Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving: Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

You know what else makes me feel better and more in control around the holidays? Baking. Yep, baking. When I was in grad school and my life felt mind-racingly unsettled I baked a lot because I couldn't really screw up a batch of cookies. I've since turned to other methods of coping, but baking still holds a special place in my heart. Plus, now Milo can help stir! The recipe below is an update to my previous favorite pumpkin muffin with a vegan twist to accommodate Milo's allergies. These aren't overly sweet, but don't taste vegan either. We gobbled them down quickly!

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup hemp (or other non-dairy) milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
12 ounces of pureed pumpkin
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 bag (about 1 cup) of chocolate chips or raisins

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together wet ingredients in large mixing bowl until pumpkin is incorporated well. In separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add dry to wet in small amounts until batter forms.
Fold in chips or raisins. Pour batter into muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes or until toddler decides he can't stand the wait any longer. Makes about 12 muffins. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

20 Months

Is it possible in only four more months, we'll be celebrating Milo's second birthday? Goodness, the second year is moving quickly. Milo is mostly just a joy to be around these days.

He seems to be picking up new words each day (I realize I have said this before, it is still happening and is even more pronounced this month). New favorite words are hummus (joy for Milo because I found a tahini-free brand at Trader Joe's) and house. In addition to nouns, he is also starting use more proper names so GG is officially G, Grandpa is Pa, Uncle Tony is T and Mama and Daddy continue to be Mama and Daddy. He knows Sam and Prada (even though she hasn't lived here in months, if I say Prada he says cat!) are cats and he also knows the names of the cats around the neighborhood.

He points out the various parts of his body such as facial features, feet, hands, etc. Slowly he is getting more coordinated. He can run quite quickly and often takes off down the sidewalk to collect handfuls of leaves. If I ask him to stand like a flamingo, he will lift one or the other leg. My little yogi regularly practices down dog, cat and cow poses with me. Not being much of a climber in the beginning, Milo is now getting more comfortable pulling himself up / off couches, play equipment and chairs.

We've been part of the same playgroup for a year now. Milo and the other boys have grown up together and it is so interesting to see how they went from ignoring one another, to playing side by side, to now starting to tune into each other. At the end of each meeting there is a period of waving, hugs, and bye byes which is so sweet. I'm glad Milo (and I) have these friends to learn, grow and share with.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Holiday Plan

Thanks for your suggestions on dealing with holiday anxiety. Taking into consideration some of your advice (unfortunately a tropical vacation isn't in the cards this year), I've come up with the following plan of action to keep stress at a minimum and joy at a maximum.
  • Enjoy myself! If I am having fun and am relaxed, those around me will be more likely to as well. Also, keep in mind that I can't control other people's words or actions, but I can control how I respond to them.
  • Get main events on the calendar now. We're making a list of all the things we want to do over the next two months - concerts, tree hunting, lights viewing, shopping, caroling, worhsipping - and penciling those in now. That way it won't be December 20th and suddenly we realize we have no tree or presents under it (not that that happened last year or anything).
  • Keep it all in perspective. At the risk of adding more things to my plate, I've signed up for a yoga / meditation home-based study. I think it will help keep me grounded.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ah, Halloween

It strikes me that Halloween is quickly becoming my favorite holiday. There is candy, cute kids in costumes, good weather, and fun activities surrounding the main event (pumpkin patch and carving the pumpkins leading up to Trick or Treating). As a bonus to all the good about Halloween, what I like even more is all that is lacking about the holiday. There is no obligation to exchange presents, eat food you don't really like, or see absolutely everyone you are related to. Instead Halloween festivities are intimate and neighborhood centered. I like that.

Plus everyone just has fun and goes with the flow. Who has ever heard of Halloween guilt or families erupting into disagreements over what type of candy to give out? It just doesn't happen. It's not that serious.

Can you tell I am a little ambivalent about the upcoming holidays? I want the lightheartedness of Halloween to carry me through straight up until New Year's Eve. These pictures might help.

Do you have a favorite holiday or a tip to get me through the craziness of the next two months?