Friday, December 3, 2010

Seasoning My Tweeps!

My zesty onion avatar on Twitter is sporting a Santa Hat for December.  So, because I have to be home between 11 and 3 today (ugh!) to accept a delivery package, I'm bored!!  With this boredom, I have to decided to "season" some of my tweeps' avatars.  (disclaimer:  if one of you tweeps don't happen to celebrate Christmas, please don't be offended and just enjoy the sentiment!!).!/dermiepie!/CrabbyVegan!/GraciousPantry!/KooKoo4Culinary!/MegVegLibrarian!/ShitServersSay

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Buy Handmade!

Tis the season to spend, spend and spend a little more.  The gifts I remember most were those that were handmade.  I had one grandma that crocheted and quilted and another that sewed and knit.  Now, I crochet a little here and there, but with a busy schedule, well ~ Target is where a lot of my "thoughtful gift cards" come from!!

So, a few years ago, I stumbled across  It is a fantasatic sight of wonderfully, creative folks that have online shops set up with their artistic goodies.  For the truly creative and funky-minded, a nice living can be made.  For others, it's a great creative outlet that provides some spending money.  There are subgroups of the site as well ~ the Vegan Etsy Team, Military Brats, etc.  Also, I love browsing the sites where people use old items and repurpose them.  When I lived in O'Fallon, Illinois, there is an annual festival called the "Strange Folk Festival" (thank you Autumn Wiggins!).  It is an amazing group of eclectic folks (most of whom have Etsy shops).  One lady took old ties and repurposed them into purses ~ sooo cute!

Yes, I still buy my girls Wii games, Kindles and overpriced clothes for Christmas and birthdays; however, I try to buy a few things each holiday for friends and family that are homemade.  Not only do I enjoy the uniqueness of the gifts, but supporting an artist or fellow SAHM just feels right.  Here are some of this year's finds:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Buddha Fist Bump!

So, I walked into Whole Foods this morning and I looked up and saw a weird yellow dreadlock looking fruit.  I motioned toward the produce gal and said, “What the hell is that??”…she giggled and said, “It’s a Buddha Hand Lemon”.  Huh???!!  Wow, it smelled so good.  I asked her how much and she reported, “$7.99”.  Hell, I spend more on flower arrangements and none have the smell that this thing had.  Also, I have crazy wallpaper in my dining room, so traditional is not my protocol.  I’ve already painted pumpkins green and blue to match my wallpaper.  How appropriate that I have this weird, yellow thing as my centerpiece.

The Whole Foods lady told me that this particular fruit didn’t have much interior flesh as you would find with a lime or lemon.  I asked if the exterior was still good for zest…and, of course, she agreed.  The smell is incredible.  Buy this as an alternative to a floral arrangement…very weird…very cool!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Ranting of a Corn Nut

OK, so I’m trying to keep my blogging somewhat positive and upbeat, but yesterday took me through a loop.  My youngest daughter brought home a paper stating that the class was going to celebrate “the friendship between Pilgrims and Native Americans” by having a “special corn product snack”.  Each child was told to choose one item to bring in from the following list:  Doritos, Go-gurt, marshmallows, soft drink, flavored popcorn, cheese puffs, Cheetos, Corn Chex or corn bread.  REALLY?

what is corn anymore?
We have to teach our children this “friendship” by having them eat processed, HFCS-laden crappy junk food?  Seriously, when did Thanksgiving become about Cheetos??  As a second part of the task, each child has to bring in a list of corn products in the home.  Great, we don’t carry anything with HFCS in our home anymore.  We have a can of corn.  I have some Amy’s Organic Black Bean Veggie Soup with some corn in it.  But, really, other than that ~ it’s a no go.  Even our ketchup is of the no-HFCS variety.  Does anyone know of any other household product(s) that contain corn?  I’ve heard something about plastic sandwich bags, possibly parchment paper that contain corn ~ is this true?

