Friday, December 30, 2011

Babystepping Toward Health

First Steps I'm excited to be able to say that I started writing seriously this week.  I've had an idea that I've been thinking about writing for quite awhile, and this week I finally did something about it.  I've spent about an hour each evening working on it.  Not sure where it is going at the moment, but it feels good to be doing it.  

I was partly inspired by this quote that was tweeted this week:  

"No one can read a book that's in your head!" Anita Heiss .

I don't do New Years' Resolutions, because to me they are only made to be broken.   So I started writing a few days ago and hope to continue doing so every night.

I've also been researching how to safely make changes to antidepressant use.  I've found a book that has been very helpful in describing how people like me have ended up being dependent on antidepressants.  I think knowing the why will help me with understanding the how and taking the necessary steps.  The book describes a 5 step process, but I'm not that far into it yet.  I'm planning on taking things slowly.  If you are interested in this topic at all, I recommend this book.  It is very easy to understand and it has been an easy read so far.  I haven't felt at all bogged down by technical information.  

What I really like about this book is that it has given me a sense of hope.  It is possible to get off of antidepressants and it is possible to minimize the "discontinuation" aka withdrawal symptoms.  It helps to know that others have experienced this and that they were able to get there.  I got this book at the library, but I see that the author Dr. Joseph Glenmullen has other books, so I may have to check them out too.  

I'll be sure to share more about this book as I continue reading it.  If you have experience with antidepressant discontinuation, please let me know!  I'd love to hear from others in the same boat and to know what worked for you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Village

Matera Little things have been happening that have shown me that I am not alone in my daily battle with depression. The phrase "It takes a village to raise a child" has been going through my head. It seems it also takes a village to beat depression. The picture is of the village my father grew up in, Matera, Italy. It is known for the "sassi" or caves. The houses were built right into the caves. I thought it gave a good picture of a village where everyone is interconnected and kind of on top of each other. These are a few of the people in my village. They are people who are going to be there on my road to recovery as well. Names will not be mentioned. If they read this, my villagers will know who they are, but I don't think it's fair to share every detail of their connection with me.

Someone Who's Been There:

 When you're battling depression, it helps to know someone who has been there. Someone who has struggled with the beast known as depression. It gives you a common enemy and it lets you know that you are not alone. I have a couple people in my life who've been there and are still there with me. It gives you a real feeling of connection when you can describe exactly how you're feeling and they just get it.

They're usually the same people who will check-in to see how I'm really doing. They won't put up with a bullshit answer of "I'm fine". They want the truth. They don't run away when you tell them the truth either, because it doesn't freak them out. They understand the truth because it is something they've experienced too. They are the ones who want to keep in touch so that we can help each other. They listen and know that you can be counted on to listen to them too. It can be freeing to know that you can be real with someone and not have to put forth the exhausting fakeness that you have to put on in public sometimes.

My Husband

So much for not naming names! My husband is my biggest supporter. He put up with me before I was medicated which says a lot about him. He's been with me through two pregnancies when my hormones wreaked havoc on the depression and the postpartum aftermath that ensued. He understands when it's me talking and when it's the depression. He lets me have my space and also knows when to give me a gentle kick to get me back to living. I call him my cheerleader because he really encourages me to go out there and do it. He barely batted an eye when I told him I was changing to a plant based diet. He just accepted it. Just like he accepts me. He's been encouraging me to look for answers about the medication I take and how to stop taking it. He's going to be with me through getting off this medication and I'm going to need him for sure.

Someone Who is Praying

One thing I found when I started taking the antidepressants is that I felt like I had no spiritual connections any more. I don't know exactly why that is, but I have been doing some reading and it seems that this is not uncommon. Through it all, I know that I am being prayed for and that encourages me.

The Professionals

My family doctor and my chiropractor are also part of my village whether they know it or not. My chiropractor is big on getting people healthy and off of medications, so I'm sure that he will encourage me in my quest to discontinue antidepressant use. My family doctor will be a harder sell, but I'm going to need his help to taper this medication. I'm doing research now and hope to have something to present to my family doctor in the next few weeks, so that he can help me to come up with a plan.  I know that the medication I take has a high incidence of withdrawal symptoms, so I want to do what I can before starting to taper the medication to prepare my body for this.  It looks like I'll be looking at supplements first.


It's hard to be friends with someone who is depressed. We're not likely to put an equivalent amount of effort into maintaining the friendship. It takes a lot of effort to do anything, so we tend to focus on doing what needs to get done to get through the day and let other things drop. That doesn't mean we don't care. It just means we're doing all that we can. I have a couple of people I can drop an e-mail or text message to from time to time.  They seem to know when I could use a joke or just a reminder that they're still around.

My village mostly consists of family and friends and I'm thankful to have them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm Still Standing

 This song came to mind when I was thinking of what to write tonight, so I went with it. I've never seen the video before, and I've gotta say, it's a little weird. Rather than get into a critique of 80s style, I'll get back to my post. I've been quiet for a few weeks on this blog, but even quieter on my other blogs. I don't know quite how, but I wound up in a depressed slump.

Sometimes when I'm not expecting it, depression jumps up and kicks my ass. It started off as just not wanting to write anything. I just didn't feel like it. It kind of grew from there. Looking back, I think that it started around the time we switched to Daylight Savings Time. I don't know for sure, but I think it has to do with less hours of daylight. The ironic thing is that I was talking with my husband about my dislike for the medication I am currently taking and planning to talk to my doctor about going off it. I have felt for some time that my current antidepressant makes me numb to any kind of feeling. I don't feel horribly depressed, but I don't feel happy either. I truly believe that I needed the medication when I started taking it. Without the antidepressants, I would have continued in a downward spiral. I don't even necessarily want to go off medication all together. I just want to get off this medication.

My plan right now is to get through the holidays and then sit down and talk with my family doctor about making a change. After being on this medication for so long, it's going to be a pain to get off of it. Anyway, I'm still here and hopefully I'll be writing more again. I made the effort to get the Wii out the other day and I did a bit of time with Jillian Michaels' game. I wanted to use the Wii Fit, but my disc is hiding somewhere. Hopefully I will find it soon.

The kids and I have been trying to go out for walks after dinner every night. We just go around the block, but it does us good to get outside and get some exercise and fresh air. The nights we walk, the kids go down much better.

I've been trying to organize more by getting more clutter out. A few more boxes have been donated to the local Sally Ann. I've also been tossing a lot of stuff. If the kids leave it out, it's being trashed. I got a new bin for garbage, recycling and compost as well. The recycling was falling all over the place, so this helps to keep it contained. The kids are having fun using the bin to sort things right now. I'm sure this novelty will wear off soon.

