Another Year Gone

The end of another year is only weeks away. What have you done with your time? Isn’t that the burning question we ask ourselves as we reflect on the year passed, while remembering our new year resolutions from almost a year ago and cringe as we measure ourselves up to those ambitious start-of-the-year goals?

Maybe not everyone is cringing. Maybe some, or most, accomplished everything they set out to do this year. But maybe some, or most, haven’t. Either way, the good news is another year is about to begin. If you’ve achieved all your goals then it’s time to make new ones. And if you haven’t achieved your goals then you have another new year to resolve to do everything you failed to do this year.

Isn’t it great the way the calendar works?

But no judgments passed. Life is tough and unpredictable. I think it was Jon Bon Jovi who said “have a plan, but write it in pencil.”

I personally don’t make crazy, unattainable new year resolutions, unless you consider resolving to read 52 books in a year crazy and unattainable, then yes, yes I do. Although I didn’t come close to reaching that goal this year, it will still be on my list for next year. I am determined.

I also didn’t achieve my goal of finishing the book I’m currently writing. I’ve made strides but still don’t have an ending, and it’s hard to finish a book without an ending. Sometimes I wish words would just write themselves.

I joined a gym in October. I beat the new year rush. Ha. No, I just really like to walk, and I knew it’d be getting too cold to walk outside for very long. So I joined a gym. Something I haven’t done in over ten years because I had a treadmill, but it broke.

In the two months that I’ve been going to the gym I’ve found there are two kinds of people in this world. No, not the fit and unfit, but those who wipe down a machine after use and those who keep their sweat marks there for the next person to enjoy. UGH. Don’t be that person. Wipe down your machine after use.

I am curious how much more crowded the gym will be come January 1 when all those newly promised resolutions of getting in shape bring droves of new people through the doors and how long it will be before those ambitious new members start to disappear. Hmmm.

But I don’t feel I’ll have a problem sticking to a gym routine as long as I stay healthy and don’t over do it. (I have a condition).  What I  do anticipate I’ll have a problem with is sticking to my meditation routine.

I wasn’t very consistent with my resolution this year to meditate at least fifteen minutes a day, every day, and this bothers me even more than not reading 52 books or finishing my novel because I know at least I put the effort into the latter two, but I got lazy with my meditation practice. I’ve been off and on with it for years. Sitting alone with yourself and your mind for even as short of a time as fifteen minutes can be a struggle, but like last year, I am going to resolve to do it once again.

What are your resolutions and will you stick to them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Vegan Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving I am forgoing my usual vegetarian turkey roast from Quorn for a homemade vegan roast I saw on YouTube. There is nothing wrong with the Quorn meatless turkey other than it is made with milk and eggs, two ingredients I am trying dutifully to keep off my plate.

Since most of the pre-made vegan Thanksgiving turkeys out on the market have gluten in it, I am left with making my own “meat” this year.  I searched YouTube for vegan thanksgiving meals, aiming for the ones that didn’t include any gluten ingredients and found one that looked delicious and seemed pretty easy to make.

I usually like to do a practice run with new recipes before I make them for special occasions, but since I’ll probably be the only person eating my vegan dishes (no one else has expressed an eager wiliness to eat my vegan roast made of lentils and mushrooms), so I’m okay if things don’t come out perfectly.

If you’re interested in this dish, I’m posting the video below. The only thing I will need to alter is instead of layers of puff pastry, I had to buy a gluten-free pie crust mix. Hopefully it is just as delicious.

 

 

There are three other vegan dishes I’m making – garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing, and mac-n-cheese. The mashed potatoes and stuffing don’t taste too different from their non-vegan counterparts. With regards to the stuffing, I have to substitute for gluten-free and egg-free bread, which I found at Aldi. And for the potatoes, I bought unsweetened Almond milk and vegan butter. I may throw in some nutritional yeast otherwise known as, nooch, for the vegans out there down with the lingo.

I had found a good garlic mashed recipe on YouTube about a year ago. It’s a dual recipe that includes a lentil loaf. I have made the loaf many times, and my non-vegan family members love it. I would make the loaf tomorrow, but I’m kind of sick of it because I make it so much.  I want this meal to be food I don’t eat very often. My sister always takes home the leftovers for “meatloaf” sandwiches the next day, so she may be disappointed.

Sorry sista, next time.

Here is the recipe I am going to use for the garlic mashed potatoes, but you should really give the lentil loaf a try too.

 

My mom makes my gluten-free stuffing for me, so I don’t have a recipe. I think it’s the same as she makes for the regular, she just uses my bread, and it is delicious.

