Friday, December 30, 2011

Pulp Non-Fiction

My first pulp-waste-not-want-not experiment was a fail -- no, a hazardous debacle. I didn't take a photo (I was disappointed in the result, so -- grouchy), but the jungle photo of Curacao, above, looks pretty much like the bean soup I created yesterday from a couple of day's worth of juicing pulp, a whole box of veggie broth, an onion, some garlic and a can of beans. The soup tasted like a bland granny smith apple, and the texture was awful. But I am getting ahead of myself . . .

My idea was to transform the pulp into a smooth, creamy consistency, so I dug out my HealthMaster blender by Montel Williams that I received two years ago. This machine, able to turn a cinderblock to dust in the infomercial, has provided me with many satisfying soups, dips and smoothies, and I was sure it was up to the task of transforming pulp into soup. I knew I'd need to add plenty of liquid so as not to overtax the motor, so I did. I used the lowest setting for about four minutes as I sauteed the onion and garlic to add later. I began smelling smoke, so I went over to the stove, thinking I was burning the onion, but then realized the HealthMaster WAS ON FIRE! I ran back across the kitchen and pulled the plug as smoke billowed forth, filling my kitchen. My brave husband quickly picked up the smoking machinery and placed it in the middle of our driveway, away from anything flammable.

Defeated, I pulled out my old-as-the-hills food processor (it's at least 25 years old, and missing most of its parts) and attempted to improve the texture of the above mess. My ancient food processor did not burst into flames, so my mood improved a little. I put a bit of the mixture aside in a tupperware for future experimentation and put the rest of it in a pot on the stove. I added some shoyu. I added some liquid smoke. I added some salt. It still tasted exactly like a grainy apple. Finally I gave up on my initial idea and decided to turn it into chili. I added a McCormick's chili packet. It still tasted like a granny smith apple, but worse.  Sorry -- "waste not want not" didn't work this time. The soup went down the drain, to nourish the enzymes in our septic tank. The bit in the tupperware I will attempt to utilize in a tomato spaghetti sauce, but if that is no good I'm going to quit losing good food after bad, and go straight to plan C -- the compost heap.

Truthfully, the only flavorful part of the pulp was the apple. The kale, romaine, celery, even the carrot had lost every bit of flavor with the absence of juices, and likely most of the vitamins and minerals as well. So I don't feel I am wasting after all as much as I initially did.

Heed my cautionary tale, pulp aficionados, lest your HealthMaster also burst into flame.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Here's today's elixir of health -- two cucumbers, two organic gala apples and five stalks of kale. I wish I could show you the lovely pile of plantfoods before they were processed, but while I was photographing a lovely pile of veggies and fruits, my camera was seeing something else. The resulting photos turned out to be, um, not fit for general audiences. I'll be more aware of my food styling in the future.

I digress . . . This combination is more pleasing to my palate than yesterday's which was too sweet for my taste with three apples instead of two. I believe the organic apples are much sweeter. I like to taste a bit of green. My husband asked for some of this elixir, and grimaced a tad, but then he asked for seconds! He asked if it would dye his teeth green -- isn't this funny? I think we are programmed from childhood that saturated color will leave a permanent mark. There is no green dye number 7 here, and, aside from the odd bit of pulp between the teeth, he has little to worry about.

I've received a comment about wasting the pulp from the juicing process, and I'll be addressing that in the future as I try a couple of options. There are definitely copious amounts of pulp that result from the juicing process. Until I decide how to best utilize the pulp, I will be saving it in the freezer. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Thank you, sweet husband! Look at my wonderful Christmas gift from my hubby. I've coveted this Breville juicer since reading Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet. It's hard to jump in with both feet to Kris' plan without the necessary equipment. This thing is so cool. The first juice we made was carrot, celery and apple. The result was shockingly delicious! The next day, with no more celery, I made apple, ginger, carrot and kale. I tried one less apple (3) than the day before (4) and it was still delicious. After two days of juicing, I am actually craving the next juice. Yes, that's right, with a refrigerator full of decadent vegan meal items from our holiday fare, what I really want more than anything else is my next juice! I'm eating the holiday leftovers too, by the way, but am surprised by the swiftness of this new craving. My 14-year-old daughter and her friends giggle over how thrilled I am with this juicer. I'm so glad I can provide entertainment for the next generation!

Today I think I will make cucumber, apple, romaine and kale. Yesterday and the day before I used the only apples I had, which were not organic but well-scrubbed (I know, that's not good enough). Yesterday I picked up some organic apples: gala and granny smith. Obviously these will be nutritionally superior. I'll let you know about any flavor difference I detect.

Here's our Christmas Dinner table -- just for the four of us this time. Our extended family lives around the Washington D.C. area, except for my brother and his family in China and my husband's brother and sisters in Florida, so it was only us this time. I prepared a turkey breast for the omnis, but the rest was vegan: Mashed potatoes with tofutti sour cream, earth balance and fresh Italian parsley, Wynne's favorite pasta salad with sundried tomatoes and chick peas in a balsamic veganaise sauce and freshly sauteed leeks, collard greens and cabbage with a splash of tamari and plenty of earth balance. I love pairing cabbage with collards. Somehow the cabbage holds the flavor of the "butter" better than the other veggies, so it is a perfect foil to the more bitter collards. This was all delicious and we have plenty of leftovers.

Now for some juice!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Food

Hello my dears -- how I've missed you! Here is the promised post featuring what we ate at Thanksgiving. This is easy, delicious food that would also be nice for Christmas dinner.

Above is my colcannon, but instead of sliced cabbage I used halved brussels sprouts. I liked this better than the cabbage, actually, since everything was of a similar size and shape. I've posted my colcannon recipe before, so here's a quick recap of this version:

24 oz. new potatoes, halved (I used baby yukon gold here)
about the same number of pieces of halved brussels sprouts (the amounts don't really matter, I just like to have roughly equal amounts)
1/4 purple onion, slivered
3 Tbsp. Earth Balance
1 Tbsp. Veganaise
2 Tbsp. Liquid Smoke
1 Tbsp. Bragg's liquid aminos
Fresh ground pepper

Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes. For the last five minutes, add the halved brussels sprouts on top of the potatoes and boil/steam them covered until bright green. Drain the potatoes and sprouts and transfer them to a large skillet over medium heat with the melted earth balance and the onions. sautee the veggies, stirring occasionally to allow them to brown a bit. during this process, add the liquid smoke  and the Bragg's to deglaze. Take the veggies off the heat and finish by stirring in the Veganaise.

