Friday, November 16, 2012

Recipe: Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad

Kale and Quinoa Salad, is one of my go to and easier recipes that we enjoy.  I will say up front that I'm no professional food blogger so don't expect this. :) Which happens to be one of my favorite vegan recipe blogs.

If you're not familiar with quinoa, it's a seed that is cooked just like white rice. It has a nuttier taste than rice, and can be seasoned savory or sweet once cooked.  It can be used just like rice, in casseroles, in soups, etc.  Not only is it a whole grain like brown rice, it provides lots of nutrients and is found to have all essential amino acids which is super helpful to non-meat eaters. 

Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cup water or stock
1 bunch of Kale, stems removed and chopped (about 4+ cups chopped)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of stock
3/4 can of beans (I usually use black beans but white would be great too.)
1 medium/large tomato or 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes, diced
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
cumin, to taste
chili powder, to taste

*I never really measure anything so all these measurements are estimates. Sometimes I add more or less of particular items.

First, I sauté the chopped onions and garlic in a large sauté pan with sides and a lid. Once soft (about 5 minutes) I throw in all the kale along with about 1/2 cup of vegetable stock, stir, cover and let sit for about 25-30 minutes. Until the kale is soft.  I stir often adding some salt and peper half way through.  

Once kale is simmering, I add the quinoa and 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Quinoa sort of "pops" open while cooking. the seeds become translucent and there are "rings" from the seeds that break off. It's very difficult to describe, but if you've made it or while you're making it, you will understand. 

Once kale is soft, I add the beans and chopped tomatoes to the skillet, stir, and add the spices.  I probably end up using a minimum of 1 Tbsp for both the cumin and chili powder. I add more later once we are about it eat if I desire.

I then add the quinoa when it is finished cooking in its separate pot. Once all ingredients are in the large skillet, I stir well, let all the ingredients warm up together, and add more spices to my taste preference.

The night I made this dish, I paired it with an oven baked sweet potato topped with margarine and cinnamon sugar. 

This is a recipe I made up and proud of how tasty it was. Next time I want to saute some mushrooms with the onions to add even more veggies and flavors. Yum! 

Cooking vegan makes me have to think a lot more about how I create balanced meals. I have to think most about protein. Are we getting enough? What is the source? Etc. We don't want to be "junk food vegans" eating lots of carbs and processed frozen vegetarian meals.  So for each recipe I post, I'll break down for you where we are getting specific nutrients that usually are lacking in those who do not eat animal products. 

Recipe breakdown:
Protein- beans, quinoa
Starch/Carb- sweet potato, quinoa
Veggies- kale, onion, garlic, tomatoes, sweet potato
Fiber- beans, quinoa, all the veggies
Calcium- kale, beans
Iron- kale, beans

For all my meat eating friends, this would be a great dish to have on the side of chicken or fish.  I make a lot when I cook it.  It's great reheated as left overs or stuffing into acorn squashes or peppers. Give it a try! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pantry Must-haves

To be honest, grocery shopping has gotten easier and harder. Easier because I used to stand in the meat section for 30+ minutes trying to find the best deal on meat for the price that wasn't going to kill us and that I could figure out how to cook. Veggies are just so much easier to me because they are versatile and I hardly have to worry about food borne illnesses.  Harder because I'm constantly reading labels and forcing myself to expand in my cooking skills of foods to add variety and new tastes. I've used a lot of "new" ingredients to me such as lentils, flax seeds, and beets.

Someone at church the other day asked if we eat grass. Soooooo, with that, I wanted to share with you a list of food items that are always in our home. The things we actually eat. And no...grass, leaves, and acorns are not on there. As soon as we get low or out of these items they go on my list to buy next time at the store. These items help us to make lots of kinds of foods and are the bases to all of our recipes.  We do also have lots of 'sometimes' or 'splurge' items. Cereals, chocolate chips, cinnamon almonds, avocados, and chocolate soy milk are just some examples. Splurge and sometimes because as you can see most of them aren't the best for us :).

