January 31, 2012

Maple-Cinnamon Peanut Butter Dip and Eating Green

Today I am going to share one of my most frequently made and eaten recipes with you!  For those of you that haven't already figured it out here and here, I love peanut butter (could I possibly put any more links into a single sentence?!)!  In fact, I probably eat peanut butter in some form or another 4-5 times a week: mixed into oatmeal, spread on fruit, spread on toast, added to a smoothie, whirled into homemade soft-serve, etc, etc. etc.

Taking peanut butter to the next level, this dip is creamy, spreadable, and slightly sweet - perfect for smearing on fruit or your choice of dunker!

Maple-Cinnamon Peanut Butter Dip
Serves 1-2

2 (heaping) T PB2*
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 T plain yogurt (I used Whole Soy)
1/4-1/2 T maple syrup


  • Add PB2 and cinnamon to a small bowl.

  • Pour in the yogurt and maple syrup.
  • Mix until fully combined.
  • Serve with your choice of "dippers"!

*Note:  You could probably use creamy PB in place of the PB2 in this recipe.  However, I would not suggest crunchy nut butter because I do not think that it would mix well.  Regardless, because I have not tried this dip with regular PB, I cannot vouch for the result.

Other than this peanut butter dip, I spent much of the remainder of my weekend-mealtimes eating greens.  I would dare to say that there is not a green food that I can think of that I don't enjoy devouring!

On Saturday I made a batch of Spabettie's Spinach Pancakes.  I ended up eating them for lunch both Saturday and Sunday.  Specifically:

  • on Saturday I smeared homemade Roasted Garlic and Paprika Hummus on top, and topped it with sliced tomatoes; and
  • on Sunday I melted Daiya cheese on top!


On Sunday evening, I made Oh She Glows 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta.  However, I did have to make a few alterations to her recipe, based off what I had on-hand:

  • instead of 1/2 lemon juiced, I used 2 T lime juice;
  • instead of 1/4 C fresh basil, I used 1/4-1/2 C cilantro;
  • instead of 2 T EVOO, I used 2 T sunflower oil; and
  • I added two diced red bell peppers. 

I have made the original recipe previously, and I have to say that I prefer this version.  Next time I might alter the recipe even more, and if I do, I will make sure to share it with you!

Next time - a post about "Life in the Navy" thus far!

Question of the Day:

(1) Do you like peanut butter?  If so, how do you prefer to eat it?
(2) Do you enjoy eating your greens (i.e. spinach, asparagus, green beans, peas, avocado, etc.)?!

Ally and Bo

January 29, 2012

Angels Among Us

Disclaimer: This is not a religious blog, nor will it ever be.  However,  as an aspect of the ABC blog, on rare occasions I will share more than a recipe or yoga instruction.  This posts marks just such an occasion.  Although this post expresses some of my personal beliefs, it is in no way meant to offend or alienate individuals that might have beliefs different than my own.  As always, thank you for being an important part of the ABC blog community!

I have come believe that there are angels among us.  

No...not these angels, silly!

Although the US Navy's Blue Angels are definitely among us(!), those aren't the kind of angels I am talking about.  I am talking about celestial beings...or aspects/traits of these citizens of heaven...here on earth.

Why, might you ask, do I believe that there are angels among us?  Well, because I think I have become acquainted with a few of them.

For example:  Every week I shop at the same grocery store, on the same day of the week, and at the same hour of day (no, I'm not that OCD about it, it's just that I shop in between teaching two yoga classes each Thursday = same day of the week and same time of day).  A gentleman that we will call "Joe" always works a Thursday morning shift at this store.  Without fail, every time that I am shopping he comes up to me and says, "There she is!  Good morning, Sunshine!"  We continue to share our greetings, wish each other the best of days, and move on with our respective days.  However, "Joe" always has a way of knowing exactly what to say to me each day.  For instance:

  • On a day that I was feeling especially unsure about my work, he said (and I am paraphrasing here), "I get the sense that whatever it is that you do, you make this world a better place.  You must help people.  You on doing what you're doing...it's working."
  • On another day, when I was feeling like an ugly duckling, he caught me just as I was heading out of the store and said, "I won't take up much of your time, but I just want to tell you that you have the most natural beauty."
  • On yet another day, near the winter holiday season, he reminded me that "any Christmas could be someone's last.  Remember, nothing happens without a reason."
  • and this list could go on and on...

