Wednesday, December 22, 2010

vegan experiment = success!

Hello, blog, how are you doing? I'm sorry I've neglected you!

I was successfully a vegan for 6.5 days. It wasn't as hard as I thought, and it definitely nixed some fast food cravings in the bud.. "Hey, maybe I should stop at Dairy Queen for a blizzard! .. oh wait, that's dairy..".. and surprisingly, I didn't die. I've never really restricted my food intake in any way, and this was an interesting exercise in self-control that I was pretty sure I didn't actually possess.

Why 6.5 days instead of 7? We had an International Potluck at work last Friday (my Day Seven), and I was on the fence whether to go or not, but Thursday night I made up my mind to go and see what I could find. I whipped up a batch of hummus and cut up some fresh veggies, and sailed into the potluck hoping to find some vegan treats. At work this is the biggest social event of the year for us, and there was TONS of food!

There are a lot of different nationalities represented where I work, and some people are vegetarian for religious or personal beliefs. I found the people who brought dishes to be very accomodating of different diets. A lot of the dishes had little cards beside them stating the ingredients, and if they were vegetarian or not. I wound up with a plate of veggies, hummus, salad, and two different couscous dishes (one actually marked "vegan!"). I think there was some feta on the salad, but I left it to the side.

Then there was dessert.

Ohhh dessert.

I went in and did a round around the dessert table, and grabbed a coffee while I perused. There were DEFINITELY no vegan options, but there were some delicious looking sweets! I sat back down and chatted to the person I was sitting next to for a few minutes, and then decided to go for it. Christmas is only once a year!

I didn't overdo it, but one thing struck me - I didn't really enjoy dessert that much. I think I'm slowly getting more of a refined palate for sweets, and anything too sweet and sugary (milk chocolate, white chocolate, anything with icing or glaze) doesn't do it for me anymore.

That being said, yesterday at my office they put all of the chocolate within arm's reach of me. That's all I ate. All day. And BOY did I feel it by the time I was ready to go home. My brain was toast! I couldn't even look at FRUIT in my fridge at home! I definitely recognize that I have a tendency to snack when I'm bored, and that is my one big pitfall when it comes to this whole eating everything in moderation thing. WHOOPS there goes a whole package of cookies...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

vegan peppermint mocha.

I cheated a teensy bit yesterday. I ate vegetarian sushi from Superstore, which said on the ingredients list, "May contain traces of milk, nuts, etc..". I figured that since I'm not doing this for medical reasons, it would be okay to eat it anyway.

It's really hard in the office to not eat the various forms of chocolate that always seem to surface here. Our lab is full of people who love chocolate! So this morning I came equipped with my own vegan dose:

Vegan Peppermint Mocha

1 cup brewed coffee
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp peppermint extract
dash So Good soy creamer

Mix. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

food food food.

I love food. Not surprisingly, I have waaay too much of it in my apartment.

From my fridge.

From my cupboards.

From my freezer (the gross things on the left are over ripe frozen bananas, perfect for smoothies!).

This photos don’t include baking supplies, or anything that’s not vegan. Isn’t that a ridiculous amount of food? I live by myself! Life is good!

For breakfast I made a quick smoothie. I love smoothies; the only thing I hate is washing the stupid blender every time. Fun fact: my blender is actually one of my parents’ wedding gifts. They were married in 1982. They didn’t make a lot of smoothies. So I have it now!

Summer Smoothie in December

One frozen banana
1 cup frozen raspberries
½- ¾ cup orange juice

I defrosted the fruit for 2 mins in the microwave so it wouldn’t kill the blades in the blender (or kill my teeth from coldness!). Then I blended until smooth. Tastes like summer!

I made up a meal plan for this week, which I don’t really think I’ve ever done before. When I went to make a grocery list for it, I discovered that I had a lot of the items already, which was exciting. Regardless, I still managed to rack up a $60 grocery bill.


