Gratitude in 2015 - The #GratitudeChain

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let's talk about...
GRATITUDE



2015 is going to be the year of gratitude for me. I'm going to do my best to live life more, get away from behind my computer, and spend quality time with family, friends, and myself. Yep. Myself. 

I have so much to be thankful for in this life. A great job that allows me to work at home and take care of my puppies, a husband who works hard to take care of me, family who supports me and encourages me, friends who help me follow my passions, and hobbies that keep me happy and entertained. I have clean food and water, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and my health to be grateful for.

With that being said, I also have a lot I can work on, push toward, and make better. In order to help with that, I've become a Beachbody coach! I have high hopes for this new year, my health, and this new business venture. I'll still be working at home, editing, and writing (which is also super exciting this year!), but I'll also spend some time doing that, inspiring others to get healthy and happy. :) 

I'm also going to keep writing, like I mentioned above, and release my debut novel sometime in 2015. I'll have two following that one--hopefully fairly quickly. Then I'll be off writing some other stuff. Whatever tickles my fancy. I want to try my hand at collections of short stories, maybe some poetry. Who knows. Whatever floats my boat. <3

All of that makes me happy. But nothing makes me happier than seeing YOU happy, healthy, and full of life and gratitude. And what better way is there to do that than to express it out loud and shout it from the rooftops? Well, you could make a gratitude chain. :)


Anyone with me? It's pretty basic. Cut some strips of paper so you have it ready. Then, each day, write something (different) you're grateful for, thankful for, happy about, in love with, etc. Something positive should go on each link, and you can make a chain of these as a visual, a tangible list of reasons to be happy on any given day.

If you want to take it another step further, you can post your gratitude on Facebook. I'll be doing that along with a photo of some sort every day to keep the thankfulness and positivity flowing on social media. Feel free to join in with me, comment on my posts, and link me to yours. <3 Take pictures of your own chain and share it with the world. Positivity is contagious, so let's spread it!

Big hugs and all my love,


#MeatlessMonday - Stuffed Peppers

Monday, December 29, 2014


Stuffed Peppers
(recipe from Husband)



Ingredients:
  • 4 green bell peppers
  • 2 cups long grain wild rice
  • 2 cans of organic black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 - 4 carrots
  • 1/2 lb chopped button mushrooms
  • Fresh frozen whole kernel corn(about 1/2 lb)
  • 1 bag Daiya cheddar shreds
  • Seasoning:
    • 2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp salt (Himalayan pink)
    • 1-2 tsp dried thyme
    • 1-2 tsp dried cilantro
Directions:
  1. Get the rice started in the rice maker first. 
  2. Next, cut the tops off of the bell peppers and clean them up to hold the contents. Find a baking dish that will hold all 4 peppers with leftover room for the extra filling. 
  3. Chop up the little bit of pepper from the tops that you cut off. Chop up the onion, mushroom, and carrots. Add all four ingredients to a pot and start simmering. 
  4. While this is simmering, preheat the oven to 400F and then place the peppers in the baking dish in the oven to pre-cook slightly - 10-15 mins. Remove from oven when done and lower temp to 375F.
  5. Once the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and pepper bits are getting soft, add the corn, stir it in, and remove from heat. 
  6. Season the mix here with thyme, dried cilantro leaves, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder. 
  7. Mix everything together and set to the side. 
  8. Once the rice is finished, dump it into the pot and mix it all up. 
  9. Add the black beans and mix. 
  10. Finally, dump in the bag of Daiya cheddar shreds and thoroughly mix everything up. 
  11. Pack the mixture into the 4 peppers and set them to the side. Dump the remaining filling into the baking dish and spread evenly, making 4 divots for your peppers to sit in. 
  12. Place the peppers in the divots and stick the whole thing in the oven to bake for 45 mins. 
  13. Once it's ready, remove from oven and let it cool for 10 mins or so. Serve as a whole pepper or serve a half pepper with extra filling from the pan.

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.


#MeatlessMonday - Pumpkin Pie Almond Butter Cookies

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I know it's not Monday, but I baked these up yesterday and really enjoyed them. So I had to share as soon as possible. :) If you try them, let me know! And go tell Tiffany at The Gracious Pantry THANKS for this amazing recipe!


Pumpkin Pie Almond Butter Cookies
(adapted from The Gracious Pantry)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup oat flour (If you don't have oat flour, you can grind rolled oats.)
  • 1/3 cup Bee Free Honee (You can use honey, but we're vegan, so we use this yummy stuff.)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup almond butter 
  • 4 medjool dates (if almond butter is unsweetened)
  • Nonstick spray (We use grapeseed oil spray.)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Place 1-2 tbsp drops onto a cookie sheet coated with nonstick spray.
  4. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
  5. Cool before eating.
Feel free to add mix-ins such as chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, chopped nuts, etc. If you have an aversion or allergy to almonds, try a different nut butter or a seed butter such as sunflower. These bake up nicely, and they stay soft. :) Enjoy!

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

Vegan Christmas

Friday, December 26, 2014

Ever wonder what a vegan holiday meal looks like? At this point, I'm wishing I would have taken more photos, but I didn't plan on writing this post. Whoops! :) In any case, I need to get better at this food blog thing because I've signed up to be a Beachbody coach, so nutrition and exercise are back in full swing. It's just the thing I need to stay accountable, supplement my income, inspire others, and have fun! <3 

When you're health conscious like I am, nutrition is always in mind when you eat. So our holiday meals actually consist of food we make any time of year--which we often do. Especially since they're the only meals I seem to be able to cook successfully. :) 

And what do you know? The non-vegans at the holiday table loved all of it. :) YAY!

