Thursday, January 26, 2012

Strike a Pose

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Blame Game

It snowed here. With freezing rain. And it got cold. Really cold. Oh sure, not a lot, we're still talking a few inches. Nothing like they saw in Seattle. But you see, snow in Seattle is better than snow in the freezing tundra. And it's already melting there, soon the storms will be a memory. A memorable one filled with hot chocolate and kids staying home from school. Ok and maybe a windstorm and cold days without power. But it's really a minor thing overall. Who knows when it'll thaw completely here. The snow I am looking at could be still lurking under the crusty gritty snow of April. The ice puddles could still be waiting to make up slip in March.

Snow and cold means that I turn up Kenny Chesney, start looking at vacations to the Florida Keys, make more soup, and blame the winter for everything.

My back hurts: Winter.

House needs to be clean: Winter.

Late to pick up the kids: Winter

Wake up due to a nightmare: Winter.

Lose a bobbin of bright pink yarn somewhere in the house the instant I got the bobbin of purply pink yarn spun to ply with it, something I've been meaning to do for weeks but haven't because of Ramses and his infatuation with chewing the treadles: Totally winter's fault.

My lack of enthusiasm about exercise: Absolutely, completely 100% winter.

Eating that chocolate bar: Clearly winter.

It's actually a fun game. Picking some random thing and blaming it on winter. You should try it, it's easy. My hope of course, is that winter will get tired of the blame game and lurk away again, leaving us with mud season in the frozen tundra. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to picking which tropical island would be most fun to visit.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Plant Based Diets Demystified Part 3 - Eating Out

Plant Based Diet Myth 3 ~ You can't eat out anywhere, or go out with friends.

Eating out is a social behavior. We love to go out for drinks and apps with family and friends, we love to see people, dinner and a movie is our favorite date. After working for years in restaurants, I believe it goes to our core feelings to be cared for. And not doing dishes is great! Besides that, we're busy people. There are kids to pick up, lessons, errands, and so on that need to be done. Sometimes they're during our mealtimes. We can either starve, or we can eat out.

Contrary to popular belief, there is generally SOMETHING you can eat at a restaurant. There are a few places where the pickings are slim, though generally those are places we shouldn't be eating at those anyway.

The first thing to remember is to choose restaurants that prepare most of the foods in house, as opposed to from frozen. One of the worst ones for preparing from frozen is Applebees. There are still options there (I normally get either a baked potato, or an Asian salad, no dressing no chicken). If the food is frozen and premixed in a restaurant there are very few ways to change what they have. It doesn't mean the restaurant is out, it just means you need to be more creative in what you order there!

Restaurants that prepare from fresh are a whole different story. My favorite for this is California Pizza Kitchen. I can change almost any item to fit my diet. They have a ton of foods that don't have meat, and then it's simply removing cheese. By the way, cheeseless pizza is AWESOME!

My other favorite hint for eating out is go ethnic. I have no problems with Chinese restaurants subbing tofu for meat in anything I want, or just doing a bunch of veggies. Mexican restaurants are great for veggie fajitas. Indian and Thai food also lends itself well to Plant Based eating. The fact that these typically aren't chain restaurants and help the local economy is also an added plus. It's a sad fact that 'American' food is the hardest to Plant base, since we generally rely on steak, cheese, and fat to make everything taste good instead of letting the veggies shine through.

There are also Vegan and Veggie based restaurants around. Trying a new restaurant for a change can be a lot of fun, and may make some new favorites, even among your non-plant based friends. It's a great opportunity to introduce people to different foods.

And remember, no matter what, you can always ask for a salad with every veggie they have and a balsamic dressing on the side. If the server has issues with what you can have, ask to speak to a manager. Restaurants want to make you happy, and most people who work there really want to feed you. That's why they're in the industry. They'll do whatever they can to make sure you leave full, and happy. Even bars will generally have celery and carrot sticks. If they don't, keep a snack in your pocket. I like Clif bars, or Larabars for emergency situations.

