Thursday, September 29, 2011

[099] Interview 05: Gregg

Meet Gregg! He's 37 years old, originally from Oklahoma but currently resides in Kansas, and he's the CTO and co-founder of a small software engineering firm. Gregg recently went vegan as of September 8, 2011 and he blogs at where he shares his experience with veganism.

I spoke with Gregg via Skype just two weeks after he made the decision to go vegan. I ask, "When did you adopt the vegan lifestyle? And how long have you been vegan? And I read that you don't like to call it a "diet". So, go into that." Gregg laughs and says, "I was actually talking to some friends about that today. They were like "So how's your diet?" It's not a diet! It's just the way I eat." "I'm a really really new vegan. I went completely hardcore September 8th this year." We both chime in, "Two weeks ago today!" "I went vegan, and I say I went "cold turkey" but I've been dabbling in veganism for the past couple of years. I had gone vegan before. It didn't stick. I had gone vegetarian before. It didn't stick. But this time... it stuck."

Monday, September 26, 2011

[098] Music Monday: Scale the Summit

Weekly theme posts ... *cough* ...

Scale the Summit is an American instrumental metal band based out of Houston, Texas. Formed in 2004, the band draws influences from other progressive acts, however, unlike most other progressive metal bands, they have no vocalist and play instrumental music.

Considering this is a live recording, adjust volume as needed.
3:30 is the beginning of my favorite part of "The Great Plains"

Happy listening <3

Sunday, September 25, 2011

[097] Celebrations and Life's Scares

Just a warning: this post can start to become an emotional rollercoaster after the "Tuesday" portion.

Tuesday: On Tuesday last week (September 20th), I celebrated two years with Shawno. :] On our first date we ate at Longhorn Steakhouse. Last year, for our first anniversary, he took me to the exact same restaurant. To keep the tradition going, we knew exactly where we wanted to eat for our second anniversary. Sadly we couldn't visit the same location this year due to our work schedules this year. I was only scheduled to work until 530 while he had been working much later and during the week he had been at a building 2 hours (with traffic) from our apartment. To my surprise, he was out much earlier than I had expected. I did a little last minute gift shopping before I went home to shower and change. I had every intention of wearing something similar to what I wore on our first date (white shirt, jeans, converse) but I went with this fairly new top, jeans, and my faux suede boots instead.

I show up to Longhorn and see that Shawno has already arrived and seated. I sit down, we order our beers (Killian's Irish Red) and decide on an appetizer. Their Western Cheese Fries are the exact appetizer we ate on our first date and 1st anniversary date. I was all about keeping the tradition and order these...
Western Cheese Fries
Crispy fries loaded with all-beef chili, melted cheddar & Monterrey jack, bacon and jalapeƱos.
... but without chili and bacon. Our waitress gave us this look of confusion. I simply said "I'm a vegetarian" with a smile. She smiled back, nodded and said she'd put that in for us. When she came back to take the rest of our order I decided to skip out on the fish I ordered last year and went with the following:
Strawberry & Pecan Salad
Greens, strawberries, grapes, oranges, onion, feta, pecans & raspberry vinaigrette
Loaded Baked Potato
Baked potato with butter, cheese, and sour cream.
Fresh Seasonal Vegetables
Broccoli, summer squash, and carrots
That's the first time I have eaten at Longhorn without ordering meat or seafood. That strawberry and pecan salad was AMAZING.

Friday, September 23, 2011

[096] Woody's Thrift Store Pen Pals

A month ago, Woody from Woodn't Ya Know It started something he calls Thrift Store Pen Pals. Woody himself frequents local thrift stores and blogs about the weird items he finds. Honestly, you just have to check it out for yourself: Thrift Store Adventures.

Guess who has been chosen as the next Thrift Store Pen Pal? Yours truly!

I used to have pen pals as a child and I'm a long time lover of thrifting (thanks Mom!). Excited to see what Woody sends my way.

[095] Getting the hang of this vlog thing

I made this video Thursday night before I started feeling a little more under the weather. Enjoy my sniffles!

Please keep my best friend, Jammer (and his family), in your thoughts and prayers. He suffered a heat stroke during a 10 mile run on Thursday and was taken to the hospital. He should fully recover but was kept overnight for observation. I love my Minerich's!

[094] Recycled: Plastic Bag Holder

In a previous post (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) I mentioned using reusable shopping bags and reusing/recycling plastic shopping bags. Don't forget, you can help change the world one pledge at a time at and earn points towards free rewards. (sign up using this link by October 1st and I'll earn 10 reward points!)

In 2008 I started using reusable shopping bags. I'll be honest, I don't bring them with me on every trip to the store. Since taking the RecycleBank pledge to carry reusable bags with me, I have utilized these bags more in the last month than I have in the last three years. If I have forgotten to put a reusable bag in my purse, I try my best to avoid using plastic bags at checkout.
  • Purchasing one item? Do you really need it in a bag? No. It really irks me when customers ask me to bag their gift/greeting card or any one item that can just be carried out.
  • Med - large sized box items? Ask to go bagless on the larger items. Use your reusable bags on the smaller items.
  • Buying gifts? Don't waste money on a gift bag unless you know it will be reused. Buy reusable shopping bags in place of gift bags.
  • Buying gifts that you need to hide? DON'T DOUBLE BAG. If you're gift shopping, keep a blanket or sheet in the car. Chances are, you're just going to throw away those extra bags anyway.
You've just come home from a big shopping trip with roughly 10 - 15 shopping bags. Did you know that plastic bags are 100% recyclable? They're also reusable. It's common to reuse these as trash bags for small trash cans, which I have been doing since I was a little girl. My mother always kept a small trash can in every bedroom, bathroom, and living room.