Each of the following recipes comes from TeamBeachbody.com / FigFood.com. I've made some modifications for my taste/gluten-free eating, but you can click the link for the original recipes.




Total Time: 1 hr. 10 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 60 min.
Yield: 12 servings, 2/3 cup each
Ingredients:
2½ lbs. medium yams, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
1 tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. 100% orange juice
3 Tbsp. vegan butter, melted
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Arrange yams in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Season evenly with salt. Set aside.
3. Combine orange juice, butter, and maple syrup in a small bowl; whisk to blend.
4. Pour orange juice mixture over yams; toss to coat.
5. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cinnamon, and nutmeg.
6. Bake yams, stirring occasionally, for 50 to 60 minutes, or until fork tender.

Total Time: 14 min.
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cooking Time: 9 min.
Yield: 5 servings, ¾ cup each
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. green beans, trimmed (about 4 cups)
1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Preparation:
1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add green beans and garlic. Season with salt; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes.
3. Add water; cook, covered, for 2 minutes.
4. Remove lid; cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until water evaporates.
5. Add lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Total Time: 58 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 48 min.
Yield: 10 servings, about ¾ cup each
Ingredients:
1-2 cauliflower heads, cut into florets
Nonstick cooking spray
Himalayan salt (to taste; optional)
1
½ cup unsweetened almond milk½ cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese1 cup pure pumpkin puree2 tsp. Dijon mustard¼ cup gluten-free panko bread crumbs
Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
2. Place cauliflower on baking sheet that has been lightly coated with spray.
3. Season with salt if desired.
4. Bake for 24 to 28 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
5. While cauliflower is cooking, bring almond milk to a boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low.
6. Add cheese, pumpkin, and mustard; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes or until well blended.
7. Add cauliflower; mix well.
8. Pour cauliflower mixture into 13x9x2-inch casserole dish that has been lightly coated with spray.
9. Top with bread crumbs.
10. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Total Time: 95 min.
Prep Time: 25 min.
Cooking Time: 70 min.
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients:
9" pie crust 
1 can pumpkin puree
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
2. Combine soymilk, vanilla extract and ground flax seed in blender, mix and let stand for 15 minutes.
3. Add remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth. Pour into crust.
4. Bake 10 minutes at 425°, then reduce oven to 325° for about 60 minutes or until filling is set.
5. Set on wire rack to cool, then refrigerate overnight.
6. Smile

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

I Don't Understand...

Friday, December 12, 2014

I could go lots of places with that title, but for right now, I'll finish it with one word: anything.



Yep. You read that right. I don't understand a single thing about this world. About this life. Not one.

Well, maybe one. I understand love and things that fall under its umbrella. I understand being kindhearted, generous, compassionate, helpful, and giving. All of that makes sense to me. They're easy for me to grasp, work with, and just be. It's everything else that confuses the crap out of me.

I think I've always felt this way without realizing it. I haven't always worked the same way as I do now, but part of me recognizes that I've never known much about life, living, or the world. We think we do, especially as teenagers who freak out over the smallest, dumbest things that seem like our entire universe at the time and as young adults who feel invincible, assuming we have the whole game figured out. But when I look back, I realize that I was a product of my environment.

Reaction isn't directly correlated with understanding. We learn through observation and experience, and lately, I've learned a lot through observation and experience. Unfortunately, I haven't really liked what I've learned. And a lot of it hurts my heart.

A lot.

So much that I break down in tears about it over dinner with my husband.


You guys, I cannot spend another minute thinking about all the suffering (a majority of it unnecessary) in this world. It makes me cry every time I do. The injustice, the hypocrisy, the hate and violence--it's all unnecessary. It's awful and horrifying, and it could be avoided and abolished altogether, but it's not. And that weighs heavily on my heart. Constantly.

My husband tries to tell me that, without bad, we wouldn't appreciate the good. We need duality in this world. But in my eyes, the duality is so slanted and unbalanced that it's not right, not fair, not worth its opposite right now. Yes, there is a lot of good, but to me, the bad is SO bad that it's not proportionate. The good doesn't justify the bad I see happening.

So what do we do to fix it?



Sometimes, it feels so far outside my grasp that it seems like a lost cause. But then I have to take a step back and remember that I cannot change the world by myself. In fact, there isn't much I actually can do to change anything. But I can be the change I wish to see, right? We've all seen that quote floating around. And it makes sense. You influence your world by being what you want to see in it. Demanding change gets you nowhere, so you have to shine the right light in order to make a difference.

I'd love to say that I learned this the easy way. And I'd love to say that it works efficiently and quickly. But those are both untrue. I've had many passionate debates (or emotional arguments--whatever) about things like eating animal products, positivity, and just being a "good" person. But people don't seem to listen. Many come back with arguments for the opposite of what you're trying to "sell," even if they don't find themselves on the opposite side. So how do you argue with that?



Basically, you don't. You fight the good fight--a silent and kind one--and continue to be the change. But when your results aren't what you desire, what you know the world needs, what do you do? Do you get a little louder in your fight for the rights of life on this planet? Do you shut out the world so you don't have to hear about tragedy after tragedy because it's more than your sensitive, loving, caring heart can handle? Or do you sit back and watch it all unfold, let people do whatever they want to do while they're destroying your home, your planet, the only place you can live--and each other in the process?


Even I think I'm starting to sound a little over the top here. What the world needs. I mean, come on. Who do I think I am?

