Monday, December 21, 2009

Graduation and Walk Down Memory Lane in Greensboro

As usual, I am behind on my blogging. I have many blogs to get too, but this one seems to jump to the front of the stack. I am sure you will agree.

On December 17th, John (my husband), me, my parents, his parents, his sister and family, and his other sister and husband all met in Greensboro to celebrate John's graduation. This was not just any graduation, this was the day he was officially awarded his PhD in Clinical Psychology. This was a special day because it has taken much time, dedication, and hard work. John is the hardest working person I have ever met. He also loves what he does more than anyone I know, and that deserved a celebration.

(John and Rosemary)
John has been finished with classes for more than a year now. His last couple steps included finishing his dissertation, getting licensed as a Psychologist, and finally his residency/internship at Duke University Medial Center. He finished this all in June, but had to wait until December to actually walk. Since June he has been in a post doctoral position at Duke in their medical center, specifically in their ADHD clinic (and no it is not ADD any longer. It has not been called ADD since the 80's).

This is a major accomplishment and needed to be celebrated. After graduation, we headed out to lunch with the family and John's adviser, Dr. Rosemary Nelson-Gray. It was a nice way to celebrate John because he so rarely takes any credit. After lunch, he made a small request to go to his favorite coffee house to have a celebratory cup of coffee. So, we headed Tate Street Coffee House.

So, what is it about Tate Street Coffee that is so special? Is it the amazing cup of coffee or the eclectic decor? Yes, and so much more. This place holds significance for John because he spent many afternoons studying, writing papers, and doing research in this particular coffee house. It is located near the UNCG Psychology building and it was a way to get in a short walk and his caffeine fix each day. John stopped here almost every day to get a cup of coffee in his reusable Tate Street mug. He claims it has the best coffee he has ever had.

Normally, I would disagree with buying something every day that you could make or bring from home. This was different, I never said a word. I understood how important a trip to the coffee shop was for him. Sometimes he worked over twelve our days in the psychology clinic and doing research and he had an hour drive too and from work. This was his only break and only sanity in a long and hectic day. How could I be against that? And besides, we could handle this small expense.

(John and Me)
John is a determined and intelligent person. Since I met him, I knew I wanted to be like him. His dedicated example turned me from a C student to a A student and motivated me to go to graduate school. In his short time in Psychology he has accomplished so much. He has a publication and research list that is impressive. His credentials and hard work have landed him a position at Duke University.

He should be proud. His family is proud of him and I am proud of him. John does not like to talk about or make a big deal about himself. In fact, I wanted to hold a party with family and friends and he just wanted his family to come to graduation and go to lunch. If it was me, I would want a big bash and would make everyone call me "Dr. Newman."

We all deserve a little celebration and I am going to call him Dr. Mitchell at least for the next couple of weeks.

Congratulations, Dr. Mitchell!

(John's vegan celebratory cake from Dharma Bakery in Durham, NC)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vintage Aprons on Etsy

On a recent trip to Buffalo, my mother acquired some vintage aprons from my grandmother. They are all from the 1950's and all homemade. I was so excited when I saw them because I knew they they would be a great addition to my Etsy store. I invited several friends over and we spent the afternoon taking pictures of ourselves in the aprons. We had a blast posing in the kitchen and with different cleaning devices.

I have started adding them to my site slowly. One of the first aprons that I added to the store was a smock made from colorful tree and stream pattern. The fabric was in good conditions and only had a few small stains. It sold soon after I put it on the site.

Since the first apron, I have only added two other aprons to my store. They are both aprons that tie at the waist.

The second apron is also from the 1950's and is made from a delicate cotton fabric. The fabric and stitching is in excellent condition and the apron is not worn or faded. The front pocket contains lace and small blue flowers. This apron would be great for anyone who wants to add some delicacy and fun to cooking or cleaning.

The third apron is also from the 1950's and is made from a fun patterned fabric of windmills, a dancing couple, flowers, and hearts. This apron was never used and is in excellent condition. The apron does not look worn or faded and has held up well. This apron would be a great addition for anyone who wants to add a little pizazz and color to cooking and cleaning.

I have several other aprons that I have not listed as well as some vintage clothing. I plan to list even more after the holidays. When I started my store, I did not expect to also sell vintage pieces. I am glad that in addition to remade and recycled products that I am also selling vintage pieces. After all, purchasing a vintage piece instead of something new is a GREAT way to recycle and remember the past!

