Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Christmas Wish

A Christmas Wish

As a child, the holiday season was a lot more about slowing down than speeding up.

Sure, there was still the hustle and bustle at the shopping mall. Visiting Santa Claus and that that sense of urgency in seeking out and finding just the right gift for family and friends (with a modest Christmas Club from grandma and grandpa).

But, it was more about taking a break from the daily routine, slowing down to bake cookies, make presents or create ornaments. Taking time and care to decorate the tree and the house…just right, and sitting down as a family (broken or not) to watch classic holiday stories unfold again as if seeing them for the first time…all while sipping hot cocoa with a candy cane and whipped cream. These special times were about the doing and being together, not just the end product.

Of course, when I was a child, there wasn't an internet just yet and stores didn't stay open quite as long. There were videos but not DVDs nor 24-hour Christmas marathon channels on cable. So, you planned ahead, and you had downtime when you couldn't run to the store or shop online and had to try to catch your favorite holiday special when it was scheduled to air on TV.

Somehow it seems these days that so many activities meant to give us pause and be carried out with thoughtfulness and love have been assigned to our endless and exhausting 'to do list.' Just one (or a dozen) more tasks that we need to squeeze in rather than joys to be experienced. And we're so busy trying to get items checked off of that list that we fail to take all the pleasure out of them that we could or should.

One of the Christmas traditions that never failed to delight me was getting soft, cozy new pajamas--albeit often presented on Christmas Eve as a gift to satisfy our childish eagerness over…PRESENTS! Still, new fluffy socks and flannel (or fleece) 'jammies' remain a simple but wonderful holiday joy.

For these reasons, I wanted to create this no-place-like-home-for-the-holidays-inspired set filled with items that make you feel soft, warm, cozy and loved. It also includes tastes and aromas that remind us of the simplicity of the season--sweet, minty, chocolaty…goodness!

Whether you sip mint-flavored hot chocolate or a candy cane martini while listening to your favorite holiday music, relax in a hot bubble bath or just spent 5 minutes extra cuddling under the covers on a cold morning, give yourself a pepperminty pedicure or invite a friend over to paint each other's nails in holiday hues, I hope you'll take a little time to remember that the season isn't just about the rushing, buying and noise. It is about slowing down, giving of yourself (even occasionally to yourself) and spending quiet time with the ones you love.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Crafting a (Nearly) Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner

Our nearly vegan Thanksgiving (1018)

Here is the table set with our *nearly* vegan Thanksgiving dinner including (from bottom right) sweet potatoes with pecans, walnuts and vegan marshmallows, green beans, cranberry-apple sauce, tofurky with roasted vegetables and homemade mushroom gravy, apple-pear sauce, apple-raisin stuffing with walnuts and pecans and last but not least mashed potatoes.

Our nearly vegan Thanksgiving (1008)

Our nearly vegan Thanksgiving, a photo by LeighAnneD...Mugging Over Coffee on Flickr.Soy margarine replaced butter in all dishes. Vegan sugar, maple syrup or agave syrup were used to sweeten dishes when needed. While butter was available on the table, no one used it. The stuffing and the pecan pie (not pictured) contained Egg Beaters and one egg (and the stuffing didn't really need it -- note for next holiday meal).

Favorite dish of the day for me, despite the slight flambé, was the sweet potatoes. They were parboiled and then tossed with Earth Balance soy margarine, a sprinkle of brown sugar, a dribble of maple syrup, cinnamon and a pinch each of nutmeg and cloves. They were topped with a light handful of pecans and walnuts and roasted in the oven just to reheat them and meld the ingredients. Then, they were topped with vegan marshmallows, which BRIEFLY caught fire.

While tart, I still enjoyed my homemade cranberry sauce. Unfortunately, I was unable to relocate the recipe I've been using in recent years (it was bookmarked on the laptop that was stolen from our house in August). I did my best to remember the recipe, but believe I was a bit short on the sugar measurement. I used about 3/4 cup of vegan sugar warmed until dissolved in 1 cup of organic orange juice with the zest of one orange and a cinnamon stick added to one 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries and one Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped. Tasty but, as I said, tart. A touch more sugar or a second apple would've made it perfect.