Debby's "Tender Green Bean with Mushroom and Lemon Peel", from her wonderful blog, "The Health Seeker's Kitchen" made an encore appearance since it was such a hit last year.

Alicia Silverstone's "Scarlet Roasted Root Vegetables" from The Kind Diet were featured again this year as well.

Here's the table, full of my vegan offerings as well as my Dad's famous Sage Dressing (secret recipe!) that he was sweet enough to veganize for me. Dad also insisted I not bother to buy a turkey. He got one himself since he knows raw flesh gives me the willies. He actually roasted it almost all the way, chilled it and packed it in a cooler for the trip to the deep south from the D.C. area where they live. Once they arrived, my Dad roasted the turkey for another couple of hours. I didn't partake, of course, but the others enjoyed it. So basically we had a vegan feast plus a turkey, which was fine with me! Thanks Mom and Dad!

I'm wishing all of you a peaceful, joyous season!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ode To Yoda (Hallelujah!)

There it is again -- That luscious, decadent, mouthwatering concoction whose appearance only a mother could love -- The Radicchio Pizza. Here I've created two small pizzas from an Eziekiel English Muffin, split, spread with a lazy tofu cream I whipped up from tofutti cream cheese and a few drops of Ume vinegar, and topped with fresh, mild radicchio marinated in truffle oil and broiled. Sublime -- I'm not kidding.

The marinated radicchio I was unable to fit upon the muffins was placed atop a pile of arugula for a fresh salad. No additional dressing was needed.

Regular readers of AMV+ may recall my disappointment earlier in the year with radicchio pizzas, which I had heretofore adored. Yes, there was the pizza I'd burned that I unwisely made from an Eziekiel tortilla (don't do that -- a tortilla has no chance under the broiler), but in early summer I just could not turn out an edible radicchio pizza. I blamed my tastebuds, surmising my system was out of whack. How disappointing it was to me -- I gave up on my most favorite food for half a year.

Now, after admiring some lovely radicchio at the market and bravely giving my prize another try, I get it. Duh -- radicchio's back in season again! I'm smart enough to know that in 90 degree temps my bitter greens in the garden become too bitter to enjoy. I don't know why I didn't make the connection with the radicchio. It truly tasted awful in the summertime. Now it's again amazing, with the bitterness only a recessive note, rounding out a more complex flavor.

You're wondering why this is an "ode to Yoda" -- well, it's because my son, Hans, calls this "Yoda food" when I make it. He says it looks exactly like what Yoda would scoop up out of his swamp to consume. I'm not offended. Any little thing I can do to entertain my progeny is a win. Incidentally, I've recently enjoyed seeing my two, ages almost-18 and 14, begin to bond over the Star Wars movies. When Wynne, my daughter, first saw Yoda, she flipped out, saying she loved him and wanted to marry him! The fact that Yoda is attractive to a 14 year old girl may be surprising to you, but you don't know my Wynne. She's also crazy about Uncle Iero (sp?) on Avatar (not the blue-people one, the animated one with Aang as protagonist). Old, wise and animatronic seems to be Wynne's thing. Fine with me.

I was tempted today to share my wonderful Thanksgiving spread, but there is so much of that on the blogosphere right now I'll give it a few more days. It's not too different from what you've seen here before, but the holiday was truly a magical, sustaining experience, thanks in large part to my AMAZING parents, about whom I cannot say enough good things. After a little while I'll share and if you see anything you like, maybe you could employ it for Christmas or your next holiday of choice.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

An Abundance of Beauty

These are only a few of the lovely items I purchased at the Holiday Bazaar at the home of my wonderful friend and next-door-neighbor, Sherri. Besides being Supergirl, my friend, Sherri, is an amazingly talented jewelry designer and creator. Her pieces are unique and coveted in this part of the world, and she comes up with new collections all the time. This year, because of growing demand for her pieces, she enlisted the help of a few "elves" for her workshop (more wonderful neighbor-friends). I love to see Sherri's business grow from year to year. Check out her page on Facebook: InspiredDesigns. I cannot show you all of what I purchased from Sherri and other wonderful, creative vendors she hosted in her home for the Bazaar, since some of you may become the recipients of this bounty come Christmastime.

Besides Sherri's jewelry, several other talented ladies presented their wares, many hand-crafted. The creative energy of the place was inspiring and really was a wonderful way to get blasted into the holiday spirit, which I am normally pretty bah-humbug about this time of year.

I enjoyed meeting some new talented people and also seeing again a couple of beautiful people who are not in my usual circle. These ladies, kindred spirits, were such a joy to see, and it seemed like we easily resumed the conversation we had started last year. They asked me why I'm not posting as often here and I explained how and why I'm in more of a "mom" chapter of life to my two teenagers. Of course this topic led back to a discussion we started last year about healthy lifestyles and how crucial good nutrition is. Dawn Corner is one of these ladies. She created the beautiful painting of the owl in the photo. All of her pieces utilize similar saturated, energy-drenched colors and are mesmerizing. I love them!

This year I made the acquaintance of a lovely lady named Peggy whose husband makes amazing hummus. Peggy and I got into a discussion about nutrition also, and this one evolved into a head and neck massage for me. Chakras momentarily aligned, I happily purchased one of each of Peggy's husband's hummus varieties: plain, roasted red pepper and sundried tomato. This is some seriously good stuff! I've been eating it for breakfast on an Eziekiel english muffin -- mmmm. Peggy gave me her business card, but it has somehow left my purse -- probably as I kept taking my checkbook out. Thank goodness her contact info is on the hummus label. I will be ordering more of this.

About an hour after closing time for day one of the Bazaar, clients and artists alike meandered out of Sherri's home, giving her a few hours of rest before it all was to begin again the next day. As I walked in my front door, I realized I hadn't paid for Sherri's jewelry, "shoplifting" all of it, so to speak. I quickly sent my friend a text fessing up and told her I'd bring it all back the next day, since she couldn't remember which pieces I had chosen. Then I remembered I had done exactly the same thing last year! Sherri provides a relaxed, festive shopping experience at her Bazaar, replete with wine, food and happy people, so when I absconded with the goods I felt like I was doing nothing more than leaving a party. Good thing she knows where I live!

When I showed up again the next morning, Dawn Corner, the artist, told me she had made me a juice! She had juiced fresh spinach, celery, carrot, lemon and one or two other veggies I cannot remember. She brought it in this nice cup:

and had put it in Sherri's 'fridge just for me. The juice didn't make it to the photo. I drank it and it was amazing, light and energizing. I thought this kind gesture from someone I see only once a year was so thoughtful.

