Saturday, January 31, 2015

You Don't Know till You Ask.....

I had a really pleasant exchange yesterday with two different people who work at Wegman's while I was requesting the much lauded new vegan cheese made by Field Roast. The cheese is called Chao, and apparently it is the JAM!! It seems that this cheese actually tastes good uncooked, which was enough to ignite my taste buds. Cheese and crackers! Cold cheese sandwiches! Sneaking slices straight out of the package! I have really missed the cold cheese experience. Anyway, as the weeks and reviews went on, it was nowhere to be found in my city. I requested Chao cheese at the local Co-op, but still to no avail. So, yesterday I called the Wegman's store closest to me, and had a lovely convo about this product, and this person advised me to also contact the customer service (corporate office?) and make a request there too. And I had another lovely convo, and found out it will be making it's way to a shelf in Wegman's sometime in the near future. I couldn't be more thrilled!
This whole exchange just reminded me that we vegans should speak up and request vegan items to be stocked. I don't know about anyone else, but for me sometimes I feel nervous or shy to ask, because I have had some very rude responses in my past while doing that. But, even if someone is snarky, snark isn't the end of the world. And sometimes when you ask, people actually respond with kindness and respect. I feel like all oft these companies are doing such great work for the animals by really making some stellar products, and it's up to us to demand that stores cater to more than the SAD crowd.
I'm really just sharing this experience as encouragement to anyone who is nervous, or has had some kind of bad experience requesting something. Just keep asking. If one store turns you down, request at another store. Stores want to make money, and vegans have money to spend(sometimes) just like everyone else, and often vegan foods are more expensive than their non-vegan counterpoints, so it's a win win!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Football, Vegan Snacks, and Irregular Tacos

So, apparently this Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday! Disclaimer- I could not care less about the game, or the commercials. I guess as a former Seattleite, I will say go Hawks, but that's it. What I do care about is the massive amounts of people getting together, and eating snacky, sporty food. This is a great chance to sneak some vegan treats in, and maybe get people to give vegan food a second chance.
Earth Balance has really nailed the snack food department, in my humble opinion. You could easily pour a bowl of their cheddar style crackers (like a vegan cheese it) into a bowl, and I guarantee people would love them! Same with their cheddar, and sour cream and onion chips. If you have some dips in mind, these chips are kettle cooked, so they are sturdy. Beanfield's makes some amazing chips as well. My personal fave is their ranch flavor. I almost always have to buy a bag when I'm at the Co-op. They also have a plain flavor that would be great with some guacamole, salsa, or vegan Queso dip.
Something I've made for my meatier friends in the past that has always been a crowd pleaser is tacos, made with Beyond Meat crumbles. There are other brands, I thing gardein makes crumbles, I think there's a company called Smart life, there are several types, just make sure they are vegan, as some like Morningstar are not.. Anyway, just cook the grounds in a little oil, add whatever taco seasonings you like, and set up a taco bar. I have had MANY a meateater tell me that they never ever would have known that what they ate was not a "regular taco"! So make a big batch of irregular tacos, and prepare to shock some people!
I'm not saying to overwhelm people with vegan food, but I feel like there are so many great vegan foods out there that many people would never try, because as a non-vegan, they probably don't even know it exists! And maybe they try something, realize it's vegan, and delicious, and not loaded with ten million weird chemicals, and cruelty free to boot? It might make a shift in some people's thinking.
They might seek that product out the next time they shop, and they might be much more open to trying other vegan foods, and meals in the future.
Vegan or not, we all want delicious, satisfying foods. For many reasons, vegan food has a bad rap. A bad rap that is slowly improving, but we still have so far to go. We're talking years and years of wheatgrass and spirulina, and tofu jokes. For years the mindset has been vegan food is bland, boring, and way too much brown and green, and that vegans are humorless, weak little hippies. It's up to us to keep tearing down that wall, and showing people that we are strong, our food is bold, tasty, and satisfying, and if it's salt and fat you crave, well, we've got that covered in a great, compassionate way. I want a win for the animals on Super Bowl!!
I wanted to end with my Yogi teabag quote. It's a good one. " Uplift everybody, and uplift yourself" Sometimes these quotes are just so relevant, you know?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mel, You can Kiss my Grits!

Today I want to talk about what it is like to be a server in a state that sees fit to pay servers $2.73 an hour. This has been the standard sever wage for twenty plus years. Not a single raise, at any point. People might think this is totally fair, if you are earning tips. But let me tell you something, tips aren't all they seem to be. I have worked in every type of restaurant from high end, to the diveist of dives. In between I've worked in many different styles of bars. And no matter where, you have good, and bad nights, as is to be expected. When you earn under three dollars an hour, you literally can't afford bad nights. I worked one week for a coworker, seven shifts in five days, two of those days doing double shifts, and my pay check was for fifty four dollars and some chump change. I will always remember the number fifty four, because I almost shat myself, while crying/laughing like a maniac. I have also suffered some pretty serious workplace abuse by people who are paying me under three dollars an hour. The restaurant industry is pretty abusive, in my experience, but it brings it to a new level of low, in my opinion when someone is allowed to 1) pay me under three dollars an hour 2) talk to me as if I am less than human. Drop f bombs in my face, and leave me almost in tears, while I still have to maintain a pleasant exterior for the customers.
I've worked in many different restaurants in this city, and at each one I've tried to ignite some kind of passion about the low wages, and how we need to fight to change it, and I kind of get treated like I'm some kind of rebel rouser, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I try to tell them it's not like this everywhere, that most states have upped server wages to minimum wage, and lots of fighting is being done to raise that. I don't think they believe me, or they don't care enough to speak up, who knows, but it is insane.
Being a server is hard work. I'm not begging for pity, or saying it's harder than anything else. But I am saying it is not a posh job. It is physically demanding, physically draining, emotionally draining, and don't get me started on how GROSS some people are, so it's rather disgusting sometimes. And I have never worked at any restaurant, in any state that offers health insurance, or hazmat gear. There are no on site therapists to sooth your scarred ego, you just have to battle the customers, and moody chefs/owners all on your own, all for the satisfaction of three dollars an hour, plus whatever the customer sees fit to leave you. In ways, it feels somewhat like being a panhandler, because I'm essentially begging them for their money, so that I can live, and eat. You also do not get meal breaks, you have to try to shovel in food between customers. And these restaurant owners want the same respect, and hard working go get em attitude, as if they are actually paying you.
I know this isn't really a "vegan" issue, but I was listening to some debates on the unfair wage gap, and they only went as low as minimum wage, so I had to throw my two cents in, and mention that in some really behind places, the wage is lower, and I don't know how anyone who has children, or debt could possibly do it.
Thank you for reading this rant about low, low pay. I needed to vent!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mainifesting- So Far, So Good

I have now been writing in my manifestation journal every day for a week. So far, I am enjoying it, and it doesn't feel like a chore, as journaling sometime has in the past. I thought it would take at least a month to really notice any kind of difference, but I started noticing changes last Saturday. I had a couple of situations that I feel I handled more honestly, and clear-headed than normal. I'm starting to really realize how suffocated I feel, by living a majority of my life not really being me, or I guess being a very muted version of myself. I was honest about some of my feelings, and it felt great, very freeing. I feel already more zeroed in on some changes that need to be made very soon, if I want to truly find happiness. I feel like my goals are attainable, as long as I'm constantly working with myself, not against myself.
Have you ever been really overwhelmed with a laundry list of things you need to get done, and it feels impossible? Then, you make a list, start checking things off, and suddenly you're caught up, and wondering what you were so stressed about?  That is kind of how I picture this journal. Life, and negativity, and whatever else have been blocking me from my full potential. I have had chances to achieve more, but for one reason or another I wasn't open at the time. I hope figuring myself out, and manifesting true happiness will open a lot of doors, walls, windows, whatever for me. I've been noticing little balances also. For example, Saturday someone was a tad condescending to me, and I felt a little blue. But, minutes later I had an interaction with a stranger that uplifted me, so it balanced out, and put things in perspective a little bit. And the other morning I was doing a yoga video on YouTube, and the instructor read a little excerpt from a book, and it was really something that I SO needed to hear that day, it was almost creepy! I feel more open to signs, and I feel more open to change, and believing that I actually can have more in life than serving slop for three dollars an hour. I don't know what, but I'm working on finding out.
I hope everyone has a wonderful day, and if you are anywhere near SNOWPOCALYPSE, I hope you are staying warm!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Whatever the Reason

