Life

Life has been handing me some lemons lately, and it has been very tiring trying to deal with them. This is one of the reasons I’ve been quiet.

This is normal for people my age. I realize that. At midnight on my birthday last month I began having a mid life crisis that I didn’t have much time to truly think about until recently.

When I was 20, living in my very first apartment, I discovered minimalism and began my first ever blog. While that blog is now long lost in the blogosphere, I’ve never really stopped trying to declutter my life. If you knew me personally and have been inside my current apartment, you would not guess that about me. I am very cluttered and I have a lot of sentimental things. But, it has come to my attention that I truly do need to minimize and begin a journey of mindfulness.

So the slow process begins…I want to downsize and rid myself of excessive things that I do not need. I plan on minimizing how much plastic I use, and be better about recycling. I also have begun independent study into medicinal herbalism, and will be trying my hand and creating my own salves and balms!

That’s it for now. I just wanted to make a quick update in between my busy work day hours. We’re nearing the end of our busy season, so soon I’ll have more time to blog and create!

Have a wonderful day!

Stephanie

 

Advertisements

Rolling in the Hurricane

Tropical storm Hermine blew through my port city with a vengeance, but in it’s wake left us with two full days of absolutely gorgeous weather. The last two mornings have been in the mid sixties with zero humidity and I hope things continue this way, because I’m sick of summer and Autumn is my favorite season.

So on my ever-changing journey of diet tweaking, I’ve been learning more and more about my body and “experimenting”, if you will, with different foods, variations of different foods, to see what I can truly ingest and how it makes me feel. Here is what I’ve learned so far:

Veganism is awesome, but it’s not 100% for me. Currently my diet is extremely plant heavy, but I’ve reintroduced fish. My body loves fish.

In moderation, I can have bread as long as it is whole wheat, or rye, or anything but processed white bread. I believe my sensitivity is more so on the bleached flour than gluten itself.

At some point, I am going to reintroduce chicken into my diet. Reasons for this are slightly personal, which sounds weird, but also I do not want to go through a fall/winter season without my amazing chicken soup. Of course I will only purchase organic, free range, grass fed hipster chicken to avoid unnecessary additives and pesticides.

Dairy…where oh where do I stand with dairy? Last week I had a rough day and, in my turmoil, said screw it and bought myself a wedge of fancy Brie cheese. I did not get sick. So, I’m going to keep dairy in small moderation. Cheese was really the only dairy product that I ever ingested anyway, because I think milk is disgusting and sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, and basically every other dairy product has made me sick.

So! All that being said, thank goodness I began eating fish again, because last week I discovered a brand new skill: I am really, really good at making sushi.

Honestly, I do not have that many skills. I’m not saying that to get pity or anything. It’s simply true: most things I do, I am wildly mediocre at.

One of my coworkers on my design team had the awesome idea to have a team sushi making lunch, and I immediately jumped on board because I would eat sushi every single day if I could (and now, I might). We all brought in ingredients and set up in the break room.

0102

We had sticky rice, cucumbers, carrots, avocados, sashimi grade tuna, smoked salmon, cream cheese, crab, and a ton of different sauces. My coworker gave a tutorial on how to use the bamboo mats and we went to town!

0304

This was my first roll. Look how freaking beautiful that thing is. I still need to master the ends of the roll but I’m not super worried about that.

0506

My second one was a little more intense because I totally got the hang of it immediately. I shoved everything I could into that thing, except carrots. I’m not a big fan of carrots in my sushi. I ate the entire thing and was sleepy and sluggish the rest of the day but I did not care. It was amazing.

So once I master the sticky rice recipe, I plan on making a lot of sushi here at home and experimenting with different fillings. Learning you have a skill is so eye opening and exciting, I cannot wait to hone in on it!

I hope everyone’s Labor Day weekend was wonderful! And remember, wear whatever color you want after Labor Day, because you are in control of your own life and can do whatever you damn well please 🙂

I need to put something in my stomach other than coffee. Until next time!

-Stephanie

The Art of Tofu

So many times I have been to a restaurant or someone has made something with tofu in it and it’s just soggy and bland. It’s no wonder why people make fun of it and say it’s gross. Tofu is an art, and it is not that difficult of an art to master. You gotta treat it right, and by right I mean squishing the bejesus out of it.

Let’s start from the beginning: You buy a block of tofu and it sits in the fridge for a few days, right? Do you eventually forget about it? Then it goes past the date? Like way past the date and you have to throw it out?

