November 23, 2010

How my work outs are going

I just finished an intense Tao Bo work out and thought I might as well update on my quest for that beach body 2011. Admittedly, I have not been on top of my work outs like I used to be just a scant few month ago. Life has been busy and overwhelming and stressful. And, although the work outs have not stopped completely, they have not been as intense. After a long hard day, the last thing I want to think about is sweating.

Now that things have semi-mellowed out at work (it is supposed to be the slow season yet we are busy as ever and I feel that I cannot keep up with my assignments at times), I am making exercise important again.

So, there you have it. I have been working but not as hard. But, I have started upping the ante and hope to keep this momentum going.

November 21, 2010

When I finally opened my eyes to my own worth, Part One

A few important things happened to me the last few weeks that made me finally open my eyes and see the light. More to come shortly.

November 16, 2010

Goals...not so far away after all!

This morning after posting about my lack of productivitiy, I thought about my goals and achievements on the way to work. You know, I am one of those people who wants what she wants and is willing to work to achieve my goals is sometimes slow on the uptake. I believe that when I get an idea I go at it initially with wholehearted good intensions. I will work during the inception but I find the up keep actually the hardest part. How do I change this? I think my problem also stems from how passionate I am about things and how bored I get after a while. Oh well, this is something I will take care of on my own.

In the meantime, here is an update on how I am doing so far with some goals I set since I moved. One was saving so I could move to my own place. Right now, my living situation is fine. I can't really complain but the older I get, the more worried I feel that I am getting complacent. When I was younger, the need to live independently was strong and urgent. I even tried, for about a minute and realized I could not afford the rent on my own, after I graduated university to live on my own but that didn't really work out. I have a set time line now to actually buy my own place and I will publish it here but actually, once I write it down, I will feel pressure. Maybe that kind of motivation is needed. Also, in order to get to this goal quicker, I am going to implement an adult allowance plan for myself. This is something new I am just reading about but is seemingly really old. I will chat about this in another post to come soon.

The next goal I am reevaluating is my re-education (what up Lauren Hill!-great album by the way). Earlier this year, I applied for and was accepted into a school to further my education and add another degree to my wall. When I was accepted, I felt a myriad of feelings; elation, resignation and finally, fatigue. I remember going through school and all the work involved. All that labor intensive work that takes up a hell of a lot of time. Time that is very limited in my world. So, after hemming and hawing and getting some advise from scholastically inclined people, I pushed my start date and deferred until early 2011. The decision was for the best as really, working two jobs and going to school is not ideal for excel minded people like myself. In the midst of all this, I managed to get myself exempted from a bunch load of classes which in the end saves me lots and lots of time and thousands of dollars. In the end, I am right on track with this goal and will be starting January, 2011.

The last goal is running. Ok, so I am still on semi-track with this. Right now, the only times I have to run is either in the early dark morning or in the late dark night. Now, during the mornings, I can run everday but as I said, it is hella dark out there. Amanda asked me if it is illegal to carry mace in Canada and the answer is yes. Really, I don't like running in the pitch dark but I guess I will have to try. If I were a man, I am sure I would not even care but being a woman and running out doors in the dark solo is not every appealing. Am I alone here? Maybe I am being a wimp?

The other option is running after work. By the time I get home on the nights I don't work the part time job, it is already dark at 6pm. Once again, I don't like running in the dark alone. I do still it now but I have to tell you, there are certain parts on the trail where people seemingly pop up unexpectedly (when in reality, they are just masked by the darkened trees and come to light as I turn a corner) that really scare me and make me want to turn around. There is only so much fear one person can take. I am still working my head around this but an opportunity at work at another office and different hours (I will fill you all in shortly) might allow me to get home earlier where I can get in some runs during some light hours. In the meantime, I run in the dark a few times a week.

Goal setting is great but only if you actually make an effort to achieve them. I guess after looking this over, I am not too short of my goals. I think I am doing pretty okay but hope to improve and be at a better pace in the future.

So close, yet so bloody far away

Do you ever go through periods in your life where you see your goals and dreams so close you feel you can grab them but when you reach out they are as far away as can be? This is the way I am feeling right now. I have some goals I am working on which include; getting my own place, getting a job in my chosen field, starting my re-education and getting my running really going. For whatever reason, I am feeling really down about the lack of accomplishments in my life. Yesterday was a crap day. I mean, down right miserable. However, in the midst of feeling sorry for myself I found out that one of my co-workers husband had a heart attack at work and died within 10 minutes. This man was a fit 45 year old (although fit is not an automatic guarantee for a healthy long me, my part time job is in the health field so I have seen it all). I sobbered pretty quickly. Well, not sort of.

I am trying to get out of my funk and the only way I can do that is to look over what I have done to date to make my dreams come true and make changes accordingly. I will be going over my aspirations with a fine tooth comb tonight (I am blessedly off from the pt job this evening) once I finally get home. I have to attend a pre-Christmas department dinner with my work folks first. It promises to be fun so I hope that my life evaluation will not be a downer after such festivities this evening. I will be back to update everyone on my progress or lack, thereof.

November 13, 2010

"Why are you single?"

