From My Little Pony to this

I’m just an incurable shopping addict. After swearing off buying crap, I recently started buying crap again. In my addict-addled mind, my rationale is:

  1. I work out so I need activewear. Sigh. Anything is justifiable this way. I write, therefore I need a $200 fountain pen!! I leave the house to join society, therefore I need moar clothes! Shoes to go with them! Wheee!
  2. My gym clothes are old cotton t-shirts and pants that are one squat away from a wardrobe malfunction. Time for replacements! (Truly, they’re fine, I just wanted new cute outfits.)

Really, I had no problems with any of my old gym clothes.  In fact, I purposely avoided skin tight leggings and tops because they showed too much detail! They basically show the entire form of the naked body. I looked for sweatpants and loose fitting items made of cotton. I’m not sure what changed my mind.  Maybe seeing it everywhere desensitized me?  Added to that, I recently stumbled upon an activewear YouTube channel, HopeScope. She reviews leggings, sports tops, and other gear and that was about the time of the Nordstrom Anniversary sale and blammo! I jumped on the wagon.

Since then, I’ve been ordering things left and right. I had a few items to return at Nordstrom Rack a week ago and was shaking from the excitement of being in a Nordstrom Rack. I’m just watching Suits and casually browsing every damn night.

The addiction feeling is real.
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I come home to this crime scene and my heart skips a beat! I get a rush. A high! My brain releases real endorphins of pleasure. It’s releasing them right now as I relive it all.
So what have I purchased? Leggings galore!
What have I learned? I hate sports bras! I nearly dislocated my shoulder trying to get out of one.
Also, working out in sweat-wicking comfortable fabric is nice, but at the end of the day, I can do just as well in my rags. I’m still keeping my old stuff in rotation.  The bottoms at least.  The shirts have been repurposed as hair drying rags. 

Here’s my activewear haul (in order of my preference):

  1. Vimmia Leggings: Made in the U.S. Best pair I own. $20.
  2. Beyond Yoga Sports bra: Made in the U.S. $8. Didn’t I just say how much I hated sports bras? These are different. I accidentally ordered two and decided to keep them both. They are phenomenal quality and not hard to get on and off.
  3. Onzie Leggings: Made in the U.S. $23 bucks.
  4. Onzie Capri Leggings: Made in the U.S. $17.
  5. Nux Leggings: Made in the U.S. $20.
  6. Phat Buddha Leggings: Made in the U.S. $12. I’m a bit worried about these. They’re totally nylon spandex which, isn’t that what women’s stockings are made of? And we all know how easy those things snag or run. Hopefully, these are sturdier, although I already snagged it trying to get the tag off – not a promising sign. On the other hand they are comfortable and are squat- and down dog-proof.
  7. Joe Fresh Tee: China. Boo! $6. Polyester.  It’s a plastic shirt basically.
  8. Abound Tee: India. $6. Super soft synthetic shirt. It’s so nice I’m not sure I’m ready to sully it at the gym.
  9. Chromatic Capri Leggings: Came with a set of resistance bands I got. Made in China. $12 (including the bands). Smelled like a gas station until I left them outside for a few days to off-gas. The bands are nice! The leggings are decent, but I wouldn’t have chosen them separately.

I didn’t start out purposefully looking for U.S.-made leggings, the ones that I ended up liking just happened to be U.S.-made.
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All the leggings that I listed are squat proof.

Also I did check Goodwill but it’s very challenging to find good condition activewear items because they take a beating at the gym. I did get a few gently used tops from my friend though, and they work great. Maybe tops are the most promising items to get second hand.

So there you have it. Moral of the story: Shopping is fun! Also YouTube is one gigantic commercial! I’ve fallen into this trap before, with make-up and bullet journaling. And before YouTube, it was My Little Pony.

Veggie Tofu Scramble

My neighbors moved away. I miss them. During our last get together, they brought over a breakfast ring filled with a veggie tofu scramble. We had it with some coffee. The breakfast ring was so yumm-o! And a fine reminder of the neighbors. Sigh.

Anyway, on with the food.

Any vegetables will do. Just dice them and stir fry them.
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I added carrots, celery, onions(mirepoix!), mushrooms, zucchini, jalapeno, garlic, and frozen corn.

Crumble the tofu over the stir-fried vegetables.

Season with salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, and nutritional yeast.
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This would be the filling for the breakfast ring if I got pastry in a can, but the filling alone is delicious.

Broccoli Walnut Stir-Fry

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I’ve been making this for a few weeks now and we still haven’t tired of it. I love the crunchiness of the walnuts and the rich flavor.

