Disconnected. And it feels so good!

Well, it’s been a while, old friends! A week and a day to be exact. I didn’t plan it, but I ended up disconnecting for the holidays. With the exception of a few Instagram pics of my silly dogs, I avoided most social media, and most importantly, I didn’t write a word. I didn’t even take very many pictures (gasp!). Instead I spent lots of time with family, helped my husband put on a Turkey Trot race, cooked a lot, ate a lot more, ran a little, and had an amazing, wonderful holiday.

Here, with the few photographs that I took, plus a few that I stole borrowed from my family and friends, is a recap of the last week. And, many of the things that I am thankful for.

With the weather cooling down (though it was in the 80s on Thanksgiving Day), we had some cloud cover and even a little rain. That made for some beautiful sunrises. Did you ever notice that the most beautiful part of the sunrise happens when you don’t have a camera handy?



As I said, I didn’t take many pictures, but sometimes I just have to share my dogs’ antics, no matter how disconnected I am. There is Johnny above, showing it all off during his nap, Penny below, who is soooo tired, and Goldie on the bottom, sitting in a food bowl. Silly dogs!




On Thanksgiving Day, Alan and I put on the 16th Annual Turkey Trot, this year held in Old Town La Quinta. I say we, but he does all the work. I just help out and handle registration on race day. We had about 500 people, and in spite of a little course confusion (don’t ask!), everyone had a good time. And it gave us an idea for a different kind of race, a Scramble, where you run three courses, all the same distance, in different directions, and the first one across the line is a winner (that may give you an idea of how the Turkey Trot went!).


Pace Car

My son David and his girlfriend Melissa did the race for the first time. They also helped at registration.


Alan, posing with our daughter-in-law Lisa, and our twin grandsons Dane and Cash, before the race.


Look at that intense look on Cash’s face. You can tell he wants to win.

Cash3And he’s leading the race! Not really, but he did really well.

Cash2This was posted on Facebook by someone that I don’t even know (she posted it on the race page).  Cash is pretty much leading the race at that point!

Race Start



Grandpa and the boys.


I look important, don’t I? I’m checking the results to see how Cash did.


And he finished first in his age group!


Proud mama Lisa and her boys after the race.


One of our local newswomen, Gloria Rodriguez, announced the awards ceremony.


Alan is always at home behind the mic. In addition to our own races, he announces quite a few in Southern California, including the Malibu Marathon and the LA Triathlon series.


By 10:00 we were done with the race and headed home (nice to host a race in your home town, just five minutes from our front door). Even though we weren’t hosting Thanksgiving dinner, I did have some cooking to do..vegan versions of stuffing, sweet potatoes, plus I roasted a Gardein Holiday Roast, to bring with us to dinner at Lisa’s and Alan’s son John’s place in Palm Desert. Believe it or not, I didn’t take a single picture of either family or food. Instead, we just enjoyed the holiday together.

We were exhausted though. Alan wakes up at 2:30 on race morning, and I sleep in to about 4:00. I think we managed about an hour nap each, so by 8:00 we were sagging. Still, we had a great time.

Our second Thanksgiving meal was held at my son Nathan’s new home. It was also a celebration of Samuel’s second birthday, so in addition to Nathan and his wife Sarah, David and Melissa were there, along with my niece Brynne, her boyfriend Eric, and his son Zach. This time Nathan made vegan versions of most of the side dishes (hurray for my Paleo son!), so I just brought along the leftover Holiday Roast. I also got back on the picture taking wagon (or fell off..or something).

Grandpa: First, let’s take a selfie!


Hurray for the Chargers!


Sarah and Nathan are loving their new home. They’ve just been in it a month, and are finally getting things where they want them.


Uncle David giving Samuel a flight…

Uncle David

…and spending some time coloring.


A boy and his dog. That’s Chloe, who just turned a year old. Nice that they’ll grow up together.


My vegan dinner. Even my niece made her green bean casserole dairy free.




