Living in the Moment

Last year, on New Year's Eve, I was looking forward to ringing in the new year with good friends, a fancy dress, and a glass of champagne.  I was happily married, happily teaching, and optimistically anticipating a new year of change and growth in my life and for our family. 

It's hard to imagine that last year, as we rang in the new year with a balloon drop at the Bourre` Lounge, I was just a few short weeks of becoming pregnant.  The growth I highly anticipated for my life came in the form of 'Baby J' growing in my belly.  A baby boy that would change my year and my life forever. 

I think I have grown as a person more this year than any other.  It's called motherhood.    
I'm not much for New Year's resolutions, but this year, I want to be present.  2011 means going back to work and beginning to balance life as a mother, a wife, and a teacher.  Life is going to get busy and likely, stressful.  But in the mix of it all, I want to constantly remind myself to stay present, in the moment, and try to ignore the mundane details of life.  In the last three months, I've realized just how fast little babies change.  I want to be more than just there to see it happen.  I want to live in it, bathe in it, soak in it, until my skin wrinkles up like raisins.  It may sound cliche`, but my resolution is to live in the moment, watch my baby grow, and know that every expression, movement, and milestone is changing, shaping, and molding us into better people.     

This year, I'm looking forward to a night out on the town, a night out with good friends and an even better husband.  I'm more than ready to ring in the new year with a fancy dress, a mouth-watering meal, and a glass (or two) of the bubbly stuff.  And what makes this NYE even better than last year, is that I'll have a sweet baby boy sleeping soundly in his crib when we get home. 

The blessings of pictures of course...

January.  The test that started it all.

February.  I became an aunt for the first time.  Charly Grace.  

Warm weather and a growing belly.  March.

News of a baby BOY.  May. 

A Babymoon.  Kansas City.  June.  

A Master's Degree.  June.  

A trip to the Lone Star State.  July. 

A bigger belly.  July.  

A whole lotta this.  Summer.  

A belly ready to pop.  September. 

Hello, birthday month.  We made it to October.  

We made it to this.  October 12.  2010.  

The rest is history.  Hello, baby.  

Here's to much love and happiness in 2011.  It's going to be a great one.  

7 More Gluten-Free Vegan Dinners!

Hey everyone, I hope you had a fun, relaxing, and enjoyable Christmas! B and I sure did, it was pretty low-key and we basically just got a ton of fun stuff for Avery! We are super-excited for next year when she will be here with us! Anyways, awhile back I posted 7 Gluten-Free Vegan Dinners that I have in my "cooking rotation" and now it's time for 7 more! These are some of my tried and true classics, and many of them are vegan versions of traditional comfort food (sloppy joes, meatballs, and meatloaf just to name a few). And as I mentioned before in the other post, I am not able to post the exact recipe for some of these (since that would be breaking the author's copyright) but I can at least tell you where you can find the recipe (most often in vegan/gluten-free cookbooks). If you want to learn more about how I balance my food for the day, be sure to check out that original post. Time to move on to the recipes!

Bean and Quinoa Chili
Bean & Quinoa Chili
So this is one of my favorite meals, not only because it tastes good, but because of how good it is for you! Quinoa is a super-grain in how it is one of the highest protein grains, so it's perfect for vegetarians and vegans. I talk more about it on this post from awhile back. Either way, this is a perfect chili for those cold wintery nights! It also makes a great item to take to family get-togethers as many of our meat-loving extended family enjoyed snacking on it this Christmas! I got the recipe from the book: Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Cooking by Susan O'Brien on page 132. How you make it is saute a variety of peppers, onions, carrots, and tomatoes, add some beans, then quinoa…done! Here’s my modifications to the recipe (sorry I couldn't find it online, so you will have to check the book out from the library): -only do 1 can of black beans (or if you’re using dry beans…the “green” way to go… then all you need is a ½ cup dry), the recipe calls for 2 cans, and that was just a little too much beans for us! One of our favorite ways to eat this is to dip corn tortilla chips in it, like a bean dip. You could also put it on a tortilla shell. Delicious!

So good with corn tortilla chips!

Meatless Meatloaf and Mashed Sweet Potatoes
I discovered this recipe around Thanksgiving and it served as a great alternative for us when everyone else was eating carcass (I mean turkey…hehe!) No really, it hit the spot of “warming-comfort food” that is truly appreciated during the holiday season. The recipe originally came from Susan O’Brien’s The Gluten-Free Vegan and it was called, “No-Meat Meatballs”. I found it on this website and I modified it just a tiny bit more. Ask my husband or brother (a recently converted vegetarian...go Andrew!), and it’s best with mashed potatoes (as the author on the website mentions).
Click here for step-by-step pictures of the recipe.

