Monthly Archives: April 2016

New vegan personal/household products I’ve tried lately (including one that almost burned my eyelid off)

Big Shampoo

It’s been a busy start to spring in our apartment (which our friend Molly has affectionately nicknamed the “BJ Supermarket”). We’ve been more productive than ever with clean-ups, new organization systems and personal projects (like finally re-stringing my ancient hand-me-down guitar, or Jar’s continued work on his model train layout. His birthday gift to me can be getting it the f*%^ out of the way of the guest bed).

We’ve also still got big plans, like what we want to do with the balcony, how we want to hang the rest of our art, and how we want our bedroom to evolve, style-wise.

As I’ve eased myself into this new living situation (quite comfortably, I might say), I’ve also settled on products that I’m most comfortable with for doing work around the house, and also, well, work on me. I’ve reviewed a few of my favourite household and personal products before, but I thought I might give an update on some things that have worked out really well for me — and some that haven’t.

I want to state that I’m not strictly a naturalist (is that the right word?) when it comes to my products, even though most of these products you will find are considered “clean” and “chemical-free.” The fact is it’s just easier to find vegan products that also fall under this umbrella — and it’s also easier to track which ingredients were tested on or derived from animals this way.

Note: None of the following products are blog sponsors and no money or personal goods have been accepted in exchange for positive reviews.

Earthpaste natural toothpaste in Wintergreen

  • Price: $6.55
  • Where I bought it: The Big Carrot

I’ll admit I’m a sucker for something just because it seems different. Earthpaste certainly sells itself as different. This is a clay-based toothpaste with no fluoride or foaming agents. It’s the foaming agents thing that makes the biggest difference (again: while I’m not strictly anti-fluoride, since most vegan toothpastes are fluoride-free, I’ve lived without it for years). You won’t get that big foamy texture in your mouth, which definitely feels different. I’m normally one to shrug at this — less foam doesn’t mean you’re less clean. But unfortunately that results in a really thin, runny consistency in the paste. There’s something about the clay that also feels gritty, which I personally don’t like on my teeth. I can’t speak to its long-term success, but I just found no matter what it was difficult to make my mouth feel “clean” after.

Bottom line: Would probably not recommend this product, but it’s more about personal preference.

Green Beaver Cilantro and Mint Toothpaste

  • Price: $4.99
  • Where I bought it: Noah’s (King/Spadina)

Yep, somehow I found a cilantro toothpaste. I actually rushed out to buy a new toothpaste after I decided I couldn’t take another day of the Earthpaste. I was going to go back to my usual Kiss My Face brand, but that was about $3 more expensive, and… I mean, cilantro, y’all. I’ll admit this toothpaste probably isn’t for everyone. Cilantro is already an acquired taste (I used to hate it, now I have it in/on everything!) and it’s not the most common thing to find in a toothpaste, but is a really unique taste. It’s still not as foamy as a conventional toothpaste (it’s more creamy) but it at least isn’t super runny, and a little bit of toothpaste goes a way longer way. After this tube is out I’ll probably spend the extra bucks on one of my older preferred brands, but it’s been a good trip.

Bottom line: Would recommend this product to anyone who likes cilantro, but it’s by no means an amazing toothpaste.

ELF Illuminating Eye Cream

Remember a couple weeks ago when I said I was having “some eye issues” lately? I’d been waking up with a lot of eye secretions (sorry, I know that word is nasty) and even crust on my eye that was so bad I could barely open them some mornings. I also experienced a burn on the outer corner of my left eye. I eliminated all of my face products and makeup for a bit and slowly re-introduced them, and the ELF cream started to look like the suspect. I also took a look at the one-star reviews of the product online (I tend to avoid both five and one-star reviews since they usually exaggerate a lot on either side) and found a lot of people said the same thing! Stinging, burning, redness, eczema… yeah. Anyway, ELF responded to my complaints almost immediately and offered a refund, which I have to say really impressed me on their part. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m really publicly not recommending this product to anyone with even vaguely sensitive skin (my skin tends to fall under combination/normal and isn’t very sensitive).

Bottom line: Would absolutely not recommend this product regardless of skin type or needs.

