Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili


I recently visited a friend and she made this great vegan chili for me out of a slow cooker cookbook she has. Well last night, I took a stab at it and made the recipe for us – and it’s awesome! Here’s the recipe including a couple of my small edits:

Into your crock pop, mix together:

  • 1 Tbsp Butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped (I did this, but would probably go to 1/2 onion next time)
  • 2 Medium Raw Sweet Potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 2 15-oz Cans of Black Beans, rinsed & drained (I used low sodium ones, but in the end needed to add some salt to the chili)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • Pinch of Cinnamon
  • 16-oz jar of any salsa, any spice level – your choice!
  • 1 Cup of Water

Cook on Low for 6 hours (I did Low for 5 hours and then High for the last hour)

Makes between 4-6 servings depending on your portion size.

Optional garnishes: fresh cilantro and/or sour cream/Greek yogurt (obviously, the addition of dairy would make this vegetarian and not vegan)

I would give this recipe 5 stars! Super simple and the taste is great. I love the idea of adding a jar of salsa – it does the work of so many other things you might normally add to Chili. I really love the use of sweet potatoes – really different from anything I’ve had before. And Ben loved it too!



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Ben and I are a little late to the party, but this week we started watching Making a Murderer on Netflix. I think most people binge-watched this over the holidays, but we never like to follow the trends. I’d seen the show numerous times on Netflix and just thought that sounds too serious to watch. I really like to watch funny stuff, uplifting stuff, romantic stuff. Not to say that I won’t watch serious stuff – I also love dramas, but on most days I want to be left with a smile rather than a frown. But considering the entire universe seems to be talking about Making a Murderer, I figured it was time to check this out. Since the world has already shared the biggest spoiler about the outcome of this case, I walked into this knowing there would be no happy ending waiting for me.

We’re on episode 6 of 10 and this docu-series has not disappointed. Actually, let me correct that. It has COMPLETELY disappointed me regarding our judicial system. But as a fascinating documentary, it hasn’t disappointed at all. With everything that’s been happening around the country involving people being killed by the police without any repercussions for law enforcement, this docu-series is just a sobering reminder of how flawed our judicial system is. I’ve spent most of the past 5 episodes with my jaw-dropped in shear amazement at the lies and corruption surrounding Steven Avery (and his family). Lies and corruption among those we are supposed to trust with our lives: police, judges, prosecutors, and even defense attorneys. It’s absolutely disgusting to watch and no one is free from blame in this story (except, of course, my newest heartthrobs Dean Strang & Jerry Buting – watch the show to understand).


I’m trying to not give any spoilers or go too much into detail. I know how serious folks are about watching this documentary, and as late as Ben and I were to watching this, I know some who still have it on their to-do list. It seems like it’s right up there with the new Star Wars (which we haven’t watched, and probably won’t – sorry). But I will touch on what I’ve thought during the series. As a person of color, it’s always been clear to me the flaws in the system and the extent to which racism still exists so strongly in our society. Don’t fool yourself into thinking otherwise. While big cities around the US are often filled with a lot of diversity, many neighboring rural communities are still dominated by very conservative, small-minded, bigoted ideologies. (Donald Trump, anyone?) I’ve seen it first-hand. But what the series has really reminded me of, is that being poor (and/or having a low IQ) is just as bad as being a person of color. You will be discriminated against. You will be taken advantage of. Your rights will not matter.

Maybe next week I’ll watch something funny.


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A New Year!


It’s 2016….and I’m still sick. Yuck! The coughing. The headaches. I know it will come to an end soon – but when? When!?

I guess this is the point when I’m supposed to talk about RESOLUTIONS. It’s all anyone is talking about, right? It’s all I heard on the radio into work this morning. Everyone ready to change everything, live a better version of themselves, eat better, workout more, etc. My past resolutions have probably fallen in line with those ideas, but this year I’ve realized I don’t really have any resolutions. My life is nowhere near perfect, but I was working on the things I’ve been wanting to work on well before the ball dropped on 2016. So I guess the resolution is – I will continue to learn to be happy with who I am (which takes shape in many different ways). There are definitely some things I want to do more of in 2016, that I wouldn’t necessarily call resolutions:

