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Pecan Energy Bars – Take 2

Do you remember when I posted about the Superfood Pecan Energy Bars I made a week ago?

I’d been a little disappointed at the texture.

They were too similar to Detoxinista’s Peanut Butter Larabars, which I like but didn’t want to duplicate.  The only crunch in the first batch came from the chia seeds, so the word “crunch” is really a stretch.  I guess you could say that they were more like fig bars.

Because the flavor had been really good, I wanted to give these another shot, so that’s what I did yesterday.

I’ll admit that I’m still a bit of a novice when it comes to using the new Vitamix I purchased in April or May.  I’m finding that I under-blend some things and over-blend others.  There’s definitely an art to it.

With that in mind, I pulsed the dates to prevent the mixture from becoming pasty.

I was also careful after I added the rest of the ingredients.  I wanted these to feel more like store-bought.

Here’s what they looked like before I put them in the oven.

I didn’t cook them any longer than the recipe stated and let them cool almost completely before giving in to my excitement to try them.  I wonder if cooking them for an extra five minutes would make them a little harder.  I may have to experiment.

As you can see, the texture is a lot chunkier than my first attempt.

Biting into my sample bar was more satisfying as well; the crunch I’d been aiming for was there!  Yay!

I’m extremely happy with these.  I think this recipe will be a staple in my house; the bars will be perfect for snacking on in the middle of a day of teaching and will do much to ward off feelings of “hanger.”  My students will be grateful.

Much like anything I do in my life, I’m learning that I’m going to have a lot of fails before I figure things out.

I may be a slow learner, but I NEVER give up.

Comfort Food

Do you remember me posting about getting an Instant Pot for Christmas?  I’m sure that I’ve written about a few things I’ve made in it, but I can’t remember – that’s how sporadic my blogging has been.

Ok, so my Instant Pot – it’s an appliance that I grow to love more and more each time I use it.

On Monday, I made a new recipe in it, and it was simply magical.

I follow Megan Gilmore on Instagram and Facebook (she’s Detoxinista).  She’s coming out with an Instant Pot recipe book in October.  I’ve already pre-ordered it because her recipes are very easy and don’t require a lot of ingredients.

She posted the Instant Pot Vegan Mac n’ Cheese recipe on her blog, and after seeing her little video on Instagram, I knew I had to try it.

The only real prep for it was soaking the cashews, but that’s even something that can be done quickly with boiling water if time is an issue.  It wasn’t for me since I’m on summer break.

I followed the directions exactly.  I knew it was going to be tasty when I licked the spoon after pouring the “cheese” sauce into the pot.

Now, I’ll admit that I’ve made a few vegan mac and cheese recipes.  They’re usually pretty good.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I lifted the lid.

Here’s what I saw.

When I stirred it, I could hear the creaminess.  You know what I’m talking about.

I finished by adding the water at the end, which was very necessary to get the pasta off of the bottom of the pot and down from the sides.

Oh word, y’all, but when I tasted it, it reminded me of the comfort food I loved when I was a child.

It paired well, in my Minion bowl, with my Riesling.

I’m a fancy Redneck, y’all.  What can I say.

Thankful Thursday – Thanksgiving 2017

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!  Today, I’m joining up with Rebecca for her weekly Thankful Thursday post!

This Thanksgiving has some special significance to me because I remember the way I spent last year’s holiday – three days post-op, dog sick from the side effects of my pain medicine, unable to eat, and plain old miserable.

You shouldn’t find it any surprise when I list, as the first thing I’m thankful for this week, the ability to walk and, so important to me, work out.

I am so thankful for the essential oils that keep my ankle pain and emotions at bay . . .

There’s a roll on bottle inside. The combination of oils in this blend is so soothing!

For the baths I’m planning on taking after I get my stitches out after my surgery

For my migraines. I hope the hefty price tag proves worthwhile.

I love the rewards program through Young Living.  I’m earning points for my purchases, and when I spend a certain amount, I get free items with my order!

Free!

That Christmas Spirit you see?  Oh my goodness!  It’s amazing!  I have it in a USB diffuser that I run in my car.  ❤

Also free – The Pine oil will be perfect in this ornament diffuser!

