9 ways to enjoy leave

This week I made my maternity leave indefinite and said my goodbyes to Whole Foods. I am so lucky and blessed by this opportunity and here are some of the things I  look forward to most...

1. Baking for fun .When I baked 8 hours a day for someone else, I hardly ever wanted to come home and play with food. Since I started my leave I love being in the kitchen!. Here are a few of the treats I have been making, with many more to come.

2. Eating breakfast. I was never good at waking up an extra 30 minutes earlier; its hard when you have to be at work at 5:30 in the morning. Now I can enjoy and savor the most important meal of the day. Check out the recipe for one of my favorite ways to start the day: granola.

3. Family walks. One of my favorite developments since Eden's birth is the family walk. Nearly every morning Jason, Eden, Swede, and I start our day with a brisk walk around our neighborhood.

4. Sharing life with Eden. I am so lucky to re-experience childhood through Eden's eyes. I love to watch her grow and learn. Currently she is discovering how hands can be useful.

5. Eden sharing my life. Likewise I am thrilled to teach Eden and show her all my joys in life as she hangs out with me in her wrap.

6. Weekends. I don't think Jason and I have shared weekends together since I've been working as a baker. Oh the things we can do!

7. Dinner. Time and energy to be creative with dinner is very exciting. There were a lot of sad dinners when I could hardly stomach water during my pregnancy and a lot of quick dinners when life was too chaotic to cook.

8. Wednesdays at Fern Creek. I look forward to our weekly trip out to my parent's farm. Eden gets to spend time with family while learning about food and where it comes from.

9. Travel with Jason.  He's always going cool places for work and finally Eden and I can join him. Eden loves living large in hotel rooms, as you can see, and there are many more in her future.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

9 adventures of Eden

Traveling with an infant child and catching up with wonderful friends makes blogging difficult. Today is for Eden, who has done outstanding on this trip, but needs a little extra Mama time. And while she sleeps in my wrap I present to you my list:

1. Eden joins the world.

2. Eden is welcomed home

3. Eden and her BFF

4. Eden goes on a walk

5. Eden's first boyfriend

6. Eden enjoys the sun

7. Eden gets kissed

8. Eden stays at the JW Marriott

9. And after a long day,
Eden passes out

Monday, April 9, 2012

9 cheap ways to decorate

I'm always working on making our house less shabby and more chic with little or no money. This involves checking out blogs, like apartment therapy or thrifty decor chic or my friend's new blog luminous homes, and many books from the library. My efforts have been minimal, but enough for this weeks list.

1. Photography. These are pictures I took in Honduras of the street markets that I printed, matted, and framed. The entire cost to finish these prints was around thirty-five dollars and now these originally digital pictures have become art on my kitchen wall.

2. Pillows. There are all kinds of tutorials for throw pillows and pillow covers online. Martha Stewart has many great ideas here. Great fabric on old pillows will easily freshen up a room.

3.Curtains. Remember the nursery curtains? This very simple sewing project adds so much character and color to Eden's room saving me the many trips to thrift stores searching for acceptable and affordable wall art.

4. Chests. We picked this up at goodwill for 10 dollars. It works perfectly as a coffee table in our den giving the room a unique rustic aesthetic while providing extra storage for our small house.

5. Color. When we bought our house it was small, dark,and old. By investing in the time to paint we brought light and energy into our home, opening it up and giving it new life.

6. Windows. There are so many decorative uses for old window frames. When we were finishing our basement we ripped out a couple old windows, original to the house (1929). I turned it into a great wall hanging for Eden's room. This website has many many more and mostly awesome ideas for windows.

7. Mason Jars. I may have mentioned my love for mason jars once or twice. There is just so many decorative things you can do with them: candle holding, kitchen organizing, herb growing, light giving, and they are so cheap!

8. Crates. I have wooden crates all over my house for extra kitchen shelving, toy boxes, and craft storage, etc . I like the look and their dual purpose of accent and use.

9. Fabric. There are all kinds of way to display fabric and liven up the walls. I have seen people use embroidery hoops to hang fabric like here. So simple and easy it may just have to be one of my next projects

Saturday, March 31, 2012

9 diy gifts

Several years ago I made a commitment to only give handmade gifts, both because it forces me to be creative and I believe it is a responsible way to care for our environment and people around the world by limiting our consumer's desire. While I have not been entirely successful I keep making the effort, and as birthdays and baby showers and housewarmings give me a lot opportunity to celebrate and give, I figured I ought to dedicate a list to gifts and hopefully it will keep me inspired (and some of you) to give creatively and generously.

1. Knit hat and scarf. Last Christmas I made three scarves and Jason made three hats for our three nieces. We used yarn lying around the house and only the most basic knitting skills to complete these cute combos.

2. Gift Baskets. Always an occasion and with endless themes, a gift basket always makes a nice gift whether it's a celebration for a baby, a new parent, a housewarming, or a valentines special. Here is a good website I found with several different basket ideas.

3. Chocolate Truffles. If I'm not making candy in my kitchen in December it just does not feel like Christmas. Over the past five years I have been working on my vegan truffle recipes and gifting them around holidays. I am planning on making them available for sale next Christmas season.

4. Napkins and Placemats. A simple sewing pattern, scratch fabric, and such a wonderful housewarming or wedding gift. I have made a handful of these sets over the years but yet to have two matching napkins in my own house.

5. Homemade Meal. I enjoy gifting my parents with homemade feasts highlighting different countries of the world. I thoroughly love the process of the gift as well as the opportunity to spend time with my folks.

6. Bath Products. A great gift for a new mother or newly pregnant woman, there are all kinds of recipes for bath salts, scrubs, lotions, bubbles, and soaps.

