Sunday, June 26, 2011

life-affirming hippie mumbo-jumbo (and a menu)

It's easy to get bogged down in the everyday nonsense that can follow us around.  It's even easy to allow pointless and uncontrollable stress to follow you around in your dreams (there's no better way to greet Saturday morning than waking up from a nightmare about your boss and his boss bullying you in a TV-Drama-sinister kind of way).  Sometimes, I know I need to take a step back and find some simple joy.  How about you?

It seems like every time I look in the mirror (all these lines in my face getting clearer) I just see more and more non-black hair.  It's becoming inescapable and though I know I've earned it, I'm just not ready to admit I'm old enough to have this darn much silver hair.  Some of my friends, looking at their own non-colored hair, choose to accept and even appreciate it.  These friends are in much more fulfilling moments of their lives than I - one is living her dream as an Assistant DA in Wisconsin, another is an amazing working mom of a beautiful, intelligent, and well-behaved daughter, in addition to putting up with her husband, my friend.  When I see my silver hairs, all I see is time that got away from me and wasted potential (which has always been one of my biggest peeves).

But hey, wait!  Let's turn this around.  When I was younger and browner, I made a decision about what I would do when my hair stopped being brown (this was also before I started dying it every color under the sun).  I said that if my hair came in gray, I would dye it until my final day on earth; if it came in white, I would make my decision when the appropriate time came.  If it came in silver, I decided, I would allow myself to "age gracefully."  See, even as a naive youth, I regarded sparkly silver hair as a thing of beauty.  Imagine my surprise when I realized today that 1/3 of my hair is not gray.  It is not white.  It is silver.  It is beautiful.

It is still going to be dyed for a few more years, though.  I'm too young for this.

Just before this great revelation, though, I had another moment of joy.  Strangely enough, it happened in the dressing room of a clothing boutique.  Many women love shopping and most of those women think I should love shopping, too, since I have such a terrific and apparently enviable figure.  I have not seen it that way - I hate shopping the way men hate shopping, maybe even more.  I go to stores and have either a crisis of conscience (can I really justify purchasing something made in Myanmar or China? Can I ignore the human suffering that allows me such a low price?) or a crisis of body image, but either way, the dressing room is normally not a pleasant place for me.

Regardless, I needed a new dress, one that was professional yet flattering, appropriate but showing my personality (and not my tattoos).  It is nearly impossible to find a size 4 in most grown-up clothing stores and there are not many work-appropriate dresses in the juniors stores, so my method of shopping was something like this:
  • is there at least SOME black on it?
  • is it a size 4?
  • is it made of "real" fabric and tailored-looking?

It feels really good to slip on a non-stretchy size 4 dress and have it fit so well that it could probably even be taken in an inch for a "perfect" fit.

I feel pretty confident that I can pull that off because of how invested I am in making good choices about food.  They aren't always "healthy" choices, but they are balanced and I feel good about the way I eat (most of the time).  Once upon a time, I didn't take so much care of myself and I was 25 lbs heavier than I am now, wearing a tight size 8 (I'm only 5'4").

Speaking of eating....

The newest issue of VegNews showed up in my mailbox yesterday with Portia de Rossi smiling back at me from the cover.  I'm only a few pages in (it's fortunate that VegNews only sends out bi-monthly issues - it takes me about that long to thoroughly read through each issue), but I'm feeling peaceful and inspired by the good others are doing in this world.  It evokes a certain longing in me to also do something that makes a difference, but it takes all kinds of people to make this world turn, and I am not an innovator.  Something special, though, that caught my eye is an amazing thing going on at the Jersey Shore (the real one).

Papa Ganache is a vegan, allergen-sensitive bakery in New Jersey.  Hey!  I can read your minds - you're thinking "Whoop-de-do, another 'special needs' bakery selling $5 cupcakes made of faeriedust and angelwings."  Wait - there's more, though I think faeriedust should be enough.  In addition to making delicious and beautiful baked goods from faceless ingredients, the owner/founder of Papa Ganache is a licensed psychotherapist who has turned her bakery into a social service outreach of sorts.  She gathers up some young folks in need of quality time with quality adults and allows them to work in the bakery, learning about nutrition and veganism, as well as job skills for the future.  If the mentored kids want to, once the program is over, they can remain part-time employees or volunteer their assistance.

