Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This Vegan Thing, is Totally Happening

It can be so frustrating, but it is paying-off big time!

Let me start at the beginning. In December of 2007, with lots of encouragement from my long-time-vegetarian-for-health-reasons Mother-in-Law, I took the plunge into vegetarianism not sure how long it would last. I had been meat averse for a long time but never taken a firm commitment to the diet. A vegetarian co-worker of mine was excited for me & very encouraging. She mentioned that the first 6 months was the hardest, so I figured I'd stick with it that long & see how I felt about it in June. I stayed vegetarian for three and a half years.

This summer as I was preparing for my first trip to Europe (many more blog posts on that trip to come soon) I decided that I wanted the ability to experience new cultures through their traditional cuisines. So, I slowly began adding meat back into my diet. I had heard horror stories of vegetarians accidentally being fed meat & becoming rather ill. As I was not raised vegetarian & I still consumed the occasional preferably white only egg & home-cooked salmon, I figured my digestions system still contained the proper enzymes & what have you, in order to prevent that from happening. With the exception of a week long rash after consuming who knows how many different kinds of seafood at a sushi bar, I was fine. I actually did not eat as much meat on the trip as I thought I would & was able to maintain a mostly vegetarian diet, while enjoying some traditional foods. More importantly due to my earlier experiments I was able to travel worry free about consuming, say a soup with hard to translate ingredients & becoming sick.

When I came back to the states I was not sure how my diet would proceed. Although I am not sure why it surprised me to learn this, I discovered I simply found the taste of most meats disgusting. I decided I would stay mostly vegetarian but enjoy the occasional meat I enjoyed such as bacon, or a slice of pizza that also happened to be topped with say pepperoni. One thing I would do while vegetarian, based on a fear of food illness, was refuse a taste of something my omnivore husband offered, simply because it had touched a piece of cooked meat. No more. I felt free to sample things that I wanted to taste without fear of digestive retribution. My decision was bolstered by reading "The Omnivores Dilemma" by Michael Pollan which confirmed that semi-vegetarians could live just as healthily as strict ones. (Although I feel the need to make the statement here that Mr. Pollan's book was not my only source for coming to the conclusion that this could be a healthy lifestyle for myself. While I HIGHLY recommend the book to everyone, it is not the end all be all on the subject of diet.) Then, the incident occurred. I was eating a seemingly innocuous slice of Hawaiian pizza, when what should I sink my teeth into? A bone chip. That was it. My ass is now much more firmly placed on the vegetarian wagon. Yes I will, occasionally try a morsel of something new, but I will no longer be ordering non-vegetarian meals at restaurants.

Now we come around to the vegan part of this tale. I have had a milk allergy for most of my life, my sister, and if memory serves, brother have it as well. In the past several years it has been growing steadily worse & I have done the bare minimum to avoid its consequences. You see I have always had a massive fondness of cheese. This grew when I met my husband & he introduced me to that fact that there are WAY more than 5 types of this particular nectar of the gods. Finally I had to say enough is enough, and I decided to give semi-veganism a try for 30 days. I would not cut out dairy completely, but cut back large quantities at one time. No more cheese or cream heavy dishes, no more meals consisting of wine & cheese, no more cheese & crackers for a between meals snack. I thought that this massive reduction of cheese would allow me to enjoy our pizza & movies 1 night a week with friends. It made it worse. So, I had to cut out pizza all together. I didn't realize how much cheese & dairy I had been consuming until I wasn't anymore. I think that the vegetarian diet especially, is heavy on cheese. When you go to a nice restaurant the vegetarian option is usually something rich & creamy like risotto. or vegetable lasagna. I think that many vegetarians consciously or unconsciously think that because they aren't eating meat they are eating healthier & therefore are allowed to consume more dairy & still be healthier than the average American.

So what was my conclusion after the 30 days? I didn't even notice that the 30 days was up. I just kept finding ways to reduced the dairy in my diet. How do I feel? I feel much more energetic, as if my body isn't wasting energy trying to consume something that is making it sick. Kinda obvious I know, but sometimes I can be so stubborn it takes doing it to see I can. How do I look? So fine! I had been at weight loss plateau for about six months. I am now within three and a half pounds of my end of year goal! In the foreseeable future, I will not be a strict vegan looking for animal byproducts in everything I eat & use but just eliminating the big sources of milk products like cheese, cream or butter based sauces, soups, and desserts; that sort of thing. Now that I am a semi-vegetarian, semi-vegan, weight loosing, high energy machine, I'm looking forward to how this new commitment will affect me.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My WW1 Connection.

Yesterday was memorial day and today I decided to see what I could find on my Great-Grandfather's Service Record from World War One. Vernon Vain Veysey was less than a week from turning 23 years old in 1915, and thought the US was taking too long to enter the Great War. So, he took a trip across the border into Canada and up to Calgary. After just seconds on the webpages of Library and Archives Canada, I found his enlistment papers for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, which he signed exactly 96 years ago today.