I read an article last week talking about the various reasons America is so fat and unhealthy. Although a lot of it was standard fare, one part of the article jumped out at me. It was talking about a lot of the antibiotics that are fed to the various animals to fatten them up, is then fattening up the people who are eating it on the regular. This article also gave the name of several different antibiotics that are outlawed in almost all other countries, except 'Merica.  And of course we've been hearing about the weird antibiotics in dairy for awhile now. Then, this weekend while bulking up at the Co-op, I had a lovely conversation with a lady from Germany, and she was telling me in her country the farm animals are not treated so inhumanely, and also not fed all of the weird stuff. She seemed to have a genuine mistrust of the food system here, and we were both buying some bulk spices, and I had to reassure her that the spices are organic. It was sad and funny all in one moment. 'Merica. This lovely lady was also asking me tons of questions about vegan ingredients, as she had just bought two new vegan cookbooks, and she said she wanted to cut way back on meat, and she loved the way vegans "use so much flavor, variety, and spice"! I also recently listened to a co-worker tell me about a grass fed type of docu show, or movie, not sure. But anyway, she has conceded after watching this that people should eat grass fed beef, cows should eat grass, and they should be able to move. Not sure why she thought I wanted to hear about her beef eating habits, but I guess I have to look at everything as progress.
One of the hardest parts about believing fiercely in freedom of speech, expression, and beliefs is accepting that not everyone shares my beliefs. For the most part it's fine with me, but I do struggle with animal love. How can people not love and fight for animals? I'll never know the answer. But, one thing I do know about people is that they care about themselves. So, all of this recent info I've read/heard about is good news. I have said it before, but at this point I don't care what the motivation is, the more people who start demanding better conditions, and higher expectations for what goes into their mouth, will only make life more tolerable for these poor animals. I of course am not satisfied with tolerable, but it is progress. As long as we are progressing, not regressing, I will take it.
At this point, I'm not really sure why anyone would eat meat, or any kind of mainstream, processed food. Our food system, and what we allow to go into what we eat is the stuff nightmares are made of.
I also am a believer in some type of Karma, checks and balance, sin, whatever you want to call it. And how can so much fear, abuse, and stress be put onto a living, sentient being, and then someone ingests that? I just feel it can't be good for anyone's health, it sounds more like a horror movie. So, if people start demanding that animals are treated more kindly because they don't want to get fat, then I say bring on the fat fearing!
This is a better time than ever for people to "flirt" with the idea of going vegan, or vegetarian, because the food is so amazing now! I really applaud how far vegan food has come, and it seems like it's only getting better.  I feel like it's getting almost to the point where no one can use tase as an excuse for cruelty.
At this point, all that matters is the information is getting out there. Information that vegans have been saying for eons is being spread now by Dr. Oz, various print and online articles, Oprah, CNN, and who knows who else, but it's going mainstream!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Booch to the Rescue!

So, Saturday morning I made my monthly trip to the Co-op to bulk up. I was already a little drained from work the night before, and on the way to the Co-op I went and got my feelings hurt by someone in my so called family. If it seems like I don't talk about family much, it's because in many ways I don't really have one. It's a long one, so I'll just leave it at that for now. Back to the Co-op, so by the time I arrived at the Co-op, I was drained, cold, and I felt very frazzled. As I'm shopping around, I noticed a new to me Kombucha, made by KeVita, who makes a line of probiotic drinks that I have seen, but never purchased because homemade booch. I decided to try this brand of Kombucha for several reasons, those being, I needed a pick-up, my booch was at home, and this was on sale. The flavor that was available to me was ginger, and wow, did it deliver! It had that perfect spicy ginger kick. I forget the brand, but I know I've tried a ginger Kombucha before, and it was a very wimpy flavor. What was interesting to me is stevia leaf is listed as an ingredient, (I noticed after opening) and stevia and I are not friends. I have tried several things with stevia, and all I can say is blech. This booch had not even an iota of stevia nastiness. I felt uplifted from not only the booch, but the heavy dose of ginger. There really is something about ginger that just makes me feel better.
I looked on KeVita's website, and it looks like they have some amazing flavor combos, like Lavender Melon, Pineapple Peach, and Raspberry Lemon (yum). They also offer Grapefruit, and Tart Cherry, in addition to the Ginger flavor. I can't vouch for those flavors, but if they are like the ginger, they should be spot on, and worth every penny. Although I don't buy pre-made Kombucha often, when I do I will reach for this brand.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Veganic Bread!!

My splurge for this week was on a loaf of bread of all things! I read somewhere on the webz awhile ago about a bread named Veganic. Love the name. Then, I found out that this line of bread, made by a company called One Degree Organic Foods has a lentil grain loaf! Given that I love all things lentil, it really had to be at some point. My local Co-op has had it in their freezer section alongside the Ezekiel bread. It's pretty pricy, and I am very hesitant sometimes to spend my splurge on an unknown. Yesterday was my lucky day, the Co-op had the Veganic breads on sale! Still pricey, but I needed sliced bread, so in my basket it went.
I decided to heat up a Hilary's veggie burger (adzuki bean & cumin yum) and pile the burger, some veg, and mustard on this new to me bread. I very lightly toasted it in the oven, and piled it high. I am in love. I find sliced bread to be a difficult product to find sometimes. The cheaper whole wheat breads have some scary ingredients, but while I do love Ezekiel bread, sometimes I don't want bread to be so healthy. I don't know if that makes sense, but Ezekiel is very dense, and it lets you know, "hey, I'm hearty and healthy". Which is great, but sometimes I want a less aggressively hearty bread.
The lentil bread is softer than Ezekiel, and while it tastes like a good whole grain bread, it doesn't overpower. It held up very well in my sandwich, and I put it to the test! I had avocado, lettuce, Just Mayo, homemade mustard, and lots of it! This delicious bread did not get soggy, nor did it fall apart. I love it. It has seven ingredients!!All organic- Whole wheat flour, Raisins (I was scared it would be too sweet. Not at all, I promise.) gluten flour, quick oats, lentils, yeast, and unrefined salt.
I think I might be hooked. I find sliced whole grain bread to be too soft, too hearty, too hard, or too toxic. This bread is the perfect hearty texture. I decided to try it on it's own, for the sake of this blog, (oh the sacrifice) so I toasted up a slice, and put a little coconut oil on, and I am now enjoying the best slice of toast I've had in awhile.  I'm dreaming of a grilled daiya swiss cheese sandwich.
As I said, this bread is almost six dollars a loaf at the Co-op, I think it's around 5.50 at Wegman's, so for me that's a little high, but at the same time I can say that it is worth it. It is delicious, and really healthy. It has fiber, good clean carbs, and if protein is your thang, don't worry, it's got tons of that also.

