MaeLiveFree is 1!!! And Midweek Music P.14 City Bear ft. Molly Clark "Nell"

A year ago today I published my first post here at MaeLiveFree. I was off to a rocky start and didn't have any idea what direction this blog would go, and to be quite honest I still have a million different ideas for things I'd like to post about here. More on that later... It was slow going at first, as in my parents, sisters, and grandparents were probably the only ones reading, but now I have some followers outside of that and I think you're all awesome!

I've decided that I would really like to focus on green and frugal living here on MaeLiveFree. I think that it's broad and encompassing enough for me to still blog about the things that I already do, and to inspire some new dialogue. Green and sustainable living are becoming increasingly important to me as I get older and see the consequences of my choices and the choices of the rest of our planets inhabitants. Since I already made my goal for this year to be greener, I've been working at it and have picked up on a few things that I'm excited to write more about later.

For now, thank you so much to everyone who has made MaeLiveFree a part of your life in the past year!

Here is a little bit of Midweek Music to dance in your ear drums:


Zest is Best Chili

Photo courtesy of Photography by David L. Clark

So I was tempted to keep this recipe all to myself... and then I remembered that I'm trying to teach my toddler to share, and so I should lead by example. As if she has any idea that's what I'm doing...even though she is currently sprawled across my lap making me draft this with one hand (my left at that!).

I found this recipe on Yummly, and had to adapt it slightly only because I didn't have some of the ingredients. Also, I unintentionally skipped the first step in the original recipe where you bake the eggplant. Next time I'll do that, and you probably should too.


  • 1 pound eggplant, cut into one inch pieces
  • olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos, for desired heat, cored, seeded, and finely minced
  • 28 oz can plum tomatoes, chopped into one inch pieces, reserve liquid
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
  • Zest of 1 lemon (this is THE most necessary ingredient to make this chili awesome)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chop, mince, dice, and prep all of the ingredients first. It makes everything SO much easier.
  • In a 350º oven, place shallow roasting pan (or cast iron skillet) with eggplant slathered in olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, giving it a good stir/turn halfway through. Remove and set aside.
  • Put olive oil and onions to an 8qt pot on medium heat, cook til the onions are just turning translucent and add the garlic.
  • Once the garlic is fragrant and not quite golden add the zucchini and peppers. Cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add in the tomatoes, reserved liquid, cumin, chili powder and eggplant. Simmer for another 20 minutes.
  • Put in the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cilantro, and beans and cook for about 5 more minutes. 
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with vegan skillet cornbread!


I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Photos courtesy of Photography by David L. Clark

This last Monday we were extremely happy and very excited about seeing some friends that go way back, to times before I even existed. It's a familial friendship that started back with my grandparents. My grandparents made friends with one unique, artistic, kind, and smart man and his darling, good humored, sweet, and also quite intelligent wife. I can't say exactly how the relationship came about, but I know that they all went to church together. Both families had 4 kids, went to church together, took camping trips together, and have remained friends throughout life even with geographical distance between them. One of their daughters was close friends with my aunt in their very early childhood, and is the long time best friend of one of my cousins. Technically I'm part of 3rd generation of this long story, but I feel more tied in with the second. I came around when all of the second generation was pretty young, as in my dad was 19 and only younger than two of his own siblings.

For many reasons I relate better to the generation that came before me, but mainly because we all have little ones around the same age. It's funny because my daughter is technically generation 4, while the other's kids are generation 3. Lots of math and explaining I won't go into here. My cousin lives nearby, as do my grandparents friends, but their kids live all over the place, and the one we got to see (with her hilarious husband, and spunky little girl) currently lives in New Mexico. We felt really special to get to see them on their vacation in our neck of the woods! I think I can say that we were all looking forward to our kids playing together. They didn't disappoint in  providing good entertainment and lots of cute. :)

Testing the bounciness of a foreign couch.

Couch jumping dominos, two year olds are great at inventing new games.

Never a toddler picture that isn't an action shot.

Butterfly nets are also great bandit masks. ;)

Toddler Norwegian death metal band, Garn Sommerfugler. Lots of screaming  shrieking  ear piercing.
The evening was particularly good for my soul, since we have been here in Washington for a year now and haven't made any friends (it's not my strong suit since I'm a home body and hardly relate to many people of our own age and situation) and don't really see much of my local family. I desperately needed the adult interaction. Also with the roots of these relationships going so far back and interspersing so much throughout my family history, it really just felt like home. Most of my family is in Idaho and I really miss being a part of big dinner's, birthday parties, and the like. Monday night was a lot like those much missed family activities.