I am thankful for my fur babies.  Molly took a piece of my heart with her when she passed away this summer.  My boys keep me grounded and help me remember to keep loving even when it’s hard.

I am thankful for a husband who didn’t mind that our Thanksgiving meal wasn’t all that fancy given our lack of company this year.  He went with the flow, ate the spaghetti squash and spaghetti sauce that I prepared, and never complained.

I set a fine table, don’t you think?

I am thankful for those who create vegan recipes so people like me can still eat good food, like this dish – Cheesy Lentil Bolognese Casserole – from Oh She Glows.

It took a couple of hours from start to finish to put this together – mainly because I accidentally dropped the carrots and potatoes I’d cooked for the “cheese” sauce in the dirty side of my sink and had to boil more.  :::Slaps forehead:::

I used this marinara sauce, which I found at Publix.  It’s one of the few I’ve seen that doesn’t have added sugar or other unnecessary additives . . .

The smell coming from the oven reminded me of an Italian restaurant.  Seriously.

The “cheese” sauce is absolutely divine and MAKES this dish!  I’ll be eating on it for days and days.

Another recipe I made for Thanksgiving is this Vegan French Silk Pie, by Detoxinista.

I’m fairly certain that it’s the most decadent dessert I’ve ever made.  It’s that good (and deceptively quick to assemble).

I am very, very, VERY thankful for technology that allows me to see my babies’ faces when we talk on the phone, should they choose.  The Mr. and I chatted with Rooster and his sweet wife for forty five today.  Seeing the smiles on their faces, the little nuances when they cracked jokes, their raised eyebrows at the sarcasm thrown digitally across the miles – well, it made our hearts swell with love.

I hope you have a wonderful day and that, if possible, you’re able to spend it with loved ones.

Weekend of Fun

My first weekend of summer break was a blast!  I’m sure you understand how relaxing it is when you know that you have more than two days off in a row.

I spent about four hours at my neighborhood pool on Friday.  Talking to my sweet friend, Megan, who lives in the subdivision across the street (which shares my neighborhood pool) was a rare treat.  We teach at the same school, in the same department, but we rarely have time to chill together.  She taught me something new:  how to read while sitting in the pool.  Novel idea, eh?  I read a lot poolside as well!

I managed to finish the book later that evening.  I’ve got to say that this is one of my students’ favorite authors.  This book, in particular, ranks as her top three on my scale of favorites.

Friday night, I queued up the movie “Before I Fall” on Amazon Prime.  I’d just finished reading the book, which had hooked me from the opening chapter.

The movie pretty much stuck with the book.  It was your typical teenage movie . . . not bad.  Sad, though.

I turned off my alarm and slept in on Saturday.  It was my rest day from my workout program.  Just as I was getting up, M texted me to see if I wanted to go to the store with her.  I had different plans in mind and invited her over.  You see, it was the day I had set aside to do the “We Run Free Because of the Brave 4-Miler,” a virtual race hosted by Gone for a Run.

M went with me on my walk, and we had a lot of fun chatting.  Four miles seemed to fly by . . . except for the humidity and my sore ankle.  We were wiped out when we finished.

Check out my tank top.  It’s one of my favorite race shirts; the medium fit perfectly!  Sizing is sometimes tricky with these race shirts.

I was loving the calorie burn too!

After M left, I got cleaned up, and the Mr. and I went to see the movie, The Mummy.

I liked it, although the story line was a bit confusing at first.

Before the movie started, I saw promos for the USA show, Queen of the South.  It seemed like something I might like, so I looked for it on Netflix when we got home.

It tells the story of a female drug cartel leader.  I watched four episodes that night.  I finished with Season 1 and the first episode of Season 2 (this episode was On Demand) on Sunday.  It was that good.

Sunday wound up being a chill day.  The Mr. and I attended church.  There weren’t a lot of people there.  We suspect that the reason was because the bottom dropped out of the sky shortly before the service began.  The rain put the kibosh on my hopes for going to the pool . . .

Plan B:  Knitting while I watched TV on Sunday.  It wound up being a great day of rest!

I managed to get in a bit of baking (if you’d call it that).  Here’s a picture of the Peanut Butter and Honey Chewy Granola Bars I made.  The recipe can be found here.  They are chock full of peanut butter flavor and are simply divine!

