i.e. stuff I eat in a week. (Food post by request!)

People love food posts, and I’m here today to honor this popular request. And I get it. I like seeing what other people are eating, too. I don’t often post food pics on instagram, but I’m making up for it now with these pics showing the stuff I’ve eaten in the last week. It’s all vegan and gluten-free and delicious.

If you’re here for it, enjoy!

(Please to pardon the weird, yellowish overhead lighting in the dinner pics.)

Dinners:

Kale salad with green onion, fresh jalapeño pepper, grape tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, coarsely ground black pepper, hummus (my favorite: Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus); gluten-free whole grain toast; avocado

 

Kale salad

 

Brown rice spaghetti with vegan pesto and nutritional yeast; arugula salad with olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, and coarsely ground black pepper

 

Spaghetti with pesto

 

Miso soup; brown rice, tofu with shoyu (soy sauce) and fresh grated ginger, kimchee, green salad with olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and nori (seaweed)

 

Miso soup with plate of Asian randomness

 

Amy’s Rice Crust Roasted Vegetable No Cheese pizza with nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes; arugula with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and coarsely ground black pepper

 

Pizza buried in arugula

 

1-Pot Vegan Minestrone Soup: navy beans, brown rice pasta, carrots, green beans, onion, garlic, kale, zucchini, vegetable broth, canned fire-roasted tomatoes; gluten-free whole grain toast (not pictured)

 

Minestrone soup

 

Get this fabulous Minimalist Baker recipe here! I modified it slightly to our tastes by using less sugar (my preference) and no red pepper flakes (Callaghan’s preference).

Quinoa salad with brown rice, chickpeas, cucumbers, red bell peppers, red onions, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, coarsely ground black pepper; cold roasted sweet potato; kale sautéed in olive oil with fresh garlic

 

Quinoa-chickpea salad

 

Asian salad: Black Sesame Cold Noodles with Spring Veggies; fresh pan-fried teriyaki tofu; fresh green beans with shoyu and sesame seeds

 

Cold Asian noodles

 

Get this awesome Thug Kitchen recipe here! I modified it to use the veggies I had on hand. Rather than asparagus, I stirred in a “superblend” slaw of green cabbage, broccoli, kale, and carrots. Also, I made this with brown rice spaghetti rather than soba noodles.

Lunches:

Hummus sandwich with spinach and grape tomatoes on gluten-free whole grain toast

 

Hummus sandwich

 

Peanut butter and jelly on gluten-free whole grain toast (creamy natural peanut butter and no-sugar-added black raspberry jam)

 

Open-face PBJ

 

Chickpea “tuna” sandwich on gluten-free whole grain toast with arugula; grape tomatoes; sliced organic gala apple

 

Chickpea “tuna” salad sandwich

 

Junk version lunch! Amy’s Gluten Free Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap with Garden of Eatin’ Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and Frontera Jalapeño Cilantro Salsa with Roasted Tomato and Garlic; sliced pickled jalapeño peppers

 

Tofu scramble burrito

 

Breakfasts:

Gym mornings: Bear Naked V’nilla Almond Granola with Silk plain, unsweetened soy milk and creamy natural peanut butter

 

Granola with peanut butter

 

Non-gym mornings: Van’s Gluten Free Original Waffles with Earth Balance buttery spread; raw, unsalted mixed nuts

 

Gluten-free waffles with mixed nuts

 

Go-to snacks and desserts every day: fresh fruit; roasted and salted nuts and sunflower seeds; protein/energy bars.

 

Go-to snacks and desserts

 

There you go! I’m hungry. Oh – that Asian noodle salad is what we’re going to eat right now; I took the pic after I made it today. It’s been chilling in the refrigerator.

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

 

 

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Rant N’ Rave with the Stray Cats. (On small events.)

