How to fail at keeping your family organized

Alright readers, it’s time you do something for me.

I’m in serious, serious, monster need of the best method for keeping your family all sorts of organized.

I’m not even looking for any type of organization in particular, I will accept tips in all areas. Right now, these are a few of the plans I have in place (and my plans I mean these are the things that keep happening on a daily basis so some great mystical being is planning them out, or, I’m lazy and just keep falling into the same messy traps).

For starters, we have a laundry chair. We take our laundry out of the dryer and flop it onto the laundry chair. It’s a giant circular chair-and-a-half that is located in the corner of our room for the time being and is used as a location for all the laundry I don’t have time to fold.

Sometimes, when I’m annoyed with the clutter, I throw it into a laundry basket that then sits at the end of our bed. Essentially I just relocate the clutter, isn’t that cute?

In my defense, on the occasion I actually fold the laundry, it usually ends up crinkled and unfolded when I attempt to shove it into it’s proper place in our bedroom.

 All I can say is thank goodness we currently rent because I think a massive walk-in or double closet is now on our must-have list for buying a home. My husband and I go through cleaning sprees at least three times a year, but with clearance sales, work needs and my ever-morphing post-baby body we have quite the collection of clothing between the two of us.

For the record, our daughter and son’s clothing fits fine it they’re very clearly labeled and slotted bins and drawers, so we did one thing right when it comes to organization.

But laundry is really only part of our problem. We are busy, busy people. Between both my husband and I working full-time, my four to eight hours of softball lessons a week, Pear’s swim lessons, dance lessons, whatever her busy body is signed up for, our family commitments, our friend commitments, we are a really, on-the-go family.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore having things to do, places to go and people to see. In the last few months alone we’ve hosted a gender reveal party for a close friend, a birthday party for Pearyn, a bachelorette-bachelor party for our best friends, a wedding, birthday parties for our friends kids and 5ks and 10ks, oh my!

So far we’ve been testing out shared family calendar apps, but we haven’t found one that doesn’t feel like a chore to use. We have a large calendar in our living room that holds all of our appointments, trips and activities, I have a planner that sits dusty because my work-from-home job has made it extinct, and I have stacks of bills and e-bills scattered while I juggle to remember what gets paid when and where. Luckily I haven’t missed a payment, but with more and more things adding up on our plates, I’m afraid I might.

So what’s your secret to keeping your family organized? Is it an app? Is it a hands-on calendar? Is it auto-bill payment? This Chubby Vegan Clan is in serious need of an organization plan that doesn’t need organizing of its own!

Vegan strawberry lemonade cupcakes … summer sweets

This past weekend my second favorite little girl in the whole wide world (and on days when Pearyn is on the butthole side, my favorite) turned the big ONE. Our best friends’ baby has been brightening lives for the last 365 days. And when I say brightening, I mean she is like one big ball of sunshine, smiles and sweetness.

Kinley Renae is one happy little girl, folks. Last year we spent an entire week in Hilton Head with our kids, our bffs and their little girl and even at only two months old I think she cried maybe three times the entire trip. (Unlike our toddler who cried at least three times every minute). I tell my friend all the time if it’s a good thing I didn’t have a baby like that because I probably would have spawned seven more children already.

So for this little girl’s first birthday party we had to go big (or go home). And since our friends are vegan as well, they enlisted my help when it came to all things smashcake and cupcakes.

The theme of Kinley’s party was lemonade stand and it was seriously the cutest set-up ever folks. So to stick with the theme and all it’s adorable decor, we decided to whip up a batch of vegan strawberry lemonade cupcakes. While I cruised the internet for ideas, I didn’t come across anything that sounded right to me (a lot of them just called for some lemon extract and a box of strawberry gelatin). So instead I decided to tempt the fates with my own concoction (because who really follows recipes anymore) and these cupcakes were seriously the rage.

No one could tell they were cruelty free and a few people even took some home (because they were that good, not just because we made an obscene amount).

These will be the perfect compliment to any summer picnic or family outing. And they just look so darn cute.

The strawberry lemonade cupcake is pictured front and center below, with the adorable pink straw in it. Stay tuned tomorrow for the Orange Creamsicle cupcake recipe also making an appearance in this photo!

Vegan strawberry lemonade cupcakes
(makes 24 regular-size cupcakes)
Cake Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 cup strawberries (pureed)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar (it’s a cupcake, I didn’t say it was healthy)
1 stick vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup lemonade
1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk
2 tsps baking powder
Dash of salt
Optional 2-3 drops red food coloring (I buy a vegan, locally-made brand at a nearby natural parenting store)

Frosting Ingredients:
1 8-oz container vegan cream cheese (I used Trader Joes)
1 stick vegan butter (again, I used Earth Balance)
3 cups powdered sugar
4 TBS frozen lemonade concentrate (we used Cascadian Farms)

Soften vegan cream cheese and butter in the microwave (soften, not melt). In a medium bowl, mix them together with the frozen lemonade concentrate. Mix in powdered sugar (one cup at a time) and mix with a hand mixer. Place in the fridge until we’re done making the cupcakes to set and thicken a bit.