As for healthy, I'm sticking to a vegan diet. I'm also seeing my chiropractor once a week now. I'm noticing a difference. When we started chiropractic, the chiropractor told me I had a 97% loss of curve to my neck. It turned out that he mis-read my x-ray and it was actually 107% loss of curve. After 3 months of treatment, I was at 97%. It's getting better slowly, but I feel better already. I've had less headaches and fewer migraines. I'm not falling over tired any more. I'm not as short-tempered and moody either. As I continue treatment, I'm hoping I'll be feeling even better. So, that's me for now. I'm still standing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Vegan Mofo: My 5 Favourite Kitchen Tools

vegan graffitiWell, I had good intentions, but life got in the way, and I didn't share as much as I had planned to for Vegan Mofo.  To be honest, I haven't made anything super exciting for the last while anyway.  I thought I'd wrap up the month by talking about things that I found useful for me in the last year or so since I decided to follow a vegan diet.

My 5 Favourite Tools:

1. Hot-Air Popcorn Maker:

OK, so this one is a no brainer--I use it for popcorn.  I figured out that by putting in a little extra popcorn, the kernels move a little more slowly and have a better chance of popping in the machine rather than flying out of the chute and popping in the bowl, leading to popcorn flying around my kitchen.  I use about one and a half of the measures and it turns out well (you don't want to over do it, or it will burn!  Yes, this is the voice of experience).  Sometimes I use a vegan margarine on it, but I also like to give it a spritz of canola oil spray instead.  My ultimate I need something sweet and I have no vegan chocolate is to put some vegan chocolate chips in the bottom of the bowl before I make the popcorn.  The popcorn warms them up, they melt, and everyone is happy, or at least I am.

2.  My Blender:

I love my smoothies, so my blender gets a regular work out.  I had a Magic Bullet, but I ended up breaking that sucker (note to self remember to check on warranty).  Smoothies can be complicated, or they can be pretty simple.  I generally go for simple because I am not a morning person and I'm not going to try to figure out a complex recipe while my eyes are not completely open.  I throw in some fruit, usually a banana and some frozen berries, or fresh fruit, depending on what I have on hand.  Pour in some non-dairy milk (currently using almond milk-yummy!), pop the lid on and blend.  When I feel a little more creative, I add peanut butter or chocolate chips (no, they don't blend well, but hey, it's chocolate!).  I started adding chia seeds to my smoothies too.  They don't affect the taste and they're crunchy, so what's not to like?

Vegan Graf 3. Rice Cooker:

Love my rice cooker.  I tried to cook brown rice on the stove and every time I made it, it was crunchy.  We got a rice cooker, and suddenly I'm cooking brown rice perfectly.  It tastes good and the kids even ate it without questioning anything.  We eat a lot of different kinds of rice and they all cook well in the rice cooker.  I have also used it to cook quinoa.  Last time I did, I don't think I had enough water and it was a little dry and crunchy, and I may have burned some of it.  I still liked it, but I will have to experiment with the water levels a little more.

4:  Crock Pot:

When I talk about cooking, you may notice that I tend to "throw" a lot of things in to what ever I'm making.  I do this with the crock pot too.  I cook what I have on hand.  I'm not going to go digging for a recipe only to find that I don't have whatever is needed.  I make a lot of soup in the winter months in my crock pot.  Vegetable soup stock, water, chop up some veggies, add some spices, put the lid on and let it do it's thing.  You don't need a recipe.  It's soup.  Smell it.  Taste it.  If it doesn't seem right, try adding something else.  I like to finish my soups by adding vegan dumplings to them before serving, but my kids don't like them, so I don't make them as often as I used to.  (What kid doesn't like dumplings?  My brother and I used to love eating them!).

5:  Electric Frying Pan:

Last but not least is my electric frying pan.  I used to have an electric wok, but we never used it.  This is the way to go.  It's great for sauteing some vegetables, making a sauce, for pancakes and French toast and lots of other things.  Last night, I used it to fry up the pumpkin seeds out of my daughter's baby pumpkin.  (she got it on her field trip to a farm).  This is another tool I use to throw together a meal.  Toss a can of beans, some veggies and some seasoning in, heat it all up and pop it on your plate with a side of rice or quinoa.  Yum yum!

vegan pumpkin
How great is this Vegan pumpkin?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vegan Mofo: Crockpot Soup

If you've read my blog before, you know that I love my crockpot.  It's so easy to throw things in, push a button and leave it.  You come back a few hours later and dinner is ready.  Easy-peasy!

I used my crockpot before I was vegan, but I think I use it more now.  Soup is one of my favourite things to make, especially on days like today--it was a rainy, dark day and soup would hit the spot.  We also had a chiropractor appointment that meant that we'd have to leave as soon as the kids came home from school.  By the time we were able to get home, I knew the kids would be hungry and cranky, so I made soup in the crockpot.

I don't usually follow a recipe when I make soup.  When I say that I throw things in the crockpot, I'm not kidding.  I start with a vegetable broth cube and water.  Then I open the fridge and see what vegetables I have available.  Today I had some cauliflower and carrots.  I also tossed in some frozen mixed vegetables and a can of beans. Now that I think about it, I should have added some potatoes as well. Oh well, there's always next time.

bean soupI had planned to make some vegan dumplings, but I was out of non-dairy milk and almost out of margarine, so I didn't get my dumplings tonight.  I'll just have to make some soup again soon because I love dumplings.  My kids can't stand them, so I don't get them too often as it is.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vegan Mofo: Banana Loaf

Monday is Thanksgiving here in Canada and my extended family had our Thanksgiving dinner tonight.  Sometimes it's hard to be vegan at an Italian gathering.  I love pasta, but it was canaloni, so it was stuffed with cheese.  No pasta for me.  But that's OK because I had lots of great veggies to eat.  I even ate some rapini even though it's not my favourite vegetable.  I find it very bitter, but it wasn't too bad tonight. 

Anyway, even though I'm one of the kids and I'm not "supposed" to bring anything, I wanted to bring some dessert.  You know if there is one thing we Italians do not have enough of, it's dessert.  (sarcasm intended, people!).  I bought some bananas that were marked for discount this week because they were veeeerrrry ripe--so perfect for banana bread.  I looked at some banana bread recipes, but alas, I forgot to pick up vanilla when I was shopping and I ran out last week.  Not to worry, I found a recipe.

I made this Banana Loaf.  It was really easy to make.  I was all set to put it in my loaf pan when I read in the recipe that it needed a cake pan.  Surprise for me!  It was more of a cake than a bread, and that was fine.  I really liked how it turned out.  The cake was very moist and quite tasty.  One thing I learned is that it's probably better to cut the loaf into pieces before the sugar on the top crystalizes.  It's really hard to slice the loaf without cracking the topping once it has cooled, and it makes it look a little messy.

I didn't mention that it was a vegan dessert.  I figured I'd just say it was dessert.  I did make sure that the diabetics knew it wasn't a good option for them to have it.  Too much sugar!  My aunt told me she quite enjoyed the sugar coating on the top.  I quite enjoyed it too!