Happy recycle-shopping!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Technology Dark Ages?

I have, yet again, got behind on blogging. So many things to blog about, so little time to blog. My hope is to catch up soon. Maybe not.

One of my co-workers suggested that it was because I have to sign on to a computer to blog, instead of a phone. I will admit it.... I am in the dark ages still. My phone is for calls only. I have text messaging turned off (yes, I do mean turned off. If one is sent to me it goes into the land of lost texts.). I also cannot access the internet from my phone. The only purpose my phone has is receiving and making calls and voice mail. Like I said, I am in the dark ages.

Maybe if I had the internet on my phone, and a decent keyboard, I would be compelled to blog more. Probably not. There is too much to do most days and I would never get around to it.

My parents recently got iPhones and my Dad is convinced that we need them as well. I am just not sure I want to be that connected. I do have an iPod and that is almost too much technology for me. We do not have video gaming systems either (besides a PSP) and I cannot see us getting them anytime soon. The Wii is loads of fun, but I do not want one. I love playing the Wii when at someone's home, but I only like it in group settings. Playing with friends or family is a blast and I look forward to game nights including a Wii (or board games). I would not play with a gaming system on a daily, or even weekly basis, by myself and John does not have time for videogames. I know a lot of people that have them and most play them often. That is pretty cool, it is just not us right now.

Even the computer that I type on is from the early 2000's. For some reason, technoloy stresses me out. I am cool with other people enjoying it and I am glad they do because they can help me out when I get something new.

I might have to eat my words, but presently I am going to remain a technodinosour.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

SALE At My Etsy Store!!

In the spirit of the holidays, I decided to put some of my products on sale in my Etsy store. I took of at least a dollar off of most of my products! Happy shopping and Happy Holidays!

Please visit my store at:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving. My Least Favorite Holiday.

Thanksgiving is one of my least favorite Holidays. In fact, I would have to say it IS my least favorite. There are many reasons that make me dislike Thanksgiving. Two reasons resonate with me the most. The first, and the reason I have disliked Thanksgiving the longest, is the slaughter of so many innocent turkeys. Approximately 45 million turkeys are killed for the holiday. It is hard for me to see the good in that. The only thing I can be thankful is for the birds that were spared.

I know people eat meat and I rarely say anything about it because I feel that "to each their own," but I just cannot condone this cruelty. This whole holiday is not based around its original roots. It has become a celebration that condones killing (of animals) and gluttony. Yeah, that sounds like fun! Where do I sign up?

The truth is that hundreds, if not thousands, of animals are killed on a daily basis and it makes my heart ache. To take a stand against this ridiculousness, I try to attend the nations largest vegan Thanksgiving celebration in Durham, NC. (I will post on this very soon!)

On to the second reason.....

Reason number two is that on Thanksgiving in 1999, my grandfather, affectionately known as Papa, passed away suddenly. We had moved to NC in August of 1998 and I got to see two more times. He died a month before I was set to see him again for Christmas in 1999. His death has impacted me more than any other death in my life. It has been 10 years and every time I think of him, my heart eyes tear up. I still dream of him often and think of his voice and his embrace.

He was tall and husky and looked like a tough guy, but had a soft heart. He came across as a bit gruff at times, but no one ever questioned the love he had for his family. When everyone else seemed like an enemy, he was a friend. We often debated about different topics, but it was in good fun. We had very different views on things and it did not matter. He decided to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays for spiritual reasons and on those days, he ate only vegetarian. After I became a vegetarian, I appreciated his special diet because we would eat together. Ma, my grandma, would make the same meal for the both of us. This seemingly small thing was actually very important to me.

I miss him more than I probably should, but he was very special to me. If you have been fortunate enough to know and be close with your grandparents, than you just might understand this feeling. I cherish his memories because that is how I can keep him alive in my memory and my heart.

So, now you see why Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Truly Natural Apple Pie

In an effort to make good on my goal, I am blogging on this rainy and dreary night. I am on the couch with a warm blanket and a hot cup of Silk's pumpkin spice drink. Mmmm! We recently discovered this seasonal drink and I have been indulging in a small warm mug each night. It makes me want autumn to last forever!