Ever notice how little wrenches thrown into the pattern of a 24-hour day make life interesting? I’m understanding the truth of this more these days, and that’s a good thing, as I mean “interesting” in a good way. I’m thinking small wrenches (nuisance) as opposed to giant ones (catastrophe).

Late Tuesday night last week, I got halfway into bed, all content, clean, and warm from the shower, cozy in my nightshirt and jammie pants.

A few hours later, I was not in bed. I was out on the back patio, working in our outdoor laundry room. I took a garbage bag and bagged up soiled, smelly blankets and linens. I dragged the carpet out of the room so I could remove everything else, and then I mopped, swept, and mopped a second time. I washed a wall. I wiped down shelves. I finally made it to bed three hours into Wednesday. And that was how last week Wednesday began. I shuffled through the day, because there’s a big difference between staying up late for normal reasons and staying up late due to unplanned, vigorous physical work in the middle of the night.

Parents of humans must feel something like this, I imagine. Kid throws up in the middle of the night, parent cleans up the aftermath and shuffles through the next day. Am I right?

I’m a cat parent; what happened on Tuesday night was an un-neutered stray cat availed himself of our outdoor laundry room’s cat door. When I rushed outside to confirm my suspicion, the stench slapped the confirmation onto my face the second I opened the door. Have you ever smelled un-neutered male cat spray?

This cat felt the need to make inhospitable a place where a different stray cat takes refuge. This other cat is female and spayed. She’s a black cat. This is the second time in three years I’ve been adopted by a female black cat, and I feel quite honored by this, I’ll have you know. (Some of you may remember Cita.) We call this one “Salem” after Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s black cat.

Anyway, I’m a black cat foster mom, is what I am, and my current foster baby is being bullied by this other cat. He’s long, tall, and fluffy, and he’ll be damned if another street kid finds a comfy refuge in a yard he can access. He must go in and do his duty of ruining it for her by marking “his” territory with a noxious spray. He sprayed in her bed, with everything around it winding up as collateral damage. Floor. Wall. Shelves. I don’t know how he did it, but he did. It was like he turned on his damn sprinkler system full-blast, rather than just using his hose. Or maybe that’s just how spraying works…?

[Sidenote: We’re trying to figure out how to stage a trap-neuter-release (TNR) for this cat. The challenge lies in trapping him, and not Salem or some other cat.]

I actually don’t know whether this male cat is a stray or simply someone’s roaming indoor/outdoor cat, but our little Salem is definitely a stray. She needs us.

[Second sidenote: sorry about the confusion of three similar words dotted throughout this post. I’m trying to keep “spray,” “stray,” and “spay” in separate paragraphs.]

If you’re wondering how I knew that a cat had gone into the laundry room, the answer is SURVEILLANCE. We have sensors and a camera with sound alert that also delivers images to our email inboxes. Someone goes into that laundry room, we hear it and see it.

 

Salem inspecting her laundry room bed two days post-incident

 

Speaking of cats! I’ll leave you with this picture of our Nenette, because I can. I got lucky with this one. She wasn’t as lucky. Neither was Holder the plant.

 

She thought she could get away with this.

 

All of this to say, I’ve realized that a nuisance caused by an unplanned event can keep me nimble mental health-wise, and I rather appreciate this. I wish it wasn’t at the expense of my foster kid, though.

 

 

 

Just a little something. (January Favorites!)

I sat down to work on my January Favorites post, then realized that I don’t have enough to form an actual list. Sudden events opened a black hole that swallowed the entire month. All good things, though! January vanished in a good way, but by the end of it, I’d noted nothing for this list. January was Big Things, not Little Things.

I can tell you that we loved the Netflix series You and Hemlock Grove. The former was unique (to us) in that we hadn’t seen a thriller series of the stalker-as-protagonist variety before. The latter is a horror series we couldn’t believe we hadn’t seen yet.

 

 

 

I can also tell you that we enjoyed 15 days of Grand Sumo Highlights… the first tournament of 2019.