I've got another Thanksgiving dinner on Monday with my husband's family.  I get to bring the veggies, so I know that I'll have plenty to eat, even without the turkey.

Everyone loves to waste vegetables, but it's for art's sake, so it's cool.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Vegan Mofo: Buckwheat Pancakes

It's been a crazy week and today was another crazy day. I had a lot of running around to do, so by the time I got home with two hungry kids in tow (and a hungry hubby), I needed a quick dinner. We've had pasta twice this week (I love leftover sauce!), so that was out. So, I went with quick and easy and made pancakes tonight. Apparently I make pancakes a lot, because on my Klout score, pancakes is my highest ranked topic of influence--sad, I know.

There are a couple of recipes on Veg Web that I've tried and really like, so I chose the one I hadn't made for awhile. Grandma's Buckwheat Pancakes were delicious! I just realized that I forgot to put in the regular flour. I only used the buckwheat. Hmm...that may explain why the pancakes where thinner than I expected. Oh well, they still tasted great! Normally, I'd serve them with fruit, but tonight we just had pancakes. Now, the recipe says that it feeds 2-4, and I'd say that you'd want to double the recipe if you are serving more than 2 people. Only the kids and I ate the pancakes and we had 2 1/2 small pancakes each. They definitely would have eaten more if I had made more.

I enjoy using Veg Web for new recipes because they are uploaded by regular folks and you can read reviews before you try to make anything. The reviews are helpful because sometimes other cooks will say, "This was good, but I made these slight changes and then it was great!" It's a good place to get some good basic recipes and some more complex ones too. You can read more about how I use Veg Web here. If you like pancakes, give them a try!
  Happy Face

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Vegan Mofo: Carrot Fries

I thought I'd try something new tonight.  I had been looking for recipes last week to use some of the carrots that I had on hand, and this one caught my eye.  I started with a recipe from  You can find it here:  I didn't have everything listed in the recipe, so I winged it.

I peeled and cut the carrots using a Pampered Chef tool that I never get to use to make them crinkly.  I tried to cut the pieces fairly thin so that they would cook.  Put them on the baking sheet and sprayed them with olive oil.  I sprinkled them with a spice mix that I made in an empty spice jar.  I used some paprika, garlic salt, parsley and oregano.  Popped them in the oven and let them bake.

I did not take a picture, but I thought they looked pretty good!

The verdict:

I really thought the kids would like these, especially since they are like regular fries.  They did not.  On the other hand, I really liked them and I will make them again for me.  I'll try them out on my hubby when he gets home tonight.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Vegan Mofo is Back! Pasta & What's in the Fridge Sauce

October is the Vegan Month of Food, also known as Vegan MoFo!  Last year was my first year participating.  You can find a blog roll of all of this year's participants at

I've now been vegan for a little over a year and I'm very happy with the decision I made to move to a plant based diet.  I'm still learning as I go.

Tonight's dinner is going to be pasta and "What's in the fridge" Sauce.  This catchy title is something that I ame up with because I generally choose the ingredients in the sauce by opening the refrigerator to see what I have to work with.  Today I scored with zucchini and eggplant.
pasta a la Luke / massa a la Luke
Not my pasta, but a close facsimilie

I start with a can of crushed tomatoes and add a can of beans.  Tonight I chose lentils because my kids seem to prefer softer beans, so I figured they would be more likely to eat them.  Usually I start with a bit of garlic fried in the pan, but I skipped it today.  I added a little water to the sauce and then chopped up some zucchini and eggplant.  Threw in some spices-orgeano, parsley, garlic salt and set it to simmer.

We'll be eating whole grain pasta tonight for a change.  The kids don't notice a difference in taste and I like being able to give them a healthier option.

I like to make my own sauce because know what is in it then.  When my father became  diabetic we found that many of the prepared sauces have a lot of sugar, so we started to do it ourselves.

Now for my not-so-secret secret: to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes, put a carrot in the sauce.  When it's finished, don't eat the carrot!  Compost it.  Trust me, the carrot will not taste good. And the verdict is in! Whole family enjoyed dinner. The youngest even asked for seconds (she's normally the one who does not like the veggies)!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vegan Recipes on

Last year, I found out about a lot of new things as a vegan.  One thing I learned about was the Vegan Month of Food (also known as vegan MOFO).  It was a neat way to join the community of vegan bloggers and find out more about different foods that vegans eat.

One Web site I found during this time was VegWeb.  I like this Web site because it has a lot of great recipes.  There are other features on the site, but I have to be honest and say that I haven't really looked at them.  There are lists of vegan substitutes as well that are very helpful when you might not have all the ingredients on hand.

What I find very helpful are the reviews.  It's nice to see feedback on any given recipe so that you know how it turned out.  Many users will also give suggestions like I changed this and added that or I cut the sugar in half, etc.  It really makes it easier to experiment when other people are willing to let you know how their changes worked out.

The have an iPhone app as well.  It was $2.99 well spent in my opinion.  I like that I can save recipes, browse through dishes and have everything in my hand.  I don't have to haul my laptop into the kitchen and try to find a spot to put it.  Now I can just use my phone to see all the details.

I thought I'd share with you a couple of recipes that I've tried and loved on VegWeb.

I'm a chocoholic and this can be a bit of a problem when you are trying to stay away from milk products.  Enter vegan brownie recipe.  This recipe is so easy to make and tastes delicious.  My kids love when I make these (which I do whenever I need my chocolate fix).

We also like Easy Pancakes.  They are exactly what they say--easy.  They taste great and you wouldn't know that they were made without eggs except for the fact that they are lighter than regular pancakes.  Even my omni-vore husband liked them and that's saying something!  You can add fruit or chocolate chips to these to make something different.  I've enjoyed thawing some frozen fruit and pouring it on top (with the juice from the fruit too) and adding a bit of syrup.

So, there you go, 2 of my favourite recipes from VegWeb.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Slightly More Organized, A Lot Healthier

Fall I can't believe how fast the summer has passed me by. It was pretty good as far as getting more organized and more healthy. Getting fit? Not so much. I was able to declutter a lot this summer. I got pretty ruthless, but I'm hoping to be able to telecommute for my job soon, so I need office space. To get office space, I had to stop procrastinating and start doing. I've said it before, but it feels really good to let things go. Getting things out of the house releases the guilt tied to them and releases the space they were taking up. Still have a little way to go to complete the main area of the basement for my office.

The best part is that I was able to use a desk that my husband had taken apart but never delivered to his sister. When enough room was cleared out, he put it together for me and now it's not cluttering up my basement any more. It would be really nice if my family would stop putting stuff on the desk though!  I don't have my computer yet, but I will need somewhere to put it when they come to install it.

