Monday, January 2, 2012

Hello 2012, PS I Love You, and 52 Things

I start every new year feeling so optimistic and hopeful. I set goals and achieve some and some that are more realistic than others! I have this goal to win a lottery. Well, maybe that isn't so realistic, but it sure would be nice. It sure would help replace the income I've lost in 2011, especially now that I've taken on being a caregiver for my mom. Well, as long as my mind is functioning, I shall continue to dream of the day I win BIG! I did have a goal to travel to Illinois in 2011, but things came up and that trip didn't happen. I actually had that trip planned in 2010, but didn't make it then either.

However, this is a new year and I have added the trip to my newly declared "52 Things"! This time, there is no pressure. If it doesn't happen due to upcoming circumstances, I will not kick myself or feel disappointed. I turn 52 this year and have started a list of 52 things I want to do that I've never done, and taking a trip to IL is one of them. I want to meet family in person and gather data and pictures and stories! I want to go to the courthouses and check the records of my "famous" great grandmother, the notorious Effie Beck Cloos Roby! She had quite the past. I want to find out how my grandparents Red and Lola met and when they married. I would LOVE to find pictures of Lola, as well as her sister Bessie and their father George Cloos, their mother Effie and so many others.

This past Friday, December 30, 2011, we went to Palm Springs (PS) for our annual Christmas visit, dinner and gift exchange with good friends that are really family. Earlier this year, my dear friends purchased a new home on a golf course and we got to see the new pad. It was fabulous and so was the day and the visit. We drove around the country club and chatted, played dice, exchanged gifts and had good food and laughs.

I made vegan lasagna and vegan German Chocolate Cake! It was so good and rather decadent! So that is now something I've checked off the "52 Things" list. For the cake, I used this wonderful recipe and the frosting was from Fatfreevegan! Man, it was so good, and I say that as someone who long ago, lost interest in cakes.

While we were in Palm Springs, I realized yet again, how much I love it there and have added a home in PS to my list of things to accomplish this year! I LOVE Palm Springs. The vibe and the architecture speaks to me. I also love the lack of LA rat race that seems to surround the environment. As a kid, my family spent the week between Christmas and New Year in Palm Springs, so I have very happy memories of it (and some very goofy old pictures that I'll not share now). I am not one to like the heat but I can learn to deal with three months of "pain" in order to be in a place that calls my name. As always, the weather was fabulous at this time of year and the sky so beautiful. Once the sun went down, it got cold out.

My mom enjoys watching Dr. Oz and while we were in PS, we turned that on for her. That episode featured chef Rocco DiSpirito's Mushroom Lasagna and I thought it looked good, so yesterday, January 1, I added that to my list of 52 Things and made a killer vegan version of it! Two things now checked off my list! I hadn't ever made a "white" mushroom lasagna and decided to try it. It was fabulous. The picky eaters in my house really loved it. They thought the sauce seemed to be very  "Alfredo" like. For the ricotta, I used the vegan tofu ricotta from the Skinny Bitch cookbook which I've used for my "red" lasagna. Instead of mozzarella, I used Daiya Mozzarella and two 13.5 cans of mushrooms. I drained the mushrooms and added three teaspoons of corn starch to the liquid and whisked it together and added the mushrooms and liquid to the "ricotta". I then sprayed a 13" Pyrex and layered the no bake lasagna noodles, the "ricotta and mushroom" mixture, the Daiya and sliced black olives, covered with foil, and baked for about an hour, covered, at 350F. It tasted even better tonight!

My friends have adorable little furry children - a dog named Cody and a kitten named Chance. Their friend stopped by with his cute little puppy Raven and those little furry kids were running through the house, playing and chasing and rough housing and just entertaining my mom! They even ran across her lap a few times and she thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It was a wonderful day.

Yesterday was New Years Day, but it didn't really seem like it because it was Sunday. I always associate New Years Day with the Rose Parade, but this weird old agreement, if you will, between the parade and the churches in the city, declared the parades would not happen if New Years Day fell on Sunday as that would keep the folks out of church. OK, the times have changed but not that strange agreement. So the parade happened today on January 2.

So, here's to a fab new year! Last year was tough, but I am looking forward to the new year. I plan to make it count and accomplish things this year so that I don't just feel like a cog in a machine going through some kind of corporate motions. Yeah, I say that every year, so, here's to this year being different. For you, I hope you have great success and prosperity and ask that you might even give my vegan recipes a try and let me know how it came out. I also hope you might participate in the "however many years" challenge and keep us posted here.  You never know how your "thing" might inspire someone else!

Here's to a happy, healthy, safe, successful and prosperous 2012 and I look forward to hearing about all the successes and to sharing my own.,

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