Wednesday, February 28, 2018

what's up wednesday

Linking up with MelSheaffer, and Shay!

What we're eating this week:
In Etta's case, she is eating the Fun Dip powder she pilfered from Edith.

So far we have had stir fry, potatoes and broccoli, and spaghetti. I have fallen off the meal planning wagon so I basically just eat whatever Jon happens to be cooking that day.

What I'm reminiscing about:
The group date we went on last weekend! I already talked about my love for Bomba but seriously it was amazing. Take me back.

What I'm loving:
I got this super fun manicure from Stella and Shay last weekend and I am filled with warm fuzzies every time I get a glimpse of it.

What we've been up to:
It is finally starting to warm up! As such, we have been spending as much time as humanly possible outside. Etta is definitely the most excited to go out and play--she will get her shoes and walk over by the front door in expectation. I think her mind will be blown when we go to the pool this summer.

What I'm dreading:

Actually, nothing! The promise of spring has warmed my cold, dead heart.

What I'm working on:

Just like last month, I am on a major Swagbucks kick. I managed to earn over $275 during the month of February--at the rate I am going I will have our entire Disney trip paid for by the end of this year. I never ever thought that would be possible. If you want help getting started on Swagbucks, I have a private group you can join on Facebook. I have helped others earn over $300 in about a month by posting in the group.

What I'm excited about:
lucid gem tomato
Getting our garden ready. Jon got some items to start our seeds, specifically:
-this grow light
-this potting mix
-these seedling bags
-this vegan fertilizer
-these seed starter trays

We also placed our seed order at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I'm most excited about these shallots and these tomatoes. Come back tomorrow for details about an exciting giveaway with Baker Creek!

What I'm watching:

While a lot of our favorite shows have been on a hiatus the past few weeks, we started The Office from the beginning on Netflix.

What I'm listening to:

Underoath's new single!

What I'm wearing:

Nothing of note.

What I'm doing:

I meant to do the 40 bags in 40 days challenge, but then I didn't. I still have high hopes to do so but most of my free time is spent at the gym or relaxing.

What I'm looking forward to next month:

We are taking the kids to Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky one night. I know they are going to have a blast and I'm really looking forward to it!

Monday, February 26, 2018

bomba tacos and rum (date night!)

On Friday night, we unloaded the kids at their grandparents' (thank you!!!) for the night and headed down to Fairlawn for a group date night with some friends from church.

For dinner we decided to eat at Bomba Tacos & Rum. Now is a good time to tell you that this post is in no way sponsored, I just can't keep quiet about how great our experience was!

We chose Bomba because they had plenty of vegan-friendly options for Jon. This is super rare (we are lucky to find 1 vegan option any time we dine out) so we were both pretty excited.

Our waitress was incredibly helpful. We mentioned Jon was vegan and she happened to be, too, so she was able to give us a run down on all the things he could eat and what substitutions/omissions should be made to comply with his diet.

We began with a side of plantains minus the lime crema. Jon didn't think he would like them because he tends not to like the sweet plantains, but he was amazed by how delicious they were. He also hates onion but when I told him the green onions added a layer of depth to the dish he tried it with the green onions and enjoyed it!
I also had the Brazilian Red Sangria which was amazing.
With our tacos, we ordered the fire roasted salsa. It came with tortilla chips, plantains and malanga. Jon is now obsessed with malanga (we had never heard of or tried it before) and wants to grow it. We decided to do the 10 tacos for $30 and I am SO GLAD we did!
I got the Rio-style chicken, roasted cauliflower, crispy avocado, roasted Brussels sprouts and braised beef tacos. The chicken was my favorite, mostly because I loved the peanut crumbs--it reminded me almost of a pad Thai taco? I don't know how to explain it besides saying it was bomb. Jon had two of the sweet potato tacos, one roasted Brussels sprout taco, and the cauliflower and crispy avocado tacos. He loved all of them but the Brussels sprout taco was his favorite.
I wasn't able to finish mine because I also had a charred pineapple margarita. This is the first time I have ever had a margarita and OH MY HEAVENS I NEED IT. I took home my cauliflower and Brussels sprouts tacos and when I woke up Saturday morning my first order of business was eating them for breakfast and now I think every day should begin with Bomba tacos.