Attitude Daily Shower cleaner in Citrus Zest

  • Price: $4.99
  • Where I bought it: The Big Carrot

Moving into an apartment can be tough — even if the building management cleans your tub prior, one big clean session can’t quite get everything off the surface. Combine that with us both being, well, basic human beings who shower every day, and me being a girl who likes her bath (and bath bombs) it was really hard to get ahead with the tub. Admittedly, most vegan bathroom products I’ve tried don’t have the same scrubbing power as non-vegan ones (although I hated using traditional cleansers like Vim anyway because of how they irritated my hands). Every time I’d give a good cleaning session (that would wear my shoulders and chest out as much as a good climb would) it felt like I never got the grime fully off, then after one shower it was dirty again. Anyway, we spontaneously decided to grab this stuff at the Carrot one day. Upon first use we gave it a super thorough scrubbing (that’s recommended for very dirty bathtubs. I’d like to think our bathtub wasn’t “very dirty,” but still, we wanted to see results) and we now use it after every shower. Woah! Major difference. No grit, no weird shady shit that I try to convince myself is a shadow, just a nice, clean shower (and the smell is barely-there, so you don’t have to worry about some overbearing artificial fragrance).

Lush BIG shampoo

  • Price: $27.95
  • Where I bought it: LUSH (Queen/Peter)

I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I no longer have to shampoo my hair every single day. In fact, I’m down to about 1-2 shampoos per week. This shampoo has proven to be the best possible formula for my hair — which is of the Flat ‘n’ Floppy variety. Most shampoos intended for volumizing tend to dry my hair out too much (my hair has oily roots but once you get down to ear level you start to see the dryness/damage), whereas this is a mild enough formula that it doesn’t leave my hair feeling totally parched. A little goes a long way with this shampoo in terms of lather, and the sea salt sensation is actually really cool.

Bottom line: would recommend this shampoo to anyone with a flat hair problem!

One last thing: I had a few lipstick reviews to add (I’m a total lipstick junkie), but I’ve decided to do a separate post on my favourite vegan lipsticks. You guys have to hold me to that, okay?


Little wins

No losses this week — only wins. Here are some of the highlights of the past week.

  • Last week I attended the Earl Haig Secondary School 2016 Dance Night. What a show that was! One of my studio’s seniors took part in the show and danced so beautifully, along with the rest of her classmates. It was wonderful to see the amazing choreography and dance education that is being taught in this school. At the end of the night she was also awarded the Gr. 12 dance award, and I swear I started crying in the audience. What a great night it was!
  • I found out what was causing the rash in my eye, and I’ve actually gotten it to calm down a bit. I’ll be discussing that in an upcoming post on new vegan household and personal products I’ve been using lately.
  • This past weekend was a total balcony weekend. We spent so much time outside, either on the balcony or taking walks, playing with Ben, planning our dream balcony (on Sunday I’ll be bringing my winter tires, which I’ve previously stored on my deck, to my mom’s place, so that’ll free up some space).
  • My hair has been friggin’ on point lately!
  • So have my pirouettes! Whoop whoop!
  • I’ve been consistently climbing V3s as I get more into bouldering. I’ve spent the past year doing sport climbing 90% of the time so I’ve decided it’s time to get a bit more varied in my climbing. Mainly because I want to be Alex Puccio. Or marry her. One of those.
  • A new vegan soft serve place has opened in Toronto — I should get on that shit!

Oyster mushroom and kimchi tacos

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Happy spring, friends! Boy, that took awhile. In celebration of spring, I’m going to talk about Christmas for a second.

Bear with me.

See, I’ve always had a hesitation around company Christmas parties. Aside from being nervous about drinking around my co-workers, I hate being that vegan who asks ahead of time “Will there be anything vegan?”, then spending the night guarding the hummus (the only vegan thing) so everyone else doesn’t eat it or you’ll be forced to endure company-compensated G&Ts on an empty stomach (I mean, you don’t have to, but if it’s paid for…).

This year, though, I’m actually friends with a lot of my co-workers, so I went, knowing that there was only one vegan option.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry about guarding the vegan apps. Everyone was piling them in front of me.

Because they were fucking awful.

Good concept: a small tofu steak topped with kimchi, raw cabbage and some sorta runny, faux-sriracha sauce. In theory, this should have been the best night of my life.

