Monday, July 13, 2009

Becoming Unimportant in a "Being Busy, Being Important" Society

This was written by Abott Christopher Jamison from his book Finding Happiness. The following excerpt comes from some reflections on the Beatitudes. What do you think about this?

We see that Jesus is speaking about the people who do not participate in the 'being busy being important' culture: the poor in spirit, who know that they are unimportant; the meek, who are by definition not self-important; the peacemakers, who are modest; the pure in heart, who are unassuming. Jesus is describing an alternative culture where nobody is important and everybody has time for those who are insignificant. This is His Kingdom, a place for those who do not fit into the busy culture. One of the core tasks of the church is to be the shadow side of the 'being busy being important' culture: a community of people who are unimportant, and yet who make everybody who comes feel significant. Each of us needs consciously to find ways to lay aside the tendency constantly to 'be busy being important'. We can do this by wasting time creatively, such as playing with our children or by giving time to those who at the material level give nothing back, such as visiting he sick or the lonely. We can do this by wasting time spiritually, spending time in meditation or reading spiritual books. We all know the such 'wasted time' makes us happier than any amount of 'being busy'. The reason is that these are acts of loving kindness that come from a pure heart.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Oh, Don't I Wish!

I saw this article on the NPR site and had to share. I don't know if anyone is even reading my blog, but what the heck, I might want to read this opinion article again sometime! LOL!

Foreign Policy: Meat: The Slavery Of Our Time
by Jim Motavalli, June 5, 2009 ·
I have a prediction: Sooner than you might think, this will be a vegetarian world. Future generations will find the idea of eating meat both morally absurd and logistically impossible. Of course, one need only look at the booming meat industry, the climbing rates of meat consumption in the developing world, and the menu of just about any restaurant to call me crazy. But already, most people know that eating red meat is bad for their health and harmful for the planet. It's getting them to actually change their diet that's the hard part — and that's exactly why it won't happen by choice.

Going by the numbers, eating meat is pretty hard to justify for the even moderately health-conscious. A National Cancer Institute report released last March found that people who ate the most red meat were, as the New York Times put it, "most likely to die from cancer, heart disease and other causes." The biggest abstainers "were least likely to die." Those who eat five ounces of meat daily, (the equivalent of one and a half Quarter Pounders or Big Macs) increase their risk from cancer or heart disease by 30 percent compared to those who eat two-thirds of an ounce daily — a stark difference.

The environmental impact is also crystal clear — and similarly appalling. "Livestock's Long Shadow," a 2006 report by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organzation (FAO), found that livestock is a major player in climate change, accounting for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions (measured in carbon dioxide equivalents), or more than the entire global transportation system.

The obvious solution to both health and environmental disasters is to stop eating meat altogether. But this is easier said than done. Even the studies addressing the impact of meat on the planet downplay vegetarianism, as if the authors are nervous to press it on people. Going veggie is not even proposed as one of the FAO's "mitigation options" (which instead include conservation tillage, organic farming, and better nutrition for livestock to reduce methane gas production). Nor is it emphasized in "Happier Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry," a report by Danielle Nierenberg at the Worldwatch Institute. The study's author is herself a vegan, but she told me, "Food choices are a very personal decision for most people. We are only now convincing them that this is a tool at their disposal if they care about the environment."

She has a point: Giving up meat is tough, and arguing people into it is probably a losing proposition. Even with all the statistics out there about the dangers of meat, there are fewer vegetarians in the world than you'd think. A Harris poll conducted in 2006 for the Vegetarian Resource Group found that only 2.3 percent of American adults 18 or older claim never to eat meat, fish, or fowl. A larger group, 6.7 percent, say they "never eat meat," but often that means they only avoid the red kind. Worldwide, local vegetarian societies report high participation in just a few places - for example, 40 percent in India, 10 percent in Italy, 9 percent in Germany, 8.5. percent in Israel, and 6 percent in Britain.