I was in a different office for the last three weeks helping out with transition for work and I was asked, "why are you single?" by one of my coworkers into which I replied, "I have no desire to be in a couple". Am I really in a minority when I say I don't want to be married? Is it so strange? I think no and not by a long shot. I believe that human beings are made to need attachments in life whether that be in the form of a partner or partners or family members, friends etc. Yes, I think we crave others around us but for me, I am not about being tied down. Although I don't mind dating, marriage is the ultimate deal breaker for me.

The thought of being tied down to one man, for the rest of my life, with little freedom, is really scary. Now, let's not get it twisted. I really like men. Like, a lot. I love the way attractive (in my eyes) men look and talk and walk (swoon). Some famous stars that I really find attractive is Common and Alexander Skarsgard.
I mean, like seriously, these two men are seriously HOT and most red blooded women will agree.

But, although I like to look, it is generally from far away. In my crazy, free spirited youth, I used to go up to guys I thought were cute in school and tell them straight out that I liked them. For the most part, I had no real fears there. Then I grew up and got wise to the world. I realized that being so brave can produce some embarrassing results (especially when it is conveyed to a very popular cute caramel colored hotty in high school) so I simply stopped.

After high school, my university days were full of work and more work. Like most undergraduates, the cost and amount of work needed to attend is tremendous and I spent a lot of my free time working part time (full time hours) at a pharmacy. I had very little time for dating. Ok, I guess I made no time for dating. I always sat on the fringe looking on while my friends always dated and hooked up. Somewhere during high school and university, I lost that zest for love. I had no desire to run after it. Also, my faculty didn't really have much males that I considered cute. But, I am a woman who would give a guy a chance so it is not like I am super picky.

University was a busy time for me as I said. I really didn't look around me as I was overwhelmed with life to care about boys. It was not until I met Oliver that I dropped out of the working clouds long enough to be enamored with the opposite sex. Oliver was a wonderfully funny and smart long distance runner. We had a few classes together and gravitated toward each other just because we were the same, I think. My school was very "white". I hope I don't offend anyone but UoO (at least at that time) had a huge white population. Not that I don't think white guys attractive because I do! I am not discriminate like all!  The point is that Oliver and I started chatting I believe because we were both black. Anyway, Oliver was such a nice guy. Super sweet and funny. We hung around a lot but our relationship never moved from friendship.

My days post-university were filled with important things like getting a job and learning how to take care of myself. I have never really been a dependent sort of person and always and still dream of being soley independent. After selling my house that I shared with my sister, I am in transition of getting "me" together. I love that I have an eternally seeming drive for self improvement and independence. Thereafter, from the time I left formal education to now, I still have not squeezed in time to man hunt. And, really, to tell the truth, I don't want to find the time. I LOVE so much being single. I love the freedom and spontaneity this lifestyle affords me.

And, because I am being honest here, I might as well admit something else. I am deathly afraid of being hurt so I refuse to take the risk. I am a person that learns from example. When learning anything new, I need to do instead of see and I apply this to almost aspects of my life. How does this fit in with man and me? Well, I look all around me and learn from others. This is one area of my life where observing "hands off" is better than actually taking part itself. I see on a seemingly daily basis the wrecks and carnage relationships leave people in. Broken hearts, ruined homes, dark circled eyes, self-doubt are just a few of the symptoms of a broken heart. Personally, I have not been privy to go through any of this stuff and I plan on keeping it this way for as long as I can. Seriously, my heart has been bruised in the past and the desire to potentially have it ripped out of my chest by some man who at one time 'could not live without me', is not worth it. Is it chicken? Yes. Cowardly? Sure! Do I give a shit what people think? Hell no! Just ask my mom. She has given up on me and even had the nerve (I guess) to call me a man hater the other day (shrug).

So there you have it. If you ever wonder why a large percentage of the population choose to remain single, maybe this post will shed some light. Like me, there are very few people who care about being attached all the time, like being independent or working toward this goal, love the freedom of being by themselves and might be deathly afraid of getting hurt. It is really a personal choice and I for one don't let friends, family or society dictate to me how to live my life in this arena. I will take advise, don't get me wrong, but at the end of the day, it is all up to me. This is why I am single. And, love it!

November 8, 2010

Enter: Sweet Potato Tempura Sushi Rolls

I found this cool blog, Diet, Dessert and Dogs about a month ago and have loved it since. The writer is hilarious, cooks amazing vegan dishes, loves dogs and is Canadian! Win, win, win and win.

So, when I was updating myself on the entries the other day, I came upon the monthly Sweet or Savory contest featuring sweet potatoes and knew I HAD to enter. I knew almost immediately what I would be making. Sweet potato tempura sushi rolls!
I made this a few days later as I was really excited to see how they would turn out and wanted to enter the contest soon. Sushi rolls sound hard to create but I promise you, it is easy!

Firstly, I cooked up a cup of brown Japanese rice while researching vegan tempura batter recipes online. Vegan YumYum helped me out with this simple yet delicious recipe. I quickly mixed all the ingredients together omitting the egg replacer because I thought the flour (8 grain) would be sufficient and dense enough for frying.