As for healthier, I really attribute the way I've been feeling to visiting our chiropractor. We've gone through the most intensive part of our treatment and we're now down to 1 treatment a week. When we started, I could not look over my shoulder to see in the back seat of the car. The first time I could turn my head that far, I was amazed. I hadn't even realized I was in that bad shape! My headaches have been greatly reduced. I have maybe take acetaminophen two or three times in the last few months. Considering I was taking it daily and sometimes multiple times in a day, this is a huge improvement! I've had a headache for most of the day today and I think it's mostly because I am very tired. It's nice when pain becomes something you're not accustomed to. I had to take my prescription for my headache today and it has been weeks since I've done so. I'd love to be able to say that I have boundless energy, but I suspect that the fact I'm always tired is because I'm working a late shift at work. I work from 5pm to 10pm, and I take awhile to unwind after work. Hopefully I can go back to a day shift next month and this will start to get better again. I do have more energy than I did before, and I can get more done in a day than I could before I started treatment.

The best part is that I am able to spend more time and energy on my kids. When I was feeling yucky, I was no good to anyone and I think my kids suffered for that. Now that I'm feeling better, I'm making it a point to spend more time with them. They are pretty incredible little girls and I would hate to miss out on getting to know more about them.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Getting Organized: Decluttering

Two bags of clothes for the women's shelter. #declutter

OK, so we know that I fell off the exercise train again, but I've been pretty good about staying with decluttering. I honestly don't know how we've ended up with so much "stuff" in our little house. Stuff seems to own us and it seems to multiply when we're not looking.

I've taken 2 garbage bags full of clothes out of the closet my husband and I share. He has clothes that he has owned since before we got married 13 years ago, so I'm not sure how long he's really had them, but I put them in the bag weeks ago and he hasn't gone looking for them. Time for the bags to make the trip down the street to the Sally Ann.

My oldest daughter and I have spent some time decluttering her closet as well. We are blessed to receive a lot of hand-me-downs. I used to love getting hand-me-downs as a child and my kids love them too, but there comes a point when it's too much. We currently have more jeans and long sleeved shirts than she can possibly wear, so we're reducing what she has and donating the rest so that another little girl can have the benefit of them. We've got a box of "too big" clothes that will go back into the closet, and some "too small" that have been boxed up for her sister and a box of clothes to donate. Next step is to get her some pants hangers so that her dresser can be used for shirts and other stuff and pants can be hung in the closet. Her room is such an odd shape that it's hard to fit furniture in without taking up all the space. We have to get creative when it comes to finding ways to fit everything in without making it too cramped.

I'm still working on clearing out the basement for my office as well. It's a work in progress right now. When the kids go back to school, I will be able to spend more time down there purging and organizing. I just hope I don't get the news that they're ready to come and install my computer and stuff before I get a chance to finish or it's going to get chaotic! I've been able to source a floor mat for my office chair through freecycle, so that's one more thing off my list. Just need to pick up an office chair from my parents' house and I'm pretty much set.

My niece is sure to get tired of me bringing her toys for and other accouterments for her little boy. We've taken her a couple of boxes of things that the girls don't play with any more. Goodness only knows why we still had some of the baby toys, since my "baby" is now 5.

And that is my life right now. Planning on sending hubby to the Salvation Army today with a few boxes and a couple of bags. Once they are out of the house, there will be more room to get around things.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Things that I Think About


I've been doing some thinking lately. People always worry when I start thinking. You may have noticed that my Getting Back to Fit posts fizzled out after the third post. There's a reason for that. I didn't get past three days of exercising. How pathetic is that? I know it takes time to build a routine, but why can't I stay motivated long enough to build a routine?

"Going" vegan wasn't as hard as it is for me to exercise. I'm coming up on my one year anniversary of being vegan in a couple of weeks. And while I may not be strict on things like desserts and chocolate, I didn't really feel the need to "cheat". I craved cheese for a bit, but ice cream doesn't even appeal to me any more and I loved ice cream. I wouldn't say that I'm eating ideally. I need to look at getting rid of white flour and some other over-processed foods and I'd really like to use more organic foods.

So I guess what I'm wondering is why has it been easier to change my lifestyle to include a vegan diet than it is to add exercise to my day? Exercise could help me to manage my depression and anxiety better. It could help me to sleep better too, but I resist doing it. I've kind of been toying with the idea of taking up running. It's something I've thought of before, but I keep pushing it away. Then I saw that one of my friends has joined a running clinic and after only a few runs, she's talking about runner's euphoria and how much she loves it. Is it time for me to take a step out of my comfort zone and give it a try? Considering how much I hate the idea of going to a gym (who wants to hang out with a bunch of fit people when you are so obviously not?), I kind of feel the same way about joining a running clinic. Maybe it's time for me to look into it though. It doesn't cost anything to see when they are offered and how much they are, right? Maybe? Well, I'll check out their web site this week and give it some more thought. You know, if I put as much effort into actually exercising as I do to putting it off and feeling guilty for it, I'd probably be in excellent shape by now. Things that make you go hmmm.

I just saw this book--it sounds exactly like what I need!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Getting Fit: Back to Exercise with my Wii Fit Day 3

Another evening, another 15 minutes of Wii Fit time under my belt. (Actually, I did 16 minutes today!). I also logged my fit credits for the walk I took with the girls today. I like seeing my minutes of movement adding up.

I'm not feeling super amazing or anything, but it's early days. My Wii fit age went up today from 32 yesterday to 51 today. Wow! I guess I'm just not very co-ordinated with some of the exercises. I apparently went up .3 kg today. I try not to focus on the weight because I find it varies so much from day to day. I keep an eye on the trend and hope to see it coming down as I keep working at it.

I thought I'd include something that I find essential for my Wii Fit board. I have a rechargeable battery pack like this one for my board. I like that I can plug it in to charge when it's low and I don't have to worry about finding fresh batteries when I want to exercise. If you don't have rechargeable batteries, I highly recommend them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Getting Fit: Back to Exercise with my Wii Fit Day 2

Rhythm rjp

Got back on the Wii Fit tonight. It wasn't easy because I was really tired, but I did it. Somehow, my weight came down .4 kg since yesterday--a little fishy, yes? And my Wii Fit age dropped to 32! Considering yesterday I was 11 years older than my age, it's a 17 year difference. Very strange.

Oh well. I got in 15 minutes of aerobic and training activities today. Started with the snowball fight just because it's fun, then the Rhythm Walking, Juggling, Advanced Step and Kung Fu. I'm trying to start slowly and build momentum. I don't want to burn out fast. It feels good to be moving again. Eventually, I'll work my way back up to using the Jillian Michael's game. For now, I'm aiming for 15 minutes a day and a couple times of doing the 30 minute bike ride a week. This weight wasn't gained overnight, so it's going to take some time to lose it and tone up. I'm determined to get there though!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Getting Fit: Back to Exercise with my Wii Fit

We had to go out of town for the weekend and we ended up staying in a hotel. Why is it that hotel bathrooms feature huge mirrors? The bathroom is tiny, but you get out of the shower and you are face to face with the truth about how your body looks naked. What I saw was not pretty.


