Monday, February 23, 2015

New Series: Meatless Monday

I am starting a new series of Monday posts. Welcome to Meatless Monday! I have been posting lots of food photos on my Instagram feed and would like a way to also share them here on my blog.

Towards the end of March 2014, I started eating a vegetarian diet. I was never a big meat eater, so overall the transition went smoothly. I could still enjoy lots of my favorite foods from chocolate to baked good to pizza. Inevitably some meat products still snuck in to my diet. Many soups are made with chicken broth, and meat can sneak in at restaurants and parties. My weight only slightly dropped because my overall diet was still similar.

By the holidays, I was becoming more interested in trying a vegan diet, but Christmas was not really the time to make a big change. I kept reading and gathering information, and since January 25th I have been working to follow a plant-based diet. I am seeing improvements in my skin and weight through this change. Since cutting out all animal products sounded restrictive, I follow the motto "Progress Not Perfection."

Where to Start
For me, vegan baking was a good place to start. I have been replacing oil/butter with applesauce and replacing eggs with bananas or ground flax even before becoming a vegetarian. I did not regularly keep eggs in the house, so these substitutions made sense to me. Another idea to start is by following "Meatless Mondays." Going meatless one day a week helps you try new foods and realize that some of your favorite foods are already vegetarian. I also prefer almond or coconut milk to cows' milk. I usually buy the unsweetened almond milk that only has 30-40 calories per cup.

Our Household
I have learned that my diet changes can happily coexist with omnivores, including the two in my household. Throughout this process, I have cooked with less meat and animal products. (This does help lower grocery costs!) My goal is not to cook two different meals each night, so we have many flexible meals. The boys in my house do not drink the plant-based milk, but I can still cook and bake with it.

My biggest motivation is health and weight loss. I do not have medical or nutrition training, so I believe in researching information from trusted sources. I will link to a books below that I bought to start my plant-based, low-fat diet. I have also seen my doctor and had blood work done. I believe that they are a variety of ways to eat a healthy diet, and this way is working for me. I really enjoy trying new vegan recipes.

My secondary motivation is for our environment and animals. I will link to an organization below that has provided helpful information. I am finding that having multiple reasons for these changes helps them stick. I was able to turn down the cake and cheese pizza at a recent kid's birthday party.

Vegetarian Recipes: Picky Eater
Plant-based, Low-Fat Recipes & Information: Happy Herbivore
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: 21-Day Vegan Kickstart
Books: Guide to Plant-Based Living & 21 Day Weight Loss Kickstart
Animals & Environment: Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (I learned a lot from watching Katie's presentation.)

I still have a lot to learn and I keep reminding myself that it is about "progress not perfection." I will share more of my progress and pictures each Monday.

P.S. Good news - Thin Mints are vegan! I have indulged in some even though they are not low fat. ;)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Watercolor Fun

I really enjoy using my inks to make watercolor backgrounds for cards. I made a few backgrounds and then turned them into cards after they had time to dry. I was excited to receive my Hello You dies and Polka Dot embossing folder to add to some cards.

The Big Shot makes these quick and easy cards. I hope that you are enjoying your weekend! I am planning to work on another card later today.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Weekend Walks

Last Friday I had a few extra minutes before picking up Alex from school. It was such a beautiful day that I had decided to walk the 1.2 miles from our new rental house to his school. (We stopped off at a park on the way home, so he did not mind walking home too much.) Along the way, I snapped some pictures and love all of the beautiful plants and citrus on our area. The West Coast weather this month seems to be such a contrast to the cold and snow in other areas. Having lived in the Midwest, I know to enjoy our mild winters and spend time outside.

And here is one of the sunset over the weekend after I walked Paddy:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day

We enjoyed our Valentine's Day and the weekend. John and Alex helped me make 25 Valentines for Alex's class. We kept the coloring simple, and they were fun to create with the Hey, Valentine stamp set.

I made John's card in a recent class given by my friend and upline Pam. It was great to take a card class while unpacking my craft supplies.

I made some heart-shaped pizzas for our Valentine's dinner. I took my inspiration for the vegan pizza from a post by the Minimalist Baker. I have been buying pizza dough at Trader Joe's but maybe I will try to make my own soon. For dessert, we had chocolate-banana "ice cream" since I had been freezing some bananas during the week.

Have a great week!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hey, Valentine

I started on the Valentines for Alex's class today. I made the card for his teacher using a challenge from the Stylin' Stampin' INKspiration blog. I am glad that my friend Pam shared this fun challenge since I would not have thought to use this color combination.

I really enjoyed making this card, especially tearing some card stock for the "water" and coloring the fish with alcohol markers (Blendabilities and Copics). I added the googly eyes as a final detail. I am partial to the fish with glasses after wearing them myself for so many years.

Now onto 25 cards for the kindergarteners. I have a simplified card in mind and will see if I can get some help from the 5 year old.

Are you making any crafts for Valentine's Day? I am having fun with the Hey, Valentine stamp set and think that I can use it for a few more years.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hello February!

I hope that your 2015 is off to a good start! I have been looking forward to February. We made it through some hectic holiday travel and a local move. We are still unpacking and getting settled in a new rental house.

I recently helped chaperone a kindergarten field trip to the Children's Discovery Museum and enjoyed the trip. Here is Alex in the bubble room:

I am still unpacking and organizing my craft supplies, but my friends in the Fun 'n Crafty Stampers group will have some fabulous love and Valentine cards to share on Wednesday. Check out Jennifer's blog on Wednesday for more details.

The last card that I made was over the holidays with my mom using the December Paper Pumpkin kit. These cards were fun to make together!

Have a great February!