Well, I think I'm a woman who sees what others don't. I'm a person on this planet who wishes to live a good life. A long and healthy one. And I want that for every single life on this planet too. Mmhmm. EVERY one of them.

It's why I'm so positive. It's why I'm vegan. It's why I care so much--and how. Sure, I still have a lot of work to do to further myself in this goal, on this path, but I'm in a good place to keep going with it. And I want to take you with me.

I want you to understand how unfair it is to take a life in order to save your own. I want you to realize that we're destroying our environment, the air we breathe, and the "food "we eat in order to make money--which won't do us any good at all if none of us are alive and well to spend it, will it? I want you to see how awful it is that we kill BILLIONS of animals--living, breathing, beautiful life--every YEAR for "food" we don't need and shouldn't even be eating. I want you to recognize how twisted and wrong it is that we put the lives of some animals (think about your pets here) above others (think about the animals you eat here).

*deep breath*



My life in the last few years has done a complete turnaround. Anxiety and depression have taught me how precious life is--and that means for EVERYONE. And it's hard for me to watch the injustice continue now. I see things through totally different eyes. They're different from the ones I used to have, from yours, and from everyone else's. But there are a whole lot of people out there who see things the way I do. And that?

That gives me hope.



Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.


#MeatlessMonday - Creamy Roasted Broccoli and Kale Soup

Monday, November 24, 2014

Creamy Roasted Broccoli and Kale Soup




Ingredients:

  • 1 lg or 2 med head of cauliflower
  • 1 lg or 2 med head of broccoli
  • 1 lg bunch of kale
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 qt organic low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste


Directions


  1. The first thing we need to do is boil the cauliflower. Chop it up into bite size pieces and boil in a pan with water. Let it boil for about 10-13 min – just to make sure it’s cooked through. Put in a strainer and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F. Chop up the broccoli into whatever size you would like in the soup. I usually go pretty small – about dime-size pieces. Spread out over cookie sheet(s) covered with aluminum foil. Bake for about 10-15 min or until lightly browned.
  3. Chop up the onion and garlic cloves and sauté until the onions are caramelized.
  4. Combine onions, garlic, and cauliflower into blender. Add some vegetable broth for liquid and blend on high until smooth. You may need to do this in batches depending on the amount of cauliflower.
  5. Rinse the kale and tear it up into bite-size pieces. Do not include the stem. Lightly sauté the kale in the soup pot to soften it. Once this is ready go ahead and pour in your cauliflower base from the blender. Add the nutritional yeast, olive oil, and the rest of the broth if you didn’t already use it in the blender.
  6. Throw in about ½ tsp of salt, a dash of pepper, and maybe ½-1 tsp garlic powder. Add in the broccoli and bring everything to a simmer, stirring occasionally. You may want to add some water to thin it out a little depending on your taste.
  7. Bring it all to a simmer and let it go for about 15 min. Remove from heat and let it cool a little before eating. Enjoy!
Eat your fruits and veggies, kids


Pringles Cans Crafts

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I took a day off from editing to rest my eye. This sty has been...fun. I went to urgent care yesterday to make sure it wasn't infected or anything because it's HUGE and swollen. I'm pretty sure everyone there thought I was ridiculous, but oh well. So I've been doing the whole warm compress thing...and watching Downton Abbey. I think it might have been the cure all along. I'll keep testing this hypothesis this afternoon. :)

I've also been getting my craft on. WOO! I've been wanting to make some stuff out of Pringles cans. I have a ton of them! When I was still working at Chase, a friend's mother died. My friend thought I'd love the yarn her mom left behind, and she stored all the yarn in Pringles cans. I took all of the yarn out and have a bunch of empty Pringles cans waiting to be used for something.

So I finally did something with them today. :)

Well, only with three of them to try some stuff out, but man, it was fun!! I've of course had stuff pinned on Pinterest forEVER. However, there was one craft in particular I've wanted to try for a pretty long time. And today was the day!

I started with making small pencil holder cup thingies first. Cutting the Pringles can wasn't going to happen, so I took a knife to them. How I finished with all of my fingers is beyond me. Haha! But it worked out! I thought it'd be harder to cut through, but they're not so bad. I didn't think about smoothing out the edges, so this first version is a bit uneven, but I was proud of myself nonetheless. Here's the first attempt.




Kinda cute, huh? So then I tried another set. This time, after I cut the two halves, I took scissors to the rough edges to smooth them out so the tops were even. That's still a skill I haven't quite figured out, but things were even enough in the end, so I went with it. However, I was so excited about the more even edges that I glued the paper on upside down on the second one. Bahahaha. Whoops! Oh well. Here's the second attempt.




Once I figured that I had enough skill to attempt the rotatable one, I gave it a whirl. Oh boy. That was obviously a little more involved, and it doesn't look as pretty as the one I saw, but I DID the damn thing. Haha! It actually works and turned out really cool. With a little work, I can make better ones, but for the first one, I thought I did a good job. Check it out!







How fun, right? Super cool. I'd like to make another one and see if I can do better next time. But I had a good morning doing this. :) And it's not a crafting day without burning your arm on the hot glue gun. Yeah!


Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.
And do some crafts.

Stop The Madness on Wattpad

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hey all. I started writing a piece on Saturday that needs to be shared right about now. I finished it this afternoon and just posted it on Wattpad. It's not edited or anything, so it's probably missing words and stuff, but I think you'll get the point. It's about my struggle with panic, anxiety, and depression, so read at your own risk.

With the news of Robin Williams's suicide, everyone came out to post their opinions on what happened. A lot of people said that this was a selfish thing to do, and I'm here to balance out the opinions and tell you that it's not a selfish act. If you haven't been in his shoes, you cannot judge his actions. It goes for everything people do, but this is very touchy for me. Unless you've experienced the wrath of depression, you just don't know.