Yeah, I can’t complain at all.  Summer break has started off well.  I’m getting much-needed rest and am still being productive in the process.

Thankful Thursday

You may have noticed that I’m writing more lately.  Well, cue in summer break and a promise to myself to let my heart speak through my favorite medium . . . the written word.

I struggled, though, with an idea for today’s post . . . until I saw Rebecca’s, and then I knew I just had to join in on the fun.  So, I’m linking up with her for my first Thankful Thursday post!  I’m not going to number my items, though.

  • Summer Break – This week, I am so very thankful for summer break.  I don’t really think it’s hit me that I don’t have to go back for a couple of months; it feels more like a long weekend.  I will say, though, that I’m deriving a delicious sense of joy that I can do such things as read a book at leisure, while enjoying a glass of wine, on a Wednesday night.  Yes, that was me last night.  The glass?  I got it from BoredTeachers.com.

  • The Furminator – Y’all, I have dogs who shed.  Like seriously bad.  I’d washed the dogs on Monday, but because it took forever for them to dry, I never got them brushed out.  Molly looked horrible; her fur was sticking out in all directions.  She was also shedding all over the place.  I was vacuuming AFTER the Roomba had run.  I decided she needed a good brushing, and WOW, what a difference!  Not only does she look better now, but my house doesn’t look like it’s been snowed in.


  • Rare Impulse Buys – On Tuesday, I had an appointment with my surgeon.  His office is two hours away, because when you need a good surgeon, you don’t mind traveling.  As I was leaving the city, I passed by a fun little boutique that I knew sells Ginger Snaps.  I don’t know if you remember, but Super Sis bought me a necklace with a charm for Christmas, and I’d since purchased a few more.  You can change out the snaps according to what you’re wearing or your mood.  I absolutely love this piece of jewelry.  It’s so fun and versatile.  So, because the store is located right next to the interstate, it was convenient to run in real quick.  Oh my word, but I saw an adorable little purse, and it just called out to me, as did the Buy 4, Get 1 Free sale.  Ahem.  So, I splurged, while I talked to Super Sis on the phone (she totally agreed that I’d earned it since I survived the school year with all of my various challenges).

The two snaps in the middle are only placed there so you can see them . . . they don’t really snap in place there. That would look weird.

  • Vegan Recipes – Boy, am I thankful for people who know how to write recipes that cater to my dietary needs.  On Sunday, I whipped up a batch of Vegan Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies and Vegan Peanut Butter Date-Sweetened Cookies.  I did take a few of each to share with the physical therapy gals.  They adore baked goods.


  • Long Phone Conversations with Wonderful Friends – On the way home from my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, I rang up my sweet friend, Jane.  She and I taught our first year together and have enjoyed a sweet friendship since that year.  She recently retired, sort-of, moved to south Florida, and continues to stay rather busy.  I miss her so much.  She’s both a friend and a mother figure.  So, we spent one hour and 47 minutes catching up . . . nearly my entire drive home.  She’s coming to town this week, so we are hoping to meet up for lunch one day.  That will definitely be an afternoon of many laughs.  I love her so.
  • New Friendships – Yesterday, I told you about a new friend I recently made.  I am extremely shy, which is kind of surprising to some people given my presence on social media and this blog; however, I don’t do the public social scene very well.  Thus, it can be hard for me to make new friends.  It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s just hard because I have so many insecurities.  I’ve been rejected a few times, hurt in ways that left lasting impressions.  Plus, it takes a lot of time to invest in a good friendship . . . time that a lot of people aren’t willing to spend or are already spending on other friendships.  I guess there’s a difference between acquaintances and deeper-level friends.  Maybe I just expect all of my acquaintances to be those deep-level friends.  Dang, but see how I overthink things?  Cue in the social awkwardness.  Anyhow, I am thankful for common bonds that bring new friendships together.

There are so many more things I am thankful for, but it’s 12:30, the sun is shining after two solid days of rain, so I’m going to head to the pool (remember the first item on this list?).

I am thankful for soooooo much, but this has been fun . . . purposely listing a few of them.  Thanks, Rebecca (I’m thankful for YOU too!!!).

When the Plumbing Stops Working

I am, literally, sick of being off my feet.