There it all is, in his handwriting! I want to take thank the staff at Library and Archives Canada for taking the time to digitize these documents in order to give not only the citizens of Canada but also of the world the opportunity to feel closer to history & to their families, whom they may never had a chance to meet.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Setting up my Worm Composting Bins

Yesterday I set up my worm bins for vermicomposting. The first thing was to find suitable boxes. I choose wood.

I found these lid-less wine boxes for 10 bucks each on craigslist. I bought 6. I don't think I'll use them all for composting but I got them while I could. I am starting with 2 & will probably expand to 4 & use the extras for planters.

The next thing I did was add some wood dowels in the corner to reinforce & protect them. I also had to drill holes in the top to allow for air circulation. I used coconut coir as the bedding. I soaked the brick in distilled water in order to protect the worms from chlorine.

In go the worms! Eisenia fetida to be exact.

Here they are all stacked up with the lid on top. For now my strawberry & herb starts are weighing it down, but I'll have to find something else & soon, since I'll be potting them this week.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What to do....

I went to the fabric store today after dropping off my sewing machine for its annual check-up. I was looking for fabric for a specific project. I didn't find any, instead I bought this:

14 fat quarters bundled up all pretty and matchy-matchy. I have no idea what to do with it: Quilt? Skirt? Something else?

I bought it as an exercise in stretching my design muscles. I always get an idea in my head & have to find fabric to match that mental image. I do not buy fabric without a predetermined project or pattern in mind.

I don't plan on actually executing this project anytime soon, too many UFO's in my brain and in my workroom. It will be fun to see what unfolds.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Massanet's Don Quichotte

This past weekend I attended my first opera: the Seattle Opera's production of Don Quichotte.

This version is not based on the novel penned by Cervantes, but rather on a play first performed in 1904 and written by the poet Jacques Le Lorrain. This explains the french spelling of the name and why a Spanish story was performed in French, with English subtitles. Massanet began composing the operatic version in 1909 & it debuted the following year.

My familiarity with the story stems not from reading the novel, nor had I even heard of this adaptation, but rather a viewing in my early teens of the Man of La Mancha (1972) starring Peter O'Toole, Sophia Loren, and James Coco. I was puzzled therefore, by the portrayal of Dulcinée not as a tavern wench Don Q has imagined as a courtesan, but as an actual courtesan.

Side note: I have always thought Peter O'Toole one of the most handsome men in cinema & adore all the movies I have seen him in, and yet I find the beard he sports in the beginning of this film combined with his piercing blue eyes especially swoon-inducing.

The use of a live horse & donkey in the opera was astonishing. The sets were confounding as they consisted of literally larger-than-life books & quills in ink bottles. The infamous scene where Don Q fights the windmill he perceives is a giant relied on imagination & familiarity with the tale. The humor injected in the script was barely funny, and the love expressed was lackluster. This production seemed to need a mix of extensive knowledge of the story and its history and yet at the same time complete ignorance in order to be thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps they were trying to appeal to the widest audience possible. However, despite this strange mix of good & bad aspects, I did have an enjoyable time. This was due in part I most confess to my pre-opera dinner, the champagne, the wine & the brownie. But on a serious note I do appreciate all the time & effort that goes into a production like this by all the cast, crew, orchestra, & other support staff.

Something that bugged me during this opera was the lack of movement by the 'crowd' on stage. Maybe this stems from the fact that I was raised attending and performing ballet. I look forward to attending Mozart's The Magic Flute in May and finding out if this is a normal trait of opera or if this one was particularly 'stiff'.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

5K Personal Record

On Saturday December 18th 2010 I set a personal record. I ran the Santa Runs Tacoma 5K in 26 minutes 29 seconds. It was my second race ever.

Ben came with Rachel and I to act as cheering section and photographer. Which is truly saying something as he is not a morning person. Thanks so much honey! I love you!

Here we are at the starting line, waiting with nervous excitement for the go signal.

You can see the head of the pack running up the hill as the race gets underway.

Just before I reached the base of this hill I shot like a rocket to the finis line. I had planned on doing so at the bottom of the hill, but something came over me before that point & I just booked it.

It turns out, if I hadn't booked it when I did, I wouldn't have run this race a full two minutes faster than I ran my first 5K the Sunday before.

I look forward to running a 5K again in late 2011 to see how much faster I can run this distance.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011: Goals for a New Year

Yesterday I assessed how many of lasts years goals I met. I did pretty well. Now it's time to write my list of goals for the new year.

1. Run the Beat the Bridge 8K & beat the bridge.

2. Run the Bank to Bay 10K.

3. Speed up to 10 minute miles.

4. Run a 5K in under 30 minutes.

5. Plant some herbs and a container garden.

6. Blog more, at least once per week.

7. Read More Books & blog my review.

8. Practice music 3 times/week.

9. Have dog well trained on the leash.

10. Learn something fun and new, like skiing.

11. Improve posture.

12. Get down to 120 pounds.

13. Finish kaleidoscope quilt.

14. open Etsy shop.

15. Re-learn garment making & finish at least 1 clothing item for myself.