I’ve tried many different vegan mac n cheese recipes, but the one I am sharing is probably the best, but it will take some trial and error for you to figure what’s best for your taste buds. This recipe calls for cashews, but I don’t have any on hand and really don’t feel like going to the store to get some, so I will be making this dish without the nuts, but it should taste just as good.

The other thing I will be doing differently is baking this dish at the end after adding a package of dairy-free cheese to the top. I bought a package of Daiya shredded cheese. I am picky about the way I cook this cheese. I feel it tastes best when it is cooked slightly longer than it states. This goes for the Daiya frozen pizzas, too. I cook those for 17-18 minutes instead of the 10-15 minutes recommended. To me, the cheese consistency is better when cooked longer.

So I’ll put a package of cheese on top the macaroni and bake it at 400 degrees for maybe twenty minutes or so. I’ll keep an eye on it until I see the cheese at the texture I like.

Here is the recipe for the mac n cheese.

 

I was going to make vegan gluten-free brownies for dessert, but instead, decided on buying a Daiya dairy-free chocolate cheesecake. I’ve had their cheesecakes before, and they are delicious.

 

daiya3

There it is.  My Thanksgiving feast. No living beings were harmed or tortured for me to enjoy a nice meal, and for that, I am sure the animals are THANKFUL.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Make This Madness Stop…Vote!

Tomorrow is election night. Even if you aren’t part of the Resistance that’s been waiting two years for this day, it’d be hard not to know election day is coming with all the political ads on TV, signs along the roads, and campaign robocalls and text messages inundating your phone, as they are mine. But I don’t complain as my mother does. I understand this is how it goes, and I appreciate the people who give their time to support the candidate they truly believe exemplifies their values and will be the best representation for their community.

I wrote postcards for the party I support and hope to win. As a lesbian with a serious pre-existing condition, it should be no surprise which party I want to take over Congress. One party is currently in court suing the government over the protections for people with pre-existing conditions, claiming the mandate that no insurance company may deny or charge higher premiums to people who are sick, is unconstitutional (I bet Trump doesn’t know how to spell that word).

 I’ll give you a hint as to which party is doing this….It’s the Republicans. 

Also, what should be no surprise to any gay person, the administration is doing nothing to protect the gay community.  On the campaign trail, Trump promised to be the community’s greatest ally while he held up a rainbow flag. I didn’t buy it, but some gay people did as they cheered him on with their Gays For Trump cardboard signs. Even while choosing anti-gay Mike Pence as his running mate, some gays still believed he’d have their backs.   Not sure what they were drinking, but it must have been as strong as jet fuel.

I’m voting against the Republican party for many reasons, but the main one is because this country needs a political party that will check Donald Trump’s dictatorship ways. He truly wants to be a dictator and sees himself as above the law. He once said he could shoot someone on 6th Avenue and get away with it. If the Republicans are his jury, then yes, Donald Trump will get away with it.

Please don’t let Donald Trump get away with it.

Vote Blue.

 

GOP Out

 

Don't Boo

 

 

 

A Recipe From Sloane Taylor’s Cookbook: Date Night Dinners

Date Night Dinners

 

I volunteered to make a meal from Sloane Taylor’s new cookbook, Date Night Dinners, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening . I chose the pasta dish, Whore’s Spaghetti, because I love pasta and follow a vegan diet, and this meal was perfect. It was suggested in the book to serve the meal with Parmesan cheese, but I left it off my plate and the meal didn’t lose any of its extraordinary flavor. I absolutely loved this dish and will absolutely be making it again.

 

IMG_20181011_194120263

 

Whore’s Spaghetti

Sauce
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 14.5 oz. can (411g) Italian plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. (15ml) capers, chopped
1 can pitted black olives, drained and chopped
½ tsp. (2.5ml) red pepper flakes
1 tsp. (5ml) dried basil
1 tsp. (5ml) dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, stir 2 – 3 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, capers, olives, pepper flakes, basil, and oregano. Turn heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.
Add pepper. Taste the sauce, adjust seasoning to suit you.
Reduce heat to low, simmer another 15 minutes.

Pasta
1 lb. (454g) spaghetti
1 tsp. (5ml) fresh or dried parsley

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente.
Toss pasta with the sauce, sprinkle on parsley.
Serve with plenty of Parmesan cheese on the side.

 

IMG_20181011_195638604

 

According to the book, the reason this dish is called Whore’s Pasta is because there was a rumor going around that the Working Girls in Italy “prepared this dish for their late night customers from standard kitchen supplies. It was an added bonus for their clients and an easy way to keep business flowing.” I can’t speak for the Working Girls’ other “services”, but this dish definitely would have kept me coming back for more.