  • Go to the movies more often. We only went once together in 2015 to see Ex Machina which was definitely worth seeing on the big screen, but I definitely want to do it more. We always see previews for movies and say “We should definitely see that in the theater” and then never do. Haha, I guess this leads well into my next point…
  • Get out of the house more. We are serious professional homebodies. We love being home with our pets and each other. I’m going to call it a testament to our love for each other and not at all laziness. Hah!
  • Use this newly acquired Southwest Companion Pass to do more personal (non-work related) travel. I travel a lot for work and 2015 was fun, but grueling when it came to work-travel. The good news is, it helped earn me a Southwest Companion Pass – which means that anywhere I fly in 2016, Ben can fly with me for FREE! We have a lot of ideas of things we want to do and places we want to go – we just have to actually do all of that!
  • Read. I hate reading, but I know it’s so good for your mind and depending on what you’re reading, it can be really good for your soul. Ben got me Mindy Kaling’s new book for xmas which I know will be an easy read so hopefully that will ease me into picking up more books.
  • Admit I’m wrong. I’m not wrong often (hehe), but when I am – I refuse to admit it. And while stubbornness runs in my family, this trait needs to run out the door and not return.
  • Stay positive (when it matters). What became really clear to me in 2015 is that on most days, I’m the optimist and Ben’s the pessimist/realist. But when the going gets tough – like…really tough – our roles reverse and he’s always trying to lift me up out of the most painful funk. I have to remember that things happen for a reason, even the bad things. Every bad thing that happens isn’t a signal for the end. There is hope and happiness and sometimes I need his help in finding it.

Enjoy the New Year, friends! It’s a chance to continue on a great path, or find a new one if that’s where life is taking you. Remember these corny words that I live by – wherever you are, is EXACTLY where you’re supposed to be.

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Happy New Year’s Eve!

Image-1 (1)Well, I’m sick. To some, this is the worst way to spend New Year’s Eve. To me, it’s perfection. My ideal New Year’s Eve involves me, my husband, Netflix, food that’s bad for us, and a bedtime well-before midnight.  Believe it or not, being sick pretty much assures all of these things.

While my NYE seems to be shaping up nicely, being sick SUCKS. I don’t know what I have -a cold I guess? Generally, I feel sicknesses fall into one of two categories: cold or flu. If you have a fever, it’s the flu. In all other cases, it’s a cold. Don’t quote me on this people – I’m not a doctor, in fact I got a D or F in pretty much every science class I’ve ever taken. My current symptoms include: frequent headaches, incessant coughing, and expelling some colorful substances from my body. I can sum it up by saying that it feels like someone spent the entire night beating up my throat. My treatment has included: Nyquil, Robitussin, lemon, honey, tea, hot water, Cepacol & other cough drops. Note: not a single treatment has even remotely worked. Your remedy suggestions are greatly appreciated.

So it’s the last day of yet another year. I’m sick. My coworkers want me to rest and I try to explain to them that I’m just sitting here on my sofa watching TV. It’s easy enough to answer some emails – but they have a different definition of rest. So, I’m not answering emails – instead I’m writing this blog and I think this is a good time to reflect on 2015. Here are some of the highlights:

  • We went to Maui for our honeymoon! It feels like it was years ago, but such wonderful memories. Snorkeling for the first time ever and celebrating my best friend’s 35th birthday in the best place we could think of.
  • An amazing summer family picnic with all the folks I love so much. It was hot, really hot – so hot we couldn’t paddle boat, but we still had a blast and it was worth the near-heat stroke.
  • A late-in-the-year vacation to Portland, Oregon – another first for the both of us! And we were celebrating our 1 year anniversary – we did it! We loved Portland, but learned quickly that while so many of our friends totally see us living there, we do not. A little too hip and young for these two geezers.
  • This year was also filled with so many wonderful memories with our friends (and their little mini-me’s). As the years go on, my close friends are fewer and fewer and thank god for that. What they say is true, I would rather have a handful of amazing friends who have my back, than a boatload of people with silly priorities.
  • 2015 was also the year that Ben and I realized just how much we want to have a baby and how ready we are for whatever life will bring us in 2016. And by ready, I mean not-at-all-ready because who’s ever ready for life’s surprises!?

Even with your challenges, 2015 – you were good to me. And with that – I hope you all have a wonderful and safe ending to 2015. Kiss the ones you love and hug them tight as 2016 rolls in. If all goes as planned, Ben and I will be fast asleep as the fireworks roar.

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It’s almost over!

Well 2015 came and went and what WordPress just showed me in my year-in-review was that I barely blogged. At all. I kinda fell off of most things to be honest and committed myself to Instagram. But it’s the end of the year so I thought it was only fitting to do or say something. So Merry Christmas! Or Happy Holidays, if you prefer!


