#COadventure

My heart is filled with so much love right now I don’t even know where to begin. My long-empty cup is suddenly overflowing.

Don’t get me wrong. My life is blessed beyond measure: loving husband, brilliant daughter, successful jobs, a house to sleep in with food in the cupboards. But my personal cup, the one that can never be filled by other people no matter how much they love you, has been empty for quite some time. I’ve felt lost, directionless, unsure of what the future holds.

One of the hardest things for me to remember and accept is that it is not selfish to take care of me, it’s necessary.

In February, Bill moved his friend Nick to Buena Vista, CO where Nick’s daughter Heather and her husband Danny live. Bill’s friendship with 67 year old Nick never ceases to crack me up and deserves its own post. But I digress. When he returned he couldn’t stop gushing about how it was just like heaven. Even though the drive through snow storms and treacherous mountain roads scared him shitless, the experience when he got there blew all of that away. Because of my own issues I had trouble hearing and was reticent about Bill’s suggestion to visit in the future.

Before I even realized it our trip was scheduled over Independence Day weekend and July was rapidly approaching. Following a nasty car accident in the middle of Nebraska 15 years ago, I’ve struggled to enjoy road trips and cannot fall asleep in the car, and this trip is 10 hours long. Having driven through Colorado a few times but only staying in Loveland once, I was looking forward to a vacation in a new destination. Focusing mostly on the negatives – cost, time, fear – I was excited but wary.

We left on Thursday with Bill at the wheel. The drive was uneventful but fascinating. We stopped in places we’ve never been and visited oddities such as the 80ft Van Gogh replica of 3 Sunflowers in a Vase in Goodland, KS. Once you hit Manitou Springs, CO though, things get interesting. That’s where I took over.

I was thankful to be in control through the winding mountain roads but sacrificed a few breathtaking views of new terrain and quaint mountainside towns. Don’t worry, I gawked a bit too. My first time seeing mountains was on a cross-country road trip with my family at 13 and I cried upon spotting their outline on the horizon. This time was no different and seeing the look on my daughter’s face was priceless. We stopped at points of interest and soaked up as much as we could.

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Finally we arrived in Buena Vista, CO. This tiny town on the Arkansas River is surrounded by the Collegiate Peaks, a line of mountains over 14,000ft high. The town itself has an elevation of 7,965ft (Lawrence is 866ft) and has a population of 3,500 in the winter and around 10,000 in the summer. It’s ridiculously adorable.

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Everything you could possibly want to do is within walking distance and caters to pedestrians and bicyclers. When I say everything I mean every type of park and terrain you can think of. Boating. Rafting. Hiking. Shopping. Antiquing. Eating. Yoga. Yoga. Yoga.

Arkansas River Mt. Princeton

And then there’s Danny and Heather. Bill told me they were the nicest people he’s ever met and that I had no trouble believing because Bill and I like the same kinds of people. He was completely right, of course. If you witnessed our easy conversations about life, food, yoga and our successful collaborations in the kitchen, you never would have guessed that Heather and I only met five days ago. They are great people and extremely gracious hosts.

Maddie and Heather

It’s the same for pretty much everyone else in that town. Overly kind, polite, considerate non-litterers. No one locks their doors and the police station has the ability to close during the day because there’s no crime. I guess people who can get legally high and play in the sunshine tend to be happier.

And the weather? Dear god, the weather is amazing.

Everywhere I turned I encountered some coincidence or connection to my life. The woman sitting next to me at the Fourth of July parade? Graduated from KU, originally from Wichita and the mother of a 5 1/2 year old girl who is about to start kindergarten. The lady at yoga I spotted during down dog wearing a Free State Beer t-shirt? Also visiting from Lawrence and lives off Harvard Street.  A cute house that caught my eye was numbered 325 (the house number where I grew up and the address where I currently live) and my favorite places had little details that made me think of everyone in my extended family. The restaurants have sections of the menu devoted to kale and quinoa and most people lead healthy, active lifestyles.

Then there were big signs. The owner of jalaBlu asked us to focus on Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, during our first practice. She reminded us that not only does Ganesh remove obstacles in our path, he may even place what we perceive to be negative obstacles with the intention of driving us the right way. It spoke to me in a profound way and opened my heart to a beautiful practice. And when I came back to her class the next day she had a guest musician play guitar and bless us with her voice during savasana. The first song she sang? Hallelujah, which always makes me think of my Grandma ArLee.