I justify it by saying that $17 worth of items were things like olive oil, rice, and steel cut oats, which will last me much longer than one week. Also, this pile includes organic baby carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, vegetable bouillon cubes, and edamame. And a Fair Trade70% chocolate bar. A girl’s gotta have her chocolate!

Side note: Knorr vegetable bouillon cubes have 40% of your RDI of sodium in ONE cube. The organic kind I found in the specialty section were also low sodium – 4% RDI!!! –and they taste delicious! I am a salt fiend, but I like to add it on stuff, so I’m trying to decrease it in places like soup where you can’t even really taste the difference.

After I put away most of the food, I set about making chili. It turned out more like a “stoup”.

Vegan Vegetable Chili/Stoup

3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp green onions
1 tsp each paprika, oregano, basil, cilantro, black pepper, and cayenne pepper
1 can mixed beans, drained and rinsed 3x
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed 3x
1 can diced tomatoes, juice included
1 low sodium vegetable bouillon cube, dissolved in 1 cup boiling water

Add everything to slow cooker. Mix well. Add more water if necessary. Cover. Let simmer on high for 3-4 hours, or until celery is cooked.

Doesn't that look pretty?

This dish may require some planning. Be prepared to spend the night alone.

Now find something to do for 4 hours.

P.S. This recipe is super cheap! $5.89 (and it makes six servings! that's less than a $1 a serving!).

See look. Proof.
To accompany this I made some quick biscuits. These are my go-to and they’re so fast to make! I didn’t buy white flour (there’s always something I forget!), so these were a little dense. I’d substitute half white flour next time.

15 Minute Biscuits

2 cups whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (you could probably get away with ½ tsp here)
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 cup milk (I used unsweetened Almond Breeze)

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Cut in shortening and mix. Slowly add milk until well incorporated. Turn out on floured surface. Roll ou t to ½ inch thick and cut out circles using floured glass. Bake at 400F for 10-14 mins (checking with toothpick to see if they’re done). Serve over “stoup” or with a little Earth Balance vegan butter. Enjoy!

Or just plop on top of your stoup. Delicious!

And then, abandon your messy kitchen and go take a bath. That's what I did.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I know I said I wasn't planning on changing my diet at all during this yoga challenge, but I'm flirting with the idea of going vegan for a week. A vegan diet consists of fruits, veggies, nuts, grains, beans, lentils, etc... pretty much everything except for dairy, seafood, meat, and eggs.

I've never followed any "diets" per se, or restricted my food intake in any fashion. I've only ever started with the thought, "I should eat more veggies," and then binged on ice cream or something. Or I'll try a new food. But that's it in terms of diet.. I've only ever thought about it. Food has always been a free for all.

Let me be clear: While at one point in my elementary school years, I did in fact want to be a veterinarian, animal rights has nothing to do with why I want to do this. I see nothing wrong with eating animal products (as much as Skinny Bitch has tried to convince me otherwise). And I own fur. There a few things I hate in this world. Slow drivers, exposed muffintops, and wet socks are among them. But the king of my pet peeves thus the target of my hatred is PETA. "I'd rather go naked than wear fur!"? Right. That's cool if you live in California, but what if you live in Saskatchewan? Try and make your point THERE, Pam. I hate PETA so freaking much that I can't even pretend to be on their side if only a little bit (so much so I'm not even linking to their site). The reasons are many, which could be another ten separate posts. So EAT your burgers and your chicken wings. I'm doing this because I am curious if I can, and I struggle with eating 5-10 servings of fruits and veggies a day (who doesn't?), so I figure if I cut out some things, than another apple or some carrots will fill that void. That's the goal.