Since we have moved to our new home, we have been able to shop at Earth Fare. At first I was sad that we were about 15-20 minutes away from Whole Foods and then we realized the greatness of Earth Fare. It is North Carolina owned and I enjoy supporting "local" businesses. It is a lot like Whole Foods, only not as crowded. The store takes a strong stance on only selling good, healthy products. The store has a list that they call the "Boot List " and they do not sell products containing the ingredients on this list. Such as, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors/sweeteners/flavors/preservatives, bleached or bromated flour, etc. I am very impressed by their commitment to health and to the environment. For example, if you don't bring your own bags when you shop, you are charged per bag to pay for the carbon offset. In addition, the bags that they carry are compostable.

HFCS, artificial ingredients, and hydrogenated oils have become commonplace by a many mainstream companies i because they are cheap. Earth Fare does not just stock products that are cheap, they stock what is right. They are a great example for the American food market, and the market could use an overhaul!

This blog is not intended to be a rant about our society and its declining health due to the chemicals in our food. It is really about an amazing vegan pie. You see, after we signed up for their mailing list, we got a coupon for a free pie from Earth Fare. We went to the store hoping that they had a vegan pie and that they would honor the coupon for one. To our luck, and surprise, they did!

That same evening, we cut two pieces and enjoyed them warmed. The pie was better than I expected and guilt free (not calorie wise)! No animal products, no artificial stuff, no hydrogenated oils, etc. Just pure, sweet delight!

Since then we have made Earth Fare part of our regular shopping experience. We do not buy all of our food there, but we buy what we can. I would rather spend a bit more money on good quality, healthy, and organic food than on anything else. In the end, I feel better. We do not have any products, or many, with HFCS and we now eat more organic foods. That gives me piece of mind. I cannot control much in my life, but I am really trying to make a difference and this is one way.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sushi, Miso, and Ginger Dinner

Ever since I heard of sushi, I was on board. Only the vegetable kind, of course. (Vegetarians don't eat fish.) About 10 years ago, I saw a demonstration about how to make sushi and I was sucked in. I bought a bamboo sushi set and tried it out. It was not hard! I put my own little twist on it, so it is not traditional, but we like it.

John and I were craving some of the ricey goodness, so we decided to have a sushi night. To go with the sushi, we made miso soup and a ginger salad. This is one of my favorite meals to get at a Japanese restaurant. Not all miso soups made are vegetarian, so sometimes I substitute the miso part of the meal with edamame.

Instead of white rice, we used brown rice. I know it is not traditional, but we prefer to eat brown rice. In the sushi we used avocado, carrot, cucumber, and pickled diakon. For the salad, we used red leaf lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers. We bought a ginger dressing from the store and it we liked it. Nothing is better than the ginger dressing from my favorite Japanese/Thai restaurant, but this dressing was good enough (by the way, if you know of a way we can make ginger dressing from scratch like you would find in a Japanese place, please send me the recipe). For the miso soup, it was simple. Water, miso paste, tofu, wakame, and scallions.

I was less than impressed with the miso soup. I will keep trying. We loved the sushi and the salad though! We did not the sushi into slices, because we need to get our knives sharpened and it ends up turning into a mess. Since it was just the two of us eating, we kept it in form of a roll and ate it whole. It is a little challenging to dip it in soy this way, but it still tasted like we wanted it! Yummy!

Writing about this and thinking back to sushi night, makes me want sushi again. I think I see another sushi night in our future. Guess I better get out my chopsticks and bamboo sushi set.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vegan Dinner in Madison

In late September I went to Madison, WI for client work. This is only my second trip to Madison and I have nothing negative to say about the city. It is the capital of WI and is a college town. It is easy to walk around and from what I could tell, it is relatively safe. I have heard a lot about Madison and from what I could tell, they have a lot of vegetarian places in the city (or at least places with a substantial vegetarian/vegan menu).

I arrived into Madison and to my hotel a couple of hours before dinner and settled into my room to catch up on work email. When I was in Madison the year before, I had tried a place that I could not remember the name, but it had a lot of vegetarian options. I just remember it had Nepalese food. So, I searched and I came across a place called Himal Chulli. The name did not sound familiar but, I wanted the cuisine again.