Side note about Grandma ArLee, one of the most significant people in my life – ever since she passed she has made her presence known in the form of a cardinal, always appearing when I need support, comfort, reassurance or simply a smile.

After the torrential downpour (laughable by Kansas standards) on the afternoon of the 4th, the most vivid double rainbow I’ve ever seen stretched fully across the sky. We walked down the train tracks and saw where the rainbow actually touched the ground, so bright and colorful it was surreal.

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On Saturday afternoon it all came to a head. Bill and I had already toyed with the idea of moving to BV one day and as we sat on the patio I asked Danny if this is really what it’s like to live there. Everything seemed just too perfect to be real. When he confirmed that yes, it really is that awesome, the statement “I am meant to be here” bubbled out of my heart and mind and escaped my mouth. Like any life-altering change, it hit me upside the head like a ton of bricks and overwhelmed me with the logistical items required to make it a reality. Honestly, it broke my brain a bit.

Trying to compose myself, I went inside and locked myself in the bathroom with the thought “I am meant to be here” reverberating in my head. Followed shortly by the thoughts, “am I meant to be here? Can I do this?” At that exact moment the clock on the wall chimed. This clock displays twelve different north american birds and chirps at the top of the hour. Guess which one is positioned at 3:00?

Hearing the familiar cardinal call washed away all fear and any shred of doubt. My family and I are meant to live in Buena Vista, CO. I’ve never been more sure of any decision in my entire life. On Sunday Madeleine started sentences with, “When we live here can we…” so I can confirm we’re all on board.

Clearly, this isn’t an immediate endeavor. But we’ve already set a plan in motion that will get us there in the next few years. Once we’re there I promise every single one of you will want to visit so you can fill your cups as well.

What I’ve realized is there are no accidents, no coincidences. The universe is unfolding for you exactly as it is meant to. You just have to be open to receive the message.

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facebook and other fucking things

Do you ever feel alone?

Like totally and completely alone? Even when you’re surrounded by the people who love you the most?

That’s where I’ve been. Where I’m at. I have a husband who loves and supports me like no one else on this planet and a magical little girl who captures everyone’s heart everywhere she goes. And yet I’m still lonely.

It’s funny, the one thing that has truly made me feel this way is Facebook. The place where you connect with your friends and loved ones. But Facebook makes me crazy. It opens your thoughts and opinions to the people in your life and sometimes the people in your life don’t share those thoughts and opinions. Which is just fine. But people don’t interact in person the same way they do when they can write it on your wall for all to see.

Facebook also brings out a mad case of jealousy in me. Yes, I’m grateful for the things I have in my life. However, any number of things in my timeline – new homes/cars/toys, vacations, conversations – can cast a shade of green over my thoughts. That being said, I’m just as guilty as the next guy. Who doesn’t want to post their success stories and shining moments for all to see? The drawback to showing only the positive is giving people an uneven perspective of your life. We don’t post the negative because who wants to show that? But that’s the piece that makes a relationship real. Knowing the good and seeing the bad and supporting you through it all. That kind of connection only happens in real outside-of-the-internet life.

In any case, to keep myself sane I’ve hidden about 80% of Facebook from my view. I have the power to participate in conversations I choose and see content that brings positivity to my life. At the same time I’m trying to find the right balance in my own sharing. Questions I struggle with most: “Who gives a shit if I post this? Why am I posting it? Will I only feel validated if people like or comment on it? And why the fuck is that?”

Whitney Yadrich pinned this post yesterday and it’s just spot on. Why do I care what other people think of me? The only person who needs to be happy with me is me. I mean really, I’m the only person I will be with my whole entire life. So I’m going to do me –  whatever that means – and focus my efforts on my people who matter.

And Twitter, I love you, but I just need a break.

If you miss me, you can always find me on Instagram, Pinterest and this Tumblr thing where I mostly just like yoga pictures, Beyonce gifs and whatshouldwecallme. People are way nice over here. 

Or you could do any of those old fashioned things like email, call or text. I’m trying to be better about those things myself. I’m terrible, actually. But I’m trying.

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2013 in review

Today I’m feeling retrospective. Aren’t we all on the last day of the year?

2013 was the first year in my nearly 34 years where I really focused on myself. That may sound selfish, but hear me out. I’ve got a whole lot of crazy in my head that had gone untended for far too long. Depression, anxiety, Seasonal Affective Disorder, self-loathing, self-doubt, the whole bit.