A couple family friends stopped over the night I prepared this dish. Though they had already eaten and swore to me they were so full they couldn’t eat another bite, I placed a dish in front of them and persuaded them to at least “try a little bit.” I put those words in quotes because that “little bit” turned out to be the entire dish, plus another serving. Like me, these friends are Italian, and we Italians can always eat, especially when the meal is a tasty pasta dish.

IMG_20181011_204503560

 

 

 

There is so much I love about this recipe. I’m a huge fan of capers and black olives, another reason I chose this dish. But I also like a little kick to my food, and the red pepper flakes were just the right amount of heat to satisfy my taste buds.

What I loved about this sauce (or gravy as we tend to call it) is that it was more like a coating to the pasta rather than the typical thick marinara sauce of crushed tomatoes that drip off the pasta when you eat it.

 

IMG_20181011_204609277

I prefer a thinner sauce, so this dish was perfect for me. I’m no cooking aficionado, but I’m assuming it was the olive oil that married this sauce together so nicely. I loved the way the flavors of the capers and black olives blended so nicely together.

I also chose this recipe because it appeared so easy to make, and it was. I love to cook and try new recipes, but I don’t like to spend too much time in the kitchen. I have my limits, and this dish was very quick and easy to make, but because it was so good, my guests flooded me with compliments because they assumed I had worked harder on it than I really did. I eventually shared with them the simplicity of the recipe, and one of them already said they’d be making it, but will add shrimp.

If I still ate shrimp, I’m sure that would taste really good.

Five Stars for this delicious recipe.

 

 

 

Sloane

Award-Winning author Sloane Taylor is a sensual woman who believes humor and good food are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes spicy romance. Being a true romantic, all her stories have a happy ever after. Taylor is also an avid cook whose recipes are featured in Divine Magazine.

Sloane was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. She and her husband now live in a small home in Northwest Indiana and enjoy the change from city life.

Taylor currently has seven romance books, a Couples Coobook, and two free compiled cookbooks released by Toque & Dagger Publishing. Excerpts from her books can be found on her website http://www.sloanetaylor.com, blog http://sloanetaylor.blogspot.com/, and all popular vendors.

Stay connected on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSloaneTaylor, Twitter https://twitter.com/sloanetaylor2, and Google+ https://plus.google.com/116792660982628183855/posts?hl=en.

 

 

 

 

 

Victor

Last week I went to the animal shelter I volunteer at and was meant with tragic news. A dog that had been with us for over a year had died some time during the night. The news was devastating, but not shocking. Victor had been going through medical issues for a while. The shelter had been asking volunteers for months if anyone would take him in an a permanent foster so that he could live out whatever life he had left in the comfort of a home. The problem was that Victor needed to be in a home with no other pets. Most volunteers, like myself, have pets at home.

It was sad to watch Victor spend his days in a loud and crowded shelter. It’s a stressing place to be. No place for any dog, let alone a sick, older guy. He was nine. He had come to the shelter when he was eight. The circumstances to how he ended up with us are not fair at all. Victor had been living a good life with his owner on property the owner managed. Then a new landlord came in, took one look at Victor (an American Bulldog) and said that dog’s got to go. Suddenly Victor found himself in a shelter where he stayed until the day he died.

Victor didn’t bite anyone. He didn’t attack anyone. He did no harm. Yet, still he got locked up. That’s what a shelter is to a dog. Even shelters like mine, who treat their animals with loving care and give them all the medical attention they need, are still prisons to these dogs. Shelters are not supposed to be permanent homes, but way too often, too many dogs die there. Either naturally due to medical/age reasons. Or by euthanasia because there is juts not enough space for all of them.

But there would be if more people got involved to help with this overpopulation epidemic this country has. I saw a picture on social media last week of a line of people waiting to foster dogs before hurricane Florence came. My first thought was, where are all these people when local shelters and animals controls have to kill dogs for lack of room? Why is the thought of a dog dying in a hurricane so much worse than a dogs getting a needle or the gas chamber that people flocked to line up to take these dogs in? I’m glad they did, but where are they all the other times a dog’s life is in danger, which is every day?

Maybe because there’s more hoopla with a hurricane. People feel like they’re doing a bigger deed when they foster or adopt a “hurricane dog” as opposed to just a regular dog from the local shelter. I remember when Hurricane Harvey happened and many local shelters, including my own, took in many of those dogs left abandoned and people came out in droves to help out.

Again, it’s great that they do that, but where are they when dogs are killed every single day? It is beyond frustrating. You’re not a bigger hero when you save a hurricane dog as opposed to a dog sitting in a kennel with the clock ticking against it. Most dogs run out of time. Maybe shelters have to be more vocal about what will happen to these dogs if they don’t get out. The shelter I volunteer at is no-kill. I have that luxury of knowing the dogs I come to love, like I did Victor, will get all the time they need to find a home. But they’re still racing against the clock because the older a dog gets, the less likely a person will adopt them. And as in Victor’s case, sometimes your health takes you before you find a home.

