Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vegan Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

I am sure you've done it. You buy some broccoli and it gets shoved to the back of the fridge where you find it a week (or two) later and it is a swampy mess. Or perhaps you made a few recipes and now you find yourself with a weird combo of leftovers. Don't panic and throw it in the trash, that is silly. Of course you should just toss the swampy veggies into the compost, but some of that other stuff can still be used. Did you know that Americans throw away about half of their food each year? From creative recipes to composting your food should not end up in the garbage.

Here is a crazy good recipe for shepherd's pie. Seriously folks, this is super good. Eric and I both had second helpings and both of the girls went to town on this.

Easy Shepher's Pie by Rooted Vegan

For the filling
2 T vegetable oil
1 finley diced onion
3-4 cloves garlic
2 1/2 c mixed veggies, chopped ---use the odds and ends in your fridge. I used cabbage, peas and carrots, mushrooms
1 c veggie crumbles
1 1/2-2 c vegetable stock (depending on how watery your veggies are)
2 T tomato paste
1/3 c vegan Worcestershire sauce
3 T vegan barbecue sauce
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, just use your thumb and forefinger to strip the leaves from the woody stem
salt and pepper to taste

For the topping
3 c mashed potato leftovers (or cook 4 or 5 potatoes in boiling water until soft)
2 T vegan sour cream
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1/2 vegan shredded cheese
*Optional garnish sprigs of thyme

For the filling
1. In a medium skillet heat the oil and add the onion. Cook until the onion begins to become transluscent.
2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Add the veggies, stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce and nutmeg.
4. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until the liquid has reduced to more of a gravy.

For the topping
1. Combine the mashed potatoes, vegan sour cream, vegan cheese and garlic.
2. Whip together.

1.  Pre heat the oven to 350 F. In a casserole dish pour in the filling.
2. Dollop the potatoes on top and use a fork to spread it out rustic style. If you are a perfectionist (which I am not) you can pipe it on in a fancy design.
3. Bake for 45 minutes.
4. Garnish with thyme


Easy Shepher's Pie by Rooted Vegan

 Check back tomorrow to learn about composting!
~Maria Rose

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I have been thinking about vulnerability lately, a lot. My family had a weird week. Four members of our family were in the hospital within the last week, three ER trips, one ICU stay. We were spread out, at work at home, states apart. All of us checking in and connecting, trying to make sure everything was OK, that everyone was OK. I am so thankful for things like modern communication. We didn't have to write letters and send them by pigeon or pony express. We didn't ring up insane phone bills on our land lines. We Facetime talked with each other and texted back and forth. Extended family and friends kept in touch via Facebook, it was all so very closely linked and in real time.

Elise broken arm

Then over the course of the week I read another post by my dear friend Sarah where she expressed an entirely different vulnerability (read here it is beautiful). Of course we all have areas where it is difficult for us to feel entirely comfortable in our own skin, circumstance or situations that bring to light our deeply held insecurities and fears. Facing them head on is such a tremendous challenge, but honestly it is probably the best way to move forward.

Elise broken arm

While I was in the ER with Elise on Friday they gave her some medication as they set her arm and had someone there to monitor her breathing, little tubes in her nostrils giving her oxygen. I had to sign the "just in case" paperwork that makes me want to vomit and grab my family and live in a padded room off the grid...but then there would be other worries I suppose.

As I held Elise in my arms that day I was struck by how very delicate we are, on so many levels. Her little body is so very small in a big and dangerous world. My heart, as well as everyone else who knows her, is so fragile when it comes to her or Cordelia or anyone else that I care about (and I care an awful lot).

Elise broken arm

Later that evening I was talking with Eric about it and he sagely reminded me that vulnerability is one of the best parts about being human. Darn it. I know he is right. Our greatest joys are often our weakest points. Of course we do have to find a balance and not live in padded off the grid caves. Our internal vulnerabilities, those things about which we are personally delicate---our insecurities---are often the places we find our greatest strengths too.

Oh this life we are living you guys, it is mighty strange.

Elise broken arm

And, for those of you in need of an Elise update we went into the orthopedic doc yesterday (don't get me started on what a hassle it was to get in) and they X-rayed the bone. Thankfully the set they did at the hospital seemed to be good, meaning no more bone moving. He was afraid that removing the plaster splint would undo that set and decided not to put her in a cast yesterday. So the nurse did a solid job of wrapping the plaster and it is a firm wrap with a hard interior. Feels pretty sturdy. We will go in next week to X-ray again and see what the next step is. I would also like to mention that Elise was freakishly charming and I overheard the doctor and the X-ray tech discussing adorable things she had said and done in their presence. When we left she was coated in stickers (see photos) before we left, everyone was charmed and heartbroken by the little lady with the broken arm. In fact, when people would crouch down and say, "ooooooooooh what happened?" Her response was, "I broke my arm, but I be OK. I got my mommy."