My family moved into a new house in the spring of 1996 while my youngest sister was only a few months. It had been a long time since we had anyone in diapers in our house. I'm not entirely sure where my mother found this method of storing plastic bags, but it's something we've been doing for over 15 years now.
Recycled Plastic Bag Holder

  • 1 Gallon jug, thoroughly washed and dried
  • 1 permanent marker
  • 1 pair of scissors (box cutter optional)
  • All your spare plastic bags

1. Remove any labels.

2. Draw a circle on the jug.

3. Carefully make an incision and cut out the circle. This will be the opening where you'll place your plastic bags. (My box cutter went off to the side, so I ended up with this tear drop shape.)

4. Smooth out any rough edges with the scissors, careful not to cut the opening too big. Otherwise it won't hold your bags properly.
5. Use a paper towel to soak up any moisture left behind from washing.
6. Ball up your plastic bags and stuff them into your container.

Voila! New plastic bag holder.

Is your holder too plain for you? Decorate it to fit your style; paint the inside one color and the outside another color.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

[093] Jenny Made Lea's Dolmades

You might remember Jenny from Vegging for Health's very first interview. She's a recent pescatarian who enjoys trying new recipes (read her review on Sinigang Sa Sampalok, a soup made from tamarind root).

She posted on my Facebook wall:
"I made Lea's dolmades recipe tonight and wow.... Yum! Even Scott liked them. Carnivores can like vegetarian food! :) You are my source for tasty veggie cuisine :)"
Here's a picture of Jenny's dolmades:
Looks delicious!

Trying a recipe featured on Vegging for Health? Feel free to send me a photo and I'll feature it here! You can email your photo to with the subject line "Recipe Photo Submission".

Monday, September 19, 2011

[092] Maiden Name

I don't particularly enjoy forwarding e-mails. Especially when instructed to send it to a certain number of people. Sometimes I come across an e-mail that I find enjoyable enough to share and that's exactly what happened tonight.

Rules: It's harder than it looks! Hit forward, erase my answers, enter your answers & send it to 10 people, including me! Use the 1st letter of your maiden name to answer each of the following questions. They have to be real places, names ... nothing made up! Oh, and don't forget, you can't use any of the person's answers before you!

1. Maiden name: Young
2. An Animal: Yak
3. A Boy's Name: Yancy
4. A Girl's Name: Yasmine
5. An Occupation: Yoga Instructor
6. A Color: Yellow
7. Something You Wear: Yarmulka
8. A Beverage: Yogurt smoothie
9. A Food: Yam
10. Something Found in the Bathroom: Yellow rubber duckies
11. A Place: Yorkshire
12. Something You Shout About: Yellow cab drivers ...?

I hope everyone had a fun and safe weekend. I certainly did... because I was at work all weekend long. "Dolla' dolla' bills, y'all."

This week, Shawno and I are celebrating our 2 year anniversary! I have the perfect gift (which I'll share later this week). This year we're both a lot busier than we were last year. Over the last few months he's taken on three times the work load compared to last year, as well as recently being promoted to supervisor. Yea! I personally have gained more hours at work, which is most certainly a blessing. I'm able to afford more than just fuel for my car. I may be exaggerating that a bit, but it's nice to have a little extra earnings to put into my savings. I have future trips I'm planning for next year. (Texas, Germany, Philippines)

Hopefully finding time to get this next interview done. (That's you, Gregg!) Also, I came across a few vegan recipes I plan on sharing sometime within the next week! (Just for you, Gabby!)

Happy vegging!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

[091] Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

While I may not live a 100% eco-friendly lifestyle, I try to go Green as often as possible while promoting and spreading the word. That being said, join me at (click and sign up via this link by October 1, 2011 and I'll earn 10 points!) and earn points towards free rewards!

Reusable bags VS Plastic bags

I personally use both, depending on the amount of items I purchase. I have pledged to carry a reusable shopping bag for one month. So far, so good. I'm proud to say we left Shaw's with zero plastic bags on our last grocery trip. :] More to come, in a later post.

So, which do you prefer: reusable or plastic?
Leave your answer in a comment. Feel free to leave a short explanation as to why this method works for you.

via jsncafe.comvia

Thursday, September 15, 2011

[090] Questions?

Do you have a question you'd like to ask me? Please, feel free to ask! Maybe you want to know what my favorite vegetables are? My favorite color? My favorite color when I'm asleep? My favorite color when I'm driving? What kind of soup do I eat? Is my big toe shorter than my second toe?

I don't want to steal all the good ones, so just ask me!

Wondering if there's a limit to how many questions you can ask? Well there isn't. So grab some juice and granola, a pen and paper (or a tablet if you're fancy), sit down somewhere comfy, and start brain storming some questions. You're supposed to drink the juice and eat the granola. If you insist, you can craft your questions using all of those materials, but I don't recommend putting juice on a tablet.

On a side note... 

I was killing some time earlier today when I took a picture of my hair. It's looking mighty shiny in this picture. My natural hair color. :] I can't say the same for my tips. A wide range of oranges, browns, and reds which are suffering from too many chemicals and heat.

My side of the bed. I really need to upgrade to a black or grey bed skirt. That tan one is "blah". It's too bad I couldn't find the purple sheets I wanted. Maybe during the winter?

