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Fall Decorations | Wreath

2012 marks the first year I’ve embraced holiday decorations. Whether I’m picking up a dish towel with a pumpkin on it, ordering a foliage-filled wreath or snagging a few gourds at the grocery store, I’m in the Fall spirit. I don’t care if the neon orange towel doesn’t match the paint color–the house feels cozier, happier and welcoming. Is Halloween too early for unearthing our fake Christmas tree?

Crazy Sexy Kitchen's French Toast

I kicked off Saturday morning with Crazy Sexy Kitchen’s French Toast (get the recipe instantly here). This is my favorite French Toast recipe…ever (my husband and daughter love it too!).

Dinner Ingredients

Pre-mamahood, I didn’t think much of grocery shopping. But now, going to the grocery store alone is like going to the spa. The kiddo stayed home with her Dad and I spent a leisurely hour wandering around the produce section and strolling up and down the aisles at Whole Foods. When I arrived back home, I was ready to start cooking up a meal for our dinner guests.

Tiny Sous Chef

Luckily, I had a tiny sous chef by my side.

Crazy Sexy Ktichen's Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Crazy Sexy Kitchen‘s Roasted Brussel Sprouts couldn’t be quicker to prepare and more delicious. (Sorry folks, this recipe isn’t in the sneak peek–you’ll have to wait for the book!) My dinner guests devoured them.

Chloe Coscarelli's Penne a la Vodka

For Saturday’s feast, I also cooked Chloe Coscarelli‘s Penne a la Vodka. Even though everyone raved about the penne, it was the garlic bread that stole their hearts (to-die-for). These are both perfect for wowing omnivores and vegans alike. Lastly, I baked a double batch of Chocolate Covered Katie’s Secret Peanut Butter Cookies. Best. Cookies. Ever.

Madeira Peppercorn Tempeh with Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Sunday was another kitchen-filled day and I savored every second. Audrey and Steve watched football while I made Crazy Sexy Kitchen‘s Madeira Peppercorn Tempeh with gravy, plus (more) Roasted Brussel Sprouts! Even though we felt quite fancy eating dinner that night, it wasn’t a difficult meal to put together and I’m sure it’ll be even easier the next time I make it (and the time after that).

Weber's Cidermill Pumpkin PatchWe also made it to Weber’s Cidermill on Sunday afternoon and left with the perfect pumpkin and a jug of Honey Crisp cider. Even though the summer is over, this season brings so much joy to the table (and delicious food!). It’s also an excuse to indulge–in delightful novels, holiday music, comforting recipes–and to show the people you love even more generosity and kindness.

It’s time to slow down. To savor. To enjoy.

❤,
Corinne

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A Letter to Sweet Pea

by Corinne on September 15, 2012

Sweet Pea

Dear Sweet Pea (our kitty who is now in heaven),

We miss you. A lot.

I want to thank you for teaching me some things:

Vulnerability is not a weakness, it’s actually very brave. (I’m sorry for all the times I pushed away your furry affection.)

The companionship of an animal is priceless and powerful. Thank you for being my husband’s pal when I was away from home for weeks at a time, many years ago. Your presence helped keep our family strong and happy.

Life is fragile. Thanks for giving me perspective. Losing you made me see what I have. I’m going to try, a little more each day, to let go of what I can’t change and soak in the blessings staring me in the face.

Don’t wait to tell someone how much you care. I’m going work at being more patient, giving more hugs, and telling my friends and family how much I love them and how special and unique they are, because of you.

The best kind of love is never-ending and blind. I’m going to give more of that kind of love.

You weren’t just a pet, you were part of our little family. You stole our hearts and we’ll never forget you. Thanks for making every day brighter with your raspy meow, your ceaseless snuggles and your unconditional love.

❤,
Corinne (Steve, Audrey and Thomas too!)

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How I Handle Uncertainty

by Corinne on August 8, 2012

I’m not sure where our family will be living one year from now. I’ve been browsing real estate listings, checking out school districts, and imagining what it would be like to return to my home town or make a pit stop in another city for a couple years, before finally settling somewhere.

The uncertainty of our next step is driving me up the wall.

I’m naturally drawn to making fast decisions in the face of uncertainty. I want to choose a path and move toward it as quickly as possible. I love “wiping the slate clean” and starting something new. Except, I can’t do that right now. Our destination will depend on jobs, the housing market and a variety of other factors that I can’t even begin to predict.

I have a couple options: feel stuck and frustrated or be present and figure out what I can do now.

I chose the latter and got started by making a list of everything that needs to happen before we move. These are things that I can do right now. Seeing the list puts my impatience on hold. There’s a lot to do. Now that I’m more in reality about that, I can focus on the here and now a little more and be grateful that we have time to prepare for our next step, whatever that may be.