Of course the food was nothing to scoff at either! We all decided on a Mexican themed potluck. There was a build-your-own taco bar with three different main fillings, one consisting of all veggies for us not so strict or well behaved vegans. I tried the fish in a taco with shredded cabbage and the veggies and it was fabulous! I made homemade tortilla chips and a layer dip with black beans, pico de gallo, and guacamole, and horchata coconut lime donuts, all of which I think went over pretty well. There was also a quinoa salad, several salsa/dips, almond pound cake, brownies, and fresh berries. There might be more that I'm forgetting, but it was all delicious.

The lone ranger, not sleeping yet.
 We stayed way too late, and our kid was the last one standing (of course), but it was so much fun. I wish I could have more nights like it.


Looking Back Now, Life With Lei Lei 5,6,7/52

Those eyes that sparkle and feel like home.
As independent as she may be, she still thinks playing is more fun with mama in on it. :)
Photography by David L. Clark, all photos.
Somewhere amongst all the business of birthdays this month I neglected to take or post any of my photo challenge pictures. I could beat myself up over it, but life goes on. I am only human after all. It doesn't help that I never set a specific day of the week that I would share the series, so I'm deciding that after this game of catch up it will be Mondays. The pictures here were taken two days before Lorelei's birthday by my husband. I love how he catches both Lorelei and myself just as we are. :) I'm still trying to grasp the fact that she is two, and has been for almost 3 weeks. I swear it was only yesterday...


Horchata Coconut Lime Donuts

Photograph courtesy of Photography by David L. Clark

Let's talk about donuts...or, as David says, let's just eat them, forget about talking about them.

I am a little bit obsessed. I got a donut pan for Valentine's day because we decided that we were going to make homemade donuts a family tradition for all of the holidays. I didn't think that it would be like, a weekly tradition...Actually this week I've already made them twice.

These particular donuts were made for a Mexican themed potluck that we went to on Monday. I really wanted to take donuts, and I love experimenting with flavors so I was like hmm, what are some good things that you find on the hispanic aisle at the store? Lime...check. Coconut...check. But it needed something special. Horchata...check!!! Technically the horchata wasn't vegan, it had caseinate in it, but I had two hours to prep 2 dozen donuts, fry a ton of chips, and make pico de galo, guacamole, and puree some beans. Otherwise I would have made some myself...

Here is my proudly self derived recipe for 1 dozen, these are baked so they require a donut pan:


  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup horchata
First, preheat your oven to 350º. Measure out your horchata and add the vanilla, lime juice, and lime zest. Put all of your dry ingredients in a bowl or stand mixer and mix until completely combined. Add in the wet mixture and mix until very well combined, no lumps. It should look pretty smooth and be a little sticky, like a halfway point between cake batter and muffin batter. Grease a donut pan and spoon in the batter until it is level with the hole punch in the centers. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least five minutes before dipping in glaze.

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon horchata
Measure sugar and zest into a bowl, add liquids one tablespoon at a time and mix with a whisk or fork until smooth. If it gets too runny add sugar, or if it's too sticky add more liquid. It should be smooth enough to gently dip a donut in and drip off, but not run off.

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
Put coconut flakes in a frying pan and toast on medium heat until golden brown. Add in the cinnamon and toast for another minute. Remove from heat to a separate bowl/plate.

Once the donuts have cooled 5-10 minutes dip them tops up into the bowl of glaze, then into the coconut and then place back on cooling rack with some sort of pan underneath to catch the drips. Let set for about 5 minutes and eat the crap out of them. :)


I'm Not Dead, Just Good-Busy

Not above embarrasing myself y'all. P.S. I make A LOT of crazy/idiotic faces all the time. I don't know how my husband deals...

Just thought I'd pop in and let you all know that I haven't vanished, I have just been busy doing fun, good things. I'll be sharing some of them when I get the time to really sit down and write, but for now, just a quick hello! I turned 23 last Friday, and it feels like a good age. Not too blah like 22, not a significant age at all, but it feels like it fits, and it's going to hopefully be a good year for me. My sweet hubby realized that in order for my wardrobe to remain minimal, in circulation, and in good shape, I needed to protect my clothes from my messy kitchen activities, so the dear bought me a pretty apron with matching mitts for my birthday present. We also went to IKEA to buy some dressers that I put together, a drying rack so that we can slash our power bill and impact by not using the dryer, and some nice matching hangers since we now have few enough clothes that we could afford enough hangers for them.

