I did the vegan thing (pretty strictly) for four years. At the beginning of 2014, I needed a break. I ate many of the foods I had missed. I learned that the things I missed weren’t always the things I thought I would. In late 2014, I got more serious about leaning more to the vegan side. For our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals I had meat on my plate, but all our sides were vegan. While I now allow myself to eat meat when out (chicken wings! eggs Benedict!), I often opt for a vegetarian entree.
Since June, we’ve been cooking a lot more. I can follow a recipe. In fact, I never leave them as is; I’m always tweaking or changing something. The problem is making carnivore food for him and vegan for me.
Over the summer, I discovered Good and Cheap. Leanne Brown is a recipe rockstar! Since her goal is $4/day eating, many of the recipes are vegetarian; I can easily veganize most of them. I cooked pinto beans and Leanne’s corn bread (from scratch, not Jiffy!). We were both quite satisfied. Bonus: a big batch of beans lasts 2-3 dinners for us, freeing up more time for us. Note: Emil not only enjoyed a vegan meal, he ate it 2-3 days in a row. This is now a rotating staple for us.
A few months ago, I envisioned three pans on the stove: his, hers, and ours. Think pasta (us), marinara sauce (us), and meat crumbles (him). Or, there is taco night: tortillas, beans/rice, veggies galore, fajita chicken for him, cheese for him, and vegan cheese for me. I knew that if I could think of a couple of simple examples, I could come up with others. I spent a few of our D&D nights brainstorming these combos while listening to game play and waiting for my turn. I came up with ~20 meals that are essentially a bunch of vegan sides with a meat entree for him.
I’ve always coveted the idea of Once A Month Cooking, but knew I could never pull it off. I don’t think I could even be on my feet that long. Along those lines, a few weeks ago, I started learning about Freezer Cooking. I dove in and made a low-carb/vegan mushroom stroganoff, a white bean stew, and a few others. Over the xmas break, I checked out Don’t Panic Dinner’s In The Freezer and it’s sequel from our library. Those books didn’t have many recipes I could use, but I did learn some great concepts. Last night, I thawed the spaghetti sauce and “neat” balls I made with the first Freezer batch. The “neat” balls crumbled so my sauce gained the texture of a meat sauce. He was eating sausage links, but I had him taste it and we have another vegan winner.
Now, if anyone ever told me that I’d find two vegan meals that Emil would truly like, I’d have called them a liar. But, I have done it. Now, I’m on a mission to find more.
All that while…
Now, I made all those finds/discoveries while learning to do something new. What I’ve always been bad at is menu planning. Well, I practically made that a part-time job so I could figure out how to do this in a way that works for us. I have Pepperplate on my desktop/phone/tablet. I plan ~5 meals. Between leftovers and a social life, that can last us 2-3 weeks. I finally figured out to menu plan again soon after a shopping trip so that I’m always a week/two ahead of the game. That makes the whole thing less frustrating. Oh and this is compounded by our busy schedule. I can shop on Tuesday afternoons or we have to go on the weekend. But, we are eating at home about five nights a week and some weekend meals, too.
What We Eat
Here are recent/current/future meals. There are more for me since I’m working at home. Or, those become my dinner “entree” when he eats meat.
- homemade pizza
- his/hers chili
- spaghetti with “neat” sauce
- pinto beans with corn bread
- cauliflower bisque (hers)
- broccoli “cheese” casserole (hers)
- veggie soup (hers)
- creamed spinach (hers)
- mac & “cheese”
- pot roast (his) with veggies (ours)
- chicken piccata (his…but man is this one good)
- creamy cajun pasta, with veggies for me and chicken for him
Lower the carbs. This is hard to do in the winter when so many warm dishes are also carb laden.
- less pasta and more veggies
- less potatoes and more cauliflower
- less sweet/starchy veggies and more green veggies
Get Emil eating more veggies. He has pretty simple tastes, so I can work things into recipes without messing them up for him.
No one is ever 100% vegan. It’s impossible. However, it’s easy to be 98% vegan. I think I’m about 70-80% right now. I need to get closer to 90%.
Keep on Pinning. Every week or two I find some new vegan blogger or recipe site. Other people have the stamina to try a recipe several times and tweak it. I can do that once, but not 3+ times. I need to use their work; that’s why they shared it! In fact, the next one I’m going to try is a Mac & “Cheese”.