But they were essentially little piles of salt disguised as food. Every single taco left my mouth abrasive and briney afterward. Of course, I also had three free drink tickets (and had put a few away at the office too), so I had to keep eating.

It was horrible. Fun, but horrible.

While the tacos weren’t exactly a highlight of the night, I’ve spent the last few months thinking about how to do my own, less-gut-wrenchingly-awful take on the tacos.

First solution: swap out the tofu. Tofu is awesome, but I think there are so many other awesome things you can do with tacos that a li’l wedge of tofu seems, you know, laaaaame.

I’m a big fan of oyster mushrooms, as you may recall from my spaghetti squash stir-fry. So I used those as my base, added the kimchi (of course), cilantro (of course, motherfuckers) and a spicy, lime-ish version of my homemade vegan mayo.

These tacos are not only easy to make, they make your place into an instant taco party. This recipe makes six fairly well-stuffed tacos but it’s dang easy to double it and under-stuff the tacos like some cheapskate restaurant and make all your friends happy!

Oyster mushroom and kimchi tacos

    • Prep time: 20 minutes
    • Cook time: 10-20 minutes
    • Yield: Six medium-sized or eight app-size tacos
    • Allergen info: Nut-free, gluten-free option

Ingredients

Smoky oyster mushrooms

  • 2 cups oyster mushrooms, sliced the long way
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth or water (more as needed to cover mushrooms fully)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s (the latter two are GF)
  • 1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Spicy lime aioli

  • One cup vegan aioli/garlic mayo (here’s my own recipe)
    • If you don’t have aioli onhand, simply add about two cloves of garlic to regular vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp sriracha or other thick hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • Juice and zest from one lime

To assemble

  • Your favourite vegan kimchi (I buy a local Toronto brand, but making your own is a cool adventure)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Suggested toppings: onions, carrots, cabbage, whatever!

Method

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients save for the broth/water (broth will obviously make it more flavourful, but water won’t actually dilute the flavour too much since it’s a fairly strong flavour). Sit the marinade in a shallow dish, add the mushrooms, and add the water/broth to cover the mushrooms. Let sit for about 20 minutes while you prepare your sauce and chop your veg.
  2. For the sauce: simply combine all your ingredients and mix thoroughly, or blend. I like my sauce to have a bit of texture, so I shredded the cilantro but didn’t blend it. Your choice. Blending will obviously leave you with more of a clean-up.
  3. To cook the mushrooms, warm a very small amount of oil in a medium-sided frying pan (medium heat). Once warm, add your mushrooms and a few tablespoons of the marinade, and stir occasionally.
  4. As your mushrooms warm and the marinade is absorbed, continue to add the liquid gradually, letting it absorb for super-flavourful mushrooms!
  5. Once the last bit of marinade is absorbed, remove the mushrooms from heat
  6. Warm your tortillas in the oven, a skillet or microwave and top ’em with the mushrooms, kimchi, sauce and all that other fun stuff!

On a side-note: it feels great to be getting back to recipe mode again. I’m not putting as much pressure on myself regarding the blog, but I’m still trying really hard to maintain some sense of regular posting. I am growing my audience very, very gradually, but I’m trying not to focus on that kind of “success” at the moment. I’m considering starting an FAQ feature — I actually get a lot of questions about veganism on my Tumblr blog, and that might be a great way to direct more people here.

More importantly, I’m starting to have a lot of fun outside of work these days (wow, who would have thought sunshine and warm weather had positive impacts on your life??). We’re spending a lot of time on the balcony (it’s slowly becoming a little piece of paradise), taking walks around the neighbourhood, shopping the local businesses and going to the park. Sometimes I really seriously contemplate getting a cat harness and a leash for Ben to see how he would handle a walk… but I think that would be more for my own enjoyment than his. That said, he really loves hanging out on the balcony. I’m so glad we got that netting!

I sadly can’t continue running this year as I have too many bone injuries in my feet, but I’m trying no to let that get me down too much. I still have my bike and my skateboard, and those are good enough for me! So while I may not be running a marathon anytime soon, I’ll still be out and about. Just not at the same speed.