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's Okay to like Feeling Groovy

So a co-worker just sent me a text informing me that the "chef" at my job is in the hospital suffering from some issue with his pancreas. He's been in since yesterday. This person has been sick with some form of cold, ear infection, bronchitis, flu type of thing since I can remember. I'm talking months, no exaggeration. This person also easily weighs at least five hundred pounds, and I suspect it's much higher. He also chews chew, drinks, has a love affair with hostess snacks, drinks mountain dew and monster energy drinks like his life depended on it. He also has a severe gambling addiction, and is a very toxic person. He gets so agro when working, he will threaten to punch you in the face, murder you, and so on and so forth. My stomach twists into a thousand knots when I have to return something a customer doesn't like, or ask a special request, because I know I'm going to get a verbal ass kicking. His toxicity is just so evident in every aspect of his life. I have never heard him talk of anything fun, pleasurable, joyous, FUN. I always assumed he would have a heart attack. He's only 41 years old, but between his weight, and how angry he gets, it's just a recipe for disaster.
I have never experienced so many people with poor health, as I have at this club, and in this city as a matter of fact. I'm talking about young and old people. I honestly don't know anyone who isn't on some sort of anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, antibiotic, anti something. And the most puzzling/frustrating thing is how it's just widely accepted that "this is just what happens". I feel like I'm living way in the past, except everyone is using a smartphone, and instagramming, and facebooking their lives away. One day one of my co-workers was "sick" with some kind of ailment. As she was whining about her various aches and pains, it came out that she and a girlfriend  had drank like three or four bottles of whine the previous night. I asked if maybe she thought she was hungover. Her answer was no, she doesn't get hungover, they really didn't drink that much(!), and she was sure it was the flu or whatever.
But I am digressing, back to our "chef". This is to me a clear example of the disastrous effects of being unhealthy. I wonder if he was ever happy, if he ever had hopes and dreams beyond serving instant mashed potatoes to people who lost their taste buds to tobacco years and years ago. Since I have worked with this person, he has talked a few times about how life would be different if he didn't gamble, but at the same time, he seems very unwilling to do any work to change things. He talks often of hoping to die young, and such. He always kind of says it in that hardy har, we're just funning type of tone, but I've always believed him to be serious. It's hard to have any will to live when you feel like shit every day of your life, and your body is slowly shutting down from the inside.
I guess I'm saying ALL of this to say, don't let unhappy, toxic people bring you down. I'm saying this to myself, as well. That's something in my manifestation journal. I want to not be stronger, and not allow myself to get pulled down by people who are not on my journey. Often times the most cynical, naysayers are the ones who want everyone to be miserable like them. In some cases, they aggressively choose to believe that we are just victims, we can't do anything about anything, so anyone who tries, or chooses to see the brighter side of life is stupid, and annoying, and must be brought down. Every single person who has been rude to me, teased me, eye rolled, nay sayed, etc. has been sick, hospitalized, medicated in some way, and I will never get the time back I have spent listening to aches and pains. So, if you get teased, just sit back and consider the source. It's taken me a long time, but I'm finally realizing, those people are assholes. I've been on the losing end of health, and I like waking up every day feeling well rested, and clear headed. I like feeling like my body and mind are strong, and well taken care of.
The cover of my manifestation journal says it all.. " Kindness Gives Birth To Kindness"- Sophocles
When you're kind to yourself, it is so  much easier to be kind to others. You want to spread it, you want everyone to feel good.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I Measured and Stuff, and This is What Happened!

I have to say, I'm super proud of myself. Yesterday I went into the kitchen, made up a wonderful recipe, and most importantly, I brought pen and notebook, and remembered to WRITE IT DOWN! And I used measuring cups and spoons!!  I'm getting there, slowly but surely. I made a lentil, pumpkin seed, mushroom pate that I want to marry!!
                                                    Compassionate Pate
                                                            3/4 C Lentils
                                                               2  C water
                                                               3 T Oil or vegan butter
                                                                1 lg. onion
                                                                3 lg. cloves of garlic
                                                                5 very large button mushrooms( 2 cups when sliced)
                                                                1 T Italian Seasoning
                                                               1/2 C Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
                                                                1 T Red Wine Vinegar
                                                                    S&P to Taste

Put your lentils in a saucepan with the water, bring to a boil, then lower to gently simmer. This should take between 30-45 minutes. While the lentils are cooking, slice your onion, shrooms, and garlic. Knife skills do not matter here, as it will all be getting blended in the end. Start sautéing in a pan with your oil/ or vegan butter. (I used extra virgin olive oil) Start the process on a med. to med. high heat, sprinkle with a little S&P, then lower the heat , add the Italian seasoning, and allow to gently caramelize, about 20-30 minutes.
Once your lentils are done cooking, drain them of any extra water, and put the lentils, onion, shroom mixture, and pumpkin seeds to a food processor, along with the red wine vinegar, and at this point I added about a half teaspoon of sea salt. Buzz away until it is a chunky, thick pate. It will be thicker than hummus.
If you are like me, and you use a blender, put about 1/4 C of water in the bottom of your blender, add the ingredients, and blend away. I added about a Tablespoon of extra olive oil, and about another 1/4 C. of water along with stirring things down. It wasn't much harder than a food processor, and the end result is really worth any extra effort. After it's blended, it needs to chill in the fridge for at least two hours. You will taste a huge difference. It becomes much more solid, and the flavors really combine with each other.
This is a recreation of a Pate I used to make when I still lived in Seattle. It was a walnut, lentil pate that was a real crowd pleaser. I can't remember where I got the recipe from, this was before I used the webz, so it was in a book or magazine. The combination of lentils and mushrooms is a very deep, I guess meaty flavor that is very satisfying. I made a lot of my meatier friends very happy with this.
I slathered some of this on a wheat baguette, added some Swiss style daiya slices(holy yum), a little hot pepper relish, some homemade yellow mustard, and toasted it up in the oven, and my mouth is watering as I'm typing this. It was in the top 5 sandwiches I've ever had. I bet this would be good on a bagel with some sprouts.
When I made the original version, I served it with some stone wheat crackers, and some homemade cashew cheese, and various fancy olives, and it was a party fave. It is one of those recipes that is super inexpensive to make, but it tastes very fancy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Happiness is a Funny, Flexible Thing

I just got finished with some shoulder opening yoga, and I felt compelled to make a yoga suggestion for anyone who is feeling a little blue, or feels like they need to let go of some "stuff". Being stuck at a desk, hunched over a computer for eight hours a day, driving, and the stresses of life can lead to some tight shoulders and hips. When I do yoga that focuses on my shoulders, I swear I feel ten pounds lighter when I'm done. Lighter on the inside. I've been doing yoga that focuses on the shoulders once a week for about a month now, and I gotta say it's working for me. I feel taller, and my flexibility has improved with each practice. I feel like it's opened my whole chest, upper back area as well, which has improved my breathing.
As far as our hips, I've always read that our pelvic area is basically a junk drawer for our unwanted, can't deal with this now emotions. I have done hip opening yoga, and cried through half of it, not even knowing why, but feeling better, more calm afterwards. I can tell when I'm struggling with some negative emotions, because my hips will be super tight. I do hip opening yoga at least twice a week, more if I'm really roughing it, emotionally. Just like with my shoulders, I have become much more flexible, and I feel better overall body alignment.
It doesn't take long to start feeling the physical benefits, and you feel the emotional benefits right away.
Have a flexible day, man!