Whole Wheat Bread
Whole Wheat Pasta
Brown Rice
Whole Wheat Flour
Yellow Corn Meal
Flax Seeds

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Canola Oil

Soy Milk
Vegetable Stock
Orange Juice
Non-dairy coffee creamer

Dried Beans
Canned Beans

Spaghetti sauce
Canned diced tomatoes
Seasonal Produce (varies)- currently, we tend to eat a lot of winter squashes, sweet potatoes, onions, leafy greens, broccoli, radishes, peppers, beets, carrots, and many other fall/winter produce.

Peanut Butter
Granola Bars
Chips and Salsa
Soy sauce
Local honey (technically not vegan, but we're not trying to save the animals or anything :) )
Coffee and tea
Nutella (definitely not vegan, but we just can't let it go!)
Lots of spices

I'm sure most vegans have more elaborate pantry items and really expensive cool ingredients, but well, we just aren't that classy. We like to keep it simple with a rice, bean, and veggie bowl for dinner.

Our grocery bill is the same as before the lifestyle change because the extra cost we use to spend on meat, cheese, and yogurt now goes to pay for non-dairy milks, higher quality grains, and if we buy organic produce.  Probably the biggest change in our budget is our eating out bill.  We are lucky if we eat out once a week whether it be lunch or dinner. It's just too difficult. So I like to think we are saving money.

Next time I'll share with you what I do with these items and some of our favorite recipes. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

'Tis Hunting Season

Happy rainy Monday! Just wanted to give all of you a snippet into what it is like to live with hunting dogs. Squirrels, skunks, and moths.....their all over it. :)

They are a mess. During the day, they have "squirrel watch."  They take turns perched on our bed looking out our window that over looks the yard.  They intensely watch for squirrels or anything to dare enter our back yard. Then they are ALL OVER IT! The house will be peaceful then out of nowhere they both come barreling down the hall barking ferociously at an innocent animal.

Tennessee is a big hunting state. Other owners with dogs like our actually take them hunting this time of season.  They usually start training to learn how to hunt around 2 years old so we might look into it come next fall/winter. Because ours already think they are professionals.

So if there is a giant famine in this country, I don't think we will be going hungry. Squirrel stew...mmmm.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Early Birthday Surprise

This is weekend was the perfect blend of fun and relaxation. It was the exact combo I needed after a week of ups and downs with my physical health. In and out of bed almost everyday, exhaustion, head aches, body aches....yuck! 

Andrew surprised me a while back with tickets to one of my favorite artists, Ingrid Michaelson. He even made arrangements for one of my best friends to travel all the way from Nashville to see it with me! 

The picture doesn't do justice for how close we were. We were only 6 rows back from the stage! Needless to say, my husband did a great job surprising me with this gift for my birthday. 

And a grateful "thank you" to Brittany for venturing over to Knoxville for less than 24 hours to encourage me! God has given me the best of friends. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Meats vs. Veggies

via Katie

   Meat vs. Veggies

Ice cream

Why am I listing all of these things?

Andrew and I have recently adopted an eating lifestyle that no longer includes the items. Crazy! I know! Those are some All-American foods right there that make the heart and tummy happy.  We made the decision over a month ago to start eating a plant-based diet. Why? Because we hate to eat good food.

No, just kidding :).  There is exponential amount of studies showing that plant-based foods (meaning no animal or animal byproduct but instead what is grown from the ground) are anti-inflammatory and, when the foundation of one's diet,  they have the ability to decrease one's chances of developing diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Do we think eating animal or animal products is harmful to us? NO. ONLY IF OVER CONSUMED
Will we never touch meat, cheese, or dairy again? SURE, WE WILL EAT THEM AGAIN

All we are trying to do is wrap our minds around more plant items such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, and plant proteins such as soy and nuts. So we agreed to go full force to, I guess, "rid" our bodies and start fresh. I imagine us over time incorporating animal foods back into our diet, but not for a while. And when we do, it will be in aN 80/20 ratio. 80 plant and 20 animal. Or maybe even less. Like 90/10?  Or maybe a couple times a week? I don't know yet.

