Thursday, April 7, 2011

Right Now

So, how are things going in your neck of the woods? I thought I'd share with you some sunshiney flowers that have been gracing our rooms since we've put our house on the market. Aren't they cheerful and lovely? I am thinking to myself that I would like to make a greater effort to just add fresh flowers to my weekly grocery list even after we've finished showing the house. Yes, they are an indulgence, but you really don't have to purchase expensive bouquets. I also like to add greenery from my yard to fill in the bouquets, so you could fill 3 nice sized vases with 2 bouquets.

If you are in the right season, you may not have to purchase them at all if you have planted a cutting garden. In fact, you may want to add cutting garden to your springtime planting list. They are fun to have and are beautiful inside and out. Some favorite, easy cutting garden flowers to grow are: cosmos, tall snapdragons, and zinnias. There are many others, of course, but these are easy to grow from seed and are sturdy in vases.

So, I am up to day 30 in my Lenten pledge to eshew complaining (I haven't been counting the days - I just went to check the calendar!!). And how has it been? Not too bad actually. Oh, I can think of a few moments where I certainly wanted to say something and I can think of a few situations in my future that may prove to be trials in whichI would want to complain, but I won't. Certainly, I am learning:

1) I don't really need to complain.
2) I can replace the urge to complain with something completely different.
3) The benefits of my not complaining need to extend to myself as well as others.

I'll explain these further.

I don't really need to complain.

I was talking with my friend the other day about this and I felt the need to clarify. Complaining is not the same as "not getting angry." Anger is a feeling that God gave us that we should not try to squelch, but instead use as a tool to help us recognize when we experiencing a siuational outcome we didn't expect or  that we believe should have gone a different direction. I don't think it is realistic to live without ever getting angry.

Complaining is a different matter.  I love how Jack Canfield clarifies complaining in his terrific book, The Success Principles:

In order to complain about something or someone, you have to believe that something better exists.You have to have a reference point of something you prefer that you are not willing to take responsibility for creating... Think about this...people only complain about things they can do something about. We don't complain about the theings we have no power over. Have you every heard anyone complain about gravity? No never....The circumstances you complain about are, by their very nature, situations you can change - but you have chosen not to. You can get a better job, find a more loving partner, make more money, live in a nicer house, live in a better neighborhood, and eat healthier food. But all these things would require you to change...But why don't you do those things? It's because they involve risks. You run the risk of being unemployed, left alone, or riduculed and judged by others. You run the risk of failure, confrontation, or being wrong. You run the risk of your mother, your neighbors, or your spouse disapproving of you. Making a change might take effort, money, and time. It might be uncomfortable, difficult, or confusing. And so, to avoid risking any of those uncomfortable feelings and experiences, you stay put and complain about it."

Until I had read this book last year, I had never thought about complaining in that way; it really changed my perspective.

I also don't think about "complaining to management" in the same way as I do generalized complaining. If my meal is brought to me incorrectly at a restaurant, I'm not going to not say anything because I'm practicing not complaining. I would speak up - politely - and ask to have it corrected. Complaining to me would be simply griping about it during the meal without doing anything about it. Or complaining would be nitpicking over every little detail of the meal just to make the staff's lives miserable.

Ultimately, I believe complaining, the grumbling and mumbling the Bible talks about, doesn't accomplish anything at all.

So, what do I do when I feel like complaining these days?  I can replace the urge to complain with something completely different.

I can praise God.

"I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations." - Psalm 89:1 KJV 

And I can give Him thanks.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7

I can choose to say something positive instead.

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
 - Colossions 4:6

And I can extend that grace to myself as well. One of the other verses I think of regularly is Ephesians 4:29. It says,

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what it helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

One morning I was being pretty hard on myself and I thought of this verse. I was starting to complain to myself about myself in my head and realized what was happening. I wondered if I could extend the grace I was working so hard at giving to others, equally to myself as well?  "...that it may benefit those who listen." Certainly the one listening (me!) was not benefitting at all from my inner diatribe. I began to let some of that negative stuff go, and intead focus on what I could say positively to myself and obviously it completely changed my attitude for the day.

