Photos and Life’s Loves: Stress Busting Edition

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Mornings. 

Lots of rain in these parts! Lots of books, lots of polishing of final term papers, humidity, smoothies, spring rains. Fortunately, i love all of the above so I’m more than content. This is the time of the semester when stress abounds. Everywhere, in every single tiny nook and cranny. Even though I try and work ahead when it comes to my writing and research, the last 3 weeks of the semester prove stressful nonetheless, packed with presentations, paper polishing, and perfectionism at its zenith.

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Kombucha brewing is on hold for the time being, for obvious reasons but I hope to start up another batch this week. Luckily, you can sustain a scoby off of a single batch of booch for weeks on end. You won’t get any kombucha from it, but your scoby will be alive and well! This is some ginger green tea brew from my last round of bottling, about a month ago.

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I found a bookstore! It’s about 45 minutes away in Southern Georgia and it’s perfect. I’ve been thinking of it since I ventured up last week. It was a rainy day, fairly cool as far as Florida goes. I took the drive North leisurely, listening to podcasts in the car. I found this little gem of a bookstore and my heart sang. I’ve been craving a small, independent bookstore ever since I moved here. I spent way too much money on books (a worthy cause if you ask me) including the newest Game of Thrones. No, I still haven’t watched the series yet! I won’t until I’ve read this tome. This photo was taken the day of, when I began reading A Dance with Dragons.

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About 4 days later.

Have I ever mentioned that I’m a voracious reader? As in ravenous. I go through books like a hungry vegan devours a tempeh ruben. I try to work ahead with my term papers, I wrote two of them nearly 2 months ago! This gives me time to a.) read Game of Thrones b.) polish them up slowly, over time, and carefully and c.) relax and enjoy my time. I LOVE being in graduate school, in fact I’ve never been happier. I like to enjoy this process. Writing is such a personal and intellectual challenge for me. Why waste it when I could savor every word upon the page?

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I’ve been enjoying natural light lately, with a few candles burning here and there.

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Lots of tea, lots of smoothies. The usual.

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I found an amazing new Indian place near my house last weekend. I got channa masala and a mushroom curry dish with veggie pakoras. Amazing and much needed, especially on my rest day.

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A now for a couple of recommendations for your week ahead. If you’re a nerd like me, you should definitely check out this podcast. Imaginary Worlds is wonderfully composed and thoughtfully narrated. In 10-20 minute episodes, Eric Molinsky looks at a variety of nerdy alt culture topics from superheroes’ origin stories, to a read of current politics by way of Game of Thrones (the books and the TV series!). Definitely worth a listen and a lovely foil to NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, another one of my new favorites. I went back and listened to the first episode of IW and I have to say, it’s one of the best introductions I’ve encountered in a long time.

Also, if you’re in the mood for a movie, check out A Fantastic Fear of Everythingavailable on Netflix. It’s brilliantly done. I’ve always thought that if Wes Anderson’s and Tim Burton’s diegeses combined, then that would be my ideal visual world. This movie is the closest thing I’ve found to that. The storyline follows writer Jack’s psychological state and his recently developed agoraphobia. There’s a point in the film (don’t worry, no spoilers here) where things sort of spiral out of control and it seems to be an entirely different movie from the one you started watching. But then, the end comes and everything is tied together so nicely and you completely understand (and appreciate) what just happened. I thought it was the perfect combination of dark, subtle humor, wonderful production design, and absurdity. It served as the perfect bookend to this past week, where writing and all of its psychological appendages have been on my mind almost constantly.

Books, movies, podcasts,  writing, amazing food. That’s pretty much what it’s been around here of late. Pretty swell, if I do say so. I’ve so enjoyed striking this balance lately–relaxation and enjoyment coupled to cut semesterly stress. Any tips and tactics that you use to find a similar equilibrium? Let me know if the comments!

The (Vegan Body): “Plus Size,” Androgynous, Queer Adulthood, Marilyn Monroe was NOT a size 12

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More often than not the cat joins me for working out in some capacity.

Happy Weekend! And welcome to this episode of the (Vegan) Body. It’s been a while, too long, since I’ve written one of these posts. With summer coming, and stress in my world abounding, it seems there’s been a lot of emphasis placed on female designated bodies recently. I often overhear astonishingly critical comments on campus, at the coffee shop, a friend was privy to some awful things said at her place of work the other day, all of which scrutinize women’s bodies. It’s been a good week for reading about this type of thing on the internet, so here are a few links I’ve found this week that make for some swell Sunday afternoon reading material, interspersed (as always) with photos of my life lately.

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(Re)defining Beauty always seems to be fascinating to internet readers everywhere. I do love this mainly pictorial article about several women who are changing the run way. I’m always thrilled to see more androgynous people in high fashion. In my opinion, it’s the most beautiful state of human existence. It would, however, have been great to see some different body types in this article, which mostly focused on gender presentation. Although I’m thrilled to see this, I’d love to see the spotlight turned to curvier girls in the high fashion world. Which brings me to…

One of my internet heart throbs. Stefania Ferrario, (I follow her on Instagram mainly) is the face of one Ms. Dita von Teese’s lingerie line. And she’s considered a “plus size” model. It’s high time we reassess the physicality of our beauty standards, and yes I do think that starts with the visibility of alternative models in the public eye. It’d also be great to see some heavily tattooed ladies making it big.

