Thursday, December 31, 2009

Family secrets

We had a lovely dinner with friends last night.  By the time I got home from a 16 hour day, though, I crashed before I could post.

Something that struck me over the past week was how many secrets are kept within a family.  My concept of family is pretty inclusive.  My best friend since middle school and her family are pretty much my family.  Our close friends have all kind of formed our own family.  At any rate, I was caught off guard several times as we hung out with all our friends and family and learned many things we didn't know before.

Parents that had to live under marshal law, job losses, pregnancies, a rape.  I'm still trying to process it all. The strength and resilience that it took for them to survive some of these experiences is stunning enough.  Then the realization that they coped in secret.  Amazing.  My heart still hurts for them, though.

Growing up, I'd heard that families always kept secrets.  I never realized it was of this magnitude though.  I've been very blessed and never felt like I had more tragedy than I could handle.  I assumed that the secrets that were kept within families were small and insignificant in the grand scheme of life.  Like sneaking out to a party as a teenager or letting your boyfriend come over when your parents were out of town.

I know this post doesn't exactly have anything to do with food, but it just seemed too important not to share.  Here's the tie-in, though.  I previously felt like there were parallels between coming out and announcing a change to veganism.  It's a lifestyle difference, people are often critical, people may not necessarily feel like they know how to act around you.  I still feel like that in some ways, but I have a little better perspective on the enormity of both.  What you eat holds less significance to others than many other secrets that many people keep. Any thoughts on this from anybody else?  Ok, enough heaviness!

Happy New Year bambinos!  Much love for the new year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Post Christmas thoughts

So Christmas came and went, and I'm back to the daily grind.  Still in recovery mode a little bit, but making it back.  I realize that I try to make a lot of big changes all at once and quickly crash and burn.  I'm trying to improve that.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?

I'm winding down from the Christmas high, and thought a recap would be in order.  My blurter husband shared with my parents that we were trying to become vegetarian.  He stressed that it was for health reasons and not because we're trying to be anorexic or anything (a perennial fear of my mother because I'm thin).

She was actually pretty supportive.  My dad's a big health freak already, so he's never one to turn his nose at good health.  My mom certainly observed us while she was here, but like I said, she was supportive and saw that we were still eating well, so she was happy.  We had a meal with my siblings, and included a meat option since they of course eat meat.  I honestly don't think they ever would have noticed if there was no meat since it wasn't Christmas dinner, but it made my mom more comfortable with it, so that was fine.

We ate out for a couple meals, and I had much better success finding vegetarian options.  I met a good friend at a bakery for brunch, and they actually had a little V symbol next to all the vegetarian options.  Very convenient! 

My mom wanted to do a little day after Christmas shopping before they left, and she bought us a couple vegetarian cookbooks from a local used bookstore.  She's always been very big on picking out a week's worth of groceries at a time and having a weekly menu.  She had shelves of cookbooks and would select menus from them so she always had variety.  It's very smart, but it takes discipline for sure.  We're more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants and eat whatever the mood strikes, but I have enjoyed looking through the cookbooks for ideas.  I would certainly like to fix some meals out of them.

Vegetarian cooking seems so much easier to me than traditional.  I have never been able to cook raw meat.  It grosses me out and makes me OCD about the germs and bacteria.  The constant sanitation that it took for me to deal with it was just too much; hubby had to cook any of the meat that we ate before.  With that issue off the table, it just seems more natural for me to whip something up in the kitchen.  I've never really been the chef in our home, but I'm much more willing to pitch in and even take over now.  I feel at home with vegetarian foods.

Over this long weekend, I noticed another sign that the carnivorous lifestyle isn't my thing.  We watched the Disney Earth DVD, and I was getting emotional over the scenes when one animal hunted another.  I logically know that they must kill each other for food and survival.  Circle of life, blah blah.  But emotionally, seeing what I knew were the last moments of that animal's life, I couldn't take it.  So if I can't handle seeing an animal die out of necessity for the survival of a species, what on earth makes me believe that I should eat meat just because I don't have to see the death that came before.  The separation, the sanitary protection of us from the dark reality has allowed us to sleep at night.  To each their own, but these realizations are further deepening the roots of my new beliefs.  This morning at work, they provided a few dozen pigs in a blanket to ease us back into work.  I had no problem passing them along to the next person.  No thanks, they aren't for me anymore.

As for the actual Christmas itself-- We unwrapped presents, ate a lot (but semi-healthy!), visited with several friends and with my family, bought cute new shoes, and ran up a big tab on new bras for my Christmas gift.  A girl's gotta support her girls!  Although I'd never thought about it before, ALL 3 pairs of shoes that we bought (1 for hubby, 2 for me) are leather-free! :)  Extra-special bonus! 