Smoothie Operator

I definitely have not been drinking very many smoothies this winter. It almost makes me angry drinking a frozen smoothie on a day where it's in the single digits. In the warmer months, I drink a smoothie a day, I have had two smoothies in the past three months.
I learned that the perfect time for me to have a smoothie is after I take my weekly ginger detox bath. When you get out, your so hot and sweaty that a frozen smoothie is very refreshing. The smoothie that I had this week was so simple, and delicious that I had to write about it! I saw a recipe for a banana, cinnamon, and date smoothie that sparked my curiosity. I have never had a plain banana smoothie. I know they are kind of a thing for many Raw till 4 followers, as is blending dates with water to make "dateorade". I almost always make my smoothies green, or if not green I add many different fruits. So, while I was detoxing in the tub, I soaked three dates in a combo of water and cashew milk. About a cup of liquid total. After bathing, I blended up the soaked dates, along with the liquid, three to four frozen bananas, and about half a teaspoon of cinnamon. I ended up adding about 1/4 cup of additional cashew milk, and what I ended up with blew my mind to be honest. It was creamy like an actual milkshake, and the dates made it so sweet! Admittedly I don't have a ton of experience with dates, but now I see why it's uses so often as a sweetener in many raw desserts. It's a rich sweetness, much richer than sugar. And as a cinnamon lover, that took it over the edge. It was satisfying, and I felt like I totally splurged and had a decadent, sweet dessert in the middle of the day. I have to remember this combo for the warmer months when I drink more smoothies. It's definitely one of the most economical smoothies you could make. Dates, I recently learned are another great bulk bin purchase.  Also, Dole has stepped into the dried fruit game, and often times groceries have sales on dole products. Anyway, I just thought I would spread the cheap smoothie love. All those natural sugars made me feel energized, which is definitely a bonus on these dreary, grey winter days.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I'm Up for the Challange

So, as I mentioned yesterday, today I will be starting my manifestation journal. I'm very serious about wanting to live a fulfilled, content life. I've made a commitment to myself that I will journal everyday for at least a year. I believe that I have progressed as far as I can go, and I need to heal some deep wounds that I numbed through various unhealthy ways. Something else that is standing in the way of my progress are my feelings of isolation. I've  been pretending that it's okay, and normal, and all that kind of stuff, but the truth is I'm lying to myself. The last three to four weeks have been very hard for me, and never has it been so painful to be so isolated. Not having a single shoulder(human) to cry on has been harder than I could imagine. I don't think I have ever in my life had not one person who gives a fuck. Honestly, I haven't given or received a hug in well over a year. I can't remember when anyone has asked how I am, and actually cared to know. I have not had an intimate, mutually stimulating face to face conversation, where both parties are truly engaged in so long I can't remember. I honestly feel like I left real, engaging conversations somewhere in Seattle. I can't really stand it anymore. I need to listen to people talk about more than drinking, gossip, bigoted thoughts, and make-up. So, yesterday I did something very not in my nature, and pretty terrifying. I signed up, applied(?) whatever you call it, for the vegan meet-up group in my city. I have to be honest, it shocks the hell out of me that there is such a group in my city. So, I feel nervous because you have to answer a few questions, and then wait until the organizer gets back to you about approval. So, now I'm like an insecure teenager, hoping I answered the questions correctly! I'm somewhat shy, especially in social situations with new people, and I'm used to meeting friends organically, so this is so out of my comfort zone. The fact of the matter is meeting friends is not happening for me organically. And so I am finally accepting that I have to things in a new way. I'm excited for this new chapter.
All of those sayings about change starting with you are so easy to roll your eyes at, and dismiss it as more new age whatever, but I am learning as I go through my journey that change has to start with you. And change is uncomfortable, and scary. But once you get over feeling scared, and uncomfortable, it can lead to a world of feeling better, and doing better.
It feels good to challenge yourself. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Operation Seasame Street

I've always been a believer in positive energy, and positive thinking, the whole mind, body soul thing. Even when I was way more unhealthy/toxic at times, I felt drawn to positive people, movements, suggestions. I have always listened to people who have healed or changed themselves in any way through holistic practices. I've been on my own health/ healing journey for awhile now. I've learned so much, I feel so much better, and I am slowly starting to see changes/improvement when I look at my bod in the mirror. But I have recently realizes that I am still being bogged down my negative thinking, some from other people, some thoughts of my own. Feeling hopeless, and isolated can kind of cancel out all the green juice and yoga. Only I can change this. I have too many fur babies to just get the hell out of dodge. So what can I do to make my life more positive? I'm not exactly sure, but I'm going to find out. I've decided that tomorrow I will start a manifestation journal. I do believe that our thoughts  become reality. I see it in a lot of people who are just so miserable, even though they have so much, and I'm not only talking about material items. I'm saying these people have friends, and families who are healthy, and spouses, and then on top of that they have many luxuries of life that a lot of people will never experience.  And yet they are some of the nastiest ingrates you will ever meet. I don't want that for myself. That is actually one of my biggest fears, is to be a nasty, mean person without one ounce of joy in me. From what I've read, keeping a manifestation journal will help you to find out where your negative thoughts are holding you back, and also how old habits need to be  dropped like they're hot. It basically can help you get your shit together and get aligned with the universe to achieve and receive what you want and need. I definitely am itching for many changes, and I need to start the process. I feel like I've been having to let go of some thangs lately, and I feel like the reason is to make room for new thangs, and thoughts. There are so many things that I want to change, and when I reflect on my past, I see a lot of pain, and running from who I am, and just a blur of self hate, and just not being a productive, active participant in life. I want to leave a positive impact. I want to share love, and compassion. I want to make the world less like the Saw movies, and more like Sesame Street. I will be writing about the progress for sure. I am committing to keeping this journal  for at least one year. It will be so interesting to see what I've learned, changed, and manifested. I have a long way to go, but I have learned some things along the way, and one thing I know is you have to keep moving forward, and if your not open, you won't be able to take full advantage of any positive opportunities that come your way.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tea for One, and One for Tea

I picked up a new to me tea this week,  sweet & spicy tea made by Good Earth. It is caffeine free, which I wanted for afternoon and evening sipping. It has rooibos, and chamomile, plus tons of  spices and herbs like cinnamon, rosehips, ginger, peppermint, orange oil and peel, and lemongrass. I have to admit I've been curious about this tea for awhile, but cinnamon, lemongrass, and peppermint together just kind of seemed to not go together. I don't know what made me finally go for it, but I'm glad I did. Cinnamon is the dominant flavor, but I can also taste the orange. It's like the other flavors are there, and they add something, but they don't stand out. I really am enjoying this tea. I don't think it needs any sweetener, but I know some people enjoy their rooibos tea with non dairy milk and some sweetener.
I started drinking Rooibos tea about a year or so ago, after hearing that it was amazing for skin. It is as antioxidant rich as green tea, minus the caffeine, perfect for afternoon. evening sipping. Rooibos is a member of the legume family(!) and the leaves of the shrub are what we drink as tea. It has alpha- hydroxyl acids, and zinc which make it better for your skin than most lotions and potions. Rooibos is also rich in calcium, manganese, and fluoride, which are all necessary to keep your bones and chompers strong and healthy.
If spicy tea isn't your jam, I have also had  Celestial Seasoning's Madagascar vanilla Rooibos tea, which is a very light and sweet tea. If you're feeling flush, Republic of Tea makes a good hope vanilla rooibos that is worth every extra penny. It's by far the smoothest Rooibos I've had.
Look for beauty products to start having Rooibos in them. I was reading some info, and it seems scientists have already been working on a slew of hair and skin products boasting the benefits of Rooibos. I think I'll sit back with my cup of sweet & spicy, and watch this beauty trend come and go.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What a Dip!!