As I read the menu, my mouth watered and knew I had found my place. So, I called in my order and walked downtown to pick it up. I ordered the "Seiten Buff." Which was described as "stir-fried organic seiten with onions, garlic, mushrooms, broccoli, green pepper and mediterranean spices. Good in any season. Served with choices of rice or roti and dal or tossed salad." I love seitan, especially homade seitan and was excited to get back to my room and chow down.

The pictures do not do it justice, but the dish was just heavenly. The spices were perfect and it was some of the best seitan that I have ever had. The Dal (shown below) was also just lovely. The lentils were cooked perfectly and the broth was lemony, warm and plain delicious! I practically licked the container clean.

While walking back with my order, I noticed that there was another place that had Nepalease food (go figure!) called Chautara. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was the place that I had eaten the year before. In addition to Nepalease, it had Tibetan and Indian cuisine. I remember that my meal was also very good at that place.

When I travel for work, I so rarely get any time to explore. Even though I had a night ahead of me of work, it was nice to be able to take a walk downtown. It is even better when I have so many vegetarian choices!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Christopher's Christening

This post is me officially meeting my goal and blogging before the week ends! Woo Hoo!

Over Labor Day weekend, we went to Ft. Hood, Texas to spend the weekend with family. John's brother (Paul) and his family is currently stationed there. The special occasion was the Christening of our nephew, Christopher. John and I are very blessed to be the Godparents to sweet Christopher.

To see the pictures, check out my album on Picassa.
Christopher's Baptism and Visit to Ft. Hood, Texas

It was great to see everyone all together and spend time as a family. The nephews were fun to watch together in action and Christopher brought a smile to everyone.

I cannot wait until the next get together!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Post?

I find myself again the position of blogging about NOT blogging when I have stuff to blog about (yah, I know I used that word too many times). I could give you a list of excuses. What's the point?

The bottom line is that I need to just get to it. So why aren't I writing about those things, instead writing an excuse? Well, I have to get my photos together. Most of the time, I need a visual to go along with my post. I could tell you about some of the food or products that I have made, but it will not be useful unless you can see a visual element.

I guess I could try and think of things to blog about without visuals, but the blog might just turn into a gripe session. I am not sure that would be interesting to anyone, but me. If even that. I have topics to gripe about, but that is not the point of this blog.

My goal is to get my act together by the end of this week (Sunday at 11:59 pm) with some type of a blog with a visual or a link to a visual. Let's see if I can accomplish my goal.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Helena's Visit

It has been a while since I have blogged. This is not because I do not have stuff to blog about. Other things have been taking up my time.

My brother, his wife, and their daughter (David, Rhea, and Helena) came to visit at the end of July/beginning of August and I FINALLY got around to posting the pictures from their visit. I am not sure why it has taken me so long.

The visit was interesting and there was a bit of drama, but all I care to remember or take away from the visit is Helena. She is the sweetest little girl I know. She is loving, funny, easy going, and happy. What more could I ask for in a little niece?

I see so much of myself in her that at times I felt like I was looking into a mirror of me as a baby. When out in public, people came up to me and asked me questions about "my daughter." They were surprised when I said she was not my child. I probably enjoyed this more than I should have. :)

My brother and his wife are so blessed to have such a wonderful little girl. She has brought so much joy to me, my parents, and my brother and his wife. I love her to pieces!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rhubarb, Blueberry, and Mango Cobbler

Rhubarb is an interesting fruit. You can't really eat it raw and it is hard to stomach without a bit of sugar. Recently, I have been in the mood for rhubarb. This is strange considering, I had not had a steady dose of it since I was a child. My Mom used to make rhubarb jam and pies and they were quite delicious. Since then it has rarely touched my plate. Not because I don't like it, but more so because people do not seem to cook with it much.

After a recent wedding shower for my sister-in-law we had a piece of rhubarb around. How does one get rhubarb from a shower, you might ask? Well, we played a game where we had people guess the produce. Most people thought it was celery. My sister-in-law said I could not play because I had an advantage being vegetarian. It only seems fair because I would have won the game. I know my produce! (Also, I was co-host of the shower and I do not think the hosts are supposed to play.)

When we came home, John and I did not know what to do with it. So, one night while John was out doing something with his Duke cronies, I decided to use the rhubarb. I searched our cookbooks and then the internet for vegan rhubarb recipes. I lucked out when I came to a recipe on RecipeZaar for vegan rhubarb cobbler. I have not had many cobblers, but from what I remember, they were yummy.

