Thursday, February 28, 2013

Labeling Yourself

‎"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." -- Henry James, American Writer

Part of the internet world I follow is all abuzz today, which has prompted me to address something that has been on my mind for a long time: labeling how we eat. 

A well-known vegan author released an open letter yesterday to inform her followers that she has decided to return to eating meat. She lists a variety of reasons for her decision. 

And then...

She was bombarded by vicious, hurtful and malicious attacks against her person and character, all from the comfy confines of people hidden behind their computer screens. 

This woman, who yes, made a name for herself in the vegan world (vegans do not eat animal products of any kind and often avoid products made with animal hides as well) made a decision and decided to be honest and share this with the world. She could have likely hidden it, but she didn't. 

Much of the vegan community continuously surprises me with the vehemence they use to tell the world that they are RIGHT and the rest of us (omnivores) are WRONG. And the vehemence with which they attack and shame and humiliate those who choose to consume animals or animal products. 

There is a difference between trying to educate others about the reasons behind ones choice to eat only plants and attacking them for not believing/eating the way you do. 

In my experience, for many vegans there is no middle ground. There is no grey area, there is no place for a slip up, an accident or even a once in a while choice. And there certainly isn't room for someone to simply change their mind. 

If someone chooses to label themselves as a vegan and then eats something outside of what vegans consider acceptable (which some can't even decide on...honey or no honey? what about the bees?) other vegans are the first to take a virtual swing at them. I find this behavior sad and curious.

Let me make a few things really clear:

1-I eat meat.
2-I don't hate people that don't eat meat.
3-I believe that eating a more plant based diet is better for people, many animals, and the environment. 
4-I believe in doing the best I can.
5-I do not believe in perfection.
6-I do not believe in labeling myself.
7-I do not believe in viciously attacking others for their choices.
8-I do not believe the way one chooses to eat is any ones business. 
9-I do not believe in hiding behind the internet to say things I would NEVER say to someone if they were sitting right next to me. 


Yes, this author promoted herself as a vegan and so one might argue that "she had it coming" but really...who are we to judge another? She is the one living her life, living in her body, living with her conscience. The vile attacks against her are, to me, in complete opposition to the ideas behind being care for ALL the living beings on the planet. 

I wonder if those attacking her today have never changed their mind about something? I wonder if they have never had to sacrifice something for convenience? I wonder if they really believe all the things they are saying or if they are just caught up in their righteous indignation? I wonder if they are pretending that we live in a perfect world where choices are always easy and happy? I wonder if they are always really as perfect in their eating as they promote themselves to be? 

I'm sure those that followed her are feeling personally affronted; I'm sure it is similar to how many felt after Lance Armstrong admitted to doping for years and lying to us all. We felt let down, betrayed, sad, misled and disappointed. I get it. 

But ultimately, her choice is HER choice. How other people feel about it is THEIR choice. But  it doesn't give them the right to assault her via the protection of the internet. 

BE upset. BE sad. BE disappointed. But don't forget that we are all human beings and each and every one of us deserves kindness. If vegans believe in not eating animal products as an act of caring and kindness to themselves, the animals and the planet, why is it okay to emotionally assault this woman via the web? 

That is not an act of loving kindness. 

My advice to the people who care to take it: avoid labeling yourself. Avoid labeling your eating type. Just eat. Eat whatever it is that YOU are morally, socially, physically, and emotionally comfortable eating. Do your best. 

That is all any of us can really do. Our best. On any given day. 

And before you hit submit on that comment or post ask yourself...would I say this if this person was sitting right next to me, across my kitchen table? If my best friend said this to me how would I respond? Would I say this? If I was looking right into their eyes...would I say this unkindness?

If not...maybe use the backspace button and keep from adding unnecessary hatred and negativity to the world. 

Kindness. It is the only thing the world needs. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

New Desk!

Hi All! Long time no blog...

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the winter blah's had been taking their toll and I had been feeling pretty depressed. Those feelings were making it hard for me to come up with anything I felt was valuable to post, and let's face it, depression removes all the motivation to do darn near anything from our lives.

I want to talk more about depression, anxiety and the stigma associated with those topics, because I feel like there is still so much stigma out there that people who are experiencing depression often don't ask for help. When you are depressed you NEED to ask for help...from your friends, your family, your health care team...It can be the hardest thing in the world to do, but it is necessary!

Today though I'm going to talk about our new desk!

Chris and I, over the course of our ever changing lives, had been using two separate desks, purchased at two separate times, in our home office/computer room. This room is where we spend most of our time. The desk were mismatched, different colors, heights, sizes...everything.