There are certain things that I rarely, if ever buy in a grocery store. One is hummus, and the other is pre made guacamole. Both of these are super easy to make, I always can taste the preservative, not freshly made taste. There are one or two brands of hummus that don't have the nasty preserved taste, but the cost of pre made hummus is almost insulting, so I have to be in a true hummus bind, or there has to be an awesome sale for me to bite. And pre made guacamole is even worse. I have NEVER had premade guacamole that doesn't make me gag with the taste of fake lemon, and it just is never worth it. However, I think I found a brand that while no where near as good as homemade, it actually tastes like guacamole, and there are even huge chunks of avocado, which never happens in store bought, and me likes my guac chunky!! So, the other night after work my tastebuds were screaming for tacos, with guacamole. I felt an obsessive need for guacamole. I always have taco fixings on hand, I just needed that one perfectly ripe avocado. I think we all know that finding an avocado that is perfectly ready to eat the same day as it's purchased is kind of like seeing a rainbow. One of life's very rare pleasures. There was no rainbow for me that day. What's a girl to do, other than cry in the middle of the produce section? Well, this girl noticed an orange and green box near the salads, and it was called Wholly Guacamole. It was actually on sale for about the same price as an avocado, I looked at the ingredients, which are: Hass Avocado, vinegar, jalapeno pepper, dehydrated onion, salt, and garlic. Nothing funky, I decided since it was my only guac option, to be brave and go for it. Well, I'm happy to pass along the great news that Wholly Guacamole is wholly freaking good. It is way smoother than I make mine, but it still does have fairly large chunks of avocado also. I diced up a green onion and stirred it in for some fresh onion flavor, and my tacos were delicious. I got mild(only option) and it was definitely mild, so it's safe for any spice babies. It did not taste as fresh as when you make it yourself, of course, but it didn't have an artificial taste either. I could taste the creaminess of the avocado, along with a little zing from the vinegar. I would be interested in trying spicier versions. I'm not suggesting to run out and buy this, but I am saying if you are ever like I was, and find yourself craving guacamole, and can't find perfect avocados, this will take care of your craving, I promise. A little diced onion, jalapeno, or a squirt of fresh lemon really helps.
In case anyone is curious, the two brands of hummus that don't make me gag, are Sabra, and Wegman's brand, both organic and conventional. I haven't tried all of the brands of hummus, but I have tried a few and those are the only two brands that taste somewhat natural to me.
Speaking of dips, last week got screwy for me, so I didn't have my condiment day, so I dub tomorrow condiment cooking day, so hopefully I will have some recipes to share! I am going to attempt homemade mustard, and the curry lentil dip that I dream of.
I hope your weekend has tons of dips!

Friday, January 16, 2015

I Can't Go for That

Letting go seems to be an ongoing theme for my week. I guess for the last couple of weeks. Over the holidays my ex- boyfriend who I embarked on this journey with, contacted me. He has since moved back to Seattle. Anyway, we originally ended things after I refused to dump my cats in a shelter. It was high drama, he felt I chose cats over him, and how could I. He decided to contact me, and fill my head with ideas and such. Our first two conversations it seemed like he might have changed a little. Long story short, he hasn't really changed, and somehow thought that after a year, I would be willing to stop "sacrificing myself" and give the cats(except Dylan) to some damn shelter and move back to Seattle with him. I would be anywhere but here if it weren't for these cats, but sometimes there are things more important than you. And through all of my misery, and isolation they are a source of love, and affection, and quite frankly I enjoy their company more than most humans anyway, I don't care if that makes me sound crazy. I have lived enough years to know that for the most part the human race is meh at best.  I will always stand for animals, I will always bring home/ feed strays, and I will always intervene when I suspect any kind of abuse/mistreatment. That is as much who I am as the way I breathe. So, I need to let go of this person, he has a history of walking out/ walking in and it's just so clear to me. And I need to accept that I may never be able to move back to Seattle. I am in a low income bracket, and if I really want to live somewhere else, I might need to stick to a smaller move.
So this relationship, and Seattle are two things I've realized I need to let go, the third is Robin. I have seen him multiple times this week eating food. The first two times, I just let him eat. The third time I came out on my deck, and he ran. Then, I was watching him eat from INSIDE, I was looking through a window, he looked up, we made eye contact, and he freaking ran for the hills! I get it dude, we are not friends. I so wish I knew what happened, what changed. I am letting go of our relationship, I don't want him to stop coming here for food, so I will just keep putting out food, keep trying to keep the kitty camps going, and keep track of him from afar.
It's a lot to let go of, but it's good to let go of what is no longer needed. In many ways, these crazy cats have really saved me from a bad relationship. Things came to a head over these cats, and they might not have otherwise. We might have just become another one of those couples who aren't really happy, but they stay together out of habit, or comfort, or whatever reason. It's funny when someone who you've known for so many years seems to really not know you at all.
I'm excited for the new to come into my life. A new idea for where I want to live, hopefully a new career as I am really over serving people, I need to retire the apron!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pucker Up!

Lemon water first thing in the morning is something I have been drinking for about a year now, and it has made a huge difference in how I feel, I thought it deserves a post. I can't remember if it was The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone, or Crazy Sexy Cancer, by Kris Karr, but I started doing it as suggested in one or both of those books. I started in the winter, so I would make warm, (not quite boiling) water and add the juice of half a lemon. I don't care for warm lemon water. I then read to do ice cold lemon water as it really revs the metabolism. I find ice cold water too aggressive first thing in the morning, even in the summer. So, through all of my experimenting with temperatures, I find I prefer to set water out over night, and add my lemon juice to the perfect temperature of room. I started out adding the juice of half of a lemon, I now go hardcore and add a whole lemon's worth of the good stuff.  It makes me feel energized, and I literally feel the lemon juice kicking things into gear in my body. In about a years time, I have maybe missed no more than five days, it's that important to me. On the days that I have missed, I feel sluggish, and cranky all day. Like I'm missing something.
When you read about the benefits, I feel like there is no reason not to at least try it. Lemons are of course full of vitamin c, and also potassium! Potassium is good for brain, and nerve function. Lemons help loosen toxins from your digestive tract, so it's helpful for any people who suffer from constipation. Lemons help cleanse your liver, and helps with the production of enzymes. Lemon juice helps detoxify your blood, which helps give your skin a boost in looking healthy. And in my opinion the most important benefit is lemon water helps reduce inflammation, and decreases the acidity in the body, which is where disease occurs! I have almost a whole notebook full of facts that I have read in books, online, interviews, etc. By all means don't believe me, look it up, you will be amazed. I feel silly that it took me so long to start doing this.
It's as much a part of my morning as eating breakfast. I make myself a cup of tea after I have fed the furballs, and while the tea is cooling I drink my lemon water. I mix about 12 to 16 oz. room temperature water with the juice of one lemon. I do this after I have brushed my teeth. I feel like the sourness of the lemon also wakes up my mouth, my taste buds. It's something that I think contributes greatly to my overall health, and it is as easy as making a cup of tea. I really recommend everyone try it. Feeling good on the inside really helps battle the blues. And it's beneficial to to help your immune system out. There are a lot of sickos out there just waiting to pass on their cooties!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sassy, Saucy Burritos

I often have meals with rice, and or beans as the star. I have to rely on fresh herbs, and veg to spruce it up, and I have also learned that a good sauce/condiment can really make things fancy. I had a meal so basic, yet so fancy last night I have to share! I had some red beans and brown rice already cooked, some tortillas in the fridge ( a fridge staple for sure) and the butt end of a jar of salsa. Smothered burritos for the win! It's really the sauce that makes this one of my favorite meals. I soaked about 3/4 of a cup of raw cashews, and blended with the last of a jar of salsa. If I had to guess, I would say I used about 1/4 cup salsa. I added 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, a few pinches smoked paprika, a few dashes of hot sauce, a pinch of cumin, salt, pepper, and blend. I make this sauce often, if you want to serve it like a dip, serve it on the thicker side. I thinned mine out with water,  to the consistency of a creamy sauce. Then, just roll up some burritos, pour a little sauce on the bottom of a glass baking dish, put the burritos on the sauce, and then smother the burritos in the rest of this yummy sauce, cover with foil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You can add any vegetables you like to the burritos, you can layer the tortillas and filling with your fave vegan cheese lasagna style, you can use this sauce for a spicy vegan mac and cheese. I have done all of those things with this sauce, and they are all my favorite. I've made just a bowl with rice and beans, and drizzled this sauce over, and it made that simple meal much less boring. It keeps in the fridge for five or six days, and it does thicken when it cools. The burritos are a great cook ahead meal, and they reheat well, and like most casserole type of dishes, these taste great the next day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I Want to Bulk You Up!!