As I'm typing this and getting ready to post it, I'm starting to feel a headache, which is kicking up the very thoughts you're going to read about in this story if you choose to check it out. It affects me every day in some way, shape, or form, so I wrote this to get some of my thoughts out of my head and onto paper. It was therapy in a way for me, but I'd be thrilled to hear from you if you do read it. Thank you!


The Joy of Panic Attacks

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On the heels of my first really hardcore panic attack in months, I feel the need to write it out. A lot goes through my mind in a short amount of time, and not a lot of it is great. In fact, most of it is scary, negative, and full of regret.

If you've never had a panic attack, let me break it down a little bit for you. Basically, your body goes into panic overdrive--adrenaline rush, fight or flight against yourself, and you have nowhere to go. Your heart pounds, your body tingles, you shake uncontrollably, you fight nausea, you have this overwhelming sense of doom, and your mind goes nuts thinking that your body is about to die. And if your body dies, what happens to your mind? Even falling asleep is scary because your body feels like it's slipping away from your mind, but sleep is exactly what I need most of the time a panic attack hits.

Maybe that doesn't sound too horrible, and right now, separated from the feelings, I can tell myself a thousand different things I could have done better. But in the middle of a panic attack, it's so hard to tell your body to calm itself, that nothing is wrong, because I just can't trust my body anymore to tell me if it's actually something serious or if I'm just essentially faking it because I'm stressed.

It's a scary situation to find yourself in. If you can't trust your body to tell you what's going on, what can you do?

I suppose I can trust my body. So far, the record is panic attacks 100%, other serious illnesses 0%. I know most of my triggers, so I try my best to take care of those things throughout the day so I don't purposely put myself in harm's way. But sometimes we get comfortable. Sometimes I learn a new trigger. Things happen and change and evolve, and I just have to go with the flow. Unfortunately, change seems to be a trigger, so I need to tread that water carefully.

The problem with last night's panic attack is that my whole body went into 'what if the depression comes back' mode and started to fight that, which only recreated the emotions and physical sensations I felt last summer when I went through that whole debacle. For a half hour or so, maybe longer, last night, I was panicking over the possibility of the depression returning because I could feel it wrapping its tight grip around my bones. It was terrifying.

The depression strips me of ME. And it leaves the new me angry, sad, with no way out of my skin to find the rest of ME. The overwhelmingly uncomfortable feeling of not caring enough about life to want to stay here (because what's it all for anyway?) creeps in while ME is still in there and threatens to take over. ME doesn't feel strong enough to fight that, even after months of happiness or no panic. Because that doesn't matter. The imbalance hits no matter what's going on in life.

But that can be prevented through eating right and exercising, both things I haven't really been holding up my on end of the deal. Of course I'm still vegan, but I haven't been eating nearly enough fruit these days. Mostly rice and beans. Not enough water, and definitely NOT enough exercise. I've been working through new scheduling processes for work, so I am finding more and more time for myself, which is awesome. But in that free time, I want to write, relax, or snuggle puppies. I don't want to run or lift weights or do anything where my heart starts pumping too fast because that's a trigger (since that's part of a panic attack's symptoms).

However, I NEED to take better care of myself. If I want to be here for a good, long while, I need to eat right, de-stress, exercise, get some sun, sleep enough, and breathe. I need to stop worrying so much about a future that isn't guaranteed. I need to be in a better place mentally, spiritually, physically. But I need to take it one day at a time. It's all I have, so it's all I can conquer.

Taking a few deep breaths this morning to honor the journey. <3

#MeatlessMonday - Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Monday, July 28, 2014

Today's recipe was a hit at the vegan BBQ we went to yesterday. We ate carrot hot dogs, lentil burgers, corn, quinoa salad, hummus, grilled potatoes/mushrooms/sweet potatoes/asparagus, brownies, pie, cookies, and more.



I didn't take a photo of the potato salad, but I promise it's as good as it sounds. Yum yum yum. Let me know if you try it!!

Loaded Baked Potato Salad


Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed into bite-size pieces
  • ¾ cup soy-free Vegenaise
  • ¾ cup Tofutti sour cream
  • 1 bag of Beyond Meat grilled 'chicken' strips, chopped into small pieces and lightly pan fried to make a little crisp with some oil, sea salt, and black pepper
  • 5-6 oz. Daiya cheddar style shreds (the bag is 8 oz. use a little less than the full bag)
  • ⅓ cup chopped scallions (green onion)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the potato pieces to cool water. TIP: When boiling potatoes, don't add the potato to already boiling water or the outside will cook through before the inside is cooked. Add a little sea salt and a splash of vinegar. Vinegar helps to prevent the potato pieces from falling apart as they cook. 
  2. Bring to a boil and cook until cooked through, but still firm. Usually about approx. 10 minutes after they start to boil. Pull out one piece and test when you think it's getting close.
  3. Strain the potatoes and add to a large enough mixing bowl. 
  4. Add in the other ingredients and mix thoroughly but gently as to not smash the potato pieces.

Works great served hot or cold. Enjoy!

Anxiety!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I'm entering territory I haven't explored before--a scheduled day off. My plan (because I just can't help it) is to have my phone and laptop turned off, go see a movie with my husband, and binge-watch Supernatural or some other movies on Netflix. Let me tell you...I cannot wait.