Not just tired of it, but truly sick of it.

Yesterday was a bad day.  It was probably the second worst since I broke my ankle.

The day started off great.  My pain was completely under control, and I was feeling great!

I thought that I’d turned a corner.

That’s when the universe laughed.

One of the bad things about pain medication is that it can limit a person’s ability to do some personal business in the bathroom…as in the not-tinkling-kind-of-business.  The kind that takes care of the plumbing, if you know what I mean.

So what ultimately happened, we think, started with my visit to the emergency room the night of the 13th, is when I began getting pain medication, both in my IV and as a prescription.

I’ve taken a lot of pain meds, let me tell you.  Breaking three bones in your ankle is not something you can ignore.  The pain screams for intervention.

Then, with the nerve block I got during my surgery and the heavy pain medicine I’ve been on since then, my body has not adjusted to all of the new stuff being put into it.

In addition to pain medicine, I’ve been taking vitamin supplements to begin the process of improving my bone density.

All of that led to my inability to use the restroom.

It would be okay if it was just a day or two, but folks, we are talking about a week and a half.

For someone who never, ever has issues with this body function, this is a huge ordeal.

Everything caught up with me yesterday.

I tried to eat but became so nauseous that I couldn’t.

The nausea took over my day, along with my efforts to try to go.

I got sicker and sicker.

The hubby made me a smoothie. I’d recently come across the recipe.

Although it tasted delicious, I was only able to drink half of it, and it stuck in the middle of my stomach.

Y’all, it was bad.  I felt as though someone had put a fist in the middle of my stomach, right below my chest.

I knew I had to potty, but I wasn’t 100% sure I wasn’t going to puke either.

At one point, I spent a couple of hours in the bathroom determined to wait things out.

The dogs visited me a few times, bless their hearts.

It didn’t work.

I do not give up easily, but I had to throw in the towel eventually.

Meanwhile, the Mr. had started on a task that I’d been looking forward to for a couple of weeks…

This is the pre-lit tree we bought from Home Depot.

While I’d been in the bathroom, I’d heard him struggling to lift the different pieces and put them into place.

I’d heard him grumble about fixing the branches.  Everyone knows that’s the worst part of putting up an artificial tree.

When I emerged from the restroom, he began putting on the ornaments.

My heart, though.

We love doing this…remembering sweet times with our children.  We gave Rooster his ornaments this summer when his new missus was packing for their cross-country move to his first base, so our ornament selection has dwindled a little.

While the Mr. decorated, I dozed.  Being nauseous and dizzy just isn’t fun, y’all.

Then, he took a break to go potty himself, and that is when chaos ensued.

You know when you know you’re about to vomit?

For me, it begins with my stomach churning.

It goes into my cheeks squirting juice across my mouth.

Yeah.

Sounds like loads of fun, eh?

And I was stuck in my chair…broken leg elevated…the Mr. in his bathroom.

Sigh.

Perfect timing, as I’m wont to do.

The only thing I had close to me was a mesh trash basket.

Not ideal.

I YELLED for the Mr.

I told him in a rushed voice that I needed him ASAP…that I was about to throw up.

That poor man RAN out of the bathroom, fussing at me the whole time.

Where was the plastic barf bag he’d constructed for me while I’d been in the bathroom earlier?  He’d put three Publix bags together and had kept them close to me when i didn’t know which way I’d be taking care of business.

It was nowhere to be found.

Oh wait.  It was still in the bathroom.

I’ve never seen him run so fast, y’all.  He high-tailed it across the house, grabbed the bag, and rushed back to me just in time.

Up came the smoothie and the three bites of soup I’d had for lunch.

Into the bag, thank heavens.

In addition to bad timing, I’m also known for not hitting toilets when I puke.

I’m talented like that.

It was over quickly.  I didn’t have much food in me to get rid of.

I tied things up neatly, and he took the bag to the outside garbage can.

Immediately, I felt better, and I was able to crutch myself over to the restroom.

I didn’t get sick any more after that, but my relief from the earlier puking session was short-lived.  It didn’t take long for me to get nauseous again.

I kept a new barf bag near me…even while Super Sis and I were texting one another.

