Happy Day!

I’m vegan, and part Native American so tomorrow is a different day for me.  I’ll still be gathering with my lovely family and eating LOTS of things, as well as concentrating on being thankful and in the moment.

No animal products, and a prayer for those who lost their lives in the “civilization” of our nation.

Here are some links on gratitude, veganism, how you can support the remaining tribesmen and women, and blessing loved ones with love and light, if you’re into that sort of thing.  If you’re reading this, I love you and I hope your day, however you choose to spend it, is full of joy, fellowship, and delicious food.

Ball of Light Blessing (Audio Only)

30 Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Native American Rights Fund (NARF)

Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary

One last thought: In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, please remember two important days that come AFTER Black Friday.  The 25th is Small Business Saturday, a day to support small businesses, shop local and purchase thoughtful, sustainable gifts for loved ones.  The 28th is Giving Tuesday, a day designated for supporting whatever causes you believe in, so please choose a charity near and dear to your heart and rain down love and affection (and generosity!) on them.  It will come back to you tenfold.

You are light

You are love

You are MAGIC.

 

Thankful and Hungry,

Jenee

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Just Another Storm

All that panicking over Hurricane Irma was for nothing, folks.  We have lots of water to drink, which won’t be a problem, and BOY am I glad we didn’t buy anything else in bulk.  Thankfully we never even lost power.  That said, being stuck inside with hubs and kids for a couple of days, I was probably more in danger of losing my sanity.

Menu:  Vegan-ize all the things!  After my second bout of stomach flu in about a month (I know, right?!) I decided to go into “Immunity Improvement Mode” and eat all the fruits and veggies I could get my hands on.  I generally feel better when I cut out meat, which I do a few times per year, sometimes for weeks and sometimes as longs as 6 months.  Normally I do it as a cleanse or as a way to raise my energy and vibration.  Try it, it works!  Even the mood is lifted, which I think has something to do with the hormones in our food and the emotions of the animals before and during their slaughter.  I know what you’re thinking and yes, I’m basically the Mister Wizard of nurition.  Sha-zam!  [All of that said, I’m really not promoting one way of eating or lifestyle over another and I don’t call myself vegan at any time because it’s offensive to people who actually live it 100%.]

Music:  Tchaikovsky!  Particularly the Sleeping Beauty Ballet.  If you’ve never heard or seen it, that’s basically a crime against humanity and your parent and/or guardian should be punished.  Allow me to rectify this situation:

Also, I learned this week that the song in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, when Aurora is singing in the woods, “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…” is from Tchaikovsky’s Ballet.  Isn’t that cool?  Yes it is.

Travel:  The Great Wall of China has just been added to the list.  As I type this, though, I’m reminded how badly I’d like to go and see Hadrian’s Wall, which stretches across parts of Ireland and England and has great historical significance as well.  It’s also the wall seen in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  Hmm.  Which Wall?  I guess it depends on where Kevin Costner is at the time?

 

Gym Rat:  I took a break this week and did mostly yoga and sleep. It was glorious.

Soul: With Hurricane Irma being in the forefront of everyone’s minds this week, I wondered (out loud) whether in times of crisis people are more or less in tune with each others needs.  I think both are true. Some of us are natural caregivers, so when disaster strikes we are even more empathic than usual.  Others of us are selfish, and panic amplifies that selfishness to a degree that makes it difficult for us to even see other people.  Just my opinion, though.

Dreams:  Nothing I’d like to share this week.

Photographing:  Also nothing to share.  (What? We were prepping for a storm!)

Movies and TV:  Law and Order: SVU and all the marathons on all the channels.  What can I say? I love it.

Library:  Aside from GQ magazine, not much.  The current issue has an interesting interview with Steven Soderbergh and a pretty good profile on Robert Pattinson.  Both of them are pretty talented and I enjoyed reading.

Tech: Two new apps this week: Stone, which is fascinating and wonderful and very, very useful if you are into and own a lot of gemstones (which I do).  Stone is a user-friendly guide to gemstones, with photos, historical factoids, and what each gem can be used for.  The other is Golden Thread Tarot.  It’s a fun digital tarot deck that does much more than just give general readings.  It explains each card and even allows the user to log and journal about cards and readings.  I don’t know anything about tarot, and I like being able to choose emotions to go with my daily card, like “hope” or “frustration” and knowing I can later search for cards or readings by emotion.

