Meatless March & An Update

6 Mar

Is it already March?! Oh my goodness, this year is just ticking by slowly… it’s so hard to believe.

It’s 12:01am right now as I’m typing this. I can’t relax and go to bed due to my irresponsible decision to order Thai food for lunch. The thing is, Ted and I haven’t really eaten out in our neighborhood since moving to Berkeley five months ago (yes it’s already been almost half a year!) – so sad. Today I wanted to try this Michelin recommended Thai place near our house. The last time I had pad thai was probably a year ago from the Asian Express restaurant on campus, so I had a huge craving! Scarfed down on my generous $8.00 plate of peanut-y goodness and within the hour I felt weird.

Now things are definitely not feeling right and I know it’s not the steamed broccoli and brussels sprouts I ate for dinner. Yuck. To divert my attention away from my discomfort, I finally finished watching the documentary Vegucated.

I remember my feelings of inspiration and also sadness when I was sixteen and learned about vegetarianism and also the downsides of factory farming, including the impacts on our environment. This documentary really invigorated me, but also brought things into light that I have pushed into the back of my knowledge pool over the last 5 years of eating animal products. The documentary has a section on factory farming, and while it definitely is not comparable to the insider videos on PETA that brought me to tears as a teenager, it reminded me of the harsh facts of our food system today. It also included the realities of some free-range and USDA organic farms – a lot of the animals are treated and slaughtered in extremely similar ways, despite their pesticide-free feed and slightly more spacious living situations.

Between my stomach turning from the pad thai and the video, I’m committing myself to eating no animal products for the rest of the month. This will go into effect after I have consumed the two yogurts sitting in my fridge (because I need to be frugal and not wasteful, too).

So far this year, I’ve cut down on animal products a lot! With the exception of Farmer’s Market last Saturday, I haven’t purchased any butter. We did buy some from Spring Hill Farms, a local  farmstead in Petaluma… and all of their cows have names! I also have been eating meat sparingly, only once or twice a week. Even at that, it’s been chicken or fish and occasionally pork. I’ve also been making homemade juices in the mornings (more posts to come about that), and have cut down my caffeine intake by 50% this last week. I’ve been drinking more green and earl grey teas instead of coffee, and am waking up feeling more energized.

Good things are happening, but now I think it’s time to challenge myself and take another step further, and really stay true to my food goals for this year! No meat or animal products for the rest of the month. Let’s do this! 🙂

Break a Leg (or Hip)

6 Jan

Well, 2013 is getting off to an unlucky start for me. While I was able to ring in the new year with Ted and our friends, my clumsy side really decided to shine. After we took a cab home, I was drunkenly walking down our stairs (we have a townhouse), slipped and fell about 5 steps down right on my butt! Now I have a huge bruise the size of a baseball, and a very large one across the back of my bicep too 😦

Then, on January 1st, we thought it would be a good idea to go for a leisurely bike ride. We were riding on this gorgeous path along the water in Berkeley/Emeryville, with amazing views of the bay (quite distracting!). I looked away for one second to see the view and BAM!   Crashed right into one of those cement poles that lines pedestrian/bike paths so cars can’t go through. It was big, and it definitely won. My bike went crashing to the left, I want sailing to the right and ended up skinning a large portion of my elbow and bruised my left hip. Thank god I was wearing a helmet, otherwise my injuries would probably have been a lot worse.

There goes my workout plan for the start of the new year! Haha. How I managed to injure myself so badly in under 12 hours is beyond my comprehension. My entire family and Ted joke that I need a bubble suit at all times now, or that they “can’t take me anywhere” – maybe they’ve been right all along!

I was quite sore and banged up the first two days, but managed to go to work just fine and move around. However, two days ago, while doing a wine demo (where I just stand around for 4 hours), I discovered that I was having a hard time walking. My left hip really started to hurt, and I have this weird pain feeling in my pelvic area, in addition to just feeling really sore. It’s just scary to me that this is happening several days after the incident and not right after. Ted said not to worry – I’m going to see a doctor by Tuesday if I don’t feel better. I figure a week on my own and I’ll be able to tell if it’s any worse or better.