Elise broken arm

Monday, October 20, 2014


I am taking a moment to pause while we re-group. I will be back tomorrow with a full update. Meanwhile, please enjoy this photo of  Bumblebee.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Quote: What you think

“Be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else's idea of yourself should be.”
~Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Broken Arm, Not Heart

About a year and a half ago Eric and I were walking along the river with the girls and the dogs. It was a beautiful and carefree stroll. Everyone was happy, the sun was shining, all was well. As we meandered along the pathway chatting and strolling we passed a couple and their young child, a girl maybe 11/2-2years old. They were all just fine and enjoying the lovely day, but their daughter had a cast on her arm. Our conversation paused as we passed and exchanged greetings (we do that in the West) and then continued on our way. Eric and I completely forgot whatever it was we had been discussing prior to encountering the young family. We immediately talked amongst ourselves, once we were out of ear shot; we sympathized with those parents. We knew it must have been very scary to deal with a broken arm and oh...keeping a young child from acting too crazy while the healing is happening, dealing with a cast. We agreed that if anyone was going to break a bone in our family that it would probably be Elise, she is pretty fearless. Then we went on our way...

Yesterday started out pretty mellow. The girls and I hung out at home. I did some chores while the girls played. Mostly they were giggling and happy. Occasionally there would be a bang and a cry or some whining. I would turn to give the girls my complete attention, but they'd already be on to the next game. Kids.

We ate lunch and decided to visit the Science Zone. Both girls had been asking to visit as it had been a while and we hadn't yet renewed our membership. I agreed to take them after lunch. They both plowed through their meals, only slowing down when Cordelia tried to eat baby corn one kernel at a time.

We left home and drove over to the Science Zone. The space is a discovery area located beneath a furniture store. So we went downstairs and explored. The girls had fun with their recycling sorter and the giant kaleidoscope. Finally we went to the very back where there is a toddler play area. The girls ran around and had a great time. In the center of the play area is a small ball pit. Really it is just a foam ring with a couple dozen balls. You have to climb over the bench to get to the balls. The girls were climbing all over the place when Elise slipped and fell. She landed on her left arm and screamed.

I was sitting a few feet away, monitoring their play and saw the fall happen. It didn't seem very hard and it wasn't more than a few feet, but I suspect that Elise put her hand out to catch herself and slipped on one of the balls. Who knows?

When I heard the tone of scream I knew she was in real pain. I calmly asked her to grab my hand with hers and she couldn't. I gently slid back the sleeve of her shirt. I knew it was broken, it looked like a rubber arm, bent strangely. I scooped her into my arms and called to Cordelia to follow. I pulled out my phone as we raced to the exit. I called Eric and told him Elise had a broken arm and we quickly decided to meet at the ER. 

When we arrived at the ER Eric and Cordelia took care of cars and valet while Elise and I rushed to check in. She was crying the most pitiful cry and breaking every heart as we passed. The lady at the desk was trying to hold back her own tears (she found us later and cried once she saw that Elise was OK). We waited for what seemed to be a very long time, but it was less than 10 minutes---lightning speed in ER time. Sitting across from us in the ER was a young woman who gave us sympathizing smiles. When they called her back she asked them to let Elise in first. Such kindness from this young woman who offered the explanation that she was a mother too (later is saw her wheeled by with an IV, very seriously ill, she smiled and I mouthed a thank you---I wish I could thank her again).

We went through the check in process and were taken to a waiting room. Doctors and nurses came in and out. I sat on the bed with Elise on my lap. I gently held her arm stable on an ice pack. Eric and Cordelia sat next to us. Elise calmed down enough to talk and even laugh, though her arm was still clearly hurting. Each new person that entered needed to ask what had happened. I understand that it is standard protocol, but each retelling of the story would make her sob and say,"Don't wanna go to science zone." 

Anyway, the X-Ray was taken. My dad arrived. My mother stayed updated via texted updates from Eric and my dad---she was with my grandmother who had just been released from the hospital in South Dakota after a seriously bad week.
The verdict was in, broken radius. 

Eric and Cordelia left for the resetting of the bone as we obviously didn't want Cordelia there for that. My dad was so amazing and helped to distract Elise as long as possible with photos on his phone. He had her squealing with laughter. I will spare you the details of the resetting process, the end result was relief. Her arm was set and a plaster splint now stabilizes her arm. Cast will come on Monday. They took a final X-ray, Elise was kind of druggy from the disassociative drugs they had used and she ended up telling the X-Ray tech guy that she loved him.

We left the hospital and went home. On the drive home Elise told me that I was very brave. Ha, if she only knew how very hard it is for parents to keep calm when they want to freak out! She was such a great patient and had been so tough! I hate that she had to be tough.