I've been focusing my energy lately on being healthier through diet and chiropractic. Now it's time to get back to exercising. I cannot go on as I am. I'm afraid to start though, because I don't want to fail again. I don't want to start only to burn out and gain back anything I lose plus more. I have to do something. Baby steps, right?

One thing I am especially proud of this weekend is the fact that I wore a bathing suit in public without worrying about how I looked or what people thought of me. I took my nephew and my daughters to a water park and we spent a couple of hours in the wave pool. I didn't cover up and I didn't hide in the deep end. I was out there playing with my daughters, and feeling pretty good about it. Being a mother of 2 girls, I am very aware that I have to be careful of the body image I display for them. My oldest told me a couple weeks ago that her two piece swimsuit made her look fat--this child is skin and bones and likely underweight and she thinks she's fat! There is something wrong with that and I don't want to fuel that kind of thinking in our house. So getting physically fit is something that I'm doing for my daughters as well as myself.

I dusted off my WiiFit tonight and surprised myself by doing 15 minutes of aerobic activity and then doing a 30 minute bike ride. I wasn't planning on doing that long on the bike, but I guess the last time I used it (240 days ago), it was set at 30 minutes. I sweat a lot, but it wasn't exceedingly difficult. The last 10 minutes seemed to take longer than anything else. I am sure my legs will feel a bit sore tomorrow.

You may remember my post Dear Wii Fit from last year when I...ahem....ranted about the fact that the Wii Fit nags me about my feet not being in the rectangular boxes on the board. Well, it's still the case. Apparently my feet are still fat. Maybe one day Wii Fit will get a clue. Until then, I'll just put up with the annoyance.

Wii Fit billboard, NYC 7/12/08 - 2 of 4

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Getting Healthier: Chiropractor Update

Hope Bay at Sunset

This picture is from my happy place. It's a real place where I love to go and I thought I'd share it today because I'm in a happier place than I was before I started seeing my chiropractor. We're 4 weeks into treatment. The first 6 weeks we were told would be for taking care of the pain we had been in. Then we do a few weeks at spinal correction, then we move to maintenance.

We've been going three times a week. That is a lot of face time with our chiropractor and his staff (who are all wonderful). Three times a week means a lot of mileage on our car, a lot of gas and even a lot of time. But I don't care about all of those things because I am feeling so much better than I was. The investment of time and money is paying off in better health. I am now able to get through my day without having to have a nap (although I still sneak them in from time to time). Prior to treatment, I was coming home from work, having a nap, getting up to eat dinner and going to bed before my kids. I was in that much pain--not all of it was physical either. I was having a lot of trouble with my moods and anxiety too.

Four weeks down and I've noticed a huge difference. It started with one of my daughters asking me a question in the car and I turned to look at her over my shoulder. I was amazed because I couldn't do that before! I have had less headaches in general, but I've still gotten hit with a couple of migraines. One morning last week, I went in with a migraine and I let him know before he started treating me. It's pretty bad when he can touch my shoulder and feel the lump that is essentially pinching the nerve and causing the migraine. The migraine didn't get better right away, but it eased off significantly and I was able to function somewhat normally.

I'm hoping that as I continue to feel better my energy will come back and I will be able to exercise more. I'm pleased with the changes that 4 weeks have already made. :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Health Movie Review: Super Size Me

Wow. I'm watching "Super Size Me" and I'm blown away. I'm so glad that I have started to eat healthier than I was. This movie should be mandatory viewing before you graduate from high school.

Synopsis: Morgan, a healthy, active man experiments by eating nothing but food from McDonalds for 30 days and walking less than 5000 steps a day.

Crazy thing? His girlfriend is a vegan chef! It must have killed her to watch him go through this experiment.

Why do I think that you need to watch this movie? It's really eye-opening to see what living on McDonald's food does to you--physically, mentally. Not only does it destroy your health and increase your weight, it also addicts you to it. When you see what happens to Morgan, you realize what is happening to you every time you eat this food. You also see what goes on in schools and learn about the way that the restaurant and food industry is keeping us down. Did you know how much advertising we see for unhealthy food options every day? Made me glad that we don't watch "traditional" television with commercials so my kids don't see them. But then I remembered when my daughter came up to tell me all about a commercial she heard on her radio. She was so insistent that the information she was giving me was important, and of course it wasn't. What are we teaching our kids?

My ultimate goal in eating better is to show my daughters how to be a healthy weight. I don't want them to struggle with obesity like I have. I think my next step will be cutting out the Diet Coke. I don't drink coffee, so I've convinced myself that this is the way I get my caffeine. I almost stopped drinking cola entirely a couple of years ago, then my work changed and I was struggling to stay awake, so I started drinking Coke. I eventually changed to Diet Coke because I didn't want all the sugar in my system. So, now I have Aspertame in my system instead. Yeah, I think it's time for the Diet Coke to go. I have kept myself at 1 can most days and lots of water. Think I'll up the water and pitch the cola now.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Getting Healthier and a Little More Organized

It feels like a rare thing, but things are coming together for me. Getting to the chiropractor has put me on the road to health. Looking back over how I had been feeling, I can now clearly see that a lot of what I was feeling was related to my spine. The part of my neck that is out of whack is where all the nerves for things like mood, depression, anxiety, etc are. The fact that the nerves were being choked explains a lot of how I depressed I had been feeling. I'd gone from rarely having panic attacks to having them fairly regularly.

Now that I've had a few adjustments, I can feel a difference. My mood is still out of whack, but it's getting better. I can usually feel when a panic attack is coming on and try to warn my husband so that he knows that I'm not myself. There is nothing quite like seeing yourself being a bitch to the people you love and not being able to stop it. It feels like you're watching yourself be this way. I'm hoping that as my chiropractic visits continue that the moods will even out as my body starts healing itself. Seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and the possibility of feeling better is such a huge relief. It was just a couple of weeks ago that I cried in my husband's arms in despair, afraid that I would never get better. It's amazing what a difference a few weeks can make.

As for getting organized, my husband and I spent Father's Day clearing more stuff out of our basement. He had to take a load of stuff to the dump today and we've dropped a lot of stuff off at the thrift shop. Some stuff we were holding on to for silly reasons. My rocking chair was broken and had been broken for years, but it was something he was going to fix. We let it go, realizing it was never going to get fixed and it was just sitting down there making us feel guilty. It feels good to get rid of stuff like that. I'm pretty sure we had two non-functioning VCRs, some blankets we were saving for the local animal shelter and a few other things. It felt so good to get the stuff out of here.

We were able to fold up the futon that has been a dumping ground for years and we finally got the sheet off it so we could wash it. Today he set up my desk for my "office" space. I'm getting psyched to work at home! As much as I like seeing my friends at work, I think going home is going to be a good option for me. I can hardly wait for the approval to happen so I can start working here. No more juggling the single car we have with the kids and who needs to be where. Can hardly wait!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting Healthier and a Little More Organized

It feels like a rare thing, but things are coming together for me. Getting to the chiropractor has put me on the road to health. Looking back over how I had been feeling, I can now clearly see that a lot of what I was feeling was related to my spine. The part of my neck that is out of whack is where all the nerves for things like mood, depression, anxiety, etc are. The fact that the nerves were being choked explains a lot of how I depressed I had been feeling. I'd gone from rarely having panic attacks to having them fairly regularly.

