Hello hello everyone! I hope that all of you out there in the Internets had a fantastic and delicious T-day celebration! Last week, I asked if you’d like to see a recap of my Thanksgiving, or if you thought maybe you’d be burned out on gravy and stuffing by now. But the answer was a resounding “YES!”, and so I present to you —> My 2013 Thanksgiving, in pictures . . .
Well first things first, and first comes coffee of course. A little note here: yes yes, I go back and forth on coffee. I’m on it, I’m off it, I’m on it again. Don’t bother trying to keep track, haha, because I certainly can’t. I know in the long run my body does better with tea, but for special occasions and when I’m traveling . . . oh gosh I just really really love coffee!
And I was traveling! Me and Waits and my sweetheart all went down to Orange County to spend the holiday at my aunt and uncle’s house. They’re not vegan, but they’re very accommodating, and basically gave us free reign to cook an entire gluten-free vegan Thanksgiving dinner alongside them while they cooked their traditional Thanksgiving dinner, in their less-than-large kitchen. It was so fun! But I’m getting ahead of myself, because first came breakfast.
Waits had oatmeal cooked in almond milk, with cinnamon and maple syrup, and a side of grapes. Plus more almond milk for drinking.
My man and I each had a few pieces of toast, made with The Best Gluten-Free Bread On The Planet™ (it’s official, the search is over) slathered in Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cream cheese. This stuff is a rare treat ’round these parts – just perfect for a holiday morning!
After we were all breakfasted up, I took Waits upstairs to take a bath and get ready for the day ahead. I knew it would be a long many hours indoors, so I wanted to make sure we got out to the park to burn off some energy first. It was such a beautiful day! Gotta love Thanksgiving in southern California.
An hour at the park running, jumping, and splashing in the water was just what we needed. And once we were back at the house, it was time to get down to business. Kitchen business.
Prepping the kale. (As an aside, anyone else find men who can cook extremely attractive? Jeepers!) We made Isa’s Kale Salad With Butternut and Lentils from this CNN holiday article. It was great!
Brussels (baking sheet 1 of 2) all prepped and ready to roast. Also, note the second round of coffee brewing in the back . . .
While we worked, more family arrived!
Oh these two. That’s my granny on the right, age 87, and her sister on the left, age 94. They both have trouble seeing and hearing, but they’re non-stop gossip the second they get together. It’s completely adorable.
Snacking on hummus and carrots while we work.
This is a dish I haven’t eaten since going vegan, but it was a staple on every single Thanksgiving plate before then. It’s a simple, old-school “recipe” that basically involves four ingredients: petite peas, green onions, mayonnaise, and bacon.
This year I veganized it! I subbed in coconut bacon and Follow Your Heart’s Vegenaise (the BEST vegan mayo, cross my heart) and it was amaaaaazing. I know I know, it’s not the healthiest dish. But it tastes like nostalgia and decadence and holiday delight, and to have a vegan version made me happier than you can imagine.
There was champagne.
I made a big batch of Traditional “Dandied” Yams, which is an old favorite.
The roasted Brussels sprouts were finished off in the pan, with sautéed mushrooms, green onions, and coconut cream.
Our main dish was a creative experiment borne from the depths of my sweetheart’s mind. Tofu cutlets, marinated for 2 days, hollowed out on one side. Each hollow cavern filled with a paste of thick cashew cream, oven-roasted garlic, rosemary, and a bit of Earthbalance. Two caverns married to create a sealed center, all tied up with green onions like a little present, neat and tidy and stuffed with garlic-y rosemary creamy goodness.
Can we take a moment to reflect on this gravy?
My man made it from scratch – gluten-free scratch – late late after work on Tuesday night. This gravy has 4 different types of mushrooms (button, crimini, porcini, and morel), pan-toasted flours (for full depth of flavor) turned into a roux, stock and nooch and sage and thyme and I wish I knew what all went into this gravy! While he cooked I was busy working on The BEST Gifts For Vegan Kids Of All Ages, and when he finished it was after midnight, and he brought it over to my computer, and handed me the spoon . . .