Singing to the birthday boy!



I managed to get a little training in, though between work, holidays, traveling, etc., I didn’t get my greatest effort. I did three runs, including a six miler on Saturday, my longest in a while, did one Pilates workout, and no yoga at all. But, December is the beginning of marathon training (for the SLO Marathon in April), so I started the month off with a five mile run and a yoga class on Monday.

Well, it felt so good to be disconnected, but it’s great to be back. How was your holiday? Did you get to disconnect a little? Spend some time with family and friends? Do you realize that Christmas is only three weeks away? And Hanukkah starts in less than two weeks? Yikes!



Things to remember:

SLO Marathon 1024x379 Starting with a Bang...

Join me in San Luis Obispo on April 26, 2015, for the SLO Marathon. Save $10 on registration for either the full or half marathon with the code: WOODAMB. Register soon for the best savings and I’ll see you in April!

Yoga Central Starting with a Bang...

My favorite yoga studio, Yoga Central is going global! You can sign up here, and read this post for details on signing up for online classes at Yoga Central.

Decorate a Beautiful Thanksgiving Table

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Boombox Network. The opinions and text are all my own.

Thanksgiving is only two weeks away, so in my household I’m beginning my annual fall cleaning and decorating project. My family Thanksgiving is always, well, interesting. Because my husband and I put on the annual Turkey Trot 5k every year, we are pretty exhausted by the time dinner time rolls around. So, to keep things as organized as possible, I try to plan, prepare and decorate my house in the days leading up to the holiday. I decided that my Thanksgiving table decorations definitely need an update (something beyond my usual candles and cornucopia), so I was happy to find this Thanksgiving Tabletop guide for inspiration.

    1. Hot Skwash Pumpkins – Rich, velvety pumpkins in warm hues with real pumpkin stems. Handcrafted in Oregon. Centerpiece on the table, the buffet or adornment over the mantle. See them here.
    2. Branch iron candelabra – A rustic but elegant and certainly dramatic candelabra that holds 17 candles. Buy it here.
    3. Dripless pillar candles – A set of 12 dripless candles in a color to suit your decor. Save your furniture and table linens from dripping wax! Get them here.
    4. Leaf appetizer dishes – These glazed leaf dishes are the perfect size for each guest to use as appetizers or for the hostess to serve sauces, dips, olives… See them here.
    5. Pumpkin Dutch Oven – A perfect Oven-to-Table piece, and certainly one that is an ode to the season. By Staub. You’ll have it forever. Buy it here.
    6. Swirled tangerine glasses – These goblets boast of seasonal colors and style. See them here.
    7. Root wood bowl – This one-of-a-kind wooden bowl is crafted from reclaimed fir wood. It is food-safe and perfect to serve dry foods such as breads. Check it out.
    8. Footed leaf tray – Highlight your hors d’oeuvres and desserts on this elegant pedestal tray. Get it here.
    9. Live Thankfully napkins – A set of 6 natural cotton napkins that are very apropos with the “Live Thankfully” inscription. Buy these napkins here.
    10. Wine carafe -Stylish wine serving is to be had with this hand-blown wine carafe with an oak wood stopper. Or use it for water or juice. See it here.
    11. Wood candle holders – A set of 5 wooden candle holders, each with a different distressed finish. Love them for the Thanksgiving table and anywhere in the house for the rest of the year. Get the set here.
    12. Flicker LED candles – Perfect for the wooden candle holders and you won’t have to worry about them. The natural flicker will make you forget these candles are battery operated. Oh, and remote control is pretty cool. Get them here.
    13. Autumn floral basket – Preserved sunflowers, myrtle in orange and green, flax and natural wheat make up this decorative harvest basket. Put it anywhere in your home to announce Thanksgiving. Buy it here.

    Give your guests an inkling of the festivities that await them inside by adorning your front door this absolutely gorgeous autumn foliage wreath.

Thanksgiving Wreath 2

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Boombox Network . The opinions and text are all mine.

