Farewell 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

It seems like only yesterday I was reflecting on 2011. This year has gone super fast. It was a busy one, that's for sure.

I've lost another 27 kilograms (60 pounds) this year, a total of 40kg (88p) since my surgery. It feels amazing. I still have a belly I need to lose which will take exercise. Exercise is still my nemesis, and a psychological block exists there that needs to be broken down. Still, I've lost an entire Finn, so to give him a piggy back and realise I used to carry that all day everyday is a pretty awesome comparison. My body is under so much less stress now and there is no question I have prolonged my life by doing this. It makes it easier when food gives me grief or I am having a rough eating day.

This time 12 months ago I had long hair, 1 tattoo, no piercings other than my ears, and I weighed 27kg more. Now I have shorter hair, 2 tattoos and a nose piercing, and am lighter. I feel every day I become truer to who I am and how I express that. It's an amazing feeling.

In 2012 I worked bloody hard at self esteem and self worth. Damn hard. SO hard. I came a very long way. So many things rattled me as I was vulnerable to them but I forged ahead. Again I have a way to go but comparing now to 12 months ago I have come so far it blows my mind. I no longer have a deep seated self hatred and disgust at who I am. I like me - inside and out. And that's a massive change. Next comes self love?

I made and lost friends in 2012 and while each loss shook me (and said esteem) and rattled me and caused me to question myself, each one also cemented who I am and the reflection and self doubt led to more certainty and awareness of myself, and can only be a good thing. The friends I have are not just friends. They are ones I'd trust my life to. They are the real deal. They are more like family. I am so incredibly lucky to have them and it's something I try never to take for granted.

Speaking of family, it went a bit pear shaped this year. My brother and I, who have had a fairly rocky relationship, are no longer in any contact and haven't been since July. I miss my niece and nephew but this is a far better choice for me.

I guess my blog highlights the most impacting change I made this year in my eventual - slow but sure - progress to adopting a cruelty free lifestyle and a vegan diet. It was an on and off road, I struggled and took my time to understand some of the new food options but I was determined. It meant too much to me not to keep trying and exploring it. I am now firmly entrenched in vegan living and nothing has made me happier. It feels wonderful, and it's who I am, inside. In my day to day life, I don't know or interact with any other vegans, except online. It can be isolating at times, and can feel like no one really understands me, although they all try and are considerate of my decision. Attending events like World Vegan Day and the Carols by Barnlight at Edgars Mission were profound and exciting. Being amongst like minds felt like a relief. I could just be me, no justifications, no defensiveness, just accepted and understood. Pretty powerful stuff. I need to expose myself to more of that. The supports I have online are amazing. In fact, I suspect in 2013, things are going to expand and take off again in this area as my good friend Vik and I have so many ideas for our 2 Vegan Girls venture. I am so inspired and excited about it!

My gorgeous Great Dane Gertie came to live with me, and we had a rough year. Poor love was diagnosed with dodgy kidneys and her life span went from 8y to 2y in an instant. It hit hard. She also had 2 incidents of poisoning which scared the hell out of me, but several thousand dollars later, she's still here, and still a giant, beautiful, sook. How I adore her!

We moved house in May, and have a huge block now for kids and animals to run wild. We added rabbits to our menagerie and aside from adjusting to the dreadful cold of winter in a house with high ceilings and a wood fire, it's pretty cool. My children continue to delight me. Finn is smart and wise and hitting preteen stuff at a rapid rate, scaring the bejeesus out of me at how quickly he is growing. RJ is a wicked delight, constantly making me laugh and cringe all at once. Preparing to have both of my children out of the home for a significant portion of the week with school and kinder terrifies me. I have been a stay at home full time mum for 9 years now and this is it. No more. It's scary and makes my heart hurt a bit. I know I will adapt, but it's going to be a rough ride.

I can't close out the rehash of 2012 without mentioning the major highlight. Something happened this year that I never imagined would, that is a dream come true, quite literally. I met the most inspiring and influential musicians - my absolute hands down all time favourite band: The Tea Party. Their music changed my life, changed how I view music and what it can be in life. That they reunited was major enough, but that they came to Australia and I saw them twice, and met them - was able to shake their hands and thank them... Fuck me. That blows my mind, still. What beautiful guys they are, I am so excited to see what 2013 brings for them and for me by extension in listening to what they create. Nothing topped that moment. It was amazing! Telling the guy on the door "no, not a competition winner, JB put my name down..." Nothing cooler. Nothing.

So, what of 2013? I feel like the critical thing to work on next year the same way I tackled esteem this year is laziness. No more having ideas but avoiding actioning them. Write. Create. Move. I know I can do this! No more getting in my own way. Exploring more veganism issues, studying again, and continuing to blossom into the truest Kelly I can be feels exciting. Let's go!

Happy 2013 to you and yours xx

I invented a fooding!

Friday, December 21, 2012

I am such a recipe rules girl. I can't veer from a recipe unless I have to and even then it pains me. I just can't do it. For the first time ever today, I put together my own recipe. So pleased with myself because it turned out SO nommy and would happily be nommed by carnis, omnis and vegans alike. TASTY! Would be the BEST comfort food!

I don't have a clever name for it, just going with Mash and Mushy Pie for now. Here tis!

5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
Soy milk
Dairy free butter (I use nuttelex).
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp (ish) porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in boiling water and chopped
1 portobello mushroom, chopped
4 button mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp fresh chives, chopped
1/2c vegetable stock
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 sheet shortcrust pastry (vegan)
1 sheet puff pastry (vegan)
sesame seeds to sprinkle.

Boil spuds, drain, mash, mix with soy milk, dairy free butter and salt to taste. While they are boiling, saute onion, garlic and mushrooms til mushrooms have released their juices and all are starting to brown. Add herbs and stock and cook until liquid evaporates. While this is happening, blind bake your shortcrust by putting it in a dish, with baking paper on top and rice to weigh it down. About 10 mins.
Add your mash to your onion and mushroom mix and combine. Spoon into pastry shell. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Top with sheet of puff, trim to fit. Brush with soy milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cook until brown and nommy!