This week my grocery budget was less than usual, as I had this unexpected dental fee. My grocery budget for the fur babies cannot change, so I have to be flexible on my food budget. Since I stock up on bulk bin items once a month at the Co-op, I can survive the lean weeks without having to eat the same thing day in, and day out. Many people can/prefer to eat the same meals, but I like variety. If you have a variety of beans, a few grains and pastas, you can spend a few bucks on a little bit of fresh veg, and live like a Queen, or King.
In my pantry, starting with pasta, I try to keep one long noodle (angel hair, linguini, etc.), one short, and usually one gluten free. (I look for sales) I also usually keep one type of rice noodle, for Pad Thai, and stir fries. If you have a Wegman's in your area, they have great deals on rice noodles.
For my grains, I keep of course white and brown rice. I usually buy jasmine or basmati, I  love the smell. I discovered millet awhile ago, and I love it for soups. It breaks down if you cook it long enough, and becomes creamy. I've also made a breakfast type porridge with millet. Yum. And it is so cheap in the bulk bins.  I usually keep a heartier grain like farro, or barley on hand, as they are great in salads, and lentil soups. The great thing about the bulk bins is that you can buy a little bit of something, and experiment. That's how I  discovered my love for millet, and farro.
For my bean shelf, I  of course always have plain old brown/green lentils. I like to also keep red lentils, because they are great in soups and sauces. I like to have pinto, and black beans for burritos, and salads. And then to round out my bean shelf I try to always have white beans, and garbanzos.
I also have tons of spices in my cupboard, which helps a lot with keeping your taste buds from getting bored. Bulk spices are probably my favorite thing in the Co-op. Spices are expensive, especially organic. I have discovered spices and blends like Za'atar, and berebere, because I can afford to experiment. I can't recommend bulk spice bins enough, especially if you're on a budget.
With various odds and ends I  tend to have on hand, like tahini, vegan mayo, raw cashews, And a few fresh veg, I can create a tasty meal.
I also buy my nutritional yeast at the bulk bins, as well as coconut flour, wheat gluten flour, and sea salt. So much cheaper! If you prefer organic flour, I would check the bulk bins for extra value. If you like dried fruits and seeds and nuts, I would go for the bulk. And if you are an oatmeal lover, go for the bulk! At the Co-op in my town, organic oatmeal in the bulk bins is way cheaper than the non organic oatmeal sold at Dollar General!
I spend between thirty and fifty dollars once a month at the bulk bins, depending on how flush I am. It's a great use for old pickle jars too! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Proud to be Weird

So yesterday morning I had an employee meeting at work. It included bar and kitchen staff, and it was the first time I've seen everyone who works there, plus a few of the board members in a room at the same time. I was the only person not smoking cigarettes, and not complaining of some type of ailment. Both cooks have a flu/cold type of thing (gross, they cook food for people), and there was not one person there who doesn't have some type of health problem. I felt like I needed a hazmat suit to sit in there. This is what my problem is with eating or drinking in public. I don't want sweat, snot or any type of cootie near my food or drink. And no one really seems to think that is gross. But yet everyone is constantly using hand sanitizer. People are too strange for me to deal. These are the same people who tease me anytime I bring my own food to work, or talk about anything I cook. I also get teased for working out, or believing that you can age gracefully, and healthily. It makes me sad, because I remember what it was like to just accept feeling crappy. Feeling crappy becomes normal, and it's hard to get any pleasure out of life when you feel like poo.
Yesterday made me realize that although I'm not where I want to be yet, I have made great progress, and I'm moving forward, not backward. I feel like when we get stagnant in life, and lose any hope, well life and your health go downhill. What I saw were people who are not participating in their own life, they're just taking their bodies for granted, and getting more and more miserable. A lot of these people have a lot of "things", and go on vacations to tropical places that I'll probably never see, but yet there is no joy, or wonderment, or gratitude. Just complaints. I realized yesterday sitting there how much I want to keep moving forward. I want to be like the seventy- seven year old grandma who is a power lifter. I want to keep loving and listening to my body, so it can love me back.
I also want to thank anyone who reads this little ole blog. It's amazing how having this little outlet to vent my little thoughts and feelings has really made me become more confident. Easier to ignore the side eyes and jokes I get.
Now I'm off to deal with the dreaded dental clinic. I hope everything goes smoothly, because I am out of patience with these wankers. I feel like I'm going to have an epic meltdown, that would make the news. So, let's hope I don't have to hulk out. I have been eating a lot of greens, so turning green might not be too difficult. HA.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mind- Blown

My splurge this week is a lentil dip, which is very unusual for me, as my cupboard is filled with lentils, and spices. But this dip jumped out at me, and I knew I had to try it. It is Hope Foods curry lentil dip. I love my lentils, and I love curry. This dip was pretty pricy, I paid close to five dollars for an 8 oz. container at Wegman's. But I knew I had to try it, and plus, now I can work on recreating it myself! I cannot really express to you how much I think you should drop whatever you are doing and find this dip. Lentils make a great base for dips, There are a million versions of vegan pate, using lentils. But this dip has the zip of curry, and the amount is spot on. In my opinion it's not spicy, just zippy. The ingredient list is super simple, just lentils, onion, e.v. olive oil, garlic, lime juice, curry, and salt. All ingredients organic. I dipped some warmed whole wheat pita and little bell peppers in the dip for dinner last night, and honestly I want to eat this dip with a spoon. I want to live in a world slathered with this dip. I want to move to a deserted island with this dip.  I saw a original(plain) flavor, and also a habanero flavor. I believe I have seen a sriracha hummus at my Co-op by this same company so if curry isn't your thang, there are other options. I don't think this dip will last beyond today. It is a little smoother than hummus, and it would make a great spread for a sandwich, or a veggie wrap, burrito, etc. A little shmear of this on a toasted bagel, or baguette would be out of this world. Lentils have a very rich, satisfying flavor, so this dip is much heartier than hummus, in my opinion.
I have a MANDATORY round table meeting at work that I am so dreading I can't even stand it, but, the light at the end of the tunnel is that I am going to experiment with condiments this afterwards. I will be attempting homemade mustard, and I am going to try to replicate this dip. I will still splurge on other flavors to try now and then, as I like to support vegan products as much as I can. And companies that really show how tasty vegan food is deserve all the support.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Bad, The Good, The Vegan

I finally have an appointment today at the dental clinic that I have been having all the problems with, and I can't believe how much I have had to fight for this, and I need something fixed that was their mistake in the first place. The worst part is, I still don't know if their going to fix the issue, that's why I have an appointment today. It has been a real pain in more than the arse, and I have seriously cried more than I have in years. I look at it as maybe I needed to purge out some emotions, but at the same time I was ready for this to be over yesterday.  This experience has made me feel angry, less than human, and frustrated. I feel the anger inside of me always, I feel like my view on life is angry. I really have been working on letting the anger go, but it's really hanging on or dear life. I hope to get some good news today, and I can start to get over this hurdle.
That is the bad part of my day, the good part is that so far from what I've read Veganuary is making a huge impact. I read a few blog posts from people who are participating, and they seemed to be eager, enthusiastic participants, who while they won't fully commit to veganism after Veganuary, one will continue on as a vegetarian, and the others will drastically cut down on their usage of animal products. It's also very heartening because there is a lot more focus on how veganism makes you feel good in your soul. The shallow focus is fine (weight loss! anti- aging! fountain of youth! etc.) but I feel like the people who really notice the lightness in their hearts are more likely to take animal rights very seriously, and really help, and stick with it. I'm so glad that I've been able to see this positivity with my own eyes, to balance out the negativity simmering inside myself. And enthusiasm is very contagious. I've seen some really beautiful looking food. New vegans are so experimental, and I miss that in my own cooking, so it's time to get experimental in my kitchen! The main issue seems to be, what a surprise cheese! Mainly many find vegan cheese to be gross. I mean its like the age old of all age old problems. I encourage newbie vegans to have the patience to wait it out. I find that cheese, vegan or not is simply not something I  crave often. Although I have daiya in my freezer, it's been in there awhile, I just rarely want it. When I do use it, I use it sparingly. I think we all can agree there is such a thing as too much daiya.  I am eager to try Chao vegan cheese, made by Field Roast. I've heard great things, and it is in the daiya price range, which for me is more doable than some of the very high end, nut based vegan cheeses. Vegan food has come so far, it's bound to be a reality sometime, the perfect vegan cheese. But in the meantime, your mouth just kind of lets go of the need for that texture, and taste.
In closing, I say thumbs down to dentists, and administrators, and thumbs up to vegans, new vegans, and Veganuary!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

It's Easier than EVER to be a Vegan!!