My immediate reaction was completely pissed off.  I drafted 10 different emails to the teacher expressing my disgust…but then deleted each one noting the lace of venom.  I knew that it would do nothing but make me look like a completely crazy mom.  I’m still pondering whether to address this issue or not with the teacher, so I’m asking for your opinion.  WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Animal vs. Food

After reading my last blog, I realized that my third paragraph may have seemed a little rambly (is that a word?)…what the hell was I talking about?  I rarely re-read my posts…possibly some mild editing; however, I get a wild hair and then post!

So, here was my thought process.  I was basically talking about the fact that I am a more “aware” consumer.  I was thinking that there was some correlation between this and the compassion towards animals.  My sidebar into the work I did for the animal shelter was actually a bridge in my head between these two distinctions.

It makes sense though, right?  I am a Republican.  I support gay rights.  I eat meat.  I own five cats.  My parents have always considered me a VERY liberal Republican…I even married an Oregon boy!!   The joke we’ve always had was that a redneck (I’m from Georgia) married a tree hugger; however, just the other day, as he was standing there in camo shorts and I stated that it would be fun, after our girls were in college, to live in a tree house in Washington for a few months (just for fun).  He then looked at me and said, “ NOW who is the redneck and who is the tree hugger??”  LOL ~ I get your point.

For me, it only makes sense that my trek is gravitating towards vegetarianism.  I am sickened by the kill floors.  It’s been months since I’ve eaten a fast-food burger prepared from several cows riddled with feces and e-coli.  I can't get these images out of my head when making food choices.

I made my girls watch Food, Inc. with me.  As we watched, my 7 –year old said, “Mom, the ‘good farms’ also kill the chickens.”  “Yes,” I said, “We have to kill animals to eat them; however, the nice farms feed their animals what they were meant to be fed and the animals have a quality of life before execution”.  Wow, that still sounds sucky, but that was my answer.

I don’t know the right answer.  In the meantime, I just want my girls to be educated about what they put in their bodies.  I want them to be aware of crappy marketing by large corporations and I hope that they make good decisions…hell; I hope I make good decisions!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Flexing My Tarian!

So, I put a poll on my blog a week ago about types of vegetarianism.  I’ve, of course, read Vegetarian for Dummies…isn’t the “Dummies” series where all personal journeys begin?   My second step was with “clean eating”…pretty much eating things without a bar code.  I started to feel better.  I started consuming nuts and real cheese and veggies and fruit…lean meat and great organic dairy.  Not only have I been feeling better, but weight is dropping off.
Then, I started watching movies like Food, Inc. and Fast Food Nation…ugh!  I haven’t had a burger in about four months now!!  (By the way, did you know that Burger King offers a Veggie Burger?).  It may not be the best on the list of things to eat, but it’s a fantastic alternative if you are in a hurry.

I’ve always been a sucker for animals.  Once stationed in Alabama, I sold ad space for a local newspaper.  I soon wanted to start a space in the paper for the local no-kill animal shelter.  Initially, my boss would not support a section for the “animal of the week” because it was not cost-effective.  With this bad news, I took it on my own to determine the cost as it applied to an ad space and divided the logo space on the perimeter of the promotion to compensate the cost.  I drove around town and “sold” my idea amongst many retailers for a small logo ad space required to support the “Pet of the Week”.  Very quickly, I was able to find sponsors for my idea and went from there.  By the time we left Alabama, the shelter gave me a plaque, a card and a wonderful good-bye.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t even realize I had made such an impact.  They were able to adopt out many animals due to my work.  At the time, it just seemed to be the right thing to do.  In the end, I not only had a cute little black shelter cat named Chloe, but a great sense of accomplishment.  So, to make a long story longer...I am now eating organic and natural foods.  I would not classify myself as a vegan, although I have much respect for those much-disciplined individuals.  I eat free-range eggs, drink organic milk and will only eat either grass-fed beef or other humanely-raised animals.  I am now conscious of fish and how they are raised or caught or their rarity in the world.  I am a “Whole Foods” junkie and get kind of grossed out now when I go to a “normal” grocery store.  I also seek out restaurants that support and use locally-grown items.  The experience is completely different than a franchise-type establishment.