Lessons learned:

– Don’t look away from the path while doing a sporting activity, no matter how gorgeous the view is or how quick it is. Stop and look.

– Don’t spring down stairs while drunk. Just…. don’t. Common sense evades me sometimes.

I hope 2013 has much more positive things in store for me. This first week has been rough! 🙂

Get “Wicky” With It

31 Dec

I haven’t been able to get to bed very early lately. I’m not sure if it’s the surge of fresh veggies, fruits and whole grains I’ve been feeding myself, or just the fact that I sleep in until 8:00am half of the week. The other night, I decided to make more candles for belated Christmas gifts. I suppose you could call them “Happy New Year” gifts at this point!

First, I had to make the candle container. I delved into my massive bag of saved pint bottles (that Ted so lovingly drinks – his contribution to my crafting project!) and pulled out four. After washing the labels off of them, I needed to score the glass with my glass cutter. It’s actually a really simple process, but the key to getting a nice clean break is to not stop halfway through turning the bottle, and to apply pressure evenly (and not too much!).

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 It’s taken me quite a few bottles to get the hang of it, and even now, 1 in 3 turns out perfect, while the others are slightly “rustic” looking and need ample sanding. I don’t think I’ll begin selling these until I’m able to perfectly score most of the bottles. I’m getting the hang of it, though!

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After measuring out my soy wax and melting it in my big pour pot (not pictured), I heated up the freshly cut pint glasses, applied the wick, and poured away. I made 3 large pint glass candles and one small tester one (from a regular beer bottle) for me. All are Chardonnay scented, except for one, which is for one of my bosses. My other boss, at my wine sales job, will receive a Chardonnay candle! How fitting, right?

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After the candles set overnight, you can see that they are just begging to be decorated! A little ribbon and large bead accent, and they’re ready to go to new homes. I also made custom labels using my Avery Address Label stickers (their templates online are awesome!), stuck them onto some scrapbooking card stock, and glued it to some string to make a lovely label.

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I really love these candles because they’re eco-friendly, recycled and it’s making beer bottles a decorative item that appeals to women. As much as I’d appreciate a candle with an IPA label on it, not everyone loves beer in that sense to where they’d like to decorate their apartment with them. These can be customized, too!
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Once I’m able to get a system down, I’m considering selling them for $10-15 each. Either way, it’s a very inexpensive way to make candles at home, plus it’s fun to get crafty. Cheers, and have a Happy New Year! I hope you are able to light a flame in your life for 2013 🙂

Energetic… what?

28 Dec

Yesterday was my first day at attempting to eat zero animal products. I’ve been reading Oh She Glows a lot, and Angela is super inspiring to me! I decided to try one of her signature green monster shakes in the morning. Since I don’t really like bananas very much, and I was concerned with the shake not being sweet enough for my taste, I included a handful of frozen berries to aid in the flavor.

I used:

  • 1 cup original flavor Trader Joe’s brand almond milk
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 whole frozen banana (without peel)
  • 2 tbsp frozen berries
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds

The berries made the shake a strange muddy color, but I promise it tasted better than it looks! It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever had in my life, but after I was halfway through with it, I decided that it wasn’t so bad. The almond milk gave it a creamy texture, and it was slightly nutty from the almond butter. I felt super full afterwards and energized for the whole day. I even skipped my daily dose of morning coffee!

For dinner, I cooked red quinoa with caramelized shredded brussels sprouts, shallots and orange bell pepper with garlic. It was actually quite tasty! I’ll definitely have to shred brussels sprouts again for a quick and easy way to cook them.

The strange thing was that I had so much energy yesterday evening. I couldn’t get to bed until midnight, I was just super energized! I don’t know if it was because of my caffeine kick at 4pm (the withdrawal headache came, and I succumbed to a latte), or the wholesome grains that I ate.  Nevertheless, I feel fantastic waking up this morning.

