This Journal is Friends Only
Ok. So I admit it. I'm obsessed. I was always obsessed with other animals and all the ways we are different and the same, and veganism is just an extention of that. I'm pretty sure I'm probably annoying at this point though. Oh well. This is my safe space and there's barely anyone left on LJ anyways.
1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
I used to swear by organic soya milk for everything from smoothies to cereal, and chocolate almond milk for a nice treat. But my new favourite is vanilla soya milk. It's actually better than cow's milk in my opinion, and much more flavourful and healthy. I only just tried it for the first time this month because I always assumed I'd hate it.
2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
I just bought the Veganomicon cook book and yesterday bought the ingredients to some aubergine/spinach pasta/lasagne dish. I forget what it was called. I'd also like to make stuffed seitan loaf again (and will probably have it for Christmas). I also keep meaning to bake peanut butter cookies for the first time.
3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
It's always been salt.
4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
I've tried three times, but I can't for the life of me, seem to make a decent pizza base from scratch.
5. Favorite pickled item?
I've been obsessed with pickled onions since I was a kid.
6. How do you organize your recipes?
I have one of these and put all my favourite recipes in it that I'm likely to reuse
7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
I've never seen or used a garbage disposal in my life. They're not common in the UK. I only use the compost heap for garden waste. All food scraps go to the chickens, my cockroach colonies or the giant African land snails.
8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
Seitan (since it put you in a food coma real quick and makes you feel full), 'Chickin' wings from VeggieGrill and my homemade vegan pizzas topped with Feild Roast Chao cheese.
9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
On Boxing Day, our family used to play this game where everyone took turns rolling a dice and if they got a six they had to put on a hat, scarf and gloves before they could start cutting a big bar of Cadbury's with a knife and fork. Any pieces they could cut off before the next person rolled a six, they were allowed to eat.
10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
I've only tried Vanilla Swedish Glace, but I make sure it's in my freezer at all times.
11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
My Andrew James 7 in 1 blender. I use it almost every day and have been known to bring it on holiday.
12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Chilli powder. It goes in everything. Even lasagne and Sheperd's Pie.
13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
I have one of my mum's from the 70s or 80s, although I've never used it.
14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Tofu chocolate mousse pie. People cannot believe that it is vegan and everyone says it's perfect in every way.
16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Seitan by far.
17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
My 'Italian' vegan chilli. Can of chopped tomatos, black beans, kidney beans, green lentils, black olives, spinach, tomato paste, oregano, rosemary, thyme, chilli powder and (optional) jalapenos all in a pot for 25 mins - done!
18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
A bunch of wicker egg baskets, a wooden wine box and a pasta machine.
19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Frozen berries for breakfast smoothies, too many bags of hash browns (oops) for English fry-ups at the weekend and vegetarian pulled pork.
20. What's on your grocery list?
2 x Sainsbury's Fairtrade Bananas x8 - Total Price £2.50
1 x Sainsbury's Broccoli 335g - Total Price £0.50
1 x Sainsbury's Celery Sticks 350g - Total Price £1.00
1 x Sainsbury's Carrots, Basics 1.5kg - Total Price £0.75
1 x Sainsbury's Closed Cup Chestnut Mushrooms 250g - Total Price £0.90
1 x Sainsbury's Mixed Peppers x3 - Total Price £1.00
1 x Sainsbury's Kale 200g - Total Price £1.00
1 x Sainsbury's Katsu Curry Stir Fry Sauce 175ml - Total Price £1.00
1 x Sainsbury's Oyster Mushrooms, Taste the Difference 125g - Total Price £1.25
1 x Sainsbury's Sweet Potatoes 1.25kg - Total Price £1.50
1 x Alpro Yogurt Alternative Blueberry/Cherry 4x125g - Total Price £1.85