So how will we become a vegetarian planet? The numbers suggest that we won't stop eating meat simply because it's "the right thing to do." People love it too much. Instead, we'll be forced to stop. By 2025, we simply won't have the resources to keep up the habit. According to the FAO report, 33 percent of the world's arable land is devoted to growing crops for animal feed, and grazing is a major factor in deforestation around the world. It's also incredibly water-intensive. The average U.S. diet requires twice the daily amount of water as does an equally nutritious vegetarian diet, reports the Worldwatch Institute. Meanwhile, there will be more than 8 billion people on this earth, and two-thirds of the world's population will live in water-stressed regions.

Sounds like a mess — and one that doesn't bode well for our cattle cravings. Meat will disappear — except as a luxury available to few — and the ethical issues will evolve, too. In the way that slavery, once a broad social norm, later became an unthinkable crime, we can expect to see a similar shift once meat-eating disappears from our planet. Perhaps, some day, the very idea of eating animal flesh will seem as remote as the idea of owning humans does now. So if you're a carnivore, enjoy now — before the inevitable vegetarian revolution begins.

Jim Motavalli is a senior writer at E/The Environmental Magazine.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Fun...and Doggy Safety

It is a beautiful, warm , sunny day in Seattle and I am headed off to a water spray park with the kids! Should be the perfect way to spend the day. As much as I'd like to bring my sweet lil' Jack Russell Terrier along since there is an off leash park nearby, I pause and think before doing so. Where would she be while the kids are at the spray park? If I leash her outside, she would just bark with all the excitement around her. Normally, on a cool day, she might hang out in the car...but NOT on a warm day like today as our favorite (?) American Idol judge wisely reminds us:

Well said, Simon. On days like today, it's best to keep our pups safe & cool inside the house.

And although we'll miss her during our adventures today, we'll be sure to make it up to her later with a nice evening walk and some good play/cuddle time too!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Seattle Veg Help

Eureka! I found the perfect site to help with local vegan finds:

If you're not from the Seattle area, scroll down this awesome list to find links to other helpful (and possibly local) guides:

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm in Love!

Meet the new love of my life...Dark Chocolate Dreams (peanut butter blended with rich dark chocolate). It's like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in a jar. Remember those commercials where the guy with the chocolate bar crashes into the guy with the jar of peanut butter? This is the real thing. Only better because it contains no cholesterol, no trans-fats, no hydrogenated oils, and no high-fructose corn syrup. It is also gluten-free, VEGAN, and certified kosher pareve by the Orthodox Union. Wow - Reese's Peanut Butter Cup can't claim that kind of goodness! I have used it in PB & J sandwiches, over Coconut Bliss or other non-dairy ice cream, on fruit, and just straight out of the jar. It doesn't separate and is so smooth & creamy!! Just the perfect thing when my sweet tooth calls out and I don't have any homemade baked goods around.

New Title...New Beginning!

After a brief hiatus, I am back! My new blog title is Veg Spirit Mama. I chose this because I think it reflects the "trinity"of my being: compassion for all living beings, my spiritual journey and my purpose fulfilled as mama and guide to three beautiful children.

Three is also my favorite number, so a title with 3 personally meaningful words seemed perfect. These words symbolize what you might find me writing about on this blog. One day it might be a new vegan recipe or find, another day it might be the pondering one of life's bigger questions, and another day might bring the reality of being knee deep in laundry, a messy house and Lego building/ mud-pie making with the kids!

So, here we go... To New Beginnings !

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today's post wherein I question the sanity of blogging

It has been quite a while since my last post. Sheesh...that kind of sounds like a confession doesn't it?

Frankly, I have contemplated whether to continue with blogging or not...something I'm sure most bloggers have done at one point or another. First, there is the realistic challenge of time between homeschooling three kids and keeping a house & garden. In walking away from blogging, I have noticed that I am more free to be in the moment & present. It's about all the things I can participate in instead of sitting in front of the computer composing.

Second, does anybody really care? I mean this in the most sincere way. Although I don't look at the blogs I read as narcissistic, I have often battled that feeling toward my own blog. Do I really add any value to the myriad of voices out there? Would it be any better if I chose one topic of personal interest and stuck to that, taking the focus off of myself (for example just vegan living, just gardening, or just homeschooling, etc. )?