Who knows...maybe "Joe" is just a normal guy.  Maybe he isn't an angel at all.  On the other hand, maybe God uses him in an angelic way sometimes...

Don't we all feel like we are being used for a higher purpose sometimes?

Hasn't anyone ever told you that you were there for them exactly when they needed you?  

Hasn't someone said that you shared the perfect words of advice during a difficult situation?  

And if you answered "yes" to any of the above, doesn't that sort of make you an angel to someone, somewhere, at some point in time?  If we allow God to work through us, aren't we all a little bit angelic?

Up next - a peanut butter dip recipe for breakfast, lunch, snack, or dessert!

Question of the Day:

Do you believe that angels are among us?!

Ally and Bo

January 27, 2012

Mee Maw's Banana Bread (Veganized)

ANNOUNCEMENT: Check out the Recipage link on the top toolbar!  Now, you don't have to go to a separate web page to get all of the ABC blog recipes because they are right here, embedded in the blog itself!  Every recipe that has been posted on the blog can be found there...have fun exploring!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming!

Although my Mee Maw (for those of you that might not have heard the name "Mee Maw" before, that means "grandmother" in the South) died almost ten years ago, she lives vividly on in my memory.  She was a very unique kind of a lady...there was no one, and never will be anyone, like my Mee Maw.  She was one-of-a-kind, and I mean that in the best way possible.

One thing about my Mee Maw that I will never forget was her love of food.  For someone that actually ate very little in terms of portion size, she loved food!  Whenever we would go out to a restaurant, she rarely ordered anything other than an appetizer or side dish.  However, she filled her plate by taking a small portion of everyone else's order!  Ahhh...what a character she was!

Mee Maw didn't cook a lot.  When she did it was usually something very simple: cabbage and onions, steamed vegetables, soup, etc.  Nothing very fancy.  Nothing very complicated.  Just simple, unadulterated food.  She also rarely baked.  But there was one thing that I do remember her baking, and eating, on a regular basis: banana bread.

Mee Maw's banana bread is different from almost every other banana bread recipe I have tried.  For one, it has pecans; and two, it is a deep caramel-brown color.  The bread itself doesn't rise very much, so it isn't your typical fluffy breakfast bread; but the rich banana-caramel flavor is out-of-this-world good!

Since becoming a vegan last spring, there haven't been that many foods that I have missed.  However, banana bread was one of them.  I had tried other vegan banana bread recipes, but they weren't up to par with Mee Maw's recipe from my childhood.  So, on my last trip home to Alabama, I asked my mom for a copy of my Mee Maw's recipe.  Thankfully she had two copies on hand, and she ended up giving me the recipe card that was handwritten by Mee Maw herself.  Needless to say, that recipe card will always be cherished.

Warm, soft, and full of yummy bananas, you can't tell that this famous family recipe has been veganized!  With its rich caramel color and pecan crunch, this bread is great spread with butter, honey, or peanut butter.  It is the perfect breakfast bread!

Mee Maw's Banana Bread (Veganized)
Serves 8-10

2 very ripe bananas
2 Egg Replacer eggs
3/4 C Succanat
1/2 C Earth Balance, melted
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C pecans, chopped
3 tsp water


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Beat the bananas until they are egg-like in consistency.
    • Note: Sometimes I place the bananas in the microwave for a few seconds to accelerate this process.

  • Add in the Egg Replacer eggs, sugar, and melted butter.
  • Mix until incorporated.

  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • In 2-3 increments, add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and combine thoroughly.
  • Fold in the chopped pecans and water.

  • Pour the dough into a greased bread pan, and distribute it evenly.

  • Bake for 35-45 minutes, depending upon your oven and desired consistency.  
    • Note:  Because this recipe has been veganized (and therefore could, theoretically, be eaten raw), I prefer to bake my loaf 35 minutes - leaving a very slight doughy texture in the center of the bread.  If, however, you prefer a firmer loaf, I would suggest baking it between 42-45 minutes.

Next time - an "inspirational musings" post!

Question of the Day:

What is your favorite kind of morning bread: banana bread, croissant, muffin, scone, toast, etc?