I looked around our cupboards to see what we had that matched the recipe. Right away, I noticed that I did not have enough rhubarb. Luckily, I still had frozen blueberries from my when we picked organic blueberries in Hillsborough (Beth, you would be proud. I am posting about how I am using the berries!) I also located a mango that was ripe to be eaten. I know this combo is strange, but trust me. It worked. We were also short on soymilk. I was in luck again, we had So Delicious, Unsweetened Coconut Milk. We had tried it on a recommendation from a friend. I am not sure I would buy the unsweetened again.

Now that I had what I needed, I began the preparation. The recipe was easy and the aroma filled our place with a sweet and delicious smell. The taste was even better than the smell! This dessert was a winner. The top was so moist and would make a great dessert biscuit or perhaps for a shortcake. My bowl of blueberry, rhubarb, mango goodness was gone in minutes. When John came home he had a bowl and shared the sentiment toward the gooey, warm dessert.

Just thinking about it is making me hungry. I think I will have to make this again.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My First Etsy Sale!!

I joined Esty in April of 2008 hoping to start my own store. I waited a while and shopped around, buying gifts for others. It was not until early 2009 that I finally had enough products to open a store.

Since then, I have had some activity on my site (I can only tell when people "heart" my store or products), but no purchases. I joined the EstyVeg team as a way to promote myself and to be a part of a group that have similar views. I have been showcased several times in EtsyVeg blog and am glad to be associated with a group of like minded artisans.

One of the first products that I created for my store was a harvest apple decorative pillow. The pillow started out as two place mats that I recieved from a friend who was who no longer wanted the mats. As soon as I saw them, I envisioned a decorative pillow with embellishments. To make the pillow personalized, I added red buttons for the apples and brown yarn to stitch the wording that was already on the pillow. The wording read "Among the trees are always apples + leaves." I also used the brown yarn to stitch brown lines around the inside design of the pillow.

The varying shades of red buttons that made up the apples on the trees came from my collection of buttons. I inherited this collection of buttons from my grandmother (and probably some from my mother) years ago. I was compelled to save the buttons because I knew I could find a use. I just could not throw them out! Every time I get a garmet with an extra button, I add it to my collection in hopes that I will find the perfect use for it.

The stitching used around the border and in the wording was completed with yarn from an old project. It is hard to buy small quantities of one color of yarn, so I was forced to buy a whole bundle for a small project. I have found many uses for the yarn and still have NOT run out of it!

As always, the materials in this product, and all that I create, are vegan. The fabric of the place mats is a cotton blend and the pillow is stuffed with a polyester fiberfill left over from other pillows projects.

I am excited for the buyer to recieve this pillow as I had a lot of fun creating it and hope that it will bring her joy. I am in my element when I make things for people. It does not matter if they are simple, detailed, extravegent, or ordinary, I just like to create.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Flower Bobby Pins on Etsy

For months I have made lists upon lists of all of the products I want to create for my store (Newman Improved at I have several boxes and bags of materials that I have collected and envisioned making into something else, something new. In the meantime, I have hit some road bumps with moving and my sewing machine. Moving has taken a lot out of me and we are not unpacked or all settled. In addition, my sewing machine needs to be repaired (or replaced) and it has prevented me from sewing.

I finally decided that I need to just get to it! Our h
ouse does not have to be completely unpacked and put together for me to do something else. Nor does my sewing machine need to be fixed in order for me to create. I have many items on my list that I can create without the use of a sewing machine.

Now that I had put my priorities in order, I got to it! Since I was blessed with my first niece, I have been thinking about gifts for little girls. I looked through some of my saved materials and realized I could create flower bobby pins. I am not into flowery things as an adult woman, but when I was small I used to wear all sorts of bows, flowers, and pretty things in my hair.

In keeping with my promise to reduce my impact on this planet, I made the bobbies with all recycled materials. The only exception was the glue that I used. The bobby pins came from a large packet of bobby pins that I had have never used. I have a couple that I use here and there, but I have about 20 or so will never get used (and you can never just buy a couple of bobby pins!).

The flower petals came from a Hawaiian lei that I won at an event. I kept the lei around for a while and then realized that I did not have a use for it. I am not going to wear it anywhere and I could not bear to throw it out. So, I cut the string out of it and disassembled the flower petals.