I think my exact words were: “I want to eat all of it. I want to eat a bowl of gravy soup.”
Or maybe something along the lines of “So what are you eating on Thanksgiving? ‘Cause this is all mine right here!”
By the time Thursday rolled around, the flavors had mingled and melded and omg, this gravy was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.
Well, for us at least. Wee Waits ate . . . bread. Have you ever heard of a kid who doesn’t like Thanksgiving food??! But no, not for this little guy. He ate bread with dinner and then later, a bowl of leftover lentils. *sigh*
Much later, when our bellies and bodies had had a bit of time to rest, we pulled out the pies. We’d gotten a store-bought pie this year, a gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie which tasted fantastic but ended up being . . . less than firm? We were having trouble serving it, until my sweetie, genius-as-he-is, plopped the whole sucker down in a cup. Brilliant!
Topped with vegan rice whip, of course.
And what about you guys? Did you have a delicious plant-based Thanksgiving? What was your very favorite dish??
♥ ♥ ♥
I’ve never done a post like this before, but I get requests every year. So this time around, I’ve scoured the Internet to find the very most awesome gifts and goodies for every vegan kiddo that you know and love, from babies all the way up to tweens. Half of these items are things we own, and they come with the Waits Rebhal seal of super-fun approval. The other half are things that I’ve discovered, vetted, and can solemnly swear that I’m truly coveting. They all come with the Sayward stamp of eco-friendly/non-toxic/cruelty-free/hippie mama-bear approval!
And just to be upfront, the links in this post are, as usual, affiliate links. That means that if you like this site and you’d like to support my work, you can click through the links and I’ll get a small commission on anything you buy. If you’re not comfortable using affiliate links, I get that, and I’m not trying to trick anyone here. So just open a new browser window and manually search for the item. Sound good? Okay – here we go!
For the Babies:
1. Under The Nile’s Organic Fruit Basket.
Waits has grown up playing with this set. It was a snuggly when he was wee, a teether when he was teething, and a playset once he got old enough to want to help in the kitchen. And it came to us by Bonzai Aphrodite, actually, when a reader sent it to me after I announced my pregnancy. Come to think of it, I think this was Waits’s very first official toy ever! Aww *tear*
Oh and look, apparently they have an organic veggie crate too! So cute! Both are 100% organic cotton and certified fair trade.
2. Art for the Nursery or Plush Toys from Panda With Cookie.
Panda With Cookie is a vegan crafter from back home in P-town. I first became familiar her at Vida Vegan Con #1, where she was showing off her adorable plush tofu pirate toys. I love her creativity and unique creations, and I love the idea of supporting vegan artists. Check out her super sweet framed art and her incredible plush toys (oh my god the fox family!)
3. Anything by Earth Mama Angel Baby.
I used this line exclusively when Waits was little, both for him as a sensitive newborn baby, and for me as a healing postpartum mama. The whole EMAB line is vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic, and as organic as possible. I loved all their stuff, but was especially fond of the Angel Baby Bottom Balm, the Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash, the Angel Baby Body Oil. And for mama-to-be, the Natural Stretch Oil.
For the Kiddos:
4. These Crayon Rocks in an Eco Box look like so much fun!
They’re basically just super fat crayons, but their unique shape is designed to strengthen the three-fingered grip in toddlers. I love that they’re non-toxic, they’re made from American-grown soy bean wax and made in America, and they’re colored with natural mineral powders. Perfect!
5. Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice
One of our favorite books of all time! Waits first got this book when he was too young to understand it, but I’ve been reading it to him as he grows up and it’s become one of his very favorites. The art is gorgeous, the story is fun and poignant, and it’s written by an amazing woman and author – Nathalie VanBalen. Best of all, it’s currently on sale for only $10! By the way, that’s not an affiliate link, so feel free to click on through. Nathalie is the bees knees and really deserves your support!
6. This incredible Organic Edible Finger Paint.
What a fantastic concept! I mean, we all know they eat it anyway, right?! Which is why We Can Too made their paints not only non-toxic, but absolutely food-based edible. Made in the USA from rice flour, rice cereal, and fruit and vegetable powders. They’re even wheat-free!
