Sweet Potato Pie in the Sky

Now I love a good smoothie, but it’s the middle of March and the thought of blending up an icy concoction gives me the literal shivers. It better be a really damn good smoothie for the chill to be worth it.

Enter the child approved Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie. Freddie drinks these down like water. We usually split one, but sometimes I have to blend up two. It has warming spices and it helps to increase your daily antioxidant intake. It also brings back cozy memories of the holidays.

I got the idea for this from from a new Amazon cookbook find.

Sweet Potato Soul by Jenne Claiborne

The recipe in the book is good, but I tweaked it a bit to make it more to our liking. I do enjoy that someone else shares my affinity for sweet potatoes.

Our friends enjoying a little bit of smoothie
I know. Ridiculous…

Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie


  • 1 cup roasted sweet potato
  • 1 cup nondairy milk (I use almond or soy)
  • 1 banana (it can be frozen if you are the plan ahead kind of person)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 2-3 medjool dates (soaked in hot water for 10 minutes if you aren’t using a high speed blender)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend.



Come On Vamanos … Everyone Let’s Go!

Barcelona- Here We Come!

Oh hello there! The pugs send warm March snuggles to everyone trying to stay warm in these last weeks of winter. I hope these Nor’easters haven’t got all of my friends on the East Coast too down.

Olive sexy face
Olive is giving you her sexy look. Try not to be seduced.

The Grumblers have begun the process of selecting a location for our International vacation of 2018. We have gotten a bit stir crazy here and need to go explore a few foreign destinations and get lost in a non-English speaking city. Last year we were a bit limited because Freddie was just turning one and the thought of packing him up and schlepping him through a foreign airport made my back hurt.

This year is a whole different story! He can walk substantial distances by himself, and can communicate with us a whole lot better. I know I might be pushing it, but fingers crossed that he is potty trained by the time we leave.

We threw around a whole bunch of destinations that sounded like a good time. The tops of our list included: Portugal, Tel Aviv, Corsica, and Costa Rica. Decisions, decisions … Of course I was trying to pick a vegan friendly destination that Aaron would also enjoy, and since we have been hibernating from the cold these last few months, warmth was a definite requirement.

And then over a lovely dinner out, Aaron threw out the idea- Barcelona. I don’t know why, but I just wasn’t expecting that from him. Hmmm…. Barcelona. I studied abroad in Valencia, Spain in college, but my Spanish skills are quite rusty and I never thought that he had ay interest.

How vegan friendly is Barcelona? If it is anything like Valencia was 10 Year’s ago, we are gonna starve. I did some research. I found a very helpful book entitled Barcelona Vegan Travel Guide Who knew that there would be a whole book dedicated to my cause?

Barcelona Vegan Guide
I hope this saves me from Spanish meat and dairy!

Well, Barcelona it is. We leave in September, and on this vacation, we will be bringing my sister. Freddie’s Aunt Bananas (aka Hannah). I tried to convince her to come as Freddie’s nanny, but she shut that down real quick. Aunt Bananas will be a regular old tourist like us (I’m secretly hoping that she will entertain Freddie on the flight at least).

This brings me to my new project. Brush up on my Spanish! Oh Duolingo, how have I not tried you until now. I even enlisted the help of a professional. I found my new Spanish tutor, whom I refer to as Ana Excelente on Thumbtack. She’s beating my language challenged ass into shape. I get tested and everything. I always get an A+.

Freddie watching Dora
Freddie is brushing up on his Spanish too. Dora to the rescue. Now if he only could figure out English sentences.

I am very excited to try out the CatBar, Dolce Pizza y Los Veganos, and the several macrobiotic restaurants that appear in my vegan guide book. Have any Barcelona traveling tips? Or fun spots to visit that are off the beaten path? I am very aware all things Gaudi BTW. Let me know!