Ally and Bo

January 26, 2012

Citrus-Infused Cranberry Relish

I know what you're thinking: cranberries in January?!  

  1. First of all, YES, this post is all about cranberries.  
  2. Second, might I ask that you suspend your skepticism for just a moment and trust me?  
Please, give this recipe a read, and then place your judgment.  I would dare to say that after reading this post, you will be ready to rush to your grocery store and pick up one of the two remaining bags of cranberries in the whole supermarket!

I was going to give you a brief rundown of the benefits of eating cranberries; but the truth is, once I started doing some research I realized that there would be no way for me to summarize its marathon-long list!  So, instead, I'm going to give you a few links and leave it up to you to read more on the issue:

Thanksgiving...I guess that's the only time of year that 99% of people eat cranberries...especially cranberry sauce/relish.  Well, let me tell you a secret, I usually don't fall in the 99% category of most things, and cranberry-eating is no exception.  I like to "march to the beat of my own drum" (thus the reason that Bo calls me a "funny bunny" much of the time), so the fact that today is January 27th isn't going to deter me in the least from eating a cranberry or two.

This recipe all started with a bag of cranberries that I bought for Thanksgiving, never used, threw into the freezer, and forgot about for almost three months.  On Tuesday night, Bo was at work and I knew I would be home alone for dinner.  I was already making couscous with pine nuts, roasted squash and carrots, and pinto beans with green chile sauce.  But, I felt like something was missing.  Something tangy and sweet, and something red to round out the color-palette on my plate.

I checked the fruit basket...nothing.

I checked the vegetable drawers...nothing.

I checked the pantry...nothing.

I checked the freezer...and BAM!

There they were!  Perfectly frozen, red, round, tart cranberries just waiting to be made into something delicious.  I also had an orange on hand that needed to be used.  My wheels started turning, and here is what I ended up concocting:

Citrus-Infused Cranberry Relish
Serves 4-6

1/4 C orange juice
1/4 C water
2/3 C succanat (or sugar)
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
8-10 oz. fresh cranberries (depending upon how tart you want it)

  • Place orange juice, water, and succanat into a medium saucepan.
  • Over medium high heat, stir until the succanat has dissolved and a simple syrup has been made.
  • Add in the lemon juice, cinnamon, and cranberries.
  • Reduce heat to medium low; and cook until cranberries "pop" and begin to break apart, forming a relish.
  • Stir in the orange zest.
  • Serve hot or cold, depending upon your preference.

Later that evening I decided that I could also eat the Citrus-Infused Cranberry Relish for breakfast.  I started thinking about how much I love dressing/stuffing with cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner, and it hit me!  I could make a breakfast version of one of my favorite comfort-food flavor combinations.  And that, my friend, is how a recipe is born. :)

Cranberry and "Dressing" Overnight Oats
Serves 1

1/2 C oats
2 stevia packets
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Dash of salt
Pinch of allspice
Pinch of cloves
2 C liquid (I used water)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp butter extract
2 T Citrus-Infused Cranberry Relish, for garnish

  • Add oats, stevia, cinnamon, salt, allspice, cloves, and liquid to a medium saucepan. 
  • Heat over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until beginning to bubble.
  • Turn down heat to low.
  • Add vanilla and butter extracts.  Stir until smooth.
  • Pour into a Tupperware, or other container, and store in refrigerator overnight.
    • Note:  The oats will not be fully cooked at this point.  Overnight, the oats will absorb the remaining liquid, continue to cook, and become voluminous and fluffy.  YUM!
  • In the morning, stir in a splash of milk to loosen the oats.
    • Note: I prefer my oats cold. Weird, I know, but I like what I like!  If you prefer warm oats, at this point you may choose to heat them up either via stove top or microwave.
  • Dollop the citrus-infused cranberry relish onto the top of the overnight oats.  You may swirl it in if you prefer. :)

So what are overnight oats, you might ask?!  Well, it is only my favorite way of all time to prepare oatmeal.  By half-cooking the oats, and then letting them soak overnight to absorb the remaining the liquid, the oats become soft, fluffy, voluminous, and far easier to digest.  Here is a scientific explanation of the benefits of soaking your oats:
All grains contain phytic acid...in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron especially zinc in the intestinal track and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may led to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss...Soaking allows enzyme, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid. As little as seven hours of soaking in warm acidulated water will neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains. The simple practice of soaking cracked or rolled cereal grains overnight will vastly improve their nutritional benefits. (source)

OK - so enough of the fancy scientific jargon.  The point is, soaking your oats is both good and yummy (which, let's be honest, is all we really care about anyway)!