Do we crave meat, cheese, or dairy? NO, NOT REALLY. (I try to create meals that have "meatiness" like bean or lentil stews.)
Aren't we lacking in vitamins and minerals animal foods provide? WE COULD BE, BUT WE WORK TO MAKE SURE WE AREN'T

We take multivitamins daily to help with B12 (which is only in animals), I make sure a protein source such as lentils, beans, soy, and whole grains are apart of each meal, I cook from a cast iron pot several times a week to help increase iron, flaxseed in our oatmeal and baked goods for omega-3, leafy greens for calcium, and then of course most things packaged are enriched and fortified with calcium.

Do we starve? ABSOLUTELY NOT

We eat to our hearts content on great, seasonal, and farm fresh foods. I go the farmers market every weekend to pick up our produce for the week. I always leave my meals feeling full yet never bloated or stuffed. Our bodies feel great and we've both lost weight. :)

Do you think you could make the change? What would be hard for you to give up?

Monday, October 1, 2012


Let me introduce to you the (somewhat) newest edition to our family. 

This is Daisy. Our sweet, adventurous, toy loving, snuggle bug. From the day we picked up Kyzer, we always knew we'd eventually get another. I know that sounds crazy, but Weimaraners work best in multiples not only for their sanity but also for the owners' sanity. So once we moved up to Knoxville we signed ourselves up with the Weim adoption organization here and with in a month were fostering this little girl. 

She's between 1 and 1 1/2 years old (not sure her exact birthday as of right now). The first month we didn't really like her and we weren't sure if we'd commit to keeping her. After a month of stability, figuring out her placement in the family, some obedience training, and actually feeling like she's apart of the family...she's become one of the sweetest doggies I know. 

They are in a constant game of tug of war at all times.
She is obsessed with playing fetch and will run from sun up to sun down if she could. Her and Kyzer are just like brother and sister. They play, snuggle, and get snappy when they don't like what the other is doing. The cutest is when one hurts the other and then goes and apologizes with a gentle kiss on the nose. They have no problem getting along and hate being separate from each other.  

Of course we now have 8 muddy paws to deal with on rainy days, another giant mouth to feed, and more dog hair to vacuum. 

Also in fun news......

after my first day :)

I GOT A JOB! I'm working as a contracted employee for Provision Health and Wellness to provide health coaching for their corporate wellness program. It's a mouthful. In summary, I meet with clients in their work environment to provide motivation and coaching in health changes and goals they want to work on. Sometimes it has to do with what they eat, others want to quit smoking, and some even just want to work on getting more sleep. Every time I go in it's different, which I really like. I get to work with these individuals for usually 9 months so I'm really excited to see the growth and changes my clients make. 

God is taking care of us :) And is it really October 1st already?!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Beginning


You'd think that since I don't have a job yet that I'd have time to update you guys on our life here, but things have surprisingly kept me busy this last month.  When I first filled out our family calendar, this is what it looked like:

But as each new day approached, it has been filled with house organization, cleaning, errands, job hunting, filling out job applications, taking Kyzer to the park, and last minute hang outs with some of our new friends.  

This first month has been a fun blur. Fun because we've gotten to meet a lot of great people, join an awesome church, explore our mountainous side of town, and make big kid decisions. But a blur because I can't believe we've already lived here a month! Actually it feels like 6 months with all the changes we've gone through. 

We had to start budgeting. Womp!

We bought a car. A CAR! Who are we?? Adults?!

Andrew's 2012 Mazda 3
Now that we live in a legit house, there's much more responsibilities that we didn't even think about before moving. Hint: a yard! And not only do we have lawn work, we have a beast of a lawn. 