I have no answers at the moment...just contemplations...and that's okay. :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bananas & Black Beans...Who Knew?!

I love bananas. I love black beans. But bananas & black beans an empanada?

I saw the recipe today in the March 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times and thought I would try it since I had all the ingredients on hand. So glad I did! Delish!! The banana flavor is so subtle yet compliments the savory onion & garlic flavor. And the beans offer just the right texture. Making the dough was a snap. Yep, this one is a keeper!

Here's a quick pic as I pulled them out of the oven and broke one open...mmmm!

For the recipe, head over to:

Pacific Northwest Easter Egg Hunt

In true Pacific Northwest spirit, the kids hunted in the backyard through wet grass and rain for their Easter eggs after church. We managed to go outside in between the heavier showers when the rain was just sprinkling. Something about the rain sprinkles felt oh-so-familiar...reminding us of the Holy Water just sprinkled on us at church, perhaps? Fr. Bill always gives us a good soaking! Either way, it was renewing!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Bunny Visits

From our house to yours, wishing you a Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Catching Up With Fun From Last Week

A trip to Imagine Children's Museum In Everett:

Art class in town:

Playing with bubbles on a sunny day:

and planting pumpkin and sunflower seeds:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Parenting Is Not For The Faint Of Heart.

Just one month after my 7 year old son's elbow has healed from a roller skating fracture, he comes running up the porch steps crying with a bloody mouth. He is surrounded by an emergency response team of kids all telling me at once what happened. Apparently, he was trying to pop a wheelie on his scooter and hit his mouth on the metal handle bar - ouch!

I manage to get my son inside and close the front door before my Jack Russell Terrier escaped into the nooks & crannies of our neighborhood. I sit my son down on a nearby overstuffed chair and grab a wet wash cloth, trying to comfort him and assess the damage. He has his fingers to his mouth and is shaking uncontrollably and is wailing in both fear and pain.

I get the sense that someone is watching us beyond my 3 year old and 5 year old who are asking over and over again what happened. I look to my left and see the ER team of kids with their noses pressed to glass of the front door, struggling to see what's happening inside our home. Finally, I get a look inside my son's mouth to see that he has lost the top 1/4 of his permanent bottom tooth. Chipped it right off.

Yes, parenting is not for the faint of heart.

Cut to today - we just returned from the dentist where my son had an x-ray and all looked well with the tooth's structure. He did indeed chip off the top and lost some enamel. Our dentist suggested just smoothing it out for now, until the rest of his teeth have a chance to grow in and cosmetically fixing it later, perhaps even after braces some day.

On the bright side, my son was very happy that he did not have to have a shot in order to have a filling. He has also admitted, however, there was a part of him that really wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to finally have a real gold tooth. Since when is my child into bling??!!

Ah, yes...parenting is not for the faint of heart! :-)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Summer Inspiration

Today was a gorgeously sunny warm day in the greater Seattle area. We spent lots of time outside today... on trails, at a playground, and in our own backyard. It's exciting to know that the days of summer are just around the corner. I can't wait to start making lighter fresh food to go along with the sunny season. I saw this recipe in my Whole Living Body & Soul Magazine for Kiwi Summer Rolls and am thoroughly inspired!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Easter Egg Garden

My 3, 5 and 7 year old had a great time today breaking in our new set of gel watercolor sticks when they created this colorful Easter Egg Garden. Each egg is about 10 inches tall and they are taped to our playroom wall. All that is missing is some grass and a bunny or two...who knows maybe it's a work in progress. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Off To A Happy Start!

Today was the first day of homeschooling all three kiddos since pulling my daughter out of public school kindergarten. It couldn't have been more inspiring! The kids wrote in their journals, read poems, stories and books, played educational games together, visited some math websites and sorted and classified some of their favorite toys. It was all child led by their individual interest and it warmed my heart to see the three of them working so well together throughout the morning and early afternoon.

Everything about this decision feels so right. Part of me wishes, I had made this decision sooner, but the other part knows that things unfold as they do for a reason. Either way, I am just thankful for this day.