The apple-pear sauce is always an "ad lib" and a family favorite. A couple apples (usually two varieties) and a pair of pears, peeled and chopped, and then simmered low and slow with apple juice or cider, a bit of maple syrup and cinnamon sticks. Once the fruit reaches a lovely soft consistency, I remove the cinnamon sticks and stir in a splash of pure vanilla extract and let is cook for a few minutes long. Then, I let it cool for a while in the pan before serving or storing in the refrigerator. Delish!

The Tofurky is made with a plethora of carrots, potatoes, celery and onion and the original basting juice recipe of 1 part sweetener (agave syrup), 2 parts soy sauce and 2 parts orange juice. This year I threw in a few pieces of orange in (left over from juicing and zesting for cranberry sauce). My mom cannot eat turkey, and she was delighted by the Torfurky. Her husband can eat it but opted to go veg with us this year...he liked it as well, complimenting the texture as well as taste.

The pecan pie tasted a bit on the sweet side this year (magically compensating for the cranberry sauce?). It contained one whole egg and 4 oz of egg beaters with soy margarine instead of butter and was baked in an all vegetable oil crust. It was served with the option of whipped cream or vanilla Soy Delicious Ice "Cream" and Peet's (Best?) cinnamon coffee with milk (and raw sugar for me).

Although not completely vegan, it was the closest we've come--especially when hosting family members--and was enjoyed immensely by all. I *love* Thanksgiving leftovers since I try not to over-indulge on the day and don't tire of them.

This has been a rough year for us, and yesterday was our first major family holiday without our fur babies, Chestnut (16) and Marble (20), who both passed away in July (intestinal cancer and CRF, respectively).

I am thankful that we got a last weekend with them both, that our mothers came to visit their "grandcats" before the girls left us, that my Bubba and sister-in-law were there beside us and for us when we had to let go. While it kills me inside to be without my girls, I am truly grateful that their suffering is over.  Both were truly companion animals in every sense of the word, and I am so appreciative to have had them in our lives as long as we did.

At Christmas Time – Faux is the Way to Go

The Friday after Thanksgiving may be a “Black” one for retailers and shoppers, but it has another meaning to those who advocate for animals—foes of fur one might say.

It is celebrated as Fur-Free Friday—a tongue twister AND an opportunity to get the message out to all those shoppers (and the retailers they frequent) that they should skip the skins. Whether on the hunt for holiday gifts or fabulous fashions to ring in the New Year, faux is the way to go!

Just take a look at everyone’s favorite jolly and generous ol’ elf, Mr. Kringle, himself. When Santa Claus is coming to town and hurrying down the chimney, he does it in a red velvet suit with white faux fur trim. Why…his boots are probably even PLEATHER! (If your life and livelihood rested on hooves of eight tiny reindeer, would you REALLY want to be sporting cowhide from knees to heels? I don’t think so!)

Inspired by the Claus family fashions is this adorable and even affordable (if you choose wisely) holiday outfit—featuring snow and faux accessories…and even a little evergreen.

At Christmas Time – Faux is the Way to Go

At Christmas Time – Faux is the Way to Go by leighanned (click through to see individual items in this set)

At the base of this outstanding outfit is a vintage-inspired red dress with white Peter Pan collar available from Modcloth. The dress can be paired with nude hoses or, better yet, colored tights. Complement snow-white tights with a dramatic pair of red lace-trimmed velvet high heels by Charlotte Russe and grab a clutch in matching material. (Is it just me or does this handbag remind anyone else of the bonnet worn by Mrs. Claus?)

If you want to go more “ho-ho-ho” with the ensemble, go for the red tights and an all man-made black boot. These, by Naturalizer, are available at Famous Footwear (and I can personally attest to their style AND comfort). Next, say “good night” to the thin white belt and “good evening” for this wide, stretchy black belt with imitation leather panels and gold “stone” closure. Finish off your list of Santa-like accessories with a pair of synthetic leather gloves. Not only are they kind to critters, they balance out the black donned elsewhere in this gay apparel.

Speaking of accessories…Mrs. Claus will be green with envy over this handsome handbag (100% polyurethane). Reminiscent of Santa’s sack, even the name of this evergreen purse -- “Let’s Fly” -- seems ideal to pay homage to the head elf (and his reindeer). Fanciful and festive hair accessories are IN…so leave the stocking cap to Kris Kringle! Choose this headband by Tarina Tarantino instead -- it’s completely feather-free. Tulle is used to create its fluffy flowers, and Swarovski crystals add just the right amount of twinkle.

