Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Asparagus Delight!

Way back in the day, Dining With The Duchess: Making Everyday Meals A Special Occasion, was one of my favorite cookbooks. I particularly enjoyed the herb biscuits, cheese popovers, and the Parmesan asparagus. I decided to break the book out and do a little veganizing!

The recipe is originally as follows:

1 lb. asparagus
2 t olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 c Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Place asparagus on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake ten minutes, then toss again. Sprinkle with cheese and bake about five minutes longer.

Soooo..here's what I did instead, which was awfully easy and yummy.

Leslie's version:

1 can of asparagus
1 T vegan butter
1 T lemon juice
1 T nutritional yeast
8-9 black olives, sliced
salt & pepper

In a small pan, heat the butter, lemon juice, nooch, s & p. Whisk or stir together till smooth. Add the asparagus and olives. Heat till nice and warm. Eat. Be happy!

P.S. You could be all fancy and use real asparagus and some version of these ingredients in the oven like the real recipe too :)


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What is a Freegan?


Here are some quotes from Freegan.info that I find particularly enjoyable.

WASTE RECLAMATION:
By recovering the discards of retailers, offices, schools, homes, hotels, or anywhere by rummaging through their trash bins, dumpsters, and trash bags, freegans are able to obtain food, beverages, books, toiletries magazines, comic books, newspapers, videos, kitchenware, appliances, music (CDs, cassettes, records, etc.), carpets, musical instruments, clothing, rollerblades, scooters, furniture, vitamins, electronics, animal care products, games, toys, bicycles, artwork, and just about any other type of consumer good. Rather than contributing to further waste, freegans curtail garbage and pollution, reducing the over-all volume in the waste stream...When freegans do need to buy, we buy second-hand goods which reduces production and supports reusing and reducing what would have been wasted without providing any additional funds for new production.

WASTE MINIMIZATION:
...Freegans scrupulously recycle, compost organic matter into topsoil, and repair rather than replace items whenever possible. Anything unusable by us, we redistribute to our friends, at freemarkets, or using internet services like freecycle and craigslist.

WORKING LESS:
By accounting for the basic necessities of food, clothing, housing, furniture, and transportation without spending a dime, freegans are able to greatly reduce or altogether eliminate the need to constantly be employed. We can instead devote our time to caring for our families, volunteering in our communities, and joining activist groups to fight the practices of the corporations who would otherwise be bossing us around at work. For some, total unemployment isn't an option. It's far harder to find free dental surgery than a free bookcase on the curb, but by limiting our financial needs, even those of us who need to work can place conscious limits on how much we work, take control of our lives, and escape the constant pressure to make ends meet.

Holiday Roundup!

Whew! I'm back at work today after a lovely break! I didn't even get out of my PJ's yesterday, which rocked!

Here's a little roundup of some of the holiday fun.
I made Gingerbread Apple Pie from Vegan With A Vengeance. I gave it away before I remembered to take a picture, but here's the prep! Now that's a holiday baking spread!!
Our Christmas Cactus bloomed its little heart out!!


There was a little Merry-Go-Round-ing!

And even when the cupboard got a little bare from holiday chaos, we managed to have to super dooper Hello Kitty bread sammiches. Yay!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Spring Salads!

I suppose I have a touch of spring fever, even though the windows are frosty and the heater is a'blowing!!