2 x Bol Sri Lankan Lentil Sambar 380g - Total Price £6.00
1 x Sainsbury's Thin & Crispy 10" Pizza Base x2 261g - Total Price £1.00
2 x Sainsbury's Plain Flour Tortillas 320g - Total Price £2.40
1 x Birds Eye Rice Fusions, Mediterranean 400g - Total Price £1.75
1 x Linda McCartney Rosemary Vegetarian Sausages x6 300g - Total Price £2.00
4 x KTC Chick Peas 400g - Total Price £1.00
1 x Sainsbury's Baked Beans In Tomato Sauce 4x420g - Total Price £1.20
1 x Sainsbury's Black Beans Carton, SO Organic 380g (230g*) - Total Price £0.75
1 x Sainsbury's Green Lentils, SO Organic 380g (230g*) - Total Price £0.75
1 x Sainsbury's Red Kidney Beans Carton, SO Organic 380g (230g*) - Total Price £0.75
1 x Sainsbury's Passata 500g - Total Price £0.50
1 x Sainsbury's Chopped Tomatoes Carton 4x 390g - Total Price £1.50
2 x Mori-Nu Silken Tofu Firm 349g - Total Price £2.80
1 x Kellogg's Start Cereal 375g - Total Price £2.80
1 x Sainsbury's Unsalted Mixed Nuts & Raisins 200g - Total Price £1.20
1 x Sainsbury's Salt & Vinegar Crisps 6x25g - Total Price £1.00
1 x Seeds of Change Organic Curry Sauce Tikka Masala 350g - Total Price £2.40
4 x Sainsbury's Dark Chocolate Chips 100g - Total Price £3.20
1 x Seasoned Pioneers Sri Lankan Curry Sauce 400g - Total Price £3.50
1 x Sainsbury's Italian Artichoke Antipasto 280g (180g*) - Total Price £2.00
2 x Robinsons Squash Apple & Blackcurrant, No Added Sugar 1L - Total Price £2.00
1 x Pure Dairy Free Sunflower Spread 500g - Total Price £1.60
2 x Alpro Soya Milk Alternative to Dairy Vanilla 1L - Total Price £2.70
1 x Sainsbury's Avocado Hass (each) - Total Price £0.90
2 x Sainsbury's Digestive Biscuits 500g - Total Price £1.60
1 x Sainsbury's Golden Breadcrumbs 230g - Total Price £0.80
1 x Sainsbury's Garlic (each) - Total Price £0.30
1 x Sainsbury's Baby Whole Leaf Spinach 1kg - Total Price £1.40
1 x Sainsbury's Vegetable Samosas x4 - Total Price £2.00
21. Favorite grocery store?
Rainbow Wholefoods (a small and local health store).
22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
American Sour Patch Kids (most of the bags over there don't contain beef gelatine like they do in the UK)
25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
My new favourite Curry Sauce from Sri Lanka. It's soooo good with potatoes and oyster mushrooms.
26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
Probably just baking cakes in general.
6:30 The cats, Quiche and Cherry begin hissing at each other, jumping over mine and Chris' heads while doing laps of the bedroom. One of us proceeds to shut them in the kitchen and gets back into bed.
7:00 Alarm clock goes off. I hit the snooze button.
7:30 After hitting the snooze button six times, I get up, feed the cats and walk to the end of the garden to open the chicken coop. I then sit on the toilet checking Twitter and Facebook on my phone.
7:40 I start showering.
8:00 I check on the reptiles in the reptile room, open the blinds and spray the chameleon with water. (If it's a Thursday I'll also feed the lizards)
8:10 I turn on the Mac in the art studio and watch something on BBC iPlayer or 4OD while I get dressed. Chris is beginning to wake up and gets ready for work in the bedroom.
8:20 I put on my make-up and blow-dry and straighten my hair while watching a show and drinking a fruit smoothie I made the night before for breakfast.
8:30 After putting on my coat, hi-vis jacket, helmet, rucksack and gloves, I cycle the three miles work while listening to Joe Rogan's or Duncan Trussel's podcasts with my earphones in.
9:00 I get to work and sit at my desk after getting a glass of water before I start designing whatever is needed that day according to my to-do list with music playing in my earphones.
12:00 While eating a salad or leftovers of whatever we had for dinner the night before, I browse the Daily Mail website before visiting The Guardian website for the real news.
12:30 Lunch is over, so I continue to sit at my desk, periodically getting up to get water or go to the toilet. Every time I go to the toilet I complete another level on my DuoLingo Italian app.
17:00 Work's over, so I cycle home while listening to my Learn Italian audiobook.
17:28 Lining the end of the alleyway I cycle down just before I reach my house, there's a privet hedge. I pick off a few leaves.
17:30 I return home and the first thing I do is park my bike in the dining room, feed the cats (who are screaming at me) and go to the reptile room to give the privet leaves to my black beauty stick insects before spraying the chameleon with water.