I'm so excited for a day where I don't have anything to do that my anxiety is in overdrive. Holy shit, y'all. I am so terrified that I'm going to die before Saturday comes around! That's what my anxiety does. We just ate dinner, and now I'm full and a bit thirsty, so I'm obviously going to die from food poisoning from something in the food and dehydration. My head is a little achy from everything I've done these last few days and being in the car with my glasses on, so I obviously have a brain tumor. And then these thoughts cause my heart rate to increase, so I'm obviously having a heart attack.

UGH.

I don't know how to turn it off. It sounds so irrational, but my fear of dying before fill in the blank (I finish this manuscript, I get a day off to enjoy for myself, my dinner plans with friends in two weeks, etc.) takes over sometimes and I just can't shake it.

Most of the time, I just tell myself that there isn't anything I can do about it if I'm about to die. I can't stop it now. So then I wonder if there is something I can do in the future to avoid feeling this shaken up or letting my thoughts run so far ahead of themselves. I have to eat. I have to work. And I can't stop thinking. It's all hard for me to balance.

Then I get stressed out with my dogs. I love them so hard, but G needs way more attention than she did five months ago when we got her because she's healthier now. I schedule really packed, full days, so I don't have the time to throw her ball for fifteen minutes eight times a day. I'd love to, but that's not how it works around here right now. And then we're still working on her overprotective behavior around food, so I have to keep an eye on them when they eat. It's overwhelming for me.

But she's cute and hard to resist. :) 

All of those toys and she needs me to throw them all day... LOL.

So I breathe deep, shake it out, talk it out with my husband, and wish the stomach pains away (since the stress causes that too sometimes). Mostly, I know that this means that I need more time to myself. I need to schedule less work so I can have more me time, more time to spend with my dogs and husband, more time to write these books floating around in my head, etc. I have so much I want to do, but I do everything for everyone else. So these new scheduling policies have really helped, and Tiffany has been an incredible addition to my life. I'm super thankful for everyone who's worked with me to make these changes so that some time off is not so exciting that I'm scared I'll pass away before it comes around. Haha!

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love editing and working with my authors. They all rock SO hard, and I wouldn't be working at home, able to complain about having to throw my dog's ball all the time if it weren't for them. I just worry about EVERYTHING. And I don't want to die any time soon. That's all it boils down to. Haha!

I feel better now that I got a lot of that out. I still have some stuff I want to do tonight so that I can spend some of tomorrow doing absolutely nothing too. Although that's bound to give me some anxiety too. So stay tuned. LOL! <3


The Birth Control Debate

Saturday, July 5, 2014

I try really hard to stay positive and upbeat all the time, but I cannot turn a blind eye to this birth control debate. As much as I want to, since it really doesn't concern  me, I just can't sit back and keep quiet.

Honestly, this doesn't have much to do with the Hobby Lobby ruling and all that. I haven't truly kept up with much of it, so I won't lie there. My understanding is that the Supreme Court is allowing Hobby Lobby to not cover Plan B pills for their employees. Whether or not this is okay (in anyone's opinion) is not at all the point of my blog post. Birth control itself is at the center.

First, I'll say that this isn't about Plan B. I've never taken it, so I have no idea about it. And if you haven't yet read my blog posts from last year when I was going through detox of birth control pills, specifically Yaz, you can catch up here and here if you'd like. The first one is "my story" and the second one is right before it when I could barely even talk about it. But to sum it all up, I lived through one of the worst summers of my entire life. I went through things I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies (although, from me, that isn't saying much because I wouldn't wish a hangnail on anyone either, but you get my point). I lost so much hair, went through horrible depression for weeks, suffered from (and continue to deal with) anxiety and panic attacks, etc. All from stopping my birth control pills.

And you know what? Doctors didn't help me.

They shoved MORE pills at me, not bothering to treat the source of anything, just wanting to cover up the symptoms. Some thought I probably needed to eat meat because I was a vegan. One even suggested that I just go back on the pill. Right, because I was so pleased with what it had done to me that I wanted to get back on it only to perhaps go through the terrible detox again? Okay.

When I first started experiencing the symptoms, I was beyond terrified that I was going to die. Everything felt that serious. But when I Googled it, I found that so many other people were going or had gone through the same thing I was after stopping Yaz, and a lot of them hadn't taken it as long as I had. That really scared me.

Not to mention, I'm sure we've all seen the commercials on TV about Yaz, Yazmin, and Ocella birth control pills and the lawsuits against them. I'm one of those who needed their gallbladder removed while on the pill, and even with everyone who filed against them, they denied that there was enough medical correlation to pay out on those cases. Y'all, I had an organ removed from my body. Now, I didn't exactly eat the best, but I don't find it to be a coincidence.

My point is that I see all of this fighting about whether or not Obamacare, the US, and employers should provide healthcare coverage for birth control pills for their employees and citizens when we should actually be questioning whether or not we should be taking them in the first place. Seriously. Do some research. Look into what you want so badly to take so you don't have a baby, don't get acne, or don't gain weight. We need to take some responsibility for our health and sexual lives instead of relying on a pill that's wreaking havoc on our bodies and calling it 'freedom.'

I was on your side before. I thought I was doing the right thing. But I wasn't. I made the wrong choice and paid greatly for it. My life will never be the same because of it. A year later, I'm STILL working around the effects of the pill I took for years without question. I got off of them because I started acting accountable for my own health. I suggest everyone start doing the same.

Please stop fighting over whether or not we have to provide this pill to young women. Start looking into whether or not we as young women should be taking that pill at all.