My biggest caution to eating out is that we typically have tastes associated with specific restaurants that at least first will bring out cravings. And the fact that the food is inevitably HIGH in fat, and sodium. You're better off to limit it to a special treat whenever possible. There is a great app for Iphones, and Androids called Using that app, you can instantly see the calorie, sodium, and fat for a lot of foods at restaurants. You will be shocked when you realize how many calories are in some foods at restaurants.

By preparing yourself with knowledge of menus and nutrition, you'll be able to make healthier choices that keep you on track with a plant based diet and still allow you the fun of eating out with friends.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

From Fuzzy Puppy to Elegant Poodle

Ramses got his first grown up trim today. I did it, obviously I wish to add poodle groomer to my vast resume of skills. Actually it's more that I just don't trust anyone with my dogs, and their grooming.

Here's Ramses a few weeks ago, fuzzy face and all

Here's his new poodle-do, trimmed face and the Scandinavian trim,
or rather a variation of that.

And he says either one is fine, what really matters is playing fetch!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Crashed Ice and Concerts

Yesterday was a long anticipated concert. We were going to see Brad Paisley, The Band Perry, and Scott McCreary! Great lineup to say the least.

Of course in all our planning, we didn't anticipate getting an e-mail from the center hosting the show saying that there were 2 other events going on, and parking was going to be at a premium. Oh, and one event was causing 3 roads to be partially closed.

You see, in the infinite wisdom of this place, they had decided to host the Crashed Ice competition here. And not at a ski resort where it would make sense, nope. It was being held in front of the Cathedral in downtown. Now, the placement of this made no sense except for the fact that people could go pray either beforehand for divine intervention, or else afterwards that their loved one wouldn't die on their way to the hospital. After all, this is not the safest sport. Basically it consists of skating (on ice skates) down a 4 story ramp complete with twists, jumps, dips, and so on. Since evidently it's tacky to charge people to watch other people being injured it was free to the general public. You know, the weirdos who wanted to stand outside in below freezing temps watching people hurtle down the ramp to crash or stagger to the next round.
See all those lights? There is the course.
So to make a long story short, we headed downtown early to get to the concert and find parking. Did I mention it was also snowing? It was. Still, the trip was completed, despite the dire warnings we found parking (for a hefty fee) close to the stadium and headed in for a great event.

Scotty McCreary was charming, and did a great job singing, The Band Perry sounded awesome and did a great job onstage. Then came Brad Paisley complete with laser lights, amazing graphics and an outstanding lineup of songs. It was high energy, enthusiastic, and the graphics were really fun. Some were incredible, like the image of Carrie Underwood singing with Brad, which was lifelike enough to fool the audience into thinking she was there. It took Brad's country music to a rock star level and was a great reminder of how awesome country music can be. Of course his amazing guitar playing is worth the price of admission alone, as is his sense of humor and personality that invades his shows and songs.

"Is Scotty McCreary Brad Paisley's Love Child is this headline"

And Scotty came out to sing part of Celebrity as well

Singing in the middle of a soldout crowd

Workin on a tan with a video of his band as a 60's band. I love that song

With the 'virtual' Carrie

Alcohol with the Band Perry and Scotty up on stage too

The added bonus that I wasn't dumb enough to be outside watching someone break their leg or head was just the icing on the cake..

Friday, January 13, 2012

Plant Based Diet Demystified Part 2 - Protein

One of the most common questions a Plant based person gets is 'Where do you get your protein!'

In the USA, we're told that protein isn't just part of nutrition, it's so important that not getting enough will immediately cause you to faint into an anemic heap of malnourished person. Of course really, anemia is caused by a lack of iron, but hey, just go with me here. We're shown pictures of steaks and told that this, is where our protein is located. In reality, that picture of a steak could be exchanged with any other food and the title of protein could be the same.