Just to keep you interested, here is a rundown on what you may find here in the next week or two (God and toddler willing):

  1. Baked Vegan Whole Wheat Brown Sugar Grapefruit Donuts Recipe
  2. Playing catch up on my 52 Weeks of Life With Lei Lei.
  3. A glimpse into one of the best evenings we've had in a while.
  4. A preview of City Bear's album that released yesterday.
  5. My 23 Before 24 Goals
  6. The Best Freaking Chili Recipe
  7. Results of my no-pooing journey, and why I hope it works forever.
  8. Baked Vegan Whole Wheat Horchata Lime Coconut Donuts Recipe
  9. Possibly a peek into Lorelei's "Room" if I can do what I want to in there in a timely fashion.
For now, I just leave you with that there photo up top so that you can laugh at me like I do myself. See you around friends. :)


Let's Play Shall We? Liebster Blog Award

Megan over at Live Well and Breathe tagged me to participate in this Liebster Blog Award thing (Liebster means dearest in German) at just the right time! It seems that if you're awarded it, in order to "accept it" you just follow the rules. There are no judges or pats on the back, it's just a fun thing to do with other bloggers. I have been having a hard time thinking of things to blog about lately, and not really taking any pictures so maybe this will serve as some mojo to get the ball rolling.

Here is what it is/the rules:

1. Post 11 things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions set by the person who tagged you, and create 11 questions for those you tag.
3. Tag 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers, and then go let them know you've done so.
4. No Tag Backs!!!

11 Facts About Me

1. I am completely codependent on my husband and vice-versa. We have this theory that we share the same brain, as in we would literally each only have half of one if we weren't together. We often think exactly the same thing at the same time (this even happens with completely random, seemingly irrelevant things), and we often have to remember things for the other person. It's pretty weird, creepy, awesome, and more weird.
2. I consider myself a free spirit because I hate the idea of being boxed in, in my beliefs, my style, how people see me, and my choices. Since I am ever changing and evolving, I don't want anyone to think that I am one dimensional. I don't believe in getting comfortable being one way when things that I learn throughout my life will challenge and inspire me to change.
3. I never really thought I would have kids before being 26 or having an education, until when I was 19 and I found out I had a uterus deformity that could make having them very difficult. Then I was all, "I just want a baby, and my life will be complete." Then I got married, and I got pregnant with a sticky baby on the first try!
4. Music is like my heartbeat, seriously, it has the power to move me, to inspire me, to make me think, to make me feel. I told my husband a couple weeks ago that I felt like the connection I feel to music with strings instruments particularly had something to do with the similarity of the fibers in the strings and muscles, and that when I heard the strings being played I felt it in my muscles and it made me sway and move involuntarily.
5. I really like to work out, but I don't do it. I have time management issues, and motivation issues. I know that I enjoy a good workout, and the after effects but I still struggle to make myself make time to do it...yeah, I'm a bit odd.
6. I am a little bit obsessive compulsive, in weird ways that aren't really important (as in mostly aesthetic). It used to be a huge issue, and cause major depression, but being a mom and living with other people has really helped me battle it.
7. My grandma gave me a guitar for my 16th birthday (has it really been 7 years?!) and I still can't play anything on it. I learned a song once...and then forgot it. It was "Fools in Love" by Inara George.
8. I like naps... I get my best sleep between 8 and 10:30am, but get up with my hubby to make breakfast every morning so I sometimes go back to sleep once he goes to work.
9. I'm a homebody. I would rather hang out at home reading, watching movies, or cooking than most other things.
10. I love the rain. I might be a little bit of a fish because when it rains I feel like I can breathe!
11. I am content. I feel like my life is pretty good and easy, for now. ;)

11 Answers

1. What is your favorite book?

Truth be told: I don't read as much as I'd like too (something along the same lines as my time management issues with working out). I used to read a lot though, so I do have some favorites. Two that stand out as favorites are The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and Pride and Prejudice by (duh) Jane Austen. I've read both at least twice that I can recall. You know you love it if you read it more than once. I love both because I'm a hopeless romantic, and because of the odd ways that love manifests itself in both books. Secret: I read Pride and Prejudice with British accents in my head, and I'm in love with Mr. Darcy. :)

2. What is your favorite way to relax?

So I mentioned above that I'm a homebody, but to really, REALLY relax I like to get out of the house. Taking a walk outside, especially with David (and maybe without our short attention spanned sidekick) always helps me clear my head and breathe happy. Also sitting at a coffee shop with good ambience and a warm drink, with a window to look out (because I like to people watch, especially with David). If I'm in a coffee shop that is cheesy or too cluttered I can't help but pick it apart and it's hard to relax with my head rolling like that. The reason getting out of the house helps so much for me is that when I'm at home I tend to stress about what needs to be done, or what I'm not getting done. Pretty counterproductive to the whole relaxing thing...