Despite it being a busy Friday night with a larger party, the service we experienced was incredible and was topped only by the taste of the food. We have never been to a restaurant so accommodating to Jon's dietary requirements (they even split his and my tacos apart onto 2 trays since I was eating non-vegan) with so many incredible choices. I am already plotting our next date night just so I can eat all the tacos again.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

warm, winter days

Yesterday the high was in the 70s. I have never been so happy to turn off the heat, throw open the windows and spend an hour and a half outside.
A certain little leg-clinger was beyond excited to be outside.

There's just something so life giving about this kind of weather when you've been locked inside for the better part of 3.5 months. Our kids are all outdoor enthusiasts and are happiest and best behaved when they get to play outside. We went for a walk, they played with rocks, we learned about sandstone. This is a time when they are content to do much of nothing, so long as they are doing it outside.
When we came back inside, Edith exclaimed how good our house smelled. She was right--our house smelled like spring. Looking at the 10-day forecast, the highs are all supposed to be above freezing, which gives me so much hope. Ohio is a depressing place in the winter--you are housebound, the cold hurts your face when you do have to leave your house, and it looks dirty and desolate outside. We are looking forward to the hope spring brings.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

stream of consciousness

I am fully and completely off the vegan challenge bandwagon. I ate all my feelings last week. Food is my weakness.

I went to my first local blogger meetup this weekend at Stella and Shay and it was so fun. I have the day off work Friday so I scheduled a manicure for myself. They are known for their hand-painted nail designs and I am trying to decide what I want to go with. These are my top five choices:
{opal (without the gold trim)}
{geode accent nail}

I decided to jump on board with Mel while she does 40 bags in 40 days. I am super excited to purge all the things in our house.

Elden loves to draw. His bedroom is scattered with his drawings and while I was cleaning (throwing away) I found this one that made me smile--it's him looking down (and smiling) at an angler fish:

It has been in the 50s and 60s the past few days. If you are from Ohio you know how amazing that feels in February. The big kids took advantage last night and jumped in a huge puddle in our backyard.

I'm working on planning a networking event for local bloggers and businesses to connect to determine if they would be a good fit to form strategic partnerships. I've never planned anything like this before so if you have any tips I'm all ears! Also, if you are in Northeast Ohio and own a business or are a blogger and would like to participate, shoot me an email at I tentatively have the date scheduled for July 26 from 6-8 pm.

Friday, February 16, 2018

five on friday

I haven't blogged much this week since the shooting in Florida. I'm very jaded and angry with both sides of our government for their inability to find some sort of middle ground that they can both live with at the cost of more children's lives each day. I don't have solutions. I feel helpless. And I am heartbroken for these families. We need to do something. We need to suck it up and realize that we probably won't be 100% happy with whatever new legislation is made, but something needs to happen.

{1} I've pretty much fallen off the vegan challenge bandwagon this week thanks to eating my feelings. For Valentine's Day, though, I did make a vegan pasta primavera and it was everything. I used vegan mozzarella cheese, omitted any sort of cream (I just used extra veggie broth), added Brussel's sprouts, and omitted mushrooms. This will always be a favorite of ours regardless of whether we are eating vegan, along with the vegan Mexican pizza we made a week ago.

{2} Etta climbed into Elden's lap the other day and he was more than happy to cuddle with her. This boy loves his sisters so much and that brings me so much joy.

{3} This little lady rocking her Valentine's Day best makes me happy.

{4} Babywearing is how we survived the early months of all our children's lives. Today there is a 45% off Lillebaby carriers deal on Amazon.

{5} We decided to do something fun with a small portion of our tax refund this year. We snagged a Groupon for the local Great Wolf Lodge and we will be staying for a night in the KidCabin suite in March! All three of our kids are obsessed with playing in water so I know it will be a big hit. 

BONUS PSA FOR THOSE NEAR CEDAR POINT: This year they are offering free season passes for kids ages 3-5 (2 and under are free). You have to sign up online here (look for the Free Pre-K Pass!) and then go pick up the pass from Cedar Point before June 29. They are also running a BOGO sale for President's Day on adult single day passes.