Lastly, the beads and buttons, used to give the flowers a little pizazz, came from my grandmother's collection that I inherited. Over the years my grandmother collected buttons from clothing and somehow I got her collection. Since then, I have been adding to it when I find a stray button or bead. Again, I just cannot bear to let something get thrown away that could be used for something else.

I had a lot of fun putting together the different color combinations for each bobby pin. I have three listings with three bobbies in each set. Please visit my store Newman Improved to see the listings.
I know the little girl version of me would have loved to wear these and so I know that some little girl now would also love them now. BUT WAIT!!! This product is NOT only for little girls. It is for any one who would like to add some color and brightness to their hair.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Tea Themed Excuse for Creativity

With moving, family events, work, etc, I have not had a chance to do anything creative lately. Correction, I have not taken the chance to create lately. I think I have been in a rut and focused on getting our house together. I have always found an excuse as to why “now was not the time.”

John’s youngest sister, Julie, is getting married and his oldest sister, Mary Catherine, and I are bridesmaids and we decided to throw a shower. I used this as an opportunity. I love to paint, especially with watercolors and this shower had given me a chance and an excuse. I decided to commit myself to making the invitations based on our tea themed shower.

As I thought more about the invitations and my ideas, I decided to have two types of themed invitations. Some that were wedding dresses and some that involved the tea theme of the shower. As I thought more, I decided that I did not want each invitation to be exactly alike. They did not have to all be completely different, but I did not want them all alike. I can copy the same design over and over again, but I thought it would be more fun to make them different.

The inside of the invitation was printed out on pink paper with scalloped edges. Those of you that know me are probably wondering why I chose pink. Well, Julie likes pink and the shower was supposed to be Victorian inspired and pink was one of the main colors. The shower, after all, was not for me and my color likes and dislikes do not matter. And besides, I can be open-minded aboutthe color; I just do not choose it for myself. :)

In the end, the invitations might not have been the best or even the cutest,but they were homemade and I put a lot of time into them. I spent several nights in my craft room painting my heart out! I knew they were not perfect, but they were from me to Julie. I saved several for her. I have a scrapbook of all of our showers and I thought she might like to do the same. Maybe not, but now she has something personalized. She liked them and so did the guests! It makes me feel like I did my job.

Painting makes me happy and I wish I did it more often. I need to open myself to find the inspiration that I found so freely in the past.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Google Your Jealousy, Part 2

I left the last post, not sure if I would post on this topic again. The feelings have not gotten any better, only worse.....and so I blog again.

I think I have accomplished step 1. I understand why I am jealous. As I said before, something that I thought was mine (or partly mine) is being taken away by another. It is not something of monetary value, it is something more precious. I feel as I do because I do not understand the why of it-why has it been slipping away from me. I understand why I am jealous, but not why it is happening. I have tried to look at the situation from all angles. I have tried to understand my part. Then it hit me, I do not have a part of it and that is where the jealousy is stemming from.

Having accomplished step 1, I am forced to go to step 2. I need to create and act on a plan. How can I possibly have a plan if I really do not have a part in this? I am watching a situation in front of my face and there is nothing I can do.

A phrase keeps popping in my head.

"If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, its yours forever. If it doesn't, then it was never meant to be."

This phrase is usually applied to romantic love, but in this situation I think it can also apply. I need to try and let this go and see if it resolves itself. If it comes back to me, then I know it is for me.

I need to have another part to my plan. I will have a problem just letting it go, if I do not do something else. I am going to try and focus on the things and the people I have neglected while I have been worrying about this. There are several people in my life that I want to get to know better and I think I will use part of this time for that. I will also focus on our new home and re-doing my Etsy store. I have a ton of ideas and I need to execute them. I also need to redo my current listings by taking better pictures to showcase the items I am selling.

Lastly, John and I need to take a brief vacation. We need to get away, even if for just a day. He has suggested it and I keep turning it down because we just moved and I want to be at home doing stuff for the house.

Getting away might be the best cure for all of this. Maybe.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Included in the EtsyVeg Team Treasury

I have put a lot of time into the products that I have posted on, but I fall short in my advertising and photos. It is something that I need to work on and something that I know would improve sales.