Since it is January, or Veganuary if you're cool, I wanted to talk about the fact that it is really pretty easy to be vegan. I made the decision in the early afternoon standing on a street, planned nothing, and didn't know what I was doing. I understand not everyone can, or would want to go cold tofurky, but I do worry that I someone does too much searching on the internet, they could get really turned off, and just stick with what they know.
I'm bringing this up, because I was doing a little looking into The Starch Solution I guess diet,(lifestyle?), and wow, there are some fighting words between Starch solution followers, and Raw till 4 enthusiasts. And then we have the organic, superfood enthusiasts, which can lead someone to believe that it's way too expensive to be vegan.
The interweb is so amazing, as someone who likes to research things, Google is like an encyclopedia at my fingertips. But all that information, and opposing views, and arguments, can be overwhelming.
And when vegans are attacking other vegans, even in some cases calling names, such as fat, tubby etc., well it's not really shouting kindness, is it? We cannot preach what we don't practice. Not to mention, instead of arguing over what food choices make us a more superior vegan, we should be spreading gratitude for having food choices to begin with, as that is a luxury many do not have.
The simple act of wanting to not use animal products is easier than ever now. Tons of stores and companies are putting v symbols on their products, more and more vegan products are being made, there are edible vegan cheeses available, and even vegan bacon grease. ( I have to admit, this weirds/grosses me out, but whatever.) And vegans are the butt of jokes less and less. Vegans used to be fair game on sitcoms, in movies, and stand up comedians used to get big laughs. There are still jokes, and misconceptions of course, but less and less so.
What I'm trying to say, is I want the vegan community to be a welcoming community, and I want us to be as kind to each other as we are trying to encourage others to be to animals. It is scary to give up old beliefs, such as eating meat, and making changes in your life can be met with a lot of opposition from people in your life, so I don't want to overwhelm, and intimidate anyone, or make someone feel like they can't be vegan because of financial means. When people ask me about veganism being expensive, I always have to chuckle and say, you know you're asking ME, right?
There are so many ways to be vegan. You can be all organic superoods all the time, you can be a top ramen, taco bell vegan, you can be raw, sometimes raw, on and on. We are all trying to do, look and feel our best, and that is different for everybody. And I personally applaud anyone who is trying to cut down on their own animal consumption. Meatless Mondays have been a trend for awhile now, and people are starting to pick up a second meatless day. This is all great news, and I want to keep the momentum going. I don't want the "trend" of veganism die like so many trends do. So I welcome everybody, and I encourage everybody who is willing to try a more compassionate life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Winter is a Brute

Winter is rearing his very cold, ugly head. It is brutal outside. My heart is breaking for all the animals out there battling the elements. I am so worried about Robin. He really loved being tucked in and cozy, I can't imagine him dealing with this. And the wind is so bracing. It's so cold, that I'm cold, in my apartment with the heat on, a blanket on my lap, and a kitty on top of that. So I can only imagine trying to find any comfort in these elements. Every kitty that comes to my deck for food has made eye contact with me at one time, or another and I don't see feral cats, I see sweet kitties who are trying to survive, and rightfully so have little to no faith in humans. Anyway, I'm so sorry to be a downer, but I feel very sad today for them, and I just can't be bothered to think about vegan food, or resolutions, or anything else. Give your animal friend a big hug today.
Something I've realized about myself is that I can handle winter up to a point. You know the cozy little Christmas commercials where it's cold, but no one is dying, and you can come in and easily warm up with a cup of hot chocolate? I consider that to be winter around twenty five degrees, at the lowest. That's some nice, brisk winter weather, but it's not what I would consider brutal. When it starts dipping into single, and minus digits, well I just have no words
To anyone else dealing with this, be safe, and be on the lookout for any animals who might need help. If any of the kitties I feed get close enough, I'm grabbing and putting in my attic. I don't believe in imprisonment, but I will bend my own rules until winter at least calms down.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Try, Because You're Worth It!

"Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try"- Unknown.
This was the first thing I read this morning. I love Yogi tea so much because of the quotes on their teabags. Nothing will ever get accomplished if you don't want to try. And keep trying, and keep trying. Trying is hard work, it can be uncomfortable. It can be painful, and even embarrassing. Trying can mean having to change, maybe even having to give up unhealthy things, or even people. Sometimes trying something new can get side eyes, or teasing.
Trying is also invigorating, energizing, renewing. Trying gives you the opportunity to really let go of the old, and bring in the new. Trying keeps you alive, keeps you fresh, and alert, always moving, never stagnant. Trying invigorates your brain, which is an amazing feeling, especially if you're like me, and have a brain dead job. Trying helps you to become more open minded to different possibilities.
It's so easy to not try, and there are people who never will want you to try, and will try to discourage you. But, what I have found is that happiness doesn't just come naturally to everyone. Some of us have to work, and make choices, and well, sometimes fight for it.
I've also discovered that happy little endorphins, or maybe it's extra serotonin, floats around your body when you try something, and really give it your all.
I hope you have a "trying" day!

Monday, January 5, 2015

YouTube is my Gym

I know I've talked about this before, but I figured it was an appropriate time of year to bring it up again. If you want to step up your workout game, and gyms aren't your thing for whatever reason, just go to your friend YouTube! There is absolutely any kind of workout you could imagine, and then some. There are even old school Denise Austin videos, legwarmers, shiny leotards and all! And there are five minute workouts, two hour workouts, and everything in between, so it's super easy to find a workout that fits your schedule. And there are workouts for people who live in small spaces, low impact for people who have downstairs neighbors, and workouts for any fitness level. As someone who always preferred vhs, and dvds to gym memberships, YouTube is like all the dvds I could ever imagine!
Some of my favorite channels are Popsugar Fitness, SeanVigueFitness, and Fightmaster Yoga, just to name a few. I also discovered Buti Yoga, which I love, and Hip Hop Abs, which I would never do in a gym because I know I look like the biggest dork ever, but in my own apartment, I'm the queen of hip hop, with all of the abs.  There are workouts with weights, without, workouts for specific parts of your body, anything you could want.
I like to do some type of workout in the morning, before I've done anything else, because I have always found that if I wait until later in the day, it feels easier to excuse not doing it. Sometimes after work, you just want to kick of your shoes, and be done. But I know many people who are very motivated to go to the gym, take a run, etc. after work. That's what is great about working out at home, you can do it whenever you like, and if the weather is crap, you don't have to leave the house!
Even if you are a gym goer, it's nice to have other options or days where making that trip to the gym just is not going to happen.
For me, exercise and eating well go hand in hand to eel my best. I feel not my best, and very of balance when I only am doing one or the other. Getting those endorphins flowing is necessary to mental health, and sanity!
Cheers to working out!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Being Vegan hasn't made me Skinny, but it has Lightened my Load