7. The super-cool Allermate’s Vegan Wristband power bracelet!
Waits loves this bracelet, he says it has magic powers. I love it because it tells the whole world that he’s vegan, and helps to remind him to ask before he eats anything. This is a functional gift that’s perfect for a wee vegan starting day care or preschool. And it may be functional, but it’s far from boring. Like I said – Waits has imagined this into quite the magical little toy.
8. Fun and fantastical Organic Edible Sidewalk Chalk.
This stuff just looks delicious, doesn’t it? Swirly pastel creamsickle chalk made from edible bentonite clay and colored with spirulina, spinach powder, beet powder, annatto powder, blueberry powder, turmeric, pumpkin powder, and organic blue food coloring. Naturally wheat-free, non-toxic, and totally full of fun!
9. The Eco Friendly Artist’s Travel Kit from BeginAgain.
We’ve had this kit for a few years now, and Waits absolutely adores it. Like, really really really adores it. It comes with a sketch pad made from recycled paper, a set of soy-based crayons, a recycled-materials ruler, and a bunch of recycled-materials stencils, all wrapped up in an eco-friendly canvas case. This is truly one of our favorites, and after a few years it’s proved itself quite durable to boot!
10. These flippin’ adorable shoes, the Earthwise Tiny Vegan Classics in Cranberry, by TOMS.
Hoooooly cuteness Batman! These mini TOMS come in sizes 2 (infant) through 11 (kid), made of canvas and rubber, and like all TOMS they’re super easy to get on and off. Plus you know, the whole donate-a-pair-of-shoes-to-someone-in-need-thing.
11. The untouchable V Is For Vegan, by Ruby Roth.
This book is SPECTACULAR. We have her first book, That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, which is aimed at slightly older kiddos. But V Is For Vegan is the absolute perfect primer for introducing vegan children to the many important concepts that make up their unique lifestyle. The art is amazing (as always – Roth is really talented) and the rhyming alphabet theme of the book makes it a pleasure to read. I couldn’t recommend it more!
12. The coolest clothing on the block, from Herbivore of course!
Herbivore makes amazing vegan tees – and more – for big vegans and little vegans alike. They have a variety of onesies and tees for vegan kiddos, all screen-printed with beautiful messages of compassion. Browse the site and support some truly amazing people – and hey, you may just stumble upon some pictures of wee Waits playing model!
13. Um, did you know there was a vegan board game called Fur and Feathers??!
Okay, so this game is for kids ages 6 and up and my little man was definitely too young to really grasp it. We had fun throwing dice around and messing with the pieces, sure. But that’s not the point. Later, I was able to explore this game on my own and basically, I can’t wait for Waits to be old enough to play with me! And in the meantime I have a game date with my not-boyfriend . . .
I love the concept of this game, which is to teach children about the importance of being kind to animals and the many ways that our daily choices impact the lives of other beings. But Fur And Feathers isn’t heavy or negative! Instead it’s just a friendly jaunt around the board, adopting shelter companions, learning fun facts about animals, and ordering cruelty-free foods at restaurants. Such important lessons, and really such a creative way of teaching them. Available in the Vegan Cuts Marketplace.
For the Pre-Tweens:
14. This safe and sassy Non-Toxic Kid-Friendly Nail Polish by Hopscotch.
This would be perfect for children, sure, but I also kinda want to get some for myself! This stuff is pretty amazing: it’s non-toxic, vegan (duh), cruelty-free, gluten-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and comes in about a million different colors. Whew!
15. Perfect for readers a little bit older: Steven the Vegan.
This book is geared towards elementary school children, and aims to help them explain to their peers why they are vegan. It’s such an important topic and one that can be pretty difficult for kids at such a vulnerable age. I’ve already started reading this to Waits and although he’s young, I know that we’re building a foundation for his future. As for now, he loves the cheerful cartoon-style illustrations and enjoys the general story line, which follows a class field trip to a sanctuary. Available in the Vegan Cuts Marketplace.