Baby, did you hear? It’s cold outside...this time of year. So you better bundle up.

For outerwear that’s fun to wear, there are several fabulous and faux options. The first is this adorable “Icing on the Coat in Red Velvet” with white piping by Knitted Dove and available from Modcloth. Layer on a fuzzy fake fur hat and scarf for cozy cuteness and slip on knit gloves (made from acrylic yarns) in either long and short versions. Both red and white options can be seen in this Santa set. If warmth isn’t too much of a worry where you live, you could choose a faux fur shrug -- a thing of beauty that doesn’t harm any beasts.

Well, that wraps up the faux, so now…let it snow, let it snow, let it SNOW! Add sparkle to your seasonal attire and shine to your New Year with snowflake jewelry in silver…and GOOOOOOOLD! (Well, if you can find gold.) Earrings, pendants or pins add that little something special to a winter wardrobe and give Mother Nature (or is it Jack Frost?) a nod for fashioning frozen and fabulous designs.

Finally, while the mention of evergreen originally referred only to the great green accessories, it seemed only natural (and I couldn't resist taking this opportunity) to converse on conifers at this time of year. In other words, let’s get real now and take a minute to talk trees!

As your pining for and pondering whether to choose a spruce or fir (NOT FUR) this season, consider giving a gift to planet earth (and future generations) as well. Plant a tree. You can do it, literally, in your own backyard, or, there are several charitable organizations that will plant a tree when you make a donation. The Nature Conservancy and the Arbor Day Foundation are two that immediately come to mind.

Ho-ho-hopefully you’ve enjoyed this Claus collection, and my merry musings (and didn’t mind my plentiful puns…well, too much).

Soundtrack includes  A Very She & Him Christmas. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

That's what they mean by Thanksgiving

That's what they mean by Thanksgiving...

I crafted this fun pair of outfits in honor of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" based on the lesson Charlie Brown learns thanks to friends Linus and Marcie.
Charlie Brown: I don't feel bad for myself; I just feel bad because I've ruined everyone's Thanksgiving.

Marcie: But Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. You heard what Linus was saying out there. Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that's what they mean by 'Thanksgiving,' Charlie Brown.
 A good reminder for us all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

DIY Halloween Costume: Charlotte's Web

After mulling ideas, and needing to settle on something for work, I decided to create my own "Charlotte's Web" costume--it was subtle (and not that different from regular work clothes) so I could easily work in it all day without distraction.

My creative and talented colleague (who also runs Caseybots on Etsy) went a...different route with her DIY costume, creating her own monster head; she did NOT wear it all day.

The bulk of the work went into embroidering a version of one of the book's famous illustrations onto a plain white t-shirt:

...and finding a stuffed pig (Wilbur) and rat (Templeton). Have you noticed there are very few places that sell a variety of stuffed animals anymore? And that nearly everything looks like a variation on a teddy bear? At least the little cutie I managed to find has more pig-like features. Oh course, if you're searching for Olivia or Otis, you'll have no trouble.

A half-circle skirt with thin ruffles in a wave pattern encircling it and fishnet hosiery contributed to the "web idea" of the costume. A faux spider hot glued to a pin back transformed into the talented arachnid herself.

For the most part, people knew what I was and got a kick out of the costume and the bit of craftiness that went into it.

I love the fundamental message of "Charlotte's Web" (or at least the one that I take away from it) about all life being unique and precious...even if it is just a value to the smallest creature. Also, I like the idea that compassion and words shared and/or put into action can make a difference and that friendship is a gift with no strings attached (pun intended).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Easy to Cook Up (DIY) "Bob's Burgers" Couples Costumes

Easy to Cook Up (DIY) "Bob's Burgers" Couples Costumes

Easy to Cook Up (DIY) "Bob's Burgers" Couples Costumes by leighanned featuring arch shoes

Instructions: Dress.
Man: Draw on a mustache (if you don't have one).
Women: Pop the lenses out of a cheap pair of red, cat's eye sunglasses.
Couple: Carry fake hamburger and order pad with you.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The facts are these...

The Facts are These...

The Facts are These... by leighanned featuring clutch bags

Ned is a pie-maker with a special gift. Lonely tourist Charlotte Charles ("Chuck") was his childhood sweetheart--once dead, now…not so much. Yellow is a warm color, and it is quite becoming on the now undead girl.