The first time Andrew cut the grass he had to split up the work into two days. And considering this has been the weather lately:

he's only had to cut it once since being here. Thank goodness. But I like having a large lawn for this guy:

AND because it leaves room for a lot of creativity. My dream is to eventually have a small garden of my own and I love that I have the space to do it. There's even a plot already established that a previous owner used as a garden.  But until then, I'm enjoying some of the plants that were already growing in the backyard.

except Kyzer has eaten almost all the flowers :/

Andrew loves his job! He says he feels like a secret agent. He has a badge that he has to wear around his neck at all times and to get access into the building. He gets to work with very important clients building high security mobile apps.  I'm just so grateful he comes home everyday happy! He may be tired (it took him some time getting used to the long hours), but he's satisfied with the work that makes him tired. 

about to walk in on his first day! :)

We still have so much to share with you! I just didn't want to overwhelm you today. :)

In summary: we are very happy, Andrew loves his job, I am still looking for a job (please pray for me!), we love where we live, we can't believe we are adults, and we are grateful for God's kingdom.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Yesterday, we had a fun relaxing evening. Andrew and I were on top of our game and both finished our school work earlier in the day (This is amazing considering our overpowering senioritis!). So for the evening, we decided to venture over to a park we always go to and walk the trails with Kyzer. We'd never done the trails before. We only ever went to the dog park with in the park. But this time, we wanted wilderness, trails, and creeks.

Kyzer lives for afternoons like this. He is meant to wander in the woods and explore. It's in his genes to be off the leash, follow, and explore with you. And when Kyzer is happy, the rest of the house is happy.  He also has really webbed feet so we're trying to get him acclimated with water so he'll want to go swimming. When we finally came to the creek, Kyzer jumped right in before one of us even did. No fear for him. We were proud parents.

And speaking of fun adventures.....


home of the yucky orange!

I'm pretty sure all of you already knew (because the only people that read this are also on Facebook).  To be honest, we've had the offer in our hands for a week or so, but we wanted to look at ever angle before we finalized and made it official. It's the only job offer we got after a year long job search, but we couldn't be more grateful for God providing. He definitely made it clear on where he wanted us to be!

We are going this weekend to try to nail down a place to live. That process is finding to be difficult because we are picky and needy! Picky-we want a house, we want 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms (for our guests! so it's not completely selfish), we want it to be in a safe location, near a park,  and close to a grocery store. Needy- we NEED a fenced in backyard for the furry boy. Like I said, when he's happy, we're happy.

Wish us luck! And please be praying for our moving process that everything can fall into place and go smoothly. This month is going to be one big blur! That's right, in ONE month we'll be moving there. EEK!

Friday, April 20, 2012


via here

Senioritis- noun. A crippling disease that strikes college seniors. Symptoms include: laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants, old athletic shirts, sweatpants, athletic shorts, and sweatshirts. Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude. The only known cure is a phenomenon known as graduation. (

MY LIFE! (And Andrew's I will add.)

1. I used to be really good about dressing decent to school. I figured I'm about to enter into the real world so I should start practicing. That's been out the window this last week. T-shirts and athletic shorts everyday.

2. I haven't attended class since Tuesday. And it's Friday I might add. I know! It sounds so bad. But let me explain myself. Wednesday, class was cancelled. Thursday, I have no excuse except pure laziness. And today, Both classes are presentations by my class mates. BORING! (I blame canceling class on Wednesday. It gave me the taste of missing school, and it tasted good.)

3. I HAVE stayed on top of my work! I'm still turning in all my work on time and with excellent grades. Thank you very much!

4. I feel like I deserve to treat myself to a chill end of my last semester considering all my hard work I've put in. 

Instead of school, I've filled my time with:

kyzer's cuddles

dog park adventures

time with God

 and friends!
This weekend, the senioritis continues. Andrew and I are going to Teen Prom! I'm so ready to hang out with my high school friends and get down on the dance floor. Andrew's the DJ for the party along with his BFF Stephen. And I'm of course the "awkward mom" handing out punch in the corner. It's going to be awesome!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Monthly Update?