Now, for the cake mix. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl mix together all your dry ingredients (all purpose and cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt). Take your one cup of strawberries and puree them in your high-power blender or food processor. Soften your vegan butter in the microwave (again, soften, not melt) and pour into a large bowl with the rest of the liquid ingredients (strawberry puree, lemonade, coconut milk, oil and optional food coloring). Stir the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients (about a cup at a time) and then blend with a hand mixer. The batter should be a little bit fluffy (from the acidity of the lemonade).

Line your muffin pan with cupcake wrappers and fill each a little over half full. Bake on 325 for 20-25 minutes, the edges will pull away from the pan some and you’ll be able to stick a toothpick into the middle and pull out out cleanly.

Once they’ve cooled, slap on (or if you get fancy, pipe on) your frosting and to create the effect in the photos add an adorable straw (cut in half or thirds) to each cupcake.

Share with others (or keep them all for yourself)!

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Vegan kohlrabi hasbrown skillet … and why it’s all the rage!

So the Chubby Vegan Clan has been enjoying CSA goods for the last two months now and it’s seriously awesome. Not only does Chubby Vegan Dad make the grossest smoothies in the world every morning with whatever hodge podge of vegetables and fruits we have available, it’s introduced us to a couple different things we’ve been missing out on at our grocery store.

For example, kohlrabi. It’s basically all the rage.

OK, it’s not, but it really should be. At first I wasn’t sure what the heck to do with it, so I googled it. And guess what, not a whole lot came up. Aside from grilling, roasting or throwing it in a soup, there wasn’t much to do with it. Not that you have to do something fancy with it, but, every now and then I like to change things up a bit.

So we decided it reminded us a little bit of a radish/turnip/potato hybrid, so naturally, we made hashbrowns with it.

It was a shot in the dark. It shredded similar to a potato, it just seemed to have a higher water content. So we tossed it in the skillet, threw some peppers and onions with it and topped it with Daiya cheddar cheese and fake bacon bits and it was delicious.

Oh my gosh, so delicious.

I highly recommend you pick up some of this crazy-looking veggie, it makes a ton, tastes better than a potato and has less carbs, more fiber and fewer calories. (Which means you can add the fake bacon bits and Daiya without the guilt!)

Kohlrabi hasbrowns
(serves 3-4)
2 large kohlrabi bulbs (cleaned, stems and greens removed, skins peeled off)
Frozen pepper blend (we used a 16 oz red, yellow, green and onion blend)
1/3 bag Daiya cheddar cheese
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
Fake bacon bits to taste
Olive oil to coat the skillet

On medium heat, coat a skillet with olive oil (just enough to have a thin layer to keep things from sticking). Wash your kohlrabi bulbs, remove the stems, greens and skin. Shred the bulb and dab with paper towels (to help remove extra moisture). Toss in the skillet, add frozen pepper blend, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until you reach desired tenderness (we opted for longer). Stir in Daiya and top with fake bacon bits. Cook three-five more minutes.

Eat. A. Ton.

And be really, really thankful you gave kohlrabi a chance!

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Red paint, protesters and chicken milk

A little over a month ago my first baby turned three years old. THREE YEARS OLD. It seems impossible. And most days, it seems like she’s three going on 13 (I’m sure you can imagine how much fun THAT is).

She was an angel in her twos, so apparently she’s going to come into her threes with a bang. And by bang I mean the sound her door makes when she slams it 19 times (because the first 18 times we ignored her, trying not to give into her strong will). Or the bang the wall makes when she hits her head against it during timeout. And then the bang of my hand against my head that follows because she’s now made herself sob uncontrollably and I can’t figure out if she’s REALLY hurt or if she’s just smart enough to know that bodily harm is the only thing that can get her attention in timeout.

So when you skip the terrible twos, apparently you’re just holding out for the stab-yourself-in-the-eye-with-a-rusty-fork, trying-doesn’t-even-begin-to-cover-it, tremendously-tumultuous, you-might-consider-selling-your-toddler-on-eBay threes.

Aside from the angsty teenage rebellion our daughter is coming into, she’s also going through a growth spurt — physically and mentally.

She eats more than I do.