New Smoothie for the New Year

HAPPY 2015!!

Just a short post to share this new recipe I concocted today.  It is delicious!

I used my new Oster MyBlend 20 oz.  I am in LOVE with this thing.  Single serve and it’s already in the bottle?  So convenient.  It mixes way better than my old blender (which shall remain nameless), and it’s quieter, too.  Highly recommend.  I got it at Lowe’s for $20.  Worth every penny.

Anyway… here’s the recipe rundown:

2 Cups greens mix, any (mine was Attitude greens, idk what kind)

Eyeball about 1/2 cup Almond milk coconut/almond blend unsweetened

3-4 ice cubes

Handful frozen blueberries

Handful frozen cherries

Half banana, ripe

1/2 pack Vega Sport protein powder, vanilla

1 packet Justin’s Maple Almond butter

1 scoop collagen powder

No frills, but your taste buds won't mind.
No frills, but your taste buds won’t mind.

MIX!  Enjoy!  It’s not too slushy and not too thick and SO yummy.  You can add infinite things to this, no sweetener required, the fruit really takes care of that.  I sprinkled some roasted sunflower seeds on top because I enjoy sweet and salty together. Normally I might add hemp seeds but I had them with my oatmeal this morning.  I also try to add ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric to EVERYTHING I eat lately because they soothe my tummy and the holiday eating has it upset.

Resolutions/Goals for this year:  Eat more plants, write more blog posts, finish the book, travel, be kind, be fearless.  OH and I am going to try to read the Bible front to back.  A daunting task, but something I have always wanted to do.  What are your resolutions or goals this year?

My First Overnight

[Oats, that is.]

Perusing some new and some of my old favorite vegan blogs yesterday, I ran across an idea.  Overnight oats.  Never heard of them?  Do a search on Pinterest.  Oh, sometimes I loathe technology but in this instance I like it very much.  There is a wealth of cooking and creative inspiration at my fingertips.

So, I kept seeing posts about overnight oats and I decided to try a variation of a pumpkin recipe.  Since it’s Fall, and pumpkins are everywhere, and mostly because I had a can of pumpkin in the cupboard that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with.

Here’s what I used:

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 tbsp agave nectar

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp chia seeds

splash vanilla

sprinkle of Vega Sport vanilla protein powder (about 1/3 packet)

cinnamon, ginger, ground allspice – just dashes and splashes of each.

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Mad scientist-ing at the zero hour.

It smelled WONDERFUL.  I put on a “Best of Beethoven” CD I purchased at a discount store years ago. I love Beethoven. Classical music in general, pairs extremely well with creative endeavors, in my opinion.

In theory, all these ingredients, once given a good stir, settle and mix and mingle and expand and absorb flavors overnight, and become something brilliant for breakfast.  I had my doubts.

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The finished product.

So this morning I woke up and made a bee-line to the fridge.  I was hungry and curious and hopeful.  I got a spoon and took a big bite.  How was it?  In a word, disappointing.  Texturally it was satisfying.  The chia seeds were new for me, and I love texture in my foods. That’s actually one of the perks of eating vegan/vegetarian. The variety of tastes and feels is sometimes overwhelming. (In a good way.)

I have two theories about why I didn’t like the oats.  First I’ll say they did settle and absorb quite nicely.  Again, texturally I have no complaints.  I think I didn’t love them because 1) I don’t love pumpkin and 2) I am not a fan of cold things for breakfast.  What’s that you say?  “Well if you’re not a fan of pumpkin, what were you thinking making pumpkin oats?”  Astute of you.  I was actually hoping to form a relationship with pumpkin.  I believe in it, as a healthy food.  I know there’s a way to sneak it into some things, but this particular dish for me was a fail.

Positive notes: I think if I make the same dish with sweet potato, I will knock my own socks off.  Particularly if I am able to heat it up.  OR I was also thinking of adding banana.  Creativity begets creativity.  Can’t be bummed about that.  I did also eat this, even though I wasn’t into it, because it’s packed with nutrients and I do not waste food.  Never. Waste. Food.  It’s a thing with me.