Graduation is right around the corner!! Andrew and I are beyond excited. He already ran around the house in his cap and gown. Is that bad luck like it is for weddings!? Anyways, both of our families will be in town for the occasion. The in-laws are even staying with us in our small apartment! Dog and all. I hope Shammy and Kyzer get along.

what a happy boy at the park with his BFFs

Kyzer is growing!!! He's almost 50 pounds now and only 5 months. We are still working on obedience and training with him. All I have to say is Cesar Millan knows what he's talking about! Because of him, we are going to have a well mannered doggy.

just look at the size difference from the top picture
(the first couple weeks of having him) to the
bottom one (last week).

Andrew was the birthday this last weekend! We had a very relaxing weekend enjoying good food and the company of friends. 

what a cutie
we've always wanted to try this place. and we finally made it

our friends hosted a cookout for him. cake and keg included

my birthday boy!

Our plans for life after graduation are still in the works :( but we will be sure to keep you updated. I'm not going to lie, I was hoping to know by now. AND I'm partially surprised at how calm I am at the fact of not knowing. Very excited to see what God has planned for us.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Yesterday, my wonderful Great-Grandfather, George Figg, turned a whopping 100 years old!!

isn't he a cutie!

Tomorrow we will be caravanning up to Indiana with my parents, siblings, and their significant others. My relatives are traveling from all over the country to be with him this weekend. I'm so excited to see everyone and for Andrew to meet Great-Grandpa. 

Any ideas for gifts to give someone who is turning 100??

Friday, March 2, 2012

Weekly Update

Once you grow up, does life ever seem to slow down again?

That's the question on our mind these days. We feel like we haven't had a day (or even a minute) to just breathe. 

On a good note, however, we've had a pretty fun week looking back on it. (I so easily forget the good things in the hustle and bustle of life) We got a new dishwasher!

This is how it started...TJ was teaching Andrew for future knowledge.

But after 5 minutes....this was how the dishwasher
was replaced.

How do people survive without a dishwasher!? We were without a working washer for 2 weeks. I don't understand how some people do it. Just another thing I'm now truly grateful for. Just like the car. :)

Jaxon came for another visit. It wasn't as luxurious and fun for him like last time though. Kyzer wanted to eat his tail the whole weekend. He thought he was a giant fluffy toy.

A rare loving moment between the two of them. They
ended up taking a nap together. :)

But in reality...this is what it was like...

We had friends over to play a super fun game of Quelf. 

Play this game with good friends cause you might get caught having to stick your finger up your nose and yodel until you role three 2's (ehm, Andrew).

Kyzer learned how to pick up a frisbee.

And how to catch his ball in his mouth when we toss it.

The weather has been off-and-on beautiful here. Sunny and so warm I've had to switch to shorts mid afternoon. Earlier this week, it was one of those days so Kyzer and I enjoyed a "peaceful" afternoon with the windows open.

(By peaceful I mean Kyzer nibbled on a bone and napped while I worked on school stuff for 4 hours straight.) 

This weekend we get to play our second round at being hosts! Friends of ours, Stephen and Alise, are coming to stay with us Saturday night. I'm so grateful to have a second bedroom so we can offer our home. What a joy.

And lastly....7 days to Spring Break '12! Our last one ever!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012



I was doing so well with updating almost every day at the beginning of the month. I guess we can establish an understanding right now. If I don't post for over a week, life is crazy busy at the moment, which always means exciting things to tell you.....eventually.  :)

Ok, glad that's established.

So the fun news.....we have PUPPY!