My Birthday, Samuel Time, and My Dad

My Birthday

So, Sunday was my birthday. Since I got to pick our activities for the day, we went to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and, of course, Samuel! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

SamuelIt was also exciting that they had just moved into their new house! They had it built in a new development (which is much closer to the desert, hurray!), and just got the keys last week and moved on Friday! So the house was still full of boxes, the walls are bare, but they are so happy to be into their first home.

house 2

houseYes, that is my birthday wine in the foreground.

So we got to play with Samuel.

Samuel 2

And with the granddogs (Chloe will also be celebrating her first birthday in a couple days. Can you tell which dog is the puppy?



They took us to lunch at the Earth Bistro, a cute place in Temecula that has vegan options for us and gluten free options for them. A win-win!

Earth Bistro

Samuel 3All in all, just about the best way I can think of to spend my birthday.

My Dad

My dad and I shared the same birthday, so I always like to take some time to think about him on “our” day. He would have been 88!


How was your weekend? Any fun events or family time? Want to come to La Quinta to run a 5k with me? Did you guess which dog was the puppy?


Wow! What a Weekend!

In a nutshell, this is how I spent Thanksgiving weekend:


  • Turkey Trot (on the trails this year). Alan and I (mostly him) put it on.
  • Just two for dinner.
  • Impossible to cook Thanksgiving Dinner for two.
  • Huge quantities of vegan Thanksgiving food prepared.
  • Huge quantities of vegan Thanksgiving food consumed.
  • Bed by 6:30.


  • Work, 7:30-12:30
  • Not a black Friday kind of person, but had to venture out to buy Samuel’s birthday present.
  • Didn’t feel good after shopping (possibly a result of the night before? Not sure).
  • Went to bed early with no dinner, worried that I was coming down with something.


  • Got up feeling much better.
  • Took a three mile run with Alan and the dogs.
  • Showered, packed and got ready to head to San Diego.
  • Arrived at my son/daughter-in-law’s house around 1:15.
  • Celebrated Samuel’s first birthday with family and friends.
  • Drove to Encinitas, where we had a reservation for the night, arrived around 6:00.
  • Didn’t feel like driving anymore, so we first walked to the beach (in the dark), then to dinner.
  • In bed by around 8:30


  • Got up, went to Starbucks for coffee, then went for a three mile run.
  • Showered, packed, and checked out.
  • Went to breakfast.
  • Went to Roadrunner Sports
  • Drove home.
  • Finished doing the results for the Turkey Trot (late, I know, but I’m just one human being).
  • Dinner of vegan Thanksgiving leftovers. Ate too much again.
  • Sat down to write this post.

A few highlights:

Thursday: Turkey Trot

Or as we call it now, Trot N on the Trails. Because of an issue at Palm Desert High School, where we were originally going to hold the race, we had to make a last minute change and chose the trails in La Quinta to hold the race (same course as the Gem of the Desert trail race). As a result, we had a much smaller crowd (only around 250), and I was in charge of the timing. Timing companies are pretty expensive, so with the small turn out we ended up doing the timing by hand, which is always a challenge.

Weekend - Turkey Trot

Backing up just a little, Alan was up at 2 am, and I was up at 2:30 to get ready for the race. We had plenty of volunteers, and everything went really well (except a couple timing glitches, of course). The race benefited our friend Jeff Rasmussen, who you may remember from my post almost a year ago, is dealing with a stage four brain tumor. Exactly a year ago on Thursday, he went into a coma and had to have emergency brain surgery, from which we were told he probably wouldn’t survive. Well, he actually walked the race on Thursday! Here is a link to the local news video about Jeff.

After finally finishing up and carting everything home, it was around 11:00. I really was afraid to sit down, thinking I might never get up again. So, I first made my pumpkin pie, then just kept on with the food prep. I made the stuffing and sweet potatoes, then finally took an hour for a quick nap. I finished up with the rest of the dinner, and we ate around 5:30.