Victor deserved better than taking his last breath alone in a kennel. He deserved to be in a comfy bed or snuggled on the couch with his human who loved him, but he was cruelly taken away from his human. He just wanted a home with a bed and lots of hugs and kisses.These breed-specific-laws and breed discrimination has to end. Victor wasn’t a danger to anyone. He was a shelter favorite.

Victor was a goofy, gentle, and playful dog, despite the pain his condition put him through. Make no mistake, Victor was loved where he was. It’s hard seeing his kennel empty and will be even harder to see his kennel with another dog in it because for over a year I have been used to seeing his beautiful face. Miss you. Love you.

If you’re looking for a pet, please visit your local shelter. Please don’t go to breeders or pet stores while shelter animals die.

 

 

Save America, Vote

So much is at stake this November and this country can’t afford to have over a hundred million people sit another election out.

Our healthcare is on the ballot.

Corruption is on the ballot.

Freedom of the Press is on the ballot.

The survival of our land, air, and water are on the ballot.

Women’s rights are on the ballot.

Gay rights are on the ballot.

Consumer protections against predatory banks and lenders are on the ballot.

Human rights are on the ballot.

Education is on the ballot.

Labor rights are on the ballot.

Save our country. Register to vote. Already registered? Go to vote.org and make sure you haven’t been purged because Republicans are doing all they can to suppress our votes. Vote Democratic and stop the corruption. Republicans are doing nothing to stop Trump from his authoritarian ways. Keep democracy alive and vote to turn Congress blue this November and finally put a check on Trump’s overreach of power.

 

save_america_vote_against_trump_pinback_button-rfed551ea655c4bae8630b2efc0c3367b_k94rf_307

 

 

 

f-facebook-com-winningdemocrats-vote-democrat-to-save-america-to-sell-america-6195964

Living Without Bottled Water

In my quest to decrease my carbon footprint as much as possible, at the start of this month I committed to not consume any bottled water.  I have a Pur filter connected to my faucet and use that as the source of all my water. It was very easy. When I was on-the -go I simply filled a reusable water bottle, and when I was home I drank from a glass– no plastic or Styrofoam cups.  Everything I used–dishes, cups, utensils–were reusable…..except when I went to a White Sox game.

This was the only time I failed in my quest. I wasn’t sure what to do because any drink I ordered would have been served in plastic, and I would have only ordered water since I rarely drink pop. I refuse to pay 5 or 6 dollars for an Aquafina (which has been confirmed to be just purified tap water, so buy a filter and purify your own tap water). Because of this ridiculous price, I regularly bring a small cooler of water bottles to games.

I brought a cooler when I went to the game and drank two bottles of water. It didn’t occur to me until later that I could have only drank one bottle and refilled it with water from the faucet. Ah well, next time. But two bottles of water for the month isn’t too bad. I know the month isn’t over, but I don’t intend for it to go any higher. It’s not the zero I had aimed for, but it’s a start.

My obsession with eliminating as much plastic from my daily life doesn’t stop at bottles, I also hate plastic bags and it infuriates me when I’m shopping and see carts pull away from checkouts filled with plastic bags. Reusable bags, people!

I was shopping at TJ Maxx a couple weeks ago and when I was called to the cashier I placed my reusable bag and items on the counter. I glanced up and saw the cashier looking for the price tag on my bag. I laughed and told him it was mine for bagging the items. He commented that he didn’t think it was one of the store’s items.

I was probably the only person that cashier rung up that day, or maybe even that week,  who brought her own bag, but I hope one day that changes. I hope using reusable bags becomes the norm. Every piece of plastic — cups, bottles, utensils, straws– that isn’t used is good for our environment and our oceans. Don’t think you can’t make a difference because you are one person. There are many others doing the same thing and together we can make a big change.

We have to.

Plastic is having such a disastrous effect on our oceans that the European Union is proposing a ban on plastics.

 

Of course, we won’t get anything like that here in the U.S because our leaders don’t believe in climate change, but they do believe in giving corporations free reign to dump their filthy wastes into our streams and pollute our land and air.

I was never the smartest student in any of my classes in all of my levels of education. I’m okay with that. We all do our best. But because it is so easy for me, not the sharpest tool in the shed, to grasp the dangers of climate change and the disastrous effects the heating of our greenhouse gasses is having on this planet–our only planet–I have to believe most of the global warming deniers understand this also, but choose to ignore the evidence because they are in some way profiting off exploiting our land.

Greed, especially corporate greed, is slowly destroying our planet and our lives.

 

pbox

 

unspecified1

 

I do not own these pictures.