12 weeks old (now 14 weeks old), 24 lbs, blue weim

This sweet boy has stolen my sanity, my peace of mind, and my heart. I think Andrew would agree with me on that one.

he's such a daddy's boy. 

going for a ride to the one and only dog store in Athens.
he's a celebrity every time we go!

Our days revolve around Kyzer now. When he needs to go out (which I will brag that we've trained him to ring a bell on the door), when the other dogs will be at the park to play with him (between 4:30-5:30 pm), training him, disciplining him, socializing him, and giving him love and attention.  It's EXHAUSTING!

But we are hoping it will all pay off and that he'll grow up to be an amazingly obedient family pet that wont require so much attention down the road. We are willing to pay our dues now to get that benefit later.

We've been spending the last two weeks potty training and crate training with some obedience and skill training.  The potty training has been successful for the most part. He's so smart. He picked up on the it within a couple days, but of course hasn't perfect.  We still have our moments every so often, but for the most part he understands where his business should lay. The crate training has gone well, too. He doesn't pester us through the night (HA! first week = sleep deprivation) and seems to enjoy his crate. But boy once that first alarm goes off in the morning he lets you know he heard it and wants out. 

No more sleeping in. Whoever the first one is that needs to get up, we both have to get up so one can take care of Kyzer and the other get ready. Then we swap duties. 

We take him to the dog park almost everyday to play with some neighborhood dogs. It's a fun community of people that all know each other and their pets. We are making new friends around us because of Kyzer.  

He's napping right now. That's the only reason I was able to crank out this blog post. Been dying to share about our adorable new family member. Can't wait for all of you to meet him!

PS. We started a height chart for Kyzer. (Don't laugh at us. You probably did too of your first pet!) He's already grown at least 1/2 and inch in a week. We saw on another blog that by 7 months old (less than 4 months away!) he'll be close to 100 lbs! We'll keep you posted. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Growing Family

Most of you have already heard the wonderful news, but the Foster family is growing again. (No, I'm not pregnant! Don't even think about starting rumors.)  The youngest of the family has found himself a bride-to-be! 

The wedding planning is already in the works and they're looking at an end of summer beginning of fall wedding. What perfect time of year. It's going to be beautiful and such a fun celebration.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Have a Fabulous Weekend

It's finally Friday!

Please enjoy this video all pet lovers.

We'll be too busy to get into trouble, unlike Denver. All day tomorrow I'll be judging a 4H Food Project. Should be a lot of fun hanging out with kids, sampling their foods, and showing no mercy! Just kidding, I'll be nice. :)  I'm NOT looking forward to waking up at 5:30 am on a Saturday, though. Yuck.

Of course Sunday is the Superbowl! Hope all of you have something fun planned. We will be watching it with a  group from church.

And I'll be honest, I have no clue who is playing. I'm just there for the fellowship, commercials, and food. Anyone else on the same page as me? 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Playing House

Remember this room?

The storage facility. Organized Chaos. Whatever you prefer.

Well get a look now!!

sorry the lighting is so terrible

This weekend, Andrew and I had our FIRST house guests. Brittany called me on Friday, asked if she and her husband, Casey, could stay with us for the next weekend, and my crazy self said sure, why not! (Please refer back up to the first 3 pictures)

I knew I had to get the room ready within the next couple months anyway so what other motivation than my best friend, who I hadn't seen since her wedding back in September, coming to stay with me in less than a week.

Remember Lauren? She's getting married! Brittany and Casey came into celebrate with her and her future husband, and out of it we got a super fun weekend. They treated us to breakfast at Mama's Boy, the boys worked out while the girls chatted, we went to Lauren and Zach's party, and we had a sleepover. I always love getting to spend time with her and Casey. And it was especially fun to be able to host them in our home! I've always dreamed of Andrew and I being hospitable in that way, but I never thought it actually happening in our small apartment.

In Casey's own words...."Chateau de Chase". So for anyone who wants a place to stay in Athens, please don't hesitate to ask! Now that we have a guest room instead of a storage room....we want to use it!

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