No longer shall this happen! I am here to teach you the art of tofu, starting with this easy recipe.

Okay so I forgot to take photos of the first part, but don’t worry, it’s super simple to explain. Once you take the block of tofu out of the package, you need to press it. Now, I have a fancy tofu press that my sister bought me years ago, but you can make a makeshift one by getting a plate and lining it with paper towels. Place the block on the lined plate, with another layer of paper towel on top. Place a tray on top, and weigh it down with books or cans. You’ll probably have to replace the paper towels a couple of times because I always have to press mine for about an hour, and you will not believe the amount of liquid. I highly recommend a press because it is less wasteful than using a bunch of paper towels, but it’s not necessary.

So you’ve got your squeezed out block of tofu. Now, it’s time to marinate!

Wait, let’s backtrack. I have tried two different steps to this: slicing the tofu first, and leaving it as a block. Slicing them first definitely seems to get a more even marinade, but either way was still really good, so do what you want 🙂 My favorite way to marinate tofu is with a simple mixture of soy sauce, liquid smoke, and cayenne pepper. There are thousands of ways to marinate: lemon pepper, salt and vinegar, hot sauce, literally anything you can think of, you can marinate tofu in. Marinate for at least an hour or two but I’ve marinated overnight before.

0203

(To be fair I gave whole block marinating one more chance. It didn’t work as well yet again so just go ahead and slice!)

04

05

Heat up some coconut oil in a pan….

0607

And cook! Now, Some people like to cook tofu for a really long time, some people don’t. I am one of those people who constantly flips things so I just go with the flow. Look, if you pressed and marinated it, it’ll be great 🙂

08

Look how pretty these savory little rectangles are!

So if you used my marinade, you now have a batch of salty smoky tofu. What to do? Ummmm a TLT obviously!

0910

Now normally I would not use that much vegenaise but with BLTs the mayo was always heavy so I tried to make it as legit as possible. I just swallowed the last bite and now I am sad. But, now there’s a tupperware of these babies in my fridge so, I’m set for the week!

Let me know if you make these, what kind of marinade you use, and how it turns out!

Two Years and a Sandwich

Today marks my two year anniversary with this little blog! I know I took a couple hiatuses, some announced and some not, but I cannot believe I’ve been here that long and am continuing to grow!

So to mark my two year anniversary, I thought I would post my first 100% vegan recipe! I found this recipe over at The Vegan Stoner (teehee! I know someone I have got to buy their cookbook for…). It’s a fairly simple recipe for a wonderful sandwich. Cucumbers and dill are the main event, and for me, nothing screams summer like a fresh cucumber!

I added an ingredient to this recipe, which I will list below:

Ingredients:

Two slices of vegan bread (I used Ezekial 4:9 Sesame gluten free bread)

About 1/4 cucumber, sliced thin

2-3 slices tomato

Alfaalfa sprouts (Optional, this is the ingredient I added)

Vegenaise (enough to spread on both slices of bread)

Dill

Salt

010304

Toast the bread. Slice the cucumber and tomato. Mix Vegenaise with dill to taste.

Spread the dill-naise on the toasted bread, and layer in the cucumbers, tomato, and alfaalfa. Put it all together, serve with some multicolored carrots, and enjoy!

05070910

This sandwich was awesome, fast, and pretty cheap. It was also made me feel full without feeling stuffed, which is an awful feeling. I plan on making this again very soon, as it is the perfect lunch for the workweek!

As the weekend comes to a close, I’m preparing to have the most successful and productive week I can! I hope everyone had a GREAT weekend, and you shall hear from me soon!

Peace,

Stephanie

Changes

 

So it’s August now, but I hope everyone had a GREAT Fourth of July holiday last month! I know I did. I went home to my parents’ house, and had two straight days of amazing food, drink, gun and bow shooting, swimming, and overall relaxing. I love going home, and now that I live further away it makes it all the more special. I cannot stress how important family is to me; they come first and foremost, and the love in my true home is unsurpassable.

This year has presented itself with a lot of changes so far. From becoming single to moving to a new apartment, it feels like every day has been a new adventure. About a month ago, I was enjoying a glass of wine on my porch one balmy Friday night and I was thinking about the past 26 years of my life.

I am generally a very happy, optimistic person. I was not always this way: toward the end of high school and the first two years of college, there was definitely a series of unfortunate events that kept me in a dark place for a very long time. There were a couple things that kept me going, but the one that stood out to me the other night was this: I was vegan.