The Bazaar, and all the amazing, talented, wise personalities it drew was a balm in troubled times. Being surrounded for a little while by folks who operate congruently with their spirits, creating and sharing, restores my faith in humanity.  When I speak of an abundance of beauty, the people are as much a part of that as the art they produce. I'm grateful and inspired!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Have You Tried No. 9?

Have you? I hadn't. I thought I'd tried them all, but this was a kombucha that was new to me. Tounge-tingling as any good kombucha, No. 9 doesn't feature the slight mouth-pucker-factor that I've found in other varieties, not that I find that a bad thing. No. 9 was a light, refreshing, berry-tinged restorative, imparting an uplifting calm in the most inoffensive way.  I liked it -- I think it's in a tie with my other favorite, Gingerade. I loved the color on this label too. Unfortunately, taken after dark, this photo is washed out by the flash, so the blue is not properly represented here. It looks pretty, in a cobalt-blue kind of way, but the purplish-indigo tones didn't make it through the flash. You'll have to pick up a bottle yourself to see what I mean.

For a while I had developed a pretty steady kombucha habit. I grew to rely on the nerve-tonic effect during trying times, especially in the afternoon when my energy was lower. It was no different than what a big bowl of kale would have done for my mood, but the drive to the natural foods store for this special treat made me feel I was doing something nice for myself. After a couple of weeks I noticed I'd picked up a couple of pounds. That doesn't happen on the vegan diet, except during vacation that is. So I had to think about what I'd been doing differently, and pinpointed the daily kombucha. I bothered to read the label for the first time, and realized each bottle is two days' servings. The calorie count is relatively low for each serving, but kombucha is not calorie-free.

Chastened by the reminder that anything to excess can't be good, I resolved to cut my habit to an occasional indulgence, and the spare pounds left as easily as they had arrived. But when I do indulge, I still drink the whole bottle at one sitting!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nabe Vegetables

I've enjoyed learning a bit about macrobiotics recently. I'm reading A Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics, by Jessica Porter and This Crazy Vegan Life by Christina Pirello. Christina dabbles in macrobiotics as well as vegan food, and makes her food choices for health reasons, so what she is putting out there resonates with me.

In Jessica's book, she explains the framework and philosophy behind a macrobiotic diet. The "energies" of foods, yin, or expanding, upward-growing and yang, or contracting, downward-growing. I like the way Jessica explains there is no judgement, no "right" or "wrong" only consequences for our choices. Perhaps most interesting to me was the notion that extreme yin and extreme yang do not cancel each other out, they just create extreme conditions for the body. The idea of macrobiotics is to engage yin and yang foods which are much less extreme on the spectrum, and thus easier for the body to assimilate.

Traditional Japanese methods of cooking are well-suited to a macrobiotic diet, as they are mindful of these energies. One such method is Nabe (pronounced "Nah - Bay"), a boiled preparation that sometimes contains seafood. Jessica presents a vegetable version in her book. There is no recipe per se, since the variations on this theme could be endless, but there are some guidelines which I followed, and I will share them with you here.

Nabe is essentially boiled vegetables, and  is not typically eaten with grains. Traditionally it is prepared on a portable burner in the center of the table, and is shared as it is being cooked similar to the way a fondue would be. Individual dishes of dipping sauce are provided to each diner, but this is not mandatory, since the sauce can be salty, resulting in too much yang. I liked the dipping sauce, and I watered it down with plenty of boiling liquid, so it was not too salty. The energy this dish imparts is very calming and healing. The vegetable bulk is quickly filling, but you may find yourself going back an hour or so later for seconds. When making nabe, a ratio of two upward-growing (yin) vegetables to one downward-growing (yang) should be followed, but the choice and amount of vegetables is entirely up to the chef.

For my nabe, I chose:
organic carrots (in macrobiotics, root veggies are not peeled, so organic is best)
bok choy

To begin, in a 4 quart pot, soak for at least ten minutes a 2" piece of kombu and two dried shitake mushrooms in spring water, filling the pot halfway. While soaking, wash and prepare the vegetables. Large chunks work best. When the seaweed and mushrooms are soft, slice them and return them to the pot, then bring the water to a boil. add a variety of the vegetables to the boiling liquid, removing them when they look softened with a slotted spoon and adding more raw vegetables. The veggies do not need to be cooked a certain length of time. It is all up to your personal taste. I found the bok choy to be the quickest-cooking and the carrots to need the most time.You may eat as you go, or collect the whole batch of vegetables first.

For each dipping sauce I used:
1 Tbsp. Shoyu
1 C. boiling liquid
1tsp. grated ginger
scallions for garnish

I did enjoy this dipping sauce. Jessica calls for squeezing the juice from the ginger, but I was too lazy, and I like a bit of root roughage anyway. I did go back for seconds, and at the end, rather than packing up the leftovers separately, I opted to not discard the flavorful boiling liquid and turned the whole thing into a light soup. I even tossed the unused dipping sauce into the soup. I ate the "nabe soup" this morning for breakfast. It was a great way to start my day.

I enjoy the mindfulness surrounding macrobiotics and will definitely be incorporating more macrobiotic principles into my vegan diet. Jessica cautions that foods begin to lose their vital energy with each passing day, so leftovers are not often a part of macrobiotics (!) Also she never microwaves, saying that our western culture is undergoing a "mass experiment" about the unknown dangers of living with all this radiation on a daily basis. These two notions fly in the face of the kind of lazy, waste-no-want-not chef that I am, so I will have to sit with them for a while and see if I can conceive of a way to alter my paradigm about food energies/radiation safety. The whole microwave thing is something that has been bothering me for some time already, actually, so that will likely leave my life before leftovers.

In February I will have been vegan for two years, and during that time my mind has opened in ways I never would have expected. The example of how I've handled my B12 deficiency is a good illustration.  Many folks, upon discovering the deficiency, would opt to chuck the whole vegan lifestyle. Instead, I'm grateful that I'd had enough time with the bountiful vegetable kingdom to understand its health benefits before needing to consider the deficiency. The vegan diet stopped my MS progression in its tracks, as evidenced by MRIs. Removing dairy has most dramatically changed my quality of life, providing so much more energy, a level, positive mood, a clearer head and no more seasonal allergies. Because of these benefits and more, I was not about to lose the veggie lifestyle due to a pesky lack of B12. Who would have imagined that these days I look forward to the day each week when I give myself my B12 injection. That day is an amazing gift, full of strength, energy and a quick mind, even more than what I otherwise experience. Problem solved, and no benefits lost!