A while back, the Cake Maker To The Stars and I shared a delicious salad at Slim Goodies Diner. Check out the menu. We ate this magical salad of spinach, walnuts, strawberries, purple onions, and fairy dust I think! It was so delicious! I tried to throw together a moderate recreation at home the other day. It was yum! I added a side of vegan broccoli slaw I had whipped up too. It was a very happy lunch!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Compact Day 9


Nine days into my decision to experiment with cutting consumption...and I feel a little silly! Turns out I was really good at going about consumption in alternative way already! I avoid the mall and shopping places like the plague. I check the Goodwill or Ebay for stuff I need, and I either make or buy local/handmade gifts for special occasions. I recycle and reuse as much as possible. I feel pretty good about my habits, and so far not buying stuff has truly been a non-issue. The wild and crazy purchases a little over a week into the experiment have consisted of some Dr. Bronners, groceries, and a few clearance shirts to be socked away for next winter, paid for with a Christmas gift card. I also stocked up on my pets' flea stuffs, which was certainly a different type pf transaction than the rest lately. $212!!! This was for three pets for six months, so not too bad. It reminded me that there are some costs that I will continue to incur, because I choose to do so. It's ok with me though, because my pets are happy and healthy. It's all about learning a balance I think. 

One thing I have been thinking about more is figuring out ways to actually get less stuff in the first place. Some solutions I am considering are:

*buying in bulk when I can
*buying items in the most minimal, nonexistent, reusable or recyclable materials
*making foods like salsa, spaghetti sauce, etc. from scratch rather than buying these foods in a jar that I then have to find a new purpose for (I am the crazy queen of jar-saving)

On I go with the betterment! Cheers!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Comes But Once A Year...

and we celebrated with dips! My family gathered to celebrate with a dip party. My mother went above and beyond by veganizing some old favorites, and I brought some new recipes.

We had Fritos, tortilla chips, bagel chips, and celery for dipping!

Here are a few snippets of the dips we enjoyed!

Guacamole:

Black Eyed Pea Salsa:


Spinach Dip (made with Tofutti sour cream):

Betty's Salsa (a Sarah Kramer recipe):

And my favorite: 7 Layer Dip! (made with vegan cheese and sour cream- yay!!!)
It was deeeelicious! Happy holidays!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cute Homemade Gift Idea

Having become acquainted with little kids bath time activities (i.e. we must have over 20 rubber duckies that have migrated to our big pink bathroom), I totally love this Freegan idea!

The Tuggie!
This is a very simple re-purpose designed from empty laundry bottles.
Simply cut the top, cut the bottom, and match with a touch of silicone to make them unsinkable! Row row row...teehee!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday Night Redux & Compact Update

Last night we had a great dinner of The Best Vegan Mac & Cheese Ever (truly!) and Kittee's Creamed Spinach. Yum!!We cranked up the (gas log) fire and watched some dumb but hilarious teevee. One channel had a year's events countdown and I revelled at how completely out of the celebrity loop I am. I didn't know who anybody was! Anyhoo...

Being as how it is Discardia currently and I am on Day 5 of my Compact, I decided to do a little rooting around at home to what I was harboring that I don't need. I also packed up a few little goodie bags for friends who I know are in need of this or that.

Conclusions from cleaning out my dresser drawers and general household hot spots: (Teehee! These are pretty good!)

*I have enough foundations, ahem cute underpants, to last until I am so old that I wear those kind that pull up really really high! I have enough to make a fancy drawer and an everyday drawer. This was an exciting discover in terms of realizing that I can go a whiiiiiile without doing laundry, or shopping for more, for that matter.

*I have enough socks...like more than enough! My friend moved far away this summer and downsized, so now I have her extra socks and mine. Ditto for leggings and tights. I had enough to share with a friend in need too.

*I have 3 fancy coats (2 are my grandmother's vintage), 3 hoodies, and one normal winter coat. Wow! Never would have thunk it...gotta think about Grandma's coats. I never wear them because they have fur collars, but I love the memories. Wonder if I could remove the fur and sew on a cute fabric collar? Hmmm...

*I was able to make my friend a bag of jeans, cozy flannel pj's, 2 tank tops, yoga pants, and sweater without even feeling a moderate crunch in the closet. Yay!
*Zines! My gosh! I have so many zines that I haven't read yet! I am going to look around to see if I can find online zine trades or some such. I'd love to pass mine on for a new pile to read.