I made a list of the most common things I eat, and a lot of them actually are vegan. Thanks food blogs! Nuts, fruit, almond breeze, coffee, tea, veggies, edamame, hummus, peanut butter, and soup. I actually already have Earth Balance (vegan butter) in my fridge, and I don't bake with eggs anymore, just "flax eggs". The only thing I'm worried about would be if I went to a restaurant. That might be a little tricky. The things I'd be "giving up" would be frozen yogurt (OH NO!), honey (hotly debated whether it's vegan or not... still on the fence about this one), cheese (this is a problem. I LOVE cheese), yogurt (haven't eaten any in a month), chicken (I don't eat a lot of this anyway), and chicken stock (switch to veggie). I'm currently brainstorming a meal plan, and also curious about how little I could spend for a week of groceries on a vegan diet. As long as most of it is produce, with maybe a few specialty items thrown in (soy creamer, coconut milk, fruit sorbet..for my beloved frozen yogurt.. or soy froyo) and a few canned items (beans, lentils, chickpeas.. it's a good thing I live alone.. ha!), I think I could easily do it for around $50. I think that would make for a fun series of posts.. my grocery list, my meal plan, recipes, etc. I'm no chef or dietician, but I've frequented lots of food blogs and been reading about nutrition since I was a preteen, so I think I trust myself enough to give this a shot. No idea when this 7 days will happen, but hopefully BEFORE December 24th .. Christmas is full of turkey and baked goods that are full of milk, butter, and eggs! Speaking of eggs. I should get crackin' on this meal plan.. (cue groans from my 8 readers.. ha!).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

a note on savasana.


Pronounced "Sha-va-sah-nah", this is probably one of, if not my favorite yoga pose ever. This definitely stems from when I first started practicing (around 4 years ago). I was attending an intense Ashtanga class that absolutely ripped me up, and by the time we hit the end of the series each class, it was such a relief to lay down and do nothing. I've only ever been to two classes that started with this pose, and I did not like it at all. I think it's because I have such a strong association with a feeling of ending, or relief, that the idea of actually getting up and doing an entire series (instead of slowly rolling to my right side, and slowly rising, bleary eyed and rumple-haired) is repulsive to me.

When this pose completes the class, it's quite common for students to quickly put on a sweater or socks (or both) or cover themselves with a blanket to preserve body heat generated by the class (and on a less yoga-ic note, it just feels cosier!). One class I was in, the instructor knew one of the students very well, and when it came time to do Savasana at the end of class, she went over to the student and actually tucked in her blanket around her. I was sort of hoping she'd come over to me and do the same thing, because it looked so calming and peaceful. So now whenever I use a blanket, I make sure to tuck my feet in. Chilly toes does not a cosy Savasana make :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

I actually gave the turtle pose below a shot last night. I am not as flexible as that! But it was fun to try. I suceeded in drinking 1.5L of H2O on Day Two (less than 0.5L on Day One). A side goal I have for this month is to up the volume of water I consume, because I know I feel better when I do.

On another, terrible note, I think the hard drive in my laptop is shot. Naturally, I haven't backed up any of my data and photos, and have not updated the latest version of my anti virus software, leaving my poor labtop vunerable to Trojans and Durexes and whatever other horrible viruses are out there. So now I can't turn it on. Thankfully I have a brother who is good with computers and who will exchange his expertise for food (whether he realizes this is the trade or not.. ha!), so now my baby is hanging out chez Steve and hopefully he can get it working again. Otherwise, I might have to rush a hasty letter to Santa with an updated Christmas list.

Niiiice tights bud.

I'm going to see the Nutcracker with my Dad next Friday! I used to watch it on TV around Christmastime, and I'm pretty sure the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy was what convinced me I Would someday be a ballerina (psst: I still believe I will be. no big deal). Mom gave me a ticket for my birthday and then told me Dad would be getting the other one :) Nothing like a little family bonding around the holidays!

I bought peppermint extract the other day and attempted to make my own peppermint cocoa. The first attempt was a massive flop (so strong it made my eyes water!), but I'm hoping to perfect it before Christmas arrives. I'll let you know the results when I find the magic combination!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

presents and bubblegum.