I was sick of it!

I forgot to take before pictures (because I was so excited to get these things out of here!) but if you look past Shanelle in these pictures you can see my desk on the left and Chris sitting at his desk on the right.

Because I hated my desk set up so much, I never sat there and it just became a catch-all surface for everything...mail, junk, books, whatever. The cats were forever knocking stuff off of there in their less than graceful jumps  up and down from the windowsill.

Chris and I thought about buying one large desk, but desks are  really expensive and to get what we wanted would be several hundred dollars. I'm too cheap for that. 

We decided to make our own desk! 

First step was to get rid of the old stuff and do some measuring. Chris is locating the studs in the wall in this picture because we are going to mount the desk surface to the wall. 

Here is phase one: the mounted support system for the desktop surface. You can see the new desktop in the picture below resting on the carpet. We decided to use a piece of pre-cut 8' counter top for our desk top. We purchased this at Lowe's for $80. 

The counter got mounted on the wall support with brackets from underneath, in addition to having two floor based supports as well.

Ta da! One single surface for us to work on! Chris took the keyboard slide out tray off of my old desk and mounted that on his side. I don't use my wireless keyboard often, so it wasn't a big concern for me.

It isn't 100% done yet...we are going to paint or enclose the floor supports so they have a finished look, and I am still organizing my side of the desk. I bought a new file organizer which has made me so happy happy!! It is the little things.

We did have to cut a hole in the counter top/desk top behind Chris' monitor for cords and so forth, but he just used a hole saw, quick and easy. Another cool thing: we were able to take our 4' long multi-plug outlet and mount it underneath the desktop rather than having it sit on the floor. That has helped clean up the mess of cords all over.

All told, we spent right at $100 to purchase the wood, screws and counter top. We had some brackets at home and spent a couple more bucks on some additional brackets. We re-used our existing keyboard slide out tray, and I spent $20 bucks on a new desktop file organizer (office stuff is expensive!!).

It took a couple hours total to remove everything, locate studs, measure, mount and install the desk.

We really like having a one piece surface! The room itself looks bigger.

Did you do any projects over the weekend?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Meal Plan February

Did I tell you that I wrote a dinner meal plan for the whole month of February?

Yup. The whole  month.

After I spent all that time doing an inventory of my freezer, I decided I should actually come up with a plan to use all that great stuff!

Now, I don't expect to follow this exactly. In fact, there have already been several alterations or changes that have occurred over the last week or so.

But I have been using it as a guide and even if I decide to make something different from what is on the menu for the day, switch days around, or as happened on Saturday night, something unexpected comes up and we aren't home for dinner, it has still given me a greater awareness of what is hiding in my freezer.

As a result, I have been doing an incredible job of using stuff from the freezer in my meals instead of buying more stuff.

I went grocery shopping yesterday and as far as food went I bought some fresh veggies, some lunch stuff (meat/cheese/wraps) for Chris and a bunch of household stuff like toilet paper and paper towels.

Another great bonus is that our meals are being varied and I'm bringing back some favorites that sometimes get skipped, like Posole and spinach lasagna.

This week:

Monday: Pesto veggie pasta
Tuesday: Pork chop, healthy fries, green veg
Wednesday: Poblano Corn Chowder
Thursday: it says cod, but I realized is is Valentine's Day so I am changing it to steak, potato and veg.
Friday: Pesto Basil Artichoke Mozzarella pizza
Saturday: Shrimp Poblano "curry"

As far as workouts go, well I am still doing a pretty good job of doing something most days. I am still really struggling with my neck/shoulder/back issue. It gets better, but then I DO something, like workout with high intensity or scrub my bathroom from floor to ceiling and then I am put back out of commission for several days. I'm working on it though and trying to keep my chin up.

Sunday: Walked for 2.5 miles
Monday: Recumbent bike for 40 minutes
Tuesday: Yoga for 28 minutes
Friday: rest day

I don't know exactly. My workouts are somewhat dependent on how my shoulders and neck are doing. Yoga if I'm not doing so good, a walk or some other cardio if I am doing better. My ultimate goal at this point is to just keep doing some kind of workout, ANYTHING, at least 5 days of the week.

That's the plan kids!!

Do you have a plan? Lent starts you observe? Are you giving anything up?

I am taking on a meditation practice. I hope to use the next 40 days to incorporate guided meditation into my life on a regular basis. I won't say daily, but several times a week.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

It's Time!!

Hello Friends!