Oh and no big deal, but... I opened my Etsy shop!!!

Browse and share my link. <3

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

[089] Vlogging Wednesday

One time, I vlogged. That -one time- was just a few moments ago...

I hope I didn't scare anyone away from my blog. I say "umm" a lot, did you notice? On a side note, check out today's overview: 70 page views today!
The top referring source is: (Lea's blog!)

I hope everyone had a great Wednesday.
Happy Vegging!


[088] Guest Recipe: Dolmades

Before I get to the recipe, check out yesterday's screenshot of the stats overview at 7:30pm:

55 views! All of Vegging for Health's interviews are my highest viewed posts!

Via Wikipedia: In Cyprus, stuffed vine leaves are called koupepia (Greek). Greek Cypriots call the rest of the stuffed vegetables either gemista (which means something stuffed in Greek) or dolmades (as a plural for dolma).
If you missed yesterday's interview with Lea, please take a moment to read what she has to share about being raised vegetarian. You can read Lea's blog at Becoming SuperMommy!

What you'll need:
  • 6c cooked rice (basmati or brown jasmine)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbs minced garlic (more if prepared)
  • 1 jar of grape leaves
  • salt, pepper, dried mint
  • 1-3 Tbs olive oil
  • approximately 30oz, give or take, of canned chopped tomatoes WITH juices- don't drain!!!
  • 3/4c raisins
  • 1/4c lemon juice

In a bowl, mix together the tomatoes, raisins, and lemon juice.  Set it aside until called for.

In a much larger bowl, mix together the rice, garlic, eggs, and spices.  I like to use about a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, about half a teaspoon of mint, first rubbed between my palms, and only a little salt.  Really, the grape leaves and the tomatoes both have a lot of salt in them to begin with, so you don't require much.  Just a couple of shakes.

Now comes the hard part.  Set yourself three plates as a work station.  Drain the jar of grape leaves, and carefully remove them, and unfold them onto the first plate.  The first third of the dolmades will take the longest- this is because the grape leaves in the center of the jar will be the most crushed.  Gently, work the leaves open and flatten one onto the second plate face down, so that the stems are facing up..  Scoop some of the rice mixture onto the base of the leaf.  For most leaves, you'll need about 1.5 tbs of rice mixture, but grape leaves come in all sizes, even within a single jar.  Some leaves are large enough to put in a third of a cup.  After rolling a few, you'll begin to get the hang of how much mixture will fit comfortably in a given leaf.

Roll the base of the leaf up, towards the tip, about three quarters of the way around the rice.  Now tuck in the edges of the leaf, like a burrito.  Continue rolling until you have a tiny, green, leafy egg roll looking thing.  This is a raw dolmade.  Set it aside on the third plate.

Repeat, until all of the grape leaves are rolled.  You will likely have a few that appear to have broken into a million pieces.  This is good- hold onto those.  Some of the more whole leaves will still have tears or small holes in them.  You can "patch" these with the remnants of damaged grape leaves.

Once you have all your grape leaves rolled up, take a very wide, flat pan, and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom.  Over medium high heat, arrange the dolmades so that as many as possible are touching the bottom.  If you can, allow them to sear gently for three to five minutes, and then flip them. Most likely, this will be impossible.  Don't worry, they will still be delicious.

Once all your dolmades are arranged- or even better, flipped- pour the tomato mixture on top.  Spread it across as much of the surface of the dolmades as possible.  Cover the pan, reduce heat to medium, and allow to simmer for 25 minutes.

The beauty of dolmades?  They can be served hot, cold, or anywhere in between.  You can serve them as a main dish, or as an appetizer with toothpicks set into them.

No matter what, they are delicious.  Enjoy!

This recipe looks absolutely delicious! I'll have to try it soon! I kept the photo size "x-large" so you can see a great amount of detail in each image. All recipe photos are from Lea!

If you're one of my meat-eater readers looking for a meat version, check out Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades)

Happy Vegging!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

[087] Interview 04: Lea

Meet Lea! (pronounced like "Princess Leia") An ovo-lacto vegetarian since birth!

Lea is a writer, an artist, a student, a wife, the mother of twin girls, and she blogs at Becoming SuperMommy. Whew! Appropriately named blog, if you ask me. I hope y'all enjoy what Lea has to share!

[Interviewed via e-mail September 9, 2011]

Jasmine: First off, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview. Please, tell me about yourself: name, age, where you're from, and how did you stumble upon Vegging for Health?

Lea: My name is Lea, I'm 27 years old, I live in the Windy City of Chicago but I think of myself as being from Pittsburgh and the upper mitten, and I stumble on Vegging for Health through 20SB.

(You can find me on at

Jasmine: In your first e-mail, you mentioned you have been a vegetarian since birth. Share with our readers the story behind being raised vegetarian and how it has helped shape you as the person you are today.

Lea: Once upon a time, my parents were youthful idealists.  And they were total wackos.  They had both, previous to meeting each other, at one point convinced their classmates that they were actually aliens.  They were a little young to be active participants in the civil rights movement, but they were die hard activists and pretty much everything but hippies before they met.  They met when they were at a summer camp the year before they started high school.  I've heard two versions of the story.  In one version, my father is getting picked on by some other kids for being a vegetarian.  In the other, he's getting picked on for being perceived as gay.  In both stories, my mother- then a stranger- came to his defense.  They've basically been together every since.  They bonded over their shared vegetarianism, their love of Dr. Who and The Beatles, and eventually grew up, got married, and had kids.  Including yours truly.  Who they raised as ethical vegetarians.