I am feeling great about not-buying so far. The more I got through my things thoughtfully, the more I realize that I have a ton to share, and I have a ton for myself and my peeps as well. I liked a quote that I read but can't find at the moment...it was to the effect that we should look at our belongings. It someone else would truly love or appreciate the item more, pass it on. That seems like good advice to me! No one wants my extensive collection of photo booth pictures (which are not up for grabs, btw) but others could certainly benefit from the plethora of gifts like decorations, picture frames, and kitchen gadgets that never see the light of day from their cabinet homes. Easy peasy!
Bonus! Free Christmas Gift alert! I got two brand new fancy purple Trapper Keepers at work from a drug rep. They have folders, pockets, and a homework planner notebook in them. Perfect presents for our little Straight A students. Yay!!!
Otherwise, just gearing up for Christmas Eve tomorrow. It will be my first Christmas with kids. We have reindeer food to sprinkle on the lawn and everything! Have a happy holiday!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The 20 Most Antioxidant-Rich Foods‏

I started subscribing to Dr. Ben Kim's email newsletter after I found some great recipes on his website. A recent post outlined the 20 most antioxidant-rich foods, which I found to be important! Here's a recap!

"One of the most important steps you can take to prevent heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease is to eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods. As discussed in a previous article on free radicals, antioxidants protect your health by preventing and repairing damage caused to your cells by excessive free radicals.

Antioxidants are plentiful in plant foods, particularly those that have bright colours. As of May, 2005, the most comprehensive study of the antioxidant content of common foods that I know of was published in the June 2004 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Here are the results of the study in chart form.

The highest ranked foods in four major categories are as follows:
Fruits: blueberries, cranberries, and blackberries.
Vegetables: beans, artichoke hearts, and surprisingly, russet potatoes.
Nuts: pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts.
Spices: cinnamon, oregano, and ground cloves.


Here are a few points to keep in mind when choosing antioxidant-rich foods:
Because there are many different types of antioxidants that can protect your tissues from different types of damage, it is best to eat a wide range of antioxidant-rich foods. How much you benefit from the antioxidants found in the foods you eat depends on how well you breakdown and absorb these foods. One of the best ways of making sure that you are getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet is to strive to eat lots of fresh vegetables. If you just don't have the time to eat a large green salad every day, consider buying a good juicer and drinking a fresh vegetable juice on a daily basis. Another more convenient option is to use a high quality super green food product. When washing and preparing vegetables and fruits, be sure to wash non-organic varieties with extra care to help remove pesticide residues. This is especially important for vegetables and fruits that are known to be heavily contaminated with pesticides. Raw chocolate and goji berries are two foods that are extremely rich in antioxidants but were not evaluated for the study cited above."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Compact: Day 3

Hello everyone! Reporting on my 3rd day of being a trial Compacter. I went to work as usual, my last day at the nursery. I've worked there about a year and half in addition to my full time job. It was time to retire! I said bye to everyone and hugged the babies. I am looking forward to sleeping late on my weekend days now. Yay!!

Normally, the third day of one's pledge not to buy superfluous stuff wouldn't seem the logical day to go to the mall, much less the week of Christmas. However, my little brother was in from NYC and it was an opportunity to spend some time with him and my mom. We got in the photo booth, joked around, and had a pretty good time. I felt kind of liberated by my decision not to buy stuff. I sat up on this big couch in one clothing store laughing at the absurd music videos playing. I teased my brother and we got our hands scrubbed in some mall holiday demo. Good stuff!

I am still a little unclear on the gift card thing, but I used it today to by some household stuff. Since beginning the Compact, I've bought a few basic groceries. I spent the gift card on 4 (yes 4!!) big bottles of Dr. Bronner's soap, boxer shorts for the man + two $5 shirts. I feel ok about the clothing items as they were cheap, needed, and paid for with a gift card, but I intend to avoid shopping as fun in general and the gift card will be retired. I am glad to have spent time with my family, despite the crazy mall setting!! We all ate afterward and visited my 90 year old grandmother, who I credit with instilling in me some of the lovelier aspects of my personality.

