On Going Full Tilt: Vegan or Die

Let me preface this post by saying that I have only been officially vegan for approximately 3-4 months at this point. From January through March of this year, I flirted with veganism and I’ll be damned if it didn’t flirt right back. So much so that we made it official in March, and neither of us have looked back since. When I get into something new, I get REALLY EXCITED and I want to read everything about it and find cool websites and cool people and new stuff and new books and display my love proudly. To give everyone an idea, I have only read vegan or food industry books since November of last year, until last week when I downloaded “Under the Dome” by Stephen King to take my mind away from the insanity that is “Sugar Salt Fat” (more on that book later). I have bought approximately 30 vegan books or cook books since November. I subscribed to an obscene amount of vegan blogs. I printed off an even more obscene amount of recipes from said blogs (which I now realize is not very cool…save a tree, amiright?). I started researching vegan and cruelty free makeup, clothes, and shoes. Side note: Toms makes vegan shoes that are super duper rad. I think you all get the point. I heart being a vegan pretty hard.

But there’s a fine line between being really excited about something new and awesome in your life and being preachy to people, and I struggle with that. To Momma and Poppa Veg Head, I worry about their health. I generally don’t scream about the fact that the steak they’re eating once had a face and a momma (I’m not ENTIRELY insane), but I do try and help them make better choices so that they live longer. That way they can make fun of me for raising my kids as vegan and asking silly questions like “Is that apple juice made with HFCS? Don’t give that to Salem or Khalo or Madrid or whomever.”

I never wanted to be a preachy vegetarian and I don’t want to be a preachy vegan. NEVER. I guess the closest I hope to get is to discuss health with a friend, when asked. I’ve always had the impression that my diet was a burden on people, and I never wanted to be a burden. Nowadays I tend to not mention being a vegan or vegan food or vegan restaurants unless someone else brings it up, for the fear of sounding judgmental. What’s interesting, though, is that I’ve never had to answer questions about my diet when I ate meat. When I was a vegetarian, and now as a vegan, I am constantly barraged with questions and tricks to try and make me look like a hypocrite. It’s odd that one has to constantly defend a lifestyle that is generally accepted as the most healthy, best for the environment, best for the lives of others. Oh well.

Yes, I do this.

Yes, I do this.

From the Love Infinitely Project.

From the Love Infinitely Project.

Care of Herbivore Clothing. (I love elephants, fyi)

Care of Herbivore Clothing. (I love elephants, fyi)

Now on to the fun part. Since going vegan and apparently going full tilt cray cray, I have finally gotten my first vegan shirts and stickers. I was so very excited on Saturday when all of my goodies arrived! I am still waiting on one shirt to arrive from The Blonde Vegan (now The Blonde Veggie). I also ordered my first attempt at natural deodorant paste, care of Schmidt’s. Yes, I am a Veg Head, and I rub deodorant paste onto my armpits every morning. Once you get past the whole “What the hell am I doing”  part, it’s all gravy baby. Oh! And my Diva Cup arrived in the mail. More on that later (sans pictures).

Long story short (too late), I love and embrace this lifestyle. Going vegan has opened all kinds of fun and exciting doors to interesting people and amazing food. I completely understand the craziness that this can entail, but I welcome it with open arms. And an open mouth for vegan pizza.

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Farm Living: Round 2

Maybe I should have titled this entry: “Farm Living, the Final Round” or “I Get to Sleep in my Own Bed Tonight”. Because as I sit here, I no longer am house/petsitting in the country. This morning marked the final haul for me to feed the critters and make sure everyone was set up and good. I think I made it to Sunday before I was “over it”, but I think I was only over it because the house is SO FAR from everything. I went to a concert in Atlanta on Sunday night (Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket: the 90s Revival Tour) and it took FOREVER for me to get back to the house afterwards. For the most part, the animals were awesome. They’re sweet, friendly, loving, and just want some pets and treats (ALOT of treats; I am the petsitter, after all). The question is: do I still want a farm one day? Let’s see how the week on the farm went.

My favorite chicken (name unknown)

My favorite chicken (name unknown)

 

Senor Nova.

Senor Nova.

