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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Change of Mind

Sometimes you have to change directions simply because it is the right thing to do. Over the past several months my husband has experimented with eating vegan, he seemed to be getting into it for the most part, I tried new recipes, purchased a cookbook, and tried to make the meals tasty, interesting and not too repetitive, I found it challenging, and I am always open to a challenge. My husband was a good sport, at one point he went for a whole week with no meat, and only one serving of cheese, probably the longest time ever in his life, other than infancy, that he has not eaten meat.

But, I could sense that he was struggling, he was getting bored with so many vegetables, rice, beans, and veggie burgers and he missed meat and cheese. It was a radical change to his diet, and I really began to feel that I was imposing my vegan lifestyle on him, and he felt guilty for wanting to eat meat, and would worry how I would take it when he didn't want a vegan meal. The whole situation was causing unnecessary stress for both of us, I didn't mind if he ate a burger, had a fried egg, a cheese toastie, and then I would feel aggravated because he would ask me if it was okay, and who am I that someone feels they need my permission to eat something, I don't want to be that person. I have thought about this a lot over the past month, I was excited by his willingness to try a vegan diet and he didn't want to disappoint me when he wanted to eat a non-vegan meal. And this combination of excitement and not wanting to disappoint began to make both of us stressed out, and all this underlying stress over our evening meal, tip-toeing around the issue, well it needed to be nipped in the bud, life is to be enjoyed.

And, although I am a big proponent of eating a clean, whole food, plant based vegan diet, I understand it is not for everyone, and I know only too well it can be a sort of solitary lifestyle, very few people are vegan. I came to be vegan over a long period of time, I slowly eliminated dairy and meat, probably the last six months before I went fully vegan I ate salmon, I never ate meat, and  the only dairy I ate was plain Greek yogurt. It was not a huge transition to go vegan. I want our meal times to be enjoyable, we are going back to our normal pattern of eating, I will prepare my vegan meal of choice for me, and Dave will prepare his evening meal of choice for himself. This way we both get to enjoy a meal we like, cooked as we like, and the stress and worry is removed. And no one needs to feel guilty or disappointed!

So that is where we are, I am a committed vegan and make food choices for myself, my husband is not a vegan, but will occasionally have a meat free meal, and he makes food choices for himself. Hey, this way we are not imposing on each other, instead we are living in harmony, respecting each others choices, and allowing each of ourselves to be true to ourselves. Our dining table should be, and I believe is, a judgement free zone :)

Peace be with you,


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Blowing Away January - Literally

Holy Cow!! It is eight in the morning, outside temperature is minus 14 with nineteen mile per hour wind, gusting to thirty-plus miles per hour, predicted high temperature today, minus 9. The wind will remain with us until tomorrow afternoon and then subside. Friday will warm up into the teens, Saturday we will be above freezing, and next week the highs will be in the forties. What crazy weather this is, and I am glad this arctic air is only around for a day or two, that I can cope with.

Our thermostat is set to heat the house to sixty-eight degrees, downstairs the temperature is sixty degrees and the furnace is running non-stop. Dave and I are hibernating upstairs as it is much warmer up here. So thankful we each have a craft room upstairs so we won't feel trapped in our bedroom all day. I plan to do some yoga, reading, knitting and will bake vegan banana bread muffins a little later, the oven will add a bit of heat to the downstairs, and I can dispose of a few very ripe nanabars :), Dave said he will bake some bread. I am glad that schools are closed, many businesses are closed, and all of our children are home today with their children, I didn't want to see any of them have to go out into this brutal weather.

This past Sunday we had family over for Sunday dinner and I prepared another fully vegan meal. On the menu: vegan walnut loaf with oven roasted potatoes and steamed carrots and broccoli. For dessert we had nuts and a citrus fruit salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, kiwi, green grapes and banana. After lunch the kids played Candy Land, checkers, Old Maid and Uno, it was a family fun afternoon.

Oh, and I have found a new super tasty concoction, Kimchi - wowsers it is so tasty, so good, I add a couple tablespoons to my vegan bowl of goodness, mix it on in, and it is simply delightful, a party for my taste buds, LOL.

I have been hard at work knitting four sweaters for the four youngest grandsons. I finished one for Ralph, and have almost finished two more for Masen and George, this leaves one more to complete for Peter. I used a new yarn, a Wal-Mart house brand, a great price $1.97 a skein, it took two skeins for each sweater, so $16 for all four, a good deal. But I am not overly thrilled with the yarn, it is fine for kids sweaters, but it is a little unevenly spun, I would not use it for an adult project.