Here we are, me and the Mister, on Christmas morning. We got to spend a few wonderful days surrounded by family  – which meant lots of food and laughs. It was a great time and seems to go by faster and faster each year. I think we both got everything we wanted – not that our lists were lavish or anything like that. One of my favorites is the new beanie Ben knit me (the one I’m wearing up there) to match a scarf he knit me last year. My mom caught on to Ben’s knitting/crocheting skills and was flabbergasted. He knit an adorable elephant for our upcoming niece’s arrival and my mom showcased his creation to anyone who would stop and look. It was pretty adorable. But after a handful of exhausting days of visiting with family, we now get to settle back into normal life. We have no plans for New Year’s Eve – which is a good thing! I just want to relax at home with Ben, Hank & Bunny – oh and our new pet Cate the caterpillar (long story).

I don’t think this will be my last post of the year – work is so slow that I can actually take breaks and do stuff like this! So expect at least one more from me. Until next time…


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This is beginning to be serious.

It has to be at least 6 years since I’ve listened to anything by Weezer. #1 – The band was too connected to a past I’d rather forget. #2 – I realized I really just don’t like the band. Too poppy. Too annoying – especially their newer stuff. But I recently rediscovered their Pinkerton album and remembered why I did love this band for a short time in my life. Pinkerton really is a great album (ok, so is the Blue Album). Well written. Well performed. Not sure why everything after that went so downhill. I’ll blame it on Rivers Cuomo’s over-inflated ego and desire to be popular. All that aside, Pinkerton is back in heavy rotation on my phone and in my head. Enjoy…

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18 Years in the Making

I was 16 when I first read Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. And then I read it again the following year in AP English. Since then, I’ve probably read it 4-5 more times. If you know me, you know I hate reading. It’s something I’ve always struggled with and never really enjoyed. So for me to have read the same story nearly 7 times, well that means something. So many people have different theories around the story and what it means. To me, it’s the idea that you could pour yourself into your work, your family, your relationships – and then one day, none of it could matter. The people you trust and hold closest, could turn on you in an instance. It’s like you never mattered. In the case of Gregor Samsa, the story’s main character, this happened to him overnight when he awoke and found himself changed into a monstrous vermin. I haven’t made that exact transformation, but Gregor’s story resonates strongly with me. So much so that he is the subject of my newest tattoo (above my right elbow) – which I got last week for my 34th birthday. Why not add some real pain to getting older?


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Old Navy #FAIL

I kinda like it when the internet makes mistakes. Today’s mistake is brought to you by Old Navy – who has at least three midi pencil skirts on sale for nearly double their original price. (Pretty sure they just mistakenly switched the original price with the sales price.) Congrats Old Navy!


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New Instagram

Recently, I’ve found myself pulling away from a lot of social media. Months ago, I deleted my Facebook, with no plans to return. Same with my Twitter and Yelp accounts. (Yelp is a bigger story that I’ll tell on another day.) I’ve always struggled with my self-esteem and one of my best friends recently recommended that I walk away from my Instagram account. She felt that I was focusing in on pictures of people that were just making me feel bad about myself. And then she went on to explain her reasons for not having any social media accounts, which include this constant need we have to compare ourselves to each other. And how unhealthy that is. I couldn’t disagree. So I followed her advice and turned off my Instagram account. It’s still there, I’m just not doing anything with it or checking it.

With no social media, I got bored – fast, which is totally sad and something I need to address….later! So I started to focus more on Hank’s Instagram account. Yes, our cat, Hank – has his own account. And then last night, Ben made such an amazing looking dinner that I had to take a picture. I couldn’t figure out how to share this gorgeous picture with the masses so it hit me – we need a food Instagram. Ben and I are self-declared foodies. Food is good and makes us happy. And while Ben doesn’t have a smart phone (and wouldn’t know what to do with it if he did) I take lots of food pictures. So I created a new (yes, third) Instagram account: benandvickyeatfood. In case it needs explaining, this IG will focus on amazing food we eat or make. The focus is food. Food is the focus. I’m not really concerned if people will like the photos or follow along, but it’s really more of a database for the two of us. There are those days when we ponder what to have for dinner, so it’s great to think back to awesome meals we’ve have in the past.

Oh and in case you want to see what Ben made last night, here it is – Rad Rainbow Raw Pad Thai courtesy of Oh She Glows.


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Pictures of Success

I’m listening to Rilo Kiley’s 2001 album Take Offs and Landings. I’ll be honest, I haven’t listened to this album in about 6 years. The start of the the first song immediately took me back to a different world, a different life, a different version of myself. This album used to be so important to me – it’s weird how that happens right? Is it age that changes us and our tastes? Or is it life experiences? Or does a band just evolve in a way you can’t appreciate, so you disregard their earlier awesomeness? Either way, something made this album less relevant to me in the past many years. But right now, it’s the perfect soundtrack to my mood and my feelings and it’s making me access these deep corners of my brain filled with so many memories I’ve cast aside – and I gotta say – I like it. #emowednesday #thepast #knowwhatimean

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