On Wednesday, I was a wreck. Totally anxious and nervous, wondering which animal would be the first to kick the bucket on my watch. I am proud to say that all animals survived my stay, though, to be honest, I can’t quite see all 7 of the frogs at any given time. I’m pretty confident that they are still amongst the living, but I can’t be sure. By Thursday night, I was feeling much better, my crappy first-nights-sleep notwithstanding. By Friday, I was a pro. I had their schedule down and knew all of their names (except for 4 of the chickens, but seriously? I had alot to remember). After work on Friday, I swung by and visited with my brother who works not far from this house. It was nice to get out of the housesitting/work/housesitting pattern for a little while.

Magical Marshall

Magical Marshall

On Saturday, I was most bitter to be woken up by the pups at the ripe hour of 6 am. I put them outside, fed the cats and the bunny, fed the chickens, then crawled back into bed for a late morning early mid afternoon nap. I did a little work on Saturday afternoon, which included bathing the bearded dragon lizard Marshall, and then swung by my house to swap clothes and visit with my cat. The LunaBearLove was VERY happy to see me, even though I must have smelled like a zoo to her. I went out to dinner with my whole family on Saturday night to Chili’s. Does anyone else ever sing “Chiliiiiiiiiiii’s…baby back ribs” in their heads when they see that restaurant? It always pops into my head, but sung in a Scottish accent ala Fat Bastard from Austin Powers. My brain is a fun place to be. At Chili’s, I rocked the black bean burger (no bun, no cheese, add guacamole) and it was delightful. The entire family helped me think of more movies for the list “Movies to See Before You Die” that we were making for our cousin. She naively asked “What movie is this?” while we were watching “Point Break” at the beach, and I almost threw her over the balcony. I mean, it’s not her fault. But we feel a responsibility as her family to force into watching the movies that make this world worth living. At the end, the list was 6 pages long, single spaced. I’m still thinking of movies that were not on the list, btw. The list will never end. After dinner, I drove back to the house and fell asleep at the late hour of 10 pm on a Saturday night. It’s a rough life I lead, let me tell you.

Come on over!

Come on over!

 

I have food!

I have food!

 

You'll love it, I promise!

You’ll love it, I promise!

 

Success!

Success!

 

Horse pets.

Horse pets.

Sunday began the same way Saturday did, with the pups waking me up at 6 am. You can’t blame them, though, because they hadn’t peed in many hours. I fed everyone then crawled back into bed for a nap. I peeked at my friend’s neighbors and was delighted to see that their horses were out. I have been given full liberty on feeding the horses carrots and apples. I got some food ready and went over and called to them. How does one call a horse? I ended up calling them over by waving a carrot and talking to them like they were cats, because that’s normal. Here’s the hilarious part of this: the horses had no clue who I was, yet I had food. They came over, I fed them, then when I ran out of food, they simply turned around and kept eating grass. Like this was no big deal. What an awesome life these horses live! They had a stranger feed them delicious food and then they bounced. Amazing.

Chastain.

Chastain.

The set list! (Courtesy of Counting Crows)

The set list! (Courtesy of Counting Crows)

After that, I got ready for the concert. Counting Crows is in my top two favorite bands of all time (the other is Fleetwood Mac; I’m seeing them in December with Poppa Veg-head!) so I was very excited to see them again. I had never been to Chastain before but the venue was super fun. I even treated myself to a band t-shirt. It was truly a beautiful night with great weather. Side note: Adam Duritz was in my dream last night, and we were just hanging out like old friends, and he was interested in a friend of mine even though I liked him. By the end of the dream, he was starting to notice me (little ol’ me!) in a more-than-friends way. Why the hell did I dream that last night? It’s just so crazy.

Getting home from the concert felt like I was playing Grand Theft Auto on crack. One of my headlights is a little wonky after my dad backed into my car, and the streets are super windy in the country. I felt bad about the dogs having been outside almost all day, but they were totally fine. No doubt they went for dips in the kiddie pool for entertainment.

Apparently when you hit 32 years of age, you can no longer go to sleep at 1 and wake up at 6 and pretend to function like a normal human being. I was nothing short of a WRECK on Monday. A total and complete hot mess. I was a walking freak show and hid in my office all day. I’ve realized that I need a minimum of 7.5-8 hours of sleep to feel normal. Back in the day, I was lucky to get 5 hours of sleep. But I was a young pup then (and most likely up to no good) so I could get away with it. I also guzzled coffee like water, but I digress.