It's shaped me quite a bit.  It's not something that you think about when you choose the lifestyle, but kids think of alternate eating habits as weird.  My sisters and I were made fun of CONSTANTLY for the foods in our lunchboxes.  Instead of getting a bologna or tuna fish sandwich, we'd have something terrifyingly different, like leftover curried cauliflower.  Kids could be merciless about even the slightest difference between you and them.  It made me very aware from an early age what I was eating, and why.  What I was eating was vegetables, dairy and grains.  What they were eating was dead animals. processed until it resembled nothing so much as a plastic copy of food.  I figured out before too long that their food was a lot "weirder" than mine.

That said, my mom was an AMAZING cook.  She spent much of my childhood writing a (yet unfinished) cookbook, completely vegetarian, with one chapter for every cuisine on the globe.  It was an ambitious project.  My friends were terrified to come for dinner.  They didn't know if it would be dolmades (more on those later) or gumbo, but no matter what it wasn't going to be a pepperoni pizza.

Jasmine: As someone who was raised vegetarian and a mother of twin girls, who are also being raised vegetarian, do you have any advice you'd like to share with new parents who are interested in raising their children vegetarian?

Lea: Know how to build a balanced meal.  That applies to meat eaters, too, but still.  My mother used to keep a sign on the kitchen cabinets for us to use when packing our own lunches.  It reminded us that in every meal we needed a protein, a grain, a fruit, a vegetable, a healthy fat (dairy, in our cases), and THEN a dessert.

Some people think that they can raise a vegetarian kid eating only mac 'n cheese and crackers.  That's not healthy for anyone, ESPECIALLY a small child.

But the biggest piece of advice is this, eat your vegetables.  If you don't do it, if your kids don't see you eating GOOD food, and enjoying it, they're not going to be interested.

Take beets for example.  For some reason, lots of people hate beets.  I LOVE beets.  I made a nice pot of borsht this summer, and figured I'd eat it all by myself.  After all, beets are messy.  But one of my daughters was desperate to get a taste of the bright pink soup mommy was eating, and now?  Beets are her favorite food.  Can't get enough of them.  I'm very proud.  :)

Jasmine: I personally grew up eating meat and learned how to prepare and cook meat for my family at a fairly early age. What is it like for you, as the wife of a meat-and-potatoes guy, learning how to cook meat?

Lea: What a great question!  Well, first and foremost, I'm an artist.  I love setting a table and having the food look good. Like a Norman Rockwell painting.  And let's face it, a lot of the most attractive eatable centerpieces of meals are made of dead animals.  They're just no vegetarian approximation of putting a whole turkey in front of a full table on Thanksgiving.  Not that I don't look at a perfect Three Sisters and get giddy and excited and loosen my pants, but still.  So there was that.

Secondly, I'm a neurotic egotist.  I LOVE seeing that people enjoy the food I cook.  My husband never asked me to make him meat, in fact, the only times he has EVER asked me to make him meat are when I've prompted him to do so.  The first time, it was our last dating anniversary before our wedding, and I wanted to cook him something special and unexpected.  I got the meat from a local, organic farm- that soothed my ethical queries- and I made him a giant meal.  Dolmades, walnut and goat cheese stuffed mushrooms, Israeli couscous, and the main event- black current braised lamb.  For myself, I made black current braised Morningstar Farms Grillers.  He was elated about it.  These days, when I cook meat it's a similar to-do.  I cook meat when we have special guests, special occasions, or I just feel like showing him how extra wonderful I think he is- even if he is a carnivore.

But it's not just me learning to cook those dishes.  I had to start from scratch.  Having never eaten meat before, I had no idea WHAT to do.  I didn't know what raw meat looked like in a pan, how to tell if something was done, and I had a whole host of paranoia about parasites and bacteria.  I got an amazing book- "What's a Cook to Do?"  It has photographs of things like steaks at different stages of done-ness, with a guide for what they're supposed to feel like when you poke them.  It told me what temperature different meats need to be cooked to.  It also told me that lamb is best served very rare, which is why I chose it for my first try.  I figured if it was supposed to be rare, I'd be less likely to screw it up.  Which still holds true.  The first time I made a steak, it was stone cold in the middle.  Not even close to cooked.  When you under cook a vegetable, it's just a little crunchier.  Totally the opposite kind of cooking ethos.

Jasmine: In your opinion, do you think it would be easy for anyone to adopt the vegetarian life-style? And do you have any advice for new vegetarians?

Lea: I think that any change is hard, and diet changes are particularly hard because they're also habits.  But I do think that, with the right attitude, it can be virtually painless.  For example, people say things all the time like, "I could never be a vegetarian, I love bacon so much!"  Well, why not try cutting out all the meat EXCEPT for bacon?  Less meat is still better for you than more, and there's no reason you can't slowly shift instead of going cold turkey.

People don't quit smoking cold turkey.  They wean.  So you can cut out red meat, and then poultry, and then fish.  And if you feel like you want to keep going, you can cut dairy and eggs from there.  No need to stress yourself out- nobody is timing you in any sort of vegetarian race.

Jasmine: Growing up vegetarian, did you have an absolute favorite dish you loved to eat/cook?