It was an ethical choice, and I got lucky to have a very supportive family who helped me out. I kept learning all about food and new vegetables and how to cook them, and I have to say my cooking skills definitely improved. Once I was out on my own, I made the choice to eat eggs, dairy and meat again because it was easier on my minimum wage wallet. Recently, especially after having moved into my own place, I realized that I’ve been basically eating vegan this whole time. Then I made a new friend at open mic night, and he is vegan, which I took as a sign. I stopped flirting with it. I am now officially vegan.

I’m not going to preach my opinions or throw slaughterhouse videos in your face. I’m just giving y’all a heads up that my recipes are about to change! I’m pretty excited about going back, it was something that helped me when I was in the dark place, something dear to my heart, and something that makes me feel mentally and physically well.

Have a great weekend!

 

‘Tis in Season Challenge

To help me aid in my weight loss, I downloaded an app called Lose It!. It’s your usual food and exercise log and also taps into the “Health” app included on iOS where it records your daily steps. This app also features Challenges.

Today I joined a challenge called “‘Tis in Season”. The person who logs the most vegetables before the end of June wins. Yes, I did join late, but I feel like that will only help me get further ahead!

Because of this, I went to the store today and bought tons of veggies. I’m so excited to snack on carrots and peppers and celery and much more. I’ve already taken simple carbohydrates out of my diet and have eliminated most “unnatural” ingredients. Whatever I put in my body, 95% of the time I know exactly what is in it.

So for dinner tonight, I made salmon and mashed cauliflower. Unfortunately, I devoured it before I took a photo. Still, I’d love to share the recipe!

For the salmon, I keep it pretty simple:

Preheat ove to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Season salmon with Himalayan pink salt, cayenne pepper, dill, and lemon. I use lemon slices but lemon juice will work too.

Bake salmon for 20-25 minutes.

Mashed Cauliflower:

Cut 1 head of cauliflower into small florets. Chop as much garlic as you want, I love garlic so I used 4-5 cloves.

Boil water or stock and add florets, garlic, and rosemary. Boil until florets are fork tender.

Drain the cauliflower, return to the pan or place in a blender. Add your choice of cheese and about a tablespoon of butter. Blend, or use a hand mixer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Such a super simple, delicious, and healthy dinner! I highly recommend you try it out. I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Love and peace,

Stephanie

Well This is Different

I didn’t post for a while because I made a pretty quick, life changing decision.

I moved into my own place!

I’m unsure of what caused it…I just woke up one day two weeks ago and I needed a fresh start, a clean slate. Within two days, I had found a new place and orchestrated a move with the help of my super cool boss and a couple guys and a lady from work. My new place is…pretty great. It’s hidden away, surrounded by trees, and most importantly, it’s my own. I have been feeling happier than I have in a long time, and I know I made the best decision for me.

Not only did I want to tell y’all the reason why I went quiet for a moment, but I wanted to touch of something I’ve had trouble with in the past and have been focusing on lately.

Winston Churchill once said, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.” This is something I’ve come to realize is very, very true. I’ve lived most of my life in a bubble of fear, never taking chances and staying in my safe space. In the past couple of months I’ve been taking small steps out of the bubble, and the rewards have been, in a word, exquisite.

Take this move for example. It was terrifying. I’m in quite a bit of debt again. But I’m happy. I feel free, like I could sprout wings and fly. It was scary and asking for help was even scarier. But I did it because it was best for me, and that’s why it was so terrifying.

Last Wednesday I went out on my friend’s boat again. I’m terrified of deep water and drowning. But do you know what I did? I let him take me out to the open ocean. We went past the safe water buoy. It was dusk. And as we floated there, I realized that yes, there are scary things in the ocean, but boats are built to keep you afloat. Under the darkening sky I looked at the smooth, glassy water and the lights reflecting off of Wrightsville beach and never in my life have I ever been so happy to face my fears.

Sometimes, the decision to have courage is the hardest decision to make, but it’s also the most important. You may just find yourself blossoming in a way you never expected.

Now, I’m still getting set up but, but here are a few photos of my new place!

IMG_0707Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 9.13.15 AMScreen Shot 2016-06-12 at 9.13.24 AMScreen Shot 2016-06-12 at 9.13.36 AM

I’ll have more soon, of course.

And what is a blog post from me without photos from the ocean?

IMG_0729IMG_0734

Gosh…I love Masonboro Island.

Well, I have my work cut out for me today. I need to actually work, because I’m a bit behind on my current deadline, and I have some more organizing to do and some prep for the week. Until next time!

Love and Peace,

Stephanie