Dem ugly days

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Some days I really, really like the way I look. I feel good about myself. I feel fresh, I feel pretty, I feel bright.

Some days, I look like Johnny Depp in Secret Window.

Yep, that’s the specific look I struck today. Wasn’t going for it, but that’s how it turned out.

I’ve never felt particularly comfortable about how I look. Lately it’s been getting better, and I’ve started to actually really love the things that make my face, for lack of better words, unique (and I mean, they are unique). I love my weirdo broken nose, I love my big chin.

Thanks to Facebook and its weird-ass “memories,” I got a look at myself in a picture from four years ago, while I was on a quick solo road trip after finishing school. I have to say, I barely recognize myself, and not just because I had hair then. I look all wide-eyed and kiddish. It’s hard to believe that that wide-eyed kid was six months away from her first job, which made her grow up so so much, eight months away from her last quarter pounder with cheese, nine months away from starting to climb, which made her into a completely different person inside and out, and two and a half years away from (so far) the best relationship of her life.

So even though yesterday was a super cute day, today is an ugly day, and I’m kind of okay with that. Because things will always change and shift and mess around, and I’m pretty alright with that. The changes and shifts and messes are, after all, part of what makes life fun.

Plus, to be candid, I’ve been having some issues with my eyes lately. Not the deep scarring on my eyes (that’s mostly healed), but they’ve  been extremely dry the last few days, and the skin around my eyes has become red and irritated. I’ve actually had to continuously rub balm on the outside of my left eye (which I’m sure is actually bad for it) just so it will stop burning so badly. I’ve been waking up in the morning with 5000% crustier eyes (sorry, guys!) and overall they’ve just felt shitty over the past week or so. I’m giving myself a week of no makeup, no excessive product on my face, no contacts to see if that does the trick. Hopefully it’s just weather change.

Anyway, the other uglies, they’ll fade… and come back, and fade and come back. You know how it goes. Boo-urns, but hey, at least it keeps things interesting.


Budget-friendly eats: Quick and easy vegan aioli

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“What are you gonna do, dip your bananas in it?” — local jackass, the Internet, 2016

No, I’m not going to dip my bananas in my homemade mayonnaise, but I could if I wanted to. I’m not here on the Internet to judge anyone’s habits, no matter how vomit-inducing they may be.

So, I guess this is the life of a food blogger who’s still learning how to properly “style” her photos. Yes, I wanted the picture to look cool and earthy and not surrounded by the mess on my counter and basking in the pretty light from my one west-facing window and I didn’t realize that placing my homemade mayonnaise next to, among other things, my bananas, would conjure up images that drive one to wretch.

Whoops.

Anyway, it’s time to bring another budget-friendly recipe for my pals who are trying to live cruelty-free on a dime (or several dimes).

I’ve wanted to make my own mayonnaise for awhile. I used to make my own aioli in university, prior to going vegan, and when I found out how easy it was to make vegan mayo, I wanted to try, but I’ve put it off out of (surpriiise) sheer laziness. I find pre-made vegan mayos are, for the most part, expensive. Just Mayo is quite affordable, but I live in Canada (I’ll trade Just Mayo for free health care I guess) and stock up whenever I’m in the U.S. (I’m comin’ for you, New York). Earth Island (Follow Your Heart in the U.S.) and Wildwood also make garlic vegan mayonnaise, but they can be harder to find and (duh) expensive.

Unlike 90% of bloggers on the Internet I don’t always think that DIY is necessarily cheaper; buying raw ingredients in large quantities when you know you’ll only use a small morsel of them and the quality will just blow is usually not worth it in the long run. However, in this case, this recipe is composed of many things that you’ll already have lying around and/or will easily use quite frequently after you buy them. For people who don’t live near a lot of “nice” grocery stores, all of these ingredients were actually obtained at the Food Basics near my house (Food Basics is a lower-end Canadian grocery chain that doesn’t always have big selection, but dem savings, you know)?

The only thing that might make this recipe not as cost-effective is that it only keeps for about a week. Fortunately, you can very easily cut the recipe in half and still get a great result.

You don’t even need a high-tech blender for this (an immersion blender works way better and you can get those for $25-40 in most places, or if you’re really determined you can just power-whisk it).