My picture followed her lovely picture that showed off her wearing the Origami Owl necklace I’d bought her last year for her birthday (or maybe Christmas…I cannot remember because her birthday is a couple of weeks after Christmas).

Her picture was prettier.

I kept the barf bag close by while I watched LSU beat up Florida…

As soon as the game was over, the Mr. helped me to the restroom one more time, and I settled in for the night.

I’d been staying awake later at night, but this girl was so very tired from fighting nausea all day that I had to give in to my heavy eyelids.

The only time I woke up was to take my pain meds, which I will not allow myself to get off track from.

If I could ask for specific prayers that I could begin using the restroom normally again, that my attempt to transition down from two pain pills to one would not lead to a lot of extra pain, and that I’d be able to resume eating again.

I am still #findingjoyinthejourney despite my most recent hiccup.  God continues to be gracious to me, and I won’t allow this setback to set me off in anger.

I continue to be grateful as I watch blessings unfold from this unexpected life challenge.

God is so good.  He loves me.  He hears all prayers…even those that involve bathroom plumbing of the human kind.

😉

What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?

Are you singing the jingle in your head?

heehee

As a vegan who’s, conveniently, been lactose-intolerant for twenty two years, I miss out on a lot of treats.  Sure, my waistline is grateful; however, my taste buds are not.

One of the things I remember from my childhood is eating Klondike Bars during the summer…during the winter…whenever we had them, quite honestly.

Well, I haven’t had one of these in years and years.  I mysteriously became lactose-intolerant when I was twenty four years old and about seven months pregnant with Rooster.  Overnight, I found myself unable to eat ice cream.

It was with quite a bit of excitement when I came across a recipe for Healthy Klondike Bars on Instagram.  I follow a gal named Detoxinista.  She has a blog where she posts health-conscious recipes…many of which are vegan.

The list of ingredients was rather small; I had nearly everything I needed except for the raw cashews, which the Mr. picked up at Publix for me yesterday.

I soaked the cashews, as directed by the recipe, while the Mr. and I lounged at the pool.

Then, I got busy mixing the “ice cream” batter and placed it in a loaf pan.

The batter wouldn’t be ready until later in the night, so I waited until today to finish the bars.

I melted my coconut oil for the chocolate topping out in the sun.  I figured I might as well take advantage of the summer heat.

I had an oopsy when I poured cold maple syrup into the coconut oil/cocoa powder mixture.  The chocolate seized up on me.  Shame on me.  I’ve been watching Food Network like crazy and had seen home cooks make the same mistake.

Thank goodness I’m sort-of smart.

I took the bowl back outside, and it didn’t even take a full minute before the chocolate had warmed up and was silky smooth.

The Pioneer Woman better watch out!  Auburnchick is fast approaching her skill level.

heehee

Popping the loaf out of the pan wasn’t exactly as easy as I’d hoped, probably because I’d accidentally spilled some of the batter outside of the paper between it and the pan, and then it froze, sticking the paper to the pan.

Sheesh.  I can make anything difficult.

Then, it was time for the messy part.  I cut the loaf into eight parts and got ready to add the chocolate topping.

According to Detoxinista’s blog and the comments that followed (because I tend to overthink and over-research everything), a spoon was the best utensil to use to apply the chocolate.  It would otherwise seize up (ahem) and freeze when it touched the loaf.  There went my idea of dipping the blocks in it.

The spoon, though, was not easy.  Ugh.

Then, I had an idea.

I pulled out my little brush…the one I use to oil my cooking pans…and dipped it in the chocolate.  Then, I “painted” the chocolate onto my bars.

This worked okay.  I figured out that I really needed to dab the chocolate because the bristles of the brush were starting to freeze up with chunks of chocolate.

Go ahead and admire my French manicure.  I did it myself last night.

Booya!

Anyhoo, when I finished with the tops and sides of the blocks, I turned them over and covered the bottoms and filled in the spots I’d missed.

Then, I set everything on a plate lined with parchment, took a picture of my not-so-pretty and definitely not-so-even bars, and set them in the freezer.

The aftermath looked bad, but it was a snap to clean up because most of the chocolate was on the paper.

Biting into the “Klondike” Bar…oh my.

What would this lactose-intolerant vegan do for a Klondike Bar?

Why, she’d make a stomachache-free version of it herself!

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