#MeatlessMonday - Overnight Oats

Monday, June 23, 2014

Y'all, I've found my new go-to breakfast. You do need to prepare it the night before, but it's a lot less time to do that than it is to cook it right when you want it, and you can prepare multiple batches ahead of time! Set it and forget it, y'all. WOO!


Overnight Oats



Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats (rolled oats, steel-cut oats, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Stevia to taste
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
Directions:
  1. In a jar, add the dry ingredients and shake up.
  2. Add milk right before you cap it up and place in refrigerator.
  3. Refrigerate overnight or up to three days.
You can add lots of stuff to make this one your own. Berries, chia seeds, raisins, currants, ginger, pumpkin pie spice (haha!)--the possibilities are endless! Basically, use equal parts oats and milk then add your mix-ins. Enjoy!

Other Recipes:

Eat your fruits and veggies (and oats), kids!

#MeatlessMonday - Carrot Hot Dogs

Monday, June 16, 2014


Carrot hot dogs?! I know. Sounds weird. But seriously. Dip these babies in ketchup and it's like you're eating an Oscar Mayer wiener. So good!! This recipe comes from an author friend of mine. Her name is Patty Maximini, and you can check out her info and the original recipe posting here.

Carrot Hot Dogs





Ingredients:


  • 4 whole carrots, peeled, and cut into bun–length pieces with ends removed
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or 1/2 clove garlic, minced)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Desired condiments/toppings


Directions

  1. Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to boil.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and cook the carrots until you can barely pierce through them with a fork. Be careful not to cut the carrots when testing.
  3. Combine all the other ingredients (except for condiments) together in a plastic container or baggie to make the marinade. Place the cooked carrots inside, shake up, and set aside to marinate for at least 3 hours, turning the carrots every once in a while to marinate all sides. You can marinate for up to a few days.
  4. When you're ready to serve, pour the carrots and marinade into a large pan on the stove top and place on medium heat, rotating periodically, for 5 to 10 minutes, until carrots are heated all the way through.
  5. Add the toppings of your choice and enjoy!


If you can find vegan hot dog buns, feel free. I just cut it up and dipped it in ketchup. We had some coleslaw and corn on the cob on the side. Yum!!


Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

#MeatlessMonday - Vegan Potato Salad

Monday, April 28, 2014

Vegan Potato Salad

A few notes before we start:


  • When boiling potatoes - mashed or potato salad - add the potatoes to cold water and then bring to a boil. Don't add the potatoes to already boiling water or the outsides will cook and fall apart before the insides are done.
  • With potato salad potatoes, add a splash or two of vinegar to the water. This will help keep the potatoes from falling apart.
  • When making potato salad, once the potatoes are done boiling, strain them and then right away add the other ingredients(especially the mayo/Vegenaise). The potatoes will absorb the condiments better. If you cool the potatoes before hand, you may notice that the mayo doesn't stick to them well.


--------------------------------

With that said, here we go.

I usually use red potatoes unpeeled, but they were out, so we're using Idaho/Russet today - no biggie, but peel those ones. These were smallish-medium sized specimens(slightly larger than the usual reds) and I used about 7 or 8 of them. With the red potatoes I'll do 10 or so.

Cube up into chunks - personal preference on size. I go for fairly small, about 1/2-inch cubes. Pretty much the same size as I use when making mashed. Add to cold water, bring to boil and boil until tender enough to easily bite through but not falling apart. Usually about 10 min of boiling, but check occasionally.

I use Vegenaise (about a cup or so), Dijon AND spicy brown mustard (about a tablespoon of each, maybe a little more), salt (to taste ~1/2 tsp), black pepper (to taste), chopped dried dill (to taste ~1/3 tsp), a little thyme (about half as much as dill), green onion (a full bunch, chopped), and 2 small cans of sliced black olives. You can also add relish, hard-boiled eggs (not if you're vegan), white onion, etc. This is just all personal preference.

SO like I said, mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl after the potatoes are done while they are still hot. Once everything is mixed thoroughly, stick in the refrigerator to chill. I like to stir occasionally while it's chilling too just to keep it all even. Add some more condiments of necessary.

#MeatlessMonday - Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Monday, April 21, 2014

My awesome book friend Tiffany posted this recipe on her Facebook page a couple weeks ago. I made them last weekend to try them out, and they were really good! It's a perfect warm breakfast, and it doesn't take much time at all. The ingredients are simple and clean, and everyone should be able to enjoy these. Plus, you can totally add different mix-ins to make them different every time. Enjoy!



Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 C apple sauce
  • 2 C oats
  • 1/4 C almond milk (or coconut milk, etc.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I used pumpkin pie spice.)
  • Optional mix-ins
    • Raisins
    • Chips (chocolate, carob, peanut butter, butterscotch, caramel)
    • Nut butter
    • Nuts
    • Chia seeds
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
  2. Mash three bananas in a large bowl.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add in any mix-ins and mix well.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes.


#MeatlessMonday - Zucchini Noodles With Alfredo Sauce

Monday, April 14, 2014

I suck at posting recipes.

Well, okay, I don't suck. I'm ridiculously busy. Like, busy doesn't even describe what I am. But this is not a complaint. At all. <3

However, on Saturday night, I asked my husband to make an Alfredo sauce for zucchini noodles because I'd been really wanting to eat it again since having some at our friends' house a while back. He found this recipe for cashew Alfredo sauce and it turned out AMAZING. So I made him take a photo so I could share it with all of you great people for Meatless Monday. YUM! Enjoy!


Creamy Cashew Alfredo Sauce



Ingredients:
  • 1/2 C raw cashews
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  • Pulse raw cashews in food processor until very fine.
  • Add in boiling water and process until smooth.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth.
Pour over zucchini noodles, add steamed broccoli and red pepper, and twirl with a fork. Mmmmm. 