Anyway, after my poll, I realized that I am possibly a flexitarian now.  I don’t eat meat everyday.  I am trying to cut down on my carbon footprint.  I am aware of my food and where it comes from.  So, I finally have a label ~ FLEXITARIAN!!  What a much better way to describe myself than a WHATEVERTARIAN.  I am now making better choices for me and my family.  I am really curious to see where my family and I progress to in the next few years.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Notch on My Belt

How many meetings/articles/consultations have you been involved with that ask you that very stale question, “Why do you want to lose weight?”  Ugh!!  We all know what comes barreling out of our mouths…”Well, it’s to be healthy and live a wonderfully long and happy life” ~~ blah, blah, blah. 

In my teens, I really just wanted to look slammin’ in a bikini.  In my twenties, I only wanted a non-wiggly ass when I played that imaginary game of beach volleyball with the cute soccer team that my girlfriends and I just happened to come across.  In my thirties, I wanted to get the baby weight off and not have to wear my preggo pants anymore.  Now, at 40, I want to wear a belt again.  And I’m talking about a kick-ass belt.  I will know that I’m at the top of my game again when I’m wearing a crisp white shirt, new jeans, funky shoes and that kick-ass belt that proves that I still have it!

I have found that belt.  About six months ago, I came across a vendor on Etsy and found the perfect, super-excellent belt that fits into my dream of coolness.  I’m about 15 pounds away from this dream, but I will get there and get there soon!! 

So, this may all sound really shallow.  But, after reading that “notch on your belt” is defined as a success or achievement that may help you in the future, I no longer feel so superficial.  This belt will represent perseverance, health and happiness for me.  It will represent that I have finally achieved moderation in my life with food, work, parenting, spouse hood (is this a term?) and everything else I have tried to go balls-to-the-wall with.  Moderation.  My belt will represent this for me.  And, I think that’s an O.K. goal ~ at least it’s realistic and mine.  It’s not what I think I’m supposed to be saying.  I just want to wear a cool belt again.

Click on the following link for your belt personality: ~ there are sooo many cute designs.  I even bought one for my best friend for her 39th birthday last year.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Crap?

Healthy eating and Halloween are two ideas that don’t really go hand-in-hand.  As a newly adapted “clean-eater”, it makes it very difficult to raise a family and still follow the traditions that have been so ingrained not only in me, but our culture.  I don’t want to be the “mean mom” that won’t allow her children to go door-to-door, sporting their costumes and taking in all of the spooky decorations and lights around the neighborhood.  Forgoing the smell of autumn and candy and fear in the air ~ it doesn’t get much better than that!

But, my rational side doesn’t see a sack of fun Halloween treats anymore.  Once the loot is dumped on the table, I only see a mountain of high fructose corn syrup, sugar and everything artificial.  Yuck!  How can I in good conscience let my kids eat the crap that I spend all year teaching them against?  I would be a hypocrite.  “All of this stuff is horrible for you girls except on October 31.”  This contradictory rationale doesn't jive up in my head. 

Verdict:  The girls are going trick-or-treating this year.  I’m hardly equipped with the right answer to deal with this head-on.  So, here’s my compromise.  Instead of handing out sugar to trick-or-treaters this year and dealing with the leftovers, I’ve opted for healthy alternative treats.  I have bags of pretzels, small bins of Play-Doh, plastic spider rings, blood-shot freaky eye patches and so on (hey, at least it's not toothbrushes!).  Hopefully, a trend will start where 100% of the “treats” given out are not all sugar-based, artificially sweetened items ready to perpetuate the growing child obesity problem America is now facing. 

As far as my girlies go, I continue to educate them about nutrition and explain to them that they are ultimately responsible for how they treat their one and only body.

Happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Biggest Winner...

My family and I moved to Louisville, Kentucky at the beginning of the summer.  I had been in a funk…it was three months before my 40th… I had become overly-involved in my work and volunteering at our previous location…and I had gone into a semi-depression.  We started really working on our new home to make it our own and I was very involved with hard labor ~ finally a job that was benefitting me and my family.  My deflated esteem was steadily rising.