After such a focused morning and some lunch, we decided it was time for play and headed off to our favorite playground in the Madison neighborhood of Seattle. We enjoyed some hot cocoa and goodies at a local cafe and then it was off for some serious play!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mystery Trip

This weekend my hubby & I surprised our three kiddos with a mystery trip. They had no idea where we were going or what was planned, other than it was going to be fun, fun, fun!

As the date of the trip grew closer, they managed to get out us that we were headed to Oregon, but they still had no idea where.

Then the day before, they managed to get out of us that we would be staying in Portland.

After even more needling (three hours to be exact), we managed to keep the big surprise a secret until we got to our hotel. We finally revealed that we were going to the big Lego convention in town, BrickFest 2009. Knowing they were in a hotel with an indoor swimming pool and on-demand movies was huge enough, but a Lego convention? Kewl!(as all the kids say/write). And it was so much fun hearing our three year say he couldn't wait to go to the "Lego combention".

While in Portland we ate at two really great vegan/vegetarian restaurants, Vegetarian House and Old Wives' Tales Restaurant:
I've got to give them each a huge shout out. We will visit both again the next time we are in Portland - so yummy and both had excellent, friendly service.

Without further adieu, some photo highlights of our weekend:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thinking About My Girl

I'm thinking about my girl on her last day of public school kindergarten today.

After today, she will join her brothers in their homeschooling adventures!

But first, a surprise visit to Portland, OR for the weekend, where there just happens to be a LEGO convention happening. We will stay at our usual digs - The Marriott Residence Inn on the River Walk. Can't beat that place with their wonderful daily breakfast buffet and dogs allowed policy. Should be a fun way to kick off having the whole family on the same homeschooling page!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

One more reason I love homeschooling

I love Thursdays. It's the day where we don't have to be anywhere and can go with the flow at home. Today was a perfect example of that. After breakfast, we played a few math games, read, learned about the history of Shodo (Japanese calligraphy) and tried it out using a Shodo set while listening to Yo Yo Ma play Japanese Melodies over the kitchen speakers. My son said it was one of his favorite homeschooling experiences to date. Fantastic! Always love to hear that.

My youngest usually joins in on what we are doing in his own way or plays near us. Today I cozied up with him and read while my eldest son explored online at National Geographic for kids. All was flowing beautifully in our household...but as they say, this too shall pass...

My eldest son went up to his room to put something away and discovered that earlier his younger brother had completely dumped out his large US quarters collection map board. Not only had they been dumped, but many were missing. My 3 year old fessed up and promptly returned with his blue IKEA piggy bank & a butter knife in hand.

Then my two sons went to task at putting the map back together. They discovered they were only three states away from a complete map, so I brought out the loose change jug for them to dig through.

In the meantime, my eldest son found coins from France, Jamaica and Canada, which prompted us to look on our world map to see just where these places are. He taught his little brother the names of the different coins and together they discovered one more State quarter, they only need Oklahoma and New Mexico.

This is one of the many reasons I love learning at home...mishaps can turn into meaning and there is the time to slow down, work together and enjoy the moment.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Green Bouquet

I have been admiring the simplicity of this green bouquet that I picked up from my natural foods co-op a few days ago.

I like the way it brings spring into my house, reminding me that the real thing can't be too far away!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another shout out for Remedy Tea!

In my former blog I raved about my new favorite tea cafe, Remedy Teas in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle

Well, since that initial visit, I have been back several times enjoying my tea in their modern, cozy cafe and always bringing back a few new teas for home too. My cupboard now has quite a nice assortment and I look forward to tea time every day, often through out the day, to be truly honest!

Today my hubby & eldest son headed off for some skiing and I decided to take my daughter and youngest son to Remedy Teas and then to a playground for some afternoon fun in the city. My 5 year old decided to pack her shiny silver purse that says "Fabulous" on it, complete with a coin purse packed full of coins, so she could buy her own tea cookies.

After buckling everyone into the mama van, off we went, over Lake Washington and into Seattle. 35 mins. later as we pulled onto 15th Ave in Seattle, I realized that I left my purse at home!