Quick and easy vegan aioli

  • Prep time: <5 minutes
  • Cook time: N/A
  • Yield: About 1.5 cups mayonnaise
  • Allergen info: Gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unflavoured, unsweetened soy milk*
  • 1 cup light-tasting oil** like canola or sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 1 tsp apple cider or white vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • Dash of salt

* Unfortunately, I don’t have an alternative for anyone with a soy allergy. Generally from what I’ve heard, other milks are too thin/runny to really work with this formula. I haven’t tried hemp milk yet, because hemp milk tastes like a rug to me and I don’t want it in my fridge, but if anyone wants to try it and give me some feedback, go ahead.

** You are in for an absolute world of hurt if you opt for coconut oil, even refined coconut oil. Have you ever had a solid brick of mayonnaise in your fridge? I have. Say that once out loud. “Solid brick of mayonnaise.” It’s not fun.

Instructions

  1. Combine all of your ingredients in a large bowl (even if you ARE among the fancy blender owners like myself, it’s way easier to clean up to use a bowl and immersion blender). Whisk or blend until thickened. This should only take a few seconds!
  2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let refrigerate for at least one hour before using. And dear lord remember what I said about the coconut oil.
  3. This will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Anyway, I happen to like my aioli extra garlicky, not just a little wimpy garlic powder or whatnot, so I was pretty liberal with my garlic. You don’t have to listen to me. But it’d be nice if you did.

Later this week I’ll post a recent taco recipe my partner and I came up with using a variation on this aioli. I love coming up with recipes on the fly. Anyway, I’ve kind of run out of steam for how to end this, so maybe I should just make some jazz hands and scoot off the stage.


Little failures and wins

Little failures:

  • Somehow properly changing my billing address but NOT properly changing my shipping address on Modcloth, so my new amazing little black dress for my cousin’s wedding is getting sent to my Mom’s house.
  • Skipping ballet class on Saturday and regretting it for the past four days.
  • My favourite “nice” shirt has a permanent blood stain on it (that stained it from the inside out since I did not realize my arm was bleeding). Anyone know what gets old blood out?

Little wins:

  • My senior student Hannah has her last high school dance performance next Wednesday and she’s invited me to come!
  • Sweet new red lipstick that makes me look fierce as fuuuuuck.
  • New friends at work!
  • Partner made the most incredible lentil soup that made our apartment smell like heaven.

Red ranger beet and berry smoothie

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A couple weeks ago, I did something I haven’t done in almost a year.

I took a sick day.

Well, not a full-sick day (or, I guess a sick full-day). I took only the afternoon off, after we got our daily newsletter out, and went home to sleep and retire my voice for awhile. It was more or less a nasty head cold, which I can normally get through just fine (I don’t get sick all that often, and when I’m stuck in the “getting sick” stage for about a day and a half but never really get to a point of needing to go home from work). But it completely drained me, and I was at a point of being in utterly yucky pain and misery. I needed three things:

  1. Blanket
  2. Cat
  3. The sympathy of everyone around me (which, I guess, was limited to my precious kitty cat)

Anyway, after that I was on a big fruits and veggies kick (I mean, what else is new?), specifically trying to to shove as much colourful produce down my food-hole as humanly possible because damn, dat placebo effect. My super-saturated colourful smoothie concoctions probably didn’t actually do anything to relieve my cold, but I’ll admit, when my temperature shot up, I was pretty damn comfortable sitting out on my balcony with Ben (note for those who are unaware: we actually have balcony netting installed so Ben can safely enjoy the bacony) with my boxers on, sipping on an ice-cold smoothie watching all the suckers navigating the unseasonably cool streets.

And then I straight-up died.

But if this smoothie were to be the last thing I ate before I died (it wasn’t) I’d be pretty cool with that. And that’s something considering it features my once-despised worst enemy, beets! This smoothie also features the crisp, almost sticky-sweet taste of mango combined with the just-tart-enough taste of raspberries that’ll really have you envisioning summer and all of the long walks, parties and nudity that comes along with it.