So, these are just some of the lessons I am learning from my sacrifice. We always do find blessing in our sacrifices, don't we?

Briefly, in other news, in the art class I teach weekly to other homeschooled students, I am now doing a series on portraiture. We practiced a couple of weeks ago with just eyes, noses, and mouths, and today we put them into practice in portraits. We started with photos from magazines, as it's easier to start with someone you don't know!

The girls were quite focused and worked diligently. They've come such a long way from the work they began with in the fall!

And finally, to continue my food diary, there has been a lot of Sunflower Sour Cream love happening! This stuff is SO yummy and so much better for you than dairy sour cream. Yesterday at lunch we had it on our crunchy-shell tacos, along with beans, lettuce, black olives, onions, and salsa. I love cilantro, but we were fresh out! The SSC made it's way into breakfast and lunch for me today too.

Breakfast: Raw cauliflower and Sunflower Sour Cream. Leftover vegan mac & cheese (mmmm... I love this stuff. I halve the recipe for my family of four and I almost always use smoked paprika instead of regular, but regular is great too!), and grape juice. Maybe weird to some; I'm not a big sweets person generally and not in the morning either. Plus, I like to get protein in at the start of my day if I can.

Snack: A handful of smoked almonds

Lunch: Baked potatoes with SSC and "bacon" bits (soy), garbanzo beans (chick peas) sauteed in olive oil with garlic, onions, cumin, nutritional yeast, and spinach from the farm, plus raw farm veggies and more SSC as dip.

Hmm... and what's for supper? I think I'll have some quinoa w/nutritional yeast, olive oil, and salt (a favorite quick meal!), maybe some brussels sprouts and a Bunny Spice smoothie, since I prepared a bunch of carrot juice this past weekend.

I don't mention beverages with our meals, because it's almost always water unless I make a smoothie in place of our fruit at lunch.

That's it for right now! Hope you're having a lovely week.

P.S. Oh! I almost forgot!! I ran seven miles last night!! Woo hoo! That's the furthest so far and it was wonderful! :)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What DO You Eat, Anyway?

Aaaahhh... so nice to sit down with a cup of tea after a morning of errands, errands, and more errands. I've got more ahead of me too, as well as a "Kitchen Factory" evening planned. I hope this tea will give me the charge I need to keep me going.

Well, we've found our realtors and our house will be listed as of Monday! This is very exciting, but also stressful, of course. This is one of the reasons for a kitchen factory evening. The first couple of weeks a house in on the market are usually quite busy; our family has to be ready to head out pretty quickly as needed. So, I'm trying to put together some easy things for the week ahead. I'm soaking chick peas tonight, so they can cook tomorrow. I want those and pinto beans done before Monday, as I don't see that I'll be able to necessarily be simmering beans on the stove for any length of time once we are listed - at least in the beginning stages. Cooked chick peas and pinto beans go into two of our easy go-to meals. Hummus and refried beans are always quick and easy for wraps and burritos and they are fairly portable if we have to dash out as long as you don't overstuff them.

Super-plump blueberries are in season now at our local, organic farmstand. I picked up a pint and will make blueberry muffins for the morning. I also picked up gargantuan sweet, Florida onions (seriously huge; Maia said, "This one is as big as my FACE!!) that I'll throw into the tabouli that I'm making for our monthly potluck tomorrow at our house church next door. My recipe calls for scallions, but there were no scallions at the farmstand and while I could have picked them up at the grocery store, I decided to use what was available locally. So, sweet onions it is; I'm sure no one will complain!

I was able to purchase a peppermint plant at the farmstand too.  Strangely enough, I've had a difficult time getting the mint plants I've tried in the past to take off. Usually mint just takes over. I'm pretty sure it's that the Florida soil just doesn't hold the moisture and I need to water it more than I'm used to watering herbs. It was in a pretty large container and I decided to try again in order to use mint from my garden for my tabouli, rather than purchasing it over and over. At only $5, I reasoned I'll get my money's worth easily (I LOVE tabouli and make it frequently)... as long as I remember to keep that mint watered!!