7.Mason Jars. I got this idea of pinterest from this website.There is such a variety of things that fit into a mason jar, check it out. And after all the goods are consumed, the receiver has mason jars and has the possibility to continue the cycle of gifts in a jar.

8. Recipe Book. Early on when I went vegan I went through a cookbook addiction where I bought unnecessary amounts of cookbooks and studied them. Pretty soon I wanted to start sharing all the amazing recipes I was finding, so I started making recipe boxes for my friends and family.

9. Coupons. Everyone one loves a coupons packet. Back rubs, babysitting, date night, etc. When in doubt, make a coupon.

Monday, March 26, 2012

9 simple vegan substitutions

One of the most common questions I am asked as a vegan baker is, "and this is vegan?", which always makes me smile because I try very hard to change the way people think vegan food should taste. Vegan food is not all dry and cardboard-textured and it never has to be. Likewise, there is no need to eat super-processed food if you have a craving for something cheesy or meat-like. There are many things that can be done right at home.
Here's a quick list of my favorite substitutions:

1. Because Coconut Milk is so rich and fatty, it makes an excellent substitution for heavy cream. The most basic components for a pastry cook, ganache, caramel, or whipped cream are all improved with coconut milk.

2. Also creamy and fatty, Cashews can be ground and used for many types of non-dairy custards and cheeses. Follow these links to find recipes for hard cheese, ricotta cheese and nacho cheese. And check next week when I attempt a cashew pastry cream.

3. The great nutty and cheese flavor of Nutritional Yeast makes it a good substitute for
soft cheeses, creamy Alfredo-like sauces, or vegetable gravy. Also a very good source of B12 so vegans, sprinkle that on everything!

4. It would be hard (not impossible) to be a vegan without Tofu as I so easily substitutes for such a variety of foods. Depending on the type, tofu can be the invisible firming base in chocolate mousse, the spongy egg in frittata, the meaty substance of a TLT (tofu, lettuce, and tomato), and so so much more. I love you, tofu.

5. Flax seeds makes a wonderful egg replacement when baking. For each egg blend 1 tablespoon flax seed with 3 tablespoons water until the mixture is thick with an egg-y consistency. Also a great way to sneak a little health into some chocolate chip pecan cookies.

6. How many types of Non-dairy milk are there? Soy, hemp, oat, hazelnut, almond, rice, I forgetting any? No matter the allergies, preferences, or dietary limitations, there is a milk out for everyone. I found a quick, simplified overview of different non-dairy milks and their uses here.

7. Try Texture Vegetable Protein in lieu of ground beef. It tastes so much better (says my meat-eating friends). My favorite way to use TVP is for tacos. Check back later this week when I have my full taco recipe up.

8. For a soy-free, high protein meat substitute try Seitan. There are all kinds of ways to prepare this mock-meat. In fact I found an online cookbook dedicating to the making of and cooking with seitan. Next Thanksgiving I'm making this.

9. Made from fermented brown rice, Brown Rice Syrup is a healthful alternative for sugar and honey. It can be replaced for both sweet and savory but must be adjusted in the recipe as it is about two thirds as sweet as white sugar and one third as sweet as honey.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

9 hopes for my 30s

If I've learned anything from my twenties it is that life is unpredictable. But it doesn't hurt to have dreams, right?

1. Have a second child. It is a bit crazy that I'm already thinking about this, but I do want one more chance to grow and birth a child.

2. International travel. With Jason's job we will have several opportunities for travel in Africa. I also plan on traveling around the U.K. this decade as it is where most my roots begin.

3. Publish my cookbook. I am hoping that a decade is long enough to teach me enough discipline so that I can translate my love for food and photography into a tangible collection.

4. Write a memoir. My story of the last 15 months is one I will never to forget. I was changed so dramatically in the most unexpected and unplanned ways. For nothing other than a written record, I must find the time to put it down in words.

5. Read my classics list. At one book a year, I will be finished
with a year to spare.

6. Piano lessons. For years I have played around on the piano, refining the few songs I know and for years I have wished I was better.

7. U.S. road trip. I dream that someday Jason and I will take Swede and Eden across the country, visiting our friends along the way as we explore this expansive and eclectic country.

8. Play poker in Vegas. I have never been to Vegas and although I would be horrified in many different ways, there would be a part of me that just might love it.

9. Learn the art of gardening. After two unsuccessful years, I think the time has come to read some books and change my technique.

Monday, March 12, 2012

9 events of my twenties

The decade of my twenties is almost over. The last ten years were full of pain and challenges but more importantly wisdom, joy, and faith, ultimately becoming a very remarkable decade.

1.Central America. In college I spent four months living and traveling around Honduras. The time spent studying the culture, politics, and history of Central America became pivotal in shaping who I am as a global citizen of this world.

2. Marriage. Almost six years ago I entered into a marriage partnership with Jason. Marriage, more than anything else, has grown and shaped me into the person I want to be.

3. Kizzy and Oscar. As our first two members of the Fileta/McMinn clan, our cats have taught me how extremely rewarding sharing life with animals can be. Click here if you need proof.

4. Veganism. Among the best decisions I have made in my twenties, veganism allows me to live a life full of compassion, health, and tofu.

5. Egypt. Jason and I spent almost a month exploring his roots while walking the streets of Cairo, visiting wonders of the world, and climbing Mount Sinai in the middle of the night.

6. Tattoos. Not necessarily life changing,
but three permanent reminders of my twenties.

7. Culinary School. Perhaps not the right choice, but I did it nonetheless and as I grow into my thirties I am interested to see if and how this decision shapes my career.

8. Swede. As the fifth member to the Fileta/McMinn family, Swede has added joy, companionship,and love while fulfilling my life long dream of living with and caring for a dog.

9. Eden. The 6th member of our family and showing up just two months before this decade came to an end, Eden has been the greatest accomplishment of my young life.

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