Never giggle when a fellow hiker or friend slips. Karma is everywhere in nature. Result: slipping not once, not twice but three different times. Worst part? It wasn’t even rainy or muddy.
Always pack a few extra sweaters because you know your friends won’t. Yes, even in summertime.
When sitting atop a mountain at sunset, cups become irrelevant. The wind has a way of disposing of drinks prematurely.
Ticks are likely to make the party.
When relieving your bladder in nature, just remember ‘downwind’.
When with friends who are in possession of a camera or iPhone, always just assume they are recording.
When an amigo goes in to pick you up either give in or fight back. Going stiff into fetal position may result in bruised ribs.
Even with two men and a lady there’s still going to be a fight for control of the music playlist.
I’m still terrified of heights.
PBR is vegan-friendly.
and finally …
- Only you can prevent forest fires.
It has officially been one week since I said “au revoir” to any and all animal by-products. I spent my last weekend as a vegetarian with my best friend, and the best sister ever to exist. Amy flew in on Thursday and stayed through Saturday. The 4 days she was here was a complete whirlwind. We hit The Biltmore, our mom’s for two days, Old Salem, downtown Asheville with some awesome buds and a hike just hours before she was to take off on her plane ride home. I didn’t want the weekend to end, but I was excited to start my new lifestyle.
On my first day I managed to hike a bit of the infamous Appalachian Trail - in rain, cold temperatures, dense fog, high winds and muddy inclines no less. Though it was hard to see anything, it was still a beautiful experience. So much so that I am planning to do the entire trek, a whopping 2,181 miles, next year. Just in the last week I have done so much research on the Trail that having to wait another 10 months or so will prove difficult. When inspiration comes to me I typically have to create an outlet as soon as humanly possible, but I am also someone that feels the need to complete something in whole once I start it - so the waiting will be necessary.
On day two I woke up early, made myself a superfood smoothie and hit the road. First stop was the book store. I love grabbing a few books and magazines and snatching up one of the comfy chairs and skimming through each one. It used to be that I was the girl that was always in and out of a place, always in such a hurry, that I never got to appreciate what a little peace felt like. Next I stopped into Trader Joes for some essentials and to chat up the check-out lady I find to be most interesting. Then I was off to Whole Foods, which is like heaven on Earth to me. On average I make it in there a few times a week. The staff is always so engaging and helpful and I am always finding something new to toy with. I’ve recently become obsessed with kale and sweet potatoes. I go through kale like a baby goes through diapers. It is said to be the ‘perfect’ superfood. I agree. After my ‘normal’ two hours roaming through the store I headed home to get ready for what would end up being a great night out with a dear friend and wonderful cousin. We hit the road as soon as she got off of work and had dinner at Early Girl Eatery. Before I go on, let me just take a minute to tell you how in love I am with Asheville, NC. The diversity, the beauty, the culture, the food, the people … I love it. Ok, so I had the Vegan BBQ Bean Burger and fries with sea salt - which was delicious. Everything I have ever had there is nothing short of amazing, plus it reminds me of a former post I once served in LA called Swingers, except with a little more of a country twist. Anyway, after dinner we walked down to The Orange Peel. I scored some tickets to see Amos Lee and asked Lisa to join - since she’s one person I know that will always appreciate ‘the sexy’. It was an amazing show. The combination of PBR and sexy music always amounts to a great time. Amos is delicious and his voice, along with the likes of Otis Redding, Bill Withers and Ray LaMontagne just makes you want to grab a random person on the street to share a passionate kiss with. Ok, maybe not literally but it’s just sexy music. We also ran into Andie MacDowell, who was ever-so-cute. The ride home was just as good. I love grown-up, girl time with Lisa. We laugh over the stupidest things, and cry over things just as dumb but every second is so meaningful.
Wednesday marked my third day, and a very early start. I started watching the little ones again during the day and I must admit that vegan life really started to show it’s power that day. While my muscles were sore from the hike on Monday, I still felt energized. More than I had been in quite some time without the aide of a dash of caffeine - which I have also nearly said ”so long” to. I’m limiting myself to, at most, one cup of green tea a day. The rest of the day I drink fresh juices or hibiscus tea - another fave. Wednesday was fun, despite the number of poops I had to clean up that day, a minor hazard when spending the day with kids.
Thursday was the same except ’boy’ was with us. We played, Eli let me do her hair - after which she insisted that I put every bow she owned on her head, and then I ran off to work downtown that night, a job I love.
Friday was a repeat of Wednesday, except once again I ran off to work downtown. It was a slower night so we closed a little early and everyone got to indulge in their shift drinks a tad sooner. It’s great working with such a small staff, and for people that encourage personal style and being true to yourself.