Happy heart, happy body!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Yesterday I finally got around to visiting Edgar's Mission. It's a farm sanctuary here in Victoria and I have been meaning to visit for a good year now but had never gotten around to it. I decided to take the kids to their carols by barn light event. As it turned out my poor fair children were wilting in the extreme heat after barely 2 hours and we ended up leaving before the carols even began! A shame, but we filled the time we did have there so well. There was loads of vegan food (kids devoured vegan brownies and vegan ice cream), hundreds of likeminded people (several with the 269 tattoo), and happy, trusting, secure animals. I dont think I've ever enjoyed something more. So wonderful!!! The kids enjoyed it, petting the animals and there was an education room where they had a pretend sow in a sow stall and pretend chickens in a crammed cage and I was able to explain it to the kids. I hope it gets them thinking. I said to them when they were petting a turkey, THIS, THIS is why we are not having turkey for Xmas this year kiddos.
There were a few stalls set up too with merchandise and whatnot. I grabbed a great book from the store there as well called The Pig Who Sang to the Moon by Jeffrey Masson. I've heard a lot about this book so I am looking forward to reading it now. I feel inspired after this visit. There's something incredibly special about seeing the animals you've been wanting to save by going vegan up close and personal. It reaffirms your beliefs, and strengthens your commitment. Makes me want to do more and be more, and has me writing again. Blessings! Below is the article I wrote after interviewing Pam for World Vegan Day.

Edgar’s Mission is a not-for-profit farm sanctuary for rescued farm animals. Located in country Victoria, Pam Ahern and Edgar’s Mission are continually saving lives, conducting public outreach and offering a humane education program to the public.

In an ideal world, Pam hopes to see herself out of business, with no need for a place like Edgar’s Mission to exist. A world where the need for a farm sanctuary is no longer, where humans have moved into a deeper awareness of animal rights and cruelty free lifestyles. Pam works flat out, trying to meet the demands not only of the animals, but also in making rescues, campaigning and spreading the word, not to mention administrative tasks.

Pam suggests that a growing vegan market and awareness of a cruelty free lifestyle is much attributed to technology and the ease with which people can access information about vegan lifestyle choices. Additionally, “the threat of global warming has started a shift in people’s attitudes.  People are beginning to be open to the idea that the status quo isn’t appropriate anymore.  They understand that it is imperative to consider the environmental and ethical impact of the choices they make.”

The Edgar’s Mission website http://www.edgarsmission.org.au/ offers many ideas for the public to help the animals at Edgar’s Mission, from adoption, to donation, to volunteering for a day of hands on farming. There is also an online store offering everything from clothing to books and bags. 100% of the store’s proceeds go back into the farm and it’s animal residents.

Edgar’s Mission offers a unique visiting experience for volunteers and for vegans, it’s exciting to see first hand exactly what they dream of – a kind, happy, animal farm. By stopping by their stall at World Vegan Day, you can meet for yourself one of Edgar’s Mission’s joyful, content, animal ambassadors! 

Vegan FAQ!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What exactly IS a vegan?
Okay so a vegetarian does not eat animal flesh. This includes beef, pork, chicken, veal, lamb, duck, fish... Anything that once lived and breathed or had a pulse etc. A vegan is someone that in addition to this, also does not eat, wear or use any animal derived products so dairy, eggs, honey and so on, leather, animal tested products... Anything that uses an animal for profit or human gain is out. We believe that animals are not ours to use, simply because they are voiceless and unable to defend themselves against us. People ask me what about squishing bugs or eating plants since they are alive too. Let me try to make it simple - firstly, I try not to squish bugs and relocate them instead, but if I slap a mozzie and it dies, I don't beat myself up. It's self defence! Seriously though, killing bacteria is also self defence. Additionally, whilst plants live, they are not sentient beings that can think and feel, and as such, there is not a valid reason not to eat them.

Aren't you guys all hardcore, militant, omni bashing, guilt trippers?
Ha! Well, some can be sure. But so can some omnivores. Or some religious people, or anyone with a cause they believe in. I've certainly seen some around, but I was lucky enough to be unofficially mentored by two vegan friends who never judged me, always gave me ideas and alternatives and encouragement, but never forced their beliefs or reasons and only offered when I asked for them. There are some great videos and information on the web. Take the good with the bad and don't let it put you off. Everyone is on their own path and pace.

So I have to give up cheese altogether? I don't think I can...
You know why? Because cheese is literally addictive. Those naughty casomorphins! They have an opioid effect. Yes that's right. Cheese is opiate like, morphins. Morphine. In your cheese. No wonder you love that stuff, right? So once you can break that addiction, you won't miss cheese. The vegan cheeses available commercially are continually improving. There is parmazano, a vegan parmesan, and my current favorite is Vegusto. That stuff is awesome and soy free (soy cheeses can sometimes leave an aftertaste). I am also very partial to tofutti and kingland cream cheeses! As for your cheese sauces for pasta and so on, never fear, nutritional yeast (read further down) is a vegans bestie.

Some of my best comfort foods are vegan, won't I miss them?
Okay so we are talking what here? Chocolate, ice cream, pizza... all that crap that firstly isn't good for you but we all want anyway. Let me let you in on a secret - you can still have all of that as a vegan. ALL. Of. It. Vegan chocolate includes most dark chocolates, and there are brands such as sweet william that have milk and white varieties and can be found in Coles. Venture further afield to a specialist vegan store and you'll be inundated with vegan chocolate varieties in every flavour imaginable. Including tasties such as champagne truffles. To die for.
Ice cream is another one we can sort you out on easily. Coconut based ice cream is delish. I've even made my own in the ice cream maker (with a salted caramel sauce over the top - decadence!) but its available to buy as well. And if you want to go a healthier route, there's always (egg free) gelati!
Let me talk about pizza. I've been working on a good vegan pizza over time. How can you do pizza without cheese man?! Easy!!! I've used a cashew cheese that I home made, and I've used vegusto. Both were yum. I am hanging to get my hands on some Notzarella which I have heard amazing things about, but also Cheezly do a vegan mozzarella and a vegan nacho melty cheese. Drooooool.
There are a huge range of vegan burgers and bacons and so on if you know where to look. You don't miss out, and it's worth hunting for it for the lives you are saving.