Weekend - Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner

After everything was pretty well put away and cleaned up (that is one part that is easier when there are only two people), I decided that there wasn’t really anything else I needed to do, so at 6:30 I headed to bed.

Friday: Work & Upset Stomach

I had to work in the morning on Friday, but I was done about 12:30. I spent a little time writing a post (it was Samuel’s first birthday!), then we went to lunch. Since I had put off buying Samuel’s birthday present, we had to venture out into the Black Friday crowd. It wasn’t too bad. We went to Target, where our timing was pretty good, and we got out of the store with our sanity.

By the time we got home though, I really wasn’t feeling good.  I just felt queasy, though it was hard to put a finger on the cause. I decided to go to bed early, skipping dinner. I was worried that I was coming down with something, and I was concerned that it would cause me to miss Samuel’s party on Saturday.

Saturday: Birthday Party!

Fortunately, I felt much better on Saturday morning. Good enough to go for a little run on the trails with Alan, Penny, and Buddy. We ran about three miles, then we showered, packed up, and got on the road to San Diego.



It was a great party! Lot’s of family and friends, and even if Samuel won’t remember, we certainly will.

Weekend - Samuel and Teddy


Weekend - First Birthday Cake

Afterwards, Alan and I drove to Encinitas where we were staying overnight. We talked about going to Native Foods for dinner, but once we parked at the hotel, we didn’t feel like driving again. Instead, we took a walk to Moonlight Beach and listened to the waves for a while, then walked to the Roxy, which has a nice selection of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. I was still pretty full from lunch, and chose a big salad and soup for dinner.

After that, a walk home and another early-to-bed night.

Sunday: Running and a Little Shopping

We woke up pretty early on Sunday (after going to bed so early!), and decided to go for a little run along the coast. Even though I had a long run on the schedule, I felt that a three mile run was just perfect. I’ll catch up next week.

Weekend running in Encinitas


Weekend - Running tree pose

After running, showering and checking out, we headed to one of our favorite places for breakfast in Encinitas, Ki’s. It was a beautiful day, so we ate on the patio overlooking the ocean. Pancakes for Alan, and a tofu scramble for me. It was excellent. I always order a Virgin Mary when we go to Ki’s, but this time it took a while to get it. When the server finally delivered it, I thanked her, then thought to ask, it is a Virgin Mary, right? She looked a little embarrassed, and said no, actually there was quite a bit of alcohol it it. She started to take it back, offered it to Alan (who doesn’t drink at all), then brought me my alcohol-free version. I really do enjoy a good Bloody Mary, but not when we are busy, driving, and trying to get things done.

Weekend vegan breakfast at Ki's

After that, we headed to Roadrunner Sports for a little shopping (VIPs get 20% off through Monday!). And then, finally, we drove the two hours home, where our dogs were almost as happy to see us as we were to see them.

Shoe Dog

I spent about three hours finishing up the results of the Turkey Trot and uploading them to Active. Fortunately, we had plenty of leftovers from Thanksgiving, which we enjoyed for dinner. And, again, I ate too much.

Finally, here I sit, trying to put words together in a fashion that you will enjoy reading, before I had off to yet another early bedtime.

And how was your weekend? I hope that you had a wonderful, family-filled holiday.

A Vegan Traditionalist: 3 Last Minute Thanksgiving Recipes

During the last two weeks before Thanksgiving, you will find hundreds of vegan recipes on the internet. While I love to browse through them all, I confess that I tend to stick to a traditional menu (sans turkey, of course). Most Thanksgiving side dishes are easy to veganize without losing any of the delicious flavor. I have a few favorites that I make every year.