16. This adorable “Cruelty Free” Bunny Necklace.
For the vegan pre-teen girl in your life, be she daughter, niece, or friend, you can’t go wrong with this beautiful little bunny pendant. Made from recycled aluminum and hand stamped with the words “Cruelty Free”, this necklace provides a chic and subtle way to wear your ethics on display. Available in the Vegan Cuts Marketplace.
For All Ages:
17. A Vegan Cuts Snack Box Subscription!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Waits and I ADORE this monthly service. Every few weeks a box arrives on our doorstep, chock full to the brim with delicious and delightful vegan goodies. You should see Waits’s eyes light up when he sees a new box has arrived!
This really is a gift that keeps on giving, every month, over and over. It’s unique and unexpected and I guarantee, it’ll be a hit.
18. Stocking Stuffers! May I suggest Chewy Banana Bites, or a 6-pack of Rescue Chocolates, or an Om Nom Nom Cookie Sampler? Or if you’re feeling less like sugar, how about a sample pack of Vegan Cuts-inspired temporary tattoos? All available in the Vegan Cuts Marketplace.
So no matter the age, there’s an awesome gift out there for any wee vegan in your life. I hope you found this list helpful, ’cause I sure had fun putting it together!
And with that, I’m off to my family’s for the holiday. I’d planned to photograph all my delicious vegan Thanksgiving fare, but I’m wondering if you’ll want to see a WIAW from Thanksgiving, almost a week after the holiday’s over. Will you be burned out on T-day by then? Let me know in the comments, okay?
Thanksgiving WIAW for next week: yay or nay?
Happy Holidays Everyone!!!
♥ ♥ ♥
I think Sunday is my favorite day of all. Sunday is my all-day Waits day, and Sunday night is movie night at my beau’s house, and so Sunday is always filled with my very favorite people and all sorts of marvelous things. And this particular Sunday was packed particularly full, and I’m so glad I captured it all.
It starts with black tea. Always.
So my long-time readers know that I’m a die-hard stevia fan, BUT, that I only like one brand, and all the others taste awful to me. You know, that tinny bitter awful stevia aftertaste. So when Pyure Organic Stevia recently contacted me offering samples, this is exactly what I said to them:
Thanks for contacting me. I would love to try out your stevia, but I feel the need to let you know something before you send it. I have only ever liked one brand of Stevia, and I use it religiously. So yes, I am a stevia user, BUT, I dislike most brands I’ve tried. With that in mind, if you’d still like to send me a sample, I would love to give it a shot. Here is my policy on free products/samples:
“If you would like to donate to my endeavors or send me your product to review, well I think you are simply super. I would be more than happy to accept your gift. However, I do not accept payment for product plugging. I may or may not review any product I receive, and my review will always reflect my honest assessment of a product’s value.”
They decided to send it anyway, and I’m so glad they did, because this is my new favorite stevia! It’s even more mellow than my old stand-by, and I love that it’s organic. So yes, great stuff, and consider me converted!
So Damian drops Waits off early on Sundays, and after some initial cuddle and play time, the kiddo informed me that he was “a little bit hungry.” This became a theme throughout the day . . .
Anyways, green smoothie!
This one had banana, raspberries, curly kale, almond milk, zinc and K2 (wondering why? read here), and a bit of protein powder. He had most and I drank the remains.
After some mid-morning art on the floor, I thought it best that we get out of the house before cabin fever set in. It’s not cold here yet, but I know it’s coming. And since Waits goes to what is essentially an outdoor school (the first half of the day is always outdoors, pretty much no matter the weather, but also keep in mind that this is southern California), I wanted to stock up on children’s winter gear.
I proposed that we walk over to our favorite secondhand children’s store, which isn’t so far away. But Waits surprised me by asking for a ride in the Ergo. Hmm. Okay!
We tromped over to our little neighborhood resale boutique only to find that it was closed until noon on Sundays. Boo! It was 10:30 and Waits had been so looking forward to seeing the toys, that I just decided to head up the road to another children’s store. This one was mostly new stuff, though they do keep a small rack of used clothing. So we hit up that store and then for good measure, we trekked up even farther and hit another one as well. We don’t really buy firsthand toys, but I like to watch him and see what he’s drawn to, so I know what to keep an eye out for in the thrift shops.