So much of cooking and creating is trial and error. I’m honestly feeling that this was a positive experience.  Would I recommend this recipe?  Not unless you are a pumpkin fiend and really like the flavor.  Otherwise, I’d say add something that will mix well or even overpower the pumpkin flavor. It was just too much for me.

My Growing Vegan Pantry

(Not to be confused with the following post at Oh She Glows:

My Vegan Pantry

However that one is one of my favorite blog posts, ever, and I highly recommend viewing it.)

I am pretty committed to meatless eating.  This way of eating is not exactly new to me, in fact it’s my “default” get-well from a cold diet, feel better when I’m in a slump diet, clear up my skin diet, sleep better diet, faster workout recovery diet, make sure I’m regular diet… it’s THE best way to eat, I am sure of it.  WHY it’s taken me so long to make it permanent, I couldn’t say.

The commitment part of this is new to me.  I’m used to storing away thoughts, way in the back of my mind, that I can have diet soda any time.  I can eat a big, juicy hamburger if I want to.  I don’t know why this kind of thinking comforts me, but it does.  I guess it’s because of the freedom – or perception of freedom – is something I need psychologically.  Breaking away from that will be challenging, but it’s helped by how good I feel being vegan.

The more I eat this way, the better I feel.  Physically, see above.  Lots of benefits almost immediately.  Internally, spiritually you might say, I feel lighter. I feel enlightened. I feel joy.  There is some serious smiling going on over here, and sometimes I can’t even help or explain it.  Yes, I’m sure it’s because of cutting out animal products but no, I cannot explain how I know that.  Just take my word for it.

So tonight I took a couple of pictures.  The first one is a cell phone picture of the “beginning” of my new pantry.  Here it is:

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Tri-color couscous, wild rice, quinoa, oats.

I am SUPER excited about this.  Perhaps disproportionately so.  I took the next couple of photos while preparing my food for work tomorrow:

Banana, kiwi, orange, and medjool dates.
Banana, kiwi, orange, and medjool dates.

This is my afternoon snack.  It’s fresh and alive, full of nutrition and nourishment.  As much fruit as I might have eaten in 2 or 3 days before.

Steamed green beans, ripped spinach leaves, kidney beans, steamed zucchini and steamed squash, tomatoes, and some Amy's veggie soup on top.
Steamed green beans, ripped spinach leaves, kidney beans, steamed zucchini and steamed squash, tomatoes, and some Amy’s veggie soup on top.

This is my lunch.  With these two combined I’m eating 10-12 different types of NOURISHING, nutritious, plant foods.  Now, as these photos illustrate, I am what I have come to call “guerilla vegan”.  Meaning, my style is less organized and more, “throw lots of flavors in a bowl and wolf it down”.  I don’t slice precisely, I don’t measure or count anything, which I think is fantastic. That’s just what I do, I know everyone has their own style, but this works for me.

This weekend I hope to get out and pick up more vegan “staples” and start organizing my spice rack.  One of the best things about eating vegan or vegetarian that I’ve yet to mention?  The cooking.  OH, the culinary places you’ll GO!  Places you never even knew existed or that previously only existed in your wildest imagination.  At least, this has been my experience.

So… what’s in your pantry?  What’s your “go to” staple?  What’s the best “quickie” veggie meal?  What is the one item you can’t live without?  If you are vegan or vegetarian, what has been the biggest benefit?  How have you stayed on track?  Do you think there are any drawbacks to this way of eating or lifestyle?  I love comments.  Leave me some.

Vegetables and Yoga and Good zzz’s, Oh My!

Good day, all!

[Actually it’s night time here, but I refuse to accept that I spent so much time at my job and then consumed in my mommy duties that I’m just sitting down to blog at 8 pm.  Total denial.]

What’s up with YOU?