So I started tending to it.

In January I began a happiness experiment. In February, a gratitude practice, and watched as the Derby Public Library dedicated the Children’s Reading Room in my grandma ArLee Killion’s honor.

March brought us to a debt management counselor and worked out a budget, which lifted a massive boulder from my chest.

April saw the launch of my gorgeous friend Tiffany’s project SmashGlam and the little bit of help I could provide in her social channels through my gloom.

May and its glorious sunshine started to kick my SAD’s ass, took me to Modesto, CA, gave me one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and also marked ten years of marriage to my husband.

June, July and August were devoted to long walks in the sun and a shit ton of yoga in the park. It’s here that I realized yoga is truly the answer to the darkness I struggle with. It quiets my mind and connects me to my body, which I’ve truly learned to love in all of its parts. I learned that taking care of myself first, mind body and soul, is not selfish, it’s necessary.

In September my baby girl turned five (5!!!) and I officially became a certified YogaFit Level I instructor.

October, typically the busiest for me as a Cerner employee, was even nuttier as I was put in charge of a huge project at CHC. And I rocked it. And then Bill and I got to celebrate our second 10th anniversary in Vegas because a Cerner sent me to JiveWorld.

November came with more and more opportunities to teach yoga and December gave me the chance to spend real time with my family. And of course the holidays that bring all of the cookies and pies and cakes and coldness that keeps me out of the sun, which means I get to start it all over again.

But I have a plan. No resolutions here, just a few action items and themes to carry me throughout the next twelve months. My action items are boring (check the budget daily, meditate nightly, blah) but here are my intentions:

Acceptance. My mantra: You are enough, you’ve done enough.
Accept myself as I am, right now. Accept others as they are because I don’t always know what they may be struggling with. Judgement and speculation do not serve me. Accept the moment as it is, positive or negative, because it is exactly as it is meant to be. Find the lesson within that moment.

Release expectation, especially of myself. Expectations set me up for disappointment because they rarely meet the exact criteria my brain conjures up. Be my best and do my best because that’s all I can do.

Disconnect. From stuff. From my stupid smartphone. From my fixation on what others think of me. This one is big. And probably the hardest. It means I’m going to distance myself even more from the social networks* I’ve defined myself in (Facebook is a HUGE source of my crazy) and work harder to connect with the people I care about in real life. And I suck at that, so it will be serious work. But it will be worth it.

*Except Instagram because it is a huge source of inspiration for me. And Pinterest because, Pinterest.

And perhaps my favorite, the one I’ve been repeating to myself for a few weeks now, in 2014 I will be unapologetically ME.

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hard work.

Yesterday I received a reminder card from my cardiologist that it’s time for my annual echocardiogram. It’s been a year since I learned about my PVCs and an annual trip to my cardiologist is a thing now.

And what a year it’s been. Work is good, crazy. Still spending two hours a day commuting (adding an extra 24 hours on top of the 108 I clocked in the past 12 days). For the past four months I’ve lead a team of associates across our organization, tasked with creating an interactive hallway experience at the Cerner Health Conference, our massive yearly conference with ~10,000 associates and clients attending from across the globe. It was hard. Stressful. Exhausting. But it turned out fantastic. I heard responses from clients that “getting to create their own button” was the highlight of the conference and that “it made their whole trip.” Even though I didn’t get to officially represent uCern this year, I’m grateful I still had an open forum to connect and meet with our clients.

And all of that was on top of my day job.

And on top of that, I’m a yoga instructor now. I’m able to teach yoga three hours a week at work (I mean c’mon, what other job lets you do that?) and I am completing my YogaFit Level I certification by offering free intro classes one hour a week for the next 6 weeks.

Yoga is a whole other thing entirely. I’ve been in some deep, dark places this year and thanks to a workshop about practicing yoga to combat anxiety and depression, I’ve found my way out. It isn’t perfect – nothing is – and it is a daily practice. It’s helped quiet my mind while working to change my negative self talk into positivity. It also knocks my heart into a steadier rhythm (except during savasana. The motherfucker never chills out during savasana).

Oh yeah, Bill and I have been married 10 years this year and we’re taking a trip together for the first time! I’m attending JiveWorld (a conference for the social platform behind uCern) later this month in Las Vegas and he’s coming with me. It’s perfect, I get to do awesome nerd stuff while he wanders Vegas and does awesome nerd stuff on his own. But we’re staying in the Cosmopolitan on my company’s dime and have enough free time to wander the strip and eat at Bobby Flay’s restaurant, Mesa Grill. So. Excited.