Other things on my "To Make" list are: Sunflower Seed Sour Cream (so good as a veggie dip!), a bunch of carrot juice for our "Bunny Smoothies"(that Sara taught me how to make when she and her family visited us a couple of years ago), and vegan mayo. I have breakfast bars on the list for later in the week too. I hope to take these with me on my trip to Ft. Lauderdale next Saturday. My strong, bold, sweet, and sassy grandmother passed away at 94 years of age this past Thursday and I will be attending her gravesite service there.

So, that's a lot of cooking I have in front of me. I may throw in a batch of granola too if I don't feel like keeling over after all that!

My neighbor was talking with me yesterday as I arrived home from my evening run. She was talking to me about running and food, asking me what I eat before I run, and then just asking me what I eat generally. She said, "So... what do you eat?"  I'm always so ill-prepared for this question, because my diet feels as regular and ordinary to me as yours does to you. After all, I have been vegetarian for 23 years and am coming up on my 4-year vegan anniversary.  I became vegetarian at 19, so nearly all the cooking I have taught myself, originally started as vegetarian. In fact, I don't think I've ever cooked an animal other than a fish and doing so would be a steep learning curve for me as well.

So, anyway, I was thinking that there may be others who are curious as to what a vegan eats on a day-to-day basis. I don't claim to be a foodie and there are plenty of gorgeous, vegan blogs out there. I like good-tasting, whole food, but other than these kitchen-factory-type days where I prepare a bunch of things all at once (often in order to preserve and use the fresh food we get from our CSA), I don't like spending oodles of time in the kitchen. I like to keep things relatively simple. My children are old enough too, to make some things for themselves, so they often do that now for breakfast and supper (because of work schedules, our big meal of the day is at lunch). So, I thought I would do a sort of regular feature at the end of my posts for a while, just listing what I've eaten for the day. I know it might seem kind of weird, but it's because I often get asked the same question my neighbor asked me. And, if you're a blog reader, you've obviously got a little bit of curiousity about other people's lives, so I will try this for a while. Perhaps you'll see something you'd like to try or try a combination you've never thought of before. Or maybe you'll see that eating a vegan diet isn't really all that weird... or maybe you'll decide that it is! In any event, I'll create a list that I can at least refer to myself - or refer others to when they ask me that question! :)Lu

The only other thing I would add, is that there are a few staples in my kitchen that are often not in non-veg kitchens. You will likely see them popping up as ingredients again and again. You may or may not be familiar with these foods, but they are readily available in most American supermarkets and/or health food stores these days.  The main ones I can think of off the top of my head are: nutritional yeast, regular and silken tofu, tempeh, and the grain, quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah"). I won't bother explaining what they are here. I know that all that information is only a few mere clicks away on the interwebby, so, I'll leave that to anyone who is interested to go digging on their own.

And now, without further delay:

What I've Eaten Today:

Breakfast: A bowl of "Cheesy Broccoli and Grits" and some store-bought vegan "sausage" patties (wasn't thrilled with these; I bought them when we were struggling to find help for Paul's digestive pain and these were "gluten free", "soy free", "dairy free", etc. I won't get them again), and a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Lunch: Peanut butter, thin apple slices, red-leaf lettuce, and agave nectar on a toasted sandwich. I'm not a fan of regular pb&j. There's not enough crunch there for me, so I usually throw something in with cruch or I toast the bread. In this case I did both, because the bread was fresh out of the freezer! I also took about a half a cup of raw walnuts and pecans sprinkled with salt and mixed with raisins on the road with me while I was running errands. I took a big tumbler of water too with some cucumber slices in it from our CSA farm.

Snack: PG Tips tea and Jello brand pistachio pudding made with coconut milk. Ooo - not a healthy snack, but I'm just vegan - not perfect! ;)

No supper for me today yet. I'm off to run more errands and then back to the kitchen factory. Enjoy your weekend!
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