Animal based protein is a complete protein. Proteins are made up of amino acids, and meat happens to have all of these. There's approximately 7 grams of protein per ounce of meat. Which is why the meat industry is so quick to tell everyone that meat is necessary for protein. The fact that meat also contains cholesterol, saturated fat, is linked to chronic disease and cancer appears not to matter. What matters is that the protein is there, and it's complete.

What they don't tell you, is that protein is found in all food sources. Broccoli? Protein. Spinach? Protein. Barley? Protein. Kidney beans? Protein. Protein exists in everything. The difference is the amounts, and that plant based diets are incomplete proteins, not all plants have the same amino acids. Aha! So vegetarians ARE lacking in protein? Nope. Not at all. All we have to do is eat a varied diet. If we eat items from 2 categories of the following, we're just fine and dandy as we cover all the amino acids.

Grains: Barley, cornmeal, oats, rice, pasta, whole grain breads.
Legumes: Beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soy
Seeds and nuts: Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, cashews
Vegetables: Leafy greens, broccoli

Of course, how hard is it to get our 50 grams (averaging of course) from the above? Well, one cup of soybeans has a whopping 29 grams of protein, one cup of black beans 15 grams. A cup of oats has 6 grams (oat bran has even more!) A cup of broccoli has 4 grams. It isn't really hard at all, it occurs over the course of the day. And of course, as with every other diet, sometimes it will be higher and sometimes lower. Our bodies are smart enough to handle that and deal with it accordingly. Where you run into problems is if you're consistently low (or more likely high with how abundant protein is in food) and make your body deal with that on a daily basis.

Of course protein is important. You need protein to survive. Protein is needed to have muscle, hair, energy and so on. The amount you need varies from person to person, it's around .08 grams of protein per kilogram of weight. There is no scientific data that proves excess protein is healthy, though some that shows it isn't healthy.

So why did your 2nd cousin Gina tell you she tried eating Vegan or Veg for a couple days and felt 'terrible' from the lack of protein. This could be for a couple reasons. First, she may very well have simply eaten junky foods. Living on potato chips, and spaghetti isn't a health diet. Or, more likely, if she was eating a healthy diet, her body was resetting. It's a big change to go from eating 150 grams of protein (not uncommon believe it or not ) to the correct 50 grams. And any dietary change can result in you feeling a little weird as your body sorts itself out. Of course it could also be psychosomatic. You 'know vegan diets are so low in protein' and expect to feel weak or weird. In my case, I switched from eating a very high protein, low carb diet to eating Pescetarian in March. I had one day where I felt like I was coming down with the flu and then it went away. Was I fighting something off? Maybe, or maybe it was my body resetting. I went from eating 150 grams of protein a day to about 70 at that point in time (I track my food). After that though, I had more energy and felt better than before.

From the time we're little, the fact that we need to eat meat for protein is drilled into us. It's no wonder that overriding that picture of steaks for protein from our minds is such a struggle.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Ocean According to Devin

By Devin C 1-11-12 (12 years old)
Long Beach is always the best part of my trips to Washington State.  Long Beach is a small tourist town with the longest drivable beach in the world.  I lie on the soft, warm sand and stare at the grand Pacific Ocean.  The foam and ocean are like a mirror to the clouds in the blue sky.  I can smell the tangy saltwater from many feet away.  The waves crashing against the sand sound like the roaring winds rushing through the treetops.  I feel the heat of the deep silky sand snuggling against my legs.  It feels like an electric blanket on a nice humongous bed.  My mouth drools as I visualize the taste of roasted hot dogs that will be roasting over the warm embers of the camp fire tonight.  The memory of being here makes me so eager to come back over and over again.