17:50 I do the washing up, put some clothes in the washing machine and start the dinner when Chris walks in at around 18:00. I'll also blend some fruit with almond milk and flaxseed for tomorrow's breakfast.
18:30 Chris and I eat dinner while watching something we've recorded on the Sky box. If we're up to date with True Detective/Cosmos/Game of Thrones/8 out of 10 Cats, we put a random episode of Adventure Time on.
19:00 Currently dusk is at around this time, so I close the chicken coop door.
20:00 Depending on the weekday, I'll either cycle 3 miles to a friend's house for a chat, feed/clean the snakes, go food shopping or watch a movie.
0.00 After playing with the cats for a bit, it's time for bed so I feed the cockroaches and snails some veg, wash my face and brush my teeth.
1.00 After watching half a movie or so on my phone with my earphones in, I go to sleep with ear plugs in.
- Emotion: busy
And here I am, I'm just talking about it, I'm kind of somewhat impassionately just talking about it because I'm trying to relay my feelings about it. When really the only reasonable response to that realisation... to waking up to this world we live in, is a fucking explosion. That's the only reasonable response. Because this is something that's never happened before and it's so bad. How do you possibly talk about a holocaust that's happening everywhere, all the time, every day and everybody's included? How do you talk about that when it's just a laughable subject when you bring it up? When your friends and your family think it's cute when you've decided that you've taken an interest in the "animal issue". But you know, "I'm glad you've made your choice, please respect my choice" - How in the hell do you possibly go on in that world? How do you not see the world and everybody in it as dark and dangerous and irrational? How in the world do you not see your life, that you've lived up until that point when you've woken up as inexcusable?
- Alex Melonas Speciesism - the movie.
- Emotion: thoughtful
I'm much more comfortable talking about my feelings in other areas that sound less likely to be designed to make other people feel shit. However, I believe acknowledging your own gratefulness and being humbled by the immense amount of luck you've had in life is extremely important. Having it at the front of your mind in everything you do can change your outlook and reactions on any given situation entirely.
“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”
― Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
Yes, I know Dawkins is a bit of a dick, but he says it better than me (although I don't necessarily believe everyone that ever lived is better off being born rather than never existing in the first place).
Although it's enough of a miracle that I exist at all (see, it sounds braggy and pretentious), I happened to be born as a self-aware, conscious and thoughtful human, able to ponder these facts in the first place. Out of all the brains on this earth, I exist in this one (It may never have been a possibility that my consciousness could have been conjured up into an ant for instance, but you get where I'm coming from). I was also born into a comfortable family unit to two happy parents in a first world country. They may not have been particularly rich, but they were able to provide me with healthy food, warmth, clean water, a home, love and an education.
I've had countless opportunities to work towards how I wanted to earn money, to be creative in my every day life, to make friends and meet incredible people including my husband. I've had no serious health issues in my entire life and have rarely experienced pain, physical or emotional. Despite finishing college the same year the recession began, we bought a house and we've never been in serious debt or suffered stress due to not being afford bills and food.
My life obviously hasn't been perfect. My dad walked out on us 14 years ago, Mum has suffered from depression ever since and has MS. I worry about my sister, who has autism, ulcerative colitis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. I worry about those I love. I'm not perfect either. I have my personality flaws and I've become more fearful since adulthood. But I'm also fighting it harder than I ever have.
I wish I was aware of all this a lot sooner. Just how good I have it. I think back to my childhood and my teen years and what a spoilt brat I was. Any time I cried about anything that wasn't concern for someone else's wellbeing I am ashamed of now. No, scratch that - I'm not ashamed. I was ignorant back then but now I've realised that I won the cosmic lottery. Guilt for your past self isn't a productive thing to carry. Feeling guilt can block you from a healthy state of true remorse after all.
Sometimes I stand at the bottom of the garden after shutting the chicken coop at dusk and stare back at the house and into its lit-up windows. I just stand there and take it all in. I have a warm and safe home that feels like a home. I have a mown lawn, flowers I've lovingly grown from seeds and chickens I've raised. It's important to acknowledge that it could just as easily not have been this way. Nothing is owed to me. I am no one and at any time it could all be taken away in an instant and one day it is absolutely inevitable that it will. Just an upward gaze at the stars can confirm that. My life is only important to me and a select few who know me. My happiness depends on being able to appreciate the moment for what it is and while I can.