Little Ralph, pleased with his new sweater. Don't you just love that shade of green!
I am keeping up on my reading and just finished A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym, she is one of my most favorite authors. I so very much enjoyed this book, it is one I read every once in a while, as I do all of Barbara Pym's books. I own a copy of all of her books except one, and they are all so very enjoyable. I have a cookbook by her too, I believe written in collaboration with her sister, it contains recipes for many foods mentioned in her novels. Do you ever feel sad when you finish a book, as if you are parting with an old friend, well I do when I finish a BP book, I just miss the world she creates.

This month I got started with some yoga, I am doing a thirty-day yoga journey with a You Tube yoga teacher, Yoga With Adrienne, she is such a gentle spirit, I enjoy her very much and am enjoying the journey. The movements are so gentle, my spirit so calm when I finish, but my limbs are literally shaking with the exertion, it is a good work out for mind, body, and soul, and a nice compliment to my cardio exercise. One of my personal goals is to incorporate regular strength training into my exercise regime, we lose muscle as we age, and keeping core muscle strength is essential.

So January is literally blowing away in an arctic wind, but February will blow in much warmer. We are halfway through winter and I am looking forward to spring, looking forward to a long, outdoor walk on Saturday. Hopefully the roads will be in good shape for a run on Sunday, I am psyched up to get outside again.

I hope you had a good January,


Monday, January 21, 2019

Vegan Cookbook, Keep It Carbed Baby! And a New Resolve!!

My new cookbook, Keep It Carbed Baby! I have followed the Happy Healthy Vegan YouTube channel for a number of years, I enjoy their vlogs very much. Anji Bee created this cookbook in 2016, it is filled with wonderful recipes and all are whole food plant based with no added fats, oils or salt. I ordered the book on Thursday, I am in Indiana, and it arrived on Saturday from southern California, I was surprised and pleased that it arrived so quickly. I perused the book on Saturday, made mental notes about recipes to put together for an all vegan Sunday meal for the family. Being the only vegan, my husband eats vegan most of the time, and one of our sons is vegetarian, I usually prepare some kind of meat based menu on Sunday for everyone else while I enjoy my usual vegan bowl of goodness. But yesterday was different, the entire menu was vegan and this is what I served:

Mushrooms stuffed with wild rice

Epic Burrito Bowls
 consisting of Spanish rice, refried Beans - a mixture of black and pinto beans, guacamole, salsa, and steamed potatoes

Fresh fruit salad
 - canteloupe, watermelon, honeydew melon, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi and grapes (a local store, on Sundays, has a lot of pre-cut fresh fruit reduced for quick sale, a lucky turn of events for my grandchildren who LOVE fruit salad)

Banana Bread muffins with vegan chocolate chips
Truffles (sweetened with Medjool dates)

Everything prepared was vegan, all recipes came from the new cookbook except for the stuffed mushrooms and fruit salad. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the meal. It was such a confidence builder for me, I can prepare a totally vegan meal that not only is enjoyable and satisfying for all, it is healthy too. My daughter wanted to see the cookbook, she pointed out several more recipes that I should try, next week we might go with an Indian theme.

And again, EVERYTHING is prepared without added fat, no salt, and fresh wholesome ingredients - how fabulous is that? It was super rewarding to feed such a healthy, nutritious, tasty meal to everyone.  Oh, and those Banana bread muffins, HOLY MOLY, the grandchildren LOVED them, all were devoured, and the Truffles, the boys re-named them chocolate balls, where an absolute hit as well. As they say, "the proof is in the pudding"!

So, I have made a decision in my vegan journey, I am not preparing meat dishes anymore. If meat is to be prepared it can be done by someone else, I am not doing it. I will provide tasty, satisfying, healthy vegan main meals, or only side dishes depending on who is cooking. 

You can find the Happy Healthy Vegans here :)

And, lastly, it is SOOOOOOO COLD!!! Today the high will be 7 degrees, driving to work this morning my car displayed the outdoor temperature at -14, yes that is MINUS 14.  Tomorrow the high will be 34, thankfully. As they say in Indiana, "if you don't like the weather, stick around a day, it will change" :)

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday Snow! And, Can You Identify This House Plant?

We are forecast to get quite a snowfall today. I went out at six-thirty this morning to walk and the wind was blowing hard, the snow was falling fast, and the going was adventurous. Funny how a little inclement weather turns my ordinary daily exercise into a battle of me versus the elements, and I just love it. There is something about being bundled up, hunched up to fend off the blowing wind and driving snow, tromping through the drifts, be wary not to slip, everything becomes a challenge in a good way, a fun way.

I usually walk a mile in fourteen minutes, today my average speed was seventeen minutes per mile, a significant slow down, but I feel like it was a good work out, it was more like hiking. When I got back to the house I filled the bird feeders and shoveled the front walk. Right now the temperature is just below freezing, but by tomorrow morning we are going to be down to two degrees and we will remain sub-zero for several days, brrrrr.