Next up - a vegan-ized family recipe.  You won't want to miss this one!

Question of the Day:

Do you prefer canned cranberry sauce or cranberry relish (like the one in this post)?!

Ally and Bo

January 24, 2012

Extreme Makeover: The ABC Blog Edition

Here you go!  This is the wonderful surprise that I referred to at the end of yesterday's post!  Well, what exactly is "this" you might ask?!

Just take a look around...the ABC blog has undergone an extreme makeover!  

The blog has been nipped, tucked, lifted, and stuffed until it emerged from its ugly duckling design into the sophisticated and fun blog that I knew it could be!  Although, to be fair, I can hardly claim any of the ABC blog's new-found beauty.  All of those kudos go to the designer: Amberly Shelton.

First, you might like to know that Amberly (or Bibi as I grew up calling her) is one of my oldest and dearest friends.  She and I are almost exactly four years apart in age, but you never would have known it when we were kids.  We were best friends, constant companions, and bubble-bath buddies (hehehe...for anyone that knows what that means, I need not explain further).  As we have grown up, graduated from college, gotten married, and in Amberly's case had a child, our friendship has evolved.  Although we don't see each other every day, week, or month, we have the kind of relationship where none of that matters.  I can not speak to Amberly for months; and then one day, one of us will pick up the phone and it is like no time has passed at all.  For that, I know that both Amberly and I are incredibly thankful.  We both have our own families and other best friends now, but we will also always have a special place in our hearts for one another.  After all, nothing can ever replace your first "best friend."

Amberly and her husband, Hal, at Bo and I's wedding.

Nowadays, among numerous other side-jobs and projects, Amberly has a print design and couture paperie business.  Her design services include, but are not limited to:

  • logos;
  • corporate/personal identities;
  • invitations;
  • stationary;
  • labels/gift tags;
  • marketing/sales collateral;
  • brochures/flyers;
  • advertisements;
  • signs/banners/billboards; and
  • photography.

Amberly and her daughter, Lydia Rose (i.e. Rosie).

Needless to say, Amberly was the creative force behind the ABC blog redesign.  She took my very scattered and scant ideas and brought them to vivid life!  There were times where I felt like she didn't event need me as a partner in the conversation because she was able to interrupt what I envisioned without me saying a word.  Yes, she is that. good.  For instance:

  • the new background - totally her idea;
  • the font change - absolutely her genius; and
  • the blog header (which, in my opinion, is the crowning glory of the whole redesign) - 100% her creative masterpiece!
    • Note - you might recognize some of the pictures inside the header circles.  Amberly took those from my old banner and made them look brand new!  See...

In case you were wondering, the four circles signify importance components of the ABC blog.

  1. Circle #1 represents Bo and I's journey in the United States Navy;
  2. Circle #2 represents our love of healthy eating/cooking (usually vegan, since I became a vegan in Spring 2010);
  3. Circle #3 represents (1) the space that we are leaving in our lives for things to come (i.e. a dog, children, etc.), and (2) quiet space (i.e. time for reflection, meditation, and prayer); and
  4. Circle #4 represents my journey as a yoga practitioner and teacher.

So there you have it, an extreme makeover performed by an extremely precious friend.  I hope you love the new design as much as I do!

So much joy in one picture! :)

Next up - a cranberry sauce recipe that you can eat year 'round and eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Antioxidants here we come!

Question of the Day:

What do you think of the ABC blog's new look?

Ally and Bo

A Wedding Weekend


It's so good to be back on the blog!  I have missed posting.  As I have mentioned before, it is always a little sad to leave my family in the "Heart of Dixie" behind, but having the ABC blog seems to make the "goodbyes" a lot easier.  When writing on the ABC blog, I always feel connected to my family and closest friends, even though most of them are states away.  In a way, I feel like this blog gives me the opportunity to talk/share/communicate/laugh with each one of you.  For that, I must extend a huge "Thank You" for being an important part of the ABC blog community.