The good news: I finished my book while waiting!

The good news: I finished my book while waiting!

Monday was a blur, but the animals were totally fine. They gave me some distance when I was a zombie, which I thought was kind. Tuesday was great, even though I pulled Jury Duty for half of the day, and I started to get happy that my housesitting duties were coming to an end. In a weird turn of events, I realized that I had gotten used to this schedule and these animals. I came to grips with the fact that I was going to miss that house and the animals, and being alone out in the country really soothed my soul. How did this happen? Honestly, I didn’t expect this at all. I had gotten used to our little routine and their big personalities; and sleeping with 5 dogs in your room is actually better than I imagined.

Farm life.

Farm life.

Yes, I still want a farm. Yes, I want cows and pigs and goats and turkeys and chickens and sheep on my farm. I may be insane, but the animals will still love me.

Farm Living: Round 1

I am currently pet/housesitting for a dear friend for the week, and, if I may say so, it’s pretty intense. My friend is an amazingly kind person and loves animals as much as I do, if not more. She will take in a stray quick, with no judgments. All signs pointed to the fact that they needed a vacation as much as I needed to be alone with 27 animals. In fact, here was the weather outlook for yesterday:

Dig, kitty!

Dig, kitty!

See? Farm life was a-calling. I headed there after work to settle in for my week of living in the sticks and I was greeted by: 5 dogs, 5 chickens, 3 cats, 3 stray cats outside, 1 bunny, 1 bearded dragon, 2 birds, 7 frogs, and innumerable crickets. This was exactly where I needed to be. I think I want to own a farm one day? This will be a great way to test that.

Pixie

Pixie

 

Charlotte

Charlotte

Merlin

Merlin

The dogs are AMAZING and sweet and adorable. I mean, look at those smiles! They chill outside all day with the sunshine, a huge fenced in yard, and a kiddie pool to cool off in. What a happy life, right? The chickens are so inquisitive and amazing. They will try and dart out of their coop to go roost in the dirt, and if you’re lucky, a chicken will jump onto your back when you have a hand full of meal worms. Happens to us all, right? Meal worms, come to find out, is the crack equivalent to chickens. Along with watermelon. The more you know!

Bock bock, ladies.

Bock bock, ladies.

This is my life.

This is my life.

Their three cats are also super cool. Trinity has an amazing and sweet personality. Casanova (I have shortened it to “Nova”, because I ain’t got time for that) was lightly standoffish, but I have snuck in a pet or two. Rembrandt has flown by me in a flash of white. I will never pet her and it makes me sad.

Nova

Nova

I slept in a series of naps last night, mostly because there were 5 dogs sleeping near me as opposed to my one cat. Lots of movement, some shuffling, and several thoughts of “Why are my hands balled so tight? Ahhhhh anxiety, welcome back, old friend.” 27 animals, as it turns out, is A LARGE NUMBER OF ANIMALS to take care of. I know I’ll get the hang out schedules and feedings, but seriously, I’m worried that one will die on my watch. The simple statistics of one dying on my watch have risen due to the fact that there are so many.

So, do I still want a farm? Yes. Yes I do. But, let’s see how much has changed in a week from now. Those chickens are hatching some sort of plot against me, I can tell.

To Diva Cup or Not to Diva Cup

Let’s get real, friends. Let’s cut the BS and talk, virtually, about a topic near and dear to my heart. At least, it’s near and dear to my heart once a month. You know what I’m talking about: Aunt Flo, the monthly visitor, that damn bastard of a period. So annoying that there’s really nothing positive I can say about it at all. I’m hormonal, I cry, I eat, I hate, I’m in pain, I swell, I’m sore. Then, when it’s finally over and I forget about it for three weeks, that bastard comes back again like nothing ever happened. Like I don’t have a reason to hate it. But I do.

For me, I’ve always hated tampons. Generally all is well with them. But sometimes I can just feel them, ya know? At 32 years old, I still seemingly cannot gauge my own flow and I will use pads as a backup at times. And if I can just be frank for a moment (I mean, look how far we’ve come already), I AM OVER IT.