Three months ago, my health club announced that they were starting a Biggest Loser group.  I signed up.  My goal this time around was not to win, but to learn moderation and to understand what a “lifestyle change” really meant.

As far as exercise, we started with a bi-weekly Boot Camp (along with independent work-outs) and I almost died the first few weeks.  Damn.  I used to be strong.  I used to be able to keep up.  What happened to me?  In about week three, I started to pick up.  My strength was coming back.

Parallel to this workout regime, someone mentioned something about “eating clean”.  What the heck was that?  I immediately researched Tosca Reno and purchased one of her books.  Brilliant!!  Eat non-processed, whole, organic foods.  No HFCS, no high-sugared foods…pretty much nothing with a bar code.   Hmmm…shop the perimeter of the store.  Fresh veggies and fruits, lean meats and organic dairy.  Granted, I’m not 100% “clean”, but my frozen quick meals are Amy’s Organic over Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers.  The ingredients are organic and real as opposed to “what the hell is that ingredient” and “really, that much sodium???”

I didn’t “win” my Biggest Loser, but I definitely am a winner.  I now eat real foods.  We had our weigh-in tonight.  I lost 23 pounds, came in fourth place and have a new lease on life.  I don’t “journal” my food.  I’m not afraid of eating anymore.  I get it.  I finally get it.  I eat carbs ~ they are not all created equally (my favorite is the Quinoa/Flax bread from Whole Foods).  I eat fat (avocado, nuts, olive oil).  I even order a dessert to split on date night with my hubby (although I only have a few bites, it’s all I need).

Life is better.  Sex is great.  Is there really anything else that matters?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bethenny Rocks!

We were introduced to Bethenny Frankel on Martha Stewart’s The Apprentice, and laughed out loud with her snarky, witty one-liners on The Housewives of New York, but over the past few months, I’ve realized that she is much more than just a reality star and the creator of the SkinnyGirl margarita ~ which I have yet to try (hint-hint to anyone wanting to get me a little something for Christmas this year!).

About two months ago, I happened upon Naturally Thin, Frankel’s book on her views of eating and being thin, naturally!  There is a Kindle App on my Ipad which works out brilliantly for my ADD-style of reading.  Sometimes I’m in a learning mood, and then a half-hour later I want a light, fun read.  Frankel’s is more the latter; however, it is by no means fluff.  She makes tons of great points and states things in a way that just makes sense.  For example, due to diet brainwashing that we’ve all experienced, she used to be afraid of foods…even to the point of asking sushi chefs to remove avocado from rolls.  I completely related to this.  Until I started eating clean, I didn’t eat avocado, nuts, olive oil, cheese or anything perceived to have a fat content.  What I should have been running away from was processed food, but that’s a whole other story.

Today, Samantha, my nine-year old daughter, and I decided to do a workout.  We flipped on On Demand to the exercise section and, low and behold, Bethenny has a workout, Body by Bethenny!  We gave it a whirl.  There were three sections…yoga, strength and booty.  Samantha and I tried the yoga.  The renamed “boob-to-knee pose” was hilarious, but I suppose you’ll have to do the workout to see this one.  Self-admittedly, I’m a calisthenics-type gal, but in an effort to do new things, I stuck with it.  Although tough for me, it was a lot of fun.  It was obvious that my flexibility and balance could use some tweaking.  My new goal: add yoga at least once a week to my workouts!

Thanks, Bethenny, for the inspiration and laughs!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Make Room for Zumba!

OK ~ I have to admit.  I was dragging my feet to the Zumba class…I even made my mom come with me.  Spinning and Boot Camp are my exercise classes of choice.  Why should I waste my time on a silly little dancing class?  So, eating my words from my last post, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.

Zumba, with its Latin beats and moves, from Salsa to Meringue, was a blast.  I couldn’t think of the last muscle mix class where I was smiling, laughing and shakin’ my ass!  Also because we are on the heels of Halloween, she threw in a couple of spooky songs adding to the ridiculously silly hour of sweat.