Ok - back to today's post!

While Bo and I were in Alabama this past weekend, I had so. many. ideas. for new post topics.  I can't wait to share them with all of you!  But before I get started on any of those new topics, I figured I would share a few precious memories from the wedding weekend.

Leslie (my first cousin) and Ben have been dating for ten years!  They were high school sweethearts, and their love has more than stood the test of time.  So much changes between the ages of 17 and 27; but Leslie and Ben are proof that true love, God-ordained love, can outlast any challenge that the world may put in its path.  The love between them seems to be simultaneously playful and profound...a beautiful combination if you ask me!  Needless to say, I felt honored to be present on their big day; and even more honored that I was asked to serve as the scripture reader during the church ceremony.

Bo and I drove to Alabama on Thursday (all day Thursday) so that we could be around for the weekends' festivities.  On Friday, my mom and I attended a luncheon in honor of Leslie and her bridesmaids. Approximately 30 women were in attendance, so it was a great opportunity to actually visit with the bride and relax while enjoying soup and salad.  Because the wedding/reception were larger affairs, I appreciated this opportunity to relax and enjoy some one-on-one time with Leslie and family.  Here is a picture of my lovely mom and I at the luncheon(!):

Since I was serving as a reader in the ceremony, later that evening Bo and I attended the rehearsal.  The wedding took place at Canterbury United Methodist Church in Mountain Brook, AL and was absolutely stunning!  The church itself is so beautiful that hardly any decorations were necessary.  Below is a candid shot of Emilie (the other reader) and I rehearsing our lines:

Afterwards, Bo and I headed over to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame for the rehearsal dinner.  What a cool location!  I NEVER would have thought of doing a rehearsal dinner there, but it was so unique and perfect for Ben (who works in sports and is an avid sports fan)!  Here are Bo and I in our cocktail attire:

During the rehearsal dinner, I was able to steal a quick moment with the beautiful bride!  Isn't she lovely?! (Okay, I realize that sounded a bit like a line out of My Fair Lady, but I mean it, she is lovely!) I loved her dress and jewelry.  Oh, and yes, I do realize that I have a huge stain on my dress in this picture...Bo spilled wine on me! :(

Saturday was the big "I do!" day!  I didn't have to be at the church until 4:00 p.m., so my mom and I spent the day shopping, spending quality moments together, and working out.  The ceremony started right on time at 6:00 p.m., and thankfully I didn't cry or jumble any of my words during the reading - WHEW!  A boy's choir sang before, during, and after the ceremony and set a beautiful angelic tone for the event.  Their voices were heavenly, like little angels that came down to sing for us just for the special occasion.

After the ceremony, everyone headed to The Country Club of Birmingham for the reception.  The food was excellent, but let me tell you, the band was even better!  Az Izz sang songs spanning five decades, and every. single. one. of them was fantastic!

As for my attire, I wore a strapless Diane von Furstenberg dress that I picked up at Nordstrom Rack, and some rose-embellished heels.  I very rarely rare high-heeled shoes, but because of all their straps, these shoes were supportive and relatively comfortable (however, by 9:00 p.m. the shoes were off and I was dancing barefooted on the dance floor...I wasn't the only one to do that though)!  For the ceremony I wore a black bolero sweater to cover my shoulders, just to be sure I was appropriate...

Bo look pretty snazzy himself in his new charcoal grey suit.  I think we make a pretty good-looking couple, don't you think?!

Back to the band, there truly were awesome!  Mom and I couldn't help but dance.  We cut the rug for most of the night :)

All in all, Leslie and Ben's wedding weekend was a huge success!  Everyone I talked to had a wonderful time, including the bride and groom.  Most importantly, another sure-to-be-successful marriage had a grande debut!

Leslie and Ben - 
We love you and wish you all the best on your amazing journey together!

Up next (or sometime very soon) - a blog design post!  You are in for a wonderful surprise in this one! :)

Question of the Day:

Have you been to a wedding recently?  Did you have a good time?

Ally and Bo

January 18, 2012

Balsamic Butter Cabbage

Lightening speed!
(That's how quickly I am typing up today's post.)