Tampons and pads can be expensive, and I don’t think we even need to mention how much waste it produces. Plus, I hate having to shove a tampon in the sleeve of my sweater when I go to the bathroom at work. Anyone else do that? I’m always so scared that people will hear the “crinkle” of the tampon wrapper and then they’ll know. Then, if you’re staying somewhere for the night or traveling, you have to throw a ton of those tampons in your bag just to be on the safe side. God help you if someone goes in your bag and sees tons of tampons hanging out. They are just annoying.

So in my quest to move more towards a more natural state of living (minimizing is next!) I have started to research the Diva Cup. What, pray tell, is the Diva Cup? Let your eyes feast on this beast: http://divacup.com. The Diva Cup is a  menstrual cup that you wear internally to collect your menstrual flow. WHAT. I know, seriously…I get it. It sounds crazy. From the reviews I have read, the hardest part is trying to figure out how that sucker is supposed to fit inside you. We can thank the internet for YouTube, because there are a plethora of videos (non graphic) that show you how to give it a whirl. Most of the reviews claim that after you get the hang of insertion, you just cannot feel it. Seriously? How do you not feel it at all? I am very intrigued.

It’s a somewhat pricey investment, ranging from $29.99 – $39.99. It will pay for itself in a few months, and it supposedly lasts for a very long time. Also, you can leave it in for 12 hours. That beats the risk of that crazy toxic shock syndrome. After you remove it, you do have to dump your menstrual flow, wash it, then insert it again. I understand that this part may prove tricky if you’re in a public restroom or a port-a-potty. Some reviews say that you can simply wipe it clean with toilet paper and keep it moving. You can even urinate and have bowel movements with it inserted.

I am interested enough to try this out. In fact, I am hoping to order it soon so that I can use it the next time Aunt Flo knocks her big work boots around. Too bad I don’t live close to a Whole Foods (for various reasons), or else I would grab this sucker tonight. I will be reporting back on this process. Wish me luck in the madness that is the Diva Cup world!

Jenny Brown’s “The Lucky Ones”

As soon as it arrived in the mail from the lovely Amazon, I stopped whatever food industry book I was reading and began reading Jenny Brown’s “The Lucky Ones.” I ended up reading this book in about 3 days, not including time spent crying. And yes, it made me cry.

Jenny Brown is one of my newest unsung heroes. You see, many of my new heroes are those that pave the way for others in this world, and these people do this without much hesitation. They do what needs to be done. The common folk would most likely not name Jenny Brown as a hero, and therefore she is unsung. But after reading this book and learning of her life’s work, she will remain firmly planted in my “I Want to be Like Them When I Grow Up” list.

Hero.

Hero.

This all started with Gene Baur and Farm Sanctuary. So we can blame him for his awesomeness. He began Farm Sanctuary (http://www.farmsanctuary.org) many moons ago and he has based his life’s work on helping farm animals that come from factory farming, hoarding, and breeding situations. These animals are intelligent, gentle, kind, loving, and have a mommy just like we all do. The wonderful people at Farm Sanctuary make sure these farm animals never know anger, fear, hunger, or loneliness like they once did. Side note: did you know that 99% of all meat eaten comes from factory farming? If you don’t know what factory farming is, read about it at the Farm Sanctuary website. Better yet, watch “Earthlings.” Be warned, it will change your life forever.

Farm Sanctuary lead me to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary which lead to me to Jenny Brown, Woodstock’s co-founder. Her book is amazing and witty, full of love and life. I cried when I read about her losing her cat, because one day I will lose mine. The mere thought of my cat dying is enough to make me sob. I found my journey to veg-head to be similar to Jenny’s. I was not born vegan and neither was Jenny.  It took many years, for the both of us, to find what best suited us. Her book is filled with amazing stories of what lead her down this path. She is a very talented person that had an amazing career, and she decided to choose a different path. There are many differences between Jenny and I (and it’s not just that she has a prosthetic leg), but there is one huge one that resonated with me while reading her book.