Veganuary, and all o the enthusiasm has me reflecting on my own vegan journey. I was happily living as a vegetarian, feeling like I was doing my part for the animals. I honestly never made the connection that cruelty goes on in the farming industry in general. I will never forget the day, it is so vivid in my mind. I was walking down Market Street and I saw a little paper dispenser with PETA flyers inside. Something made me grab one, which is unusual because PETA is so graphic, I often avoid their literature. This flyer (paper?) was all about veganism, full of suggestions, ideas and such. But what made me snap up, and make the best decision of my life is them explaining in a non-graphic way that if you are buying eggs, and dairy, you are still supporting these cruel farming practices. That was all it took for me to wake the eff up, smell the Yerba Mate, and go vegan. I didn't plan, I didn't go vegan food shopping first, I had no recipes, I just blindly jumped in, and I am so glad I did. I am so glad I grabbed that info from PETA that day, and I'm so glad that they provided that information in a non traumatizing way.
It definitely was hard to give up cheese. I had fantasies of walking through into Trader Joe's, and just eating all the cheese. Those lasted for at least a month, maybe a tad longer. But that was it. That is the only negative I can say. But those maniacal cravings go away. When I serve pizzas at work with all that cheese, it now looks like blobs of gross.
I have read about other people who swear they suffer health wise, from a lack of animal products in their diet. I can't say much about that, because I'm obviously not a doctor, and I am not inside their bodies. All I can do is speak for myself, and say that my veganism has only improved my health. I started feeling more clearheaded right away. And I felt empowered, and I felt like I was being the person I wanted to be. And because I am a huge believer in voting with your dollars, I felt empowered. And my connection to animals only got stronger.
Veganism has become almost mainstream. Almost any article I read in a magazine promotes veganism, or plant based eating as a way to look young forever, be skinny for life, have luxurious hair for life, and on and on. That's great, whatever it takes to draw attention, and raise interest is fine with me. I just wanted to make a point that veganism also is good for your soul. I didn't get skinny from going vegan. But the feeling of pride and happiness is far more irreplaceable to me. I have a lightness in my heart that wasn't there pre vegan.
So, as I reflect on my vegan journey, I am happy that there are so many different ways for people to get the vegan message. Whether it's a magazine celebrating weight loss secrets, or a commercial, blog, or a pamphlet randomly picked up on a street corner.
I'll sign off with my Yogi tea bag quote, which feels so fitting to my vegan message, and journey. "There is no love without compassion".

Today, My Glass is Half Full

I noticed on twitter, that there are tons of people participating in Veganuary, or going vegan for the month of January. I saw all kinds of enthusiastic tweets, and tons of beautiful pictures. People seemed to be loving it so far. And last night at my local Giant Eagle, in the meatless section of the frozen food aisle, they had a little sign promoting "meatless for the new year"! This Giant Eagle is okay, but it certainly is on the junkier, meatier side of the food fence. They sell a fairly large amount of Gardein products, and even Beyond Meat! 
Sometimes it's so easy to just get caught up in what still needs to be done, which is important of course, the world is a cruel place, and it desperately needs to change, but I'm learning you have to find balance. It's okay to take a moment and high five the universe for these positive changes. I believe over ten thousand people are participating in Veganuary, and this is of course the time of year when lots of people resolve to get healthy, and fit, and that includes cutting down on meat of course! And vegan foods keep getting better and better, and it's only going to keep getting better.
I know for me, I went vegan cold turkey. I have never looked back, I felt immediately that this was the right choice, and I really credit veganism for my current journey. I remember immediately feeling softer, and more compassionate, and it only makes sense that somewhere along the way I would learn to extend some of that passion to myself. I used to LOVE cheese, never met a kind I didn't like, but guess what? I learned to not love it, and now I have other LOVES.  So I hope and know that veganism will last with at least some of the Veganuary participants. So for today, I am allowing myself to glow in hope, that the numbers will keep rising, and one day animals will be free from humans.

Friday, January 2, 2015

I Love, love. LOVE Lucy!

Although resolutions aren't really my "jam", I came across a quote that I really needed to read, and it has kind of shaped my intent for the year. "Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line"- Lucille Ball. Is that an amazing quote, or what? I see 2014 as the year that I started my self love journey. And although I'm far from there, I have made continuous, conscience steps toward loving, and accepting myself. It really is the first time in my adult life that I have kept myself moving forward, even if I fall backwards, I don't let it become an excuse to stay in the gutter. I had an important relationship end, and I let myself heal through health, not booze and nicotine. 2014 is the year that I finally ended my toxic, abusive relationship with nicotine. I started really paying attention to what I'm putting into my body, food wise. Although I'm not really doing the Raw till 4 strictly, experimenting with that lifestyle taught me that I thrive on a higher carb diet. I will probably do Raw till 4 in the summer as a matter of fact, because I did feel a buzz with all of that fruit coursing through my veins!! It feels so awesome to be an active participant in my health, and happiness, and all of this happened for me in 2014. I always thought taking care of yourself was for other people, not me.
I heard another quote about love while doing yoga the other day, and I don't remember the exact quote, as I was in a shoulder bind, so I was focused on that, but to paraphrase it said that all things begin with love. I want to change the world. I want to encourage people to live a  vegan lifestyle, I want to encourage people to take care of themselves because Western medicine-just no. I want life to be like Sesame street. I don't want our country to be racially divided. Sometimes when you hear recent news clips it's literally the "white's against black's" Just no. It is 2015.
I can't be a shriveled up, hateful person, all the while demanding compassion. and kindness. I have to be those things. And I am owning up to that more and more.
2014 was also the year I restarted this blog, and I am so glad I did! It is not like me to continue with something that I don't all the way "get". Especially when I am just putting all of my lack of knowledge right on out there. But seriously, I don't know one single person in this town who gives a crap about any of my feelings, or opinions, and it sucks ass. I don't recommend this kind of isolation to anyone. But I can rant and rave, talk about food, animals, whatever on this blog, and people actually read it, and if I'm getting any side eyes, and rolls, at least I can't see them!! (HA) But holding myself accountable for continuing this blog has proven to be really good for me. And I know my brain is getting good exercise, because I'm always working on improving my vocabulary, and grammar. So thank you so much to anyone who reads this. It means so much to me, I truly can't express it.
I want to keep progressing for 2015. I want to continue on this journey, and hopefully encourage some people along the way, as I have been encouraged. I really want a kind world, like I know most of us to, but I really want to be a warrior for kindness and compassion. I don't want to allow negative and toxic people dragging me down. So I need all the strength.
2014 also brought some amazing vegan foods to mainstream markets. Gardein, Earth Balance everything, Just Mayo, and many others I am spacing on, which is wonderful because statistics say a lot of people go vegetarian or vegan after the New Year, whether for health or ethics. So, there are so many delicious alternatives, we have a higher chance than ever of people sticking with it, or at least being open to some meatless days. So these vegan companies get my supreme gratitude.
Cheers to love, and delicious vegan food 4-EVA!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Off to a Rough Start..

Along with the Robin worry and guilt, I have been dealing with some recurring dental issues from my bulimic heyday. I started having major problems while still living in Seattle. I was seeing a dentist, but when you don't have insurance, the payments get a little too much to keep up. Long story short, I made one of the worst decisions of my life, and went to a dental "clinic" here. In a case of you get what you paid for, I have been having issue, after issue, after issue. Trying to get anyone to fix, or even address the issue has completely made me sympathize with gun toting mad people who take matters into their own hands. I seriously want to kick my own ass, because my intuition was telling me that I shouldn't go to this place. Desperation always leads to poor decisions, at least in my life. I still have no health insurance, and I can tell you that dealing with all of this dental stuff has made me want to be even healthier, because I know dealing with the healthcare system is tough when you have insurance, it's almost pointless when you don't have insurance.
I hope to be back to my old self soon, and I have so many post topics that I haven't even started, because it's just been a really challenging holiday season for me, and I've done a lot more crying then normal, and my head is filled with fog, and just a sad, dull ache. I tried and tried to write a peppy, reflective look back on 2014, and it was fake, fake, and more fake. And I started this blog as a place to be me, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
So, I say Happy 2015 to everyone, and I hope it is a year where humanity as a whole shifts to a kinder, gentler way of life, and solving issues. And I hope Robin comes to his senses in 2015.
And just in case, I would never actually tote a gun.