Practice, Practice, Practice

Learning HTML

Just recently I’ve taken on the daunting task of teaching myself basic (VERY BASIC), HTML and CSS. Thankfully there are countless online learning resources for these particular topics. I decided to use the free training at Codecademy. Their program has a fantastic mix of helpful and easy-to-understand instruction along with immediate opportunities to practice what you’ve just learned. Visit here to learn more about Codecademy.

Wish me luck!

Remembrance Day

It feels weird to have a good day on Remembrance Day; I can’t help but think I should spend the day being contemplative and sad. But, today, I got to do all of the wonderful things that make me truly grateful for the sacrifices that have been made by those who came before me, and I am thankful for it.

I got to sleep in, curled up in bed with my puppy. I had a bad dream that my boyfriend helped chase away with kisses before he left for the office. I used the energy that is usually sucked out of my soul by my job to fold and put away laundry, to wash dishes, to sweep the floor, and put errant objects in their proper places. I took Annie for a walk in the beautiful but brief period of sun we had this afternoon; the air had a bite to it but it only made me feel more alive. Then, I watched cartoons while texting my best friend.

All of these activities must seem pretty insignificant to you real go-getters out there, but, to me they are the stuff of life.

You see, I’m currently going through a pretty intense depressive period. Things have been steadily declining – save for an inspiring and soul-saving trip to NYC that I’ll blog more on later – and its to the point where I am having difficulty just getting through the day in one piece.

I can’t help but wonder what the soldiers who fought in the world wars, who have fought in any wars on the side of good at any point throughout history, would think about me and my mental health. I wonder if they would judge me negatively for suffering from this invisible disease that so many people still dismiss. I spent years feeling guilt for not being as strong as everyone else, and I still feel the guilt on days like today. But, I try to focus on my gratitude, and make a stronger commitment to finding the beauty in every little thing. Cause, people died for these little things. For me. Thank you.

APB: Annie

Annie

Name: Annie Forman
Age: 2 years, 10 months
Aliases: Tugboat Annie, Annabelle, Poodle, Baby, Sweetpea, Angel Face, Fur Face, Furry Butt, The Mad Pooper, Turkish Delight
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Brown
Likes: potato chips, ear scratchies, and trying to french kiss everyone she meets
Dislikes: other dogs invading her space, not getting her required daily amount of belly rubs
Last seen: pooping outside like a good girl

Approach with caution… and with a treat.

Where I’m At

It has been awhile since I’ve posted so I thought I would check in. I am getting really excited- in about a month and a half I will be New York City bound! This trip has been in the works since last year so it is hard to believe that the wait is almost over.

My reason for visiting the most exciting city on this continent is to participate in Victoria Moran’s Mainstreet Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator Program. I first heard of Mainstreet Vegan through a post in one of the vegan Facebook groups I belong to. Its a fantastic organization and the woman behind it all – Victoria Moran – has quickly become a shining example for me to follow.

My vegan journey has been going great. I have almost none of my old cravings for animal-derived products, and when I do get a pang for something all I have to do is think of where it comes from and then there’s no more yen for the verboten. I have cleaned out any clothing and personal care products containing animal products or that were tested on animals. My home feels so much better already. And my body feels amazing!

But, I have to admit that there is something missing. I am tired of being a mere witness to what is happening in this world – I want to focus my life on actually doing things, making a difference. I just don’t know where to start. Most vegans who are making a living based on a compassionate life have something special to offer. There are nutritionists, chefs, raw foodists, bakers, cake masters, life coaches, fitness experts, bodybuilders and fitness models, smoothie mixologists, motivational speakers and writers, artists, musicians… and I am none of these things. I’m praying that being a part of the VLCE program will help me find my niche, a way to make a living by doing work that aligns with my moral and ethical beliefs.