Vegan Apple Pie

During our Thanksgiving dinner, Freddie ate nothing but the apple pie. I don’t know if it was too many different tastes and textures, but the little man would have nothing to do with any of the other dishes on the menu. I found this extremely ironic since he doesn’t really like plain apples. The pugs really enjoyed the bits of dinner that he threw to them though.

Vegan Apple Pie Ingredients

For my apple pie, I used golden delicious apples, but everyone has their own theories about which apples bake the best. The Grumblers aren’t really fans of Granny Smiths or Red Delicious’s.

Vegan Apple Pie pre topping

I also used a pre-made pie crust because I ain’t got time for that shit, but if homemade pie crust strikes your fancy, have at it. Make sure the check the ingredients. A lot of pre-made pie crusts just happen to be vegan. Go figure.

Vegan Apple Pie before it hits the oven

It tends to get a little bit messy, so I would recommend baking the pie with a cookie sheet underneath.

Vegan Apple Pie with Almond Milk ice cream

Vegan Apple Pie 

Serves 8

Ingredients for Pie:

  • 1 pre-made pie crust
  • 8 cups thinly sliced apples (6-8 apples)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • dash of salt

Ingredients for Topping:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery spread

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the apples. Once mixed, pour into the pre-made pie crust.

3. Mix the Topping Ingredients together in a bowl until crumbly.

4. Sprinkle the topping onto the pie. It will look really full, but don’t worry, it will cook down.

5. Bake in oven for 40 minutes. Place a cookie sheet under the pie just in case the pie drips over the edges. Cover with foil to prevent further browning and bake  another 20 minutes.

6. Let cool and enjoy. Serve with vegan vanilla ice cream and/or vegan whipped cream.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Happy Thanksgiving!

Although Aaron isn’t the biggest lover of pumpkin, but I have to get my pumpkin fill in as many ways as I can during the fall. One of my favorite ways to use up my stockpile of canned pumpkin is to make a healthy and refreshing pumpkin pie smoothie for breakfast. It’s one way to sneak in a few fruits, some omegas, and lots of antioxidants via spices like cinnamon and ginger.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Thievery
Freddie enjoying my Pumpkin Pie Smoothie on Thanksgiving morning.

I try to whip one of these bad boys together in the time after I drop Freddie at daycare and before I head to work. If I don’t schedule my smoothie making like that, Freddie tries to drink it all. Him having a smoothie isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but he’s a pumpkin hog.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Smoothie


  • 1 cup nondairy milk (we use soy)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup canned puréed pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp oatmeal
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp blackstrap molasses
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Put everything in a blender or food processor and blend. Enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Dessert in a glass


Fall Festival Time!! Part Deux…

This weekend Pug Daddy’s parents were visiting. That’s right, the INLAWS!!! Noooo! Instead of the usual gathering around the television and addictively watching Fox News like they typically like to do, we decided to take them on a trip to a local farm to enjoy a bit of the Fall Festival season.

I was pondering going to Trax Farm, which is about 30 minutes from our house and located directly off of Route 88. I heard through the daycare-parent grapevine that Trax allows fracking on their property. Yuck!

Instead, we thought that we would try out Simmons Farm. This farm is located in Peters Township, sandwiched in between mega mansions. It’s very spaced out and makes good use of the apple orchards, pumpkin patch, and small stores that are all on the property. I have to say that this farm takes fall decorations very seriously.


Freddie’s favorite part was definitely the small field where the farm had several animals. His favorites were the goats and sheep.


We did pick a few apples and it seemed like the hike to ripe apples was a long and sweaty one. I’m not sure why I thought carrying a bushel of apples, with a toddler, walking uphill, on a 75 degree day, was a good idea.

…And the rope just keeps going…

Overall, Simmons Farm was a very nice trip. It wasn’t too far away and we didn’t have too much trouble with Fall Festival overcrowding. Next time I might take Freddie on a Friday morning when his daycare is having a day off so that we can have more of the farm to ourselves. Excellent option to entertain the in laws.