Here’s what’s going on with me lately… I am vegetarian again.  The story about that will follow.  In that vein, I will be posting some vegetarian and vegan recipes, hopefully some yummy holiday ones too, when I get a free moment.  I LOVE eating this way.  I feel so light, my mood has improved, skin looks smoother and plumper, and I’m sleeping much better.  I also discovered that I LOVE Alba brand (vegetarian, cruelty-free) skin care.  Papaya Enzyme scrub and Hawaiian Aloe/Green Tea moisturizer in particular. I’ll be posting about that later, too.  On to the news…

Recently I have been seeing a doctor about some abdominal discomfort. Something hurts – well hurts might be the wrong word – aggravates me is more accurate – on my lower left side.  He has ruled out hernia, fibroids, c-section complications or scar tissue, and appendicitis.  Yahoo.  After 2 ultrasounds he says it’s unlikely it’s cancer or any other growth.  Yahoo again.  It’s possibly: 1) severe constipation, 2) inflamed ligament (the one that connects the hip to the spine), meaning I need to ice it and stretch, 3) ovarian cysts (discovered on u/s but determined to be non-threatening) or 4) something like cancer that could only show up on ct scan.  (Wait… what?)  At least he was honest and said that abdominal stuff is the hardest, particularly with women, and that it’s difficult to diagnose.  So here’s what he decided to do: 1) Get me pooping. Pooping is good, he says. (who doesn’t like to poop, right?) 2) Rest from working out for a couple of weeks, 3) Give me pain meds.  Um… thanks?  After talking it over with my husband – and when I say “talking it over” I mean I talked it over, he listened.  Or fell asleep, I’m not sure and I can’t remember.  Point is, I decided not to get the prescriptions filled, partially because they were $85 (yowza!) and partially because I know that I can heal my body naturally and with gentler measures.  SO, my treatment plan the past week and a half or so has been: 1) Cut out all meat and dairy.  I used to be vegetarian, sometimes vegan, so this is not new territory. My tummy likes this way of eating, I have less bloating and more pooping.   2) Purchase a good probiotic. These good little guys eat the bad stuff in your gut and get things “moving”. So yes, this is poop related also.  (Seriously, I like to poop.)  3) Put down the diet soda.  I was only drinking one a day, but one daily is enough to throw off the body’s internal ph, cause acne, sleeplessness, gas, and other things.  Plus this means I automatically reach for the water more often.  4) Incorporate yoga and meditation. Stretching, yes.  Relaxing, yes.  The main reason, though, was to ease tension and get rid of the day’s stress.  Since I’ve been working full time (4 months now), my whole life has changed.  Some areas in small ways and other areas, pretty drastically. Yoga and deep breathing/meditation helps me center, and I have found that it also helps me sleep like a baby. Well, like a baby that sleeps.  Score!  Meditation, visualization, deep breathing are all AMAZING techniques to become calm, to create peace within, and set the tone for the day.  I even use “power thought” cards that say things like “All is Well in my World” and “My Healing is Now in Process”.  Sounds silly, but it works! 5) Lastly, I increased my cardio.  I was only lifting weights because I’d been feeling burnt out on the other activities.  The problem was that I was also feeling a bit ‘bulky’ and possibly eating an excess of protein following a bodybuilder’s diet.

Bottom line: I feel good.  HOW good?  Good enough to shoulder-dance to “When Doves Cry” at 4:45 this morning, while driving to the gym.  That should tell you everything you need to know.

I should be a doctor.

I Believe You Have My Stapler.

This week at work has been… challenging.  Normally I’m not one of those who looks forward to Friday any more than any other day, but this week is an exception.  Come ON, weekend!  I kept quoting “Office Space” in my head this week.  The pieces of flair, the fantasy copy machine beating, the “mmm… yeah.”  Seriously.  On the bright side, I do work with some amazing people.  So that’s nice.

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My “how can I help you” face

We have staff meetings a couple times a month, and fortunately they aren’t unpleasant.  As a matter of fact, they are a time of encouragement, fellowship with friends and [have I already mentioned?] there’s food.  Someone on staff volunteers to bring a treat, which could be anything.  Sometimes it’s homemade and sometimes it’s from the store.  But hey, it’s always food.  This week I volunteered to bring the food.