3. What is your best advice?

I would be lying if I said I didn't like to give advice, because I feel like for a young person I have a lot of wisdom to share. I may not have lived as crazy of a life, or as full of a life as some people of nearly 23 years, but I have lived a life full of experiences to learn from. That, and I'm a big sister to two other girls, and my young parents main confidant (read: I've been a voice of reason most of my life). I won't give advice on mothering, because I think parenting is way to personal a thing to tell others how they should/could do it. And obviously relationship dynamics vary too much for me to say I know anything about how to make yours happy. But...some advice that I've been given, and that I learn more about on my own all the time is to BE PRESENT, to live in the now. Nothing will make you feel more at peace with your life than learning to appreciate your current situation. It's really freeing to not live in regret of things from your past or to worry or dream about what is in your future. If you can just take each breath, each step, and each day as it is you will learn what is important to you, and what is not. I can't stress enough how much it will change your life if you can do this. Though, I can't tell you how to achieve the mentality. You just have to work at it. ;)

4. What's one thing about yourself you like?

Probably the best thing about me (in my maybe not so humble opinion) is a two parts to a whole sort of thing. One being that I have a good sense of humor. I have learned that a good way to make the best of what your dealt in life is to have a good laugh over it, even if it takes a little while to actually seem funny. And two being that I don't take myself too seriously. That wasn't always true, but I think that now (mostly because David really enjoys picking on me) if myself or someone else can chuckle at my expense then that's okay. Both of these traits help me put my whole self out in the open because I'm not afraid to be laughed at as long as I'm being me.

5. What's the last thing you did that you think back to fondly?

Hmm...I'm fond of so much of my life lately that I'm having a hard time remembering the last specific thing. Last Friday we took Lorelei to the park and she insisted that I climb all over the playground with her and slide down all the slides saying, "Come on Mommy". One head bonk (on my behalf) and a super content kiddo later, I'll say that's the last thing I did that I think back fondly of. Or maybe it was waking up cuddling her this morning... It's the little things.

6. What's one thing you're determined to learn?

There are a million things I'd love to be at least proficient at: speaking French, playing guitar, latte art, knitting/crocheting, making French macaroons (but they aren't vegan), folding fitted sheets, among others...but I think what would really improve my life and make me feel awesome would be to learn how to keep a clean house! Advice anyone???

7. What's the thing you're best at making?

Well, before we went vegan I was beyond proud and highly complimented on my cheesecakes. In fact, they might be what I miss most being vegan.

8. What's your favorite place to be?

Aside from home (which let's just clearly define as any place I can cook, lounge, and be with my family), I generally like being outside somewhere that feels in touch with nature. Where I can marvel at things that man didn't have a hand in. Like near the ocean, in the woods surrounded by hundreds of years old trees, a river in the summer that smells sweet like blackberries, at the foot of a mountain... any natural wonder or environment found in the Pacific Northwest really.

9. What's something big you're planning to do this year?

An anniversary trip! David and I are planning on spending two very full days and one night in Portland sans child for our 3 year anniversary in May. We're both so giddy over it, we've already basically mapped out everything we'll be doing, right down to the snacks! This is a huge deal for us for a couple of reasons. One being that we have never done anything without Lorelei. That means we haven't been on a measly date even in 2 years! Two being that Portland is where we see ourselves settling in, starting our business, and eventually hopefully building our dream house. I told David if we ever invited anything else into our love triangle it would be Portland. Yeah, we love it.

10. What's the first thing you do when you wake up?

It goes something like this:

  • Resist the alarm.
  • Hope that cuddling Lorelei will magically make the fact that it's time to get up go away.
  • Finally get up because I really have to pee after several hours of being kicked in the bladder.
  • Start water boiling for farina or oatmeal.
  • Sit on the couch in a blanket with my iPhone checking Facebook and IG.
  • Finish making what Lorelei calls "breaksas soup".
  • Taste my coffee that David makes in the Chemex.
  • Have breakfast together.
  • Put David's hair in a ponytail for work.
  • Try to figure out what I might do with the rest of my day.
  • Reheat my coffee at least once...

