays, ends of months, and beginnings of new ones. Let’s get to it!