Despite those shortcomings, I have been included in one of the latest EtsyVeg blog team treasuries. The product that was featured was a patchwork purse that is for sale in my store. (My store is called Newman Improved, but my username on Etsy is VeggieAmanda.)

I am glad to be part of the EtsyVeg team!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Simon and Oliver

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a little behind on my blog. This is a blog I wanted to post back in February and am just getting around to it. I was inspired after spending almost a week

with two furry, four-legged friends when we went to visit my brother, his wife, and new daughter (Helena) in Texas.

In addition to a new baby (7-months-old), my brother and his wife also have a dog and a cat. Simon is the cat and he is an orange stripped fellow who likes people and would rather have nothing to do with his dog brother. Oliver is the dog and wants everything to do with everyone, including the cat.

When I visited in January, I got to spend time with them and their interactions were hysterical! Oliver would chase after Simon and bite him on the ear, tap his stomach, try to jump on him or try and chew on his tail. Simon would sometimes react by playing back or hissing at him as a warning. Oliver seemed to be clueless about the warnings. We had to step in many times and make Oliver leave Simon alone. I am not sure Oliver realizes that he is a dog and that Simon is a cat. In fact, if I had a guess I would think that Oliver thought of himself as a human.

I really bonded with little Oliver during my visit. I spent time taking him on walks, taking him in the back yard, petting him, and playing with him. Since Helena joined the family, he was becoming the ignored sibling and was starving for some human attention.

Over the past several years, I have become quite fond of small dogs. I have generally thought of myself as a large dog-lover, but now truly have a fondness for small dogs as well. Oliver is a Terrier and Chihuahua mix and seemed to inherit the best of both breeds.

When John and I finally are in a position where we can responsibly care for a dog, I am tempted to petition for a small AND a large dog. After all, our life could only become more enriched with the love of two dogs. I expect that it will be a while before we get one dog, but I become excited just thinking about the possibility.

As I wait for a four-legged friend, I will continue to volunteer with the Animal Protection Society of Durham to get my dog fix.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Google Your Jealousy

I need a little therapy right now and what better way to handle this than a blog. I have already talked John's ear off about the situation and I certainly have not been using my blog for what I intended, so why not for what I need right now? Anyways.

I do not think of myself as a jealous person and most people who know me would probably agree with the perception of myself. Lately though, there is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind, something that I have to admit is making me jealous. It is a situation that is out of my control. It has nothing to do with me and nothing that I caused. It is something that used to be mine and is slipping away and I do know what to do.

I did what any person of the Google era would do, I searched the term hoping that it would give me some comfort. The first thing that caught my eye was this:
"Many people feel jealous from time to time. Jealousy is easy to deal with, once you understand what it's teaching you."
I guess the question here is, what is this jealousy teaching me? I cannot seem to see the lesson. All I can think about is, what did I do to allow this situation to happen. I am not sure I did anything. I have been noticing it happen before my eyes for the past year. I thought I had a handle on it all and I thought I could change the way it was developing. I keep trying. I was wrong. Not surprising.

Control? Could the issue be control? I have lost control of the situation, but I don't think it is control. Then what is it?

Maybe it is simple. I had something that was special to me and I am loosing it. Better yet, I had something that was special to me and someone else is taking it away. I am sure they do not mean to take it away and I am sure the other person does not mean to give it away, it is just happening. Wait!!!! This does not feel simple at all!

I can conclude that it is not control and this is not a simple situation, so what do I do? I am not sure I can do any more than I have already done. So, is this my "ah ha!" moment? Nope.

I don't feel jealous very often, so I am still at a loss.

The only way I know how to deal with this is in an Amanda way. Make a plan. How do I make a plan if I cannot get to the bottom of the situation?

Step One- Understand why I am jealous about this particular situation- This could take a while. I might have to jump to step two during this process.

Step Two- Make and act on a plan.

Step Three- Distract myself from the situation. (This will be a feat in itself since it is in my face all the time).

Step Four- Distance myself from the situation.

Step Five- Let go.

I might never decide to blog about this topic again. Maybe it will get resolved, maybe not. Either way, I am reminded of the words of some top 40 song. "Whatever will be, will be."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Myrtle Beach in March

It has taken me a while to catch up with blogging and I am still not there. I have a million things I would like to blog about, but I have not had the time to get around to it lately. I still have blogs from January that I want to post. Not only am I out of date, I am out of order. Ugg!

