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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

It’s Fall Festival Time!!!

It’s Fall Festival Time!!! That means corn stalks, apples, and my favorite PUMPKINS! This weekend Pug Daddy, Freddie and I took a drive out to a local orchard; Soergel’s, to take in some of the fall season. Little did we know that it would be 80 degrees outside and so packed full of people that we parked really far away and had to hike across a pumpkin patch just to get to the main part of the festivities. We, of course, had Freddie riding in his aquamarine City Minnie stroller and pushed him “off road style”.

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Risden Family at Soergel’s Orchard, October 7, 2017

I believe everyone in the Tri State area had the same idea because there were sooo many people there. We popped into the farm stand style store for a quick drink and we had difficulty moving around. Pug Daddy may have accidentally run into a handicapped woman’s walker on accident (oops!). Long lines combined with a ton of children made quickly doing anything very unrealistic.

Despite the uncomfortable heat, and crowds, we did get to see the rows of apple trees, pumpkin patches, and fall wildflowers. We took a few obligatory pictures and popped our heads into a few shops to see what Soergel’s had to offer. I was super excited about the local Arsenal Cider House that was selling jugs of adult cider. It was the perfect drink for a warmer than expected day. I was also pleasantly surprised to find dairy-free ice cream being offered right next to the plain old cow’s milk ice cream. Freddie wasn’t really feelin’ the orchard after about an hour, but a soy root beer float would have been oh so delightful.

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We had a pretty nice time overall, but I would also like to check out other fall festivals in the area. I’m hoping that we are able to go to one that isn’t’ quite so congested. Hopefully we will actually try the soy ice cream too.