We pulled into the garage and Eric, who had been crawling out of his skin to be near her, was right there needing to hold his girl. Cordelia was so sweet and is taking her big sister responsibility very seriously. We ate dessert, soy ice cream with chocolate chips and sprinkles. Then we had dinner. The patient had requested veggie dogs and she and Cordelia managed to eat a frightening amount of food, the cost of missing an afternoon snack.

Before I put Elise to bed last night she told me,"My arm is broken, but not my heart." 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Phone Photo Friday and Disposable Camera Challenge Update

 Hello and happy Friday to you. Time for the phone purge!

Last week we had some fog. We live in the foothills area so we get a lot of lingering fog this time of year and it is lovely.

We were part of the opening event at Scarlow's Gallery which was a huge opening night, the place was jam packed!  Eric and I had a great time and my mother was home hanging out with the girls. She sent us slow motion videos of Cordelia leap-froging Elise.

She also sent this sweet pic.

Sam's lovely girlfriend Alaysha had a birthday. She likes pumpkin pie for her b-day.

Elise is too cool.

My father, buried beneath his adoring granddaughters, flanked by hounds.

Finger gun to good hair days.


Two hounds and a cat.

Cordelia had a pre-school visit by the firefighters. She got to try her hand at the fire hose.

I posed the girls in front of the fire truck, they were way too distracted by the loud noises made by the truck to pose.
Elise does this when asked to smile....eyes clench, under-bite tooth clench, every facial muscle flexed.


The disposable camera challenge has hit a small snag...the flash died. I am pretty sure that one of the girls got into my purse and turned the flash on, but it isn't too big of a problem. Now I just have to take well lit shots. How are you doing?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Golden Days






leaves and toes

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Drive

missoula trip

When we were living in Missoula there was a drive we would take when we needed a break from it all. The drive was just minutes out of town, but meandered along the river and the base of the mountain. We would cross a one lane bridge and suddenly we were just out of town, away from our worries. There probably wasn't anything special to others about this drive, but to us it meant so much.

Sometimes when I was feeling down I would take the drive by myself as I took in the beauty of Montana. Eric and I would often take the road to work through our plans or dreams for the future. When we were worried about the health of loved ones, we'd hop in the car and go to our drive. Often times we didn't even need to say anything, we just knew and the car would steer itself along the road.

It didn't matter what time of year it was. Summer was gorgeous, we'd roll down the windows and breathe in the air. The Fall was stunning, leaves carpeting the roadway like a golden blanket. Winter was soft and we would drive slowly to avoid ice or watch carefully as we navigated fog. It was always beautiful.

When we would finish the drive we would come out onto the highway and head back into town. Whatever we were working on or working through was still there, but somehow that drive always served to give a little perspective.

I wish I could take that drive today, but I am happy just knowing that it is there.

Where do you go when you need a reset?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vegan Recipe: Protein Packed Crazy Woman Quinoa Salad

My friend Kate invented this awesome salad!
 Crazy Woman Qunioa Salad |

Kate writes,"I feel like an insane person these days. A full-time job, side projects, blogs, keeping up with 1,000 different social media platforms for freelance clients, showering, eating, breathing...

I don't know a single person who doesn't feel the sudden rush of spring and it seems like the world has starting spinning faster for everyone. One look at my nearly empty refrigerator last night, another look at my schedule, and I knew the only thing that would get me through the week was a HUGE, protein-packed salad that I could make tonight and munch on throughout the week.

This isn't rocket science people. This is survival. I know you all have a million things going on in your life, but there is no excuse to not have good, healthy food lying around so you can grab and go. This is your answer to the question of "What on Earth Am I Going to Have for Lunch."

Crazy Woman Qunioa Salad |

There are a million different ways to make this salad, but the basics are:

3 cups of cooked quinoa of (or another grain)
1 container baby spinach, arugula, et al baby anything
2 Tbs olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 to 1 tsp salt (I like it salty)
1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts...whatever you have and want to use)
1/4 tsp organic garlic powder (or 1 bunch of green onions chopped, whichever you have on hand)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 can drained beans (black, red, white, pinto, garbanzos, toss in anything you have in your pantry)

This is my favorite part:

Whack it all into a bowl together and mix like crazy until you have a massive salad.

My next favorite part:

Add anything you have or want into the bowl: herbs, chopped veggies, roasted garlic, thawed frozen veggies. Use your imagination. I know you have one there in your crazy, busy brain!