I'm sorry for the lack of posts this week. I have been feeling a little depressed and just couldn't get my act together to actually write anything. Also, I was trying to really limit my computer time in an effort to force myself to be more active to help alleviate the depression. I'm feeling a bit better and hope to continue that trend, and continue posting content regularly! Thanks for understanding.


The SUN is shining....thank the heavens!

You know what else? It's that time of year again....

What time?

I'll give you a hint or two...

It's time to plant my starts! Or my seeds for what will eventually be my starts.

The last frost date here in Southern Oregon isn't until mid-May, so I have a long time until I can plant my tomatoes and peppers outside, but the growing season isn't long enough to give them a good chance to get big and produce if I just plant them outside in mid-May as seeds. The solution? Plant the seeds indoors and nurture them over the next several months until they are big enough and the danger of frost has passed.

Today I planted Roma, Grape, Jelly Bean, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter, Big Rainbow and German Green tomato seeds and two different types of basil.

Last year our peppers really struggled, even though we started them indoors, so this year I am doing a bit more to encourage them. I got the dirt and labels ready, but I haven't planted any pepper seeds yet. I am going to soak and sprout them first and then plant the tiny sprouted seeds. Peppers are notoriously finicky, so I'm hoping this little extra step will help us have more peppers this year.

Chris was so disgusted with the lack of pepper production last year that he said he is just going to spend the money on store-bought starts this year. I'm willing to give it another try starting them myself. I will plant some hot jalapeno, mixed color bell pepper and some poblano.

Who's happy the sun is shining?? This girl.

Are you growing any fruits, vegetables, herbs or flowers this year?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

SUPER Bowl Sunday!

It's Super Bowl Sunday!!!!! A football fan's favorite Sunday of the year. 

I am decked out in black and purple today in support of the Baltimore Ravens. Okay, really I have on a black long sleeve shirt and a purple hoodie but still I'm showing my support. 

Super Bowl Sunday is about the food as much as the game and here at Casa Beebe it is no exception. 

I have a nice pot of chili going in the crock pot. 

Chris is slow-smoking some beef jerky and will be grilling up some pork ribs a little later. 

I will be making some guacamole and a recipe I saw tweeted yesterday by Cooking Light magazine. 

Artichoke, Spinach, and White Bean Dip Recipe
(cooking light image)
I love spinach and artichoke dip and this lightened up version (1/4 cup is only 87 calories) means I can snack on a pretty good pile of it without feeling too bad about the calories and fat content. I will let you know how it turns out. 

I have everything I need to make this in my pantry or freezer, so it will come together quick and easy. 

I will make some corn bread to go with the chili, too. 

That's about it. I am trying not to go too overboard, especially since now Chris has been called off to work and so I sit here alone with the cats. No need for an excessive spread of snacks for just me. 

The game doesn't start until 3:30 this afternoon so I have about 4 hours until game time. I know it sounds super exciting, but I think I'm going to do some homework and laundry. I know. You are jealous. 

If you are not a football fan but are going to a party today to enjoy the food and commercials check out this article from the Huffington Post. It will give you some tips about how to interact with your football fanatic friends as well as understand a bit about who the big players are in the game. 

I like the idea of the side bets, too, for off the field action. That could get down right fun! 

And no matter what, football fan or not, if you drink today: PLEASE don't drive. Call a cab, call a friend, or stay put. The life you save could be your own! 

Happy Super Bowl everyone! May your chosen team win!!

(Go Ravens!!)

Saturday, February 2, 2013


One of the things that I need to do periodically is take an inventory of my freezers, pantry and fridge to see what is going on in there.

With all the preserving, drying and freezing we do in the summer with our veggies from the garden, plus buying roasts and turkeys when they are on sale, my freezers and my pantry can sometimes become a black hole. I forget what is in there, stuff gets tucked behind other stuff, and then before you know it I have 17 bags of spinach and no meat.

Today, as I was getting ready to make my grocery list/meal plan for the week I decided it was time for a mid-winter freezer inventory. What is still hanging out in there from the summer harvest? Turns out: A TON!

That is my list of stuff in my freezers. Seriously. (click to enlarge)

There is some blackberry jam, strawberries, plums, blackberries, and a turkey. 

That is a whole mess of miscellaneous stuff (I dug it out of the bottom) including lots of corn, diced tomatoes, smoked whole peppers, smoked tomatoes, some ground sausage, a mish mash of other veggies like eggplant, peas, spinach, edemame, zucchini, and so forth.

There is also a TON of tomatillo sauce, pesto, and tomato sauce and tomato juice cubes.