Jenny is brave, while I am not. My desire to work on a farm sanctuary has grown to epic proportions recently. I want to quit my job, take all of the money I have, and move to a farm sanctuary so that I can help these animals. I want to learn the ins and outs of running a farm. I want to wake up to roosters crowing. I want to learn all of the quirks of these animals and be chased for belly rubs. I want to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow because I am exhausted from feeding animals all day long. I want to be with like-minded people that are vegans and share recipes and share the load. I want to greet the newest animals and help clean the barns and understand the way animal sounds are amazing. I want to live this life.

But I am scared. Who the hell does that? I’m leaving my family and my freakishly adorable nephews to go feed farm animals? To go live somewhere else? Who would understand that? Who would support that decision? I am envious of Jenny because she did what her heart told her to do. And against all odds, she followed her heart to help animals. She created a safe place for them where their every need is forever met. She is an unsung hero of mine.

When I begin teaching in the fall of 2015, I’ve already decided that I want to intern at a farm sanctuary for the summer of 2016 (summers off for teachers ftw!). If I choose not to dedicate my entire life to farm animals, I can dedicate my summers to them.

Please check Woodstock and Jenny out: http://woodstocksanctuary.org/

What did you do when you learned the truth about eating animals? – Jonathan Safran Foer

On turning another year older and inviting children to your birthday party…

It’s official. I am 32 years old. When did that happen? I feel like I blinked and suddenly I’m sliding right into my mid-30s. It all starts becoming so real…10 years ago, I graduated from college. My oldest nephew is 7 years old. And I invited 8 children to my birthday party. I even made goody bags for the kids. To be honest, I made goody bags for my friends also, because I’m just that kind of bad ass.

I wanted to do a dinner party for my birthday, to sort of showcase the fact that us veg-heads do not skimp on the flavor or love when we eat or cook. We eat delicious foods that are amazing and beautiful. I also didn’t want to frighten my friends by having tofu or miso glazed tempeh rolls, so I opted for a simple menu that they could replicate for their families. I hope this is the first of many dinner parties I hold.

I started this birthday slightly different than birthdays past. I didn’t get a tattoo, though I did think of getting one. I’m infamous for getting tattoos on or around my bday, because why not? I have no regrets. This year, the thought of plopping down $100 for a tattoo was overshadowed by the fact that I’m going to Spain in October. That $100 could be buying me red wine and delicious paella and Spanish trinkets. I decided to be  lame responsible and opt out of the birthday tattoo. Grown up!

I went to Dough Bakery (http://www.doughbakery.com/) and picked up my birthday cake: red velvet with cream cheese frosting. BOOM! Deliciousness in your mouth. While there, I enjoyed their cuban sandwich. So money, it doesn’t even know how money it is. When I ate meat I never really liked sandwich meat, mostly because it’s greasy and disgusting. But at Dough, they offer vegan lunch meat which is outstanding. I don’t even really understand it. Except to say “more please!”

El Cuban

El Cuban

MONEY.

MONEY.

I then went to Whole Foods (shocking!) but quickly left when I realized that they were selling avocados at 2 for $5. You read that right. This is avocado robbery! I needed 8 avocados, and I’m sorry, but I’m not going broke for the sake of the guac. I headed to Kroger instead and regret nothing.

Flavor country.

Flavor country.

I treated myself to a movie Friday night and some delicious hummus at the Movie Tavern. It was beyond good. I saw “A Million Ways to Die in the West” and if you love Family Guy, you will love this movie. Lots of poop humor and sexual innuendos, which is right up my alley.

Movie Tavern Hummus.

Movie Tavern Hummus.

Saturday morning, on the anniversary of my birth, I ran a 5k with a good friend. It was humid as all hell, but I got to see an amazing rainbow in the morning, so all was well. I didn’t have the best time, but I’m determined to not give a shitake about my race times until 2015. So what I got is what I got. I finished, and that’s all that matters!

Errr...taking pictures is ok, right?

Errr…taking pictures is ok, right?

Finished!

Finished!

After that, I got to chopping. On the birthday dinner party menu: homemade hummus, homemade cheese dip, tons of fresh veggies, chips n salsa, pita bread, homemade guac (spicy and not spicy), homemade pico de gallo, and all of the fixings for a make-your-own-burrito/taco kind of night. Who doesn’t like burritos and tacos? Exactly! I had frozen pizzas for my friends’ kids along with plenty of legos to keep them entertained.

