Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Meatless May Update

Now that May is more than halfway done, it's time for an update on Meatless May! For readers who haven't read my blog in a few weeks (ahem my good friend LESLIE, who busted herself last week by naively asking me what a kip-up was), I decided to challenge myself and give up meat for the month of May. I also went ahead and decided to kibosh dairy as well, so I've consumed zero meat or dairy for the past 18 days.

So how's it been? If I had to give an answer in just two words, I'd say "surprisingly easy." I knew the meat part would be no sweat, especially with all of the vegetarian options out there today. I thought that exempting dairy from my diet would be a huge struggle and was halfway preparing myself to try and reason my way out of it after two weeks or so ("Ice cream doesn't REALLY count as dairy, right?" Wrong.). But you know what? Doing no dairy has pretty much been a breeze as well! It also helps that my roommate Velvet (who is, coincidentally, my number one blog commenter) decided to forgo meat and dairy as well for the month.

Here are some of the major changes we've made this month:

I used to drink at least 1 glass of skim milk a day and generously fill my cereal bowl with it...

(*Here in Canada, we drink milk from bags. Bags! It's a change that after 7 years in Canada I'm still not completely used to.)

Now, my bag o' milk has now been replaced by rice milk (Velvet prefers soy).

I thought this would be the hardest switch to make, but really, rice and soy milk are pretty tasty. I wouldn't ever pour myself a big glass of rice milk on its own, but in cereal it substitutes for milk just fine. I actually found substituting rice milk for cream in my morning coffee has been a harder switch to make, as the taste just isn't the same as delicious, creamy cream. As a result, I drink less coffee (which can't be a bad thing).

On the meat end of things, I used to eat chicken...

(*And yes, our chicken dinners always looked like the above picture. Either that or in nugget/finger form, which is pretty much the same, you know?)

Now it's goodbye real chicken, hello soy chicken!
We've been eating a few of Gardein's meatless "garden protein" options. The best one by far has been the Santa Fe Good Stuff version, which is filled with beans. Overall though, I gotta say, these haven't gone over big in our house. They have a weird texture which somewhat successfully mimics meat, and while eating it you think to yourself "Hey, these aren't too horrible, I guess" but then afterwards you realize that you dipped every bite in mustard or some kind of condiment to disguise the taste. On that note, I've become a huge fan of Kozlik's Canadian Mustard (especially the Amazing Maple one), which is both local in Toronto and preservative-free. Thanks for getting me through some rough dinners, guys!

And you know I have to mention cereal. Before, my go-to cereal was....do I even need to say?

In one of the world's cruelest pranks ever played on me, Great Grains contains milk ingredients and is therefore off limits. What's even worse is that I just returned from a road trip to Detroit (more on that later) and picked up 5 boxes of Great Grains to add to my stockpile. So now I have at least 7 boxes of Great Grains on top of my fridge, taunting me every morning with their crunchy pecans and grainy greatness. My life is hard.

Since Great Grains are a no-go, I now eat Nature's Path organic dairy-free cereals.

SO GOOD! I've loved pretty much every option I've tried. They're a little pricey (around $5 per box), but since I've received $26.00 in free coupons from Nature's Path due to a letter I wrote them about a gigantic cereal cluster found in my cereal (perhaps more on that later, too), I'm set for awhile. And might I take this time to say that Nature's Path's superior customer service has really endeared their cereal to me and made me a faithful buyer (Kim and Collies from Post, hang your heads in shame).

As you can see, we've had plenty of alternatives and therefore haven't had to struggle too much.

I think I miss yogurt the most (though some days I REALLY want a piece of pizza with some feta), whereas Velvet pines for cheese and chocolate. And I should probably mention that living in a city like Toronto, which is so accepting of all kinds of lifestyles and has readily available organic/vegan/vegetarian supplies, makes it so much easier. On our recent road trip to Detroit, it suddenly became MUCH harder to stick to the plan. I think the idea of having vegetarian options on a menu is a foreign concept to downtown Detroit (don't even waste your time wishing for vegan options). At one diner, the only viable dinner options were the stuffed zucchini appetizers or single vegetable sides (I know, I know, I shouldn't complain; I'm sure a can of corn can be a really satisfying dinner sometimes).The next day we drove to 3 different restaurants before finding one which had even basic non-meat options. Hey, at least you've got Target going for you, Detroit.