This is just a long way of saying that an open mind during new discoveries has always benefitted me, so I won't be surprised if I find myself warming foods in the oven or on the stove instead of in the microwave, or even making smaller portions, more often, and loosening my dependence upon my old standby, the leftover.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Brown Rice!

Just a short news flash today: Chipotle now has brown cilantro rice!! Also, the guy who ordered in front of me today ordered a Burrito Bol with Lettuce on the bottom! On the bottom -- that means mostly greens, and all the other stuff on top, not just a little handful of greens on the top of the other food. So, for the first time, I noticed a big tin of greens at the beginning of the line and also at the end.

But back to the brown rice -- brown rice at Chipotle really made my afternoon. I know you may be rolling your eyes, thinking, "whoa, it doesn't take much," but this'll remove a bit of guilt I've had over too much white rice. Chipotle is one of the only places where a vegan/macrobiotic mom, a vegetarian daughter, a health-conscious omnivore dad and a non-health-conscious omnivore son can all find something delicious to eat. Chipotle has long been a leader in providing food that is healthier, using organics when possible and meat without bovine growth hormone, but now a brown rice option! I no longer have to feel guilty about indulging! Yippee! That's all I needed to say today.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Season's Last Harvest

Here's the end of my summer harvest, pretty veggies, but nightshades all. I am learning so much about macrobiotics now, and I will make different choices next summer.

With Buster undoubtedly in hibernation, the vines had become a tangled mess groaning with heavy fruits, untouched by tiny little teeth. It's too cold for them to ripen outside, so I'll watch them blush on my kitchen counter instead. Isn't it amazing that now, well into November, I only just harvested all these veggies? There were a couple of frost-burned eggplants on the vine too, even as the tomatoes were growing larger and larger.

Now my garden is empty, except for the one buttercup squash that survived it's period in a pot as I waited for the summer nightshades to begin dying off.  I never was very good at stopping the life of an out-of-season vine while it is still productive. The casualties of my lack of ruthlessness are the bok choy and kale who didn't fare so well in the pot, waiting for a vacant spot in my garden. If I have time this week, I'll look around for some more winter veggies who'd like to settle in with the buttercup.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

As the 'Roids Wore Off . . .

Here are the pumpkins Wynne and I carved last evening.  Wynne got the idea about the teeth from someone she found on tumbler. This is the first year I allowed Wynne to handle a knife and actually carve by herself. She's 14. I know, she's probably been capable for quite some time, but she is my very last baby. Anyway, it seemed right, and it was -- she was very careful and did a good job, uninjured.

Wynne was prescribed a short course of prednisone so she can breathe and eat past her gargantuan tonsils as the mono runs its course. I tried to give her the first dose of two pills two days ago, but after swallowing the first one she kicked up such a fuss about the flavor of the pill that I couldn't persuade her to take the other one. Since these "symptom" drugs are not mandatory, I didn't push the issue. Luckily, Wynne's half-dose of steroids afforded her over 24 hours of happy, chatterbox well-being! Some folks get 'roid-rage, Wynne got 'roid-joy.  I was almost able to imagine her healing. Wynne's quarantined birthday, the day after taking the prednisone, was happy thanks to that awful-tasting pill, but towards the end of the day I could see her energy level lagging and her overall joie de vivre sagging as the illness again took center stage. So I brought out the pumpkins, knives, glue gun and plastics from the craft box.

I carved the large pumpkin on the left and the one with the green teeth, and Wynne did the other three. My pumpkins don't represent anyone in real life. Wynne's little on on the left is Harry Potter, and the one with the black teeth is Frank Iero from "My Chemical Romance" I asked her who the large one on the right is and she said it's just some rocker, so I decided it is Peter Criss from "Kiss". I love how Wynne didn't even remove the pumpkin seeds from his mouth, or even open the pumpkin up for a candle. she just pushed the cut pieces she couldn't pry loose back inside the pumpkin. Wynne doesn't mess around. This is art. She gets it done, she moves on. Here are my pumpkin seeds:

I stirred some olive oil and dried thyme into them, and then sprinkled them with Chipotle Chili powder (smoky! yum!). Into a 300 degree oven they went for 30 minutes. They get soggy in the fridge, so keep 'em out on the counter. They will only be there a day or so. They are addictive.

While I was photographing the pumpkins, I got this one -- bad for the pumpkins, but pretty good of my favorite tree. I think it's a sugar maple. Every autumn I am happy seeing the tree's glow, seemingly from within. As pretty as it looks in the photo, I wish you could see it in person -- It would knock your socks off!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today, on my Wynne's 14th birthday, a bright spot: wonderful neighbor-friends donated an electric guitar (yay! recycling!) which Wynne wanted but was not expecting. What a way to brighten an otherwise glum birthday. Thanks Sean and Jackie!

Wynne is still on quarantine for her mono, but is feeling much better. She will likely only be contagious for another week or so. Today, when she needs a break from rocking out, I'll keep the birthday fun going with some pumpkin projects. 14 year old girls are cool because they are basically little grown-ups who still enjoy things like pumpkin projects. Happy Birthday Wynne! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I'm veering way out of bounds here from the "middle-aged-chick-finds-a-veggie-life" blog project I started with. Please stop reading now if you are looking for a vegan food post today. You, my dear readers and fellow-bloggers have become an extended family of sorts. I admire your work and I love keeping up with your ideas and the enlightenment you experience. It's that enlightenment I seek today.

Wynne has been home from school and on antibiotics since Monday for strep throat. I've been on them since Tuesday, and feel much better now. Wynne is not getting better. I brought her back to the GP this morning where we discovered she also has mono. She is highly contagious for at least another week, so she will miss another week of school, if not more. She will also miss singing at a Fall festival this weekend and will miss doing anything fun tomorrow on her 14th birthday or on Halloween."Watch the tonsils," they told us. As soon as they seem back to normal and she can swallow, if she feels like it she can go back to school. She will likely feel exhausted for months, however. Since I caught strep from Wynne, I was told to watch my tonsils too.

Hans has had a migraine for seven days now. Yesterday, day six of this migraine, I gently encouraged him to take some meds and at least try to make it to school for a class or two. He's a senior in high school, and five college applications have already been submitted. Hans pulled it together yesterday to go to school around lunchtime, but was still a little nauseous and didn't want to eat. I asked him if anything at all appealed to him. McDonald's did (sorry vegans!) so I suggested he pick some up and eat it at school since he would be arriving during his lunch period anyway. As he got out of the car with his food, the Assistant Principle spotted him and told him he was caught driving off campus for lunch. He did not believe Hans when he told him he had not yet checked in and had been ill at home. Hans got so upset at the notion he would have a discipline hit on his record that his migraine came back in force and he didn't even walk in to school. He just drove back home and he hasn't been back to school since. I'm wondering what kind of pep talk will now encourage him to give school with a migraine another try.