I'm Twenty Four. It has to be written with capitals because it seems so officially grown up. When I was in junior high I was convinced I was going to have my life figured out and be married and pregnant by now (HA!). Somehow I must not have accounted for university in that calculation?

My birthday was on Monday and it was wonderful. My mom and my brother and I went to a Greek restaurant for dinner and I came out stuffed and laughing. We always have a great time together. My dad called and sang "happy birthday" to my voicemail - he and I will have a date together when he gets home from work. I got some lovely presents and some baked goodies from my mom (which are half gone already.. ahem). It was a good day!

When I hit 22 I started forgetting how old I was. People would ask and I'd have to quickly do the math in my head because I couldn't remember. And also, this last year has been the fastest of my life, perhaps because I'm getting older, but maybe also because I spend so much of it staring at a screen.. not having internet at home is really making me realize how much time I've been wasting on the internet. It's crazy!

I don't want to make this post all about Glee again, but I gotta say.. there are two shows that reduce me to a sloppy mess and they are 1. Grey's Anatomy, and 2. Glee. Especially like last night when an episode consists of a dancing wedding and sappy, sappy vows. Disaster.

Aside: I now have 5 (FIVE) free passes for yoga classes that I'm hoarding for December and this 30 (31?) day yoga challenge. I'm excited!

I'm also excited for CHRISTMAS!!

WARNING: Don't click on the song below until you are fully prepared for a wonderful, bubblegum, butchered version of "Deck the Halls". By who else. My BFFs from Glee.

I'd better jet. Chair dancing at work with headphones on can only go so far..

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

what to do when you're too cheap to pay for internet..

..and your neighbors all have secured wireless networks. Sigh.

I have moved into my lovely abode and spent my first night there alone (DC visited this weekend). Unfortunately I do not have the internets because I'm choosing to squirrel that money away into my Future Fund (aka Travel Fund aka Thailand Fund aka School Fund??!). So this is what I've come up with so far:

1. Do dishes.

2. Play Solitaire.

3. Listen to music stored in my iTunes library.

4. Enjoy the boy channels that you get for free on your tv (Spike TV, TSN..).

5. Call Mom.

6. Make the bed.

7. Shower.

8. Text boyfriend.

9. Eat chocolate frozen yogurt.

10. Get really, really good at Minesweeper.

11. Go to bed by 10:30. With a hot water bottle.


In other news, I had three drinks out with friends the other night (over 2.5 hours, with dinner). And came home sufficiently loaded, complete with hangover the next day.

The job, the car, the single apartment, the banking, the budgeting - all of that was just a warm up.

I have officially crossed the line from "university" into "real life". As in, Adult Who Can No Longer Drink Like She Did In University.

Stay tuned for a post on knitting. Followed swiftly by "An Ode to the Graceful Feline".

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

an apple a day.

So I'm reading this paper at work called, "Antimicrobial effect of polyphenols from apple skins on human bacterial pathogens." I read the title aloud in my office and then commented, "Literally, an apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Without skipping a beat, my coworker (from Pakistan) adds, "And if the doctor is lady, keep the apple away! ..for the guys."

..I die.

Maybe you had to be there?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

much awaited before photos.


Here are the delightful before photos of my new apartment!! I can finally share them because I start moving in tomorrow, and the current tenant is all moved out!!

The front door is to the right. This is the GIANT closet (only closet) that is right inside the door.
The green? Is going. Blech.

Giant closet and entry way to the diagonal right. The photo was taken standing in the kitchen.
My table and chairs will go just under that window to the left.

Other side of the kitchen.


Further into the bedroom, the bed "nook" is to the left.

Bed "nook". Only fits a double (thank goodness that's what I have!).

From inside the bedroom, looking towards the kitchen and living room.

The bedroom is beside the bedroom, off of the kitchen. The purple is going.

Other side of the bathroom.

Aanother shot of the gross kitchen wall.