Lea: Oh yeah.  Baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, french fries, basically anything you could do to a potato was my favorite thing in the world.  I was sort of a picky eater, but if we went to an Indian or Ethiopian restaurant and my mom pointed out that something had a potato in it, I was cool.  The first few big meals I ever cooked myself were overstuffed and completely loaded baked potatoes (covered in broccoli, mushrooms berkely, cheese, sour cream, fake bacon, caramelized onions, chives, and butter) and then a vegetarian Shephard's Pie.  Shephard's Pie is... you know... covered in mashed potatoes.

Jasmine: Are the rest of the members of your immediate family vegetarian as well? How far into your family tree does vegetarianism extend?

Lea: It's a very extended, but semi-random thing.  Two of my father's brothers are also vegetarians.  I don't think their kids are, though.  My older sister started eating meat in her late teens, although among family she seems a little ashamed of it.  My adopted sister is a carnivore, and she came that way, but my younger biological sister and I are still meat-free.  My husband, much as he loves meat, can go for weeks without me cooking any up, living off of my excellent (and most importantly- well balanced!) home cooked meals.  I think that for a time, my mother's sister was a vegetarian as well.  Both branches of my family have always prided themselves in their ethical behavior, and we have a proud history of social progressiveness.  Which includes vegetarianism.  My husband's family?  Die hard carnivores.  Each and every one.

Jasmine: Do you find yourself surrounded by fellow vegetarians more so than meat-eaters?

Lea: I have at some times in my life.  I used to go to vegan potlucks every month with my group of friends, but you know how it is in your early 20s- people come and go.  They move for school, or for jobs, or for marriage.  Of the vegan potluck crew I hung out with the third Thursday of every month, only two of us still live in Chicago.  The others are spread from Washington, D.C. to Portland, Oregon and everywhere in between.  A lot of my friends are relapsed vegetarians, which means that they eat meat now, but they still really appreciate being offered a meal that's meat free.

Jasmine: If you're bringing a dish to a family gathering or a friends' party, what is the "go-to dish" you would prepare?

Lea: I have two that I pick from, depending on the kind of party.  If it's a Super Bowl party or something like that, I make my world famous seven layer bean dip.  Seriously, that thing in awesome.  But if it's something where people want to actually appreciate food instead of shovel it in as absent mindedly as possible, I make dolmades.

Jasmine: Some people tend to think that being vegetarian means eating a salad for every meal. What would you like to tell those people?

Lea: Does being a carnivore mean that you eat a cow for every meal?

Seriously, though.  My biggest problem with that concept is that most American meat eaters tend to think of a "salad" as iceberg lettuce with a few mealy tomato wedges, smothered in Ranch dressing.  And that's not a salad, that's a creative way to humiliate a head of iceberg lettuce.  A salad has actual nutritional content.  A salad has flavor.  And most importantly, a salad does NOT have Ranch dressing.

When my husband and I started dating, that was his idea of a salad.  The first time I put a *real* salad in front of him, he looked at it like it was squid that had just come back to life.  Now?  "Ooh!  Can we put almonds in the salad?  Think we could grill up this pepper and put it in there?  Are you going to make fresh dressing?  Can we put cilantro in it?  Yay!  Avocados!"

He gets really excited about a good salad.  Which is as it should be.  A salad is the best way to showcase the world's most delicious vegetables.  And more than that, too.  I like to add proteins to my salads, like fava beans or fake chicken.  Or crispy tofu.

Jasmine: Do you have any recipes you'd like to share with our readers?

Lea: I think I accidentally just did!  But yes, I'd like to share my dolmades recipe with everyone.  Dolmades are stuffed grape leaves.  And they're amazing.  Traditionally, they have lamb in them, and for some reason most people tend to make them sort of salty and otherwise flavorless.  I have never figured out how they do that.  The truth is that they're super easy, they just take a while to sit down and roll them all up.

...I made them for my husband on our first date.  :)


I hope y'all have enjoyed Lea's interview as much as I do. Her recipe for Dolmades will be up tomorrow morning! So be sure to come back to Vegging for Health!

Here's a sneak peek at what tomorrow's recipe will feature!

[086] Music Monday: City and Colour

Music Monday, a day late...

In 2006, I kept nearly every CD I owned in my car so I would never be without good tunes. I spent the night at a friends house, as she had just moved in and I offered to sleep at her house with her so she wouldn't be alone, and mistakenly left my car unlocked in an unfamiliar neighborhood. I woke the next morning to find all but one CD stolen from my car. I felt so violated as something like this had never happened to me before. I lock my car everywhere I go. Even if I'm just going inside to quickly grab something.

Later that year, I eventually inherited my best friend's music collection. City and Colour's Bring Me Your Love was a midst the music but I didn't discover that until years down the road. That being said, over the last one or two months, I've been listening to this album non-stop. Since my car doesn't have an auxiliary plug installed for my iPod (and FM transmitter thing hardly works) I opted to burn a CD and wear it out to and from work.

[085] Make-up Bag Giveaway from Katie Sews It All via Dianapantz

You could win this make-up bag and earrings from DianaPantz & Katie Sews It All !
Just head over to this link at Dianapantz blog.
Don't forget to check out Katie's blog at Katie Sews It All!

via DianaPantz

Sunday, September 11, 2011

[084] Working Weekends

I would love to have my weekends off so I can spend more quality time with my boyfriend Beard and dive into more crafts. That simply is not going to happen any time soon.