By the end of the class, a lady in her sixties let everyone know that her calorie-counter thing showed that she had burned 1013 calories.  Really!!?  Sure, you have to take height, weight and age into consideration; however, damn ~ even though I outweighed her by about twenty pounds, I made up for it in my moves.  Although I just turned forty, I can still break it down (just ask me!!) ~ LOL!

By the end of the class, my entire head was soaked, and my calves and quads were killing me.  I had an incredible cardio workout, there was a smile on my face and I didn’t even have to do a push-up!  I would give Zumba two zesty onions up.  Will I do it again?  You bet!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Whatberry?? Wheatberry!!

Today was a treat!  I went to Blue Dog CafĂ© in Louisville, Kentucky.  They are known for their wonderful bread.  And, although, my veggie Panini was by far the best I’ve ever had, the side show stole the meal. 

They served a wheat berry salad on the side.  Wheat berry had never passed my lips before this day ~ I just didn’t know what to do with it, so I never bought it.  The salad was very simple, but incredibly tasty and satisfying.  It had lima beans, green onions (the green and the white part), currants, and some sort of sherry.  Beautiful!  I ended up not only taking home a fresh whole-grain cereal loaf, but a pound of this salad for me and my family.
So, what is wheat berry (or wheatberry)??  According to Wiki Dic, it refers to the entire wheat kernel (except for the hull), comprising the bran, germ, and endosperm. Wheat berries have a tan to reddish brown color and are available as either a hard or soft processed grain. They are often added to salads or baked into bread to add a crunchy texture; as a whole grain, they also provide nutritional benefits since they are an excellent source of dietary fiber.  If you are on the fence about trying this because you think it may be too “granola”, think again…it just tastes good.

Next, after what couldn’t have made for a better afternoon, I stopped by the Bardstown Farmer’s Market for the first time (I’m new to the area).  What a great experience.  The produce was priced right…the people were proud of their business…and most everything was local.  This last descriptor is an important fact as I’m just learning about our “carbon footprint” on the earth.

New things are scary.  Scary things build character.  Think back to a wonderful experience that you’ve had.  I would bet that you were nervous about that experience before you jumped in.  My advice to you would be to step outside of your comfort zone ~ give something “strange” a try!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Life as I Used to Know It

My journey began about six months ago.  I turned forty and was at one of life’s standstills.  Also, during a school physical, my nine-year old’s doctor asked if she had started her period.  Wha??!  She’s nine!!  The doctor told me that girls are reaching puberty earlier these days mainly due to the hormones in our milk.  I immediately went home and started doing research.  Amazing.  I soon started buying organic milk, never mind the hiked price.  I didn’t need a child in elementary school with boobs.  Organic eggs, veggies and fruit soon followed.

A few months later, my health club was hosting a 12-week “Biggest Loser” class.  It was time to recharge my body.  It was time to get my quirky personality back.  I mean, c’mon…I used to be pretty cool ~ I used to be fun.  Where did that person go?  When had I morphed into this stereotypical mom?  My shoe collection turned from a sea of colorful and trendy heeled shoes to dull flats and flip-flops.  I rotated three pair of jeans with my sweatshirt collection.  I even stopped wearing make-up.    

My weight has roller-coastered for my forty years, taking it’s dives through The Grapefruit Diet, South Beach, Atkins, Jenny Craig and multiple tries at Weight Watchers.  Although all were temporarily successful, I inevitably gained the weight back, plus some; however, you already knew that.  Finally, I started “eating clean”.  Wow!  The light bulb finally went off.  My Oprah “A-ha moment” finally hit.  I have found moderation…that far-away country I’ve been meaning to visit for years.  Hmmm…eating healthy, organic, non-processed foods works.  Throw in a little paraphrased Bethenny Frankel wisdom of considering food as a bank account and by eating anything you want, just not at the same time, and you can have a life again.

So, here I blog.  I will try things that are new to me and report back.