Friday, December 31, 2010

Rollerskating Karaoke Birthday!

My birthday was so much fun! First, we all went rollerskating. None of us had been rollerskating in about a decade so it was quite an adventure but we all survived.

That's my step-mom, me, my mom, my step-dad, my brother, my baby brother, and my dad. I declared a 70's theme so my step-mom, mom, and dad were all wearing my dad's high school T-shirts and my step-dad shaved his beard retro style (not just for my birthday, but for a retro NYE party tonight, too).

Oh, what a blast. And I think I've never laughed harder than when my mom tried to spin with me in the middle. I am NOT that good of a rollerskater!

Afterwards we went to Local Burger for dinner and got salad! I wrote about them before here.

Yes, my ideal birthday dinner is salad.

Then we came home for cake. My mom found one slice of vegan carrot cake at the store, and that was it. So carrot cake it was!

I opened presents.

I'll show you some later, maybe next Fashion Friday. ;)

Then we finished the night with tequila shots (gross), margaritas, and hours of karaoke until we were hoarse.

This was definitely a good birthday.

I'm heading back to Los Angeles tonight. It's really sad to say goodbye to family, and it kind of feels like leaving all over again.

Have a great New Years Eve tonight! I'm going to a couple of little parties and out to a bar with some friends. Do you have any plans? Going out, or staying in?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's My Birthday!

It's my birthday! We're going to dress up in 1970's clothes and go rollerskating! OK, I'm not sure how many people I'll actually get to dress up, but I'm going to.

Here's a strange retrospective of my last few birthdays, in reverse order.

Last year:

My 20th birthday:

My 19th birthday:

My 18th birthday:

My 17th birthday:

That's all I can find right now. Have a good day and go eat some cake for me!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Brunch: Apple Cinnamon French Toast

Wow, it's been almost a week since I posted! I didn't mean to disappear, but I've had every single moment of my time dominated by family - and I mean that in a good way, of course! Now I'm at my dad's house in Lawrence, Kansas and I'll be here until Friday. I have a lot to share with you but I'm still pressed for time so I'll just share our Christmas morning brunch right now.

On Christmas morning my brother came over and we opened presents first thing! First up was stockings:

My big present was some money towards my Screen Actors Guild union membership. Yay!

We also played with my brother's puppy, Buster.

And then we made and enjoyed brunch. Here I am, with the spread:

French toast, fruit salad, and veggie breakfast sausages. You guys are going to love the french toast recipe, because it was delicious, easy, healthy, and perfect for special occasions!

Apple Cinnamon French Toast

One loaf of bread, sliced - we used wheat sourdough, but anything would work, including baguette

1/2 pack lite silken tofu
1 cup applesauce (we used unsweetened blackberry applesauce)
1 cup almond milk
5 dates (use less if using sweetened almond milk)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients together (except bread) until you make a thick mixture. Pour into a bowl. Dip each piece of bread in and thoroughly coat, cook on a griddle or in a frying pan until browned. Serve with maple syrup!

Ta da!

Everyone loved the french toast. Who needs eggs?! Nobody, that's right. ;)

We also made a giant fruit salad.

And here's the whole family and our brunch: step-dad, Buster, Mom, brother, and me!

After brunch we went to the movie theater and watched Black Swan. We all loved it, and Natalie Portman deserves the Best Actress Oscar, definitely. I'll probably talk more about this movie later because there are some very interesting messages about health. But suffice it to say, I loved it and found the entire thing fascinating. If you're ready for a dark film with incredible acting that will mess with your mind, go see it!

After the movie we got Chinese food for dinner and hung out at home. Then I went to a friend's house and played the xBox Kinect! It's a video game system that uses your whole body. I think it would be great for kids who spend a lot of time gaming and maybe not enough time moving, because it can be a great workout.

How did you spend your Christmas?

I'll be posting more about our Christmas Eve dinner later, and our 3rd Christmas at my dad's house. But now I need to go hang out with my baby brother!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Roots, Bar-Hopping, and High School Friends

I went bar-hopping with my mom last night. But let's back-track a little. First I accompanied my friend Christmas shopping. I tried on this hat at Urban Outfitters and felt very hipster.

Then I tried to use the 3D video games at Best Buy. The glasses are huge!

My friend figured it out.

Then for dinner, I went with my family to my faaaaavorite Bloomington restaurant, Roots! Roots is Bloomington's only all-vegetarian restaurant (though I did see a salmon dish on their specials yesterday but I've never seen fish there before and I hope they aren't going that direction!). It's not easy to get vegan food in Indiana but at Roots, they know what vegan means. Just don't let them give you honey mustard, because some of them don't seem to realize that honey isn't vegan.

