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Every time I make and offer my child my AWESOME fudgy delixous bananna muffins my little girl says you mean *pumpkin* muffins?

Is she trying to tell me something?

My husband bought me a gigantic can of pumpkin, far exceeding expectations. Alas, I haven’t been able to grow a single pumpkin in my gardens, EVER.

Vegan with a Vengeance has a to die for pumpkin muffin.

Vegan with A Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Vegan with A Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Vegan Cupcakes take Over the World has a pumpkin chocolate chip cupcake recipe I haven’t had a chance to try yet.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

So baby and I are off to see the pumpkin wizard. If I– okay if we– make ’em she better damn well eat ’em.

As we were leaving DC last week we were listening to the testimony of Edward Liddy, who came out of retirement to try to get AIG back on track– manage all that bailout money– for no pay. He sounded like a decent guy to me. Here are the three thoughts that occurred to me  as he talked about those bonuses.

1. they were an infinitesimal percentage of the total bailout package– getting them back isn’t even a drop in the bucket.

2. Legacy knowledge is an all important form of capital. you lose productivity big time when you lose the folks who saw it go down before the shit hit the fan. you lose productivity big time when you lose folks ever. retaining staff is so important to the wellbeing of any company. provided they are honest and have true honest professional intent. Only a very very small group amongst AIG’s vast divisions is responsible for this mess. The many honest people who were there before are the best ones to pick up the pieces and bring the company back.

3. We, the American people, are a bunch of sheep. Know what a derivative is? That’s what caused this mess. If we– the working or middle class with decent careers, decent homes, our health or at least health insurance, and decent opportunities for education– whether in school or through self education and lifelong learning–  willfully choose ignorance about how our economy works, we deserve what we get.

Come on. This is f-ing ridiculous. All this mess comes from our acquiescence to the huge pyramid scheme that is our economy. As long as we are scraping by okay, screw the rest, right?

We don’t teach our children about debt and compound interest rates (whether in our favor or racking up on our credit card debt). Every child should know how our economy works and how personal finance works.

I have a dear little colleague, a very sincere financial advisor. She is urging folks to attend the latest Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University. My husband and I used Dave to crawl out of I don’t want to tell you how much debt, accrued through years of near constant life change and increasing salaries.

But here’s the thing. I love Dave. LOVE HIM. But if we all adhered to his principles, paid cash and lived within our means our economy would collapse! I said as much to my friend and she said yeah… yeah that’s true.

It is in banks’ and lenders’ best interest that we little people should live outside our means, not understand the consequences, and fail– or at least fail just enough that they can levy insane finance charges and ruin our lives.

That whole ‘derivatives’ thing… I heard it explained and defined on Marketplace on NPR, though i cant quite tell you now what the lady said. See what I mean?

So we go on. we fail to pay our bills or invest poorly– we pick up the pieces, if we are lucky enough to have pieces. We can’t get a car loan. Financial giants like Enron or AIG make it look so easy — and when they screw up–no worries! The government will bail us out! Oops, sorry about all those retirement investments that weren’t even there.

But the bottom line is, our economy is at any and all times a bubble ready to burst. This has got to stop. Corporations,  lenders and elected officials have us all by the short hairs. We are too scared to say no, afraid to rock the boat– and refuse to give up the giant houses (like mine) with the insane heat and cooling costs. And we refuse to educate ourselves about what, personally, locally and nationally, would provide us personal and national security. We let our finances, our food, shelter, health, happen to us.

STOP it! Get educated– the economy, local agriculture, local energy, renewable energy, walkable and sustainable communities. Think about how it affects your family, your community– yes, I am asking you to look at the big picture, at what would be good for human beings and families across town and around the globe– and our national security– or you get what you get.

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I haven’t thought much about this– the minefield we walk between simply nurturing our bodies and souls and taking pride in our own unique loveliness and style regardless of size age or anything else– and a self-loathing that makes us think we’re ugly unless all of our artifices are in place and our miserable self denial is complete–  since high school.