Now, can anyone tell me what this plant is? I "won" it in a silent auction at a family reunion this past September. The plant sits on a table in front of a west facing window and seems very happy where I have it. In the past weeks it started to blossom, the first blossom to appear has now turned a reddish/pinkish color. The leaves are some what serrated, thick, but not like a succulent, and the stem is quite woody. The plant is about a foot tall. I really like it but wish I knew more about it.

Monday, January 14, 2019

January Life

Well here we are almost halfway through January. So far a busy month. The weather started out very mild for this time of year, we had a few days of almost fifty degree weather, it was very enjoyable. Winter arrived this weekend with five inches of snow on Saturday, and this morning when I left for work it was eleven degrees outside, brrr.

New Years day we celebrated with our children and grandchildren, Dave prepared pork shoulder and sauerkraut for everyone, and for sides I made roast potatoes and cabbage au-gratin. I had a delish bowl of vegan goodness :) In our family pork and cabbage is a New Years tradition, supposedly bringing good luck for the new year. I had red cabbage in my vegan bowl of goodness!

Last week we celebrated our youngest daughter and her fiance Joe's wedding, it was a simple affair with a fun reception afterwards at our home. Everyone had a good time and we wish Joe and Emily a long and happy life together.

This coming Friday our eldest, Matt, will turn thirty-five, I don't feel old enough to have a child that old, time really zooms along. One minute you are busy with babies and toddlers and school age children and the next they are all grown, married and have children of their own.

I am keeping a reading list for 2019, so far I have read just one book, Beartown by Fredrik Backman, initially I liked it, but liked it less and less as I progressed through the story. I have the sequel out from the library but have decided I don't want to read it. I am now on my second book of 2019, The Aloe by Katherine Mansfield, it was written in 1916 I believe, so far so good. I am not sure what will be next up, I think I am going to have a good peruse of my bookshelf and find something there.

I didn't make any resolutions for the new year, last year I did, for the most part I stuck with them, but struggled with the not buying things as the year progressed. I do feel an urge to talk less and listen more, to be slower to anger, to be more patient, it is a struggle. And I feel a strong urge to limit television viewing. In the past I have entirely stopped watching television for months and months at a time, but I don't feel that extreme. Sometimes watching a good movie is just the ticket, and there are several YouTube vloggers I subscribe to, they post short videos perhaps once a week, occasionally more, and I enjoy the content so will continue to view.

YouTube channels I enjoy:

Happy Healthy Vegan - a fifty something married couple based in Long Beach, CA, Ryan and Anji are long time vegans, who post a lot of informative, interesting, entertaining vlogs. They camp on Catalina Island each year and have uploaded some beautifully filmed travel vlogs, their trip to Hawaii for Anji's fiftieth birthday is so relaxing to watch, like you own personal mini vacation.

Hench Herbivore - another Vegan, a body builder from Norwich, England, he is a vegan nutritionist, body builder, personal trainer, vlogger. Paul is larger than life, entertaining to watch, provides a lot of good information, and his partner Jemma is an excellent cook.

Jane Esseltyn - another Vegan, based I believe, in Cleveland, OH - she is the daughter of Dr. Caldwell Esseltyn who is a huge proponent of whole food, plant based eating. Jane and her mother Ann demonstrate recipes from their cookbooks, they are short videos, fun, light-hearted, and I really enjoy the rapport between mother and daughter.

All of the above Vegans are huge proponents of whole food, plant based vegan eating. I find their channels supportive, when you are vegan you can feel a bit isolated as most times you are the only vegan in the room, their vlogs provide encouragement and support, I know I am not a crazy lady and I am not the only person who is into of whole food plant based living with exercise for optimum health.

Not too much going on for the rest of the month, more snow is tentatively predicted for Saturday, and the colder temperatures are to remain for a while, but the sun is shining and the snow looks beautiful and life is good.

Peace be with you,


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

What Stories Could This Tree Tell

Dave and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm January weather this past Sunday to take a hike through Pokagon State Park near Angola, Indiana. We did a little over 6 miles, up and down hills, through woods and open spaces, around ponds and past creeks, enjoying the scenery and the walk.  We made a slight alteration to our normal route and  at the top of a steep hill came upon the tree pictured. What happened to this tree? How did every branch get broken off? What type of tree is it? What I do know is that even in  death the stark beauty of the tree still gives pleasure. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

My Mom the Amazing Knitting Great Grandma!

My Mom spent the weeks leading up to Christmas on a fantastic knitting project, nine sweaters for her nine great grandchildren! Don't they look splendid. (The sweaters and the kids).