By the time we left that last one it was creeping up on 11:30, and with nary but some smoothie remains in my tummy, I was HUNGRY! And I was feeling so relaxed and having such a great day with Waits, that I decided to do something bold.
I remember so vividly reading this post on my friend Joanna’s blog a few years ago. Waits was just coming up on 18 months old, and spirited as the day is long, and it was truly difficult for me to imagine having an experience like that with him. I mean, we don’t even attempt restaurants, ’cause it’s just not worth the stress and chaos (Damian and I used to try, but invariably one of us would end up eating alone while the other played out front with Waits).
But for some reason this past Sunday, I decided that we would go on a mommy-baby date. And so we Ergoed it over to my favorite Mexican restaurant, and I asked Waits what he wanted and he chose a bean and cheese burrito, please replace cheese with corn, and I chose a roasted veggie salad, please replace steak with black beans, and we sat and had a whole meal just eating and chatting and enjoying the company. Our meal was peaceful and calm and I enjoyed it so much I could barely stand it, because in my mind all I could think is “OH DEAR! My baby’s all grown up!” And it was just like Joanna said, that strange combination of relief and grief. *sigh*
On the way home we swung by that first and favorite secondhand store, and picked up an awesome snow suit, a thermal shirt, and a few flannels. Success!
Waits ate almost his entire burrito at lunch, but as soon as we got home he proclaimed himself “just a little bit hungry,” and asked for a blueberry-flavored coconut yogurt and a glass of oat milk.
I had another mug of black tea, with stevia and unsweetened almond milk.
After a bit of quiet time, we headed out into the yard. We had important work to do! The flowerbed needed prepping in order to over-winter:
And we had a bunch of starts to transplant:
By then it was getting late, and I was itching to get to the store to pick up a few things for dinner. But Waits really wanted to go for a trike ride, and Harley definitely wanted a walk. So the two of them convinced me . . .
After a lovely evening stroll around the block, I packed us up into the car and we popped over to Whole Foods to grab a few things. As soon as we got there Waits informed me of his status: “just a little hungry”. Luckily that was easy to remedy, since we were in a grocery store and all.
From there we were off to my man’s pad. Sunday night is his “early” night and he gets home around 7:15, so on Sunday night Waits and I cook dinner at his house, and then once he gets home we all hang out and watch a movie. It’s become a little ritual and such a wonderful way to end the weekend.
We usually do homemade pizza, but this week he had requested a baked pasta dish. And I was happy to oblige!
Prepping my very favorite gluten-free tempeh – Tofurky’s organic 5-grain cake. And do you know this trick? If you use your cheese grater to grate the tempeh, it comes out in much the same texture as ground meat!
My honey was home and in comfy clothes by 7:30. Movie night!
Pasta bake with a super awesome side salad of mixed greens from my CSA, shredded carrot, crimini mushrooms, black olives, red bell peppers, and green onions in a vegan bleu cheese. Yup yup.
And because he is 3 1/2, and maybe because our lunch date was just too easy, Waits tasted this dish and insisted it wasn’t for him. A pasta fail??! That’s a first ’round these parts, but I may have been pushing it with the tempeh.
Hello All! I just wanted to make this quick post and let you know that I’ve got a few spots open for Lifestyle Coaching in November and December.
I never do these kinds of posts because I really abhor this stuff, this awful sales-y stuff. I’m just rotten at it and I always feel like an awkward fool. Some people are so gifted with graceful self-promotion – and I am not one of them!
BUT, the other day I was getting ready to do a live radio interview discussing vegan pregnancy, and I was scared. I mean shaking, clenched jaw, dizzy, SCARED. And I was trying to talk myself down and I asked myself, “Wait, so why are you doing this?” And the answer came so easy – it’s because I want to help people be confident in their vegan pregnancies! Simple as that. And when I realized that, something clicked and suddenly it wasn’t about me or my ego, it was like – “I have this information that people want and need, of course I should share it!”
So that became my little mantra before the show, and it totally calmed me down, and the interview went well.