Both of these stories were written for school, different teachers, same assignment and both kids chose practically the same subject matter without consulting each other. Of course, what other place in the world is there, really?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Ocean According to Cory

The Ocean
By Cory C 1-10-12 (12 years old)
I lay on the sandy beach of the Pacific Ocean as the waves crash against the
rocks and the campfire crackles, its flames sounding like chips cracking. I look up to
see the waves crawling up the sand; coming up so smoothly like milk going through a
cup. The smell of salt fills the air like baking cookies. The sand feels like a soft cushion
to lay on while you sleep. The taste when the waves splash up and hit you is a bit too
salty. you can smell the hot dogs at the camp fire roasting and the marshmallows just
melting on the chocolate on the graham crackers. The taste of the s’more just melts in
your mouth with the little bit of crunch from the cracker like an ice cream cone on a hot
sunny day. The hot dogs just taste so juicy like an orange but with a meaty flavor. The
quiet sound of birds resting on the soft beach is a time of rest in a war. The rough edges
of the rock feel like the bricks piled waiting to become a house.The ocean feels like a
big blanket of water flowing through the sand. The logs we sit on look like the branches
of the trees that grew from the waters of the ocean, coming from far away to land on
the beach. The sand is a big desert that covers the boundaries of the wet ocean like a
picture in a museum. the color of the beach is two dragons flying in the clouds side by
side. The feeling of the ocean is peace. I never want to leave.

Plant Based Diet Demystified Part 1

Last night we went grocery shopping. It was inevitable, we were down to two blocks of tofu, and a bunch of leeks in the fridge. I do not exaggerate here. As our groceries were being rung up the cashier commented that we sure ate healthy. Except for the diet soda. I told her we were vegan, and that was our only vice. She immediately started asking us questions, and I of course enthusiastically started telling her about how much better we felt and how much we were enjoying the food. She just looked at us and said, 'yeah, but don't you get BORED eating that way?'

I just laughed to myself, but that statement keeps coming back. There are a lot of misconceptions and myths about a plant based diet, and I decided to address them. These include:

  • Plant based diets are limited or boring.
  • Plant based diets are too low in protein.
  • Plant based diet make it too hard to eat out/socially eat.
  • Plant based diets and meals are too hard to make/take too long.
  • I could never give up ______________ to eat a plant based diet.
  • Plant based diets are devoid in nutrients. 
  • Plant based diets are too expensive!

Over the next few weeks I'll write about each of these one at a time. We'll start with the first statement: Plant based diets are boring and limited.

I want you to think back about your meals over the past 2 weeks. How many times did you eat chicken, beef, or pork. How many different cuts? Did all those cuts though have the overwhelming taste of chicken, beef or pork? Just with different seasonings or textures? Roast, vs hamburger, chicken breasts vs fried leg?

Now, think about what else you ate in these 2 weeks. Most likely potatoes, rice, lettuce maybe? Peas, corn? Probably all prepared the same way? Served as a side to the meat unless you were eating a casserole. I bet if you combined everything total, it would amount to approximately 10-15 ingredients total.

In the past 2 weeks, our plant based household has eated:

Brussels Sprouts
Bell peppers
baby leaf lettuce
romaine lettuce
oyster mushrooms
portobella mushrooms
bean sprouts
black beans
northern beans
adzuki beans
brown rice
sweet potatoes
Meat replacement products

I could go on, but that covers the basics. We have had stir fries with thai flavorings, teriyaki flavorings, tofu scrambles, baked veggies, pasta, soups, stews, smoothies. With so many fresh vegetables there is no limit to what can be done. None of these would be better with meat. Once you stop eating meat and stop relying on it's rather one dimensional flavors, you find a world of flavors you didn't know existed.

Contrary to popular belief we don't survive on salads, though as it happens I am having one for lunch right now. My lunch salad consists of mixed baby greens, red bell pepper, celery, diced apples, sliced mushrooms, slivered almonds, and it's all topped with a balsamic dressing. This is a salad you'd pay 10.00 for in a restaurant, but I can make it myself whenever I want since I now always have these ingredients available to me. It's anything but boring or plain. For dinner tonight I'm torn as to whether I'm fixing spaghetti with roasted veggies, black bean tacos (black beans, taco seasoning, veggies, salsa on a whole wheat tortilla), or tortilla soup.