Saturday was another errand day, though I hate to call them errands since I love making the trips. Off to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods I went, spending yet another few hours perusing the aisles. I never go in with a plan, I just sort of ‘eye’ things and create things in my head to make. Work that night was a little crazy, maybe it was the approaching ‘rapture’ that was said to occur or just the fact that there is always something going on in the city, but busy nonetheless.
Yesterday was yet another crazy day. Lisa had asked me to help out with a lunch she was making for some new friends that she had invited over. I, of course, obliged since I’ll use any excuse to create and cook. I made a Rosemary-Watermelon Lemonade, Basil-Mint Peach Lemonade, some roasted sweet potatoes, veggies drizzled in my own oil and herb creation, herb-infused basmati rice and Lis made some pan-fried trout and corn souffle. It was a brilliant combined effort and everything was a success.
So here I am, one week later and I am feeling more energized, healthier and most of all happier all-around. Along with my new ‘diet’ I am adopting a more natural over-all lifestyle, purchasing plant-based products for the house and myself. I bought some basil laundry detergent that I am anxiously waiting to use, I got some rosemary cleaner and even my personal hygiene products are all-natural. Even the herb garden got planted and being able to walk out and smell the herbs is just a heavenly experience. I know I sound like a total hippie, and part of me may actually be, but I still shave and you’ll never catch me smelling like patchouli. The smell actually nauseates me a little. I know my friends back home get a kick out of my new lifestyle, but still support and love my as they should. I am happier and healthier and I feel that anything that can achieve these things should be celebrated by the people you love and who love you. Thus, I am thoroughly enjoying the ‘kind life’.
Vegan life begins in less than one week. The next few days will help shape the perfect ending to one lifestyle and beginning for another.
My baby sister arrives for a visit in less than 48 hours. We have plans to tour The Biltmore Estate, taste some wine, eat some food and meet some people. From there we head east to Central North Carolina to visit our Mom, where we will cruise around Old Salem, catch up on girl talk and feast on some good ‘ole fashioned, homemade Southern food - perfect way to say goodbye to cheese. After we part with Mom we will be heading back to Asheville, do some hiking, have a few beers in Beer City USA with friends, soak in some art and dine on some local cuisine. A visit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to downtown Greenville to take in the scenery of Falls Park at the river and, again, dine on some deliciousness.
I know it seems like her entire visit will consist of eating, and it’s mostly true. We are lovers of food. Sunday marks my last day with dairy, and while the parting will be bittersweet I intend to make the most of my final days with it.
Finally, to celebrate my first couple of days in my new lifestyle, I will be attending the Amos Lee show at The Orange Peel. I love him and his voice has a way of making me fall in love .. not necessarily with anyone, but any thing. Love has an all new meaning these days.
Though I have only recently made the decision to go from vegetarian to vegan, I have been baking vegan for quite some time. I find that my creations since throwing out eggs and milk are more unique and far more tasty.
This week for instance, I went on a baking spree. Tuesday night I Made about 3 1/2 dozen cookies including Oatmeal, Snickerdoodle and Cayenne-Chocolate Snickerdoodles - all vegan and all good. I love chocolate and I love spicy so I thought, “why not put ‘em together”. The result, in my opinion, was magical. You know you have added just the right amount of kick when it doesn’t hit you until you’ve swallowed and isn’t overpowering. I think I mastered it my first try, but that’s my opinion.
The other two I have made before and since I don’t like repetition I tend to try new things. Sometimes I am successful while other times I just tell myself “better next time”. My snickerdoodles went a ‘little soft’ on me, pun intended. I may have been a little too generous on the agave, but they still tasted pretty good. With my oatmeal I tried out a different kind of sugar and while I still love the taste of any oatmeal cookie (without raisins) they weren’t my favorite batch.
I am often overly critical of myself in the kitchen, which normally results in scraping the dough bowl with the spatula. I think deep down I wonder if that one extra bite may be different and change my mind on the outcome. Good thing about baking vegan: lick the bowl all you want. No chance of salmonella or any of the other yucky things possibly lurking in raw batter.
Many of my friends keep telling me to write a book, a cookbook or even start my own little business in the world of food. While it is my dream to someday do so I feel that I want to be able to commit 111% of my time to it. I want it to be my life, and at this point I still have so many things I want to do before I commit to anything.
While I mark the beginning of my journey to vegan life, I am still cooking meat for other people. It comes mostly at request, but I know eventually I will have to give that up as well. Just the other week I made a roast for my cousin and her family. When I asked her the next day how everything was she turned and said to me, “You know, I’m actually kind of pissed. I was telling someone at work that I always thought my roast was the best, but then to have a vegetarian make like the best I’ve ever tasted made me a little upset”.
I cook for friends and family as much as possible and they’ve been so cooperative of the lifestyle I’ve chosen for myself. It makes me happy that my friends and family are so honest and supportive. At least I know my place won’t be empty on opening day - or any day after. Got to love having so many fellow foodies in my life.
Over 4 years ago I made a decision to give up something most of my friends and family back home in the South would have a hard time understanding: meat.