Now that I've had a few adjustments, I can feel a difference. My mood is still out of whack, but it's getting better. I can usually feel when a panic attack is coming on and try to warn my husband so that he knows that I'm not myself. There is nothing quite like seeing yourself being a bitch to the people you love and not being able to stop it. It feels like you're watching yourself be this way. I'm hoping that as my chiropractic visits continue that the moods will even out as my body starts healing itself. Seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and the possibility of feeling better is such a huge relief. It was just a couple of weeks ago that I cried in my husband's arms in despair, afraid that I would never get better. It's amazing what a difference a few weeks can make.

As for getting organized, my husband and I spent Father's Day clearing more stuff out of our basement. He had to take a load of stuff to the dump today and we've dropped a lot of stuff off at the thrift shop. Some stuff we were holding on to for silly reasons. My rocking chair was broken and had been broken for years, but it was something he was going to fix. We let it go, realizing it was never going to get fixed and it was just sitting down there making us feel guilty. It feels good to get rid of stuff like that. I'm pretty sure we had two non-functioning VCRs, some blankets we were saving for the local animal shelter and a few other things. It felt so good to get the stuff out of here.

We were able to fold up the futon that has been a dumping ground for years and we finally got the sheet off it so we could wash it. Today he set up my desk for my "office" space. I'm getting psyched to work at home! As much as I like seeing my friends at work, I think going home is going to be a good option for me. I can hardly wait for the approval to happen so I can start working here. No more juggling the single car we have with the kids and who needs to be where. Can hardly wait!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Decluttering and it Feels so Good!


Yes, I sang that title in my head as I typed it. What can I say? I've been baby stepping the past few months, getting some clutter out of our house in drips and drabs. Today was my day off and I stepped up the game a bit. I think the reason that I was able to get so much done has a lot to do with having a chiropractic adjustment yesterday. Now that I feel better, it's a lot easier to do stuff. I am looking forward to feeling increased health as we continue going there.

I worked on the basement today. I found out that there was an opportunity to start working from home for my job, and I was on the waiting list, so I decided I'd better get it cleared out so that I can have an office. It was a good thing that I got started in earnest today because I found out that I'm no longer on the waiting list. I'm going to get to work from home! Yay!

I had such a productive decluttering day today. Our empty aquarium and stand have been freecycled as has a box of crafting supplies that I had to admit that I was never going to get to. We took 3 boxes of stuff to be donated and set aside some of the old baby stuff for my niece. It feels so good to let this clutter go. A huge weight off my shoulders. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Feeling Healthier! First Chiropractor Adjustment!

Women's interpretive dance class

Wow! I knew that I was feeling crummy, but I had no idea how bad I felt until we went for our assessment last week. I thought I was just tired and run down. It's amazing how a small adjustment can make a big difference.

I really like our chiropractor. The staff at the office have you read literature on why it's important to have your spine aligned and then they ask you questions to make sure you understand it (they will explain further if need be). He really takes the time to talk to us directly and makes sure that we are understanding things.

We're going to a new patients' class on Thursday (yes, a class!) that will help us to understand more about chiropractics and then we'll have a personal session to go over our results. I was afraid that we made the trip in today just to be given another appointment, but he said he knew we were in pain and didn't want us to wait until Thursday, so he gave us both an adjustment tonight.

It was really painless. When I felt the pop in my neck on one side, I just felt relief. Then he popped the other side too. I feel so much lighter now. Before, it was like a depression was settling on me and I had a black cloud hanging over my head. I know I'm not cured, but I feel like becoming healthy is attainable now. I can't quite do that sort of dance move like the picture, but that's how I feel inside :)

I think that feeling that way just crept up on us. It just seemed like that was how things were and as the aches and pains got worse, we just accepted it as normal. Who knows, with treatment, we may actually get to "normal".

Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting Healthy: Seeing a Chiropractor


I haven't been writing much lately. If you had asked me why, I would have told you it was because I just hadn't been feeling well lately. I've been tired and headachy and recently had a bout of strep throat. I didn't have any energy left for writing.

My husband has been in rough shape too, so the two of us finally decided to do something about it. We have started seeing a chiropractor. We've just had an assessment and x-rays done. Tomorrow we go back to talk to him about treatment.

The assessment itself was eye-opening. It's amazing to me that he could touch my spine and know that I have a rib out of alignment (I didn't even know that!). He also confirmed my suspicions that the bones in my neck are out of line and this is a big part of why I've been getting so many headaches. Who knew?

I feel much better knowing that we're going to get treatment and that we can expect to find some relief from the constant pain we've been having. The hard part is waiting to get started and knowing that it's a process and won't get better all at once. I guess it's like house cleaning--my back didn't get this way in a day, and it can't get fixed in a day. Baby steps are the way to go. Gradual improvement is the name of the game as we head toward greater health. I can hardly wait to start.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Baby Steps to Organization

Life's More Fun When You're Organized

Busy few weeks here. We spent time getting the front garden looking nice. Hopefully it stays that way! The back garden is next on the list because I'd like to grow some veggies this summer.

In the meantime, I've been decluttering in the house. I can't believe how much paper clutter that is around here. I thought I had a handle on it, but it seems that it multiplies when I'm not looking. Generally, I recycle any flyers or advertisements as soon as they enter the house. The kids bring a lot of paper home, so I try to intercept it and copy everything important down on our calendar and recycle it as well. Bills get taken out of their envelopes and sorted for payments. This is what happens ideally, when I get the mail. If hubby gets the mail, it's a different story.

We've also been going through the girls' clothes, trying to weed out anything that doesn't fit them and donate them. Angel loves wearing Big Kid's hand-me-downs, so that's a good thing!

It's a sense of accomplishment to be able to take a bag or box of clothing or other items out of the house to donate. It also feels great to take bags of recycling out. Any time something is decluttered, other things seem to hone in on the spot and spread, but I'm hoping that eventually we'll be at a stage where everything has a place and can be put away properly. We're a long way from that point, but we're getting there. Each baby step gets us closer to organization.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Crashing Vegan Stereotypes

I get that there are stereotypes and that people are going to instantly think they know something specific about me when they find out I'm vegan. They may think I'm a granola-eating tree hugger or that I only eat vegetables, or that I'm anemic or any other number of things. Tonight I came across something I'd never heard before. On a Web site where people post questions and "experts" answer them, someone asked about the morality of eating meat. The question was in the philosophy section and most of the answers were well thought out until I got to the last one. This fellow's argument was that animals were lower than humans and of course people should eat them. He also stated that there are no proteins in a plant based diet (what?) and then he said that it had been observed that people who don't eat meat are cowards.