Crazy Woman Qunioa Salad |

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cultivating Kindness: Volunteering

Several years ago I worked and volunteered at an animal rescue, that is where I adopted our cat Ophelia.  The rescue was an off shoot of a vet clinic. The clinic, located in eastern New Mexico, was a converted trailer with an attached kennel area located a couple hundred yards from the local Walmart. I guess it was originally just a vet's office, but people kept dropping off their animals. Actually, sometimes people would bring in "problem animals" to euthanize and the vet (who has since passed) would charge the owner for euthanasia and just keep/adopt out the animal. I can't say it was a legit practice, but he had my gratitude! It's strange where life changing events can happen isn't it? While there I had the good fortune to work with an animal, Cocoa, who changed my life...but that is a sad story for another day. I will say that it was this one animal gave me a clear direction. I knew animal rescue would always be a part of my life.

Over the years I have volunteered and not volunteered. Mostly it has been really difficult for my heart. You see, it hurts to feel for these animals, to become attached. To see people pass by the sweetest souls, to be unable to take them all home. So sometimes I feel paralyzed, like my heart can't handle that weight---but it can. Then recently an event propelled me to volunteer again. The event sparked a personal commitment on my part to pick up my volunteerism, permanently.

So I went to the local Humane Society that has a no-kill policy. I went through their training program and I have been volunteering since that time. The last time I was in I asked if it would be OK to bring my oldest daughter in to volunteer with me. I was told that I could bring her to visit the cats, dogs might be a bit much for her.

Humane society

Yesterday afternoon was cold and rainy. We had no plans. I spontaneously asked Cordelia to join me for a little time at the shelter. She was excited!

Humane society

I knew that exposing her to animals, explaining the situation a bit, and just getting her into the act would be good for her. I didn't really know if she'd lose her steam after 15 minutes, but I figured that even 15 minutes would be time well spent.

Humane society

We chose one of the four big cat rooms, their policy is only one room a day to prevent the spread of any possible illness. Time flew by. My sweet girl played. She asked about the cats. She pet them. She laughed. She empathized. It was beautiful.

Humane society
This old girl has been there for 6 years. It hit Cordelia when she realized that this cat had been in that cat room for longer than she has been alive.

Humane society

When our time was up she wanted to pet just a few more. She said goodbye to her friends and had already whispered promises about her next visit.

Humane society

I have no idea what this will mean for her, but I can tell you what it means to me: My heart is heavy, but happy. Oh, does it hurt to see these animals so hungry for love and to be unable to satisfy that need, but any goodness I can bring into this world is worth that weight.

Humane society

So we will continue to volunteer and to adopt as our home and lives allow.

Humane society

In case you are interested the local Humane Society has an adoption of $10 for cats with any orange or black this month...just sayin' there is probably room in your house.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Quote: Fall Upwards

Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.
~Vladimir Nobokov

Saturday, October 11, 2014



Lucy is growing and growing. She has entered her teen months and she is still such a joy. Seriously, no offense to the other cats I have known and loved, but this is one cool cat. We couldn't be happier to have this sweet little lady in our lives.


She plays fearlessly with the dogs and kids.She is so weird and funny and loving. She has fit right in with the Team W spirit.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Phone Photo Friday and Disposable Camera Challenge Update

Last Friday the girls played in the snow. The first time that we dress for outside play I take note of all that has been outgrown and make a mental list of all the new supplies we need: new boots for Elise, snow pants for Cordelia, winter coat for Elise.

Eric gave a talk at a museum opening and Cordelia really wanted to get up there and enjoy some of the attention.

Elise was quite proud of herself for putting lotion on Ophelia's head. Oph is too possessive of that box to run away.

On Sunday afternoon the girls were going out for a little date with their Grandma and for an hour before she was to arrive they waited at the front door, watching the road.

They had a great adventure with my mother. They returned with new dresses.

Later in the week we drove up to Powell. Eric stopped the car several times to take photos. So I took pictures of him taking pictures, totally meta.

Powell was a quaint small town surrounded by fields.

Some late night hotel painting.

The girls were chanting, "Mugga, Mugga moo. Sisters forever!" Then bashing their sticks together. Naturally this ended in tears when someone was hurt, but it was cute while it lasted.

Just my best dog friend Bumblebee.

Elise and I, yes she has food on her face--again.

We have so many apples in our tree still! Yesterday I froze a bunch and made apple muffins, still we have probably 20lbs of apples on the counter and 100+lbs still in the tree.

More late night gouache painting.

Update on Disposable Camera Challenge
Just wanted to update you on the disposable camera challenge. See this post for details if you want to join in.

So far I have taken about 10 photos. I am loving the process, already forgetting many things I have taken pictures of so the day I process my roll will be a treat. I have found it very difficult to just take a single photo as I am inclined to snap about 10 and delete all but the worst of them. Also, the disposable camera I use has a built in flash so I really have no idea how my photos are going to turn out. Have you started? Any interesting challenges?

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