The exception is that I get really, really pissed when women say ‘I’m so fat.’ That’s only because I’m a rabid feminist and I am SO SICK of guys (and, sadly, other women) who judge women on first look– I’d do her, or pretty face, great personality, too bad she’s fat, or oh MAN is she fat!’ (You know who you are).  I’m not anti anorexia, cocaine, amphetamines or cigarettes as weightloss methods, at least not at the appropriate time/life stage. (I’ll save that for another post).

But A. Someone else’s body is NOT your damn business. and B. Sure, we all need to exercise and eat right. We’re a nation privileged to be eating ourselves to death, and the emotional psychological and spiritual issues surrounding that make my heart ache.

But it really pisses me off when women say ‘I’m so fat’ and don’t see  how beautiful they are JUST AS THEY ARE.  The ability to see how beautiful you are just as you are comes from the same emotional and psychological region as the strength to take better care of oneself, eating right and exercising and enjoying instead of loathing one’s body, sadly. And so it’s a vicious cycle. The only other place meaningful change comes from, sadly, is self loathing, and if you reject that or your eyes just never get opened, you’re just screwed.

Anyway.

With regard to all this, I was in a blissful place. I was a little overweight but still a couple pounds below obese (a couple pounds is EVERYTHING, believe me), the US average size 12-14. I had the best (hair) dye job in the world, black with a few white stripes– and often I wore black eyeliner and mascara cause I’m aging gothpunkabillly.

But just as often especially after I had my little one makeup went by the wayside. Most of my girlfriends never wore makeup. We’re all hippie mommies. I have one friend who’s a stunner even though her kids wear her out, whether she wears makeup or not (all of us know who she is except, probably, she herself), but she worked at department store makeup counters for a while and knows what she’s doing, so she doesn’t count.

I don’t think I knew it, but I was always searching… and then I found her.

She didn’t know I found her. Heck, I didn’t know I found her.

I met this exotically beautiful new friend and as I got to know her a little at a time– lots, and lots of black, skulls, sense of style, joy each year as Halloween comes back around and we can actually wear the clothes we wear all year without people looking at us funny, punk bands and financial struggle all through the 80’s and 90’s (financial struggle for me too, and how!), waited til older to have babies and marry just like me, good liberal from generations back just like me.

But she had something I didn’t.

My mother, my grandmothers– classy dames who don’t go out of the house without moisturizer, a little puff of powder, a little something around the eyes and a bit of lipstick at minimum. I wanted to be like that. I really did. But I wasn’t.  I just couldn’t.

But this new friend?

Well let me put it this way.

She had her second C section a couple of years ago. Before she went in, she told her husband she would have a pedicure OR ELSE. I mean, her toes were going to be exposed for everyone to see in the OR, right? Come ON!

Then, post C, she suddenly found herself being rushed to the OR a second time, her husband and mother shooed away as they worked frantically on her to keep her from suddenly bleeding to death. If the bleeding weren’t enough, she was nearly scared to death, too. I talked to her not long after, and she was deeply frightened and a little pissed off.

A few hours later, another friend of ours stopped in to see her and the baby and wish them well. M said, I walked in and she was curling her eyelashes.

She nearly bled to death a few hours ago. And now she was curling her eyelashes.

This was a defining moment for me. The words beautiful and tough took on new meaning for me simultaneously, and if I didn’t already think she was the bees knees, this would have pushed me over the edge.

I asked my friend’s permission before writing this. She said, well hell, if you’re going to die, don’t you want to look good all laid out?

And me?  I was newly vegan and using little on my face besides some sort of expensive pure oil– grapeseed oil. Sesame oil. It was cleanser and moisturizer in one, face and body. The only spots that got soap were my armpits and, well, possible (as our grannies used to say, wash as far as possible, and then wash possible). I wore no sunscreen, EVER. I consider myself to be of a dark skinned heritage that just doesn’t need it. I refused to wear or buy makeup until I had the time to research vegan and cruelty free options, and I never seemed to have the time. So I went without.

But the knowledge nagged at me… something was missing.

To be continued…

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