 

(Grand Sumo opening ceremony)

 

I developed deep feelings for The Body Shop’s Vanilla Marshmallow Shower Gel (vegan and cruelty-free) and Amy’s Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap (vegan and gluten-free).

 

The Body Shop Vanilla Marshmallow Shower Gel

 

Amy’s Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap

 

(I have these wraps for lunch, though. Not for breakfast.)

What else? That would be it for this first Monthly Favorites post of 2019. It’s like January 2019, itself: short and sweet!

Happy Friday Eve, all.

 

 

Office tour, redux. (Plant babies!)

The title starts with “office tour,” but my main idea, I admit, is to be that person showing everyone (including innocent bystanders such as many of you) pics of my plant babies… as if everyone cares. I don’t have human kids, so you get to see my cat, tortoise, and plants, instead. Ha!

Wild exaggerations aside, the question du jour: How are my plant babies doing? I actually have been asked, so I will answer… with pics, of course. If you’ve been here a while, you may be interested in seeing the current plant situation chez moi. If you’re new, this post might be engaging for you, too, if you’ve ever wanted to peek into the office of a crazy plant lady.

I can’t say enough how much I love my plant-filled office. It pleases me greatly that the only color in here is green, and that my creative space feels fresh, clean, and alive. In the summer, my office feels cooler than any other room in the house, and I swear I can always breathe and think easier here. This space feels calm and light even when I crank up chaotic, dark, heavy music. Nenette (my child of the feline persuasion) stays in here with me most of the time, and she loves it, too.

Without further a-dew, the tour! Starting with what I see from my desk:

 

View from my desk

 

Behind me:

 

View from the doorway, looking to the left (corner behind my desk)

 

The plant stand on the right looks like it’s crooked, but it’s not. We’re looking at a trick of angle, I guess. Holder seems to love his position on that stand!

The plant on the stand beneath the shelf is Jerome, Holder’s buddy. Jerome has been struggling lately… I’m considering possibilities in helping him.

 

(Looking closer at the corner behind my desk)

 

Looking toward my closet from the corner (to the left of the window):

 

View from the left-hand corner in front of my desk (window wall opposite the doorway)

 

Barclay was my first plant in this house; I brought him home in 2014. He’s the one who started it all! Barclay has flourished, and he’s now delightfully out of control. He cascades, drapes, coils, entwines, and generally goes in any direction he pleases. He is lovely.

The mason jar on the little wall shelf on the left holds Barclay cuttings to be planted later:

 

(Looking closer at the wall on the other side of the window)

 

Looking toward my desk from the window wall, you can see eight of the 11 plants, including Flamingo (the potted tree on the right).

 

View from the window wall opposite the door

 

We get a better view of Flamingo looking diagonally across the room from the corner behind my desk where we started!

 

Back to the corner behind my desk: view of the whole room

 

And that, my friends, is it. What makes your personal space special to you?

 

 

Finding the fury. (Fitness post)

I don’t love cardio, but I need to do more of it – my fitness refrain over the last 12 months or so. Followers of my group fitness endeavors, remember when it was the opposite? When cardio was all I did, and I wanted to add strength-training? Now it’s strength-training (Body Pump) three times per week, and one cardio (Body Combat), the latter being consistently sporadic for one reason or another.

I don’t love cardio, but I do love combat sports training, which happens to be straight-up cardio when you do it as a group fitness class. I made it to Combat this week and realized why the focus there feels so different than my focus in Pump: it’s because my focus in Pump is inward. In Combat, it’s outward. It’s the same degree of focus, but projected in opposite directions.

This realization adds a dimension to my “I need to do more cardio” refrain. The balance of strength-training (Pump) and cardio (Combat) attracts me more in an energetic sense than a physical one. Eastern Philosophy 101.

My mental focus is different in Combat because in combat sports training, I’m focused on an opponent (hence the outwardness of it). This means that I have to first work myself up into a state of anger, or at least strong annoyance. That’s my pre-Combat prep: hone in on an opponent so I can direct my energy at a specific target. Sometimes, I’m mad at more than one entity or situation, and then I’m fighting multiple opponents.