Doesn't vegan mean all healthy and raw and grainy?
Well, it can. Unless you are like me and love your creamy, cheesey, carby, 'bad for you' food too much... I've made or bought vegan schnitzels with mash and gravy, cheesy potato bakes, lasagnes, pizzas, chocolate peanut butter pies, cupcakes, yum cha... All 100% vegan. I have always loved food, too much mostly. But I am not someone who could easily go without. I am a foodie, I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to taste. Being vegan doesn't cost me any of that, and indeed with it the satisfaction and kick I get from eating cruelty free and knowing no animal was hurt for the sake of my taste buds, it just gives me a pretty cool high. As a bit of a teaser, check out these vegan cookie dough truffles from my favorite vegan chef... drool!

What are all these things that are new to me? Agave? Nutritional yeast? Gluten flour?
This was a minefield for me when I first started eating vegan. I'd say it took me a good year to get my head around all the substitutes and their uses. When I first got nutritional yeast, I used it as a sprinkle on chips. Which is great, but it's nothing on using it to make a cheese sauce for a lasagna or alfredo. It's not yeast like baking or brewers yeast. A friend told me it looks like fish food. lol. It kinda does! But it really emulates a cheese flavour perfectly.
Agave syrup is a great alternative to honey. It's sweeter than honey and has a kind of toffee taste to it. Brilliant sweetener.
Gluten flour can make a product called seitan, that's kind of a wheat meat thing. It also makes killer schnitzels.
There are various egg replacers, a ton of milks and techniques for baking that make cupcakes nicer than any dairy based cake I have ever had in my life. Vegan baking always comes out lighter and fluffier for me!

What is the hardest part?
For me, it was cheese. Once I got rid of cheese, I was fine. I find meat and eggs kinda gross anyway, they're all veiny or mucousy and just... ew. lol. So I didn't find it hard to dump those. Milk was also easy to switch (my favourite alternatives are bonsoy, almond and hazelnut milks). But cheese was tough. I tried I guess 4 or 5 different cheese alternatives but none were as good as dairy cheese until I found mild vegusto. I'd not know the difference between it and a dairy gouda. Whilst it doesn't melt well, it still tastes good on pizza, and they also do a more piquant flavour that I am told is sharp and bitey like a parmesan though I am yet to try that one myself. That and just learning what substitutes are out there and getting familiar with them took time. Oh, and reading labels on things I assume are vegan but turn out not to be is frustrating at times (eg lime and pepper crisps, you'd think oh vegan easy. Hello milk solids. FOILED AGAIN!)

What is the best part?
I said it earlier, I really get a kick out of eating cruelty free. I think that before I always ate with a subconscious feeling of unease and guilt without ever really being aware of it. now that I avoid all those products, I just feel so happy and amazing. So true to myself. I've never experienced anything quite like that before! Knowing my health is better, and losing weight more easily are added bonuses.

Got any other questions? Ask away. I'm here to help!

Can you help me?

Monday, November 26, 2012

To say I am an emotional person is to say the Grand Canyon is kinda big. I feel everything intensely. A cause I believe in? I am all in. Relationships? I love with my entire heart, give it all and am loyal to a fault. This is not normal, and naturally I rarely get the same sort of thing in return, and that can lead to innrer turmoil, despite logically understanding it's me that is not normal in what I give.

When you feel everything so deeply, you can imagine too, what negative emotions can be like. I feel fear and hurt so deeply it becomes devastating. And self hatred? If there is a hell, that's what it feels like.

It's pushed people away. Some I am glad to see go (after all, if they can't empathize and accept my faults, then they're not the people I thought they were, or want in my life anyway) others I regret seeing leave.

I don't know how to be any other way. I've fairly been called intense, over the top, melodramatic. It's not by choice, I just literally don't know how to bring emotions back to a manageable level. I don't know how to keep things in control. God knows I have tried. The only thing that's ever enabled me to think logically and not react emotionally, is a heavy painkiller that numbs things. That's hardly a sustainable way to live.

So what do I do? How do I fix this? How can I live a little less from my poor heart? Help me.

Vegan Parenting

Friday, November 23, 2012

Am finding this a super interesting though and topic lately. Having again cut dairy as well as eggs and meat, I find it strange that I still provide all these items to my children. Why? Well, I also provide chocolate and treats sometimes whilst knowing they aren't good for them. All in moderation, so forget that - but having omnivore children means I am buying and cooking meat. As a vegan, that is confronting and challenging, but the alternative is demanding my children be vegan, despite having allowed them to develop a taste for meat whilst I was eating it as well. Just because I have change my mind and beliefs, doesn't mean I force them to, right?

Or does it? It's really a grey area, I think. I guess where I sit on it, is that my role is to provide options and information. I don't sugar coat what the are eating. It's dead animal flesh. They know that. I have had a few talks with my 9 year old about it, and he asked why dairy if it doesn't kill the animal and I explained veal and separation of mother and baby etc. He was horrified, but struggles because he enjoys the taste of these things. I reassure him that is okay, after all, it took me 34 years to reach that place. He is 9, in time, maybe. I want my kids to make their own informed choices, but I don't want to force it on them anymore than I'd force a religion or even atheism on them. It's their choice to make.

Is that controversial? Maybe, but it works for us.

Vegan is not a dirty word

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What's going on, friends? What have we done to the word 'vegan' to create a stereotype that sees people shut down before we can even begin to speak about it?

From what I can gather in my interactions, vegans appear to have a reputation as militant and judgemental. And that our food is boring and raw and healthy and not at all tasty.