Standing inside the living room looking towards the entrance.

Living room wall, just waiting for some art work!

Living room windows. NOT my curtains.

More windows.

Looking back towards the kitchen.

I'm so excited to get in there and clean, and make it my own. You will definitely be seeing some "after" shots, it's just a matter of when!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

things I'm loving.

Glee Gone Wild.

Having an unlimited amount of time to primp in the morning on a Saturday (versus the 30 mins I leave myself on a weekday.. not nearly enough time!).

Jaffa King ft. Masta - Your Life.

Drunk texts from a friend across the country, made funnier because I get them while driving to work ("Night so drunk" and "I waana baby u" among my faves).

Dark chocolate fro yo.

Coffee. Always. Forever.

Picking paint colors for my apartment!

Green Monsters.

And cute nerdy comics.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

thanks Dad!

I think I'm still in a thankful mood from the weekend. Having this attitude all of the time would be awesome!

Tonight I went for a walk with my dad. I am really grateful to have the relationship I do with my parents. When I was younger he would help me with school assignments, hiking through the woods and pointing out different kinds of trees, and using his trusty jackknife to cut out pieces of bark for my projects. He makes maple syrup, and I remember as a child tromping through the mist and the snow to "help" him collect sap.. which mainly entailed peeking into each bucket, and feeling like I personally won the jackpot when I found a bucket that was overflowing. I remember the steam boiling off of the vats of maple sap on the hot plates in the woodshed, and the sweet aroma that it produced. I remember excitedly waiting for the final product, the golden amber maple syrup that we rationed carefully on our pancakes, which we totally ate for supper.

I remember the time and effort we put into building our very own lean-to on a vacant lot in the woods up the street, the hours and planning that went into it, and the feeling of accomplishment it produced.

Picture this, only covered in fir boughs and with a triumphant 10 year old perched beneath it. And pretend that dude is my dad. Source.

Yep, I have a great Dad :)

We finished our walk tonight sitting on a bench in our backyard, in front of a campfire. It's cooler now, so there aren't mosquitoes and blackflies to contend with, and the whole experience was just really peaceful. The sky was ridiculously clear, and we could actually see the Milky Way! I'm always quick to point out the only constellation I was ever able to see, which is the Big Dipper.

Definitely not my photo. Source.

So this one's for you, Dad. Here's to another year of father-daughter bonding in the great outdoors.

Monday, October 11, 2010

long weekend.

Ahhh. Thanksgiving weekend. I'm at the tail end of a restful three days, and it is lovely.

Saturday morning brought a bit of a disappointment, as the bus (bringing DC) couldn't get over the Confederation Bridge due to high winds. Alternate travel arrangements would have had him traveling all day and missing Thanksgiving dinner, so we both decided it would be best for him to visit next weekend instead. I was a bit sad, so I went for a jog, and wound up catching up to one of my neighbors who was out for a walk. 9km later, we had gabbed our way back home, and I had a much better attitude. Feeling down? Chat with someone you haven't seen in a while. Ask them about themselves to take your mind off of your troubles. Cheap therapy, my friends :)

After I got back and cleaned up, we had our family dinner, and it was DELICIOUS. I've been eating leftovers ever since and LOVING it. My mother truly outdoes herself.

The table awaits!

Incredible. Squash, carrots, stuffing, turkey, potatoes, and jelly salad (thanks Oma!).
Also, peas, gravy and cranberry sauce (not pictured).
Please note the strategic placement of the stuffing.

Homemade pumpkin pie (and apple, not pictured). AMAZING!

Once I digested my food baby over some tea and coffee (it took approximately 5 hours to go away.. ha!), I ran some errands to pick up materials for a little arts and crafts project:

Not going to lie, my mom totally helped me cut out the big letters. Thanks mom!