As I stand there I find myself whispering to myself "I've had a good run".
Because if I die tomorrow, contract cancer, become paralysed, lose a loved one or our home, I'm grateful for the time I've had.
I've had a very good run.
- Emotion: grateful
I've had a lot more cockroaches (various colonies) and used to breed many African snails and African pygmy mice, but here's a list of the pets I've named. Feel free to add your own list!
Russian Dwarf Hamsters:
Blue Tongue Skink:
Northern pine snakes:
Albino gopher snakes:
Diamond jungle carpet python:
Madagascan hissing cockroach:
Giant land snails:
- Emotion: good
I waited eight months for Summer to come around, but after weeks and weeks of gorgeous hot weather I'm now looking forward to Autumn. Granted I'll have one last week of sunshine on holiday next week before I return to this cold, but I didn't expect to be excited by these shortened days. Just the smell in the air brings on such nostalgia of the year before. I love it! Halloween, bonfires, Guy Fawkes Night, roasted chestnuts, cosy blankets, a mug of hot chocolate in the morning, pillow forts and fairy lights. Ahhhhh.
- Emotion: nostalgic
- Current Music:Radiohead
We went on the food tour to visit a few restaurants in the Jewish Ghetto with an American family from Boston, another American couple and an Australian couple. We visited the most amazing cookie shop that was owned by 5th generation of the same family since the 1920s, an old wine cellar 150 years older than the Colosseum (over 2000 years old!) and the most INCREDIBLE forgotten pharmacy. The pharmacy was inside an old church where eight monks still lived, but the room had remained completely untouched for hundreds of years and was closed to the public. We had to be quiet because the rest of the monks were asleep and one had stayed up late to let us in (rather grudgingly lol). There were dusty bottles filled with potions and tonics, a baby chameleon in a jar (which must have been so exotic in Italy at the time!) and a big cauldron filled with a mixture of things like snake venom and owl talons. I gave in a sniff and it smelled like liquorice. Intricate paintings decorated the ceiling and the cabinets filled with plant extracts and dusty record books looked like something straight out of an mad scientist B-movie. I could have rummaged around that place for hours but unfortunately we weren't even allowed to take photos. As soon as we walked in Chris whispered to me that it looked as if the place had been made especially for me haha!
The first night in Rome we found a dingy old karaoke bar and we were pretty much the only customers aside from an Italian guy singing badly-translated English songs. I convinced Chris to sing the Oasis song 'Don't Look Back in Anger' after a few drinks, which was fun! Stumbling drunk around Rome and discovering more and more illuminated ruins was so awe-inspiring and it was nice to feel warm as night without a coat for a change.
We found a cat sanctuary one day and spent returned a second time to play in the room for the special needs kitties for long while. That was pretty special. So was just lazily laying on the grass as Aventine Hill, which looked over the whole city. We walked so much every single day that when I awoke each morning I felt like I'd done a whole 'leg day' at the gym with no breaks! I spoke quite a bit of Italian and even managed to pull off some good conversations a couple of times. One old guy just couldn't get over how white I was though lol. Chris said he even saw a few people stare and point at my pale legs. WTF!
Unfortunately I'm either allergic to red wine (never had a full glass before and felt a bit dodgy while drinking it even though it was the best red wine I've ever tasted), or I contracted food poisoning immediately after the food tour. I was fine by the following afternoon, but it meant I didn't have the strength to go on our four hour tour of The Vatican. Pfft, who likes the Pope anyway? Kind of gutted I missed out on seeing the Sistine Chapel but we got time to chill by the Trevi Fountain and do some shopping instead. Most nights we sat on the roof terrace of our hotel with a bottle of wine just appreciating the warm night air.
When we got home I just spent the whole next day in the bath and experimenting with make up without feeling guilty about not being productive for once.
I'll put some photos from our new camera on Facebook soon. Nice to use something beyond my phone's camera as I'm sure it wouldn't have done Rome much justice!
Sardinia or Sicily next I reckon! :D
This reminds me of my Livejournal and how keeping a diary since 1993 has been a huge part of writing my book about my sister. Without these writings the book would not have been so easy to write. Not impossible per se, but I most likely would not have even started writing the book at all.