I AM HERE TO CHALLENGE YOU! On all counts! Last night I went out to dinner with friends. I ordered fries, one ordered pizza and the other a big steak. As our meals arrived, the steak eating friend said she felt bad eating it next to me. I said 'it's fine, don't worry." The pizza eater said "it's okay, Kelly's a good vegan." A good vegan. I laughed and asked what that meant - "you don't beat us with statistics and examples of why it's bad all the time."

Interesting. I can't see it appropriate at all for anyone, to sit down to a meal with friends and lecture them on their food choices. I post links on facebook, I talk about ethics and health on my blog, I put the information out there, but I try not to lecture. Sometimes I border on it, but I try hard not to. I feel like I have to try extra hard because of the vegan stereotype.

What is interesting is that for me, the two major influences on my adopting a vegan lifestyle, two close friends who are both vegan, were not at all stereotypical in this sense. I have had no experience of such vegans. I've met only kindness, understanding, patience and helpfulness. I guess the old adage you win more flies with honey than vinegar (or whatever the fuck that saying is) is apt here.

I'll happily challenge the food stereotypes too, my goal is to show you can be vegan and not miss out on anything. The fact that I've managed vegan peanut butter and chocolate pie, schnitzels mash and gravy, and a number of other indulgent dishes shows that you can have comfort foods, junky foods, tasty foods and live a life of kindness and compassion to all species - it's not all quinoa and flaxseed. Promise!

A very vegan Christmas?

Monday, November 19, 2012

This year will be my first meatless Christmas. I'm determined to make it 100% vegan but that becomes increasingly difficult when you're planning a family lunch with all omnivores. So what do I do? I mean, it's their Christmas too and they're looking forward to a great Christmas feast. Including dead animal flesh.

So do I make my own food and let them prepare what they want, knowing only I will eat the vegan stuff? Do I insist on making at least some parts vegan only - surely they can accept vegan plum pudding? Do I skip traditional food and aim for lots of salads and appetizers instead of a great nut roast and hope that pleases?

I don't really know how to handle this. And it's the first of many. Anyone got ideas or experiences with this?


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another busy week has ended, I finally have a life back again, at least until the pre xmas and RJ birthday rush begins in December. Yesterday was Finn's school fete, worked my arse off the past month making more Harry Potter stuff as I did for his party, to sell at the fete - at least this time I had help from another mum at school, and we killed it. Brilliant success! And, as you saw, on Friday, I had a birthday. What a year. Wow I have come a long way. I was just looking at a video taken 12 months ago and was gobsmacked at the changes both outside and in. I have hope for my life again, you can't imagine how that must feel. From despair, hopelessness and just existing to hope, passion and excitement about the future. Enormous. Exciting!!!!

So, I wanted to talk about my favorite birthday present this year. It's my new tattoo.

What does it mean? Well, in the simplest way to explain it, 269 was a tag on a calf sent to slaughter, it became representative and provided individuality to the millions that go through this all the time. It's personalising the cause, I suppose. You can read more about it on this link and this one. For me, it serves as a reminder for my passion and beliefs, and for where I want to be. The V is for vegan, and I will keep going. I feel more strongly than ever that pursuing a vegan lifestyle is what I want to do and need to do. This provides an opportunity to promote that as well, as I explain what it means when people ask. Giving a voice to the voiceless is becoming more and more important to me every day. I'm excited to have that reminder on my skin now forever. Solidarity!

Happy Birthday, me.

Friday, November 16, 2012

So, it's my birthday. I'm 35. I wasn't feeling good about turning 35, it just felt like I'd reached a crest and am now on the other side. From youngish to Middle Aged. Closer ever closer to the big four-oh. But, it sure beats the alternative. If I'm not aging I'm dead!

When I think about my life and look at the bigger picture, there's so much to be grateful for. There's so much to love about being me. I challenge myself endlessly for self growth and am making some pretty awesome leaps and bounds. Physically and mentally I'm a different person to the me of 12 months ago and I'm really proud of that.

I spend my life in the company of the most amazing friends anyone could imagine. The people in my life are not just people to pass time with or good mates. They are inspiring. They are real. They care about me and they cheer me on. They cry with me they celebrate with me and they genuinely care about my life and my happiness. I'm so lucky to have so many of those people in my life. It's overwhelming. I'm so grateful. From all over the world, my friends make my life so special every single day.

And my children. Who couldn't feel good about a life with these two in it?! My reserved, smart, sensitive, son who feels things so deeply and just wants to please. My funny, feisty, happy sunshine daughter who makes me giggle daily. So different to one another but so bloody amazing. They're my life. They're my reason. I'd do all the hard painful parts of my life over and over if it meant they are mine. I'm incredibly lucky to have them.

I've a friendship strengthened by blood bond with my mum and sister that fills me with a deep sense of belonging and happiness that comes from knowing I'm understood. Truly understood. I talk to mum every single day. She knows all my secrets and loves me completely. Nothing tops that feeling.

I have things I believe in passionately. Causes, creative ventures, things that make my soul sing and hum. I vibrate with life. I'm happy. I'm 35.

World Vegan Day P2 - FOOD!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oh my aching belly! So much deliciousness. I didn't get anywhere near trying all I wanted to, but here is a selection of what was there that I *did* get to!

Mister Nice Guy cupcakes. These were amazing. So light and fluffy and delicious. From the rear L-R there is Champagne Strawberry, Key West Lime, Red Velvet, Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Vanilla.

The Champagne Strawberry cupcake was my favorite. Champagne buttercream icing, dense strawberry and light vanilla cake. OMG. SOoooo good.

My kittehs enjoyed the vegan petfood sample from the showbag. Devoured! 

Fritz Sorbet - oh how I wanted to try all the flavors but limited myself to two. Lemon (my all time fave) and this one which was apple raspberry and one of the best things I have tasted in my life.

This was a mini dim sim vegan style. Dense and heavy but not bad.

Vegan spring roll, light, flaky pastry and delish insides. 

A chilli-non-carne Funky pie. SO tasty!

The Satay Funky Pie. My fave. DIVINE.

How good a bargain was this? 50% off Booja Booja truffles, SO potent and yum.