I am able to put these things into perspective. We will work with the Assistant Principle to clear Hans' record (I had called his illness in to the attendance office that morning) Wynne's illness is not so bad in the grand scheme of things. Still, does all this seem a bit much to you? I have a creepy feeling the universe is trying to tell me something.

Yo, Universe! You got my attention.  . . . WHAT?

Oh, enlightened ones, any wisdom you could convey would be most appreciated. Thanks for bearing with me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Strep Throat!

My daughter, Wynne, has a very high tolerance for pain, and for discomfort and discontent in general. As such, when she woke in time for school yesterday telling me, in a gravelly voice, that she had a sore throat, I took her seriously. Rather than sending her to school, or rushing her to the 8:30 a.m. walk-in deadline at our GP's office, I told her to go back to sleep and hoped I could get her an appointment later in the day.

Luckily I was able to get her in right after lunch, which worked out beautifully with her sick-sleep schedule. By the time Wynne got to see the doctor, she was running a fever and was very lethargic. When he inspected her throat, he recoiled in alarm, and then summoned me to see for myself. It was indeed shocking. The tonsils had totally eclipsed the opening and were covered in white sores. Sorry, hope you weren't eating as you read that. Noone was surprised that the strep test came back positive. Two shots were quickly administered -- steroids for the swelling and a big dose of antibiotics to give her a head start. A full 10 day course of antibiotics was also prescribed, albeit in liquid form so it could slide past the gauntlet of her tonsils.

Amazed that our health crisis was so expeditiously addressed (I'm not accustomed to a swift and efficient solution to our health problems because of the year-long migraine battle with my son) I walked Wynne back out to the car to settle her in at home with some soup or ice cream or otherwise inoffensive sustenance. As I fastened my seat belt, I noticed a little tickle in the back of my throat.

"It's psychosomatic," I said to only myself as I remembered my daughter's horrific tonsils. I shook it off with a physical shake of my head and then focused upon my little one for the rest of the evening. Yes, I was more tired than usual. Yes, I went to bed at 8:30 p.m. and slept through to 6:45 a.m. Yes, when I woke I knew that I, too, was sick.

"But it's not strep," I thought to myself.

Nevertheless, feeling a bit alarmist and apologetic for "jumping the gun" I walked in to the GP's office this morning. I explained I was not nearly as sick as Wynne had been yesterday, but was nervous about everyone coming down with the contagious virus, yada, yada, yada. Throat swab -- positive.

So now I am on my back, listening to what my body wants. It is so specific in its cravings during illness. Today it was whole grains and miso. I dissolved a teaspoon of miso in warm, filtered water, then added leftover brown and wild rice, and topped the whole thing off with some arugula and sprouted peas, aduki beans and lentils. Perfect.

I'm pretty positive this combo would not have occurred to me otherwise, but I have recently been reading about macrobiotics, so that influence must have lodged in my sub-conscious until needed.

That's enough for today. Time to go back to my soup-eating, lysol-spraying existence.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Odds-n-Ends, Early Autumn

It's an odd season right now, with temperatures swinging drastically from 80 degrees to the 40's and back again.  This is still in my garden:

Yes, my wonderful gardenia bush that was on its last leg last year is back to robust health, thanks to my tender loving care (it needed an acidic food -- the pH was off). This wonderful plant began blooming in the spring and is still producing these amazing blossoms. The heady, intoxicating fragrance is like nothing else and it always effectively transports me back to Greece in my mind.

So, we have summertime in the yard even amidst drastic cold snaps when I need this:

Mmmm . . . homemade split pea soup! I made a huge vat of it in the slow cooker and put half of it in the freezer for future enjoyment. I used the recipe on the back of the pea bag, except instead of the pound of ham, I used a teaspoon of liquid smoke. It did the trick. I also added my favorite bonus: kale torn into little pieces. All major vegan food groups are represented here, kids. A bowlful is so nourishing and filling, and addictive in flavor. I usually want another bowlful a couple of hours after I have it, and there's no guilt! Yippee! This goes wonderfully with a pair of fuzzy slippers and a blankie.

So, now that you know about the dramatic temperature fluctuations in the deep south this time of the year, in my typically random fashion for "odds-n-ends", I'll share this:

This is just a pile of the peelings from the veggies I ate tonight. As I was cleaning up and chopping the vegetables, I was struck by how pretty vegan garbage is, so I had to take a picture of it.

And here's the finished product! These veggies got a vote of approval from the meat-eater! These really were especially delectable. As per usual, I didn't measure, but I don't really think it matters too much with food like this. It's just a large couple of handfuls of collard greens without their stems, a large handful of sliced cabbage, about half a cup of purple onion, slivered, and half a leek, carefully washed and cut into pieces. I cooked them all quickly on medium high heat in olive oil and a little bit of earth balance, onions and leeks on the bottom of the pan with the greens on top for a minute or so, then I stirred and tossed the veggies like crazy for another minute, then took the whole thing off the heat and set it aside, covered, while I prepped the other food. It was perfectly cooked -- tender but still bright and fresh.

The other food, in this case, was chicken for the man, and vegan mashed potatoes for all of us. I just boiled and drained four peeled potatoes, and mashed them with vegan butter, sour cream and cream cheese, about a tablespoon of each. Diet food, this ain't. I loved this dinner. I got my protein at lunch with the pea soup. Happy early autumn to you! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Creepy! Garden Mysteries . . .

Can you see him? I didn't notice him until I got him home and situated him upon the front stoop. I've zoomed in too close for you to see him very well. At a distance one can see him straining to get out. This reminds me of the time I stood in line at my daughter's school's athletic field after dark to look through a high-powered telescope at Saturn (amazing!) and the moon. I was disappointed to see that, when you really see the moon up close there is no "man in the moon" at all. I need a healthy dose of mythology in my life. Anyway, I won't be carving this pumpkin, as I'm afraid of what may come bursting through the rind.

There's been no sign of Buster lately. These lovely specimens would not be proliferating so if he were still around. Where is he? Did he finally get tired of the solar powered sonic device I'd installed? Doubtful. It's more likely the few dips in temperature have signaled him that it's time to hibernate.