  • Broccoli (two or three heads of it)
  • Tempeh
  • Hot sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Walnuts – raw, unroasted
  • cooking oil (optional)

By the way, tempeh is a block of fermented beans and/or grains.
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It’s firm and mostly flavorless so it can take on whatever flavor you put in your dish. I like to cut it up smaller to increase the surface area to suck up the flavor. It will mostly keep its shape because it’s firmer than tofu. Tempeh is optional. The first time I made this, I just had a bunch of broccoli that didn’t fit into the lentil stew I was making. The broccoli was chopped and I didn’t know what to do with it so I stir fried it with walnuts. That’s how I stumbled on this dish. I only started adding tempeh because the next time I was making it, I had a package of tempeh I didn’t know what to do with. This is the unplanned kind of cooking I do. It’s very willy nilly.

Chop up the broccoli and let it cook for a bit first.
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I like to add water to help cook and soften the broccoli because I like my broccoli cooked soft. Oil is optional. Add the hot sauce and soy sauce after the broccoli’s halfway done.

Now add the tempeh to start sucking up the flavor.
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Walnuts need very little cooking time. I add them in, stir it around a bit then turn the heat off to let the residual heat finish it.
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The walnuts really make this dish. They add a rich layer of flavor and crunchy texture. Yum. I like to have this over quinoa or rice or it’s good just by itself too.

A week in the life of me

TGIF! This week was a pretty typical week for me.

Monday – Went to work.  Took my lunch break at my dinky work gym to stretch my legs a bit. I think of it like recess at school –  the highlight of my day.  After work, I ate leftover bean salad. Watched TV – the old BBC Pride and Prejudice.  LOOOVE Jane Austen.  Popcorn.

Tuesday – Same as Monday, only after work, I went to a gym class to get a proper bit of workout.  I like this particular Tuesday instructor who focuses on abs.  Again, once I’m home, I try to get to food as fast as possible, but not before I shower, because I’m gross. Watch TV with a side of iPad.

Wednesday – Same as Monday. I watched Me Before You.  Good, but sad.  The stars are beautiful and likable.

Thursday – Same as Tuesday, just a different class. I watched Mozart in the Jungle.

Friday – Same as Monday only I got to work a bit earlier so I can leave earlier too.  It’s grocery shopping at Mom’s after dinner.  And finally, TV with a side of wine.  Ahhhh….

Saturday – I generally wake up to toast with peanut butter and banana with tea or coffee.  It’s my favorite breakfast of late. I water all the houseplants with shrimp tank water and then refill the tank with aged water.  That’s just about the only maintenance I do for that tank. I watch more TV until I finally drag my butt to the gym.  It’s hard to leave the house to go to the gym, but the instructor is a funny old guy who runs a very non-stop ridiculously spastic session that I find amusing.  “How high/fast can you go?!  Can you go higher/faster?!  Can you go even HIGHER/FASTER!?”  “Rest when you’re tired.  Drink when you’re thirsty.  Eat your vegetables every day!”  “My mom wakes up and does 100 of these in the morning!”  There’s no stopping for a full hour.  After this crazy workout, I like to go out to eat and then do more grocery shopping.

Sunday – Do mostly nothing day!  Watch gobs and gobs of TV.  Also this is cooking day.  I prepare lunches for the week and try to make enough for dinner for the week too.  I prefer to do minimal cooking during the week so for the most part, Sunday is food prep day. This way, I get less wasted produce too.  Cooking just about everything reduces food waste.  That’s one annoying thing about buying produce though – it commits me to cook.  Once purchased I have to cook it that weekend or prep it for freezing.  Once in a blue moon, I might pick up the vacuum cleaner or scrub brush to clean the house.  But not if there’s something even remotely decent on Netflix or YouTube.

 

Best Shower Cleaner EVAR!!

Here’s how good this stuff is.  I don’t clean my shower for months.  MONTHS!!  Maybe 6 months?  Yeah.  I told you I took a hiatus from cleaning.  You think I’m kidding?  I don’t kid when I’m having important TV time.  Anyway, this stuff made cleaning the shower a breeze.

I learned it from Pinterest.

  • Dawn dish soap (the original blue stuff, but I got Target generic version which seemed to work fine)
  • Cleaning vinegar (Not white eating vinegar; this stuff, while still safe to handle, has higher acidity than eating vinegar. I found it in the cleaning products aisle at Home Depot.)

Two ingredients.  That’s it.  Mix it in a spray bottle.  The Pinterest instructions said to use warm vinegar so I microwaved it for a few seconds first.  I’m not sure if that makes a difference.  Anyway, spray it all over the shower, leave it on for an hour or so.  Come back and scrub. Rinse.  Re-scrub any remaining scum that you missed.  It pretty much comes right off.  I used to exert a lot of energy cleaning the shower. That’s why I dragged my feet about it, because it was so strenuous and tiring.  But this stuff really made the job super duper easy and the shower sparkles like new.  And mostly not too toxic as cleaning products go.