When we moved in, we didn’t hire the painters to knock down all of the popcorn ceilings. We just didn’t want to spend that money on that task at that time.
Turns out, we chose wisely. Spritz it with water, wait 10 minutes, and scrape it with a putty knife….and it falls to the floor in sheets larger than your hand.
If I had known then what I know now, I would have scraped all the popcorn upon move-in. Still, I’m glad I started it as as I was nearing the end of “de-brassing” #DomaLuza.
It’s a huge change that is easy and cheap. It’s a little time consuming and a lot messy, but really anyone can do this to their own home built after ~1980. (If your home is older, read up on how to take and send in a sample to have it tested for asbestos. You may be either stuck with it or in for a proper abatement.)
First and second passes got just about half of the powder room.
Except for tiny bits along the crown molding, all if it is down. It’s about as messy as I expected.
Voilá! Clean and mostly prepped-ceiling.
Bonus! While I was in there, I noticed a tiny puddle under the water tank. Yippie. We haven’t seen the plumber in a few weeks, so I guess it was time. Luckily, it was a little DIY project this time (and not a new valve like 2 of the last 3 plumbing calls were)!
I have finished prepping the ceiling with a little help from Emil (because he’s better at caulking than I am). We have some leftover Kilz I’m going to try to use up. Now, I just need the weather to cooperate so the primer stays warm enough to use.
Daddy hated that use of that word, but it’s the most fitting. (Also, he was a bit too literal at times. He also hated “Life’s a Beach” because he thought it was just “Life’s a Bitch” in polite form instead of a xtian re-write to spin the whole concept positive. Parents can be so #duh at times.) Anyway, it’s the best word for 2014.
- Emil’s mom fell at home and “burst” a vertebrae. Yes, that’s just as bad as it sounds. She’s been in hospital, rehab, assisted living, and memory care ever since. She’s run away from Crestview and has had a sitter for many weeks. In one of her AL stints, she fell again, and bonked her head so hard that she mimicked a stroke patient for a few days. She’s doing much better, now, but we’ve been burning up the road between Austin and Bryan. At least I’ve gotten to spend time with Jessica (and even Angela W. one time) when we can make the calendars sync up with Mom and Emil’s D&D night.
- My mom is the victim of an abusive relationship. It’s been bad for 3 years, but we found out this year. He makes her re-live a humiliation over and over again. He’s got a lot of his own problems–not the least of which being Daddy’s sudden/early departure from this world–, but that’s no reason to emotionally and physically abuse anyone. Ultimately, she has to be ready to kick him out. Until then, there is nothing anyone else can do to help. It’s a “book” that I will probably write one day. It will be like Savannah’s poems in the Prince of Tides: cathartic and telling. If you are looking to round 2014 with any charitable contributions of money, stuff, or time, please consider your local women’s shelter.
- My grandmother is worrying herself sick over this. That is it’s own set of problems. She’s kind, gentle, and fragile….but strong. This is all too much for her at her age.
- @KittyMarble now lives with Jessica. We had been trying to re-home him for a while. She needed another presence at home. Last time we saw him, he was supremely fat and happy. All critters should be lucky enough to live with her.
- I “divorced” a couple of “friends”. Of course, they weren’t real friends or the separation would not have been necessary. They can take their barbies (figurative) & stinky trash (literal), and go home!
- As is normal, I’ve gained more weight from all the stress. yay. dammit. Fuck the genes I inherited. To be fair, I took a big break from being vegan in 2014. I have spent the last few weeks working back into it. 2015 will be better. I tend to eat vegan at home and often eat vegetarian when out.
- The cedar is already terrible in Austin. It’s going to be one hell of a season.
Some slivers of rainbows in the clouds
House and home projects are going well. They are so minor compared to the above, but we’ve rid the house of most of the brass and started to remove the popcorn ceilings, too. Painting the brass knobs worked well, at first, but a couple are already peeling off. Even with that, they look better than brass. So, we’ll replace a few here and there as we can/want. Removing the popcorn ceilings will be a major project for 2015.
Another personal project, in particular, has been huge for us. We’ve grown stronger as a couple (who knew that was possible??), and we’re on a path toward being better residents of our world. I owe E so very much for this; he works so hard to provide for us. I truly wish that every couple could have what we have. We are the luckiest couple I know.