Red ranger berry smoothie

  • Prep time:
  • Cook time: N/A
  • Yield: One 2.5-cup serving
  • Allergen info: Gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy free

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mango chunks, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup beets, peeled and chopped*
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup water or, if feeling fancy, coconut water**
  • Splash of non-dairy milk (optional)

* If you don’t have a super-powerful blender, I’d recommend steaming your beets prior to preparing, as they will be way easier to blend.

** I’ve since made another version of this that had ginger ale instead of coconut water, and the results were… interesting, to say the least, but I didn’t entirely hate it by the end.

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. You may need to add more water/coconut water as you go depending on how hard/frozen your fruit is.
  2. Add a splash of non-dairy milk, or even a bit of ripe avocado flesh if you like a creamier smoothie.

I’ve found this smoothie is best enjoyed wrapped in a blanket sitting on your balcony in your boxer shorts hoping the kids at the elementary school 11 stories down and across the street don’t notice the crazy lady on the balcony. But, like, you could also enjoy it with a light breakfast (as much as this is a nice big smoothie I don’t consider a meal in itself, unless you’re one of those super-light breakfast-eaters) like some toast and avocado or a small muffin.

What’s your comfort routine like when you get sick? Do you turn into a garbage disposal like me, or do you hate food? Do you become a big, attention-starved baby, or do you lock everyone out of your apartment and convert it into a blanket fort/quarantine tent? Let me know in the comments, and share any variations on the smoothie you think I should try!


Thinking about the future

This weekend was one of those rare weekends when my partner and I got in a bit of a tiff. I think it’s silly to brag about being “one of those couples who never fights” because that’s a really weird badge of pride to wear, but I will say for the record that we do rarely fight because we’re pretty good at talking things out (I doubt I’d be this way with anyone else, as I’m the one who gets easily worked up. He is just very good at calming me down). Anyway, like with most fights, it ended up with me being more emotional, then us slowly coming to some revelations, and having a pretty good talk that ended up happy and focused (even though I was still full of tears and boogers).

I’m not going to get into what it was totally about or how it got started (“stay outa my personal space”) but I will share this: it got me thinking about the future.

My 27th birthday is coming up in a couple of months (who wants to buy me a pair of vegan Doc Martens plz?? The high top kind thannnnkkkkks?) and I’m more focused on my future than ever. I’m really satisfied with where I am in my life, but I have big plans. The more time I put into my job, the more time (and love, and experience) we both put into our relationship, every time I scrub the bathtub and sweep the kitchen floor, every time I make a new recipe, I remind myself that it’s all going toward something. Something bigger. Life is about learning and whatnot, right? So I might as well take every single thing I do as a learning experience, and put it toward something.

I think there’s a lot of happy middle-ground between being a blade of grass blowing in the wind and being a chronic (annoying) over-planner, and I like to think I’m somewhere in that happy middle ground. I have plans that I’m flexible on, I have goals that I accept will be affected by changing circumstances and I have expectations that I can lower or raise at any given moment. But those plans, goals and expectations are there.

 

For example, I’m theoretically fine with never owning a house if I always live in Toronto (for those unfamiliar with our real estate market, it’s pretty much suck city, and a new law requires a minimum 10% downpayment, which is difficult when the average home price is $1mil). However, if my income goes up a certain amount, I will want to look at home ownership, because I look at a home as something that I can build equity on, and something that allows me more freedom. My family doesn’t have any expectations for me in terms of home ownership — one of my siblings owns, one rents, and both are happy in their respective situations — and my partner is also fine with renting for the rest of his life (he does own land up North though), so this is an expectation I have for myself, not one that others have for me.

Another thing that I have some specific(ish) goals are is my job. I’m really kicking ass where I am right now, and I plan on staying here for a little while longer, at the very least so I can learn more and hone my craft. Eventually I would like to get into radio, specifically into producing investigative/feature/doc work. My goal has always been to create the content that I enjoy — I’m the type of person who likes to pull things apart and figure out how everything works, and as someone who has enjoyed radio docs for a very long time, being a part of the team that puts that together is a serious desire for me. Ultimately getting into hosting would be awesome, if only so I could meet and talk to and help tell the stories of amazing people from around the world. I have a lot of time for that, but the fact is I know what the next opportunity will look like when I see that.