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Monday, February 12, 2018

best ever vegan mexican pizza (recipe)

As I am sure the universe knows, Friday was National Pizza Day. Jon had texted me that morning to inquire what toppings I wanted on my pizza and when I told him I was craving Mexican pizza he told me he was as well.

I called BS because we haven't had or discussed Mexican pizza in over a year, but alas--it was so, and he didn't know how to make it be given the whole vegan sitch.

Not to toot my own horn here, but toot-mother effing-toot. I was a pizza genius and we pulled off the most incredible pizza ever (no lie, I will 100% eat this pizza even when not doing a vegan challenge).
Please forgive me in advance as this is more of a loose guideline of how we achieved this piece of perfection. If you have any questions or need clarification, please comment below and I will answer!

Step 1. Prepare pizza dough. Jon always makes his own. I may have him update that original recipe because he has been playing with an all purpose/whole wheat flour blend over the past few months and has finally reached a place of satisfaction with it.

Step 2. Prepare your vegan cheese and vegan sour cream. This is step 2 because you do need to soak the raw cashews for a bit of time before making them. We buy our raw cashews from Trader Joe's--it's $6.99 for 1 pound there. Please note that I have tried four different vegan cheese recipes, and in my humble opinion the one I linked to blows the rest out of the water. I don't know why I ever bother experimenting with new recipes (looking at you, Superbowl Sunday) because they all suck in comparison to that one.

Step 3. Prepare your black beans. Jon's mom often gives us batches of her homemade sofrito which we freeze for cooking. Jon will break off a chunk of the frozen sofrito and cook it on the stove with a can of black beans or rehydrated dried beans (which is a whole other process in and of itself). He also uses tomato paste, but you could use taco sauce for this purpose. 

Step 4. Roll out the pizza dough and top it. We used taco sauce as the sauce and added the black beans. Begin baking. When the dough seems pretty much cooked (refer to my original dough recipe for details) you can add the cheese to the top and pop it back in the oven. 

Step 5. Add any other taco toppings you'd like. We added our sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes, but you could add onion, avocado, etc.

Step 6. Eat your face off.

Bonus: You can use the leftover cheese and beans to make vegan taco salad the next day that is just as delicious as the pizza. I am actually salivating over this right now.

Linking up with Biana

Friday, February 9, 2018

five trader joe's favorites

The closest Trader Joe's to our house is about half an hour away, so we rarely go. It's such a treat when I get to head out there because I am obsessed. I ran there on Monday to pick up some vegan essentials and discovered a few new things!

{1} Did you know they have the cutest greeting cards for 99 cents each!? I had no idea! I reloaded my stash and I am so freaking excited. This is going to be my new thing - a legit reason to go to TJs.

 {2} Ohio in winter lasts from November through April usually, aka the never-ending winter. Tulips are my favorite flower. At $4.99 per bouquet, this was a total no brainer. It gives me hope that spring will be here eventually.

{3} I'm not sure whether this is a new thing or not, but I had been wanting to pick up some rose water lately. I found this baby for $3.99 for 4 ounces so I picked it up! I am a total sucker for rose scented items (I use this shampoo, this conditioner, and this lip balm) and this is just as wonderful! Plus it makes my skin feel so fresh and dewy! A new beauty staple for sure.

{image source}
{4} While I can't eat any this month, Trader Joe's chocolate croissants are my absolute favorite ever. They are frozen in boxes of 4 for I believe $3.99. You set them out overnight to proof and then pop them in the oven in the morning. They are super light, flaky, and the perfect combo of sweet and savory. I have a box in my freezer that I plan on busting out once I finish my vegan challenge!

{5} Did you know that not all wine is vegan!? I had absolutely no idea... I mean they're just fermented grapes, right? Wrong. Related: rose is my favorite. So when I saw this bottle for $6.99 and it had a handy little VEGAN label on it, I was sold.