Sloppy Joes
This next recipe comes from a book that really got the "vegan" ball rolling for me...Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnioun and Rory Freedman. This recipe actually comes from their book Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Kick-Ass Recipes for Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!) which gives some spunk to any boring vegan meals you've had in the past. Granted, this cookbook tends to rely a lot on soy-based meat and cheese alternatives, but nonetheless, there are still some creative and yummy recipes in here that are great in moderation. Now despite much Googling, I was unable to find any info on it online, so I'm afraid you will have to check the book out from the library. Basically the "meat" is made up of green peppers, celery, onions, mushrooms, tomato sauce, Bragg's Liquid Aminos, ketchup, and textured vegetable protein (or TVP as most people call it). To make this gluten I put my sloppy joe on Rudi's Multi-Grain Gluten-Free bread, and I love having it with these delicious Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips! Yum!

Potato, Corn and Black Bean Stew
This awesome wintery-soup comes from the book Vegan with Venegenance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and was originally called, "Chipotle, Corn, and Black Bean Stew" and I changed it because when I first made it I couldn't find any chipolte peppers, so I switched it out for a roasted red pepper and tweaked the name...because I love the potato chunks in it!  Luckily I was able to to find it for you online at this website. A tip I've found is that sometimes it may seem a little bland tasting and instead of pouring tons of salt on it, you could try using lime juice...I've found it gives it a nice spunk in flavor that salt usually helps with. Lately I've tried adding some powdered chipotle powder in it now to give it a nice little kick .Enjoy this on a cold winter night...and with some organic tortilla chips (can you tell I like to have these chips with a lot of my Mexican soups?!).

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew
So this is one delicious soup that was originally printed in my local newspaper and although it seems like an odd combo of ingredients...they combine really well! Who would have thought...cinnamon, cumin, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas, but trust me, it's great! I was lucky enough to find the recipe here on this website as created by Beverly Mills.

Chickpea & Sweet Potato Stew

Spaghetti and Beanballs 
Spaghetti is one of my favorite meals and when I first saw this recipe in the book The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook by Cathe Olson, I was taken back by the title: "Beanballs". It sounds a little strange, but it tastes great and it gives you some good protein (without having to have a Mexican meal). Luckily, I was able to find a copy of this recipe posted on this blog. But I have made my own tweaks to it to make it gluten-free and Italian-style. So instead of 1 slice of whole grain bread I use 2 gluten-free (plain/natural flavor) waffles. I will toast them and tear them into bread crumbs. Here is the brand I like to use. Another modification I make is that I sometimes omit the parsley as it can be a bit strong if you're not add it to suit your own taste. To make them more Italian, I follow the recipes recommendation of adding the following: 1 Tbs. dried oregano, 1 Tbs. dried basil, 1 Tbs. garlic salt, and 2 Tbs. spaghetti sauce. I then blend all of these ingredients together in the food processor and then roll into 1 inch balls (you could go bigger or smaller) and place them on a baking sheet. Here's my cooking times (different from the recipe): Cook for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees, then rotate and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Next take them out of the oven and add more spaghetti sauce on top of them. You can vary the cooking time depending upon if you like them softer or more's up to you. I then made up a batch of Tinkyada pasta (my favorite gluten-free pasta) and some organic spaghetti sauce and topped it with these awesome beanballs. ( :

So I hope that has given you some yummy gluten-free, vegan dinner ideas that you could try out. Feel free to modify or change any of the ingredients to suit your taste or dietary needs, I know I like to treat recipes as a starting point and from there I get to be creative, so have fun! If you try one of the recipes, leave me some feedback below I'd love to hear what you thought! ( :

What is a Green Wedding?

Cotton Bride
 Does is mean that everyone is wearing green to the wedding?

No, is the motif Green?

No, guess again.

Did you know - each one of the 2.5 million weddings this year in the United States will produce an average of 62 tons of carbon dioxide and 400-600 lbs of garbage.

If you think of all the material goods that go into a wedding: flowers flown in from different countries (fuel costs, boxes, shipping), packets of rice in plastic slips, wedding favors made of plastic and other non organic materials, bleached wedding dresses, tons of tulle (synthetic fabrics are mixed in tulle aside from silk) and mountains of paper products, the list goes on forever. It's green road kill.

Everyone knows the average wedding in America costs $40,000 so I am sure you are wondering how can I have an eco-friendly wedding and not spend a zillion dollars?

Well, sometimes the best effort is in small steps so if you can't do an entire eco-friendly wedding try to make a couple changes.

The most important item in a wedding - the Wedding Dress - there are many sites that sell organic wedding dresses:

  • Thread Connections - made to order dresses with price ranges from $500 - $2,700. If you live in Knoxville, TN make an appointment at their studio.
  • Get Conscious Clothing - Hemp wedding dresses and bridal dresses, made to order, price range varies by store but they are offering 50% - 75% off. If you live in San Francisco you can visit one of their retail locations.
  • The Natural Bride Collection - Morgan Boszilkov presents the Natural Bridal Collection, an eco-friendly alternative to a designer wedding gown made with traditional material. Not sure of her price range but her studio is located in Atlanta, GA.
  • The Cotton Bride - designer collection of cotton wedding dresses in the most sophisticated styles - Made in the USA. Prices range from $1,000 to $5,000 and beyond. Most are in the $2,000 category (which is the average price for a wedding dress). This is my favorite because the designs are deliciously green and great for spring, summer or weddings in warmer climates. Location NYC.
    Cotton Bride
  • Blushless - high end couture and ready to wear ethically responsible bridal dresses. Located in Germany and UK. If you have the green to spend then at least you are doing your part to save the planet.
Encore Bridal offers Vintage Wedding Gowns as another alternative for those of you that don't want a custom made creation or love the vintage look.