Damn you, IHOP, and your delicious looking breakfasts. Do you know that IHOP has a new pancake breakfast called "New York Cheesecake Pancakes?" I don't even know what they are, but I wanted them. Still do.

With only 13 days left of the month, you might be wondering if I've felt any different without meat or dairy. I didn't weigh myself at the beginning of the month because I never weigh myself (willingly), but I do feel a bit slimmer and less weighed down. I get my protein by eating lots of beans, spinach salads, eggs (I didn't give up eggs and go completely vegan) and nuts, so I've been feeling strong and fairly energetic. I've also started reading the ingredients on EVERYTHING, which is a great /scary habit to pick up. If the ingredients sound too unpronounceable and chemically, then just think about that going into your body (before I start sounding too preachy, I will mention that I'm still a big fan of McCain Smiles and could eat a whole tray of them for dinner).

I'll do a final review at the beginning of the June while I'm eating my cheese-drenched meat-stuffed burger and vanilla milkshake, but until then, I'm sticking to no meat or dairy. I can check out this website if I need a meat fix.

Bacon cheddar cheese filled mug, anyone? Ugh.

...As for kip-up progress, I don't want to talk about it. My friend Jesse managed to do one after 3 attempts (in his work pants, no less)(I now hate him). I still haven't accomplished this goal but have taken to practicing at my day job on a yoga mat when my boss goes to lunch. I'm a real career-focused woman, as you can see.

Stay strong on your May challenges, everyone! Anyone know a good dairy free cheesecake pancake recipe to share?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cut it out, Moms!

This post is to celebrate all of the moms of the world (since I'm sure my blog's readership is made up of primarily moms ). I truly believe that mothers are more often than not the ones who keep the households together, who put their kids' needs waaaay before theirs and who are willing to work three jobs if that's what it takes. And speaking of all of that, here's a bit about my own Mom, who did all of the above and more.

My Mom is a mother who is supportive of virtually everything I do. I started playing the flute when I was 10 years old (the reason I picked the flute was because she had played it as well when she was younger and I thought it was really cool. Later I would learn that the flute is not necessarily what you would call a "cool" instrument). She then spent the next 7 years driving me to flute lessons, auditions, recitals and flute choir (yes, a flute choir is a real thing). She encouraged me to learn the oboe in 8th grade (the oboe being the most annoying instrument to listen to if the player has not mastered it, which I never did), join the marching band in high school and wear a bumblebee costume while performing "Flight of the Bumblebee" at 17 in a high school pageant. She also listened to me practice "Flight of the Bumblebee" at home for months leading up to the pageant, never once complaining, even when it made our 2 dogs howl. THAT is a good mom.

My brother and my other various hobbies growing up included going out in public in dance costumes and tap shoes (mine), raising baby mice and taking in stray cats (my bro's), entering different radio contests held by the Cartoon Network that involved changing our home answering machine message to "Cartoon, Cartoon" (both of us) and holding practices in our living room for a punk rock band (my bro's). My mom not only tolerated but encouraged all of these activities.

My Mom is also an amazing mom because she lets my brother have his life-sized "Creature from the Black Lagoon" cut-out be openly displayed in our house and never once complained. What a lady.

In honor of Mother's Day, here are some of my other favorite well-known moms:

1.) Jean Weir (played by Becky Ann Baker), from Freaks and Geeks

Jean's not the coolest mom out there; she wouldn't let her daughter Lindsay go to a The Who concert and has a tendency to read diaries, but she loves her kids and just wants to make them happy. Her sweetness could be misread for having no backbone, but don't forget, this is the same lady who once told her husband to wash his own dishes in a streak of boldness. She makes me smile.

2.) Joyce Summers (played by Kristine Sutherland), from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Come on, of COURSE Buffy's mom is on here! Joyce kind of started out as a bit of a drag, always wanting Buffy to go to school and confide in her and all of that, but she later turned out to be a pretty awesome mom. Sure, maybe she would have preferred that her daughter be the Homecoming Queen instead of The Chosen One, but Joyce soon adapted and grew used to the ample amount of time Buffy spent in cemeteries and the amount of blood found on her clothes. And really, any mom that can chill with Spike has a place on this list.