We got a Mediterranean Sampler for an appetizer - veggies, pita, thick hummus, baba ghanoush, tasty falafel, and olives. There was also some feta that obviously I did not eat.

I got the garden wrap for my entree. It's actually an appetizer but I love it. It's rice paper wrappers stuffed with veggies, greens, and apples, with a plum sauce to dip.

I also got a side of veggies, because somehow, Roots makes the best grilled veggies ever.

There was so much food that I got to take some of it home for lunch today!

My mom got a grilled veggie and hummus sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries. Roots likes their sandwiches gigantic. And the fries are really, really good.

They offer both vegan and non-vegan tzaziki, so just ask.

Roots has a whole Thai menu, and my step-dad got Pad Kee Mao on spice level 5 out of 5. It was pretty spicy and delicious.

I didn't take a picture of my brother's meal because it wasn't vegan but he got a sandwich and a tropical smoothie. He loves the smoothies at Roots and always gets one.

So, next time you're in the vicinity of Bloomington, go to Roots (and Bloomingfoods).

After dinner my mom and I met a couple of her work friends at a bar.

I did not take either of these shots, I just posed with them.

Then I met up with some friends at another bar and saw about half the people I went to high school with. It was so weird! It was kind of cool, but only because it was a novelty. I wouldn't actually want to see them all on a regular basis.

The girl on the left has been my best friend since I was 12! She lives and goes to college in St. Louis now and is planning on moving to London or New York after graduation. Ahh, it's hard being separated from the people you love.

Me making a stupid face, nothing new.

Today I hung out with that same friend all day until 5:30 when I went with some friends and my brother to see True Grit. It was good! Definitely a Coen Brothers movie. If you have seen their movies, then you'll know what I mean.

Tomorrow is Christmas shopping! Yep, we shop late. Whatevaz.

How do you feel when you run into high school people? Are you still friends with your high school buddies? I thought it was weird, but interesting. I really only keep up with a couple of people from high school, and obviously I don't hang out with anyone regularly because I live very far away!

Also, please check out my last post and answer my questions about how you celebrate holidays with your family! I'd love to hear some other people's answers!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Family Whirlwind (or Blizzard?) in Northern Indiana

On Saturday night I went with my mom and step-dad to see Guster at the Bluebird. It was a great concert!

We left on Sunday morning along with my brother and his girlfriend (all crammed in one car) for North Manchester, Indiana, where my step-dad's family lives. We go there to celebrate Christmas every year.

We picked up some provisions at Bloomingfoods. I got the brussels sprouts and magic tofu - a delicious creation (that some have compared favorably to chicken nuggets, surprisingly) with garlic and onion powder, pepper, and nutritional yeast.

I snagged a bite of my mom's breakfast sandwich, which had a slice of vegan cheese, a vegan sausage, and a polenta circle in an English muffin. It's really good! I love the addition of polenta to a breakfast sandwich, and it kind of looks like eggs without trying to impersonate them.

First, we opened presents. I didn't request many presents so I got a couple little things, plus money. I really need money. =) Here I am with my In Style special edition. Why do I always have to make stupid faces?!

My step-grandma wanted to make us something vegan for dinner so she made this vegan chili. Isn't she nice?! She found a recipe and was so careful to follow it. She even called my mom saying she couldn't find "crumbles" and didn't know what they were but her son (my step-uncle) said she could crumble up veggie burgers and is that true? The end result was delicious, as you can see here:

One addition I loved was mushrooms. I'll be sure to put some in next time I make chili. This chili tasted really meaty. I totally trust her that she wouldn't sneak some meat in but if it was made by someone I trusted less, I might have been suspicious!

My mom and step-dad got a HUGE present. And by huge, I mean a BIG DEAL.

That's right, my mom is now the proud owner of a Vitamix. She spent the whole car ride home the next day reading the booklet and she can't stop talking about potential recipes. So I'm sure I'll get to share some cool Vitamix creations with you before this visit is over.

We spent Sunday night in a hotel - my mom and step-dad in one bed, and me, my brother (who is 6'4'', by the way), his girlfriend, and Buster, my brother's new puppy, in the other queen-size bed. Good thing we all have nothing against cuddling.

We stayed for breakfast and dancing the next morning:

That's my brother's (gorgeous) girlfriend, Buster, my step-cousin, and my mom.

Christmas #1, done. Two more to go - we'll have Christmas here with my mom and step-dad and then we'll go and celebrate with my dad and step-mom in Kansas. Except there won't be many presents because my mom and step-dad are selling their house and just bought another one so we're all pretty poor this year!

What holidays do you celebrate? We celebrate Christmas, but really only as a holiday of presents and hanging out with family. We aren't religious, but Christmas is fun!

Do you have multiple holiday celebrations to attend every year? We always go to North Manchester, and usually my celebrations with my mom and dad are separate.