Yellow has the ability to brighten a outfits, and even moods. It can add a bit of whimsy and delight to a day--especially when mixed with other warm colors such as orange or red. Paired with a white, it can feel crisp and clean. Add a splash of green for a fresh, natural appeal. Or, tone it down with a complementary, creamy off-white. A paler shade can bring warmth to a look without being over the top. And, on the flip side, contrasting the vivid hue with accents of black create a dramatic look.

This sunny, Pushing Daisies-inspired outfit pulls a little from each of these color pairings offering a variety of looks depending upon accessory choice (although to be quite honest, the yellow and black in this set isn't an accessory so much as an activity to engage in). Of course, whatever the combination, this ensemble makes it clear that love is in bloom--and love for man or beast is stronger than even death.

The particulars of the outfit. This dress not only has a cheerful disposition like lonely tourist Charlotte Charles, it has the vintage feel that suits her as well. Likewise the handbags selected, while appropriate in color and attitude, also offer a hint of whimsy and kitsch that seemed Chuck's inclination.

Naturally, daisies were a theme in this extraordinary show…and several episodes featured rolling hills of lush green grass, giving an additional motivation to choose this green fringe bag as a functional accessory. Bees and honey--honey and bees--played a prominent guest role in the show from time to time, so it was only fitting to include an homage to them for a tea treat, which will include yellow banana cream and lemon meringue pie.

Until later in the series, when Chuck must deal with the truth of her father, her attitude was typically sunny so it seemed fitting that any umbrella she'd carry would make light of rain--enabling her to find the bright side of sudden showers. After all, even she would say that 'into every life, a little rain must fall.'

And, as any fan of the show can tell you, a walking Dead Girl wouldn't be caught undead without cute, cool or funky sunglasses. This pair, in shades of yellow and orange, might help hide her identity but her warm heart and keen fashion sense remain easy to see.

This set is dedicated to Marble and Chestnut.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Refreshing Summer Beverage

Nothing too different or clever, but a tasty and really refreshing drink for hot days. While it isn't calorie-free, it is full of healthy fruit juices and free of artificial sweeteners. I thought I'd share... 

Quick Cranberry Spritzer
Fill an ice tea glass with ice.
Pour in cranberry juice, filling 1/3 to 1/2 of the glass.
Top with the IZZE Sparkling Lime, and give it a gentle swirl with an ice tea spoon.
Garnish with a half slice or wedge of fresh lime.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Art, Creativity and Fun on Polyvore

If you haven't noticed, I enjoy "playing" on, a fashion and art (collection/collage) website for fashionistas, trend spotters, trend setters and creative types like yours truly. 

I was autoposting there for a while, with my set creations on Polyvore being one of my primary creative outlets in recent months. However, the sets I've been creating haven't been posting the way they used to or the way I wanted them I've changed those posted (since the ones in February) to draft and will add them and new sets manually so I can control how they appear.

Along with this change, I hope to resuming sharing arts, crafts and related posts here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Styling a Good Gotham Girl

Styling a Good Gotham Girl
Styling a Good Gotham Girl by LeighAnneD featuring buckle belts

Based on this Batman's tone-on-tone look, I created a vintage-inspired outfit in shades of gray and black. The pencil skirt is a classic pinstripe, ideal for a day at Wayne Enterprises.

Accessories in gold and yellow not only reflect the Batman logo and utility belt, but add pop to the outfit. Two options are presented for the shoes and jewelry playing up either the sparkle of the yellow and gold pieces or steely gray for a more monochromatic look.

A paler pink lip plays sidekick to sensual smoky eyes with thick, dark lashes and dramatic liner. Nails are polished in silver lacquer.

A lemon-drop martini is served up in honor of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne--you know, just to keep appearances.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Retreat to the Lake Country in Style

Retreat to the Lake Country in Style
Retreat to the Lake Country in Style by LeighAnneD featuring gold earrings

Hiding away at a villa on a lake with the man you (secretly) love…could anything be more romantic? Perhaps if yours wasn't a forbidden love.

Still, strolling along the lake on a sunny afternoon in an amazing outfit with a handsome, adoring man at your side is intoxicating.