The Autumn garden is odd. Some vines are vibrantly alive and productive, others are dead as doornails, but . . . they are still producing tomatoes!! The living dead!

The bok choy was not happy in this pot.

Likewise the kale, but the butternut squash, still in it's wrapping from the store, weeks later, is happy as a clam. I had only placed these winter varieties in the pots temporarily while I waited for the tomatoes to die. I don't have the heart to rip out the tomato vines yet, prolific as they are, even the living dead ones!

Other happy campers in my Halloween garden: the eggplants (aubergines). These are Hansel eggplants, and these are Gretel:

The cooler nights have turned the skins a lemon yellow instead of the summertime creamy white. Has anyone noticed the ghostly varieties of veggies tend to be more tough and fibrous? I remember an otherwise lovely frittata I had in Madrid, Spain, that was filled with white asparagus that were reedy in texture. I'm sure I could dig up some appropriate preparation suggestions for these tougher veggies, and if I do I will share. In the meanwhile I'll just enjoy how spooky they look in my garden.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Maple Vanilla Almond Porridge

I love waking before everyone else to bask in the quiet. This morning, bright and autumn-crisp, I pulled out my tin of Irish Oats. The name of this porridge sounds so much more involved than it actually was to make. I just poured some oats in a pan with vanilla almond milk and water. I brought it to a boil, then lowered the heat to low for about 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times to prevent burning. I love the oats to be a bit firm and chewy. Otherwise, it's only oatmeal. The al dente oats are more like a proper porridge to my mind. Once the oats were done cooking, I drizzled a bit of maple syrup over the top -- the good stuff! That'll stick to your ribs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

You Brighten My Day!

unknown.pngIn this, my season of sporadic posting, a couple of you lovelies are good sports. Colleen at "Waking Up Vegan" ( and "Vegantummy" ( each graced A Midlife Vegan+ with the Liebster Award. "Liebster" in German means "beloved" and that's just what I needed! Right back at both of you. I encourage everyone to check out these two blogs if you haven't already. I get so much out of both of them.

The reason for this award is to draw attention to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. After the award is bestowed, the honoree should:

  1. Show thanks to the blogger who bestowed the award by linking back to her.
  2. Reveal your top 5 picks for the next award and alert them by leaving a comment on their blogs.
  3. Post the award on your blog.

When thinking about who my top five picks would be, my mind went back to the "Stylish Blogger Award" which I was honored to receive and pay forward several months back. The rules and qualifications for that one were different, but the process was similar. I'm inspired by and enjoy reading so many blogs, and a couple of these I've mentioned before, but I'll feature them again mostly because it is what I am currently reading and they are, indeed, "beloved". My picks:

  1. God's Dreams For Me In My Vegan Playground  -- Jeri positively inspires! Her love for her family and honest assessment of challenges and blessings are like tonic to my spirit. She is beautiful and an awesome photographer to boot!
  2. Of the Kitten Kind -- Sally Kitten is such a joy! Besides being a wealth of practical information, her blog affords me the opportunity to live vicariously through her artist/deejay/nurse/vegan/single-girl-group-house-living life. Sally's joie de vivre is infectious and inspiring. Reading a post of hers is as good as one of my bi-weekly B12 injections Whew! I want to be you when I grow up, girl!
  3. Busy Vegan Mama -- Reading Sara's blog blasts me right back to one of the most fulfilling and trying times of my life -- when I was a young mom of gorgeous, precious little ones. Reading her words, I remember exactly how it felt to live in that magical, exhausting moment that is over all too quickly. Sara is a great mom and an adventurous and talented cook, not a lazy vegan like me! When all is said and done, a trip to her blog is worth it just to see those amazing babies' cheeks!
  4. Sneaky Vegan -- I really enjoy a secret. Sneaky Vegan's secret reminds me of Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious. What they don't know won't hurt 'em! I also appreciate how candid the Sneaky Vegan is about her vegan (or not) status.I believe her honesty will take the edge off the decision to give it a go for those potential vegans "on the fence" You may recall my own admission of shellfish-eating during my B12 deficiency which has stabilized with the injections, by the way, so the cravings have gone. I've been there, and I'll say that mostly vegan is soooo much better than not vegan. Check out the Sneaky Vegan -- her recipes and photos are amazing.
  5. The Vegan Stoner -- Simple, adorable, different. LOVE the art! Stay tuned for a cookbook. This last blog is so very simple I don't actually know how many followers it has, but I've no proof that it is over the limit, so I want you to check it out. You won't be sorry.
Thanks again Colleen and Vegantummy! I am grateful to both of you and to all my other blogging inspirations, too many to list, who add brightness to my life daily.

P.S. -- Right after I posted this, I found that another lovely blogger had also bestowed the Liebster upon me! Please check out Carrot Top Vegan I'd not seen Farrah's blog before, and am so happy to have found it. Keep up the good work Farrah, and thanks for the award!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Ahhh! So that's what it feels like! I don't know how long it has been, probably not as long as it seems, but feeling happy like I do today is like a distant memory. It's amazing how we can somehow cope, and frame our challenges in a way that we can just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It's not that I have been unhappy, just more like a nervous wreck. Living with stress is a life sentence for mothers, but we need to understand that managing it is imperative to our health and well-being.

I'm not the best at stress-management, so the recent stress has, indeed, taken a toll. Long-time MLV readers might remember that, 18 months vegan, I had my first MRI ever which showed no additional MS plaques on my brain in two years! I really can only thank the vegan diet for this result, since nothing else had changed during the timeframe. But with the recent stress, I lost the use of my left hand for one morning -- something that has never happened before. The hand has come back, but is tingly most of the time.