My Vegusto stuff in action. A meat and cheese sambo yet vegan! The cheese on its own has a hint of sweetness I am not keen on, adjusting the tastebuds... it's great with other flavors though. The deli slices are SO tasty and good.

World Vegan Day

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On Sunday I attended World Vegan Day in Melbourne. I was a bit nervous, felt like a n00b, despite having done some interviews and writing for their blog. Anyway, I wanted to be early to make sure I was able to secure all the loot I wanted to get so I got there right as it began at 10am, before the crowds! It was a beautiful warm day which was great. The atmosphere was fantastic, very relaxed and united. It felt great to be at something that I believed in, with so many other people who agreed with me! It was weird and a bit difficult being on my own. I felt self conscious for a good hour before I relaxed, and beyond that, it was sort of depressing not to have anyone to share it with or talk to or say "hey look at this..." That aside though, I really loved it. I left feeling inspired and excited about veganism, feeling again that real deep emotional joy that nothing but veganism brings out in me. I also spent a fortune, but FINALLY got my hands on vital wheat gluten to make seitan and cutlets with, as well as a haul of other things. See the pics below for details, and my next post for the food alone! I already can't wait for next year!

This is Vegie Head doing her cooking demo. She made yum choc butter and jam. Adele is absolutely gorgeous and so friendly. love her stuff.

This is a lovely goat, part of Edgars Mission

My good friends over at Turning Veganese have rescue bunnies. I saw this sticker and had to get it for them! 

Yummy World Vegan Day birthday cake!


This is my shopping haul. I have savoury yeast flakes, gluten flour, guar guam, Mister Nice Guy Cupcakes, Funky pies, Natures Quest skin and beauty products, truffles, vegusto cheese, vegusto deli slices, vegan jerky, tiramisu sauce, bunny sticker and my showbag. Phew!

This was at noon, only 2 hours in and it was buzzing!

Showbag contents - lots of literature, dish liquid, 2 soaps, vegan pet food, body wash and serum, a towel, a laundry bag and lots of discount vouchers!

Come back tomorrow for the foodie pic post!

My darling sister

Monday, November 12, 2012

On Friday, I went to my sisters for lunch. She is a meat eater, yet she goes to SO much trouble to make a vegan meal for me that it just makes me emotional. It's so caring and so supportive of my choice. She says that she feels bad for eating meat and doesn't blame me for judging her. I said I don't - not really. I have moments but I realise everyone is on their own path and that you accept and go to such effort for me is a show of support in itself.

She really laid on a feast, too. We had fruit in dark chocolate sauce, stuffed olives, cannellini bean and vegetable soup, a yummy salad and chickpea burgers and sausages. Then she showed me that whilst passing a bakery, she had seen vegan cupcakes for sale so had brought me two red velvet vegan cuppies. Bless her! How kind is that?!

I got she and my mum to taste the cuppies, both were floored when I explained the cuppie had beetroot in it, and the icing was tofu and lemon zest. You'd never guess it!!! DIVINE. My sister is awesome. My birthday is Friday so she even stuck a candle in the cuppie and they sang to me.

This is my beautiful sister with her lovely 'Squeak' who she has raised from an egg!

Red velvet vegan cupcake!

How good does this soup look? Tasted amazing.

BBQ - Vegan style!!!

#OpEleanor P2

Friday, November 9, 2012

An update on Op Eleanor. Have I been facing down fears? Hell yes. It leaves such a weird feeling, it's sort of exhausting. This mix of looking forward to something whilst at the same time desperately just wanting it to be over - I feel in a permanent state of that feeling and its high anxiety. Tough.

I worked! I nailed the interview I mentioned last post, and I worked for a few hours on Tuesday. I loved it. The sense of purpose and adult interaction and money... I offered more help in the future and she has my number so I will just hope. They were wonderful people to work for.

You know what else I did that seems completely nothingy but is a huge deal to me? I booked a spray tan. I've never had one before, whilst I am still a big girl, I am 39kg less than I was and confident enough to get one at least. Still nervous as hell, though. It's not a booth one, it's an airbrush vegan one from Lavish Tan. Thankfully, my communications with Alex so far in making the booking have reassured me it will be ok, she is lovely.

I'm also going solo to World Vegan Day on Sunday - nervous but excited. That same mix of feelings for all of these things. I think my adrenalin rush will kill me by the time December rolls around!

My nest is emptying a little

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I'm scared. There. I've said it. Scared may even be an understatement. Here's the backstory - I tried for almost 3 years to conceive my son. Eventually, I did so, and he is my precious firstborn. He's now 9, and in grade 3, time is flying by at a pace I cannot keep up with. We started trying for a second child when he was just 6 months old, knowing how long it had taken to get him, and aware the same challenge may present itself. In fact, it was worse. It took five long, pain filled years, rounds of clomid, of artificial inseminations, of giving up altogether, then of IVF and finally, finally, my beautiful daughter was conceived and came into this world. She is turning 4 next month. You know what that means, right?

It means next year she is off to kindergarten. 15 hours a week there, before beginning school in 2014. And I... I can hardly bear to think of it. That sounds dramatic, but you must understand how longed for my babies were. How much I have valued every second that slips past faster than I can grab onto it. How much I enjoy their company. When RJ was just two months old, my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. That first year of her life was a blur of chemo, surgeries, and fear. Not to mention the masters thesis that I had to write and submit. Mum is now three years cancer free, my masters is completed, and my baby girl is about to start leaving the nest.

I don't know how to prepare myself for this. Just thinking about it makes tears well up on my eyes and my heart pound. I know I am overreacting and I know I will adjust. God help me when they leave home. I am going back to school next year, so that will help me stay busy while she is gone. I have the Two Vegan Girls project to invest myself in. I just know I will feel like I am missing a limb when my little sidekick is no longer here beside me, permanently. It will be okay... right?? :(

Operation Eleanor

Friday, November 2, 2012

So, a friend of mine Undomestic Diva, last year started a challenge for the month of November: Do one thing every day that scares you. It's back on again this year. Inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt, this challenge is both simple and terrifying. Really. How willing are you, to step outside your comfort zone? It's hard. It's really, really, hard. But it's also incredibly rewarding in a way that you can't imagine until you do it.