No, this isn’t a joke. She eats like more than me in a day. Of course, she also runs, jumps, skips, gallops, twirls, dances and does more jumping jacks than I do in a day. (I’ve got her beat on coffee consumption though!) She’s not the least bit overweight or anything, she’s still taller than most girls her age and her weight is right on par with average, but this girl can seriously throw some food down.

Take yesterday for instance. She had a banana for breakfast. Then some strawberries for breakfast dessert. For brunch she had peanut butter toast. For brunch dessert she had a granola bar. Then for lunch, she had a veggie dog and some vegan pizza we had frozen. Followed by her lunch dessert of strawberry coconut yogurt. For dinner she had noodles, carrots and edamame. For her after dinner snack she had potato lentil chips. And then for dessert she had one scoop of cherry chocolate chip soy ice cream.

I’m not kidding you. For the most part she eats incredibly healthy food and she seems to be active and growing like a weed, so do you worry when your toddler starts eating more food than the rest of the family combined?

And while all that food is fueling her physical growth spurt, there’s plenty of turmoil around here to help her develop mentally. Take for instance the drive to my parents house, which, albeit two miles away, entails passing a free women’s center where abortions are performed Monday-Saturday.

Here’s the dealio people. I’m not going to get all politically righteous on you because it’s just not my place. While I may not agree with everything everyone thinks, I can respect that a person has different views than mine and probably feels equally as passionate about their cause (whatever it may be) as I do mine.

So when I talk about this pro-life issue, I’m not saying I have a problem with that belief system. I’m not saying I support it or am against it, either. What I am against, however, are the massive, incredibly gruesome posters someone is inevitably holding up between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Trust me, I get the point of them. The shock value of what’s being done to tiny fetuses at the hands of these women and doctors. I can commercially and personally understand the theory behind these types of pictures.

 But for the love of three year olds, can we please put these pictures on maybe a pamphlet and pass them out to responsible adults instead? Twice in the last two weeks my daughter has seen these signs from her car seat and asked why those babies looked like that, what was wrong with them. Luckily, she doesn’t question my answer of «oh, someone spilled red paint on the picture» or «it’s not real, it’s just a picture,» but one of these days she will.

I’m not saying don’t protest. I’m just saying that maybe, in a small suburb loaded with tiny hands and tiny minds, we could reserve the shock value strictly for adults.

Just like people don’t like animal rights protesters to hand-out cruelty-filled information on what’s happening to their kids lunches, I don’t really think it’s anybody else’s job out there (regardless of their beliefs) to decide when I should educate my daughter on the realities of abortion.

And speaking of animal rights, she’s becoming a lot more aware of that, too. The other day we were perusing our grocery store and she saw the sprawling display of raw meats. She asked me what that was and I told her it was meat, like hamburgers, sausage and chicken. She then exclaimed «I love veggie chicken,» and begged me to go buy some. I told her that was a different kind of meat, that the veggie chicken she likes is made from vegetables (we make ‘chicken’ nuggets out of quinoa and sweet potatoes). Which led her to ask what the other meat was made from.

This is a tricky subject for us. I want our little girl to understand why we eat differently, but at three years old, I don’t want her to think all the other people in her life that don’t choose to be like us are bad. If she wants to come to that conclusion when she’s 14, fine, we’ll go down that road then, but just like we don’t want people to judge or dislike us because we choose to live cruelty-free, I don’t want to instill hate or disrespect in her for people that don’t.

When I explained to her that «real» meat came from cows, pigs and the feathery chickens she sees in her books, she got a horrified look on her face and asked why people ate them. I told her that some people do it because they like the taste, for moral or health reasons, but it didn’t make them bad, just different than us. I told her that because we are vegan, we believe we can get enough from vegetables so we don’t eat animals or things that come from them.

She sat quiet for about three minutes (quite the achievement for her) and so I asked her if she was OK or if she had anymore questions.

She simply looked at me and said «so we don’t drink chicken milk because we’re ‘begins?'»

God bless a three-year-old’s rationale.

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Vegan broccoflower «wings»

First off, it’s 2013. Can spellcheck please get with it and add teriyaki to it’s database. It’s been around for like ever and for some reason I can’t remember whether it’s two r’s or one, so I always have to Google it and feel like a moron. Help a sistah out here.

Oh, and add sistah while you’re at it.

Just kidding, that’s not correct grammar peeps!

Anywho, a few weeks back I came across this fab-freaking-tastic recipe for barbecue cauliflower wings that I just had to make on the giddy up! I’m not normally one to follow a recipe, but because I’ve never made anything of this variety, I decided to go with the flow.

And that flow was delicious my folks.