These lovely dresses by Thomas Kirchgrabner offer the same lovely feel of Padme Amidala's flowing garden gown with its seamless blending of pretty pastels. Of course, one would need a dynamite pair of shoes to accompany such a dress. But, it's difficult to settle on just one pair when you don't know what tomorrow will bring--so this set offers six sexy options for a variety of occasions and moods.

Sparkling gold or champagne, coordinating lime or bold turquoise shoes are ideal for a night on the town, drinks and dinner or a night spent dancing away the hours. Dainty diamond sandals are an afternoon delight while a slightly lower-heel sling in soft cream is just the thing for a quiet evening fling--strolling with the man you love.

Likewise, the options available for coordinating jewelry are various in this collection but all are in keeping with the dramatic (substantial) feel of Padme's abalone shell bib necklace and curvy armbands. Choose them as paired or mix and match them. (For compassion's sake, choose shell accessories crafted from found shells only--not harvesting mollusks please.)

Makeup is soft and pretty in peaches and cream tones with a pretty and soft rosy pigments and gloss for kissable lips. Color is the main feature of the Hollywood-inspired eyes rather than heavy mascara or eyeliner. A host of pastels and pale blue eyeliner frame eyes filled with love and romance--a dark eye would be too harsh and spoil the mood.

Finally, a look this pretty deserves a lovely scent, such as the aptly named "Good Day Sunshine." Given that this set is full of choices, naturally, two aromatic options are offered. To which fragrance would you say, "I do"?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Super Power of Primary Colors

The Super Power of Primary Colors
The Super Power of Primary Colors by LeighAnneD featuring a wooden umbrella

From the Kent Farm in Smallville to the Daily Planet in Metropolis, the Kryptonian is one super man and an American icon. So, in honor of the man of steel with those dark wavy locks and piercing blue eyes, this outfit features the primary colors of Superman's "uniform."

A quick history lesson and a personal connection to the man able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Superman is a fictional character who debuted in DC Comics and has gone on to "appear" in books, newspaper comics, films, on television, etc. Back in 1932, he was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in Cleveland, Ohio, where I live…and, in fact, the very house where I live was owned by one of the co-creators descendants.

My own first exposure to the Superman legend was Christopher Reeve's portrayal in the 1970s, so it holds a special place in my heart, but I've grown to love the alternate continuity and characterization of Tom Welling's version of Clark Kent/The Blur. As such, I drew inspiration from both these super guys.

So, on to the outfit! Of course, "Smallville" (the show not the imaginary town) has spent many seasons on and been a true innovator with creating Superman-themed day-in/day-out attire (i.e., the suit without an actual suit). The wardrobe team for the show has had no end of fun in costuming the primary characters in shades of red and blue--not to mention some of the other wild outfits they've come up with over the years for other Smallville superheroes, villians and civilians.

This particular ensemble is built on the foundation of a vintage-inspired blue dress. I consider it an homage to the era in which Superman was creation so many decades ago (although this dress may be more 1940s than 1930s inspired). While you could pair it with tights ala the man faster than a speeding bullet, delicately seamed hosiery in a barely there neutral (not pictured) is probably more appropriate and better suited to this outfit.

Two distinctively dressy pairs of pumps are available--as are handbags in a matching fabric. Choosing the blue combination creates balance with the dress while the red accessories are a dramatic contrast and more closely represent the superhero's outfit.

A long flowing red coat tops off the look while accessories (and makeup) in bright shades of our single sun yellow accent the outfit. Diamond-shaped yellow earrings are intended to pay tribute to the symbol on his chest without taking the look so far as to include the enormous "S" anywhere. Since Superman is all about fighting for "truth, justice and the American Way" (of life), a pair of patriotic earrings are included as an optional accessory.

A rich, luscious brown-black hair dye could yield super tresses, if the wearer is so inclined. Soft pale pink cheeks lay a subtle background because the eyes have it--the focus of the face and makeup, that is, with a strong true red lip.

With Clark's love and fellow reporter, Lois Lane, in mind--we slip a reporter's notepad into the set (as it can easily be stowed in either of these pretty purses) to jot down notes for that next big headline. A newspaper umbrella stands in for The Daily Planet.