Veggie central.

Veggie central!

 

Taste the rainbow.

Taste the rainbow.

The cheese dip was AMAZING. If you haven’t read Fork and Beans, please start now (http://www.forkandbeans.com/2014/04/24/vegan-queso-dip/) because Cara is awesome and an amazing blogger and cook. I want to be like her when I grow up. Please note that there is not picture of said cheese dip because we ate it all.

I believe I over chopped my way into a dangerous category of “over prepared”. But I figured that more food is better than running out, so I have fresh veggies for days at the house now. My friends were troopers for heading outside the city and for eating an all vegan meal. They even loved Dough’s cake, but then again, everyone loves Dough. I ate leftover cake for breakfast the next morning.

Breakfast of champions.

Breakfast of champions.

We all went to the Gwinnett Braves game on Saturday night which made my heart burst: a beautiful sunset, lots of tall beers, and walking around barefoot. Total Heaven. Nothing could have been better.

GBraves

GBraves

Sunday morning, I met Miss J$ and we saw “The Fault in our Stars.” J$ was correct to bring an entire box of kleenex with her. There was no judging as we took turns grabbing kleenex to wipe our tears…that movie is sad, but oh so good. Okay? Okay. And for the second time in a weekend, I had that damn hummus at the movie tavern. It made the sadness slightly better.

I followed the movie up with an epic nap. You know those kinds of naps that cause you to not know what day or time it is when you awake? It was that kind of nap. A birthday nap. For us olds.

I also got my Peachtree Road Race number in the mail this weekend, and I’m Jessie Spano type of excited. I made it a goal last year to be in the PRR in 2014, and it’s becoming a reality. Again, I don’t care about my time at all. I could walk the whole thing if I wanted (it will be HOT, so walking is a possibility). But at least I’m doing it.

!!!

!!!

And that, friends, was my birthday weekend. Oh, and did I mention that my dad backed into my car for my birthday? It happened.

10 Things I Love: Thursday Edition

Welcome to Thursday! Isn’t a great feeling when you wake up and think, “I am thisclose to the weekend…let me not murder today”? I awoke with a purring cat laying on my chest which begged the urge to call into work and fake diarrhea, but today was my birthday party at work. I couldn’t miss the train wreck that was presenting hummus and veggies when everyone expected cake. On to the list:

1. Charming Charlie. For reals, y’all. Get it together. This joint offers jewelry, clothes, bags…and it’s ORGANIZED BY COLOR. It doesn’t make any sense. Go there now. http://www.charmingcharlie.com/

2. Chadwick’s Produce. This place is a hidden treasure. In Gwinnett County, this is the place to go for delicious blood red tomatoes that taste like a tomato should. Do you ever get a tomato from the grocery store that tastes like nothing? They make me angry inside and out. I adore this place. https://www.facebook.com/ChadwicksProduce

3. Making Lists. This should go without saying, simply because you’re reading a list that I’ve made. But I LOVE making lists. I will make a list, then remake it to look prettier or in a different notebook. Yes, I use notebooks like I’m a 13 year old.

4. Traveling. I just went to the beach, and before that I was in Mobile for Mardi Gras (it originated there, get it straight). Before that it was New York to visit my yankee homie FritzlePie. This October, I’m heading to Spain with Miss J$. If I don’t travel often enough, I get stir crazy. I love all parts of it, even the lame parts where you are waiting in the airport and wondering if you’re going to get another cinnabon or not. The answer is always yes, by the way.

5. Yoga. I’ve been going to yoga twice a week since November. I’m obsessed. I’m currently trying to join the rest of my class as they pop into the air in their shoulder stands, but I think my big boobs are preventing me from such. I’m stronger, saner, and my arms have serious definition happening. Yoga makes me happy. This is where I go: http://www.yogaindailylifeus.org/atlanta.htm

6. Work Out Gear. Am I the only one that constantly is saying, “I need new tank tops” or “Now I need shorts because it’s hot outside”? I’m actually going to buy more today after work…I may have a slight problem.