If you're in the area, I encourage you to check it out - I know one stop Mister and I will make the next time we head down to Wildwood for some K Family fun.  If you live somewhere really far away from New Jersey, though, at least check out the feature in VegNews - it should make you proud to see what one human can do when she bothers to care.

Another surprising part of the day was falling upon a website that says "happy birthday" to vegan and vegetarian celebrities, including (to my surprise):
  • Joan Jett
  • Brigitte Bardot
  • Kate Winslet
  • Weird Al Yankovic (who is also featured in the new VegNews)
  • Vanilla Ice
  • Anthony Kiedis
  • Katie Holmes (wonder about Tom?)
  • Vanna White (I think that is so awesome...and probably how she keeps her Evening-Gown-Figure for Wheel of Fortune)
  • Steve Jobs
  • Michael Bolton
  • Bernadette Peters
  • Ke$ha (but she's still gross)
  • Olivia Wilde
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Leona Lewis
  • Colbie Caillat
  • Ghostface Killah (I'll admit, that surprised the heck out of me)
  • LaToya Jackson
In other news, Mister seems to be a bit sick, so he didn't want dinner.  I was completely okay with just heating up the leftover po'boy mix and stuffing it into a warmed up roll, so no big fun dinner news, but I do have the new menu.  I didn't get through all of the meals on last week's menu, especially since it was 7 items long, so I'm going to list the items I still have to make, along with our new items.

1. Lentil, Spinach, and [To]Feta Salad from The Low GI Cookbook.  Since it's not very substantial and we didn't have a dinner tonight, it will probably end up as an accompaniment to a more homogenous dinner in need of some green.

2. Vegetable Chili Bowl, also from The Low GI Cookbook.  I probably should have picked up tortilla chips at Superfresh today.  It's been too long since I made chili - I'm out of practice.  We'll see what the selection is like at Trader Joe's (yes, Trader Joe's - story in a minute).

3. Chickpeas and Dumplings from Peas and Thank You.  It's times like these I really wish I'd convinced Mister to move to the Pacific Northwest or at least California/Nevada/Tahoe, because it's just too darn hot in Philadelphia right now for me to get the motivation to make this no matter how incredibly tasty I expect it to be.  And yes, we do have our A/C on, but I haven't turned it cold enough to make this yet.

4. Soy Chorizo Veggie Wrap from Philly Broadcaster.  Honestly, a blog about What's Happening in Philadelphia was the last place I expected to find our dinner recipe, but there it was, along with a specific location for the vegan chorizo I've scoped out the whole city to find.  Well...the whole city except the place that has it: Trader Joe's.  So I'm planning to take a bus across town to get at least the chorizo, but as long as I'm all the way over on 21st and Market, I may as well see if they have anything else I need.  It will lessen the load I have to carry on my back from Whole Foods, as well as the price tag - TJs tends to be a little less expensive than WF, which is helpful right now (weekend before paycheck day).

5. Jerk Seitan on Coconut Rice, both from Vegan With a Vengeance.

6. Lemony Garlic Chickpea Patties from Vegan on the Cheap with Middle Eastern Chopped Salad from Vegan Express.

7. Pasta Puttanesca from Vegan Express, possibly with the lentil salad, but probably with a roasted green veggie (broccoli/asparagus - cost will decide).

I'll leave you with the pretty and amusing image that left work with me last night.  The weight loss counselors do funny little things from time to time for no reason other than to raise/maintain morale among the employees.  This Friday was Mocktail Day - they made alcohol-free Bay Breezes, Mimosas, Fuzzy Navels, Shirley Temples and a few other things.  Because I actually started my career with the company as a counselor myself, they hold a special little place in their hearts for me, so when I came out of the training room, located in their wing of the building, no doubt looking haggard and worn, they stopped me so they could make me a mocktail.

So, there is my Shirley Temple in a coffee cup, complete with two maraschino cherries and a paper parasol.  It was a sweet thought and a nice "appetizer" to whet my appetite for the Tempranillo-Merlot that would accompany dinner...ah, Friday.

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