Finally, while we would never suggest it for Lois or Clark, what Superman wardrobe would be complete without a nod to Krypton? For this, I've added a green (kryptonite-like) stone bracelet formed of dainty gold coils…never to be donned by or worn around the man of steel, of course, lest he no longer be as powerful as a locomotive!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oh What a Fashionable Web We Weave

Oh What a Fashionable Web We Weave
Oh What a Fashionable Web We Weave by LeighAnneD featuring tie jewelry

Inspired by one of my favorite superheros--the web-slinging, wall crawling crime fighter himself, Spiderman.

When I saw this dress, I just knew it make the perfect a Spiderman-themed ensemble. Without being over-the-top, I still opted to accessorize the outfit with more obvious web and spider pieces--offering the option of silver or gold as well as suggesting accessories in Spiderman red, blue or basic spiderweb black.

As a small nod to Peter Parker, I added in a small camera charm that could be worn on a necklace or bracelet...and tucked in her bag, a reporter's notepad because you never know when a story will break.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Creating a Cinder-free Ensemble for a Cinder Girl

Creating a Cinder-free Ensemble for a Cinder Girl
Creating a Cinder-free Ensemble for a Cinder Girl by LeighAnneD featuring cotton blouses

Of course very little girl dreams of being Cinderella with a Fairy Godmother to turn her tattered dress into a beautiful gown so she can win the heart of the prince (not that there isn't more to Cinderella than her looks). But, before her pumpkin can be turned into a coach, she must first be simple Ella and her dreams.

For this set, I've chosen to focus on Ella's style and left the "cinder" portion behind for now--so aprons and feather dusters will not be making an appearance. Instead, I focused on her simple but feminine outfit, which features an a-line skirt and tailored blouse and vest. Basic ballet flats will get her around the house, but I have stashed a pair of dainty pumps if she cares to step out into the world.

When Ella wakes from her dreamy slumber, her blond locks are braided--quite a flattering look. Later, she pulls her tresses back into a ponytail using a blue ribbon. For this look, I've created a cross between the two hairstyles. Her ribbon has been complemented in this ensemble by a long but still shapely coat.

A simple girl, her jewelry is understated by highly symbolic. Here's hoping it helps her when her prince (or at least his footmen) come calling.

It is obvious at just a glance that Ella has beautiful skin, so I've included some skin care products (featuring pre-coach pumpkin ingredients) to keep skin healthy and radiant. There's no need to overdo makeup for this look. Soft pale hues for cheeks, eyes and lips will enhance the natural beauty that's already there, and a pumpkin-cinnamon mist or pumpkin pie scented perfume add just that little something extra.

Although I've left the manual labor portion of her life out of this set, I have included a lovely tea silver service as an accessory (of sorts) for this outfit. Perfect for enjoying afternoon tea or when having to play maid to a wicked stepmother and rude, jealous stepsisters.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Spin on a New Year's Tradition

CRAFTY New Year everybody!

My family background is Polish and Slovak, and along with that heritage came the tradition that eating sauerkraut (or cabbage) on New Year's Eve/Day -- supposedly becuase it is good luck for the year or some such thing.

Although I enjoy cabbage, I have never been able to stomach sauerkraut no matter what it is served with or how it's prepared. The closest I've come to enjoying it is a variation served by a restaurant here in Northeastern Ohio named Melt Bar & Grilled -- a grilled cheese joint (as seen on "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives") that kicks this kid-friendly staple into outerspace. They have a starter (appetizer) that features potato and cheese pierogis, grilled onions and a Napa cabbage kraut made with vodka. I don't love the Napa kraut, but I can tolerate it with all the other yummy flavors in the dish.

 While superstition isn't my thing, I do love a good tradition--especially related to the holidays. In lieu of a dish of potatoes, sauerkraut, and vegetarian sausage, I decided that for dinner this New Year's Day I would make a soup that my husband and I discovered in the book "Lean and Luscious and Meatless, Volume 3" but hardly ever make for some reason.

The recipe is for a tasty Cabbage and Potato Soup that happens to also be vegan, low in calories and carbs and completely fat free. What better way to start off the new year...and those healthy eating/get fit new year's resolutions? Even if you help yourself to two servings, it's only 174 calories and 40 carbs. It also has the benefit of being a dish you can prepare quickly and just set to simmer for a while. Crusty bread or rolls go well with this comforting dish.

If sauerkraut has you making sour faces, like it does me, maybe you'll try out this tasty soup and start a new holiday tradition yourself!