Do you have a convoluted family, full of step- and half-relatives, like I do? I have a step-dad, a step-mom, plenty of step-relatives, and of course, my baby half-brother. But I think family is what you make it. I don't think you have to love or spend time with people who aren't good to you and instead we can all choose to love who we want and spend time with the people who treat us well.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Busy Hometown Week; Pumpkin Bread with Soy Flour

Oh man I have been so busy! I have barely even had a moment to use the computer and keep up with my blog reading, much less my blog writing!

On Wednesday (after blogging) I hung out with my brother and went and saw his new house. He is now watching four dogs - his new puppy, his roommate's new puppy, and my parent's two dogs.

Thursday was my mom and step-dad's 10-year wedding anniversary so we went out to celebrate! We saw The Tourist, the new movie with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. I liked it, most of all because it's absolutely gorgeous. For dinner we went to a Greek restaurant downtown that's a Bloomington institution called The Trojan Horse. Sorry for the terrible picture - I was trying to be inconspicuous - I got a veggie sandwich but subbed hummus for tzaziki. I ate about half and gave the rest to my step-dad. I also got a bite of his falafel sandwich and it was delicious.

Yesterday I went to my old high school to talk to the theater class about what it's like being an actor in LA. It went great and the students were really engaged and interested and asked thoughtful questions. Several of them said they dream of moving to LA, so I think I gave them some good information.

Last night we had a little party so I could see lots of people I haven't seen in a year. It was a blast and I was so glad to see my friends. We kept the party food extremely simple - chips, guacamole, hummus, salsa, broccoli, mushrooms, grapes, and strawberries. But my mom had a couple cans of pumpkin and some soy flour she wanted to use up, so we made some pumpkin bread that was a HUGE hit. My brother estimated that he ate eight pieces.

Pumpkin Bread with Soy Flour
2/3 cup soy flour, sifted
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves, ground
1/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
2 flax eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 tbsp water

Sift and measure soy flour and all-purpose flour.
Measure other dry ingredients except sugar, and sift together with flours. Set aside.
Mix applesauce and sugar, add flax eggs and beat until light. Blend in pumpkin and water.
Add dry ingredients in two portions, blending well after each addition.
Pour batter into a greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
Bake at 350 for 65-70 minutes. Remove immediately and let cool on a wire rack.

Note: Your dough will be super thick. So don't freak out!

The inside was doughy, the outside was crusty... it was amazing.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wasabi Dijon Quinoa Salad

I'm in Indiana! I took the red-eye on Monday night, got about two hours of sleep, and then stayed up all day to get myself on the new schedule. I went from my 85 degree weather to 8 degrees. Wow, I forgot what it felt like to be this cold.

I hung out with my family all day yesterday. It's so nice to see them again but it's also really weird being back in Indiana. I haven't been back in the year since I moved, but I lived in Bloomington from 2nd grade through college and all but the first four of those years were in the same house. My parents sold their house (they're closing next week) so it's all totally different. It's just weird how everything is familiar and strange at the same time.

Mom and I made a bunch of quinoa salad and roasted vegetables. Quinoa salad is so easy and variable. I think you'll enjoy this recipe.

Wasabi Dijon Quinoa Salad
2 cups cooked or sprouted quinoa
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1/4 cup soaked pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup Wasabi Dijon dressing
2 tbsp lemon juice
black pepper to taste

Cook your quinoa according to directions or use raw, sprouted quinoa. Let cool and mix with veggies, add pumpkin seeds and season to taste with dressing, lemon juice, and black pepper. This salad will stay good for days and tastes better the next day or after at least a few hours in the fridge, so the flavors can mix.

Of course, you could also use some wasabi and dijon mustard and maybe some agave instead of the Wasabi Dijon dressing.

Isn't that beautiful?

We also roasted up some veggies. Such a staple!

Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and carrots with garlic powder, seasoned salt, black pepper, basil, thyme, and rosemary. Roasted at 450 for 20 minutes, 500 for 10.

We put some Chipotle Parma! on the veggies, it's such an amazing topper for veggies, salads... everything. It's mostly made of walnuts and nutritional yeast (like Rawmesan, that I've discussed before) and it supplies Omega 3's and Vitamin B12. Oh yeah, and it's delicious and adds tons of flavor. :)

Links: Natalie Portman is the new face of Dior Miss Cherie perfume, and Dior made her vegan shoes for all the commercials because she refuses to wear leather. Man, I wish fancy brands would make non-leather shoes for the public. I still couldn't afford them but it would be great for awareness. Before I went vegan I really never even thought about the cruelty of leather.

What's the weather like where you are? Indiana is supposedly in for a big snow storm tomorrow and it hasn't been above 15 degrees since I got here. BRRRR!