Now, obviously, I love food. I love to cook it, eat it, take photos of it.  I love to learn about it, read about it, experiment with it.  I sing songs to my son about his broccoli.  Admittedly, I’m a food nut.  I’m also a health and fitness enthusiast.  Sometimes vegan, sometimes paleo, but always conscious of what I’m putting into my body.  I often find myself in conversation at the office about diet, fitness, vitamins, nutrients, things of that nature.  I don’t mind it. I less-than-mind it.  I enjoy it, I light up in those kinds of conversations because food and health are my passion.

After a few minutes brainstorming, I came up with a perfect snack to represent who I am and how I think about food, and still be sweet and filling enough to satisfy everyone else at the meeting who maybe doesn’t share my food philosophies. [I also needed something that would be affordable.]  Here’s a photo:

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Drooling all over yourself, right?  ME TOO!  Fruit skewers.  Easy to handle, great for Summer and perfectly refreshing.  As I was making these, those little glands by my jaw kept tingling.  Oh, the anticipation of those sweet, sweet strawberries.  And the kiwi – I was ill-prepared and only had one – was SO ripe it was all I could do not to just swallow it whole.

One thing I have noticed about myself in the last couple of years, that either wasn’t the case before, or I didn’t realize before because I wasn’t eating as well as I should: I have a real, physical, visceral reaction to foods that nourish me.  It’s almost lust.  The body is alive, is made up of live cells, so when it’s fed living foods on a consistent basis, there is a palpable shift.  It starts to crave those types of foods.  Trust me, it’s real and it feels good.

Anyway, back to the office story.  At the store throwing all this fruit in my cart, I decided there should be something on the side.  A dip?  Yogurt?  I’m running through dietary restrictions in my head – so and so is gluten free, um I think so and so is doing this or that diet plan – hmm… I know!  NUTELLA!!  Delicious hazelnut spread that everyone likes.  Perfect.  So I get to the aisle number 149 over at the other end of the store, and I see the Nutella.  But just as I was about to add it to my pending purchases, another jar caught my eye.  It said Justin’s, and looked like my favorite Maple Almond Butter, but it said “Hazelnut”.  Is this real, or am I hallucinating?  Justin’s makes a delicious hazelnut spread too, but theirs has no ingredients I can’t pronounce and only 1/3 the sugar?!  Is today Christmas?!  For clarity’s sake, I’ll say here that I chose the Justin’s.  [Because of course I did.]

I went to the conference room early to set up, and the spread was delightful, just as I’d imagined it.  Granted, it did take a long time to slice up all that fruit and put it all on skewers, and I may or may not have gone to bed with a stomach ache from all the pieces I “dropped” into my mouth.  Still, it was a success and it all got eaten and I am quite proud of myself.  I did, of course, post a photo on instagram.  Hashtag CANIGETARAISE?

A photo, this time of the presentation at work:

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Where Have I Been All My Life?

Hiya!  Let me start by saying, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated!  I’ve been SO busy.  Like, STUPID busy.  I can’t even talk about how busy I am because I’m so busy.  And that’s life, and I’m blessed and I know it, so I’m not fussing.  Here’s what’s on my mind tonight:

Johnny Depp’s advice to Kate Moss on how to handle fame.  “Never complain, never explain.”  Brilliant. Perfect.  I’ll be honest and say that I do not think Johnny Depp is a genius, or even a man who reads books.  And yet, he so succinctly stated something that I feel should be every person’s mantra, not just celebrities.  This thought led to so many others…

I’m quitting Facebook.  Permanently?  I don’t know.  I like keeping up with old and far away friends, but that’s really all it’s good for.  I do know that it’s a time suck, it allows too many people to see into intimate parts of my life.  Parts that, when I’m honest with myself, I realize should be shared with my husband and kids and those closest to us.  This new “bare it all” version of society has blurred lines and dissolved boundaries of decency, privacy, and even civility.  There are people who have made me very uncomfortable in conversation because they literally inquire about personal details of my life, even when I say I’d rather not share them.  And saying I’d rather not share them?  Oh, the horror.   The usual response is an audible gasp, a stomping of feet, or if the conversation is a digital one, a revocation of “friend”ship.  I shouldn’t feel forced to tell you about my new job, my hair cut, or anything else about my life unless I WANT to. It’s ridiculous and I’m over it.