I'm excited to announce I have another interview coming soon! Her name is Lea and she is, you guessed it, a vegetarian, but I won't give away anymore details. You'll just have to come back next week to read all about her. You do not want to miss this interview! Not to say that my first three interviews, Jenny, Staci, and Valentina weren't interesting! Each interview is 100% unique to the person interviewed and that's why I'm excited for each new interview.

I have been incredibly busy with work this week that I haven't had as much free time as I usually have to spend on my crafts and blogs. Personalizing questions and sending them via e-mail seems to be the best way to contact each person as we don't have the same schedules, live in different time zones, or live on opposite sides of the world. In fact, I printed Lea's interview before I left for work this afternoon so I could read (and re-read) her answers on my break. While my first two interviews were with friends I've known for years, I hope to keep in touch and develop friendships with the people I have yet to meet.

I leave you with a self-portrait from Tuesday.

Oh, if you didn't know, I have buttons!

(200 x 200)

Friday, September 9, 2011

[083] My Extended Labor Day Weekend

(This post was intended for Thursday's 8am post, but I was half asleep when I wrote it and scheduled for Friday instead.)

It's Wednesday night and I feel as if I would instantly fall asleep once I lay my head against my pillow. You're probably thinking, it's not Wednesday... it's Friday morning. Well, I really enjoy taking advantage of the "schedule" option on post settings. I thoroughly enjoy putting posts in queue days in advance so I don't feel like I'm slaving over this blog. (Even though I spend all my time tweaking the layout!)

Let me share a little bit about my labor day weekend.

Friday: Originally scheduled for only two days this entire week, I grabbed some extra hours which landed me a shift from 2:30pm to 10pm. Lately I've only been scheduled to work anywhere from 4 to 6 hour shifts while I would rather work 8 hour shifts. That's just not in the cards for me quite yet.

Saturday: Up bright and early. Worked 9am to 4:30pm. Absolutely loved working the morning shift so I could have the rest of the weekend with my boyfriend. He took Thursday and Friday off in addition to having a 3-day weekend. A well deserved 5-day vacation for him. I had originally planned to bake pumpkin cookies but ended up going shopping instead. It was late and I needed to pick up a few things at Wal-Mart so I headed out around 9pm. My feet were aching from standing all morning but I knew I needed to buy printer ink before I put it off for too long. Three hours later, I found myself feeling exhausted and waiting in line to cash out. Did you know Wal-Mart doesn't take "free" item coupons from the internet? It's a good thing I had a $3 off coupon for the same item. Also, I was that lady who preferred to pay for two specific items on a separate transaction from everything else. Well aware of the long line of people behind me, but what's waiting a couple more minutes? I would understand if I held up the line paying by check, but I told the cashier "It won't take long. I'm paying by credit." As someone who works in retail, I understand that getting the lines down and decreasing the wait time is important, but so is customer satisfaction. As a customer, I want the same satisfaction I supply to my own guests at my store. I only ask that customers practice patience when standing in line. There are far worse wait times than a few extra minutes. On the way home, I saw the aftermath of a car crash a few miles from my exit. As I approached the cash site, all I could see were many flashing lights on numerous cop cars which I couldn't even tell where one started and another ended. I can only hope the person(s) involved made it out safely.

Sunday: Shawno found $25 in Best Buy money waiting for him in his e-mail. This meant traveling to the store and picking up a new game. I took this opportunity to stop by Christmas Tree Shops to hunt for cheap owl decor and maybe something else that held a combined taste in decor for our apartment. Unfortunately, I didn't find anything that really caught my eye so we left empty handed. For lunch, I treated Shawno to Taco Bell as a "thank you for putting up with my need to walk every aisle of the store and leaving with zero purchases". After asking him to take me to AC Moore to use a "50% off" coupon, Shawno kindly agreed (even though I knew he didn't want to go). I suggested he sit in the car while we were at Christmas Tree Shops because I didn't know how long that trip was going to take, he finally took me up on that offer as we pulled into the AC Moore parking lot (which is in the same building as my store). He's learning that the men generally sleep in the car as their women shop, haha. I spent $8.50 and felt as if it was truly well spent. Scrapbook page refills, double-sided patterned paper and I can't remember if I purchased anything else. We then started on our way home.

Monday: Labor Day. A nice lazy day at home. This is also the day of my second installment of Music Monday posts. I've really enjoyed reading themed daily posts on other blogs and felt it would fit nicely into my own blog. While I'm not really into the music scene as much as I was from 2002-2007, I often times enjoy sharing the music I've had on repeat with anyone who's willing to listen. This is the day I publicly released (to my Facebook wall) the latest blog I've been creating. It's called Sophie Mae Crafts and it is a craft blog where I hope to share all of my crafts with friends, family, fellow crafters, and anyone else interested. Originally I had named the blog "Sticks and Stories" but threw that out the window once Shawno said it didn't make sense as I wasn't using sticks or writing stories. I then changed the title to "Crafts, by Jasmine and Katie" when my bff-in-law said she would be interested in getting down with a craft blog. She's a full-time Mom and wife to my bff so I know that this would be a nice little outlet for her to share her crafts when she gets some free time to herself. After sharing the blog I realized, I could definitely use MORE authors than just Katie and myself. So I've made it open to anyone who wants a place to share their crafts. All you have to do is let me know where to send the e-mail invite. It's as simple as this. Everyone has their own style when it comes to arts and crafts and I like the idea of sharing multiple styles in one place. So, if you're interested, look out for an open invitation to hold "author" rights on Sophie Mae Crafts (which will be posted both here and on SMC in the future).