#MeatlessMonday - Broccoli Potato Soup

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hey all! It's been a long time. I'd apologize, but I have had a lot on my plate. If you check out the last post, you'll see what I've been working through. Grief, anxiety, panic, etc. Plus a lot of editing work, which is amazing. BUT it is Meatless Monday today, and my husband tried another one of the fabulous recipes on Plates for Plants! Seriously, y'all. If you haven't checked out that awesome blog, you're missing out!!


Broccoli Potato Soup


Here's my cup of soup while I was editing yesterday. <3

Here's the link to the original recipe on the Plates for Plants: Creamy Chipotle Potato Soup. Josh made it a little different for me because I don't do spicy at all. But it's all dairy free (vegan), gluten free, simple, and mega delicious. Just YUM! Tastes cheesy and it's so satisfying. Mmmm!

Perhaps one of these days I'll get back to some of our own recipes (meaning my husband's) but for now I'm happy spreading the blog love because that girl posts some awesome food. So check her out and have a wonderful Meatless Monday today!

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

Max: 5/28/11 - 1/15/14

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Since this is my space, I'm going to use it. If you don't want to read the details of my dog's death, then stop here. I feel like this might be cathartic for me, so I'm going for it. So feel free to skip this post (or skip down to the middle with the bold letters if you want to check out how I'm doing), but don't say I didn't warn you. I'm not going to spare many of the ugly details.

My dog Max had been having trouble breathing for a few weeks, but the vets kept sending us home with antibiotics. He was tested for valley fever, but the test came back negative, so we stopped the medication. A few days after the negative reading, his breathing was even worse, so we took him back. He was still pretty much his happy puppy self just with a little trouble breathing. We definitely weren't expecting what happened next.

They checked him out at the vet and shot him with Benadryl, thinking that maybe he was having an allergic reaction (for weeks?) and then gave him a steroid to perhaps help his breathing. Then they took him back to give him some fluids before we took him to the overnight clinic for observation since he was dehydrated and his blood pressure was low.

The next thing I knew, they were telling me that he had had a seizure and they didn't think he was going to make it. We rushed to him, and he was breathing so heavily. It was so sad, and I thought that was it. The vet we took him to isn't exactly an ER, so they were doing what they could--keeping him warm, giving him oxygen, etc. We sat with him for an hour while they pumped him with other drugs to help stabilize him and drained air from around his lungs because she couldn't hear his heart beating anymore.

Upon seeing him like that, I felt fully prepared to tell them to put him down. It sounds cruel, but in my head, after everything I'd gone through over the summer with my depression and anxiety, I just couldn't see making him suffer any longer. With dogs, we do that sort of thing. But they didn't give me that option, and I didn't want to say it out loud. Later, Josh told me that he wishes we would have knowing what we know now, but he wanted to see if he'd get better.

His blood pressure finally came down a bit after being so high, and he started to get antsy on the table. He was lifting his head, attempting to lick our faces, and gently wagging his tail. It was heartbreaking and happy at the same time. I thought my puppy was making it. And he did for a while.

We were able to take him over to the overnight clinic, where they kept him comfortable and hydrated through the night and well into the next day. We got a call from the specialist there who'd looked over his xrays and blood work. He said that with everything he'd seen, he was assuming this was valley fever. The swollen lymph nodes over his heart were making it really hard to breathe, so he wanted to continue the steroid, keep a close eye on the seizures (which he'd never had before and did not have one again), and get him on the VF medicine.

So we took him home, kept him comfortable overnight as best we could, and hoped he'd eat and take his medications in the morning. We were up a couple times with him because of his breathing, but I just wanted to be there for him. The next morning, he didn't want to eat, but we figured it'd been a rough few days. I had to force the medication by opening his mouth and waiting for him to swallow, but that was proving difficult. Josh had to come home and do it for me.

I'd been crying all morning, and I continued to cry all day while watching my poor, sweet little baby suffer. It was hard on me, so I can only imagine how hard it was on him. His body was so tired from having to actively breathe so hard. Standing up was his only choice for easier breathing, but he just wanted to sleep. He was still drinking water, but he refused all food we tried to give him. Almond butter, rice with elk meat, treats, everything. So we kept him warm by microwaving towels, turning up the heat, and covering him with blankets when he was lying down.

I wanted to take him back to the hospital because he wasn't eating. Josh did not. We couldn't do much for him, and I thought maybe they could. But I called them to see what they'd be able to offer, and it wasn't much more. Plus, he'd be in a kennel all night, alone and scared. And as it turns out, he probably would have died there, alone and scared. And while what I'm going through now is hard, I don't even want to know how it would feel to have that on my conscience.

Finally it was bedtime, and I didn't want to fall asleep in case he took his last breath. We all managed to lie down and sleep a little before he jumped on the bed and woke me up around midnight. Josh took him to see if he wanted to go outside and go potty, but he just sat at the top of the stairs for a while. I lay down next to him and just rubbed his back, trying to soothe him.

Then he started breathing through his mouth.

I am no veterinarian. I didn't really know the warning signs to look for. But that triggered it in me. I knew that the end was probably close. And I realized I'd been thinking it since he'd woken me up twenty minutes earlier. He tried to stand up and go downstairs, but his front paws hit the first stair and he just stopped and sat there. I called for Josh, and he took him down the stairs since that's what it seemed like he wanted to do.