7. Fitbit. Though I did go through a spell of not being able to locate my fitbit, I love this guy. It will track your steps and your sleep. You can log your food and exercise, too. I finally found it and am back to double-tapping it to see how many steps I’ve taken. This thing is slightly addictive!

8. Real Housewives – All of them. Sad, but true. I love reality TV. I don’t like the Miami one, and I’ve given up on Atlanta because those ladies are too cray for me. But NYC, OC, and Jersey? I get excited when they start back up again.

9. Planning Races. I also have a slight problem with getting WAY too excited about races. In 2015, I’m planning on doing a race a month, if not more frequently. I love the race environment. But seriously, I may need to calm it down on searching for new and exciting races and worry more about actually jogging. But who wants to do that?

10. School Supplies. Yes, I said it. My dreams of becoming a teacher again finally make sense. It’s so I can be surrounded by pencil cases and paper clips all the time.

Life is but a Beach: airbrushing and all

Friends, I’m back from the beach. I didn’t want to come back, and I gave serious thought on how to: (1) quit my job, (2) find a new job at the beach, (3) retrieve my cat from Georgia. Turns out that I’m slightly more responsible (lame?) than I once was, and so I came shuffling back home. This was not before I rocked that beach as hard as an almost-32-year-old can, going to bed at 11 pm notwithstanding. Welcome to the recap.

I miss you already, beach.

I miss you already, beach.

Remember how stressed I was at the mere idea of a family vacation? I have no doubt I am not alone in fearing it, but I fear it no longer. There was no drama, no real stress, no major issues. Have we grown up? Is this maturing? Or were we simply enjoying this wonderful vacation? I will say, the time apart made it all worthwhile. The days when the guys golfed meant the girls (and nephews) went to the beach and/or pool or went shopping. Speaking of shopping, has anyone else found that the BEST antique stores are in Florida? Check out my goods:

Swag!

Swag!

That would be a James Beam decanter (on sale for $5. WHAT.), a hand painted ceramic owl from Mexico, and an old wooden box. I have a severe “trinket” addiction. I also got 5 movies and all told it came to $40. I win! The crappy picture doesn’t do the goods justice. More importantly, let’s talk about food:

Grub.

Grub.

The one redeeming part of Margaritaville.

The one redeeming part of Margaritaville.

Food, as a vegan in Florida, wasn’t actually an issue whatsoever. The biggest problem I had was at the overpriced Margaritaville, where they brought out a turkey burger instead of my veggie one. By the time I got my burger, everyone was basically finished with theirs. Life goes on. In most places, I got a side salad, a baked potato, and some veggies. At one restaurant, the waitresses’ daughter was a vegan, so she helped me navigate what I could order. Score!

The vegetarian lover sandwich (w/o mayo or cheese).

The vegetarian lover sandwich (w/o mayo or cheese) at Trigo.

At another restaurant, Trigo, I was delighted by one of the most delicious sandwiches and homemade hummus ever. I basically licked the plate clean. If you’re going for lunch, be forewarned: they will run out of items the closer it gets to 3:00 pm. Get there early and eat until your heart’s content. Check them out: http://www.trigosfdeli.com/.

Seed cheese. Yum!

Seed cheese. Yum!

Zen garden.

Zen garden.

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The greatest place I found was the Lotus Cafe (http://zengardenmarket.com/). This place was a slice of heaven. I could have easily spent hours on their patio, listening to the waterfalls, and watching lizards. I enjoyed an “Alkalize Now” juice and the “Seed Cheese” appetizer. The seed cheese was really amazing, made simply from sunflower seeds and yummy garlic and whatnot. Go raw cheese! I wish I could have gone back a second time, but I will be back in the future.

#airbrush4eva

#airbrush4eva

Possibly the greatest thing that happened at the beach was getting an amazing airbrush shirt, complete with a unicorn and rainbow. What else do I need in life? Exactly. Only this will do as clothing from here on out.

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As this post clearly shows, I already miss the beach. Maybe I will make it a goal to get to the beach, any beach, once a year. It is worth your mental health to relax and dip your toes in the sand. I feel recharged, and suddenly ready to turn another year older on Saturday. If you need me, I’ll be wearing my airbrushed shirt under my work clothes for a while.