I am looking forward to more Compacting. One thing I have been thinking about is a point made in Janet Luhr's Simple Living Guide. She discusses that simple living or changing your life is not about (and I'm paraphrasing) running off to live in the woods and eat berries. It isn't about deprivation. It's about being deliberate in what you buy, how you spend your time, and what you want for your life. Thus far for me, being more deliberate in my choices, even the tiny daily ones, is making my heart feel lighter.
I've always been interested in these subjects. I remember reading Duane Elgin's Voluntary Simplicity years ago and really being amazed by the idea that thoughtful choices in the present could give me the freedom to escape from the whole "rat race" thing. I haven't been very diligent about careful choices, but I am excited about giving it a try now. We shall see! The ultimate goal would be to only have to work part-time, doing something that I enjoy and feel is worthwhile. My remaining free time could be spent writing, reading, growing things, and generally enjoying the people and creatures I love. If that can all be achieved through learning to skip the $5 coffee, wearing my jeans for a couple of extra years, and reading from the Library, bring it!

I also found a neat blog, Walk Slowly, Live Wildly about a family living life their own way. I will continue reading up on The Compact and related things. I've got some yummy vegan holiday food to post this week too!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pixiepine Compact


I have been reading up on blogs like The Compact and Non-Consumer Girl. You may have noticed from my previous posts on holiday nuttiness and Buy Nothing Day, I am kinda jonesing to try something new, consumption speaking.

With all the big changes in my world these days, I'm not ready to commit to a year of The Compact, but I do want to try a month, much like people do when giving vegetarianism or veganism a shot. Here is my paraphrased version of the the guidelines of the compact, from the SF Compact website.

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc.

2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes

3) to simplify our lives

The rules:

First principle - don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)

Second principle - borrow or buy used

A few exceptions - using the "fair and reasonable person" standard -- i.e., you'll know in your heart when you're rationalizing a violation:

food, drink, and necessary medicine
necessary cleaning products
socks and underwear

Utilitarian services (plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, veterinarians, dog/house-sitters, fire/paramedics, dry cleaners, house cleaners, etc.) -- Support local and encourage used parts (rebuilt transmission, salvaged headlight unit, etc.)

Recreational services (massage, etc.) & local artisanal items - Good sources for gifts, but should not be over-indulged

Charitable contributions (Seva, Heifer, and the like) - an even better source for gifts


Plants and cut flowers - Whenever possible, cultivate from free cuttings or seeds. Ok in extreme moderation.

Art supplies - First line of attack: SCRAP. When absolutely necessary (for the professionals and talented amateurs in the group), from local businesses

Magazines, newspapers, Netflix - renewals only, no new subscriptions. Even better to consume online

Video rentals and downloadable music files (non-material) -- freely shared and legal, please

So here we go...these are a few of the pitfalls I see myself dealing with:

*my Etsy addiction

*feeling the need to buy shiny new things for gifts (although I usually wish I had taken the time to make something instead)

*stuff for the kidlets

*serious troublesome one here (teehee!) : zines and papery treats (i.e. Sarah Kramer's new calender, everything in the Microcosm catalog)


And here are a few holiday loopholes: (I guess I will use these as needed, but probably save them for a rainy day)

*just received a shopping mall gift card good for 1 year


*just received a gift certificate to a local bakery/juice bar

So we shall see. I'm gonna start this today, December 19th. Stay tuned for updates. Coincidentally, the interesting holiday of Discardia begins tomorrow. Happy Getting Rid Of Stuff!

Tofu Scramble-Off!