Knowing how crucial stress-management is to my health, I do take certain steps which I believe have helped. Here they are:
  • Go to bed as early as possible.
  • Exercise almost every day.
  • Eat greens every day - more than once if possible.
  • Keep the "spa" channel playing on the stereo all day long (this helps the mood of all the others around here too, which further lowers my stress).
  • Keep the Kindle charged and filled not only with"self-help" books, but also vegan and macrobiotic books, and most surprisingly, "escape" fiction (not trashy romance novels - I never liked those - just good fiction. It's such a relief to get lost in someone else's life. I just recently enjoyed "How to Be Good" by Nick Hornby) You may wonder, if I'm so stressed, where do I find the time to read? The answer -- in the middle of the night as I'm not sleeping because of my racing mind.
  • Meditate -- so much easier said than done, and I'm not as regular with it as I should be, but everything is always better on days when it happens. Some days I don't know where to start, so a guided meditation is appreciated. My favorites are from "The Life Program" I put them on one of my hand-me-down ipods I got from the kids as they upgraded.
When I am stressed I have no appetite, so creativity in the kitchen goes away. Some days I am reduced to standing at the kitchen island, in front of a bag of dill-pickle flavored potato chips for sustenance. Those days are rough. Instead, if I can pull it together enough to feed body and soul, like I did last weekend, I can come up with something wonderful like the early autumn stew in the photo above. I simply cleaned out the crisper. I boiled a piece of kombu in filtered water and added five chopped cloves of garlic, a yellow onion, a sweet potato, four small organic carrots, a couple of organic celery stalks, a big handful of shredded kale, a can of garbanzo beans and about half a cup of dry orzo. I found a few grape tomatoes in my garden and threw those in too, and added a little organic veggie broth as the orzo swelled and made the mixture thick. Finally, once everything looked cooked, I turned off the heat, added some sherry and a couple of scallions. I squeezed a little lemon over each bowlful, which made it taste like sunshine, and we ate it in front of a crackling fire outdoors. Happy!

Today I can only be grateful for this happy feeling. Everything is not perfect, it never is, right? But it is fine, I am fine . . . no . . . blessed! I'm going out now to smile at everyone I see so I can spread the happy around. I hope you have a happy day too!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Garlicky Green Fajitas With Tangy, Creamy Tomatillo Salsa

I've missed you my bloggy buddies! I have a backlog of your wonderful blog posts to read, and of course I miss writing my own posts. All I can say is there are times in our lives when it seems necessary to put one's own life on the back burner for the benefit of a loved one, and this is one of those times. Plus, it is currently college application season and my firstborn has his sights set on twelve universities. We've already sent in one application, and I plan to complete most of the next three applications this week. My son is writing his own essays, of course, but he really doesn't have access to most of the information for the forms (past address histories and dates for in-state status, his social security number, financial info for student loans). So for the time being I am a professional college applicationist.

Food:  Forgive me for my recent lame food offerings. After college application season I will make more of an effort for proper recipes, but in the meantime I want to share with you something really, really delicious! I was making fajitas for the omnis, and had a real hankering for my garlicky collards and chick peas. So, instead of chicken, peppers and onions, my fajitas were filled with the collards. You've seen them before -- just lots of fresh garlic, 10 cloves, chopped roughly this time, and a pound of frozen organic chick peas, sauteed over medium-high heat for a few minutes, and then topped with a big pile of chopped collards, stems removed. I stirred it all up and then turned off the heat and covered the pot so the greens were not overcooked.

This collard concoction would have been wonderful on its own in a whole wheat flatbread, but I came up with a snazzy idea that made the dish sublime -- Tangy, Creamy Tomatillo Salsa. I am a lazy vegan, but I like it that way. Here is how I made my salsa: half a cup of green tomatillo salsa from a jar, half a cup of veganaise, juice from half a lime. That's it. Mmmmmm!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm a Kale Junkie

Lately, life is whizzing along at breakneck speed, so I've not spent enough time being creative in the kitchen (sorry). Nevertheless, the body's cravings continue to direct my healthy diet, and I continue to comply. There was literally no time for breakfast yesterday before my workout, so I was famished upon my return home. What did I crave? Kale. The smoothie is made from four leaves of kale, two leaves of romaine and an apple, with some coconut water. It was just what my body wanted. Since I didn't blend the smoothie with ice, it quickly separated, so I drank part of it with a little involuntary grimace from a layer of bitterness. Next time I'll add an extra apple and some ice. Bitterness aside, this smoothie was just what I wanted.

In life there seem to be periods of time -- seasons, I like to call them -- where it feels like we are not the stewards of our own schedules. I'm in one of those seasons right now, just trying to keep up with everyone's needs and requests. I realize the reason for the kale craving. Kale calms my nerves and centers my thoughts. The way I crave it lately is akin to an addict's desire for a fix.

Yep, I'm a kale junkie. Oh, the five minutes it took to drink it sitting at my little alfresco table also helped calm the nerves. Doesn't taking a moment to appreciate nature do wonders? I'm a kale and fresh air and sunshine junkie!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

To Me, This is Beautiful

Not many of my non-virtual friends are vegan. As such, I know a few readers will judge this plateful to be unappealing. But they don't know what we know, vegans, do they?

Here's what I know:

Wild and brown rice is nutty, creamy and filling. It doesn't leave one feeling overfed, and it doesn't hang around the system. It leaves me feeling light and nourished. I make it in large quantities and use it many different ways over the course of a couple of days.

Kale, steamed or raw, is what I crave every hour of the day. With my unaddled (sugar-free) tastebuds, I can actually taste the iron and the vitamins. This concept may sound disgusting to a non-vegan, but the flavors of nutrients are delectable to me. Kale clears my head and calms my nerves, at least for a little while. I try to eat some before I have anything else each day. Those days are the best. I wish kale was sold in larger bunches. I'm noticing lately the supply of kale is slim, even in the better stores. I can usually only choose from two old, wilted bunches. My belief is that folks, vegans and omnivores alike, are learning the benefits of kale, and the buyers at the stores haven't yet caught on to the trend. The supply should pick up soon, I hope. Kale is a cool-weather crop.

Dahl, an Indian lentil concoction, seems like meditation. I swear I'm always feeling slightly holy and enlightened when I treat myself to this delicious dish. I associate the subtle curry flavor and texture with recharging, with becoming centered and grounded. It is easy to visualize the turmeric and other warming spices neutralizing any oxidized cells that could otherwise morph into cancers. I found a great way to enjoy dahl lazily, so I can have it more often. I buy Amy's canned lentil dahl soup, and jazz it up with more turmeric and a little filtered water. This way I can get two meals from one can, especially when I eat it along with other yummy accoutrements like this rice and kale.

I'm cognizant of the fact that most of these are acquired tastes, but I'm so happy I've acquired them! Once one understands the nutritional processes of a food, the way it makes you feel is as big a contributor to its deliciousness as the flavor. That being said, the flavors, alone, in this bowl are enough to keep it in my list of favorites. I think it's beautiful!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Odds-n-Ends" Quinoa Edition

This week I made a giant pot of quinoa, which was a good idea, because now it is all gone and I'm wishing I had some more. Heretofore I will make it in this larger quantity. There are so many different ways to eat quinoa, and it's so nice to have it on hand for that fantastic vegan-complete-protein energy boost. Instead of using all veggie broth this time in the quinoa prep, I used half broth and half filtered water. I was not sure how I'd be using the quinoa and I didn't want to limit the possibilities with a pronounced savory flavor. Above is a photo of a fantastic bowl I ate for lunch with arugula, cold quinoa, black beans, red pepper hummus and goddess dressing jazzed up and thinned with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil (it was the bottom of the bottle, and I hate to waste any!).