Side note: I’m still maintaining my vegan/vegetarian diet. I’m about 98% plant strong, occasionally indulging in homemade treats and minorly cheesy things. Bill calls me a Sarahtarian, which I quite like, because I make my own rules. My body simply feels good and functions properly when I stick to fruit and veg. But mama has a sweet tooth. And after looking at Bobby’s menu I will be ordering the lobster tacos and tiger shrimp tamales.

Two weeks ago Madeleine turned five years old. Five. Not sure how that happened. She is an amazing little ray of sunshine that rides on the backs of unicorns and sprinkles happy dust on her loyal subjects everywhere she goes. You may think I’m biased but it’s factual truth. Every boy and girl and parent and teacher at Maddie’s preschool is infatuated with her. They gush to Bill and I about her sweetness and everyone, I mean everyone, says good morning and goodbye as she passes.

She’s my girl.

I’m sure there was a whole lot more that happened but those are some big points. Sorry if you’ve felt neglected, my social network, but I’ve been busy working on me.

Side side note (spoiler-free): I’ve listened to the first three books of Game of Thrones on audiobook and man, number one: it’s interesting to hear story lines that were changed for the show and number two: weddings, man.

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merely existing.

In light of recent tragedies (Boston Marathon, Newtown, friends and family battling cancer, all the other crazy shit that happens in this world), I’ve been thinking a lot about how precious our time on this earth is and how nothing, NOTHING in the future is promised to us. Anything can happen at any second. Because of this, one question has been stuck in my mind all morning:

Am I living my life or am I merely existing?

Through my happiness experiment I’ve tried really hard to stay present, focus on the moment and have gratitude for all the little things I experience each day. And yet each evening I find myself so zombified after a long commute that all I want to do is look at Pinterest and go to bed by nine. The only hours of my day I truly have for myself, wasted.

It’s too easy to think, “I’ll do it tomorrow/this weekend/next month/someday.” But what if tomorrow never comes? (You’re welcome for the Garth Brooks earworm by the way.) Would I be satisfied with what I’ve accomplished to this point? Were my last words – spoken and/or written – kind? Did I spend enough time with my family? Does everyone important to me know how much I love them? Most importantly, was I happy? If I’m truly living my life, the answers will be Yes.

Guess I have some work to do. Starting today, obvs. I’m curious, are you living your life or are you merely existing?

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gratitude.

It’s day 21 of my happiness experiment and guess what? I feel happier.

The principles of Shawn Achor’s plan were easy to incorporate into my day and were actually pretty enjoyable. Exercise was already a part of my daily routine – I practice 30 minutes of yoga each morning and walk at least 30 minutes each day – so that was a no brainer. While I do meditate for a few minutes during yoga, I added five minutes of pure meditation each night before bed. Evernote made it easy to journal my gratitudes from my phone, iPad or computer whenever necessary, and I stuck to emails and Facebook messages for my conscious acts of kindness.

In addition to Shawn’s principles, I focused on these ten things to stop caring about and supplemented with a week-long happiness challenge. My husband and I also addressed a major source of stress in my life – our finances – by visiting a financial counselor who helped us create a budget and debt reduction plan. Naturally, I also stuck to my clean, plant-strong diet.

And I feel good. Really good. Things were dark there for a bit but it’s clearing up now. I feel lighter, more relaxed. Even though it’s the last day of the experiment I’m going to continue practicing these principles; the awesome article I read this morning will help as well. On dark days it will be nice to look back at my journal and remember all the things that are wonderful in my life. Speaking of, can you pick out a few common themes?

Gratitudes

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key to happiness.

Last Thursday and Friday the organization I belong to at Cerner held their annual kickoff event. This consisted of an afternoon of team building (read: lazer tag, go karts and Whirlyball) at Power Play and an entire day of speakers, recognition and required interactivity. You know, the type of meeting where words such as leverage, perspective, shift and imperative are used liberally. It was exhausting yet fun to do something out of the norm. I really learned a lot about my org mates and what we’re all working on.