Tuesday: Monday night I received a phone call from my cousin, asking if I wanted to babysit her two youngest (3 ½ year old twins, A and R). I haven't seen them since July and I didn't have anything planned for the day, so I jumped at the chance to spend some quality time with the twins. I left my apartment (in Massachusetts) around 8:30am and sat through stop-and-go traffic until I reached the Rhode Island state line. I finally pulled up to her house (in Rhode Island) around 9:50am. The cause of the congested traffic? Drivers failing to merge. No worries, because I arrived safely. :] Once my cousin left for work, the twins and I watched tv for pretty much 5 hours straight. Bubble Guppies, Team Umizoomie, Max and Ruby, Dora the Explorer, and Peppa Pig on repeat thanks to Nick Jr East and Nick Jr West. I made peanut butter sandwiches cut into little squares so they could share, each had a juice box, and eyes glued to the TV as we all screamed the answers to any questions the shows asked. Pre-school shows are so cute. The oldest, B, came home from school shortly before the two middle cousins, C and S, hopped off the bus and tackled me with hugs. I love that I have such a good relationship with my little cousins. :] Shortly after their dad came home from work, I decided it was time to head home so I could beat the congested traffic during rush hour. I came home and noticed the rain had washed up all the debris in our patio and had gathered at the drain. That meant the water had become a few inches deep in the patio and eventually drained, gathering all these leaves/grass/seeds. Before long, the rain had picked up again and I found myself standing in the patio, feet completely submerged in cold water, using a snow shovel to scoop the water out before any water could threaten our living room just on the other side of the slider. It truly is a one person job in such a small space. My efforts proved victorious as the water level dropped. Additionally, I plunged the drain to loosen any debris that might the the cause of the water to drain at such a slow pace.

Wednesday: I woke up around 9:30am to the realization that I had work at noon and I needed to shower and eat breakfast before the clock magically turned to 11:30. (It happens too often!) After posting to Tumblr, 20SB, browsing Facebook, and checking my Blogger stats, I clicked my Gmail tab to find a new e-mail sitting there with the subject line "Interview?" Someone is interested in my veg interviews! Immediately read her message and my excitement was through the roof! I love reading the short little "about me" before I personalize questions for the interview. While I haven't actually finished the interview questions, my exhaustion from yesterdays water shoveling and lack of stretching out my muscles really caught up to me. Also, my lack of motivation... I'll get on that tomorrow afternoon, for sure, and this means another interview post is coming soon!

Before writing up this post I decided to get caught up on one of my favorite YouTube collaboration channels; AGayADay. While I find it hard to actually pick a favorite, because all of their personalities are very different, I have to say I enjoy watching Simon and Darren the most. All of these guys remind me of guy friends I've had and still have to this day. :]

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

[082] Dear Hunter

Since Hunter's arrival I have been going straight to his family members blogs to catch the latest photos of that sweet face. I simply can't wait to meet the little guy. After the new parents get settled back in at home of course.

Borrowing this photo from H's momma's blog... There's that little painting I made for him. :]

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

[081] Interview 03: Valentina

Meet Valentina! An ovo-lacto vegetarian teen from Sweden. VFH's first non-U.S. interview! Valentina can speak English, Swedish, Spanish and she's currently learning Japanese in school. She simply amazes me and I hope you enjoy what she has to share!


[Interviewed via e-mail August 28, 2011]

Jasmine: I'd like to start by saying, thank you for giving me a moment of your time for this interview! Please, tell me a little bit about yourself: name, age, where you're from, and how did you hear about Vegging for Health?
Valentina: My name is Valentina and I'm 17. I'm born, raised and currently living in Sweden although I my roots are from South America. I was actually searching on "Vegetarian" on tumblr, and a post about Vegging for Health appeared, so I clicked. :) And, since English really isn't my native language, I apologize for any mistakes that I may do!

Jasmine: How did you become interested in vegetarianism and how long have you been vegetarian?
Valentina: I have always been interested in vegetarianism, ever since I was little. I actually even tried becoming a vegetarian when I was around 9, but unfortunately it only lasted for a couple of days. And when I was 13 I saw this movie, called Earthlings, and it really settled it, so right after I saw that movie, I decided that this was it and I became a vegetarian.

Jasmine: You mentioned to me that you're the only vegetarian in your family/friends. Are your loved ones supportive of your choice to be vegetarian?
Valentina: My loved ones are all very supportive of my choice. Some of them admires me for it, because they would like to be vegetarians but they just can't do it for their own reasons. But I feel that I'm very lucky that my family and friends support me, because I think it's important that people support it instead of arguing with me.

Jasmine: Do you think it is easy to adopt a vegetarian life style? How did you make the change?
Valentina: Well, as I was only 13 when I became a vegetarian and I did it all alone without any help, it was very hard to adopt to the life style. I had to find out about what I should eat on my own, and since I really liked meat before, so it was a bit hard to change it to food that I didn't like so much (veggie's and stuff). But as I've been a vegetarian for 4 years now I'm starting to me less picky and enjoying my vegetarian meals very much. :)

Jasmine: What kind of difficulties do you face being vegetarian?
Valentina: The difficulties I face is my health. Since I'm a teenager I'm still pretty picky when it comes to food, which is not good since I need to eat things that replace the vitamins and iron that meat contains. But other than that I can't really think of any difficulties I've had.