11. What's the last dream you had that you remember?

Last night I had a dream that I went back to work, in retail, at Macy's where I worked before. I was working an evening shift and at closing my coworker told me that I had to stay because we were reopening for a special all night sale. I was really upset because I wanted to get home to my family. I spent a good amount of time running around stressing out and not really working. My mom and youngest sister showed up with my ex and they were trying to get me to leave with them, and I called my ex something weird/mean/hilarious in typical fashion that I can't remember and they left. Then I ran to the bathroom to vomit (which I was afraid meant I was pregnant) and ran into one of my school friends, Amy (who I'm tagging BTW), who offered to give me a ride home. That was it...That was mellow in it's weirdness, you should hear about some of my wilder dreams!

So that is my autobiography synopsized. Sorry for being so long-winded. 

Here are my questions:

  1. If you could have coffee with ANYONE who would it be and why?
  2. Tell me about one defining moment in your life?
  3. Why do you blog?
  4. If you could only listen to one artist/band for the rest of your life who would it be?
  5. What is your favorite food?
  6. If you had to come up with a unique tradition for you/your family what would it be?
  7. Tell me something that makes you unique?
  8. What poem or quote would you say applies most to your life?
  9. If you were a coffeeshop drink you would be a?
  10. What is your most treasured possession or memory?
  11. You find a $100 bill on the sidewalk, what do you do?
I am tagging:


February Birthdays #2, The Hubs

Today a really special guy turned 25. That's right it's my hubby, a quarter of a century old. Since we're planning something big for our anniversary this year and we got his camera already we aren't doing anything special today. I took it upon myself to mess around in Garage Band instead of cleaning the apartment (which he would REALLY love) to sing him a birthday song. It's really dorky, and nothing special, but I'm going to share it anyways because it's 100% me. Extreme nerdiness, totally off task, and well whatever...


We Have A Two Year Old?!

Photo courtesy of Photography by David L. Clark
Today my baby is two. A toddler. Less baby, more kid. Lorelei is a nurturer, an entertainer, a lover, a leader, strong willed, cunning, energetic, goofy, charming, hilarious, and sometimes a royal pain, and I wouldn't trade the last two years of being her mommy for anything in the whole world. We celebrated yesterday, because Sunday is David's Monday. We made plans, and plans fell through. There were moments that our big kid was happy, and ones where she was not. All in all though, it was a pretty good day.
I wanted breakfast to be special so I made some crazy, rainbow, tie dye pancakes (her favorite).

Photo courtesy of Photography by David L. Clark
Photo courtesy of Photography by David L. Clark
We went out to Seattle to jaunt around Capitol Hill (our favorite neighborhood) where we were going to visit a toy store (it turned out that it had gone out of business), get donuts (that was in an entirely different neighborhood as well), and get coffee at Roy St. (after we finally found parking and got in there was not a seat to be had). We ended up going to a toy store in the Magnolia neighborhood which was a big fail, but we discovered that we really like that area. The donut shop was in Wallingford, boasts an all vegan menu free of GMO's, artificial flavors, and colors, and was pretty good, but not the best.

Photo courtesy of Photography by David L. Clark
Photo courtesy of Photography by David L. Clark
Photo courtesy of Photography by David L. Clark
After the rollercoaster of toddler emotions, a hangry mommy, and too much driving from one end of Seattle to the other and back we decided to go to Issaquah. There we went to Starbucks (>.<) and shared a sandwich. Lorelei drank as much of my green tea frappuccino as I did. Then we hit up White Horse Toys, which is pretty much my favorite toy store ever. Lorelei discovered a play table with a Calico Critters house set up near the entrance, and she didn't want to look at anything else for the hour we were there. At least that made it easy to pick her present... Every time we showed her a set and asked if she wanted to take it home she told us no, because that meant she had to leave the dollhouse. David purchased the one we decided on and had it wrapped. Lorelei unwrapped it in the car, and cried the whole way home asking me to "gopen" the box. It was the first thing I did when we got home, and she LOVES that toy! She loves it so much that she brought the kitties with her to eat dinner, and we had to remove their clothes and wash two of them because she wrapped some grubby little pasta hands around them. Toddlers...

If you can pardon the mess, the length, and the mangy dog, you can watch us opening up the Calico Critters toy (this is being put up mostly for the enjoyment of her grandparents who like to see everything).

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