Here is one of Wynne's school lunches. Sorry about the bad photo quality. It was about 6:30 a.m. and I hadn't yet finished my coffee. Wynne is not a vegan, but she doesn't like the idea of eating animals. For all intents and purposes, as it turns out, she's usually vegan at lunch. Wynne says the school lunches are terrible, and from what I understand, she's right. It's a shame our public schools can't do better for our children, but that's enough for another post. Making Wynne a lunch each morning from my vegan leftovers is something I am more than happy to do. You will notice a variation on a theme from Wynne's last favorite meal featured -- tomatoes and chick peas! This time they are mixed into the quinoa with a little touch of veganaise. Wynne LOVES food like this. I also send her a luna bar, some applesauce and an Izze fruit juice soda.

Very similar in content to the first salad pictured, but different in dining experience, is this warm bowl I put together from kale, quinoa, hummus and almonds. This was a very satisfying and filling dinner. Among other meals born of my giant quinoa pot are:

A great massaged kale salad recently featured on Sammy's "Vegan Pandamonium" -- the kale is massaged with avocado instead of oil, and then cooked quinoa is added -- it is so good!

Quinoa "porridge" for breakfast -- I just added some almond milk to the cold quinoa and microwaved it. The porridge was fine, but I was too morning-foggy to think about yummy additions that would have made it delicious like chopped, dried dates or maple syrup, etc. Next time . . .

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wynne's Favorite Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is so easy it's embarrassing, but it's what my little girl craves! Wynne has enjoyed lots of different pasta salads I've made throughout my vegan life, and strangely she thinks of all of them as the same, despite varying ingredients. I guess this is because I always find the rejected goodies: olives, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, spinach, arugula, etc. in the bottom of the bowl, so the parts she actually eats do happen to be the same. The common denominators in Wynne's salads are chick peas, sun dried tomatoes and a dressing made from Veganaise and balsamic vinegar.

So, when Wynne was under the weather yesterday I let her stay home, bundled her up and made her favorite meal. Here's the recipe:

Wynne's Favorite Pasta Salad
1 1/2 boxes of multi grain pasta
1 packet of julienned sun dried tomatoes (dry)
1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
4 Tbsp. Veganaise
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cool water and drain. Toss in the packetful of tomatoes and the chick peas, then whisk together the Veganaise and vinegar and incorporate into the pasta salad, mixing well. Finally, season to taste and mix again. 

I believe the trick to this dressing is to use very good balsamic vinegar. A cheaper vinegar might impart a sharp note which would clash with the tomatoes. An aged vinegar is rich, sweet and mild, without that tannic tang which would turn off a tender palate. I liked using the shell-shaped pasta this time. The chick peas tend to find their way inside the shells and the effect is kind of like a chick pea ravioli in texture. This pasta salad was an enormous quantity, but it was by design. Wynne's a bit like me -- if she enjoys a meal, she finds herself craving it again for the next few meals. Also, I always find my husband wanting to eat whatever I make for the kids, though not usually what I make for myself. My food is normally way-vegan and the kids' is just vegan in the guise of omni. Anyway, with the large amount, I knew I would be covered for the next several meals, no matter to whom it appealed. It worked. Wynne ate the salad for lunch yesterday, Wynne, her Dad and I ate it for dinner last night, and she finished it off at lunch today. It may seem this meal is a bit lacking in veggie content, but you'll have to remember it's a huge step up from store bought mac and cheese a couple of times a day, which is the way my kids used to eat.

An update on my shaggy messes conundrum -- I got a response from my wonderful friend, Sherri, who wisely stated that some of her best days were the result of no plan (paraphrasing here). Thanks Sherri! I took a deep breath at this and realized that there was no need to make decisions. I can just clean up my summer garden and let it lie fallow for a season while I plant a couple of things in some pots out of Buster's reach. Future planting decisions will be based on what happens during the fallow season. As for the mop on my head, I trust my hairdresser and think it will be fun to let her do whatever the heck she wants with it. Artists always love free rein. Besides, it's just hair. I did get a good night's sleep and everything makes much more sense today!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Shaggy and Without a Plan

There's my garden, AKA Buster's Estate. Here, at the end of the Summer season, where the Labor Day weekend dropped us from 94 degrees Fahrenheit to a chilly 64, I cannot expect much more from my burgeoning tomatoes. Any little green-orb effort the plants make is quickly nabbed off the vine overnight. The aubergines, all three varieties, are still hanging in there, and will likely become Eggplant Parmesan soon since I adored it so very much the last time I made it. Back to the tomatoes -- those are only five plants. Will you look at that shaggy mess? It's so long and unruly, but thin and without substance. It sort of reminds me of my hair:

Shaggy without a plan . . . I've loved it short since April, and have learned from my wonderful artiste of a hairdresser that a bit of a mess is much less aging on a short do than a carefully coiffed arrangement (the dreaded helmet-head!) So my technique is to run some product through with my fingers, blow dry in every direction for about 2 minutes and then choose a few fingerfuls to feature with a little wax. It's worked like a charm until now. My "pretty mess" is not so pretty anymore. I think my hair is falling out from the stress of raising teenagers (it doesn't get any easier, you moms of tots!) So now I have an unruly mop, not lustrous and thick as in days of old, and I have no plan. Shall I cut it short again? Shall I go even shorter? Is it time to grow it out? I don't think I even remember how to grow out a short cut.

With my garden I'm also at a decision point. After I tear out the unproductive tomato bramble, dare I sow a winter crop? I've no doubt Buster would adore a bit of variety, so the collards, broccoli and cauliflower I covet, alkaloid-less as they would be, wouldn't last a day with Buster around. Maybe a winter crop of gourds and winter squashes might fare better. If I plant anything that is appealing at all to Buster, am I only encouraging him to remain planted in my garden? Maybe if I leave the garden fallow for a season or two Buster would lose interest and move on to greener pastures. How long is a chipmunk's natural lifespan? Might he share the news of his present good fortune with other real-life Disney characters? In that case the topic of a chipmunk's lifespan is beside the point. The Buster and friends - cycle could potentially continue indefinitely.

I am feeling unusually decision-averse today, maybe my head is only addled from the change in the weather and a good night's sleep will set things right, but if you have any suggestions about my two shaggy messes, I'd love to hear them!