1. De-cluttering our home. Donate what we don’t need + organize what we do need.

2. Home improvements. What do we need to do in order to make this house an attractive rental or purchase?

3. Savor time with our Charm City pals. We love a lot of people in Charm City and if we do move away, we’ll miss them.

4. Get educated. We’re talking to real estate agents and friends living in different areas to get a feel for our options. Knowing more about the possibilities makes me feel more grounded and prepared for whatever happens.

5. Dream about the future. What kind of home do we want? Rent? Buy? Temporary or forever house? City? Country?

The last point on my list is a biggie. It’s okay to dream, even if my hopes might not work out. There’s a little voice in my head that says, “Don’t dream TOO big. You’ll never be able to swing THAT.” I’m trying to quiet the voices that tell me not to get too excited about the beautiful places my imagination takes me. I’ve found that most ideas that I think are impossible, usually work out if I just hang in there and keep believing that they just might be possible.

From hope to house.

When I moved to Baltimore with my then boyfriend, now husband, I dreamed of living in Hampden–the kitchy neighborhood that everyone has probably seen in a John Waters’ movie. We lived in a tiny carriage house downtown at the time. I started telling anyone who would listen that I wanted to buy a house in Hampden, although I had no idea how to make it happen. (I even went to a Hampden Community Council meeting to scope out my potential neighbors!) One of my trusted Baltimore friends recommended that I speak to her beloved real estate agent. Just for the heck of it, I did. Then, we started looking at houses. Then, we walked into the house that I’m living in today. “This is it,” Steve told me, minutes after stepping inside the hundred-year-old rowhouse.

From first hope, to closing on the house = 5 months. You just never know.

❤ ,
Corinne

 

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Adventures in Cooking, Baking + Pickling

by Corinne on August 2, 2012

Shredding veggies for kraut

I’ve embarked upon a pickling adventure. I had a little bit of a rocky start, since I didn’t have enough veggies to fill a 2-quart jar, but my husband came to the rescue and made a quick trip to the store (I was up to my elbows in shredded cabbage). I’ll have more to report once the kraut is ready (it only takes about 4 days!). As a kid, I loved doing science experiments in the kitchen (baking soda volcano anyone? Thanks, Dad!). Now that I’m an adult, my experiments offer the added benefits of tastiness and probiotics for my belly.

Perfect Pickler Kraut

The Perfect Pickler is pretty awesome (and so is their Facebook page–they answered my questions right away!). I’ve ordered some additional tools, but in total, pickling is very affordable and I think it’s pretty fun. There’s something comforting and meditative about prepping the veggies, making the brine, and packing them in their new home. More to come on my pickling progress next week.

Pesto

My lovely neighbor dropped off some organic basil from her garden this week, so I had to make pesto of course! Some Instagrammers asked about the recipe, so I thought I’d post it here as well. It’s a variation of the Vegan YumYum pesto. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I feel comfortable adjusting recipes based on what’s in my fridge. Makes life easier and in my opinion, more delicious, since you can adjust recipes to meet your taste.

Basil-Cashew-Tomato Pesto

1. Blend 1/2 cup soaked cashews, two ripe tomatoes, a big handful basil + 1/4 cup water.

2. Sauté 3-4 cloves minced garlic in a skillet, add the blended tomato mix, and add a big spoonful of tomato paste. Add salt to taste and a splash of white wine (if you’d like!). Sauté for about five minutes.

3. I served it with Tinkyada spaghetti rice pasta. The kiddo and husband loved it!

Mocha cookies

I had a sweet tooth yesterday, so I went to my go-to dessert recipe resource: Chocolate-Covered Katie‘s website. I omitted some of the ingredients and used agave rather than sugar, and peanut better instead of oil (and I skipped the chocolate chips).

Dry:
❤  2 tbsp cocoa powder or cacao powder
❤  3/4 cup quick oats
❤  1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp oat flour (or make your own by blending oats in a food processor until they become powder. Measure after blending.)
❤  1/4 tsp sea salt
❤  1/4 tsp baking soda

Wet:
❤  1/4 cup agave
❤  1/4 cup nut butter (I used peanut)
❤  2 tbsp water
❤  1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Mix dry ingredients.

2. Blend wet ingredients.

3. Mix dry and wet. Form batter into cookies and chill for no-bake version, or bake at 350 for 8 minutes. You can check out Katie’s original No-bake Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe here.

New swing set

We’re on a travel hiatus right now. I’m grateful to be slowing down and enjoying days filled with writing, cooking, and spending time with my little family. Audrey tried out the new playground down the street for the first time last night. I think she likes it…a lot. Steve and I took turns going down the slide with her. For some reason, I was feeling blah that afternoon, but it only took a few pushes of Audrey’s swing and some infectious baby giggles to turn my mood around. Even if you don’t have a kiddo, hop on a swing this weekend. I bet you’ll smile.

Audrey + Steve on slide

❤ ,
Corinne

PS: I’m on Facebook. Come visit!