An Evening with George Takei

So while Aaron and I were out getting some ice cream, I noticed a flyer on the wall. It was advertising “An Evening with George Takei.” I knew he was a Star Trek fan so of course, I said, “Hey, wanna go?” He was not interested and then I dropped the topic.

The very next day, one of my besties Jenny Liu, texted me and asked if I wanted to go to …. “An Evening with George Takei”. Because of the fact that I was already mildly intrigued since seeing the flyer in an ice cream parlor, I agreed to go.

Jenny Liu and I purchased our tickets and planned a time to meet. Since we are both busy ladies, we didn’t have time for dinner before the show. I arranged for Mama D to watch Freddie and she arranged for Mama Liu to watch her boys.


We meet up in an auditorium on the Pitt campus. This talk was part of International Week and the theme of the week was “displacement”. A Pitt professor gave us an introduction citing all of the recent examples of people being displaced. Dreamers, Myanmar, Syria, and the victims of the recent natural disasters. More groups of people than I had really considered.

The outside of Soldiers and Sailors where we saw Takei

Then George Takei came out and started his talk. I had known that he had been in a Japanese internment camp, but never really knew the details about how everything had happened. It astounded me how fast anyone could lose absolutely everything. One day you have a successful business, a home, and a family, and the next day, you’re living in a swamp in the Deep South with an empty bank account.

How his parents were able to live the rest of their lives without resentment amazed me. I get so angry whenever Pug Daddy doesn’t empty the dishwasher. I don’t think I could peacefully live in a place that caused me to lose all of my earthly possessions.

George Takei switched gears and started talking about when States started to pass gay marriage legislation. We learned that his husband “Brad” also had come to this lecture. They both became gay marriage activists and got to see gay marriage become legal in all 50 states. It was very inspirational. He seemed so happy and proud. Warm tingly feelings were felt all around.

I was so glad that I got to see Jenny Liu and have a night out. Hopefully neither of us will ever be displaced from our homes and hopefully the people who are currently displaced find some sanctuary. We both enjoyed hearing George Takei’s motivational talk and it had us feeling good for the rest of the night.

Jenny Liu and I after Takei talk

A World Without Cookies is Somewhere That I don’t Want to Live

Its so fun whenever you start to see little things in your children that remind you of yourself or your partner. Like that little sideways glance they do whenever they are doing something that they know they aren’t supposed to be doing. Or the twinkle in their eyes that they have whenever they are happy that is the same little twinkle you noticed on the first date that you had with your partner. Insert cheesy smile that looks like a picture you have of your sister when she was 6.

He is literally Aunt Banana’s clone in this picture.

At most meals these days, Freddie likes to enjoy a few cookies. Where does he get this love? I’ll tell you. Just like his Mama, Freddie has a crazy love of all cookies. How can you say no to that face? Of course we enjoy organic, vegan cookies, but cookies nonetheless.

We have a hard time making it through the grocery store without taking a little timeout for cookies. Freddie has become quite familiar with the packaging of our favorite brands. Just take a gander at our recent Whole Foods break.

We love Alternative Baking Company cookies!

We like to shop and then sit in the cafe for a brief snack time. Sometimes we chat with cafe workers, sometimes we don’t. Freddie had a Peanut Butter cookie and I enjoyed a Lemon Poppyseed cookie made by the Alternative Baking Company.

I think I even have rubbed off my love of cookies on the rest of the Grumble. Everyone loves peanut butter cookies in this house. Mother Hubbard is our Pug Cookie brand of choice.

That’s a peanut butter cookie that I’m holding at the bottom of the picture.

Pug Daddy and I do have regular debates about the appropriate texture of cookies. He tends to enjoy a crunchier cookie, but I prefer a softer and more chewy cookie. Shall I say the most hated word in the English language? I prefer a MOIST cookie. That’s right, a MOIST cookie.

So lots of cookies are in The House of Grumble. How do households survive without regular infusions of cookies? I have no answers and do not understand this lifestyle. So I proudly pass down cookie love to the pug children and my human child.  More cookies please!