But the biggest highlight for me was a video our Chief Learning Officer, Rob Campbell, included in his speech. Rob explained how we spend 33% of our waking hours at work and if 100% of our waking hours are important, then we better make sure we’re happy during that 33%. He showed this TED Talk to reinforce the message. I highly recommend you take twelve minutes to watch it but here are the Cliffs Notes:

The majority of us believe if we work harder we will succeed and once we’re successful, we’ll be happy. However, that model is backwards, broken. Once you work hard enough to get that raise, land the promotion, hit your sales goal, the target is moved. Now you want to reach the next level, make more, sell more. Our brain never thinks we’re successful because it never truly reaches that goal post. As a result we get frustrated, unhappy, and begin to focus solely on the negative.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The best part is that we can reverse the cycle, train our brains to be positive in the moment. Once we learn to be happy with ourselves as we are now, success will follow naturally.

The training plan is simple. Do each of these exercises every day for 21 days to break the cycle:

  • 3 Gratitudes (write down three new things you’re grateful for each day)
  • Journaling (write one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours)
  • Exercise (a 30 minute walk is sufficient)
  • Meditation (sitting for five minutes in silence to clear your mind counts)
  • Random or conscious acts of kindness (send a positive email or note to someone each day to strengthen your social network)

After 21 days, thinking positively will become a habit. It will also cause a ripple effect that positively influences those around you.

I’m on day four of this practice. I’m excited not only to experience a shift in my mental state but also to have a list of great experiences to look back on in a month. My husband watched the video last night and started his journal as well. Care to join us?

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i love veggies

I’ve been a vegetarian with vegan tendencies for a while now. It’s actually easier than I ever anticipated. I always know I’m eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, many restaurants offer veg options and aside from the occasional ribbing from friends and family, most people are supportive.

Don’t get me wrong, I like meat. It’s delicious. Especially bacon. Mmmm, bacon. My reasons for going vegetarian are primarily health-related. Watching the movie Forks Over Knives and learning more about The China Study helped me realize eating a whole-food, plant-based diet could prevent and potentially reverse damage from two diseases I’m genetically predisposed to: osteoporosis and heart disease. Huge.

And then I watched Earthlings.

I’m not an animal rights activist. Far from it. I like animals just fine. But this movie put all living creatures into perspective for me. Why should a cow suffer for me to eat a hamburger? Especially if that hamburger is just slowly killing me and the environment anyway? Not worth it.

So yesterday I decided to become fully vegan.

Won’t be too much of a change anyway, I haven’t had cow’s milk or eggs since I went vegetarian and limited butter or cheese. I did have sushi on Christmas Day because, sushi. I know I can’t be perfect. No one can. If someone hands me a homemade chocolate chip cookie and I want a cookie, I’m gonna eat the damn cookie. As that doesn’t happen often it will be okay.

You may have questions. Here’s a quick FAQ:

Protein comes from plants too. Like beans, nuts, seeds and leafy greens. And none of that nasty saturated fat comes with it. Most people on a traditional western diet consume more protein than they actually need.

Calcium is found in leafy green and cruciferous veg, the almond milk I drink everyday and in the supplement I take every morning. And those sources don’t raise my acidity levels.

Yes, I eat salads. No, that’s not all I eat. I’m a pretty good cook and have learned I can veganize almost any recipe without losing deliciousness. Check out my Pinterest food board for inspiration.

Yes, sometimes I miss meat. On New Years I had a bite of summer sausage just because it looked so good on the plate. But you know what? It didn’t taste as good as I remember. Sometimes we think food tastes better because of the situations we associate them with. Summer sausage reminds me of all the fun New Years parties my parents threw as a kid. It was more about the memory than the meat itself.

Will I ever eat meat again? I don’t know. Never say never. I do have one simple request though. I won’t ridicule you for eating meat so please don’t ridicule me for not eating it.

That being said, check out this timely “tweet” my coworker “screencapped” from “my account.” Must be opposite day!

sarahkscoular tweet

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revising my resolutions.

It’s about that time when people start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve made some in the past, usually keeping them to myself so that if I failed it wouldn’t really matter. No one could hold me accountable. Also, these resolutions were so generic and vague – stop procrastinating, get healthy – there was no way to tell if I was successful.

This year I’m using a technique I learned at work to make S.M.A.R.T. goals:

Run a 5K by April 21
Eat clean at least five days per week
Hold a five-minute plank by my birthday (February 16)

Each of these goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-sensitive. To prepare for January 1 I’ve started detoxing from my holiday sugar overload (lots and lots of vegetables) and quit my caffeine habit (again). Starting January 1 I will begin a Couch to 5K program, cross-training with yoga and a plank-a-day. I did my first plank today and only made it a paltry 48 seconds! Hey, at least it’s a start.