In March, John's family had a get together in Myrtle Beach, SC. They rented a condo for the week and invited everyone down, my parents included. We could not go for the whole week, but we took a Friday off. It was towards the end of March and still cool at the beach. The weather was sunny and we had a spectacular view of the ocean from the condo. The condo had 4 bedrooms, a big kitchen, dining area, and a large balcony. The place was perfect for a large group.

During our stay it was Warren's Birthday (our brother-in-law) and we celebrated by a nice dinner, cake, and present opening. On the morning of his birthday, several of us decided that we would run down to the beach and write him a Happy Birthday wish in the sand as a surprise. When he woke up, we asked him to come out on the balcony and look down. He was surprised and he loved it!

Besides being with family, what I loved most were the sun rises. When left to my own devices, I never wake up early without an alarm clock. For this stay, John and I shared a room with my parents and I was woken up by snoring. I am a very light sleeper and both of my parents snore. Needless to say, I did not get much sleep! The good part of it was that I was up so early each morning that I saw the sun rise. I really enjoyed sitting out on the balcony with a cup of coffee and watching the magical event. I felt like I was with God as the son rose. It was a very touching experience for me. The sunsets were also amazing. I did not get to enjoy those as much because I was busy with family cooking dinner or hanging out. I did not mind though because I got to see the sunrises.

As always, I enjoyed spending time with our nephews. Alex is 3 and a half and Andrew was about 7 months. It was fun to wake up to their smiling faces each morning. They are both very pleasant children. It was so cute to see Alex and Andrew interact. Alex would dance around for Andrew and he would just giggle and coo back. It is easy to see that they really love each other and that is fun to be around!

I am so thankful that my family and John's family get along. It makes holidays and vacations so much easier.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Espresso With John

Ok, so I know I said that I would blog about the products in my store and I know I promised way back to post about food I made with the organic blueberries that I picked. Well, I have decided not to post about either of those things right now. I will get around to both of those topics sooner or later. Right now I would rather blog about something else. John and I celebrated our four year anniversary on June 25th and I wanted to blog about something important to us.

Last summer, John and I took a trip to Aruba because we both needed a vacation. We had not taken a real vacation together, alone since our honeymoon in 2005. We felt it was time to get far away from North Carolina and enjoy a different way of life. John had never been to a place where the water is clear (or least blueish green). It had been since the 90's since I had been able to the Caribbean. So, we decided to take a trip to the Island of Aruba.

During our vacation, we went out to eat every night (we had no problem finding vegan/vegetarian fare). Afterward, we would get espresso and chat about the vacation and life in general. This was one of our favorite things during the trip. Before we were married, we used to spend time going out for coffee or sitting and chatting. We recognized that we do not do this anymore. I guess life just got in the way.

During one of our last nights in Aruba, we decided that we wanted to bring something back with us. We did not need souvenirs or local Aruban art, we decided that we would bring back the gift of having espresso together. To some, this may seem silly. To us, this was a rekindling of the beginning of our relationship.

We started off as friends and progressed to best friends. It was not until two (more like 2.5 years) later that we actually began dating. At the inception of our relationship/friendship, we spent many hours at the local hangout called Jackson's Java. It was close enough to campus that we could walk, if we needed too, but far enough that it felt like we getting away. We would study, play board games, meet friends, have debates, conversations, etc. We did this on a weekly basis, sometimes on a daily basis. When we could not make it to Jackson's Java, we would meet on campus at the Prospector or RDH (affectionately called "Rats Die Here" and "Rancid Dinning Hell").

You see, having coffee/espresso together was the basis of our relationship. We got to know each other over coffee and we maintained our relationship over coffee. It is a shame that we let it slip away over the years.

Since our return from Aruba, we have attempted to have espresso with some regularity. Sometimes we are successful and sometimes we fail. We often have very different schedules and it is not always easy to find time and energy to pull out the espresso machine. In at attempt to succeed, we always keep soy creamer and Whole Foods organic fair trade espresso beans on hand for an impromptu espresso session. We sometimes even add in an extra special treat by making or buying vegan cookies from Whole Foods. (When we make espresso at home, we steam soy creamer. I know, it is not traditional espresso. We like it though :)

It has been one year since we went to Aruba and I would like to make a mid-year resolution to do this more often. We are, after all, best friends and best friends should have espresso together.