Today is quite the busy day:  I taught yoga from 6:00-7:00 a.m., I went to the gym to walk on the treadmill from 7:30-8:20 a.m., I had coffee with my girlfriends from 9:00-10:45 a.m., I am eating lunch and writing this post from 11:00-12:00, I am going to a yoga class from 12:30-1:45, and I have six people (a total of 8 1/2, counting Everett) coming over to the house for a "See You Soon" party for the Lee's.  Oh, and Bo and I are waking up at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow to make the 15-hour drive to Alabama for my cousin's wedding this weekend.  WHEW...I'm only half way through the day and I'm a little tired!

Okay, let's focus on the task at hand: cabbage.  Yes, this post is about cabbage.  Growing up I thought everyone loved cabbage...after all, my mom cooked cabbage and onions at least twice a month in our household.  I grew up loving the stuff!  But come to find out, cabbage is on a lot of people's gross list.  Well, with any luck, today's recipe might change that!

Sweet, salty, and creamy cabbage with a bit of an Asian flair.  This side dish has the power to change even the staunchest critics opinion of this pauper's vegetable.

Balsamic Butter Cabbage
Serves 4-6

3/4 small head of cabbage, chopped finely
1 large onion, diced
4 T butter, divided in half
~3 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper


  • Melt 2 T butter in a large saucepan.
  • Add the diced onion, and cook on medium low until beginning to caramelize (6-8 minutes).

  • Add the chopped cabbage, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1 T butter to the pan.
  • Cover and allow to cook down for 3-4 minutes.

  • Remove saucepan lid. 
  • Add the final 1 T butter and ~3 T balsamic vinegar to the cabbage/onion mixture.
    • Note:  The balsamic vinegar amount is a rough estimate.  I circled the pan four times while allowing the vinegar to drizzle out from the dispenser.  In large part, the amount of vinegar you use will depend upon your preference.  I think 3 T is a good place to start, and you can add additional vinegar if you would like.
  • Serve immediately. 
    • Pictured below is Bo's dinner plate.  The Balsamic Butter Cabbage was accompanied by Italian-seasoned ground turkey as well as millet cooked in vegetable broth.

Bo and I are off to Alabama tomorrow for my cousin's big day!  I will share a wedding post with you sometime early next week!

Question of the Day:

Do you like cabbage?!

Ally and Bo

January 17, 2012

Expanding the Behne Clan...

...no, no, no...Bo and I are not pregnant!  

As Bo would say, "Cool your jets!"  

There will be no Behne baby this year, BUT we are going to be expanding our family in the next couple of months...with a puppy!  As I write this post I am trying not to get too excited.  Although Bo has promised me that we will be getting a puppy this spring, probably in March; as of now, the exact date hasn't been set. Regardless, I feel like the reality of being a puppy-mommy is close enough that I can start to dream a little!

Over the past several years, Bo and I have done quite a bit of research on dog breeds.  We know that we want a medium size dog (i.e. 40-80 pounds) that is relatively fastidious, smart (i.e. trainable), and good with children.  In addition, we want a dog that is moderately active (i.e. enjoys going on walks/runs/bike rides) and doesn't shed a ton (because the dog will primarily be an indoor pet).  However, in recent discussions Bo and I have hit a sort of philosophical road-block.

Pure-breed vs. pound-puppy?!

To be...or not to be?

Ok, seriously, the discussion of pure-breed vs. pound-puppy has been a serious one in the Behne household. Bo and I both tend to be pretty logical people when it comes to decisions such as this one (Actually, if I am being honest, he is a little more logical than me, and I am a little more emotional than him; but in the end, we balance one another out.).  For example, here are a few of the pros and cons that we have come up with regarding pure-breed vs. pound-puppy:

Pros (for a pure-breed):

  • In terms of temperament, intelligence, and medical history (i.e. genetics), you know what you get (much more so than a pound-puppy).
  • You know exactly what kind of dog you are getting (in many pound situations you aren't exactly sure of the breed-mixture).
  • You can receive the puppy as a puppy (the majority of pound puppies are six months or older in age).