Next, I worked on the cooked sweet potato. The night before I had cut a sweet potato in half and placed in a 400degree oven for about 30 minutes. I made sure it was fork tender before taking out of the oven. I wanted these potatoes to be cooked all the way through. Today that baby was nice and ready for the making. It was in the fridge so the potato sliced up easily up into short rectangles.

Next step was heating the oil. I put about 1 cup of vegetable oil into a small deep pan and turned the stove on to medium high heat. I put aside the potatoes and focused on preparing the rice and nori. As a disclaimer, I don't have a sushi roller mat and if I do this again, I will buy one but for now, I used plastic wrap that was placed on a cutting board. After flattening out the rice on the plastic wrap with a combination of my own fingers and a rolling pin, I placed a nori sheet on top and moved on.

I drenched the sweet potatoes in the tempura batter and added a few pieces at a time into the hot oil. I fried each batch for about one minute each and set to drain. After all the potatoes were fried up, I moved to the last step. Assembling the rolls.

On top of the rice and nori, I added some fried potatoes pieces and then rolled! I used saran wrap to wrap up the rolls. I did it as tight as I could using my hands but I know the sushi mat would have produced a better looking and tighter product. I lastly cut into rolls, about 1 inche thick pieces, and served up with some salt soy sauce.

What these rolls lacked in looks, they made up for in taste. The sweet potatoes were smooth and sweet. The rice; fluffy and sticky. Dipped in a bit of soy sauce, they were a great dinner. I am really proud I made these! Let me know if you make them. I would also like to get your reaction.

Here is the recipe

Tempura batter can be found here. Note that I didn't use egg replacer but go ahead if you like. I also used 8 grain flour
Sushi fixin's
1 cup cooked Japanese brown rice
~4 Sheets of nori
1 baked sweet potato
the tempura batter made with 8 grain flour

baked sweet potato

sliced sweet potato, part 1

sweet potato part 2, cut into small rectangles

In this order: nori sheet on top of cooked brown Japanes rice on top of saran wrap

sweet potatoes dipped in tempura batter, frying

sweet potato tempura

inside: sweet potato tempura. Rolls being rolled

finished product

November 2, 2010

Fall-time Vegan Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies

Before, during and after making these brownies, this little guy was cheering me on. :)

One of the things I miss big time about being a vegan eater is the sweets. I have to admit that once in a while I do cheat and have a piece of cake or a cupcake that I can bet my money on is not vegan but that I turn a blind eye to. However, I have made a consorted effort to stick to the straight and narrow in the past weeks. Still, I craved a good piece of something yummy. Something sweet (I have a sweet tooth that will not quite!) and soft and dense. The only thing that comes to my mind with such a description is brownies. Yum! Just thinking about the sweet richness puts a smile on my face. Brownies and I go way back but now that I am off eggs, I had to find an alternative to my old tried and true recipes.

Thank goodness for the internet. All over the blogosphere people are talking about and baking up or cooking with pumpkin - a pretty fall treat. And, although I admit to hating sweet pumpkin recipes, especially pumpkin pie (gross!), but my mouth immediately watered when I saw Martha’s Pumpkin-Swirl Brownie recipe. Those treats look so yummy and rich. Tantalized, I knew I had to find a way to recreate this yummy treat, vegan style and still please a bunch a hard-core omnivores at the same time. How to do this? Well, I immediately pulled out my vegan cook books (which is growing steadily by the way-I have a passion for cook books) and started thinking about how to eliminate eggs but still produce a brownie that came out tasting like gold.

So, after much deliberation and humming and hawing, mixing this and that together and finally throwing caution to the wind, I created a yummy vegan brownie. Enter, Fall-time Vegan pumpkin-swirl brownies.

Fall-time Vegan Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies

6 tablespoons vegan margarine

6 ounces dark chocolate
3 cups flour (If using natural sugar, reduce flour to 2 cups)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 ½ cups natural sugar or agave
3/4 cup - 1 cup vegetable oil
1 ¼ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup cocoa nibs (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch pan and set aside.

Add butter and chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot with simmering water until melted. Stir until smooth.

In a bowl mix together flour (if using natural sugar crystals, reduce flour to 2 cups), baking powder, salt. In another mixing bowl add vanilla, sugar and oil. Mix until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Next, add in flour mixture in this bowl until well incorporated.

Divide mixture into 2 bowls (half, half). In one bowl, add in melted chocolate and mix until incorporated. In the second bowl, add the cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin puree.

Working quickly, add half the chocolate batter the prepped pan. Then add half pumpkin batter. Add the last half chocolate batter on top of this then add the remaining pumpkin batter. With a long toothpick or knife, gently swirl mixture the mixtures to create a swirl effect. Sprinkle with cocoa nibs, if you like.

Place in hot oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Melted chocolate on the stove
Agave, vanilla, oil

pureed pumpkin, spices
flour going into agave mixture
chocolate into white batter
pumpkin batter
baked yummies

He wanted some but unfortunately, no way buddy!

Halloween Night

This is how I spent Halloween night....handing out candy, eating Laffy Taffy and playing with my pumpkin clad dog.