Jasmine: In our first e-mail, you describe yourself as a lacto-ovo vegetarian. Thus meaning you do consume dairy and eggs. In addition to dairy and eggs, what kind of foods do you consume regularly?
Valentina: I have a hard time to think of something that I consume regularly. But I do eat a lot of rice and spaghetti.

Jasmine: As mentioned earlier, you're the only vegetarian in your family and friends. Has your vegetarian diet influenced those around you to eat more of the same foods as you do?
Valentina: I can't say it has. Although they are sometimes very interested in tasting the food that I am eating. But so far none of them has become a vegetarian or anything like that yet.

Jasmine: Some people seem to think that vegetarian food means: salads, breads, boiled veggies and spices. What would you like to tell them?
Valentina: That it's not true. Vegetarians can eat the exact same food as everyone else, all you have to do is just to remove the meat. I eat everything that I ate before I became a vegetarian, with the only difference that my plate doesn't have meat.

Jasmine: Living in Sweden, you said there is a very good variety of vegetarian products (soy and quorn "meat"). What are some of your favorite products available in your area?
Valentina: My favorite products is probably quorn fillet, cause it gives you a good chance to spice it your own way. And it's really delicious and it's done in about 5 minutes. I love it and I can it eat with anything, salad, regular meal, soup. It's absolutely delicious.

Jasmine: What are some of your favorite meals/dishes? (Homemade, store bought, restaurant.)
Valentina: I don't really eat a lot outside, so I often eat at home where my mom cooks for me. But something that I really like at the moment is potato gratin with either soy sausage or quorn fillet and then a fresh, delicious sallad with tomato, lettuce, avocado, cucumber and lemon.


Isn't she just the cutest? I was so excited to have Valentina on Vegging for Health after I received her e-mail. I hope you all enjoyed her interview! If you, or anyone you know, would like to be featured in a VfH interview please contact me at

Monday, September 5, 2011

[080] Music Monday: Between the Buried and Me, and Portugal. the Man

Today's Music Monday features two bands from my most played Last.FM Top Artists. The different music styles between these artists doesn't even come close to defining my taste in music. Fun fact: I grew up listening to pop, reggae, rap, hip-hop, and R&B. Over the last 10-15 years I have gone on a roller-coaster ride of music preferences. I'm glad to say that I hardly limit myself on what I listen to these days.

Between the Buried and Me is an American heavy-metal band from Raleigh, North Carolina. If metal isn't really your genre of choice, I strongly suggest you search for songs from their album The Anatomy Of which features BTBAM's tribute to their diverse influences (ex: Metallica, Queen, King Crimson, Counting Crows).

Selkies: the Endless Obsession from their album Alaska (2005).
One of my all-time favorite BTBAM songs.

Fossil Genera - A Feed From Cloud Mountain is from their album The Great Misdirect (2009).
This song makes me think of a circus-dreamland.

Portugal. the Man is an American psychedelic rock band based in Portland, but originally from Wasilla, Alaska. I admit, this can be sort of an acquired taste. I had their album Waiter: You Vultures! for nearly a year before I truly got into their sound. Over the years, as each album was released, I grew even more in love with their sound. Even to this day I have a hard time explaining their sound to new listeners.

Created is from their album Censored Colors (2008).
John Gourley has such a great voice.

Do You is from their album The Satanic Satanist (2009)
and acoustic versions on the album The Majestic Majesty (2009).

Friday, September 2, 2011

[079] Recipe: Pumpkin Cookies

Fall is around the corner! Stoked to start making more pumpkin cookies. :]

Prep Time: 15 min  Cook Time: 15 min  Ready In: 45 min
Servings: 36

  • 1 cup butter flavored shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
Optional: 1 (16 oz) container cream cheese frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter flavored shortening and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then stir in the pumpkin puree. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and vanilla instant pudding mix; gradually mix into the pumpkin mixture. Roll into walnut sized balls and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned at the edges. Allow to cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

[078] Sunday (Part II): Irene's Aftermath

Be sure to read "Sunday (Part I): Irene Arrives"

After Shawno finished saving our apartment, we relaxed in the bedroom. I read a chapter from my book while Shawno cooled off from working hard on the patio. I had the window wide open to let the breeze roll in. Our apartment hasn't been this cool all summer long and we were both loving it.

As the rain started to clear, the birds came out to play. Shawno was sneaky and got this blurry picture of them, haha.
I brought Shawno's desk chair into the living room so I could have a comfy reclining chair to sit in as I read Awakened.
I pulled out my fish-eye lens and snapped a few shots. It was such a peaceful afternoon.



A short video of the wind blowing the trees.

That middle tree leaning against the trees to the right... we were certain this tree was going to come crashing down.

We don't usually sit on the side of the building as our apartment is on the opposite side, but we made and exception for a potential disaster. Aren't we nice?
2:05PM (This photo does zero justice for the 21 lbs I've lost.
I should stop hunching over when I sit.)
We ate Fettuccine Alfredo Tuna Helper for dinner. Having a gas stove certainly came in handy. Dinner by candle light as we slowly ended our night.
After dinner, we both stretched out on the couches and entertained ourselves with handheld games. As Shawno went out to his car for a third round to charge his phone, I headed to bed to read Awakened by flashlight. LED flashlight, so you know it was super bright! Shawno came to bed and I put my book down but we both knew we weren't ready to fall asleep just yet. We entertained each other with jokes, dry humor, hilarious bathroom work stories, and one round of I-Spy (which he totally won).


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...