This all came out of there, too. More fruit (something like 7-8 gallon bags full), some meat items, and some more veggies.

Meat list above, veggie and misc. list below.

It is a good thing I looked. I have a bunch of stuff that needs to be used up before it is freezer burned beyond use! One thing going on the menu for this week is Posole, a Mexican pork and hominy soup. The pork for posole I have in my freezer has been there for a (ahem) while. It needs to get used.

Also, I didn't realize I had a bag of shelled edemame in there. I pulled that out and used some of it in my lunch today.

I was frustrated shopping the other day because it isn't fresh fruit season yet. I guess I should have gone shopping in my freezer because I have blackberries, blueberries, plums, strawberries, and peaches all just waiting to be used in yogurt/granola breakfasts, on top of or in pancakes, smoothies and however else I can think of.

My meal plans over the next few weeks are going to include a pesto pasta veggie dish, some posole, a corn and pepper chowder, some verde chicken enchilada, a veggie based lasagna, and chili (tomorrow for the Super Bowl!). I also have plenty of meat options for meals so I won't be picking up any meat for a week or two. We will just need to make do with what is in there. Once we make a good dent we can get something else.

How often do you do a freezer/pantry/fridge inventory? 

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Friday Five 2.1.13

YIPES! How is it February already? 

1. What I'm Reading

From Amazon: The narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man in search for truth. He answers an ad in a local newspaper from a teacher looking for serious pupils, only to find himself alone in an abandoned office with a full-grown gorilla who is nibbling delicately on a slender branch. “You are the teacher?” he asks incredulously. “I am the teacher,” the gorilla replies. Ishmael is a creature of immense wisdom and he has a story to tell, one that no other human being has ever heard. It is a story that extends backward and forward over the lifespan of the earth from the birth of time to a future there is still time to save. Like all great teachers, Ishmael refuses to make the lesson easy; he demands the final illumination to come from within ourselves. Is it man’s destiny to rule the world? Or is it a higher destiny possible for him—one more wonderful than he has ever imagined?

Now, I understand that having a gorilla as the teacher is a stretch, but let me assure you that during the reading it becomes completely plausible and also exceptionally real. Daniel Quinn has done an incredible job helping the reader to see the foibles of humanity. This story is so powerful. I have been finished with the book for a few days but I can't stop thinking about the message, the story, the insight, the wisdom. This is one of those books. One of those books that I feel everyone should read at least once in their life. It reminds me of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho; not the story but the feeling I had after I read it. 

Ishmael can be purchased used on Amazon for as little as $3.58. I know it is available on audible as well. This book has an amazing message and I encourage everyone to read it. 

2. What I'm Watching

I recently caught up on most of the current season of Bones. I wasn't sure about it after Booth and Brennan first had their baby, but I enjoyed the current season. I also have (I know, totally late to the party) recently discovered The Big Bang Theory. Uhm. Hilarious! 

I also watched a couple of movies while Kelsey was visiting.

This movie was so funny and GOOD. I had not heard anything about it, and thought it looked dumb when I read the back of it, but I was wrong. It was really good. I would even watch it again. Gotta love Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy. 

We also watched Bridesmaids. Okay...everyone said this movie was so hilarious. The funniest movie they had seen in a long time. Blah BLah BLAH. Ohmygosh. This movie was terrible. Horrible. I laughed like one time and that was when the depressing lead character chick ran her dumpy POS car into the back of Rhodes patrol car. That was funny. The rest of it...UGH! Horrible. I was depressed watching it. I will give props to Melissa McCarthy who played the incredible Megan. So awesome. The rest of the cast was terrible, and the movie sucked. WHY did anyone think this was funny? 

3. What I'm Listening To

Scream and Shout by Will.i.Am and Britney Spears. I discovered this song the other day and I really like it. 

4. What I'm Eating

Ugh...a bunch of crap! I'm all over the place with food right now. We went out last night and had burgers and onion rings for cryin' out loud! (They were really tasty.)

I am going to make something healthy for dinner tonight. 

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing Recipe

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing (image from Cooking Light)

Or you can see my version: Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

Yesterday I defrosted the chicken and it has been marinading in a Thai style marinade: ginger, lemon grass, garlic, a bit of sugar and some soy sauce. I'm going to grill that up for the salad topper. YUM. 

5. Random Thing it Would be Cool to Have

Also, can I just say that Liv Tyler did an incredible job as Arwen? 

What's your five for the week?? What book should I pick up to read for February? I have a goal of 24 books for the year and am right on track, having read two in January!