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 :)

Changing Kelly

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My life is such an unplanned mystery right now. I have friends who are happily married, raising kids, planning families, buying homes... But I am heading in a completely different direction. My children are growing. One is at school, one starts kindergarten next year. I have no partner to move forward with. I don't say this in a sad way at all. I'm happy where I am, it's just such a different place from everyone else, and I can't predict it. I have no idea. In some ways, it's actually quite exciting.

When you combine that with how much I have changed in the past few years, it really does feel exciting and new. I feel more certain now, of who I am, and more comfortable with that person. Friendships have changed, some have been lost, some have been strengthened; they're solid and they accept me for me. Brash, honest, passionate and loyal. I'm more confident in my own self, and maybe that's an age thing. Hmm. Wisdom sounds better than age... :)

I'm vegetarian, all but vegan, and I am so confident in that choice. Passionate about it, and it brings a deep seated joy that was unexpected, because I am being true to my values and beliefs.

I've lost 39 kilograms (86 pounds) in the past year, and whilst I have a way to go, I feel so much more alive, have so much more energy, confidence and such better health. I look at the photos of me below and I get emotional. My face is back, chiselled out of the fat that threatened to swallow it. For the first time, I feel beautiful. Feminine. Sexy!

I have no idea what the future brings, but my gut instincts tell me it's going to be worth waiting for. Worth the crap I've waded through to get to. Worth the dodgy men, the surgery, the confronting of who I am and being honest and truthful and authentic in myself. All worth it.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Before I move on, in reference to my last post - obviously we lost hope and the worst outcome became reality. Everyone has been affected by the story, and it's certainly left me feeling less safe on a night out. I hope her killer is brought to justice, swiftly.

Moving on, I'm back to another food post.

My wonton soup was ahhhhmayyyzing. I'll be making that again for sure. So delicious. And vegan! Less successful was my made from scratch Rogan Josh curry, which was just slightly bitter, and I can't pinpoint which ingredient was the culprit for it. The satay was quite good though, I also made the curry paste for that from scratch too. My Chickpea, feta and marinated vegetable salad - looked divine, tasted too vinegary. The marinade (bought) was too strong for my liking. Asparagus, broccoli and cheese pasta and Italian Suppli were winners (vego not vegan, had cheese). The most surprising win was the tofu kebabs. I don't really do tofu, but in the homemade BBQ sauce, caramelised up... so tasty! Would absolutely eat again and a great protein source to boot.

My rogan josh curry paste. home made! Toasted my own spices and all!

The rogan josh curry

chickpea, feta and marinated vegetable salad. looks better than it tasted.

Wonton Soup 

Italian suppli

BBQ Tofu and fried rice 

I also had great success with my vegan cheese experiment. It was s tasty and so cheeselike, I may be able to give it up and go full vegan yet. I have hope, finally!

My 9 year old wanted to cook dinner one night this week, so I let him choose what he wanted to make. He chose pizzas so we got some passes, some pizza sauce, and various toppings. He made ham and cheese for himself and his sister, and he made me a delish onion and mushroom one. So tasty, he did such a good job of doing all the cutting and using the hot oven and so on. I reckon we'll keep this up...

A good friend (Megan over at Living a Truly Blessed Life) sent me a recipe for vego sausage rolls. I was curious, because they really looked the part, so I gave them a go. They had a slight hint of oatiness to them (rolled oats was a big ingredient) but omg they were yummy and the texture was absolutely sausage rolly. But not scary meat! Even the 9yo gave them the thumbs up and declared them better than the ones from the shop (ie meat ones) he didnt even realise they were vego. WINNING.

I went to my sisters for lunch this week. She put on the BEST vegetarian lunch spread. I wanted to eat ALL THE THINGS. She had lentil burgers, chickpea and spinach sausages, falafel, salads, wraps, cheeses, antipasto... it was amazing. She sent me home with leftovers which went down a freakin treat. I really loved how much of an effort she made to make me something so delicious and so vegetarian. It was really special.

I seem to be getting a few repeat meals in rotation now which is good, means I've found meals I am seriously enjoying. Added in as new experiments this week are a tomato and cheese risotto, vego fajitas and for Grand Final day BBQ I did the most delicious mushroom and halloumi kebabs, corn on the cob with herb butter, and fried ravioli with fresh hommus. Far out it was good. I love food!