Pros (for a pound-puppy):

  • You are saving a life (in many situations, pound puppies are euthanized).
  • The cost of purchasing a pound-puppy is roughly 1/8-1/10 of the cost of a pure-breed German Shepherd or Shiba Inu (two breeds that Bo and I are particularly interested in).
  • Adoption fees cover:
    • the cost of spaying and neutering (I know this is controversial...but for Bo and I's purposes we plan to buy a female puppy, and wouldn't plan to breed her anyway);
    • initial inoculations;
    • microchip implantation;
    • occult heartworm testing;
    • flea and tick prevention; and
    • monthly parasite prevention.

In the end, I'm not sure that the question of pure-breed vs. pound-puppy will really make that much of a difference for Bo and I.  While we will take our puppy to PetSmart's basic obedience course, we won't be training her for any schutzhund dog competitions.  We want to bring a puppy into our family because we want to share our love.  Although we aren't ready to expand our family with a baby, we are ready to be puppy-parents.  One step at a time...

Up next - a twist on traditional cauliflower and cheese!

Question of the Day:

Do you have a dog? If so, is your dog a pure-breed or a pound-puppy?  What are your thoughts on our dilemma? 

Ally and Bo

January 15, 2012

Cinnamon Double (Hot) Chocolate

Normally, I don't post on Sundays.  However, on this particular Sunday I am still at home feeling sick (I don't have a fever anymore, just a bit of a sore throat, and now my symptoms include a RUNNY nose and cough...great...).  Bo is still away for his guys weekend, and since I have a busy week of teaching and travelling ahead, I am trying to lay-low and take care of myself.  I really don't have time to be sick right now...not that my body is listening...

I realize that I sound a little mopey in the post's introduction, but I assure you that this post isn't an Ally pity-party!  Actually, this post is about something that always makes me feel better: hot chocolate.

Last night, while coloring and watching a Twilight movie marathon (thanks for letting me borrow your DVD's Colbi!), my throat was crying out for something warm and soothing.  But I have had so much hot tea since Thursday that I couldn't bear to think about another mug-full of the stuff.  Instead, I decided to whip up some hot chocolate, but not just any ol' hot chocolate, this recipe has cinnamon and double the chocolate, and therefore...double the comfort factor!

Cinnamon Double (Hot) Chocolate
Serves 1

1 T Ghirardelli cocoa (trust me, quality cocoa makes a huge difference!)
1 T brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 C Almond Breeze Chocolate - unsweetened
1 T maple syrup


  • Add cocoa, cinnamon, and 3 T of chocolate milk to your mug, and whisk vigorously until thoroughly combined.
  • Add remaining milk and microwave for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Add brown sugar and maple syrup, and whisk together.
  • Microwave an additional 1 - 1 1/4 minutes.
  • Enjoy! (coloring and Twilight movies optional)

Up next - a post about Bo and I expanding our family (and no, I'm not pregnant or planning on getting pregnant any time soon)!

Question of the Day:

Hot chocolate vs. hot tea vs. coffee: which one wins in your opinion?!

Ally and Bo

January 14, 2012

Book Review: A Million Suns

What do you do when you are home alone, with no voice, with no energy, and a practically-swollen-shut sore throat?

That's a no-brainer (!), you lay on the coach and read an entire book of course!
(Yes, that means I stayed way up past my bedtime...
...can you say 11:30 p.m...
...for a sick girl?!)

Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos. 

It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies. 

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart. 

In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

It's interesting.  Although I have always been an avid reader, I never thought that I would be particularly drawn to the science-fiction genre.  Yet here I am, clearly drawn to that style of novel, and loving every minute of it!  I read Across the Universe (the first book in the trilogy) about a year ago.  No one suggested the book to me.  I was just in Books-a-Million one day looking for an entertaining and engaging story.  The cover caught my eye, I read the synopsis on the inside flap, and just like that I was hooked!  Now, almost a year later, I asked Bo to buy me A Million Suns for my 28th birthday (and have it shipped to me by two-day delivery!).