All in all, a wonderful holiday week.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


Hope you all had a wonderful, very merry Christmas, full of love, family, and friends.  My parents flew in for the occasion and are staying with us.  My siblings drove in, so we actually got to have the whole family together for a little while.

It was wonderful.  With our family so spread over a couple countries and many states, it was great to have my side of the family all together.  We'll have my whole in-law family together soon, too.  I think we're quickly becoming the party hosts.  But with Kris Kringle on our side, we have no fear!

We went to a candlelit service at church last night. Wintry weather convinced most people to stay at home, but since we had volunteered to help at the midnight service, we were committed to going.

 It was probably the first time I'd seen the church that empty.  It was strange, a little lonely, and yet intimate.  They still lit candles and we looked down on all the twinkling lights.  Beautiful.

I tend to be pretty guarded with that I tell family about my personal life.  My husband is more of a blurter.  As in, mind and mouth are very closely connected.  So he was left alone for a moment with my parents and shared that we were trying to become vegetarian.  I was petrified at how it would go, but he explained it well and it all turned out fine.  Actually, my mom is pretty proud of how healthy we're trying to become.  That feels pretty nice.

Since we had an alternative meal for Christmas, we enjoyed some delicious pumpkin tamales that I found at a local eatery.  I'm very excited that we have enough left for me to continue to munch for the rest of the weekend.  We already had so many sweets that I didn't get to make any of Katie's creations for them, but with all the fixin's in my pantry, I'm sure it will really just mean more for hubs and me! 

Plans are in the works to see several close friends with the rest of the weekend.  Life is good.  The sad thing is that my parents leave tomorrow.  We aren't going to think about that now, though!  There are a few more hours of warm and fuzzies left to enjoy!  Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Quickie... post that is.  So OA Mom & Dad are in town and I'm also starting to feel better after whatever I had.  My posts will probably be as I catch little snippets of time here and there this week, but I'll be on more regularly again the next week.

I'm hoping to make a few recipes from all of your archives while they're here, and my mom left me in charge of deciding what we eat for Christmas dinner, so it may look pretty devoid of meat!  I starred several recipes from Thanksgiving-time on google reader, so I'll probably cull through those for some dishes.  I'm excited!  I haven't entirely sold hubs on the idea of a meatless Christmas, but he's considering it.  Compromises of marriage :)  G'night for now!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Dance!

So my hubby and I both got sick last night and have sadly stayed that way.  His family came in town to see us pre-Christmas this weekend, and we weren't able to see them.  His dad has a suppressed immune system, so he can't risk getting sickly from us.  My family is coming into town tomorrow to spend Christmas with us.  I'm soooo very excited, but we've been dragging all day in the guest preparations.  I'm typing right now with a huge pile of clean laundry sitting beside me.  I promise I'll fold it all next!

I've tried to focus on eating all healthy foods to coax my body back into health, and did the neti pot ordeal again. The last time I used it, it worked like a charm.  This time around, though, it barely made a dent in my congestion.  I gave it a try, though.  I ended up taking Sudafed + 2 Advil and am a little less achy now.

So you might be wondering why I'm doing the happy dance if I'm sick and achy and missed out on seeing family (and still have that mound of laundry keeping me company).  Well..... I'm doing the happy dance because my dear sweet husband trooped out this evening to procure the few missing ingredients needed for us to make fudge babies AND ginger boys for us while my family is in town!  Plus he gets bonus points because the boy claims to hate dates and is still willing to buy them to make the recipes.  How can you not love dates?!  In the meantime, I've enjoyed some a bowl of plantains, a mango, a naner, the last couple dates in my previous package, and hot tea.  Oh, and a chocolate bar from my secret stash.  I hide ready-to-eat chocolate for emergencies, and pre-fudge baby counts as an emergency to me.  I'm chomping at the bit, I can't wait!



Other things that made me happy:  I've finally been around long enough to be crawled!  You can now follow me on Google Reader!!!  Yaaaay!  Aaaand, Katie showed off my banana hammock!  What a sweet girl!

Well, it's off to tackle the pile of laundry for me, but I'm happy about all the goodness in this life!  XOXO

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Question for the experts:

So I have some questions for the more experienced people out there.  At lunch today, I selected the most delicious sounding item.  Everything on the limited menu for this party included meat except for one thing that didn't appeal at all.  So here's my question: do you go ahead and eat the chicken (or whatever) because at this point it's already been killed and cooked and put on your plate, or do you go ahead and push it to the side? 