 When Emil’s mom was mimicking a stroke patient, she mumbled gobs of stories at him. She smiled, laughed, and truly gushed over him. We couldn’t understand a single word, but we understood 100% of her meaning. She adores Emil down to her soul. Ever-patient as he is, he just held her hand and nodded as she mumbled whatever story she was telling. He is–as you all know–a Saint. She knows this ten fold. When we left her that night, I told him that in the off chance I should need him to be that for me, I knew he’d be perfect.
The Seven Year “Itch”
What is it about seven years that makes this a Wives’ Tale and even a movie? 2007 was also pretty terrible in a lot of ways. W.T.F.? I don’t care for this pattern. At all.
When we bought #DomaLuza, it was hard to see how much brass there was in the house because the previous owner had so many brass and/or gold colored things among her possessions. Even with all of her things out of here, I couldn’t stand how much brass there was, especially the shiny brass. And no, of course it didn’t even match each other, some of it
is was antique brass. De-brassing had to be done!
The first thing we did was get rid of the brass chandelier in the dining area. We sold it in a garage sale, but I really hope someone painted it black and made it some kind of spooky Hallowe’en decor.
Next, the front door handle bothered me greatly. Not only was the shiny brass not our tastes, the coating was peeling due to exposure to the elements. Have you priced front door hardware? $200 is the low end! I just couldn’t justify that much to replace something that works just fine.
I braved the paint aisle at one of the hardware stores and was told that there was no reason I should not be able to paint the brass. In fact, the nice employee showed me a new line of spray paints made by Rustoleum that are made for painting metal and that have modern finishes like satin nickel and oil rubbed bronze. We bought three cans, and I set to work. It took me a couple of days with the Dremel tool, but I removed every trace of coding from the front door set and deadbolt. I sanded it as perfectly as I could manage.
The spray paint work better than any I’ve ever used. Thus, a monster was born. I then tackled a light fixture and the garish shiny brass powder room accessories that didn’t match the antique brass light fixture. ::sigh::
Next, I set after the rest of the doorknobs in the house. It’s difficult to hit them from all the funny angles so it takes many layers. It takes cooler temperatures and low humidity to do it well. It’s also hard to live without some doorknobs long enough for them to get painted. So, it’s been a slow process. I have a couple left to do.
Before. Brass. Bleargh. (Yes, it’s all scratched up. Additionally, even the builder installed hardware and then painted. #facepalm)
After. Ahhhh. So much more modern. So much less garish, even than the antique brass. (Yes, this door is even worse than the other one. What the hell is wrong with contractors?)
While the next to last set, was sitting in the various stages of painting, turning, and drying, I decided to start scraping the popcorn in our powder room. While up there, I grabbed the light fixture to that room (antique brass, of course) and slathered it in oil-rubbed bronze, too. All of that will be another post for another day.
It’s been a while since we just did a plain old update. So here are some things going on with us.
- Last winter, we got a new domain. You can now find us at BlueLime.us instead of the longer address. Hopefully, we’ll streamline some of the other stuff, too.
- At some point last winter, I needed a break from the whole vegan thing. For a while, I ate all the hot wings. I really just needed more options and a break from having to think so hard about my food. After a period of going a little nuts, I settled back into a balance. I’m eating vegan meals at least two thirds of the time, I’d guess. I’m working on a greater percentage with meat or dairy as an occasional exception. For example, I’d rather have the best queso in town a few times a year than mediocre queso at places that use too much cilantro. It makes it a lot easier to go out with friends.
- I finally quit facebook for real. I don’t even have my fake account, anymore. I don’t miss much about it. I’m learning, too, that I was way ahead of the curve; there are a lot of us facebook haters.
- Last spring-summer, I transitioned out of two volunteer roles. One was simply an expired term. The other was one of those “I’m done” moments. It stopped being fun and others wanted to tell me what to do without ever agreeing to help out (yes, I asked many times). We still participate, but now it’s less.
- In that vein, I’m still doing the Pareto “diet” that is life. I keep culling the bottom 20% of whatever is sucking the fun out of life. We focus time on the 20% of life that brings us joy.