I challenge you to look at your diet, track it for 2 weeks and then select 5 veggies to add into the mix over the next 2 weeks that you're not eating now on a regular basis. After 2 weeks, try another 5. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ribbon Recital

It was Devin's ribbon recital today. He did a great job on his song. In just a couple weeks he'll be playing this in the MMTA piano competition.

In other news, there is no snow on the ground. It's January. This is a good thing. But I'd still rather be at the ocean. And I am still working on plans to knit sweaters.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 Goals, Dreams, and Schemes

I have divided up my goals into sections this year. Clever, right?


Attend 2 classes to learn new skills.
Surround myself with people who are healthy for me to be around.
Set myself up for success.


Continue to eat a plant based diet.
Play as often as possible.
Work on lowering sodium.
Exercise 3 times a week, doing something I enjoy so it's not a 'job'.


No new fiber purchases.
Spin 3 skeins a week.
Knit a sweater/cardigan.
Work on lace knitting.
Buy yarn only when I have a plan for it's use.
Put entire stash up on Ravelry. Yarn, not fiber.

I hope this year is going to be filled with changes for the better, but as always, when it comes right down to it, we are in charge of our own destiny. No one else.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Letter Done!

New Year's cards work so much better for me than Christmas cards. We're even ahead of my self imposed schedule of having the cards out by Dec 31st 2012. That sentence explains my reasoning.

I will spare you the letter which basically just recapped the year which is all here anyway. But here is the photo collage that accompanied it. Now onto the next New Years goal. And I am way, way, totally ahead of schedule!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Goals: Recap

Last year I posted my goals for the year. Some I mastered, some, not so much.

  • No Fiber purchases till May. Excluding clubs. In May, I have Shepherd's Harvest. A local fiber arts festival. I enjoy shopping there. Fiber purchased before then places my SH fund at risk.*
  • To compete in the Tour De Fleece again, no matter where I am. That should be a given, but I'll be traveling for part of it. Oh the challenge! I'll have to watch it online and spin. Triple challenge!
  • To finish a pair of socks (sound familiar??)
Came to terms with the fact I wasn't a sock knitter so I'm calling that a success!
Never bought the pattern or the yarn.. I may still do this though.
  • To make a sweater of any kind
I finished a vest - thereby taking steps toward a sweater. Really a vest is a sweater without sleeves.. It's all about the perspective. So I'm saying 50% credit.
  • To spin the yarn for, and then knit a Shipwreck Shawl.* Fiber purchased for this will be allowed.
I have the fiber I THINK. I'm giving myself 30% credit here.
  • To do a 4 ply yarn.
Done, plus some cabling, and other things.
  • Label all yarn and start recording what I spin.
YES! Success! 
  • Enjoy the process more. I am a goal person, not a process person.
I'm giving myself 50% here again. I still tend to rush through things.
  • Stick to my monthly budget. Last year I succeeded in saving money into long term savings accounts. Now I need to work on a short term savings account. See goal #1 :)
Unemployed. So I guess I did stick to a budget..
  • Take some time for myself and my health. I have a health club membership, I need to use it!
I realized I hated the health club, dropped the membership, and started walking and running. Much better. I ended up focusing on diet a lot more than I'd planned. 

Now to ponder over the goals for this year...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Year of the Sweater

2012 Goal: I am dubbing this year: The Year of the Sweater AKA The year I figure out how to knit to gauge and make wearable clothes, not just outerwear.

I will be taking steps toward this soon, though right now I am trying to finish my Traveling Woman shawl. I am to the lace part. I am not sure the last 2 rows were correct. Knitting while watching The Help (I'd already read the book) wasn't a great plan tonight. I am about to go count the last row and find out.

But next week, I will be beginning a sweater. A LYS does a knit along every month with a sweater. How hard can this be? Don't answer that.

I have other goals, other thoughts on the year, but we'll start with this one. Year of the Sweater.