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Travels of a Vegan Kiddo + Rediscovering Home

by Corinne on July 24, 2012

Now that Audrey is eating three main meals plus snacks throughout the day, traveling is a bit more of a challenge, especially when you have two 8-hour car rides over the course of a long weekend. I decided to hit the kitchen the night before departure for a marathon cooking session. I came out on the other side with zucchini muffins, mac n’ cheese cups (recipe here), tri-color slaw, and lentil soup. The soup was the biggest hit, with the zucchini muffins and mac n’ cheese as a close second.

What was the biggest benefit of prepping her food? I didn’t have to cook while staying at my in-laws and I could focus more on relaxing and soaking up time with friends and family (plus, building a new love for my home town!).

Steve & Audrey at Boulder Coffee at Rochester Public Market

Me & Audrey at Rochester Public Market

High Falls overlooking Genesee Brewing Company

High Falls (Rochester, NY)

We spent Saturday morning exploring Rochester’s Public Market and visiting High Falls. We were amazed at the food, produce, flea market and irresistible coffee, flower, and bakery shops that the market had to offer. I started to realize that I might have underestimated Flower City. I could picture our family visiting the public market every weekend. On our way back to the in-laws, we made a pit stop at High Falls. Tucked amidst old brick buildings (originally flour mills and factories that were powered by the waterfalls) is a bridge that stretches across the Genesee River. We stood in awe of the falls and watched as a baby deer ran towards the river bed below.

I also discovered breathe studio‘s juice bar in Pittsford, NY. Delicious organic green juice for a great price. Heaven.

The whole reason for our trip was to celebrate our niece’s 1st birthday. As you can see, Audrey enjoyed her cousin’s swing set quite a bit (and so did Steve). She’s giddy around her grandparents, auntie, uncle, cousins and close family friends. Yet another reason to love my home town and hope to live there again someday.

On our journey home, we discovered The Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA. I’ve driven through Williamsport hundreds of times, oblivious to this gem of a restaurant. Thankfully, Google gave us a hand. Holy vegan-friendly menu! Audrey and I shared a veggie tofu pizza that was delish.

Crazy Sexy Juices & Succulent Smoothies 25% off + bonuses

Now that we’re home, I’m happy to be cooking again in my kitchen and juicing with my juicer. Today, I made a cuke-pear-celery-romaine-ginger-lemon-parsley juice. So good.

In case you’re interested in learning the A to Z of juicing and smoothie making (plus tons of recipes), Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Juices and Succulent Smoothies is on sale until July 29. 25% off! Kris is also giving away 5 juicers and a Vitamix blender. I use my juicer and blender everyday and they help to make mealtime (and juice/smoothie time) a breeze.

❤ ,
Corinne

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Power Out, Gratitude Up

by Corinne on July 7, 2012

Night Before PhD Defense

The night before Steve’s PhD defense, our little fam took a stroll through the neighborhood. For the past six years we’ve lived, learned and loved in Baltimore, but in the background, there’s always been a clock counting down. I’m happy to report that this chapter had a happy ending.

Ball Jar Candle

We lost power the night after Steve’s defense, along with millions of people in the Baltimore/DC area. More than 50 people were coming over the next day to celebrate Steve’s accomplishment and we didn’t have air conditioning or a working fridge on a 100 degree day. That’s when you realize that you can’t do it alone.

Luckily, we have generous and kind neighbors, friends and family. With their help and a generator (thanks, Dad!), we pulled together a memorable celebration. Guests traveled from all over the East Coast to spend the special day with us (some people hadn’t seen each other in over a decade!). And despite the mosquitoes, horrendous heat, stinky gasoline and noisy generator, I saw smile after smile. Looking back, the power outage shed light on the fact that we have so many amazing people in our lives.

The Fourth of July was blissfully uneventful. We went grocery shopping, book shopping, and did a whole lot of The Wire watching. One week post-party, I’m getting back to the kitchen as well. I’m amazed every time I realize how much happiness comes from opening a cookbook and making a meal for my family. On the fourth, we enjoyed some Curried Tofu (Veganomicon) brown rice and sauteed rainbow chard (while watching more of The Wire). Today, I whipped up some Un-Tuna Salad Sandwiches (Blissful Bites) for lunch. Double yum.

Back to normal, in photos:

Book Browsing

Book-browsing babe.

We Love You Mama

A lovely reminder.

Curried Tofu

 Curried Tofu with brown rice & sauteed rainbow chard.

Un-Tuna Salad SandwichUn-Tuna Salad Sandwich.

Green Juice

Green juice: romaine, celery, cucumber, pineapple.

And lastly, my vacation reset has stuck. Green juice every day (Steve is hooked too), lots of sleep, early mornings, and I’m staying away from the computer screen late at night. All of this adds up to more joy, more patience and more perspective.

Happy to have the power back to fuel that juicer, but also thankful for the many reminders the outage delivered. Those will stick with me most of all.

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