I guess this is really for the people who choose not to eat meat for ethical reasons more than for health reasons.  I feel like I have reasons on both sides, but this is my first time to face these questions since I have eaten meat for most of my life.  I suppose the logical thing would have been to request the food without the meat, but I thought of that too late.  So WWVD? (What would vegetarians/vegans do?)  To really read into it, the animal already died for your consumption... you either eat the dead animal despite not wanting to or you waste it.  Either way is sad, since it doesn't support your beliefs.

I ended up pushing the meat to the side because I didn't care to eat it and am trying to stop eating meat period.  I am really struggling with the public situations, though.  American meals completely revolve around meat.  A corporate party I have coming up ONLY offers meat options.  Steak, chicken, ham... and the food will be pre-ordered by somebody at another office.  What on earth is a budding vegetarian to do?

I would love to hear feedback from those who have gone through a few tricky situations before and have some advice to offer.  Thank you so much in advance for any tips of the trade!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where's Waldo?

Here I am!  Sorry to have disappeared, it's been a little crazy lately!

We had two Christmas shindigs in two days (one was out of town even), so we were MIA all weekend.  Then I had a little scare last night.  I was feeling great all the way home, but I just crashed once I actually got home.  I guess the exhaustion from our crazy schedule caught up to me.

I'm doing much better now, but I'm trying to stay calm and not stress over all the stuff that still has to get done for the holidays.  I am always so horrible about remembering to buy presents with enough time to get them wrapped and mailed!  I had a little freak out when I heard that the "busiest shipping day of the year" had already come and gone.  What?!  I thought we still had oodles of time!

Deep breaths.  We will get it all done somehow!  So this evening I ate the dinner that I was salivating for yesterday.  I concocted it this weekend during a brief run through the house.  Per usual, I forgot to take a picture, and tonight my hubby had the camera with him because it's a guy's night out, so I missed my second opportunity.  It's pretty basic, though, but so delish.

It's really just a Pita Salad.  Spinach, mixed baby greens, chopped bits of carrot and broccoli.  Stuff it all into a whole wheat pita and drizzle a little vinaigrette into it.  Then HOLD ON because the pita is thin enough that it gets messy!  You may have to eat with your chin just inches from the plate, but it's so yummy that it's well worth it.  Of course you can dazzle it up in any other way you see fit.  I considered adding a tomato to my blend, but it was so stuffed and perfect already that I just left it.

I am attending lunch festivities from now until Christmas Eve due to various work engagements.  That's a bit insane if you ask me, but I'm just going to hang on for the ride!  It'll be interesting to see how many of these places have options that I can eat while trying to stick to being vegetarian.  So far I have to admit that I don't think I'm living in a huge vegan (or even vegetarian) friendly hub.  Limited menus for parties and holidays certainly don't include those options, so I'm already prepared for those meals.  I bend, not break.  And now I make green monster smoothies for breakfast tomorrow.  To all a good night!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

For better and worse

I am feeling better today, thankfully!  Thank you thank you for wishing me well!

Sadly, though, I can feel that the stressful week is taking its toll on me.  Holiday crunch time and I'm feeling worn down and exhausted from it.  The crap keeps hitting the fan at work, but only in the afternoons so it leads to laaaaate days.

At least I didn't have a day like this, though! Oh. dear. God. Holy. hell. Wow. The mind boggles!

If you need to see this in all its original glory, you can see that here.

I think I need a little more sleep tonight to start the recovery process, but I am ELATED that I seem to have fought off the buggies that were hoping to take me down!  Trail: 1, Bugs: 0.  Yeah for being healthy!  I really thought I was past the point of return when I went to bed last night because I could tell the glands were huge on one side of my throat.  This morning, though, all was normal again.  Good health gets me as happy as Christmas morning!  And who doesn't love Christmas morning!

I heart Christmas!

Sorry, more sleep = less blogging.  Oh, but real quick, dinner tonight was a peanut butter, cinnamon, banana sammich, a pear, and an apple.  My heart grew 10 sizes just like the Grinch when the hubster had the same!  He's really trying with me, and it makes me love him even more!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Putting up a fight

So I have this fearful feeling that I may be getting sick.  I had felt so excited and proud that leading a healthier lifestyle might have made me impervious to all the illnesses that my friends and coworkers have been spreading around.  Alas, I think I may be falling prey, but I will continue to stubbornly refuse to get sick until it's truly inevitable.  That's how I've always done it.  Oddly, my brother always seemed to eagerly slip into it like a warm comforting bath.  Should I get sick, though, I will take solace in the knowledge that everyone else in my circle has already gone through 2 rounds of various sicknesses that I have managed to dodge.  That ain't shabby.