I swore that I would read A Million Suns slowly, rationing the chapters and savoring every word.  In the end, I received the book on Wednesday evening, and I read its last word on Friday at 10:30 p.m. Oh well.  At least I had good intentions, right?!  Regardless, maybe you would like to know why I like the Across the Universe trilogy (and in particular, A Million Suns).  Here are just a few reasons, in no particular order:

  • First things first, out of 13 reviews on Amazon, 100% gave A Million Suns five stars!  Therefore, even if you don't trust my raving review, it seems as though I not the only one who holds this opinion. :)

  • The plot will keep you guessing, all the way up to the final page!  I found myself needing to go to the restroom to tinkle (hehehe), but then would find myself three. chapters. later. still sitting on the couch reading.  I couldn't put A Millions Suns down because, although it was inevitably something unexpected, I had to know what happened next!

  • Several deep, philosophical questions serve as the theoretical underpinnings of the trilogy.  For instance:
    • What is leadership?
      • Is leadership the ability to rule peacefully over a population that has no propensity for (or ability to practice) individual thought? or;
      • Is leadership only present when empowered and free-thinking individuals support, and have respect for, an individual and their ability to lead?
    • Is it acceptable for a supreme leader to compromise a people's free will in order to ensure collective safety?
    • Utilitarianism, also known as "the greatest happiness principle," is an ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall "happiness" of a community.  Revis' trilogy asks, does utilitarianism work?
    • What is the role of freedom, and free thought, in a society where everyone must work, and contribute equally, in order for the society to survive?

  • Revis makes the reader feel as though they are a part of the emotional journey of the books' main characters.  In Across the Universe I felt Amy's panic-stricken claustrophobia upon discovering she is trapped on Godspeed; and In A Million Suns I felt both Amy and Edler's fear of revolution and mutiny.

  • This trilogy is meant for adolescent and adult science fiction fans alike!  Everyone can relate to this coming-of-age story!

  • The book ends on such a cliffhanger that I can't believe I have to wait until NEXT JANUARY to read the trilogy's conclusion...ARGH!!!

Question of the Day:

Do you like science fiction books?  If not, what is your favorite genre of books?

Ally and Bo

January 12, 2012

Sweet (and Spicy) Potato & Roasted Broccoli and Onions with BBQ Sauce

Today, I feel like this:

So I am going to be drinking a lot of this:

And doing a lot of this:

But, before I get to my hot tea and my bed (okay, truthfully I am drinking my hot tea now, but anyway...), I have a couple of recipes that I am too excited to wait until tomorrow to share with you. 

When Bo ate this sweet potato last night for dinner, he ranked it a 9 out of 10!  He went on to say that it was "delightfully sweet with a subtle spiciness that work perfectly together."  I don't think I could improve on that description, so I will get right to the recipe!

Sweet (and Spicy) Potato
Serves 2

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 tsp salt, divided

Spicy Compound Butter
Serves 3-4

4 T Smart Balance, at room temperature
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of onion powder
1/8 tsp pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly.
  • Place sweet potatoes on separate sheets of aluminum foil, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt each.
  • Place the sweet potatoes in the oven for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours until tender throughout.
  • While the potato is baking, mix together the Smart Balance, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.
  • Place the butter mixture on a sheet of saran wrap, roll into a log, and twist the edges of the saran wrap to secure.

  • Put the compound butter in the refrigerator to solidify.
  • When potatoes are tender to the touch, slice them in half, add 1-2 T of the spicy compound butter, and devour!

Alongside the Sweet (and Spicy) Potato I decided to roast some broccoli.  I know that many of you might have nightmares about the mushy broccoli from your childhood, but I assure you that this roasted broccoli is more closely related to your dreams!

Roasted Broccoli and Onions with BBQ Sauce
Serves 2

1 large broccoli head
1/2 large sweet onion
nonstick cooking spray
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Stubb's BBQ sauce (we have the Hickory Bourbon flavor)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Finely chop your broccoli and onion.
  • Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray, and distribute the broccoli and onion evenly.

  • Sprinkle the broccoli and onion with salt, pepper, and an additional light spraying of nonstick spray.
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Drizzle with BBQ sauce, and serve immediately.

Sweet. Spicy. Saucy. Satifying. 

What else can I say about last night's dinner?!  Seriously, if you don't like sweet potatoes or broccoli give these recipes a try.  The flavor combinations are awesome!  They are sure to make your taste buds sing. :)

Question of the Day:

When your throat is sore and you feel cruddy, what are your no fail, get-well-quick methods?

Ally and Bo