We’ve made these three different times now and I’ve tweaked the recipe according to our tastes and what we have in the fridge (aka, we never have plain nondairy milk). I wasn’t sure if this would work without it, but it did, so I figured I’d share my adjusted version of these bad boys in case you guys need something super easy, super quick and super yummy for little hands or for game night!

Teriyaki broccoflower wings
(makes a whole cookie sheet of yummyness!)
1 head of broccoflower (any variety of «flower» will do, cauliflower, fiestaflower, etc)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup flaxseed-«egg» mixture (take 1 1/2 cups cold water and add 3 heaping TBS of ground flaxseed to it, allow that to sit for 10 minutes and stir with a fork. DO NOT skip the sitting step. We need it to nasty gelify)
1/2 to 1 cup water (you can vary this, use less water if you like a thicker, breadier batter or use more water if you like it a little on the runny and light side. I used more)
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
dash of salt and pepper
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 cups teriyaki sauce (buy some prepackaged, vegan though, or make it yourself with the following recipe!)

Optional: Make your own teriyaki glaze!
1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce (we use the low sodium kind!)
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar (add the greater amount if you like your sauce sweet)
2 TBS agave nectar
3 TBS corn starch

Sauce directions:
Mix everything but the cornstarch in a sauce pan on low to medium heat. Mix in cornstarch vigorously until it dissolves. Heat sauce until it thickens to desired texture (around six minutes for us). If it appears to thick, add two TBS of water at a time until it reaches your preference!

Wing directions:
Preheat your oven to 450. Cut broccoflower into strips and then break apart into wing-size pieces (almost the natural size of most ‘florets’). In a medium bowl, stir all wet ingredients together. In another bowl, stir all dry ingredients together. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until a smooth batter forms. Grease a large cookie sheet and then dip the broccoflower «wings» into the batter, making sure to cover the entire thing. Place on cookie sheet and repeat until all of your «wings» have been battered.

Place them in the oven for 15 minutes. When you pull them out they should be golden brown and breaded. Next, take your teriyaki sauce and baste each wing with a generous amount. Once they’re all covered, place back in the oven for three-five minutes, pull out once the sauce is bubbly and not burning.

Enjoy with your favorite vegetable and watch as your children gobble them up! (Or save them for yourself and eat them ALL)!

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Vegan orange creamsicle cupcakes … more summer sweets

You might remember from yesterday’s post that we celebrated our best friend’s daughter’s first birthday this past weekend. And I was lucky enough to be asked to provide the cupcakes and smashcake for said festivities!

And because we’re super detailed, crazy (some of you might call us psycho), over-doing it moms of the 21st century, we can’t just have your run-of-the-mill vanilla or chocolate. We have to pick out elaborate themes and make even more unique, but delicious cupcakes.

The good news about our elaborate, want-to-give-our-kids-everything-ways, is that all the guests and hubbies get to reap the benefits, like in the form of 72 strawberry lemonade and orange creamsicle cupcakes.

Yesterday’s post had the vegan strawberry lemonade cupcake recipe in it, so it’s only fair that today I give you the orange creamsicle one. While it was really the sidekick to the strawberry cupcake, it really is good enough to have it’s own day in the spotlight.

With the combination of orange juice, some vegan vanilla yogurt and a rich buttercream frosting, this becomes the cupcaked-out version of your favorite summer frozen treat!

Vegan orange creamsicle cupcakes
(makes 24 regular-size cupcakes)
Cupcake ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
1 stick vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
2/3 cup vegan vanilla yogurt (I used So Delicious coconut)
1/3 cup vanilla coconut milk (I like the thickness and creaminess it provides this recipe)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp orange extract
2 tsp PURE vanilla extract (don’t skimp, we don’t want imitation here, we want the legit kind)

Frosting ingredients:
2 sticks vegan butter (again, Earth Balance)
3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 TBS vanilla coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
(You can add a few drops of food coloring if you want, we purchase ours from a nearby natural parenting store, it’s locally made, natural and vegan)

Frosting Directions:
Soften the vegan butter (soften, not melt) and then in a medium bowl, mix butter, vanilla coconut milk and extract. Blend in powdered sugar with a hand mixer. Stick in the fridge to thicken up while the cupcakes bake.

Cupcake Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Soften your butter in the microwave (again, soften, not melt). In a large bowl, stir together all the wet ingredients, vegan butter, vegan yogurt, coconut milk, orange juice, orange extract and vanilla extract. Add the sugar. In another bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.Beat with a hand mixer for two minutes. Line a muffin pan with cupcake wrappers and pour mixture in, fill a little over half-way in each cup. Bake for 18-22 minutes at 350 degrees.

Once cooled, top with the rich vegan buttercream frosting you already made and enjoy the taste of a frozen summer treat that won’t melt all over your hands!

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