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, February 8, 2018


I did my first bubble mask. I used this one and it felt so weird but good! 
 Pip is busy being a ham.
We finally changed out our hideous 80s foyer light for something a bit more modern. We chose this one from Lowe's (though we had several we loved to choose from!) and Jon installed it over the weekend. I am so happy!
Heather and Paul came over with their kids on Sunday. It was so nice catching up and our kids really do get along so well together.
It's been a good week!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

best ever vegan fried pickles

It is no secret that I have a serious refrigerator pickle problem. I have made 6 batches in 2 weeks and eaten the crap out of them. Late last week I really wanted fried pickles, so I figured why not use the batch I had just made and try to fry them up?
The results? SO SIMPLE and SO delicious!
Step 1. Make a jar of Shannan's pickles at least 1 day in advance (or just use store bought, but this way is way more delicious, trust).
Step 2. Heat some oil (I used vegetable) in a small saucepan until hot. I did not use a thermometer, I just guesstimated as to when it would be hot enough and tested with one pickle to see if it sizzled upon impact.
Step 3. Place a layer of pickles between two paper towels to dry the excess juice off them.
Step 4. Mix together 1/2 c. flour; 1/2 tsp. each of oregano, basil, parsley, onion powder and garlic powder; 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper; and 1/4 c. water in a bowl. 
Step 5. Dip the pickles individually in the batter, then place into hot oil.
Step 6. Cook until they are brown, transfer to a plate with a paper towel on it.
Step 7. Eat your face off.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

bathroom renovation update

Even though we haven't started the actual renovation, we have been getting all the materials we ordered for it.
We are debating whether we should exchange the faucet for another because it doesn't extend very far over the bowl.
 The vanity was much better quality than I was expecting.
I am most excited about our "marble" shower surround. It is so sturdy! I can't wait to see it in the bathroom!

The only material we ordered that we are waiting on is the shower door. We still need to pick out the flooring, but otherwise the major materials are purchased and ready to go.

Monday, February 5, 2018

the vegan diaries: days 1-5

February 1:
I am very grouchy this morning. A coworker brought in donuts to work. Donuts generally are not vegan. I stayed strong and ate my oatmeal instead.
saddest bowl ever
The homemade coffee creamer I made was not good, despite being pretty.
I changed my lunch for the day to homemade pickles (you guys. I've made and eaten I think 5 large jars in 3 weeks now?? I have a problem) and avocado toast.
I made this last night and as of this morning it is already half empty.
I'm still planning on having Gardein seven grain tenders with hot sauce and homemade ranch tonight. The vegan ranch I made is actually not bad. Not a ringer for the real deal, but still good.
Tomorrow's menu is going to include vegan overnight oats for breakfast and who knows what else.

February 2:
Well, I found and bought this coffee creamer at Target last night and it was a major improvement. I also had the overnight oats I mentioned for breakfast and it was not bad! I did half chia / half flax seeds and added mixed berries and maple syrup to it.
For lunch I am having dill potatoes, baby carrots and tortilla chips. I think for dinner Jon is making tofu lettuce wraps. Based on how I feel after breakfast, I feel a lot less hopeless. I also found this ice cream at Target last night and it is the greatest thing to happen to me. Seriously, I will continue to buy this even once I am no longer dairy-free. SO GOOD.

February 3:
On Saturday we had dance class, I had scheduled a hair cut and we decided to take my parents dinner because my mom had a really bad week at work. I didn't really eat breakfast, for lunch I had leftover stir fry with brown rice, peanuts, brussels sprouts and broccoli. For dinner Jon made us cheeseless pizza and we picked up Buca di Beppo for my parents. My mom also made us virgin pina coladas, which are vegan if you use non-dairy milk.

February 4:
I made Jon's hot chocolate pancakes with egg substitute / vegan butter and soy milk for breakfast. For lunch I had leftover stir fry again. Dinner was my favorite tradition--appetizers for dinner in honor of the Superbowl--and on the menu we had:
1. homemade hummus and veggies
2. soy sesame sugar snap peas
3. vegan eggplant-based "queso"
5. tortilla chips with homemade guacamole and salsa

The verdict? I would never make the "queso" again (I should have stuck with the one I've made before and really liked). The buffalo cauliflower dip was SO GOOD and I will absolutely make it again - vegan or not. I loved the sugar snap peas, guac and hummus. Basically I stuffed my face until I couldn't move comfortably. 

February 5:
Maple and brown sugar oatmeal and coffee for breakfast. Leftover vegan pizza for lunch. Dinner will likely be more buffalo cauliflower dip with slices of french bread! So far I have lost 2.4 pounds.