After having tested every tofu scramble recipe known to man (and woman), I determine Sarah Kramer to be the Queen Of Scrambles (wonder if she'll send me her new calender in thanks? I want one!). This weekend we had a yummy scramble for breakfast. As a side, we ate nice tomato slices filled with black beans. Yum! I wasn't terribly excited about Fantastic Foods black bean flakey wakeys (beans in flakes just seems to be a bad idea), but they turned out to have a very nice cozy taste, just the right amount of spices. Perfect in the tomatoes and only 99 cents on the clearance shelf. Yay!!

And just for giggles, go check out this link. It's a really neat holiday giveaway full of awesome gadgets for home, kids, etc. Have fun!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yay!! Blog Prize!

I follow Within The Corners Of My Kitchen, a blog written by Damaris Palmer. She hosts great giveaways and one landed on me! It's completely perfect for me as it involves Etsy and tiny junk food creatures.

Look at these neat Christmas (and probably year round at our house..teehee!) ornaments I won in the giveaway! Check out WINNIEATEPAPER's Etsy shop for more crazy cuteness!!

Thanks again, Damaris, for the giveaway!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

La Di Da Deeee Engaged!!!


Yay! On Saturday night, I got a big happy surprise. Brad took me on a downtown adventure and up to the top of a tall building (which was perfect because just the day before I watched Charade with Audrey Hepburn in lots of big buildings)!
Some rainbow daisies, a bottle of champagne, some mushy personal business, and a very sparkly special ring-a-ding on my finger later, we are engaged! Whooo yay! We had a great night with dinner and drinks at a new restaurant and some champagne later with friends.


On Sunday, I made postcards to send to all the family and close friends sharing the big news. If you are family or a close friend, check the mailbox! Here's what they look like, except way pinker!! (this is a picture snapped of it on my desk) :

Yay yay yay!!!

P.S. The lady who made the ring is super nice and has been wonderful working with Brad on the whole thing! Email or comment if you want more info on her work.

Friday, December 12, 2008

An Award!


Gina over at Vegan Strong has bestowed upon the humble Pixiepine Palace a bloggy award. Thanks, Gina!!
Here's a little info about this award:
"This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."
Yay!
Here are my eight blog award passer-on-ees:
Check them out! :)

Peanut Butter Cactus Happiness

Velcome to this post!! I am a little vampire, but instead of blood, I suck peanut butter! Yum! But only nice organic peanut butter!

These are the nice people who share the peanut butter with me.

This kind is my favorite so far. I'm draining it dry!! I even chew it up with my little vampire teeth on some delicious Ezekiel bread. Ah ha ha ha!!


In other prickly, red news...here is the Christmas cactus cuddling up with the African violets, busily working on blooming for December 25th!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Remedies for Christmas Crankiness

I have been increasingly grouchy (much like Grandpa there) due to the holiday consumption blowout-ganza going on all over the place! Next year I am seriously gonna get on the ball and make presents.
My goal list (yay for resolutions early and often!) includes:
learning to make jelly/jam
learning to can/jar food
learn to do basic sewing stuff

Anyhoo. For now I will get a grip on the Xmas dizziness by being industrious! My first line of business was to replace the poopy chemical dishwasher powder we use currently. Also on to-do list, find out how to give myself a haircut. Thank you internet, score and score!!

To-Do #1- Homemade dish washing liquid- I found a great recipe. It looks easy, and one less carton of junk to lug home from the store sounds excellent. Plus, any way in which I can smell up my house with peppermint Dr. Bronner's is a surefire success to me! Thirdly, reading those crazy ravings all over the DB's labels is sweet fun!!

I got the following recipe from Naturemoms.com.


Natural Dishwasher Soap Recipe

1/2 CUP LIQUID CASTILLE SOAP *do NOT use regular liquid soap!*
1/2 CUP WATER
1 TEASPOON FRESH LEMON JUICE
3 DROPS OF TEA TREE EXTRACT
1/2 CUP WHITE VINEGAR

COMBINE WATER AND LIQUID CASTILLE SOAP.
STIR.
ADD LEMON JUICE, TEA TREE EXTRACT AND VINEGAR.
STIR UNTIL EVENLY BLENDED.
STORE IN A SQUIRT TOP BOTTLE.