This guy had lost my respect way before he got to this last unfounded statement, but this statement blew me away. People who don't eat meat are cowards. Why would that be? Because we choose not to harm animals? Because we dare to express an opinion and a lifestyle choice that differs from yours? If anything, I'd say that most vegans are brave. Having a conviction and following it through? That takes courage. Being different and choosing not to go with the flow? That takes courage. Calling him out about his ignorant assumption? That took some courage too, but it felt good. I could have lectured on and on about the benefits of a plant based diet and the fact that there are many sources of plant-based protein, but I was good and reigned myself in.

I have to say that this guy really riled me up. He made some pretty ignorant statements. I fail to see how what a person eats has any effect on their level of cowardice. It just doesn't make sense. I'm truly baffled. I'm shaking my head; I really don't get this. I'm quite sure this is the craziest and most baseless stereotype of vegans I've seen or heard. That doesn't mean there aren't others that I'm not aware of.

I'm inviting you to share your tales of vegan stereotypes here so we can smash them.

I wasn't going to share the link to the question, but after thinking about it some more, I decided to add it here. Is Eating Meat Morally Wrong

Friday, May 27, 2011

I should invest in this book!

Things have been humming along here at home. We're making lots of progress in getting rid of stuff. Decluttering takes a lot of effort! The biggest thing I've found is that it's a lot easier to do something now rather than wait until later. I'm trying to do this and get the kids on board.

We spent most of the Victoria Day weekend cleaning out our front garden. When we moved in here, there was a lovely garden, but we discovered that the plant that was used as filler wasn't the best because it completely took over the garden. We have pulled it up numerous times and had a neighbour with a background in gardening tried to help us too. This year, we pulled it up, used this black cloth that supposedly blocks weeds, put some cedar mulch down and now we are hoping for the best. I planted some peonies because I just love the big, colourful flowers that used to grow in the garden we had in the house I grew up in.

Next plan is to tackle the back garden so we can plant some veggies. Being vegan, it would be nice to be able to eat the fruits of our labours here at home. We shall see how it goes.

In the meantime, I'm still culling items from the house. It feels good to get rid of stuff, especially when it can be given to someone who can really use it. Or to toss it when it's simply not good any more. I'm considering working from home in the near future, so I'm going to need a clean area to work in. Of course, I won't get preference for working from home yet, so we shall see.

And that is about it!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

And the numbers are in!

OK, so I finally found my scale and weighed myself.  I changed to a vegan diet in September.  I've been trying to follow a healthy vegan eating plan, but I do eat some not so healthy food from time to time.  I haven't added exercise to my healthy living yet.  Are you ready for it?  I was really surprised when I weighed myself and discovered that I have lost 20 pounds since September!

No 20 - gold carving
It's coming off slowly and that is fine by me!  For me, it's better to lose the weight slowly because when I've lost weight in the past, it was quicker and came back fairly quickly.  I feel better knowing it's coming off bit by bit and that I feel the results.

I also feel better about what I'm eating. If you are thinking about adopting a vegan lifestyle, I recommend these two books as a starting place. Christina Pirello's book is what made me decide that I was going to change my eating habits. And I started with the Kickstart in September last year. It was a really great tool for me to get started on the vegan pathway. I'm not a super vegan or anything, but this has been the right choice for me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Getting Healthy & Organized

I've been a little quiet lately, mostly because I haven't had too much to say. I'm still working on being healthy by following a vegan diet and it's been working well for me. I have the odd day where I think that life would be easier if I was a vegetarian, but it's usually a short-lived feeling. When I think about how animals are abused in factory farms to give milk and eggs, it pretty much seals the deal for me. Truthfully, I wish it was easier to find vegan foods some days, but I'm becoming a pretty good label reader now.

boxesI'm getting organized too, very slowly, but it's happening. Every time a charity calls us to see if we have any items to donate, I always say yes. If I don't already have something ready, it gives me a chance to get a box or two of things out. This week, I happened to find some pull-ups in a drawer and since my little one doesn't need them, I posted them on freecycle and was able to give them and a box of clothes away to the same person. It felt good to know that they were going on to someone who could use them. I especially love being able to pass on kids clothes, because we have been so blessed with receiving hand-me-downs from friends and family for my girls.

I'm also on a tossing spree. There is so much stuff laying around the house that just needed to be put in the recycling bin. I've been able to get rid of a few boxes in the basement--sad to think that we moved and stored some of this stuff.

Bit by bit, I'm getting rid of the crap in my life, and it feels pretty good. I find decluttering has a positive impact on my mood as well because it releases some of the stress I feel. It lifts away some of the weight that I carry around all the time. Clearing the clutter from my home also helps to clear the clutter in my head too. Maybe all I have to do to be rid of depression is to completely declutter my that would be something!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Livin' La Vida Vegan

Yeah, I'm not too sure where the title came from either. Perhaps Ricky Martin is dancing around my subconscious. Be that as it may, I'm loving my vegan life. I still have a lot to learn, and I definitely need to learn some more vegan recipes, but overall, it's enjoyable.

So, it's been almost 6 months now. That's the longest I've stuck with anything for my health. Even my beloved Wii Fit is sitting unused most days. I've found "going" vegan to be a lot easier than I expected--except maybe when I'm out. Last weekend, my mother-in-law was going to serve me pork, then remembered I don't eat meat, so then she offered me cheese. It was cute. I just said "No thank you" and my 8 year old said, "Grandma, Mama doesn't eat anything that comes from animals!"

It kind of reminded me of one of my favourite scenes from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" with Aunt Voula:

Here are some things that I've noticed. I don't feel hungry as much as I used to. It's surprising how filling a plant based diet can be. My pants are fitting better and I've lost some of my belly. The other day, I looked in the mirror and noticed that I only have one chin! I don't know how long it has been since I had a single chin. I am now able to wear the ring my husband gave me for our second anniversary, and I'm hoping to eventually be able to wear my wedding bands. PMS symptoms have improved a lot. Very little bloating, and next to no mood swings. This is a huge plus right there because in the past, PMS was at times debilitating, making me feel miserable.

I'm still getting headaches, but not as many as I was. The headaches I'm getting seem to be tension headaches or migraines. And I still get stressed out, but I feel better equipped to deal with the stress. That may be because I'm also sleeping better. Now it's not so much a problem of falling asleep as it is to stay asleep. I guess eating better and drinking more water contributes to my night waking because I have to get up to go to the bathroom often. And of course, being a Mom, I often have the kids coming in during the night if they are having a bad night. And I must add that being vegan also helps to keep one regular. All that fiber is a good thing.

I've also become a compulsive label reader. I thought I checked nutritional content before, but now I know I was just scanning the label. I'm reading ingredients all the time now. I was able to tell a friend that Cracker Jacks had molasses in them and I think she was a little surprised. I guess it was a bit of a weird factoid, and she doesn't know that I have a reason to check the label.