What started as an experiment to rid my life of chronic migraines turned into a new lifestyle and a path towards understanding what health really is. First, I gave up all pork and only bought organic meat. Then I narrowed the field to only chicken. Still, it wasn’t enough. The migraines and headaches became fewer and fewer but I still was not free and clear.
I happened upon a very interesting doctor. My ex did, actually. He acquired a prescription for a special kind of herbal aid for his anxiety, ADD and pain. While I sometimes partook in the calming effects of the same aid, I was still looking for a healthier alternative, thus declining the same prescription and making my own appointment to come back and see the doc. A few weeks later I returned and sat down and laid it all out for Dr. X, yes that’s what we’ll call him, Dr. X.
I explained to Dr. X that I had my first migraine as a teenager. I was in a bad car accident in high school. My head busted up a perfectly good windshield and rear view mirror - and yes, I was wearing my seatbelt. It left me with some nerve damage, a black eye and cheek and one of those bumps that you used to see on cartoons when something would get hit over the head with a mallet. Well, that was the initial damage anyway.
I went to see a neurologist for my headaches and migraines, and also to remedy the recent anxiety I had begun to experience. He prescribed me with various anti-anxiety and depression meds and also some pills to take at the onset of a migraine. I tried these out for a few months but the headaches and migraines continued to worsen. Back to the doctor I went. My neurologist was foreign - from South America. On my third visit to see him - probably tired of my incessant complaints - may or may not have suggested I get my hands on some marijuana. Yes, I said it - marijuana. A licensed professional suggested I smoke weed. At 17, this was but a dream .. well, no it was real. One problem: illegal. Of course it didn’t stop me so I got on the train and started to light up. It wasn’t on a daily basis, at least not at first. I go on to tell Dr. X how I started my ‘holistic’ approach with weed, but the addiction of pain killers, anxiety and depression meds already had a hold on me.
Skip a few years ahead and there I was, 24 and laying out the past 7 years of my life to this doctor in Santa Monica complaining about multiple drug prescriptions and an alternative to mary-j. *Sidenote: my addictions will someday be further detailed and re-accounted, but today I’m on a different story.
Dr. X’s suggestion was simple: do away with all meat products alltogether. Today it doesn’t sound so bad, but after 24 years of chicken: fried chicken, grilled chicken, bbq chicken, lemon-pepper chicken, chicken fried chicken and even the disgusting bourbon chicken you’d find in a mall food court just seemed like the equivalent to hiking Mt. Everest without any proper training. He also suggested that I gradually cut out chicken, my last connection to meat. Well, anyone who knows me knows that when doing things I tend to go balls-to-the-wall. Like smoking, I quit cold turkey. Luckily I had already gotten my body used to less and less of it but it was still something I had a couple times a week. My body hated me for about a week, and I considered Dr. X’s suggestion to be a total crock seeing as how I was having headaches every day BUT come to find out, that’s what happens when your body experiences withdrawal.
Four years later, here I am still committed to the task I gave myself all those years ago. Throughout the years I have also given up Rx meds (again, another story for another time) and have spent countless hours researching foods, herbs, vitamins, overall health and even tapped into the world of animals and how they are treated in the process of getting that slab of flesh on your plate. I have always loved animals and always been the first to go on rescue missions, but today it has a deeper meaning. I’ve started educating myself on not only the health and well-being of myself but now helpless animals who are part of an industry literally milking every last penny they can get and ruining the planet in the process.
Now I am about to commit myself to yet another task. I’m going one step further and going vegan. I mean it only makes sense for me. I’m lactose intolerant and never drank a glass of milk or put it in my cereal in my entire life. I also hate eggs. I realize they’re in many of the cakes and breads I have consumed over the years, but I avoid them at all cost. And, against the well-being of my tummy I still eat cheese in my pasta and on my salads. Mediterranean feta will, by far, be one of the hardest things to give up and that occasional guily-pleasure bowl of ice cream. In the end, though, it will be worth it to try. After hours of research I found Alicia Silverstone’s book, “The Kind Diet”. I wanted to know, on a personal account, what it’s like to be vegan and the kind of commitment it takes to be one.
I realize that my choice of lifestyle is not suited for every one and I never make it my business to tell people what to do, but only to offer my opinions in the safety of my blog. I think it is important to at least have education on hand for people to be aware of what exactly they are putting into their bodies and what those things go through before it gets there.
And here begins my journey. In exactly two weeks I will officially be a vegan. My last hoorah will include a visit from my sister and a trip to our Mother’s, where we will feast on all of our favorite things, mine being homemade mac-n-cheese - one of my many specialties. Over the next few weeks I will be openly writing about my experiences and what I’ve learned on my way to a plant-based lifestyle. Read, don’t read, but educate yourself nonetheless. We owe it to ourselves as well as the rest of the planet.