USE 2 TABLESPOONS PER DISHWASHER LOAD.

CAUTION! DO NOT USE REGULAR SOAP IN PLACE OF CASTILLE, UNLESS IT IS LOW SUDSING SOAP..... OTHERWISE, YOUR DISHWASHER WILL OVERFLOW!***

***Remember in Freaky Friday (not that Lohan-afflicted one) when she tries to wash and bubbles go all over the place!? Yeah! So use castille soap here unless you want to do a reenactment!***

To -Do #2. Haircutting- There are tons of websites for haircutting. Many were comical, many were way to mathematical for me.
I found a nice easy one and will let you know how it turns out. I have hair a little past my shoulders, and unless it wouldn't fit in pigtails anymore, nothing hair-cut wise would be too much of a disaster.

Here are the directions I chose:

How to Cut Layers in Long Hair

- Wash and condition your hair.
- Comb out all the tangles. Your hair should be wet.
- Bend over and comb all of your hair into a ponytail in front of your head, not the top.
- Put a ponytail holder in it.
- Twist your ponytail to the right and cut off the length you want.
- Let hair go and brush the ponytail.
- Pull up and twist to the left.
- Cut off the same length.
- Undo the ponytail. The hair falls in graduated layers from the top to the bottom.
- You now have perfect layers. You hair is still long, but you have layers!
-Cut your hair a little at a time - inch by inch until you create desired layers and length.

-Use a sharpened pair of scissors to get a clean cut.


Feel free to comment with any ways you get around the hullballoo!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nice Things

Today has been full of nice little things that I'd like to share. First, I am feeling less and less like a zombie every day! It's been a week since I had my wisdom tooth out, and I am feeling much more chipper!!!Now onto the neat surprises that have come my way. I started reading Nicole Georges' Invincible Summer Anthology, which I love so far.

This morning a mother and daughter pair who receive counseling services at the agency where I work presented us all with homemade Christmas gifts. It was really neat to see how they had worked hard on these gifts and how excited they were to give them! I picked a purple snowman themed one for my office :). Notice the snazzy orange vinyl chairs too. Heehehe!

Later in the day I ran some work errands. I stopped by Fiesta Nutrition Center to pick up a few things off the magical clearance shelf. I snagged some Stacy's Simply Naked Bagel Chips and PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics Nail Paint. My total was less than $5. Yay!!
I love PeaceKeepers Cause-Metics for a variety of reasons, one of the more frivolous being that when you purchase a lipstick and send in a "kiss, " you are donating to amazing activism...but you also get your smacker in the kiss museum. Check mine out!


I got this color, called Paint Me Stunning, cuz I have a date this weekend.*** So while I was frolicking with snacks and cosmetics, the owner of Fiesta, Angie, surprised me with a new Fiesta t-shirt. They are black with green writing and really cool. I love the back. it says "Healthy?"

The front is a cute logo. I'll be sporting this one often, as I am big on buying local and this store makes my cooking and lifestyle way more fun.

That was my great day so far. Hope you all have had fun days too!!
***My date is with this dude!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cheesy Broccoli Soup + Doggy Bonus!

Yesterday I was craving some wintery soup, so I made a big pot of Compassion Over Killing's Cheesy Broccoli Soup.

Here's the recipe. I used half broccoli, half asparagus and topped it with Ian's Whole Wheat panko breadcrumbs. Yum!!

Cheesy Broccoli Soup
Serves 8

2 cups cashew pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 cup pimentos
7 cups water
8 cups chopped broccoli
In a blender, add the first seven ingredients (cashew pieces through pimentos) and half of the water. Blend on high until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and add the rest of water and the chopped broccoli. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until slightly thickened and broccoli is tender.

Here is a bonus shot of Tyler being ridiculously cute!!