I haven't weighed myself for some time, mostly because I don't know where my scale has disappeared to (it's around here somewhere, likely hidden by one of the kids), but I'm not as focused on losing weight. The weight is coming off slowly and I'm feeling better, and I'm happy with that.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Love Groundhog Day, Wiarton Willie & The Bruce Peninsula

When I say that I love Groundhog Day, I'm not talking about the
movie starring Bill Murray, although that is a funny movie and if you haven't seen it, you really should! I really just love Groundhog Day.  Part of this may have to do with the fact that I have spent a lot of time in Wiarton Willie Country.  I mean, who doesn't love a place that capitalizes on an event that happens once a year and is centered on an albino rodent who may or may not be able to predict the arrival of spring?

Groundhog Day is a frivolous celebration, really an excuse to break up winter if you ask me.  It's quirky and it's silly, and that's why I love it.  It's really ridiculous to think that a rodent could predict the end of winter, especially when you consider that if he sees his shadow, it means 6 more weeks of winter; and if he doesn't see his shadow, it will be 6 more weeks until spring.  So basically, either way, it's the same thing. 

Groundhog Day also reminds me of my Grandfather.  He was a fabulous story teller.  He would tell us stories about growing up in Cooksville in the 1930s, about different characters and funny things they did.  I sometimes think that my interest in writing comes from him.  He mightn't have been able to write his stories down, but he really knew how to keep his listeners interested.   His stories always got better with the retelling, but that was half of the fun of listening to him.  Grampy retired up in Willie Country and I spent a lot of time there with he and my grandmother.  He taught me how to snowshoe, how to track animals, how to watch at the window for the phesants to come to his feeder as dusk was falling. 

Grampy loved living on the Bruce Peninsula.  He loved the wildlife and the solitude, and he loved the stories about the area and telling stories of some of the local characters too.  I couldn't help but appreciate the irony when he passed away on Groundhog Day two years ago.  It was like he was sharing one last joke with us.

If you want to know more about Wiarton Willie, you can check his live Webcam here:

For details of this year's Wiarton Willie Festival, check here:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wet Basement A Blessing in Disguise?

Love Wellies

The carpet at the bottom of our basement stairs has been a little damp before, but this weekend, we discovered it was actually wet. Not just a little wet, but sopping wet. We pulled up the carpet tonight and discovered mold. We were kind of expecting it given how wet the carpet is.

When we bought our house, the home inspector told us that due to the age of our house (a little over 30 years), the downspout from the eavestrough should be moved. It was going right into the ground at the side of the house--in other words, right into the weeping tile. He told us that it could potentially become clogged and cause a leak in the basement. We moved in 7 years ago. This fall, hubby finally took the down spout out of the drain and moved it to pour on the driveway (not much better). Perhaps if we had moved it 7 years ago, we might have avoided this debacle? Who knows.

We've all been sick a lot this winter too. Now I'm wondering if it has been caused in part by the mold in the basement. We are letting it dry out for now and then we'll clean the walls and floor. We'll also have to figure out how to keep the water out. I have the feeling it is going to be an expensive project.

But there is always a silver lining, right? Right??? I'm choosing to look at this as an opportunity to declutter my basement. When we moved in 7 years ago, we had moved out of a bad situation. We discovered that our landlord at the time (who lived in the basement of the house we rented) was schizophrenic and not taking his medication. At least, that is what the police officer who came to investigate his claims that we were trying to kill him told us. We literally packed up everything in our house over a weekend. We lived with my parents for 3 months while we looked for our house. Everything was in storage and when we moved in, anything that we didn't have a place for right away got shoved in the basement. We packed up a lot of clutter and moved it which was also a big mistake.

Our basement was finished, so I had planned on making it an area where the kids could play and keep their toys since our family room is so small. With all the clutter sitting there (and possibly multiplying), it has never happened. Now that we have to deal with this mess, it is going to be a good opportunity to go through the stuff that is sitting there taking up space and get rid of it. It can be given away to bless others, or it can go in the trash (or recycling). The important thing is it is going to get out of my basement and out of my house. It's going to be an opportunity for me to release some stress by releasing my clutter and some of the stress it has caused.

Yes, I realize that fixing the leak is going to be a huge undertaking and may necessitate hiring a contractor and it's going to require money I don't have to fix it.  I'm choosing to look at it from a positive angle because if I focus on the negative, I'm just going to stress myself out and be unbareable to live with.  I will post updates to our wet basement ordeal as they happen.

Tonight, removed 2 bags of garbage (including wet carpet and underlay) and one bag of recycling.  Finally put paper products away in storage area (they were sitting at bottom of stairs--glad they didn't get soaked!).  Moved dirty laundry piled at bottom of stairs into laundry area.  Baby steps.

I have been spending some time on Mike Holmes' Web site tonight to figure out how to clean up the mold.  As soon as our daughter heard we had a wet floor, she said, "You'd better call Mike Holmes!".  If only it were so easy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Joys of Being the Only Vegan at a Family Dinner

290/365 Take-out

I've been vegan for a little over four months now. It is still something I'm adjusting to, and I guess I've brought my family along for the ride.

My husband has been surprisingly supportive. I think that he sees the positive effect this new way of eating has had on me. My oldest daughter doesn't completely understand, but she knows that I don't eat anything with any animal product in it. My youngest could care less, and that is fine with me.

I haven't made a big deal about it with my extended family. I told my mom first, and she was pretty great. I was surprised she didn't freak out too much. Mom even sent me an article she read about dairy products being a possible cause to cancer. Wow. Mom made me a special dish for dinner on Christmas. When I go over there for dinner, Mom will try to have something for me to eat, and if she doesn't, she's totally cool if I go down the street to hit up the salad bar at the grocery store.

It gets a little more difficult at my husband's family. They don't get it, and I can deal with that. I just hate feeling like I'm the family freak now. My husband picked me up from work this afternoon and we went straight to his parents. Everyone decided to order in Chinese food. When they were counting how many people to feed, I mentioned I wouldn't be eating the combo meal. My husband was actually great. He went through the menu and found a vegetable lo mein with rice noodles. His sister asked me if I couldn't just take the meat out of a dish and that's when I felt like I was being a pain to everyone. I don't want to be difficult. If I had known we were going to have dinner there, I would have been more prepared. I don't want everyone else to feel put out because I choose to eat differently. It's my choice. I'm choosing to be healthy. I'm choosing to make less of an impact on the earth. I'm choosing to be kind to animals.

I wonder what it seems like to everyone else. Am I a pain? Do I sound like the kid who is a picky eater? I guess I have become a picky eater in a way--although I prefer to think of it as being a conscious eater. I am more aware of what I am eating and where it comes from. Does that make me the annoying freak? I hope not, especially since I did share my lo mein! And my sister-in-law let me know where I could find some good soy ice "cream" too.