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We love mornings around here.

Also, in case you didn’t already know, Marilyn Monroe wasn’t actually the famed size 12 she’s touted as being. She’d actually be equivalent to today’s size 2. Also, a size 12 was a “thin” size back in Monroe’s day, so don’t go thinking the number on her dress tags was all that radical back then. As much as I love Marilyn, I must say that she was squeezed, plumped, and most of all marketed (then and now) into a brand that makes money. Identifying with someone as being similar to you be it via dress size or life experience is going to make you want to buy into what they’re selling. In that vein, yes I do want to own pieces from Dita von Teese’s fashion line.

On a slightly different note but along the same lines of alternative folks in the spot light… I loved this article from Autostraddle about what it means to be a queer adult. I think it hits many good points about how the world is changing to accommodate a certain socially acceptable form of queerness that’s been touted and spouted by the mass media–one that’s still centered on the idea of the nuclear familial structure, when marriage might not be comfortable/doable/desirable for some of us. Not to mention a slew of problems like Indiana’s current legalization of blatant discrimination, showing that discrimination still exist.

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Took a quick weekend trip up to NC recently for the weekend and we went to this amazing winery. Can’t wait to go back this summer when the fields are green and growing with grapes.

So, with all of these problems thrown in your face how do you go about navigating the world and finding a like minded support system? I’d turn to a few badass, vegan, body positive ladies who are constantly sticking it to the man and performing bad ass olympic and high intensity lifts. Might I recommend the brain child of one Miss Lacy Davis of Super Strength Health and Madam Holly Noll of Plant Fit Gym in Berkeley, CA? Friends, listen to Rise and Resist. It’d badass. I love it. I’ve started looking forward to it every week. From snack recommendations to talking about “bad” body image days, to staying fit with a partner, to working at a vegan gym you name it. Intersectionality at its finest, folks. You can find Rise and Resist here or where ever you get your podcasts. (It comes right up if you search it on the iPhone podcast app.)

P.S. Miss Lacy Davis also listed some of her favorite podcasts recently and so did one of my other favorite blogosphere babes, Sayward Rebhal. I’m a podcast junkie myself, and these two lovely ladies give some amazing recommendations and descriptions. I definitely second listening to Invisibilia, Serial, NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, This American Life, and Citizen Radio.

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Smoothie bowls are kind of my jam these days. This one is a typical green smoothie (kale, raw protein powder, a frozen banana, almond milk) sprinkled with pecans, cacao nibs, fresh strawberries, and chia.

Through the aforementioned NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, I recently found a new show that I just love. If you haven’t checked out The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, you most definitely should. I’ve been telling EVERYBODY about it and it’s just adorable. But don’t take my word for it, take a listen to the podcast for a great synopsis of the series sans spoilers and a fantastic analysis of some of the characters. It’s one of those feel good comedy shows that sort of fills the void left by the ending of Parks and Rec and adds satire and sass to an already serendipitous storyline. Also, as one of the contributors to NPR’s PCHH mentioned, it’s got one of the best intro songs ever. Stuck in my head as I type this.

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Happy reading, watching, and listening folks!

Hidden Abundance: My Favorite Kitchen Habits for Simple, Sustainable Living

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Hello friends! Lots going on around these parts! The semester is rapidly winding down and with it comes paper presentations and refining the drafts I pumped out several weeks ago. I love this time of the semester, it allows for some good restoration and self care opportunities if you just know where to look. I thought I’d share a few of my favorite practices that have helped me keep my sanity over the past couple of months during a very busy time of year. As a health conscious vegan, I put a lot of thought and effort into the regular activities that occur in and around my kitchen. This fuels both body and mind, giving me an outlet for creativity that allows stress reduction and the opportunity to create wonderful foods that make me feel strong and invigorated.

In the wake of the holidays (in my mind this wake lasts all of January and into February with another heavily commercialized celebration on Valentine’s Day) I’ve did a lot of thinking on abundance, how to have this without a lot of materialism. Ever since moving to Florida, I’ve made the decision to live simply — to have as few material possessions as possible but to invest in quality and truly love and enjoy what I do have, to only buy what I need and to be appreciative of my access to and ability to buy these things, products, or garments. (I’m thinking I might write another larger post on this topic, thoughts?) I try and take this outlook to other parts of my life, particularly in my kitchen witchery and cleaning habits.

When slicing and dicing and putting together today’s lunch salad (a delicious bed of romaine and arugula with tomatoes, homegrown sprouts, carrots, nutritional yeast, liquid aminos, and a bit of olive oil and lots of roasted chickpeas) I thought about a few simple practices that help me live what I feel to be a simple, sustainable life. A lot of the things I do in this vein pertain to my cooking and food preparation, a key part of my happiness and wellness on several levels, but I think that these tips can be easily applied to other parts of life as well. They’re ones that make me feel happy, healthy, and most of all good about the way I live and how it impacts not only my little life but also my carbon/waste/consumption footprint. In attempt to waste less and enjoy more, I love doing these things to help further my goals toward health and eco-friendly living. Enjoy!