Vegan Fare

I tried two new vegan places last month.  One was Fare Well and the other HipCityVeg.  I had tried to go to Fare Well earlier with friends, but given an anticipated 2 hour wait, we went to Union Market instead.  Fare Well turned out to be just okay.  Their food was incredibly salty.  If I ever went back there, (which would be against my recommendation), I’d just get the polenta fries, which, while greasy, were tasty.

HipCityVeg on the other hand, I wanted to go back the next day.  I haven’t yet, but I still think about their chick’n nuggets which taste like how I remember McD’s nuggets. Maybe they figured out what’s in McD’s flavor crystals. Their bella burger was delicious too.  Even better than the nuggets.  None of their stuff tasted overly salty.  Just a well-balanced combination of flavors.

I’m not sure if I’ve written about Mom’s Market’s Naked Lunch counter but it’s worth repeating until I find something better – because they are my favorite vegan food place.  They serve uncomplicated fresh ingredients and they just let the food shine through without being smothered in too much salt, sugar, or grease.  It’s just combinations of good flavors that meld nicely.  And they don’t overdo it with the highly processed fake meat vegan crap which, while they can be tasty (chick’n nuggets for example) I have no idea what the fuck it is.

How bullet journaling affected me

As soon as I got done setting it up, I knew the bullet journal was a preposterous idea for me.  I didn’t see myself doing it for long.  That it lasted through April is longer than I would have expected.  The most impact it had was tracking my monthly spending habits.  I wrote down everything for a few months.  To sum it up, my spending pretty much consisted of eating out, random Amazon or Target shit, and grocery shopping.  And I noticed that while my grocery bills came out to about a hundred to two hundred a week, eating out, even ordering non-fancy takeout Chinese could run over $50 (with leftovers) for a meal or so.  So I stopped eating out unless it was with other people.  Meaning eating out for sustenance was a don’t.  Eating out for socializing was a do. I’ve since resumed eating out (for convenience, enjoyment) again and have noticed how salty, sweet, greasy stuff can be.  In other words, tasty!  But then also sometimes less tasty than I remembered.

TV Monster

May was hiatus-month. I didn’t do it on purpose but I took a hiatus from this. I also took a hiatus from eating out – that was on purpose. And a hiatus from journaling. Also for anyone curious as to how long that bullet journal would last, three months (through April) is the answer. I haven’t read anything either, books-wise. And I didn’t clean the house much. Instead I had daily mind-melding sessions with the TV. It was/is glorious!

What did I watch? Aside from many YouTubers, I have watched:

  • Death in Paradise
  • Terrace House: Aloha State
  • Father Brown
  • A few episodes of: 13 Reasons Why, Good Witch, Schitt’s Creek
  • Anne with an E
  • MidSomer Murders
  • Shetland
  • Dr. Foster
  • The Secret Life of Pets
  • Sausage Party
  • The Keepers
  • The Americans
  • Mozart in the Jungle

In order of my preferences, The Keepers, Shetland, The Americans, Father Brown, Dr. Foster, Death in Paradise, Mozart in the Jungle, and MidSomer Murders.

For good fun entertainment, BBC has some reliably good material.  Shetland and Dr. Foster being great serious ones, and Father Brown and Death in Paradise being less dark despite being murder mystery shows.

The Keepers is a documentary about the mafia of organized religions. It’s real-life scary. And sad. And maddening. I was pretty angry as I watched it.

And finally, The Americans. My boss recommended it and I plowed through four seasons in a week. It’s very ridiculous and far fetched, but also entertaining because despite all the nail biting suspense, you know they’ll always come out of it okay because they’re the beautiful couple starring in the show. Makes it much more bearable for me. And there are still enough plot twists to keep me guessing.  Also I want to punch their precious whiny daughter in the face and snap her little chicken neck every time she goes off on her parents, especially when they done told her to shut the fuck up. I’m currently unwinding with Mozart in the Jungle which is silly but the music is beautiful.  It’s a great way to decompress from the suspenseful spy drama and much easier to start and stop.

Terrace House is a great “Real World”-/”Big Brother”-type show.  The first one where the house is in Japan is better than the one in Hawaii.

I’m always looking for more good (or bad) shows and movies to watch so am open to suggestions always.

I still need to catch up on the newly released seasons of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.  Though House of Cards seems rather tame compared to real life.

Omakase at Kobo

I wanted to love this place.  I want to support businesses that acknowledge that it’s important for ethical, environmental, and health reasons to provide vegan options.  Or heck, just plain financial reasons!  But it was good to okay.  Not I-want-to-go-back-take-my-friends spectacular.