Other than preparing for my trip I’ve just been working, enjoying the summer weather with my dog Annie, and trying to get fit. I am thankful for every day that I wake up, I am thankful for my body, my senses, everything good in my life. And every night I pray for a sign to let me know what I can do to contribute to changing this world for the better.

Laughs For Lives Fundrasier (or, For the Voiceless)

When listening to an advocate speak with passion and conviction about animal rights, it is impossible for me to remain dry-eyed. I have always been emotional, but there is something inimitably poignant about the fight for the freedom of animals; it is this ‘something’ that has resonated with me to such an extent that I have been moved to go vegan and to live the most compassionate life I possibly can. When Melissa, the surprisingly young founder and chief caregiver behind Farm Animal Rescue and Rehoming Movement, first took the stage to speak at the FARRM Laughs for Lives fundraiser last Friday March 20th, her voice shook with palpable emotion. Yes, some of it may have been the nervousness of speaking in front of a very full house. However, as she moved through the lines on the piece of paper she held, it was obvious to all in attendance that the words this young woman was speaking were not just from her heart, but pulled from the ethers, from the voiceless plight of the animals she battles on behalf of. By the time Melissa was finished her speech, I was not the only one wiping tears from my cheeks; even the most stoic spectator was touched.

When it comes to veganism it is very easy to get caught up in the more palatable concerns of the movement. We like to talk about what to eat, what recipes we should try, what vegan substitutes are available to satisfy any lingering omnivorous cravings. It can be easier than it should be to forget about the true root of veganism, which is the abstention from non-vegan products and materials as a form of activism in defence of the billions of animals brutally slaughtered for human consumption every year. Yes, there were long banquet tables laden with delicious vegan foods to savour at the fundraiser on Friday. There was fantastic music and comedy to help us all relax and enjoy ourselves after a long workweek. A cash bar was also available for those wishing to indulge in Friday night drinks. But, it was Melissa’s impassioned calls for mercy and compassion towards all living creatures that continue, days later, to echo in the chambers of my heart. Those selfless and full-of-heart people like Melissa who work so tirelessly to protect the vulnerable inspire me, and I am so thankful for them.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes (or, Get in Ma Belly)

Okay. I may have said this before, but I really think that this time I have found THE ONE. The most delicious, most incredible, most perfect food ever known to man. My favourite recipe ever created. The smashed potato.

I could rhapsodize for hours about the potato. It is the one edible on earth that I will eat, no matter how it is prepared, because I have yet to discover a bad way to enjoy potatoes. I’ve been wanting to try smashed potatoes for awhile but just never really remembered when it came to feeding time… usually I just boil up some taters and throw them in a bowl with vegan Becel and some salt. I found a tasty recipe, though, from Oh She Glows (everyone’s favourite vegan chef/blogger!) and had to try it.

You can find the full recipe here. But in brief, all you need are some potatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, some garlic powder, and parsley (for decoration). Its so easy! Just boil the potatoes (one of the culinary tasks I am actually proficient at) until they are tender, and drain. Once they’ve cooled just a touch, set the potatoes on a baking sheet. Then, with the bottom of a glass (or any firm flat object – a glass worked best for me) press down on each potato just hard enough to pop the skin of the potato and flatten it slightly – it should mostly still hold together though. Then, you top each of the smushed potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper, and really any other spices you want to throw on there, and then you bake em! They come out all golden and glisten-y and crispy and soft and salty and delicious and oh my goodness get me some now!!!!

pertater

The Oh She Glows recipe goes a few steps further and tops the potatoes with an avocado aioli. Unfortunately, I do not have a food processor, so while I did attempt to make the aioli in my decrepit blender it didn’t exactly turn out. So, I ate the potatoes relatively naked and used my avocado mixture as a sandwich spread for lunch the next day.

To go with the tasty morsels above, I pan-friend an Yves Chick’n Burger patty and made myself a faux chicken burger with Veganaise and lettuce. SO GOOD. SO satisfying. Being vegan is easy!

pertater and burger