Crapola! No, I did not say that in front my children, but I sure did think it. Well...perhaps a little more R rated than that, actually. Anyway, as I proceeded to hunt through old receipts, wrappers, kid art, napkins, diapers, wipes and toys looking for possible cash, my daughter said, "Mommy, it's okay, you can use my money. You don't even have to pay me back." sweet! That lil' girl is indeed Fabulous! I knew she had about three dollars in change and I found another $3.00 in change. So, all together we headed into the cafe with $6.00 which could easily buy us some tea to share and maybe a cookie.

When we walked up to the register I suddenly got the wise idea of calling my hubby. If I could catch him before he was on the mountain, I might be able to get our CC number...if the cafe would be okay with that. I noticed that the Anthony, the owner, was there and I explained my situation. He was so nice and gave me the phone saying absolutely. He was even thinking he could figure it out so I could get cash back if I needed that in order to get around Seattle for the rest of the day. Okay, Remedy Teas...I already loved you before, but now? It's for keeps!

So, we settled in with a kids tea service featuring Blueberry Cheesecake Rooibus, a pot of Roasted La Creme Green Tea for me, along with a vegan chocolate brownie and a few tea cookies to share. As always, the tea and bites were divine. And after the purse mishap, the warm welcome at Remedy made me feel like I stopped by a friend's house...a friend with great style, really cool decor, and a tea collection way larger than mine, that is! ;-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vegan Cowgrrrl Cookies

You gotta love the oxymoron factor in the name "vegan cowgrrl". I just love that!

This is my new favorite cookie. I saw the recipe in Jae Steele's Get It Ripe cookbook.

In her book, she writes that it is difficult to find a good vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe that isn't too oily or too dry. I couldn't agree more, having had my share of vegan cookies that disappointed. This one, however, has the perfect texture and the flavors compliment each other so beautifully. The best test of all, however, is to take vegan cookies to a party full of non-vegan eaters and see what happens. That is just what I did and wound up photocopying the recipe for several people who asked. Can't get a more honest review than that!

Here is Jae's recipe with a few of my own preferences and modifications. For example, the recipe calls for raisins, which I was out of, so I substituted goji berries instead and liked the zing of flavor they gave...not to mention all the health benefits. Jae said you could use coconut oil or sunflower oil and I will always choose the coconut oil because I love the hint of coconut flavor and think it compliments the walnuts & chocolate perfectly.

Vegan Cowgrrrl Cookies (makes about 3 dozen)

2 cups spelt flour

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/4 cups non-dairy chocolate chips

1/2 cup gogi berries (I soaked mine in water first and then patted dry)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 (scant) cup softened non-hydrogenated coconut oil

1 cup organic sugar

1/3 cup room temperature applesauce

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder and soda, and salt in a large bowl. Toss in the chocolate chips, goji berries, nuts, and cinnamon. Stir to combine, then set aside.

Mix the oil and sugar thoroughly in a separate bowl (use an electric mixer if you have it). Add the applesauce and vanilla and mix again until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients to wet, and mix just until flour is absorbed. Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto an unoiled baking sheet (you may use parchment paper , but it's not necessary), spacing them about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 13 minutes, until golden.

Jae suggests you eat 'em warm, or allow to cool completely on a rack before storing in an airtight container. Go, vegan cowgrrrl!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm Nesting!

I flew the coop over at Vox ( in the hopes of connecting with other vegan, homeschooling, tea drinking, politically liberal, Catholic, oxymoron-loving, blogging moms.

What? ...That's not you?
Well, how about 5 out of 7?
How about 3 out of 7?
I bet that's a possibility.
And even if it's not, it is our differences that make life more interesting!

I have noticed some gorgeous blogs here (lots of great photography) and thought it would be fun to venture out of voxland where it is pretty difficult for non-voxers to comment on posts. I'll soon be transferring over some posts from Vox, but mostly starting anew and blogging on the topics I listed as well as anything else that enters my sometimes random mind.

Hope you enjoy my new nest!

Mrs. Soytastic Who Looks Forward to Tripping the Light Fantastic