Time to go to the gym! First time in several years, we’ll see how this goes…

Attack of the Veggies

28 Dec

When I was 16 years old, I decided to become a vegetarian. It all started in an environmental science class that I took junior year of high school. My teacher, Mr. Empey, was super inspirational and after doing a section on factory farming and environmental impacts of eating meat and animal products, (not to mention the treatment of said animals), and health benefits — I “went veg” with my friend Ally.

During this time, my family was supportive of my decision, but didn’t know how to accommodate my sudden new food needs, if you will. My stepdad is Portuguese and loves his BBQ and linguicia, and my mom fed my sister and I burned pork chops and canned green beans throughout our childhood. It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, because I decided to teach myself how to cook. I started eating fresh vegetables, learned how to prepare meat-free meals, and really found that I enjoyed being in the kitchen. Now, I couldn’t imagine life without cooking most of my meals at home.

Unfortunately, I fell off the wagon a year and a half into my vegetarian lifestyle. I packed up, and traveled to Germany for three weeks after graduation, and from there I began eating meat again. It’s continued until present day, and now I’m 22 years old!

Lately, I’ve been feeling really sluggish. I’m not sure whether it’s the perpetually rainy and cold weather here in the bay area, or the fact that I’ve been pigging out on meat, dairy, and eating whatever my heart desires over the last few months. But, it needs to change. I feel so unpleasant and gross, and to top it off, all of the holiday eating, playing house (I moved in with my boyfriend, Ted, around 3 months ago), and drinking TONS of wine to “study” for my Introductory Sommelier course, I’ve put on 15 lbs.

To some, it’s not much, but I’m 5’6″ and I’ve weighed around 115ish my entire adulthood (went up to 120ish for a while). Perhaps I’m whining about it. Some might even label it as “skinny girl problems,” but the fact of the matter is that I don’t feel healthy. I’ve become super sedentary  other than walking 3 blocks uphill to get to work in San Francisco. My pants don’t fit the same.

I struggled when I was a teenager to gain weight, then spent the last 6 years reveling in the fact that I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and sparingly exercise. Oh how sudden that can all change, because my body and freak of nature metabolism is coming to a screeching halt, now. Now I’ve realized that I can’t go on the way that I have been, and therefore my habits must change.

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From today onward, I’m going to try to adapt as much of a vegan and health-conscious diet as possible in the following ways:

  • Actively eliminate 90% of animal products from my diet
  • Only divulge in cheese, chicken, pork or fish 1-3 times per month (in social settings or restaurants, mainly)
  • Stay away from meat and cheese replacers and find new ways to eat around those items
  • Not rely heavily on soy, but incorporate it into my diet
  • Eat mostly veggies, fruits, nuts, whole grains, nuts and legumes
  • Cut down by half on caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Go to the gym at least 2-3x per week, take 1 group class per week

It’s not going to be super easy, but I know that I can do it! 🙂

Popping a new cork.

26 Nov

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve had an online blog. I think the last time I wrote a post online in some format like this, I was using LiveJournal or something ancient of the sort, and was spilling out my 16-year-old woes for nothing but myself to see.

I’ve been keeping a hand-written journal ever since the ripe old age of 10; it’s great to have something solid to look back on and compare. From misspelling words, to seeing how my handwriting has changed over the last 12 years, I definitely cherish all of the journals I have.

The problem is that it’s so cumbersome for me to write daily, weekly, hell — even monthly. Especially given that I can type 100+ words per minute, and write… well… maybe 10? I’ve never counted 😉  So here it is — a blog just for me, to talk about my life, and to share with whomever is reading.

I got the name “Chaos & Cuvee” from two things: my ultimate life descriptor word and my love of wine. I’ve always said that my life is like organized chaos 99% of the time. More recently, I’ve developed an intense appreciation of wine. I spend quite a bit of time studying the topic, tasting (for educational purposes and pleasure, too!), and teaching others in my life about one of the most popular and ancient beverages in the world! 🙂

I hope you like reading. Make yourself at home.