My friend Josh ran a marathon on Sunday! I drove to Wolfville to go be a cheerleader for him. Getting up at 6:30am was hard for me. That was NOTHING compared to what these runners went through!! 42.2km of headwinds. Strong, frustrating, spirit crushing headwinds. Nevertheless, Josh powered through it, and ran across the finish line around 4:16!! And he got a sweet medal. The green monster reared its ugly head in me and I started planning when I could get a cool medal of my own :)

Incredible! Congratulations Josh!!

I literally vegged out the rest of the day on the couch. You know, because watching people run is such hard work! I rented "Sicko" by Michael Moore and it made me really, really grateful to be Canadian.. but now I want to move to France. Did you know that full time employees get FIVE weeks of paid vacation every year?! That's two and a half times more than us! AND they work 35 hour work weeks versus our 37.5-40. Crazy.

Also, I may have picked this up while gathering craft supplies.

I was dreaming of my Prince Charming <3

Today I haven't even showered. Gross. I got out of bed at 11am to the smells of cinnamon rolls that had just come out of the oven. I sat around drinking coffee, reading blogs, and Youtube surfing for the next few hours. Life is rough.

Then I decided I needed to do SOMETHING. I bought a table and chairs off of Kijiji a month or two ago, intending to strip the finish off and re-stain it darker. But my goodness. I am coming to the realization that I am not a do-it-yourself-er, I am a who-do-I-pay-to-do-this-for-me-er.

AND I'm using my dad's palm sander. There is no way I'd ever finish this if I had to do it all by hand!

So far I have finished sanding the four table legs and one chair.
One more chair and the table top to go!
Thankfully it is a small set...

Now, some tea and some Grey's (I'm still catching up from last week! boy I love the internet...)

And, just maybe, I'll shower.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Commute.

Aaahh, The Commute. One of my main excuses (yup, excuses) for not posting as much lately. Two hours of flicking between radio stations, self reflection, and lovely sunrises. And the occasional bum.

Sun peeking over Miller Lake. About 20 minutes in.

What a pretty sky!

Not so stressful.

Seat buddies: mug #1, spinach smoothie; mug #2, coffee; sandals for after work; packed lunch; and smartwater, because if Jennifer Aniston drinks it, it will make me ripped. But hopefully not single. OH SNAP

Coming into Dartmouth.

Approaching the Macdonald bridge. This is where I apply another coat of mascara and lip gloss. There's a lot of sitting in traffic, it's safe! (ha)

Sigh. For my American friends, that's $1.03/L, or $3.93/gallon.

Sun over the harbor.

No word of a lie: When crossing this bridge, I always unlock my doors. So when the bridge breaks and I miraculously survive, I can get my door open and swim to the surface. Sometimes I also roll the windows all the way down.

Is that a BUTT?

I believe it is. There was totally a guy standing on the sidewalk who saw me take this photo. Awwwkward. Also, I couldn't help thinking, how many times did that person have to photocopy their butt to get an "ad quality" bum print? Were there auditions for this ad?

Pet peeve: when people park on the side of the road when it distinctly says:

...No parking between the hours of 7am-9am. It was 8am at the time. It really slows down traffic when everyone has to squish in one lane..

On another note, I came home tonight and found THIS in the basement...

Is that what I think it is??!

Look closely...

Alas. It was empty. And thus you get a blog post, otherwise I would have been buried in spells, armor and quests.

Caribbean dance is SO MUCH FUN!! I think I smiled for most of the class yesterday, when I wasn't busy pulling my pants back up (bum shaking makes them fall down, who knew?) and checking myself out in the mirror. My parents tell me there used to be a mirror opposite my crib when I was a wee bebe, and I used to talk to myself and stare in it all the time. Surprisingly, TIMES HAVE NOT CHANGED MY FRIENDS. Plus, today my quads were sore. I like to call these times, "accidental workouts", like when you're doing a fun activity (dance, frisbee, hiking) and you forget you're also working out. They're the best kind!

Now, I must go set up the coffee maker, another commute awaits in the morn..