And I realized the same thing applies here, with my coaching practice. I’ve been doing this a few months now, and the feedback from my clients is consistent across the board. In their own words:
“Sayward, you ROCK! This stuff is amazing!! You seriously do not charge enough for your services. Seriously.”
“You really hit the nail right on the head with the info I was seeking on my two big questions . . . You figured out exactly what I was asking and got me the information I thought was probably out there but didn’t know how to find, and even better found information I couldn’t have even imagined.”
“. . . but seriously Sayward, in all walks of my life it seems almost impossible to find people who take pride in their work, are passionate, over deliver (or deliver at all) and are good people – and you offer all of that and more. “
I am so humbled and honored by this feedback. And proud – yes proud! – to be able to do such important work and as it turns out, to do it well! I have so much gratitude, so much excitement. And I want more work!
So if you’re interested in coaching, I would love to hear from you. My clients live all over the country and all over the world, because I work entirely via email and phone. I’ve have omnivorous clients looking to eat a more healthy, whole-foods (though not necessarily vegan) diet, and I’ve had clients that need help transitioning into complete ethical veganism. I’ve helped people lose weight and helped people address disordered eating. I’ve worked on meal plans with pregnant ladies, and helped mothers feel confident feeding their kiddos a super-healthy, super plant-strong diet. And of course, I’m always eager for a new challenge!
Shoot me an email and we can chat. I’d love to hear from you, and I would genuinely love to help you live a healthier, fuller, more vibrant life. Nothing would make me happier!
info AT bonzaiaphrodite DOT com
Back to regular posting this Wednesday. Love you guys!
Love! These days, the paragraph of my life reads hope and joy and love and ooh, just lots of good old fashioned fun. And moments of fear and moments of panic are little punctuation marks, little dots amongst those beautiful words. And maybe you can imagine how precious that is, but maybe you can’t, because I don’t know if I could’ve before these last few years. When it was literally flipped and I lived fear and panic, punctuated by mere moments of happiness.
But now I’m on the other side.
And it’s so damn good I can hardly sit still!
I want to write a Love List every week, every single week I intend to. But you know, Time. I have to manage mine carefully these days, and prioritize that which is financially wise. So it’s been less blogging for me, like we talked about, and even though it’s been good I know – the right way to use my time – I still miss you guys! And man, I miss the Love Lists.
Taking Waits trick-or-treating with his little bestie. Listening to him say “Hello! Happy Halloween! Trick or treat! Are any of these vegan?” and seeing the look on people’s faces, haha. He makes his mama proud .|. Spending entire afternoons holed up in my house listening to RadioLab marathons and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning .|. Meeting up with long-time online friends turned real-life friends turned potential new venture partners, hanging out, eating Indian food, talking veganism, and finishing it all off with a trip to the LA Vegan Book Fair at the Animal Advocacy Museum .|. reading science writing (books) again, and dreaming of being a science writer someday (funny how dreams circle around, innit?) .|. This gallery of science tattoos – Science, Skin, and Ink .|. Building my Día de los Muertos altar, which for some reason brought up a lot of emotion this year. I guess that sadness never goes away, and part of me is grateful for that. .|. A gaping hole in the fence .|. The Turtle Island coconut curry tempeh, seared and sprinkled over my lunch salad EVERY DAY .|. Planting wine boxes full of veggie starts .|. I did my very first live radio interview, eeep! I am paralyzingly frightened of public speaking, so this was huge for me, and I definitely learned a lot. Onward and upward! You can hear me yakking about vegan pregnancy here, if you’re interested .|. Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez. Still slays me .|. This art essay by Maira Kalman. So I know *I’m* many years late, but this is some of the most exciting art I’ve seen in ages .|. Oh hai, as of about 45 seconds ago, I HAVE TICKETS TO SEE AMANDA PALMER .|. So you know what? Eff yes, 2013 sure is wrapping up right! .|. LOVE .|.
And now, my friends, it’s your turn to share! I do so love your Love Lists, and all the gratitude and joy that radiates from them. I hope you’ll share, and I hope hope hope that you have an amazing weekend!