Here are three of my favorite vegan versions of traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

Vegan Stuffing

Stuffing really is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. I’m not sure why I don’t make it at other times of the year, but I don’t so it always has that special holiday feeling to it. In spite of the name, this dressing has never seen the inside of a turkey though!

vegan traditionalist - stuffing

5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Stuffing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Vegan
Serves: 4-6
  • 10 cups vegan bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • Cooking Spray
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¾ cup mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2-3 cups vegetable broth
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Toast the bread cubes on a large baking sheet until golden brown. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Turn the oven down to 350.
  4. Heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the onions, garlic, celery for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the vegetable are soft. Transfer the mixture into the bowl of bread crumbs.
  5. Add the seasonings, almonds, and parsley and stir the mixture until well mixed.
  6. Add two cups of the vegetable broth and stir until it is absorbed. Add more if needed so that the mixture is moist, but not soggy.
  7. Pour mixture into the casserole dish. Cover and bake 25 minutes. Remove the cover and bake another 10-15 minutes.


Mushroom Gravy

If you’d asked me years ago, I would have said that a good gravy needed to have all those drippings and crusty parts that you scrape off the bottom of your turkey pan. Thankfully for the turkey, I was wrong. This rich gravy will satisfy everyone, vegan or carnivore.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Mushroom Gravy
Recipe type: Vegan
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup mushrooms chopped
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ cup flour
  1. Preheat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the broth, water, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Gradually add the flour, stirring to avoid lumps. Simmer until the gravy is thickened.


Easy Maple Pumpkin Pie

After going vegan, I went for years without my favorite holiday pie. Finally, after a little experimentation, I got this one just right.

Thanksgiving - Vegan Pumpkin Pie


5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Maple Pumpkin Pie
Recipe type: Vegan
Cuisine: Dessert
  • ¾ lb. silken tofu
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ⅓ cup sunflower oil
  • 1 pre-made vegan pie crust
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the pie crust in a blender or food processor. Blend until creamy. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and 350 for 45 minutes.
  2. Chill and serve with vegan whipped cream or ice cream.


I hope that all of you have a safe, wonderful, and cruelty free Thanksgiving.

These recipes, veganized by me, originally appeared on Better with Veggies in November 2012.

Turkey-Free Thanksgiving & Other Updates

Wow, this week has rushed by. So much to do, so little time to write. Here is a quick update, then hopefully I can return to more regular posting. Hopefully. It’s a busy time of year.


Last Sunday, the day after the Native Foods Pre-Opening Party, I had to drive to San Diego to drop off the glider I had purchased for Nathan and Sarah. Their baby, my grandson, Samuel, is due any day now and I want them to have the glider in place when they bring him home. We had a nice visit, a lot of it spent walking to encourage Samuel to hurry up and be born. Sarah looks beautiful, feels pretty good, and is totally ready to have the pregnancy over with.

Thanksgiving vegan



I am thankful that my son has found such a wonderful woman, and that their baby boy will be here any day now. By the way, for my Paleo readers, Nathan and Sarah both follow a Paleo diet and have started a new blog, Rock Like Grok, to share their recipes as well as their new parenting adventures.

I finally decided on Tuesday that I would cook Thanksgiving dinner even though Nathan and Sarah wouldn’t be traveling for obvious reasons, so it would just be Alan, myself, and, briefly, my son David. It always sounds attractive to be taken out to dinner on a holiday instead of cooking a huge meal for three, but a Turkey-less, vegan Thanksgiving dinner is hard to come by around here unless you prepare it for yourself.

In any case, starting Tuesday I started shopping for everything I needed (along with about 99% of the local population!). My menu: cornbread stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, gravy, and pumpkin pie. I decided to try Trader Joe’s Turkey-less Roast, not really necessary with all the scrumptious side dishes, but it appeals to the traditionalist in me. Fortunately, this year I didn’t have to hunt down the vegan marshmallows, I was able to go straight to Harvest Health Foods, where I finally found them last year.

Of course I was working Tuesday and Wednesday while doing all this. I managed to make the cranberry sauce on Tuesday evening, and planned to bake the pie on Wednesday after work. Best laid plans…

When I left work on Wednesday, I had to go with Alan to pick up the U-Haul truck that he needed to haul all the equipment for the Palm Springs Turkey Trot, which would be on Thursday morning. I wanted to pick up a few more things from the store, but first we needed to go to the high school to pick up some tables and chairs for the event.