3.) Maria Von Trapp (played by Julie Andrews), from The Sound of Music

Maria was actually a step-mom, but a great mother nonetheless. How fun would it be to have Maria Von Trapp (or maybe even just Julie Andrews) as your mom? Every time you came to her with a problem, she could put her advice in a song. You want a new outfit, she'd cut up the carpet and fashion you a dress. Plus, you know she's got your back in a thunderstorm, which is a major bonus. Maria's only downsides are an inability to properly manage a rowboat and a tendency to forget punctuality. The Nazis are also not a fan of her.

4.) Roseanne, from Roseanne

Now, I understand that some people might be surprised by this choice, but I've always loved Roseanne. Out of all the moms on this list, Roseanne definitely keeps it the most real. She never panders to her kids or hesitates to tell one of the to shut up. And really, maybe kids need to hear that once in awhile. Roseanne worked her butt off for her family and put her kids' needs in front of hers, but also never apologized for serving a can of tuna (or beans) for dinner. However, she never really seemed to notice when her eldest daughter suddenly disappeared and was replaced by an imposter, so maybe her placement on this list DOES need to be debated.

And what's more fun than a great mom? A really, really bad one.

1.) Mrs. Flax (played by Cher), from Mermaids

Mrs. Flax was a complicated mom. Serving your kids only appetizers because you can't cook? Not healthy, but fun. Wearing the sexiest outfits in town when your eldest daughter is an aspiring nun? Not extremely thoughtful. Kissing your daughter's crush while tipsy? Downright mean. Moving your kids to a new town every time you earn the reputation of a homewrecker? Could be traumatizing. Still, Mrs. Flax meant well and maybe made a better friend to her kids than a mom.

2.) Any mother (and father) of a child featured on My Super Sweet Sixteen

If anyone is not familiar with this addictingly awful and cringe-inducing show, it's a reality show that follows rich families throwing their daughter/son a sweet 16 birthday party. The parties take excess to a new level, with the child usually throwing temper tantrums every few minutes, requesting brand new cars, celebrity appearances, custom-made ballgowns and cakes and pretty much everything but a mortgage on a brand new house. I actually find this show to be stressful when I watch it, as I want to hurt both the spoiled kid and the enabling parents. Here are some pics and captions I found on My Super Sweet Sixteen's website that will give you a taste of the show:

"Bobby wants some sexy dancers for his party so he holds a private audition at his house."

"Instead of a new car for her sweet 16, Geri wants an exotic animal so she goes to an alpaca farm to check a few out."

"Margaret Ann ends up getting not only the Hummer, but a matching wave runner as well!"

For shame, parents.

3.) Mary (played by Mo'Nique) from Precious


4.) Margaret White (Carrie's Mom) in Carrie

Carrie's mom is a bad mom for a variety of reasons. She's a religious fanatic, so she's not up for much fun. She has tons of candles and religious icons in the house, which is a safety hazard. When Carrie receives her first period, her mom tells her it's a result of her sinning, which is just misinformed. She regularly locks Carrie in her room and makes her pray, refers to her as evil witch and even stabs Carrie in the back (literally). Carrie's mom definitely tops the "Bad Mom" list and provides us with a few lessons on how not to parent (most important rule being don't stab your children while calling them evil).

After this extensive review of mothers, I just hope that when I have kids someday, I'll be the type of mother my own Mom is, where I could call her up tomorrow and say "Hey Mom, I think I want to be become a transvestite drag queen," and her reply would be "That's great, honey; when is your first show?" I love you, Mom! Happy Mother's Day to moms everywhere!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Buffy's on YouTube!

For those of you wondering what's going on with the Buffy project, it's been a pretty slow winter. We didn't film any scenes, mostly due to the cold weather and lack of wanting to be outside in California-esque clothes. Now that it's beginning to warm up we'll hopefully resume shooting soon and the blog will be updated accordingly!

I'd also like to share some potentially exciting news about Buffy. We've been discussing the idea of filming some of the behind-the-scenes footage and creating a making-of-Buffy documentary. Heather Trollope, our resident photographer, will be stepping up and using a video camera for the first time to capture all of this. It should bring you some pretty fun footage, which might include a lot of me and Velvet watching Buffy episodes at home (filmed in real time) and asking each other "Would Buffy wear this? What about this?" "Would you rather date Giles or Wesley Wyndam Price?" Lucky viewers!!!

The only recent Buffy news I have to share is that our opening credits are now on YouTube! The video went pretty viral overnight and has skyrocketed to 90 views and counting. Please give it a watch and tell your Buffy/Joss Whedon-loving friends.