So anyway, I pulled out my arsenal (and remembered my camera!!):
1) Warm fuzzy pants and socks

2) Cuddly puppy

3) Neti pot

And I fed my body the goodness of fruit. 

Can anybody guess what this concoction is??

Yes, my hubby loves me so much he bought a papaya for me at the store this week just because he thought it would make me happy! :)  And that would be a banana hammock a la Katie's inspiration.  Very simplistic compared to some, but I was tired and low in fixin's.  Banana, PB, cinnamon, and chocolate covered almonds.  Yum!

Now off for the last ingredient for good health... SLEEP!!!  Wish me luck, cross fingers and toes that I fight this off and stay healthy!  We're into party season, body, get with it! ;)  Night!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bend but don't break

Oh the holiday season.  It's a really bad time to start a new plan for your life.  I think that may be part of the reason that we have New Year's resolutions instead of Christmas resolutions.  You aren't going to start a new way of life when there are tons of festivities, parties, etc to attend.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  Because I'm just beginning this path toward being vegetarian, vegan, raw, whatever it ends up being, I'm not prepared to make special requests or expect accommodations on my behalf.  I have 3 parties coming up in the next week alone and had a fancy pants lunch meeting with the head honchos of our company earlier this week.  When I arrived at the restaurant, I searched the menu only to find that the side order of rice was the only vegetarian option on the entire menu.  Fish was my closest approximation, so I had that.  And the rice.

I kept my motto of being kind to myself in mind as the meal was served.  Tonight the quote "bend but don't break" popped into my head.  That's exactly it.  If you're too rigid when you're just learning a new lifestyle, I think you're setting yourself up to break.  I know that would be the case for myself at least.  I can be a perfectionist and a control freak at times, so if I set the bar too high, I will break my neck to achieve it.  If you ease into it, you're more flexible.  When something throws you off course, and you can bend with it instead.

So this holiday season, I'm setting my goals for myself, I'm striving for better health as always, but I will bend as needed.  If you think about a tree limb, it's the strongest ones that are capable of bending instead of breaking.   I will be strong enough to bend, not break.

Any suggestions from the veterans of a vegetarian/vegan/raw lifestyle?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Judgment day

Nooo, this is not a religious post!  It's some thoughts about judgment.  I know we're all guilty of judging from time to time, but we should really probably try to stop.

I know I have certainly felt the judgmental sting before.  Sometimes it's in the form of a backhanded compliment.  Somebody is jealous or self-conscious, so they lash out at what they envy about you.  I've been hated on for being thin, pretty, smart, self-confident, young, having good teeth... pretty much anything you could think of!  I realize that it's because of the other person's view of themselves, but I still don't think that should give them the right to push that off onto me.  It's inappropriate and awkward.

People judge others based on their political views, what they eat, the habits they keep, sexual orientation, etc.  A friend's mom judged him every time he slept in as a teenager.  What teenager doesn't sleep in on the weekends?!  She claimed that only low-life bums slept past 9.  Conservatives hate on liberals, liberals hate on conservatives.  I had a co-worker say that he'd never hit his wife, but if she announced they were going vegetarian, he would probably smack her and lock her out of the house.  Uhhh, WOOOOW!

Then there's all the judgment of total strangers.  We can honestly say that we don't know a thing about the person, but we could probably create a list of what we think we know about them.  It would likely include a list of things that cannot be known from the outside, like intelligence, personal beliefs, lifestyle, religious views, native language, etc.

People judge what makes them uncomfortable and those who are different from them.  Honestly though, it says more about the judger than the judgee.  It speaks to their beliefs, their comfort level, their prejudices, and often those traits that they dislike the most in themselves.  I think the solution lies in being kinder.  We need to be kinder to ourselves and that, in turn, should help us be kinder to others.  We all have our struggles and our victories.

What traits in yourself have been judged by others?  What do you often find yourself judging about other people?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Colorful salad

A delicious dinner to end a delicious day!  We ate a big colorful salad for dinner tonight, along with peas, lima/butter beans, apples, pears, and rolls.  Gotta keep the taste buds entertained!

The salad had baby spinach, mixed greens, bite sized chunks of apple, pear, and carrot, and dried cranberries tossed in.  Top with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, and enjoy!  Sooo yummy!

I think it's a good night to snuggle up with my honey and watch some TV in our little nest.  During winter, we always set up a room with a slim line radiator to keep us warm.  We can retreat to our nest to watch TV, read, whatever.  Since we're hosting out-of-towners a few times this winter, we set up in our master bedroom this year so we wouldn't crash any of the other rooms that may need to house people.