He lay down on the rug by the couch for a little bit before getting up and starting to walk towards the stairs, still with his open-mouth breathing. I got up to follow when he started making crying/howling noises that I can't get out of my head. All of the hair right on his spine stood straight up and he kept making those noises. I just kept rubbing his back and trying to say soothing things until he started collapsing. I took him in my arms the best I could to hold him to me while he went down close to the stairs, telling him he was a good boy and that it was all okay, it would all be okay.

He finally stopped breathing in my arms around 12:40 a.m. with Josh at our sides and Titan wondering what the hell was going on before bleeding out of his mouth. He was just over two and a half years old.

We called the vet and they said to bring his body there. So we scooped him up in one of Josh's favorite blankets, put Titan's leash on, and got in the car. I drove while Josh held our poor baby in his arms all the way to the overnight clinic. His body was already stiff when we laid him on the table in the vet's room. We got a paw print done and stayed with him for a while, crying and petting him, telling him how much we'll miss him, how wonderful it was to have had him in our lives, and how sorry we were for what happened (out loud and in our heads).

I'm telling you this because I think we just assume that dogs get put down when they're sick. I know I usually do because that's just how things seem to happen. But that isn't how it happened with my baby. He suffered horribly until the end, and it was all of my worst nightmares from my depression and anxiety from over the summer. Loss of life, life cut short, suffering until a tragic death. I had to watch it all unfold in my dog. My baby. The life I was supposed to protect.

If you didn't want to read the story of Max, you can start reading here. This is all about me dealing with the aftermath now.

People are telling me that they're sorry for my loss, and that makes sense. But it feels so hollow because I think people would say something different if they heard this whole story first. Don't get me wrong. I'm so thankful that you all are here for me. But it wasn't a peaceful loss. I'm not just grieving the loss of my dog. I'm grieving the tragic, painful death of my puppy as it occurred in my arms. To me, that's so much different.

I feel responsible, sad, traumatized, relieved, and scared all at once. This was one of the things I didn't think I'd make it through when I was dealing with my depression. I didn't want anything to happen to them because I thought it would end me. So I'm doing everything I can to not think that because I want to be here and I want to be okay for the dog we still need to care for. Titan is my strength and a reminder of what was and what happened all wrapped up in one.

I am so grateful for my friends, family, and husband. You've all been so amazing. But my panic, anxiety, and depression aren't things I feel a huge control over, especially when they're hitting me hard. My body doesn't know how to react, and my whole world has just shifted, so I'm trying my best to reevaluate and remember what's real.

I finally ate this morning, and I slept through most of the night last night. It felt good. But I'm still trying to reconcile that with what happened with Max, and it tears me in two. I'll get through it, but I feel like I might have to hit rock bottom again first.

I did okay during the day. I thought I wanted to finish up an edit and then go lie in bed with Josh and watch a movie. But as soon as we did that, the depression/panic hit. My vision got all weird, I couldn't focus, and I wasn't laughing at things I thought I would have laughed at a week ago. I had to just try to sleep. Finally, I woke up toward the end of the movie and had to have Josh turn it off. We turned on Modern Family (our normal nightly routine) and I started to feel slightly better. But I had to message my friend Edie (who had been thinking about me at that exact same second too since she'd just messaged me) to have her talk me through the panic.

I'm trying to remember that this course of action during grief is actually normal. Loss of appetite, sleeplessness, etc. It's normal. But my body goes into panic mode the second something seems only slightly off. So alarm bells are ringing 24/7 in my body at the moment, and I can't turn it off but I don't want to ignore them. I'm just attempting to get back into my regular routine, as much for my sake as for Titan's. I know he's confused and sad, so we're trying to keep things as normal as possible for him.

I'm supposed to go out of town this weekend though. I'm nervous, excited, scared, etc. I don't know what to do yet. And my job. I schedule edits for every single day of the week. I bust my ass and work long hours because I love it, but I didn't schedule time for a death in the family. Luckily, I work with the best people in this business, and I so appreciate the understanding, deadline-shuffling, and all-around positivity in working with me during this time.

But that's basically it. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, no appetite, the tragic loss of my baby... I only fear because I know what depression is like. It's hard to get out of, and I don't feel like I have control over it at all. So I'm trying to accept things--feelings, emotions, events. Get through them as normally as possible. And I don't want to make this about me. I'm not the one who suffered. I'm not the one who died. No, I'll never see my baby run down the stairs after getting yelled at for trying to eat the cat poop in the litter box, and no, he'll never yell at me for coming home late or jump up on me when I get home from the store again even though we tried so hard to break him of those habits, but he's the one who lost his life. And I'll miss all of that terribly.

Sigh.

Love and hugs to you all. I appreciate every single comment, offer, visit, suggestion, hug, etc. <3


 

Always a goofball. <3
5/28/11 - 1/15/14

Meatless Monday - Oatmeal

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hey all! I can't even believe that it's Monday. Better late than never! Here's a breakfast dish for you. I think I do a lot of lunch/dinner meals. This one is vegan and gluten-free as usual. I'll make a note at the bottom about how you can keep it raw too. Enjoy!!

image credit: Serious Eats


Oatmeal

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup rolled oats (or whatever oats you have on hand)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar (or whatever sugar you have on hand)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice/cinnamon
Directions
  1. Add oats, water, and milk in a small pot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Lower to medium heat and let cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add oatmeal, sugar, seeds, and spices to a bowl and mix well.
You can add other things like fruit, ground flax, other spices, maple syrup too. And this can be raw if you soak the oats in almond milk overnight and then add the flavor add-ins in the morning. See Food Babe's recipe for her Perfect Parfait Porridge for another option. 


Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

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