And now that I’ve told the world my goals I have to stick to them. What are your goals for 2013?

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thanksgiving success.

While I deviated from tradition in many ways this year, it ended up being one of the best Thanksgivings in recent memory. It’s also the first year I’ve had a bad ass camera so please excuse the gratuitous use of pictures in this post.

As I said in this post, I made a completely vegan meal aside from Bill’s turkey breast. For years I’ve used a stick of butter under the turkey’s skin but after seeing Shea Sylvia’s technique I brined the bird for 36 hours as well. Both Bill and our friend Dustin approved. I didn’t achieve a beautiful, caramelized color but the guys said it was moist and yummy.

Turkey

I was a little nervous about my protein option this year but was pleasantly surprised by gardein’s holiday roast! I made a basting glaze of soy sauce, apricot preserves, dijon mustard, orange juice and coconut oil and roasted it over onion, celery, garlic and fresh herbs. The “meat” was moist, the vegan gravy was tasty, and the cranberry stuffing in the middle was delicious.

I made these dinner rolls the day before Thanksgiving. They were so delicious straight out of the oven I almost had to bake another pan. I used whole wheat flour and ground flax seed as an egg substitute (1 tbsp flax + 2 tbsp water, mix and let sit a few minutes). Much easier than anticipated. I will definitely make these again.

While I did miss the pound of bacon I usually use in my green beans, these almond beans were pretty satisfying. I skipped the olive oil, used 3 tbsp Earth Balance instead of butter (in the future I think I’ll use coconut oil instead), and only used one white onion. Maddie and I both gobbled these up.

Mashed potatoes are almost always found on a Thanksgiving menu but because my husband hates mashed potatoes (I know, I KNOW), garlic rosemary red potatoes have been a staple of mine for years. Typically I cube half a bag of potatoes, mince up 5-6 cloves of garlic, dice up a half stick of butter, chop up some fresh rosemary, mix it up with salt and pepper and bake for an hour at 400. This time I roasted two heads of garlic in olive oil for 40 minutes at 400, then squeezed the cloves and oil over the diced potatoes. I skipped the butter but the rest of the process was the same. Nom.

I have been a fan of Ocean Spray canned cranberry sauce for as long as I can remember. Even slicing my thumb open on the can, getting five stitches and spending Thanksgiving in the ER nine years ago didn’t deter me from eating the can-shaped deliciousness. However, I found this recipe for cranberry pear sauce on skinnytaste and decided to make it from scratch. A few modifications though: 16oz of pomegranate juice instead of water, added the juice and zest of one orange, used 2 tbsp of honey instead of agave and let it boil down for a good 30 minutes. Maddie was practically licking her plate.

And the star of the show, Hasselback sweet potatoes. These are AMAZING. I (almost) didn’t miss the mini marshmallows! Be sure to spoon the gooey syrupy yumminess onto your potato when it comes out of the oven.

Now onto dessert. Bill doesn’t like pumpkin pie or traditional apple pie (how we’ve been married this long I really don’t know) so I wanted to experiment with something new. I found this whole wheat apple cranberry galette on Pinterest and figured with enough ice cream on top he might like it. He actually loved it even without ice cream! I used Earth Balance instead of butter and flax seed instead of wheat bran. I also used more apples (granny smith and golden delicious) and cranberries than called for, and upped it to about 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar. Definitely on the tart side but so good. It has been perfect for breakfast for the past few days.

Pumpkin pie is pretty much my favorite dessert of all time. So much so, my mom made it for my birthday a couple times growing up even though my birthday is in February. I’ve tried all variations over the years but Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe will always be the gold standard. However, this one is pretty freaking good. I made my own oat flour by processing a cup of oatmeal in the Ninja blender, used raw honey instead of brown rice syrup and completely forgot the Earth Balance that was supposed to go in the batter. I think coconut oil would have worked perfectly in its place. The crust is spicy and nutty and the filling is nice and creamy. Very tasty. I made my own whipped cream out of coconut milk by following this recipe but added about a tablespoon of white sugar for sweetness.

Overall, dinner was a complete success! We’ve devoured the leftovers and I only have one plate left for lunch tomorrow. Just one short year ago I would never have dreamed about a vegan holiday dinner but now I can’t imagine going back.

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