Thus, my best cardio workouts are fueled by rage.

I get the most out of cardio when it’s combat-oriented and I’m fighting to the death. By the time class is over, I’m flying high on victory. I’m a finisher, and I won. It’s a post-workout euphoria that’s different than the post-workout euphoria I experience after a good Pump class; I need equal amounts of this euphoria in my life, and that’s the actual reason “I need to do more cardio.”

Everyone has a fitness epiphany in them somewhere. Find yours… find it to get your fitness journey started, or to refresh your fitness mojo. Whether you need to get off a couch or a plateau, finding what drives you to action can help.

 

[30 Jan. 2019, post-Combat water-guzzling]

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

 

 

And so on. (Taking requests!)

You know how it is when you’ve been – and still are – consumed by activities related to an exciting, personal life event and you have all kinds of stories and anecdotes to share with your readers about said event but you’re not able to talk about it so you try to think of other blog offerings and you keep coming back to the thing you can’t mention and then your written thought process devolves into a run-on sentence with no punctuation?

Yeah, I know the feeling.

And so I shall regale you with… (fill in the blank).

Yes, please feel free to tell me what you’d like to see in that blank. I’m taking requests!

I do get asked for posts on specific topics now and again, and I like to at least consider them. I actually honor most of them. There’s also the occasional nudge for updates on some of the life areas about which I regularly blather… mental health; fitness; minimalism; food; writing; poetry; music; plants; non-review movie reviews; veteran-related subjects, and so on. In any case, don’t be shy. I often keep comments here private, but I do read and reply to them.

I’ve been told that selfies and pics of oneself taken by others are always appreciated, so I’ll try to post more of those. The same applies to pics of fur-babies and scale-babies, so you’ll be seeing more of the kids, too. Nenette remains as difficult to photograph as a shy cat can be, but I do get lucky every once in a while. Geronimo, on the other hand, is as easy to photograph as any tortoise. He’s a ham, anyway, that guy. You know there’ll be an exuberant Geronimo update post when he emerges from hibernation!

On that note, may this find you enjoying a good (or at least okay) start to your week.

 

 

Aristotle said…. (a minimalism post, of sorts!)

Oh, the rabbit holes we tumble into when we venture to our bookcases with paring-down in mind! I’m still challenging myself to decide which books to keep in my minimalism efforts, though I know I’ll likely keep them all.

Many of my books are old textbooks from college and grad school. I minored in philosophy, so I have a few texts from those studies.

One can’t simply pull books from a shelf with a cursory flip-through. One must sometimes sit down with the books to open them and skim the pages. To be reminded. To be re-enlightened, maybe, or at least re-enchanted. We hang onto these books for a reason.

Philosophy, then. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle offered insights through his teaching, as philosophers tend to do, and it kind of blows my mind to note how the applicability of some of his insights remains timeless. Classical, indeed. Going through my old philosophy texts led me to search for more reading material about Aristotle online. There, I found a slew of quotes. I don’t know how to quantify a “slew,” but I trust that it’s a lot.

Aristotle, who was born in 384 BC, said the following:

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice, he is the worst.”

“He who is to be a good ruler must have first been ruled.”

“Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.”

“Men are swayed more by fear than by reverence.”

“Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered.”

“The most perfect political community is one in which the middle class is in control, and outnumbers both of the other classes.”

“Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.”

“Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved.”

“We make war that we may live in peace.”

Aristotle – born in 384 BC. Died in 322 BC. Immortal.

Well, this week I’ve found no books to donate. I knew I wouldn’t. I thought I’d consider it, anyway. I am still planning another round of donation-gathering, though! Some objects aren’t meant to be cherished forever… by me, anyway. I figure what I cherished yesterday, someone else can cherish tomorrow.