Off track here for a moment. We almost had a dog rescuer moment at the U-Haul place again. Ironically, we were discussing how we found two stray dogs there a couple years ago as we were pulling up. At that moment we saw two (different) dogs, no collars of course, playing on the lawn. It’s a terrible place because it’s right next to a busy road. We tried to get them to come to us, but they ran away. At least we got them away from the road.

Alan drove the truck home while I finished my shopping. My plan was to go home and make my pumpkin pie. Instead, we had to head to Palm Springs, where we had early packet pick-up for the race. Palm Springs is about a 45 minute drive at that time of the afternoon. We spent a couple hours at the base of the Forever Marilyn statue, gave out a few t-shirts and goodie bags, signed up a few more people, and finally headed home, where I threw together a quick dinner. Even so, bedtime was a late (for us) 10:00, the night before we had to wake up at 2:30 to head back to Palm Springs for the race. (I actually slept until 3:00 since I didn’t have to be there quite as early as Alan.)


When I talk about “us” putting on the Turkey Trot, I really mean “him,” my husband. Alan started planning months ago, with help this year from a friend of ours, Molly (who puts on the Run for Ike). All I really do is find a few volunteers and work the “day of race;” coordinate the volunteer assignments, handle registration, answer questions. Alan, of course, is the race announcer and in charge of the music, so in addition to setting up the course, he is starting the race and there at the finish line to call in the runners. I did find the time to take a couple pictures.




We had a good crowd, about 700 runners, and everything went great. There was prize money this year, so we had some really fast runners (the winner’s time was 14:55!). This was our first year doing the Turkey Trot in Palm Springs (it’s been in Palm Desert for the last 13 years), but it was a great venue. The area around the Marilyn statue was perfect for registration and the award ceremony. We were done by around 10:00, spent a few minutes talking with the Sav-a-Pet volunteers (our race beneficiary). They adopted out three dogs! Success! Obviously I was busy if I didn’t think to take any dog pictures.

After we finished, I drove the car home, while Alan and one of our former cross country runners (long graduated, living in Long Beach, but always comes back to help), took the stuff back to the high school. I had a pie to bake! Though after it was done we had to hurry out to return the U-Haul (no roaming dogs this time, thank goodness).

Until a few years ago, my sister and I would spend our Thanksgiving together, in my kitchen, catching up, as we prepared dinner. Now she lives in Texas and can’t make it out until Christmas. So I did the cooking. You know what? There is just as much work cooking for three as there is for eight. Oh, in case you feel that Alan should have helped. He did, big time, by doing all the clean up. For me, that is the perfect trade off.

By the time we sat down to dinner, Alan and I were both exhausted. I was so tired I didn’t take any pictures of dinner, Alan was so tired he didn’t even have any dessert. Both are pretty prime examples of how tired we were. We did have some pie for breakfast though, and I managed a quick picture.


I had to work on Friday, but I got off fairly early and managed to remember to take a picture of my Thanksgiving sandwich:


I tried to finish this post on Saturday, but between my computer randomly turning off (hopefully getting a new one this week!), shopping (for myself…not quite ready for Christmas shopping yet), and a friend’s 40th birthday party, it didn’t get done. We had another early Sunday, waking up before 3:00 to drive to San Dimas, where Alan is announcing the Turkey Triathlon. Damn I’m a good wife! I’m finishing the post on my phone while he works (for the second time, having somehow lost all my new work when trying to upload).

It’s very pretty here at Bonelli park. I took a short run after it warmed up a bit and the race had started. It was quite a hilly run as it turned out, but fun anyway, even though I managed to take a tumble within the first two minutes.





Well, that’s how I spent my Thanksgiving week. How did you spend yours? I hope you were able to be with family, eat some great food, and maybe enjoy a fun family event like a turkey trot.