With any luck, tomorrow will be a little more productive than today.  Today was relaxing, yes, but productive, no.  Unless you count blog reading, TV watching, and napping as productive. ;)  Good night all!

A delicious day

I had the most fantastic morning!  We were supposed to have last-minute out of town guests, but we got the call this morning that they had to cancel.  Since we just hosted my in-laws for several days last week, we were perfectly fine with not doing it again this weekend.  It meant that we didn't have to move furniture to pull out the guest bed, put the boxes of Christmas stuff back into the garage, re-sanitize the guest bathroom, etc this morning before they arrived.  Even better, it meant that I got to take a nap soon after I got up!  I have had a super stressful week at work and some residual sleep deprivation from the Thanksgiving week, so it was a-m-a-z-i-n-g to get a little extra sleep.  TLC for the body and soul!

I then ate a delicious lunch with a few of my own creations.  I cannot remember to take pictures of my creations before I devour them!  So, sorry for the lack of pictures.  I had a baked sweet potato with vegan Smart Balance butter.  I created a little date-cranberry combo.  I stuffed pitted dates with dried cranberries.  Sweet, ever-so-slightly tart, delish.  And finally, my pita creation.  I created a guacamole-esque mix with one avocado, one crimini mushroom, and one sweet campari tomato.  Fast and easy, I just combined it all with a spoon, and used a little of my homemade balsamic vinaigrette for added flavor.  Spoon into a whole wheat pita and start drooling!  (I promise that I will write down the ingredients and create a recipe the next time I throw together my vinaigrette.  Hopefully I will also remember the picture!)

Tonight we'll get to decorate for Christmas.  I LOVE this time of year, and I love getting to deck the halls!  Christmas was my grandma's favorite holiday as well, so we have inherited tons and tons of decorations from her.  It's a warm and fuzzy way for me to get to reconnect with her each year.

What a blessed day! :)  Hope everyone else is enjoying today as much as I am.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Giveaways and gratitude

Chocolate Covered Katie is giving away some lovely coconut goodies, yummm!  I haven't gotten to try any vegan recipes with coconut butter yet, but I'm excited to try!  Her fudge baby creations certainly look worthy of repeating as soon as I finish off the coconut macaroons I melted over this week.

So I remembered that I was going to do a gratitude post for Thanksgiving and just never got to it with all the hosting responsibilities.  With such a stressful day today, I think it's well overdue.

I'm grateful for a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes on my back, and love in my heart.
I'm grateful for my family and friends.
I'm grateful for the puppy that loves me unconditionally.
I'm grateful that my hubby believes in equality and is open to changing our eating habits.
I'm grateful for this great state I live in!
I'm grateful that I have a job.
I'm grateful that I was able to receive the gift of a quality education.
I'm grateful that I am healthy and can strive for greater health still.
I'm grateful for my love of learning.
I'm grateful that I am a happy person!
I'm grateful for my best friend.
I'm grateful for all the people who make me laugh and smile.
I'm grateful that I have all the little quirks that created my unique personality.
I'm grateful that I am so loved.
I'm grateful to be an optimist.

Yep, life is pretty darn good!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


So I've pretty much been cold all day.  I'm trying to figure out which leftovers from the long Thanksgiving weekend I want to eat.  The problem is that I can't get it out of the fridge and stay fully warm at the same time.  Also, I'm trying hard not to just grab the pie and a fork and eat until I'm full.  That's not the best solution!

Vegetarian pizza sounds good.  I have the makings. That may be the winner.  Hubby was supposed to put some items in the freezer, but he hasn't yet.  I had also gone a little crazy with fresh produce beforehand, so I've got to eat that stuff up before it goes bad.  Eating by priority.  Delicious, enticing priority!

I have to get back into my groove with my routine again, too.  The exhaustion of getting through the long weekend of hosting my in-laws plus the fresh onset of cold weather (hardest part: cold mornings!) has meant that the last thing I can convince myself to do in the morning is jump out of bed and work out in the frigid living room.  Maybe I should ask for another space heater for Christmas so I can thaw as I work out.  It doesn't look like I've lost much muscle mass yet, but I sure don't want it to happen.  I know it'll mean going back through the soreness and aches as I stretch everything back out.  We'll see how the healthier food affects my body's adjustment into working out, though, since I did it backwards the last time.  Always something interesting to be learned.

The veggie pizza managed to present itself to me in my warm nest thanks to the hubs.  Puppy was next to me, and as I tore through a piece of the crust, an artichoke heart went flying onto the keyboard of the laptop.  I reach for the napkin and the pup angles her mouth over so she can lick the keys clean!  My funny veggie loving puppy!