- Summer was, apparently, big for us:
- Emil’s mom fell. She went from a burst vertebrae in her back to the hospital to rehab (and back and forth for a bit) to Assisted Living and is now in Memory Care. She has good days and bad days, but is doing well considering. The “team” of siblings is on top of her care. Emil sees her many Thursday nights when he’s in Bryan for his D&D group. On the nights that they do meet and that I can join him, I go, too. After visiting Mom, he games and I hang out with Jessica or even Angela W.. It’s been nice to have some girl time with old friends.
- My mom went through some trauma/drama. We went home to help her get through the worst of it. She’s made some progress, but it’s still a problem. We’re waiting until the problem finds a “bottom” so some healing/help can begin. Meanwhile, my grandmother is doing just fine other than worrying a whole lot.
- We rehomed Marble. He ran off P?kný, disappeared himself for a couple of days, reappeared (I told him “you’re the wrong cat to come back!”), and was still a PITA to Purrrrrl and us. Because he chewed wires, we had to be super careful about what we left where; all cords had to be wrapped. Because he did other damage, we had to live with all the doors closed. We were prisoners in our own home….most of all the girls. So, Jessica offered that if we still didn’t have anyone after her month of travel, she’d try him out. Well, he’s a good fit (thankfully!) and is fat and happy living with her. Interestingly, I had tried to fatten him up, but since Purrrrrl can’t free-feed or have his food, I couldn’t “make” him eat enough to be “slothenly”. Interestingly, he wasn’t gone a week before P?kný came back. She’s still a patio-only kitty and afraid to come inside….but it’s like she KNEW he was gone. He is such an asshole.
- We also used summer to kick start a few little projects around the house. I’m almost done painting all the ugly brass hardware and hope to start scraping the popcorn off the ceilings, soon.
- Since early summer, I’ve been cooking like a fiend. I can ~always tweak a recipe to my liking, but never really learned how to menu plan. Having a busy life kept me from learning this. Well, I’ve finally figured out how to plan stuff that Emil will eat, stuff that I will eat, and stuff that we will eat.
- This fall, we joined D&D Encounters. It’s a hot mess of red tape and I don’t think the Wizard’s of the Coast people gave any consideration to making it easy for new people to join (which is the entire purpose/intent of the series). But, after some bumps in the road, our two (yes, TWO) groups normalized into good groups to play with. It’s also nice to have set plans. Since my Monday CroKnit group and Emil’s Thursday dungeon group are still going strong, we’re booked 4 evenings of most weeks.
- October was a blast with two Halloween weekends, two parties, and much merriment. Only 358 days until Hallowe’en 15! And, it will be on a Saturday next year. This bodes both for a lot of fun and also for all the parties to be on the same night. Whatever shall we be this time?
- As usual, I’m not looking forward to the holidays. In fact, my annual rant is overdue since I’ve already blocked pins/posts about xmas….and warned one family member that I’ll unfollow her until new year’s if she keeps it up.
- So, we’re ready for late fall and winter and using the fireplace. I suspect there will be several movie marathons and much gaming.
Happy Fall, Y’all!
Last year, when we got a new refrigerator, we gave up trying to fit the little hole in our kitchen. We had space along another wall, so it’s there. The hole left was ugly & wasted space. IKEA solved the problem for us with a shelf & hooks to make a pot rack. It looks so much better now, & frees up much needed cabinet space.
We also picked out a new table for gaming/dining. Maybe that will be part of our Xmas this year…?
2014. Today would have been your 68th birthday, Daddy. I miss you. You left us all much too soon. The world is weaker without you in it. My world is sadder with you gone. God is either cruel or non-existent; I believe in the latter.
We needed a little getaway, but the calendar gods were not smiling upon us. So, instead of a mini vacation for a night or two, we took a micro vacay just for the day.
I picked Colorado Bend State park. It wasn’t too far out for us to miss our obligations, like visiting Mom. I did note that there is nothing fun to do in the Brazos Valley, so we could make double use of our trip to Bryan. No wonder we always left there to go to Austin or Houston anywhere else. CBSP is a primitive park, so the vast majority of the park is left all natural and untouched.
Our primary task was to hike the ~1.5mi to Gorman Falls. It’s fed by a spring & the waters pour over limestone to create a beautiful piece of nature. My iPhone photos do not do it justice!