It takes a lot of courage. But I am going for it again. November is the month of being brave. Let's go. November 1, I saw a post on facebook, a winery I once stayed at and loved was asking for staff. I was terrified. I haven't worked since being a SAHM to my kids, but this suited and so I thought 'be brave, have courage' and I called them. So I am going in on Saturday to talk it through.

Nov 2, something that has been on my mind for a few days nagging at me, kept pushing. It was then I read Undomestic Diva's post, and it gave me the courage to go from thinking to doing. You know, all my life i have put 110% into my relationships. I give so much more than I get. That's okay, if only I were getting just half of that back. I've been giving so much to another relationship recently, and it's just not coming back. I keep being pushed away, and even friendship is a big ask. When I left my husband and again when I had weight loss surgery - these were enormous decisions that basically came from saying, you know what? I deserve more. I am worth more. I believe in me. I can say unequivocally, that this recognition came from the edge. The very edge of believing I was worth nothing at all. Somehow, I found something to believe in in myself, and so I made those hard choices. What would it say now, if I were to ignore my worth again? It would all be for nothing. I don't want all that pain and hard work to have been for nothing. So, I stood up again, gave my inner self a big hug and said "I believe you deserve more" and I said as much to this guy. It was hard, because the insecure me - which is most of me - is scared. What if? And being alone, is horrible. But is only vaguely being with someone any better, truly? Especially if I feel undervalued and unappreciated? If he's not even sure he wants to be with me? Deep down, I think so, but it hurts. It hurts a lot. Do one thing every day that makes you afraid.

Op Eleanor is amazing. If you join, there's a twitter hashtag to follow - #OpEleanor, and you can follow Undomestic Diva and read along with her blog as well. Maybe just taking the leap to say "I'm going to do this' is your first scary thing?

Retrospective guest blog!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nothing like missing ones own guest blogging post. Oops! Back in September would you believe, I guest blogged for the fabulous Veggie Mama! http://www.theveggiemama.com/2012/09/guest-post-veggie-mama-vs-omnivore.html I love Stacey's recipes. They are vego without being tasteless or - god help me - all insanely healthy and raw. Taste, not missing out on yums, that's what I am all about. She has the lot. Love her stuff.

Exciting news!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Have you ever had one of those moments, where something just falls so perfectly into your lap, so perfectly into place at the right time, with the right people, and it just works? I had one such moment this week.

A friend of mine, Viktoriya, was tweeting over the weekend from the Activist Forum in Sydney, and I watched on RTing madly and enjoying what she was reporting back. I sent her a message saying that I wished I could attend and wanted to get more involved. She suggested I contact the people over at World Vegan Day Melbourne. The same people coordinate the Sydney Cruelty Free Festival and this friend had done some writing for them and thought I may be able to do the same.

I was thrilled! Writing and Vegan living! Huzzah!! I made contact and put in a call to talk about what I might like to do to help out, I chose a few sponsors of World Vegan Day to write about and made contact. I really am enjoying learning more about what services and products are out there for vegans. Just really exciting stuff!

I was talking to Vik about the articles and she mentioned in passing, the idea of collaborating on one. I was hit with a clear and bold idea and immediately replied with - what if we collaborated on a blog instead?? She could cover Sydney, I could cover Melbourne, we could talk about our own journey to cruelty free living, our passion, our inspirations... Happily, Vik loved the idea and Two Vegan Girls was born. I hope you will support us as we work out where this wild ride will take us. I have a fantastic vibe about this. Exciting times ahead!

Make your own pledge to Make It Possible by going meat free, reducing meat intake, or eating only ethical meats here.

Winners! Is it you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Time to announce the winners of my Kate Morton give away. I loved reading your replies about who you read and why, and now I have more authors books to devour myself. Yay! These books arrived yesterday and they are beautiful. I cannot wait to read one myself. Please email me at feistierkel @ gmail (dot) com with your address if you are named below. Thank you again to the wonderful onions at Allen & Unwin for giving us all an early look at a fantastic book.

Belinda H (from her tweet reply)
Truly Blessed Life

Love books? Love to #win? Looky here!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My favouritest (is so a word :P ) book publishers in Australia, Allen & Unwin, have kindly allowed me to give away some copies of The Secret Keeper. The new and not-even-on-shelves-until-November book from Aussie author Kate Morton. Kate has 3 bestsellers under her belt already, and The Secret Keeper will be no different.

In a bucolic English summer at the end of the 1960s, a young girl witnesses a shocking crime. Fifty years later, she sets out to find out the truth, uncovering layers of mystery and deception. Moving from London during the Blitz to the present day, this is classic Kate Morton: a compulsively-readable, entrancing mystery with a long held secret to be uncovered at its heart.

1961: On a sweltering summer's day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can't wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.

2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds - Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy - who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.
Shifting between the 1930s, the 1960s and the present, The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder and enduring love.

I don't know about you, but that's enough to have me completely drawn in. Cannot wait to devour this one. Want to join me and win your own copy? I have 4 copies to give away! Simply comment and tell me your favorite Allen & Unwin author/s  and why (click through to a list!) Don't forget to like my facebook page here. Good luck!

Note: Open to Australian residents only

What are you about?

Monday, October 15, 2012

So, I have no idea what my blog is about. When asked to categorize it, I sort of say 'er.. parenting I guess, although, probably more cooking at the moment. Oh and books, I talk about books a lot...'

In other words, I have NO freaking idea. And just as I start to be concerned about this, and worry that I have no niche and no target, I remember I don't care. I just write about stuff. Stuff I want to talk about. Not many people read it, but that's okay, because it means I can talk about a hodge podge of life in general, and I'm not turning anyone off. Because when I started this blog, blogs were exactly that - a web log. A diary of someones thoughts and experiences. They were not big business, and they were not targeted to specific audiences. That works for me. So, on that note, here is today's hodge podge of everything that smooshes together in my life right now.