Broth bag

I keep a “broth bag” in my freezer at all times. It’s just a gallon-sized ziploc bag that I toss all of my veggie scraps into. Carrot/celery tips and tops, onion skins and ends, kale ribs, garlic papers, you name it! It goes in the bag! Especially since I don’t currently have access to composting in my apartment (Oh, the follies of city/urban living!) this is how I make sure those good veggie nutrients don’t go entirely to waste. When the bag is full, I dump everything into a soup pot, cover with just enough water to submerge everything, add some salt and oil, and simmer over low heat until a delicious veggie broth has formed. After it cools, I measure it out and bag it up! Then back into the freezer for later uses in soups, to cook grains and rice, and other culinary needs.

Scrap Bowl

Similarly, I keep a bowl or two in my fridge for fresher veggie scraps, like lettuce ends and kale bones, that I can toss into my daily green smoothies! I’m not currently a juicer, but this is also a great way to garner some odds and ends to run through your home juicing system as well!

Ziploc recycling

I wash out and reuse my ziploc bags over and over! It not only saves money, but let’s be honest these things never decompose! I’ve bought literally 2 boxes of them since I moved into my new place. 1 box of gallon bags, 1 box of quart.

Invest in good food storage

Jars, the aforementioned bags, tupperware, pyrex, you name it. Buy it! Keep it! Use it! Love it! Don’t waste food, the freezer is your friend!

Cleaning with Vinegar

I recently did a top to bottom all out in depth Spring clean. In the middle of winter. I bought a gallon of cheap white vinegar for the occasion and it is not only 100% natural and eco-friendly but it also does a number on grease, grime, soap scum, and mineral build ups. Safe to use around cats!

And Baking Soda

Ever do those volcano experiments in grade school where you poured vinegar into baking soda and watched the “lava” flow? That chemical reaction is great for cleaning too! I used it in my tub and sink during the Great Spring Clean of 2015 and it worked wonders.

Movements Within Your Space

 In yoga, I’ve always loved doing back bends and shoulder stands. Part of exploring these types of poses is the ability to change your perspective by looking at the world from a physically different stance than you normally would. I spend a lot of my free time in my apartment: reading, studying, writing, cooking, blogging, working out. I like to try and do different things in different areas in my apartment. Mornings I love to spend in my sunroom turned study, beginning with my first cup of coffee while it’s still dark outside and eventually closing my laptop and readings when the sun has fully risen. Workouts used to be in the same area, but with the addition of a small TV to my life (one thing I love is watching a single episode of one of my shows while I exercise) I pull my yoga mat and weights into the living room every day. I like to write at my dining room table, but I also work on my laptop on the sofa, in the study, or in bed. Fully utilizing my own space gives me a sense of ownership over it and it also changes my perspective. How does my body adapt to this task in this room? In this chair? On the floor? I love making those little changes and I love inhabiting every inch of my beautiful little space.

A good note to end on, I think. So there you have it! Just a few of the little things that I believe make me all the happier and healthier, in both body and mind! Are there any little habits you have that help you with sustainable wellness?

How the “Inspiring” Good Fatty Hurts the Body Positive Movement

Rachel in Veganland:

” In “body positive” campaigns promoted by advertisers, we are inspired to believe that it is OK to accept any womyn’s body, as long as it is feminine, healthy, and still adheres to most of our standard beauty conventions. While watching an advertisement for soap, we are given a look into a stranger’s medicine cabinet. ”

I very rarely “reblog” things here on Veganland, but this is just too great not to share. I’ve always been wary of advertising campaigns such as the Dove Real Beauty schtick. (My undergraduate Women’s Studies 101 professor pointed out that the company is owned by the same folks as Axe Body Spray which really put me in perspective.) This article is beautifully written, provides great additional links and successfully problematizes the fetishization of the curvy body, one that is still idealized and only of a certain physical, racial, and “healthy” type. This fits in perfectly with my series “The (Vegan) Body.”

Originally posted on BITCHTOPIA:

CNN, The Talk, Huffington Post and many other valuable media outlets have finally caught on to how “inspiring” a plus size body can be in the spotlight. Each conversation, blog post, and promotional spot featuring a women with no thigh-gap has one thing in common: they mention how that person is healthy and beautiful. As if their only reason for being accepted as a true fat-bodied hero is the fact that they are “fat but healthy” or “full-bodied and gorgeous.” These large-scale media outlets have opened up the gates to reveal a new cliché, “The Good Fatty,” that disparages a good cause similar to the trope of the manic-pixie-dream-girl. When Ashley Graham’s Sports Illustrated campaign is discussed, even by the model herself, they’re quick to mention  that they “know my [her] curves are sexy.” Graham’s social legitimacy is directly linked to the fact that she embodies an acceptable form of attractiveness…

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