They mean it. The hike is strenuous, especially on a hot day. (I think it was 97? during our hike from ~11:30am to 2pm.) Water is essential. Gatorade, as it turns out, was a bad idea. The sugar seemed to attract more bugs. We had resisted using any bug spray for fear it would make us hotter. The terrain is rough, there is some climbing and it’s ~3 miles round trip with up- and down -hill hiking both ways. I stress this because we saw two guys without any snacks, and an entire family with their dog and just one tiny bottle of water for them all.
The early view from near the trailhead.
the hike down
about Gorman Falls
the downhill climb
Our view during our picnic lunch.
The springs are protected, so you can’t get in them. And the river is gross; you don’t want to get in it.
What’s worse: uphill or down?
After some much needed time in air conditioning, we drove through the rest of Colorado Bend state park. Camping is quite primitive (no electricity), but the tent sites are right along the river. After we left, we stopped at Bob’s Bad Burgers & General Store for a drink.
The next part of our adventure took us to Lake Buchanan. We saw it a few years ago when this current drought really kicked off. It’s not any better. Every marina and “waterfront” neighborhood is just sad; the public boat ramp is totally useless.
Remember when boat ramps went deep into the water? This one ends several hundred feet (we guessed a mile) before the water’s edge.
Fishermen have made “roads” on the former lake bed so they can get to the water’s edge.
A bluebonnet. In JULY. Growing against an old tree stump in the former lake bed. Bluebonnet. July. Wrap your brain around that one!
Upon leaving Lake Buchanan, we saw a bonafide zebra ranch. Their gate security was insane–I guess it’s a good place to pull pranks–so we didn’t stop for any pictures. As if the bluebonnet wasn’t a crazy enough sighting. then, just about the time we were over the crazy stuff, we saw another pair of zebra’s at another ranch. Are people entering zebras into rodeos, now, or what?
Down the highway a bit, and separated by only a dam, Inks Lake is full and thriving. Campsites were all in use. People were skiing and swimming. Many “bundled” rafts and giant floaties created make-shift party barges in the middle of the water. We walked the little trail to Devil’s Waterhole to watch the teens and college kids jump off the cliffs. We picnicked on our supper while we enjoyed the entertainment. Yes, that’s right: two picnics in one day!
On the way back home, we stopped a Scooters & Shooters (or: as one patron declared, they need to drop the initial S’s and call it Cooters & Hooters) for a drink. We were lucky enough to meet the owner and his girlfriend. They were finishing up an audit (where they are having to prove they pay their 14% liquor taxes; the local uptight fundies ratted them out for something they didn’t do.) and talking of their upcoming trip to Sturgis. Of course.
We topped off our #MicroVacay with a dip in the pool at home. Pretty good for a $34 “vacation”.
[Update: Pekny is now missing. He ran her off, apparently. Then, Marble went missing for a couple days. Late one night as we were headed to bed, I heard him warbling on our front porch asking to come in. This emotional roller coaster has to stop. He needs a home different than the one we have.]
[Update 2: we have a maybe/trial home, but I’m not expecting it work. He has claws and she has a leather couch. Marble really needs a barn and mice to chase. For those of you with friends who have a farm/ranch, please ask around to see if someone needs a good barn kitty.]
Marble is a 4yo Bombay cat (black with bright yellow/golden eyes). He’s super affectionate and will demand attention when he needs it.
Likes to be around people, will lay on floor stretching and showing belly for petting.
Likes to sleep with people when napping or at night.
Will talk to outside critters through window, laser pointers, and people.
Been an indoor cat since adoption.
Uses a litter box (though a cat door to a controlled area) well.
Eats both dry and wet food, not picky about brand, has been fed chicken and turkey, mostly.
The few times Marble has been around a dog, he was quite curious and wanted to meet them; did not hiss, just smelled and attempted to rub on their legs.
We adopted him from the Austin Animal Shelter when he was 5 months old.
Marble has grown to be an assertive cat towards our other
two cat. He picks on them her and tries to dominate on a regular basis. This has kept the other two cat s from having a good home; one cowers in hiding 100% of the time.
Marble is fixed and current on all his shots and tests.
Favorite non-toy: straws.
Favorite Movie: How To Train Your Dragon. He likes to emulate Toothless.
Favorite thing to do while prepping for taxes: help.
Favorite way to sleep: “on” the next warmest critter
Favorite element: fire.
Favorite weather: sunbeams.