Books. I am reading non stop, and was reading a mix of fluff and crime and mystery, but have found myself freaking out too much at the scary books lately, so am on a run of fluffy chick lit at the moment that has escapism firmly planted in its ethos. Bliss. Given I've had this stupid cold/flu thing, it's quite timely.

Writing. Every time I open my... well, I suppose I can call it a story? A book it is not. My writing, anyway, every time I open the file I look at it, feel stupidly overwhelmed, and so promptly close it again. This is Not. Good. Writing. Practice. It's just that it's such a mash at the moment of research, fiction, time sequences are all over the place, and it's quite simply, a big fat mess. My lovely friend, Jess, tells me that the most difficult part of a story happens from 20-30,000 words and if I can get past this hurdle, things will be better. I can see how that is true, I just have no idea how to push through this portion that is the draft from hell.

Food. I'm all about Mexican this week. Because how good is Mexican food?! And it's so freaking easy to vegetarianise (made that word up). Right now in my fridge I have portobello mushrooms, capsicums, and onions marinating in fresh chillies, garlic, lime and lemon juices and paprika and cumin. Helloooo vegie fajitas! And every week I make refried bean burritos and chilli sans carne. So freaking good. So, I was scoping out more ideas for Mexi-Vegi goodness and I have some awesome recipes up my sleeve to try soon. Mexi pot pies, mexi pasta, vego nacho, and this interesting burrito bake that has me intrigued and uncertain, but curious enough to try.

Gertie the great dane now lives in a run for most of the day, she has her own leather couch and all. Spoiled rotten. And she has free runs 3 times a day for a couple hours. Given she mostly sleeps, this seems to work well, and keeps her safe. No more toxins and emergency vet bills. So far. Knock wood.

Parenting is as amazing as ever. I really am so lucky to have scored two of the coolest kids. Finn is 9 and the smartest kid I've ever known. His NAPLAN results were off the chart. Literally. Super smart, and sweet as hell, he's uber nerd like his parents, totally into Dr Who and Minecraft. Love it. Miss RJ is 3 and hilarious. Such a cheeky little bugger, thinks shes hilarious (and usually is). I currently have the worlds biggest Barbie Dreamhouse in my car for her birthday. I want to keep it.

Life... well, life is pretty awesome right now. I am on track with stuff, I have happy texts pinging my phone most days of recent... ;) And I am looking forward to uni next year (enrolled already!) The only thing that could add a touch of sweetener is some more freelance, paid, writing work. So... Get in touch all you editors. I'm a good work. Guy. (Thanks, Lenny).

Picture Credit: http://weheartit.com/entry/40126860/via/abillest

Dismissing mental health

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I just realised that today is World Mental Health Day and it got me thinking. Do you think we dismiss mental health too easily? I guess we are getting better at it, but the stigma persists for many. I know that I never afford myself the same treatment and care when I am feeling stressed out and depressed that I do if I am stuck in bed with a head cold or a bug. I expect myself to just get on with it. Keep going. Expectations are there to be met, and I refuse to allow 'feeling down' to stop me meeting them.

At the same time, when it comes to friends who are feeling depressed or who are battling a variety of anxieties and mental illnesses I am a vocal campaigner for self care and time out. I insist they take the time to address their needs better, I recommend books, doctors, the notion of medication as necessary the same as it is for any other illness.

I have suffered anxiety and depression on and off for years. It's mostly in control, but I don't think it's something that will ever be cured for good. It's just something I manage now with medication, books, and breathing exercises, along with natural alternatives like exercise and sunshine. Some days I just don't want to get up. Some days I just don't want to put on a mask and say all is dandy fine. Some days I want to say I am not okay. I am finding that easier to do. I am finding people quicker to accept and help. Maybe that stigma is fading after all.

I love this idea of developing a Wellness Toolbox. Having some tried and true tools on hand that you know will help, even a little, is a great idea.

Develop a wellness toolbox
Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. Include any strategies, activities, or skills that have helped in the past. The more “tools” for coping with depression, the better. Try and implement a few of these ideas each day, even if you’re feeling good.
Spend some time in nature
List what you like about yourself
Read a good book
Watch a funny movie or TV show
Take a long, hot bath
Take care of a few small tasks
Play with a pet
Write in your journal
Listen to music
Do something spontaneous
Source: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm

For me, it all comes back to self talk. Challenging my 'what if's' and negative attitudes. It can be exhausting, but it also helps to remind myself that everything comes back to two emotions: love and fear. Finding the fear in the emotions helps me find a way to address it practically, whether it is entirely rational or not. I think it's also important to be kind to yourself, and remind yourself it's okay to struggle sometimes, it will pass, and hug your inner you. Go easy. Remind yourself that this isn't just you having a bad day and you should just get on with it - mental health is a serious health issue and shouldn't be easily dismissed. You'd rug up and get some rest were it a cold, so do the equivalent for depression. No cop outs, no fobbing it off. Accept it, love yourself, and find what helps bring you back - however long it may take.

Furthermore, you're never alone. Friends, family, health professionals, help phone lines, even social media can be invaluable on 'black days'. Make use of it. You're worth the effort.

Need urgent help?

If you or someone you know is at risk of harming themselves or someone else it is important you get help immediately. You can take the first step in doing this by:

Speaking to your doctor (GP or psychiatrist)
Calling the Psychiatric Team at your nearest hospital
Calling Lifeline 13 11 14 or Suicide Helpline (Victoria only) 1300 651 251
If the person is threatening to harm you call the police on 000 (triple zero).
Some tips for getting urgent help include:

Express the urgency of the matter without becoming aggressive
Speak clearly
Give the health professional specific examples of concerns
Give a brief history of self harm or harm to others
Ensure that you listen to their advice
If they are unable to help, ask them why and who you should contact
Source: http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?link_id=107

Further Help.

Lifeline 13 11 14

Risotto anyone?