I’ve been doing a meditation challenge with my buds Deepak and Oprah (see here: https://chopracentermeditation.com/home). The meditation is a 21 Day Challenge I received in an email and I must say, I like a challenge.  The idea of my mind as a quiet, peaceful place sits right on the line between “shut the front door” and “get the heck outta here”.  It’s not an easy task.  Not impossible, maybe. But definitely not probable.  Still, I am trying. I have missed two days, but I will begin again tonight.  I hope to update you all at the end of the 21 days.

I also just finished Louise Hay’s book “You Can Create an Exceptional Life” (see here: http://www.hayhouse.com/details.php?ref=149&id=7621). A timely gift from my mom, a pleasant surprise on a rainy day.  I read it in 3 days and I think I may read it again.  Many of the opinions and ideas resonated with me.  Thoughts are things and we create our reality.  Yes, I believe that.  I more than believe that, I have seen it to be true.  Loving others is paramount.  Yes, I believe that as well.  Highly recommend reading this book.

Sort-of related to the previous, I am becoming more aware of myself. My thoughts, intentions, actions, create the life around me. All the time I am sending out vibrations into the universe that, in turn, sends back vibrations that match. (Simply stated, I know, but this is my simplest understanding.)   I am learning about being true to myself, being my best and highest version of me, and manifesting my greatest dreams and desires.  (Not including Liam Hemsworth – see below.)  As a Christian sometimes I wonder if these things conflict with my religion, but they do not seem to, and so far what I have read “feels” very true to me.  Does that make sense?  I want to always be growing, and moving forward, and I believe that I am.  I want to shake off negatives and swim in positives, possibilities, opportunities, and learn to receive all good things.  I say affirmations, I have a vision board, and I write in a gratitude journal.  If nothing else it certainly makes my soul feel light.  Many times I drive to work and use that time to say thank you for all my blessings, thank you for all the blessings on their way to me today, and I laugh out loud. Literally.  These exercises have made me a happier person, more accepting of myself and others and more open to life’s grand possibilities, in a short amount of time.

Liam Hemsworth.  Wait, who?  Yeah I know, he’s so young and his older brother is super hot but I can’t help who my brain decides to insert into my mid-afternoon-nap-dreams.  So me and Liam (love that name) walked around my town, holding hands. Oh my gosh, the paparazzi? How did they know you were here?  Am I going to be in the tabloids? I wish I had brushed my hair.  Ah, dang it Miley’s calling me.  (In my dream she’s friends with my little sister.)  This is inappropriate. I know it is.  Beyond you being ruggedly handsome and (I imagine) quite a good conversationalist, I’m married and old enough to have been your babysitter.  Sigh.  But I’m infatuated.  Yes, let’s hold hands.  Let’s go to my grandma’s birthday dinner and say hi to my family.  Let’s go skydiving. …  I woke up from this dream highly amused, and then a little bummed.  I love my husband with all my heart, but I do so miss the excitement of falling in love with someone.  The electricity you feel when your skin brushes theirs.  I love being in love.  Some days I miss being young and dumb and making bad choices.  Thank goodness for Oreo-fueled afternoon dreams.

Be the kind of friend you want to have.  So simple.  For me, a sort-of epiphany.  I can be gossipy and get offended easily.  I can be guarded and bristly and short with people.  But I wouldn’t like it if they treated me that way.  My brother and sister-in-law went somewhere together this weekend.  I know because they asked my husband to feed their cat.  But they never told ME where they were going?!  Ugh.  Oh, wait.  I am doing that thing that I just mentioned in the Facebook paragraph.  Light bulb moment!  So I intend to treat my friends with loving kindness and courtesy.  You get back what you put out, and this is something I didn’t even know I was failing at.

FOOD.  My food processor died so I need a new one to make protein pancakes. I went to Target and couldn’t find one I wanted at a reasonable price.  Then, I thought I’d get one at a yard sale but that thought kinda grosses me out.  So… I’m using the blender for now, it’s not great but it works.  I have posted a FEW photos to instagram, but that’s it.  I can’t wait to get some time in the kitchen to post some yummy new recipes!  I’ve given up soda, I vacillate between paleo and vegan dieting right now, and I can’t get enough kombucha.

The photo below is my new desktop background.  It speaks to my soul.

So… what’s new with you guys?

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