Stay tuned for more on Green Weddings and Eco-Marital Bliss with Mary Green.


I'm not going to go into a lot of detail when it comes to describing our Christmas this year.  I want to lock it away in this little chest of memories I've been storing in the back of my brain, memories to sit beside the day of our wedding, the beach lounging days of Mexico, and the days of and following Cruz's birth.  This Christmas ranks with the best of days and there just aren't a lot of words to describe it.  I only hope years from now, I look back and remember the love I felt, as well as the smiles plastered on the faces of our family.

Especially the sweet smiles from this little guy.     

Cruz loved Christmas.  The last couple of weeks, he's been so responsive to people, to noise, to lights, and to attention, a perfect combination to come at Christmas time.  His eyes were big as we opened brightly colored packages in front of him, and he smiled when he saw the surprises awaiting inside.  His favorite gifts this year were the books and light-up toys.  It's as if he knew they were especially for him.  Beau and I passed him back and forth all weekend, taking our turns experiencing this with him.  Our gifts, although very much appreciated and enjoyed, didn't compare to the gift of watching Cruz experience his first Christmas.  He was far more alert and into it than I ever pictured.  

What I will always remember about this first Christmas of ours...

...the snow.  The storybook snow that started Christmas Eve and didn't quit.  The big flakes that danced in the air and took their sweet time landing on the cold ground while I got the house ready for Christmas.  The giant icicles that looked better than Christmas lights, and the sparkle on the earth as we left the candlelight service at church.  I've never remembered a Christmas snow more beautiful than this one.  I felt like we were living in a snow globe!

...Orchard.  Our first Christmas Eve candlelight service as a family.  The dimmed lights, the incredible music, the white Chinese lanterns hung from the ceiling, and the Christmas carols sung in the atrium.  I will never forget snuggling with Cruz during the service, holding him tight as the Christmas story was read, and thinking about a cold night in Bethlehem, and a sweet little baby born two thousand years ago. 

Cruz slept through a good part of the service, but loved the candles lit at the end.  The peace and power that resonated in that building was incredible.  At the end of the service, before anyone could leave, Pastor Dave gave the congregation one last assignment.  He said that oftentimes, Christmas comes and goes so fast, and in all of our time with our family, we fail to hold them close and tell them how much we love them.  That was our assignment.  To have one, tiny little moment with our family before leaving to celebrate the holidays.  I witnessed 85 year old couples embrace as if they were 16 again, sons hug fathers for the first time in years, and little girls whisper, 'I love you,' in their grandpas' ears.   

...the way the house smelled when we got home from church.  It is tradition to cook a big, fancy meal for our own little Christmas.  Our Christmas menu this year included stracotta, an Italian pot roast with a red wine and porchini mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, and a salad with cranberries, toasted almonds, and a balsamic vinegarette dressing.  The (four) of us ate dinner at the table.  Our changing table pad has become quite useful and versatile, especially when it comes to meal prep and eating! 

...It's a Wonderful Life on TV, a glass of red wine, and a new pair of pirate pajamas for Cruz.  This was our first Christmas Eve at home, our first one as a family.  We opened presents, read a few books, and did our best to slow down time.  Cruz loved his interactive manger ornament, and plastic camera (go figure).  It was funny to open gifts I had purchased and wrapped just days before, but fulfilling to know it was the start of a new tradition for us.   

...So many cute presents for the Cruz man!  He was spoiled by his family, and since his presents are officially more fun than mine, I feel spoiled too!  I spent two hours yesterday reorganizing his closet and playing with his toys.  He is mesmerized by his laptop from Charly, and thinks his 'pillow pal' blankie is pretty snugly.  He got his first long underwear stocking from his Grandpa Ray and Grandma Mary, lots of Gap clothes and books to add to his collection from Grandma Kelly and Grandpa Curt, and a special rocking horse from Great Grandma and Grandpa Hoodjer.  The only toy he was a little skeptical of was a little drum that plays music.  After a total meltdown with big tears and all, we decided we better put that away for a few months!

...a long, drawn out Christmas at my mom and dad's.  We had to take a break in the middle of presents to let the little ones nap!  It was kind of crazy to think that last Christmas, Charly wasn't even born and I wasn't even pregnant!  I don't know how many times Mom commented that, 'this was the Christmas she always dreamed of!'    

...A weekend of a whole lot of this...

This morning (or afternoon now), as I sit in pajamas amidst boxes, receipts, spit-up stained blankets, and the remnants of all-that-was-Christmas, I know that all too soon, the Christmas tree with the little lights that Cruz has loved for over a month will get stored away, the presents will find a place, and I will be back to work.  And as another year begins and new resolutions are made, I hope I can keep all-that-was-Christmas a part of our family all year long.