I am a risotto fan, very much so. I really hate the stirring though, and I am too poor for a thermomix, so stir I do. It's always worth it.

I wanted to share this recipe from Veggie Mama along with my slight tweaks because it is one of the best risotto's I have had. In the history of ever. It was divine!

So I didn't know what or where to find these Heirloom tomatoes, so I just got the vine ripened tomatoes from Coles and they did the job nicely. Stuck them in a lightly sprayed with olive oil pan in a hot oven for an hour. Just kept an eye on them until they were slightly bursting, on the verge of collapse. Perfecto.

Meanwhile, I chopped an onion and minced 2 cloves of garlic and cooked them to soft in a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of nuttelex. Marg or butter is fine, I use nuttelex as standard so it's my usual. Then I added a cup of arborio rice and stirred, and thus began the stirring. 6 cups of veggie stock (you could do some wine some stock of course), and stir, add, stir, add, stir, add. You know the drill. Until all your stock is absorbed.

I was goats cheeseless, but feta isn't far off the salty cheese mark so I whacked about 100g of that in, and stirred through until melted, along with 1/4c of parmesan and some pepper. I didn't add salt, because the stock is already salty, as is the feta. You could mess around with taste here. I also instead of adding another knob of butter, added a generous splash of cream. Super creamy cheesy risotto. Then I topped it with my roasted tomato and some fresh continental parsley leaves.

Then I put it in my face. And oh my goodness. It's one of those eyes closed, savouring the taste moments. The roasted tomato just gives such a perfect compliment to the risotto, and the flavours are amazing. Drrrooool. Eat up!

A giggle

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Was reading this library book to my 3 year old yesterday, and came across this page. Maybe it's just my dirty mind, but I was in hysterics! A friend suggested it was 50 shades of Shrek, lol. Certainly a tricky one to read out loud without dissolving into fits of immature giggles.

Onward to the future

Monday, October 8, 2012

I made a decision this weekend. I've ummed and ahhed over this one for some time. Some years, actually, and with my youngest starting kindergarten in the new year, the time is now. I'm going back to school. Again. I know, I know, I have an unhealthy addiction to study. I've studied for most of my life. I have a Bachelor of Arts, I started a social work degree, then I did a Grad Dip in Literature which extended into a Master of Arts in Writing and Literature. Then I toyed with the idea of education and teaching, and pondered journalism. And here I am. Again. I applied for a Grad Dip in Journalism yesterday. I have a feeling I may already have a deferred place to accept, I forget now, but hopefully that all sorts out and I can nut it out. If I want to, I can get advanced credit with my writing units and just do 4 units for the journalism part, but might do the full 8 of journalism units, not sure yet.

The thing is that all of my qualifications so far are, well, useless. Sort of. I mean, they are a foundation but they do not specifically meet job criteria. They're a little wishy washy - I loved them, I don't regret going after passions and they've all given a solid base to stick this GD onto and to then go into positions which want specific media qualifications with an extra boost. I'm excited about it. All I know is that I need to write. Whether it is journalism, fiction, creative or factual or a combination of all the above, I need words in my future. Am I too late? Is all but 35 too old to get into this over young hungry grads? I like to think I bring wisdom and experience to it as well, but whether that will be enough, only time will tell.

I may create my own positions, I may create my own work out of it all as well yet. Certainly I have ideas that with the right knowledge could become a future in and of themselves. Life awaits. Watch me go!!!

Guilt free food

Friday, October 5, 2012

So a friend linked me to this video of Mayim Bialik talking about veganism recently. Now, apparently she's all Big Bang Theory or some such, but frankly, she'll always be Blossom to me.

Anyhoo, I watched the video and nodded along but when it got to the end I almost leapt up out of my seat and exclaimed YES!!!!!! Because she hit the nail on the head for me, about why I love being vego so much, and what this bizarre feeling of absolute pleasure, joy and elation is.

It's the lifting of guilt. Just like Mayim, I always had some level of guilt about eating animals as far back as I can remember, though not always consciously. It just never fit with who I believe myself to be. It never felt okay. So, as she says, no longer consuming meat or using animals for my own pleasure lifted that guilt entirely. This results in such a beautiful feeling of lightness and joy that it can be hard to describe. The only people who seem to understand and grasp this feeling for which 'happy' seems understated, are those who are also vegan or vegetarian.

This is the book she refers to by Jonathan Safran Foer, and I agree it's a fantastic book for those interested in veganism and vegetarianism.

Tomorrow, I am giving up my day to trek into the city and attend a rally to ban live export. I am looking forward to hearing what Lyn White has to say, and to meeting others who share my passion for this issue. Nervous, shy, all that but this means too much to me to skip.

Dreaming repressed emotion

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lately I have found myself in dreams where I am screaming at people in absolute fury. Any number of reasons, which are usually irrelevant but I am not just angry in these dreams, I am absolutely livid and screaming in anger. I know that dreams are a safe way of venting pent up or repressed emotion, but what on earth am I so angry about that it is so intense and concentrated?! It is somewhat disconcerting, for sure.

Last night, I had a dream that there were loads of people on a beach, and out at sea, there was a cow stuck, drowning and it was bellowing in a horrible moan. People were distraught and upset, yet no one was brave enough to save it. Then my boyfriend - played by Johnny Depp (I'm not even kidding!) - went out on his surfboard with his mates and managed to rescue it. People were relieved and went back to the nearby restaurant. When I walked in, they were all back to their steaks. I lost it. I screamed at them asking how many of them had been affected and upset by that moaning, drowning cow? They all raised their hands. I said "then how the hell can you come back here and eat steak like it's not remotely related???" They looked at me as though I were insane. One friend rolled her eyes and said "take it easy, it's totally different." I got in her face and screamed at her: "you don't think that the cows in the yard at the slaughterhouse, waiting their turn in the run, hearing those before them executed, don't feel the same fear as that cow in the ocean??? You don't think they feel fear and terror in the same way?" Then I threw her plate across the room and stormed out.


Then I dreamed I went to a New Kids On The Block concert so I don't know. That's REAL anger :)