The meal started off with a bang.
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These little balls of amazing flavors bursting in your mouth.  Mango with basil sprinkles, strawberry with fennel sprinkles, and lychee with rose sprinkles.  They were fun to eat and tasted true to the flavors.  But this was more dessert than starter to me.

Following on were more littles.  Little bit of tomato tartare.
Little morsels of sushi. Untitled
A little bowl of tofu with handmade vegan caviar.
A little cone of micro greens.
And a mouthful of green tea noodles. Untitled

None of it was enough, and they knew that, so as the last course, they hit you with a big bowl of gohan.

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That’s rice.  We got a normal full meal sized bowl of rice with bamboo and shiitake.  While good, it really stood out from the rest of the menu which was delicate and bite sized and pretty and then, plop, here’s some rice to fill you up.  Also, the website says it’s a 12-15 course menu, whereas I counted 11 courses, including the welcoming tea and the amuse bouche as two separate courses.

The chef was a great guy.  And he asked us for what we’d recommend to him.
We both told him that even though we probably didn’t need to eat more, and it was probably better we didn’t, we could have had more.

Here’s what I didn’t tell him –
This menu, though vegan, isn’t truly vegan-friendly.  I don’t eat meat but I still need protein.  The menu had plenty of carbs from rice and vegetables but the only protein in the entire menu was a tiny bit of tofu and fungi.  Where’s the natto?  Where are the pulses?  And for a Japanese vegan place, they could have incorporated more varieties of plants.  Lotus root.  Seaweed (there was some but I wouldn’t have minded more).  More tsukemono (pickled things – though there was a very interesting pickled ginger flower). I wanted everything to be something I couldn’t make at home.  This was not the case.  Some things were definitely unique, but it felt like the menu petered out at the end.  Instead of a grand finale that wow’d us, it was a sputter to the finish line.

The service was impeccable.  They were all super duper friendly with zero airs.  No snooty pretentiousness.  We slurped.  We picked up our bowls.  We Kirby’d our food.  We felt completely at ease.  And I was hungry by the time I got home.

Happy Earth Day!

A report came out about a month ago saying the carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere is measuring at 405 parts per million – a record high. Since scientists have been tracking it at Mauna Loa in 1958, increases in carbon dioxide levels have averaged about 2 parts per million each year. These past two years (2015 & 2016), it’s been increasing at 3 ppm each year. It’s accelerating and compounding.

During the Paris Climate talks, we kept hearing about this magical two degrees figure. The message being we need to keep the planet from warming an additional two degrees Celcius, since we’ve been measuring (in the 1800s). To give you an idea, for the past 10,000 years, Earth’s temperature has been fluctuating by around one degree. It wasn’t until recently when we started using fossil fuels that the temperatures have undergone this steady increase.

So why two degrees? It’s just a goal so that maybe countries can try to do their part to curb carbon emissions. And maybe it’s scientists’ guesstimate of the level that humans can tolerate. Because CO2 is a major contributor to global warming and it appears to be increasing at an accelerating rate, I think two degrees is an optimistic target. Realistically, we’re on our way to exceeding that.

There are currently about 7 billion people on the planet. Even with decreasing global birthrates since the 1950s, the population is projected to exceed 10 billion in less than 100 years due to longer lifespans. No matter how conservatively we live, even if we were all in developing nations and didn’t drive cars, energy requirements alone for 3 billion more will probably push us over the 2 degrees. Scientists are predicting 2 to 4 feet sea level rise this century, and more if the Antarctic or Greenland ice sheets collapse. Speaking of, a few days ago, scientists observed a new crack in one of Greenland’s glaciers. It’s not really new, just newly noticed. It appeared last summer. As these glaciers break off into the ocean, or calve, the melting of the land ice will accelerate and so will sea level rise.

Global temperatures rising aside, at what point of CO2 levels in the atmosphere does it affect people? Some studies show that at 1,000 ppm, we start showing cognitive decline. But what about long term effects of exposure at lower levels?

Now here I’ve been living my life trying to be more informed of my contribution to the carbon footprint. I’ve been of the belief, maybe naively, that I can do my part to live more gently and leave as small a mark as I can. I wonder though, if it’s too late anyway, maybe we should just party like it’s 1999 and let the consequences play out as they will regardless. Is this what climate change deniers think? That this is the last hurrah, and the every-man-for-himself moment? I flit between these two thoughts. That maybe dash it all, we should live it up, screw the pooch. Or there’s still hope if we all do our part. Try as I do to remind myself that it’s probably futile, the optimist in me won’t give up.