Finally, there’s family. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’t want children and that is a goal shared by my partner. However, I’m so excited to finally share on the blog that my sister is expecting a little one of her own this summer, and I could not be happier! Becoming an aunt and uncle is very exciting for us — obviously it’s not nearly the same experience as preparing to become parents, but we’ve also started thinking about how it will change our lives in terms of being there for my sister, what kind of examples we set, and how we keep our place. I’ve thought a lot about what kind of role I want to play in my nephew’s life, and while being the “fun aunt” is a huge goal for me, what’s more important is being a responsible, kind and helpful aunt, one that spreads the values my sister and brother-in-law will teach in their home. We’d like a dog one day, but that will depend on what our careers bring for both of us — if one of us ends up working from home a couple days of the week, it may be possible.

A few people have asked me the M-word is in my future (yeah, we both discussed how “marriage” is a scary word to say). The answer? Not now, maybe someday. If it happens, what you definitely can’t expect is a wedding-wedding. No ceremony, no speeches, no reception, no dress, no rings, no engagement. Hey, I have no issue with those things for other people (in fact, I highly encourage everyone in the world to get married and have weddings so I may attend), but they’re never things I’ve wanted for myself, and they don’t jive well with who we are.

Anyway, was this a big post of nothin’? Too personal? Too vague? I feel pretty good about things, even if it doesn’t come off that way in my writing. For now, I’m off to keep kickin’ ass at work. You can expect a new smoothie recipe on the blog later this week!


Writing an actual blog… how do I do this again?

The second I hit the “publish” button on yesterday’s post (after it sat in the queue for nearly a month… silly me) I had one of those dramatic “no turning back” feelings. I was now tasked with actually committing to what I’d said — that I was going to take a more personal approach to Urban Garlic, stop treating it like such a business and, at the same time, give the blog a little more of my (ugh) soul.

I can’t remember the last time I kept a blog that actually had the “log” side of things down (heh. Log). I have a Tumblr, but that’s more a collection of images I find amusing, intermittently spaced with rants about social justice, veganism and Dance Moms. I’d estimate that the last time I used a blog as an actual journal-type blog was in early high school. No, I can’t remember what platform it was on, and no… I’m not eager to re-visit it.

But I am eager to re-visit the idea of actually just writing about my life online.

I don’t mean “Top 10 things I learned from climbing!” or “Eight products I’m totally digging the shit out of lately” — although those types of posts may creep around occasionally. Like I said yesterday, those posts tend to feel a little pretentious to me, like I’m ranting as though I know it all. I don’t. Let’s face it: I’m 26 and am in just as much of a “figuring my shit out” stage as every other 26-year-old.

I think I look that blogs that are successful and see them presented with a distinct style of messaging that makes them seem more like a professional publication than a personal blog, so I’ve tried to imitate that in order to be successful.

But something I’ve started doing lately is looking back at people’s early posts.

It’s hard to feel bad about where I am now when I look at how everyone else started.

But I realize now that I’ve already poured more than 300 words out about this and not anything about what is actually going on with my life at the moment.

This moment? This very moment? I’m taking a bit of a breather after a marathon writing session at work, then back to writing. I’ve just purchased a dress for my cousin’s wedding (trust me, there will be pictures) and am sipping on some “super ginger” tea from David’s Tea (I’ve come a long way from turning my nose up at ginger three years ago), sneaking in a few pages from The Only Average Guy by John Filion when I can.

The near-future? Okay, that’s more exciting! I’m going for a solo bouldering session and then a much needed treat-yoself night featuring bath, shampooing the hair (I’ve successfully gotten it down to one shampoo per week and my hair looks and feels awesome!) and watching a movie (I’ve settled on Martha Marcy May Marlene, which I’ve never actually finished. Side-note: it’s really hard to watch Hugh Dancey play a dick. He’ll always be Will Graham to me). Tomorrow is a ballet day, and I’m also working on a new smoothie recipe, new salad recipe and new burger recipe. I guarantee I won’t get all of those done, but… I can try, right?

At some point this weekend we wanted to get some suit shopping done. Jar really wants to get a new suit for my cousin’s wedding, and I’m looking forward to showing up on his arm. What can I say? We’re shallow sometimes.

Anyway, I suppose I haven’t really said that much of anything, but sometimes it just feels nice to talk about things that make you happy.