Tuesday, May 31, 2011


This last time I went to my Local Yarn Store (LYS), I had a specific plan in mind. I usually do and I'm often foiled. They almost never have the yarn I'm looking for. Don't get me wrong, I love my LYS, it's fantastic, it has a huge selection packed into a nice space, but apparently I just find those yarns they don't carry. Usually, I'm able to find a good substitute since you can usually do that.

This last time, not so much. It turns out the tank top I was wanting to make (It's summer! I won't go into the fact that we skipped over spring and how that's a really awful indicator that climate change is... yeah I won't go into it. It's summer!), they definitely don't carry that yarn (surprise!), but the gauge measurements were wonky so they couldn't translate to what type of yarn I needed. And when we finally figured out ballpark, all they had was wool. Who wants to wear wool in summer? (Unless, I guess, you're in one of the poles.) So I was foiled. But I couldn't just leave, slumped shouldered and order the yarn online. Nope. I needed a project for the NEXT day. You see, I was travelling to Maine this past weekend and my scarf/shawl thing was just plain far too boring.

It's pretty, but I'm about a third of the way through and I tend to lose interest around then on most of my large projects. Also? It's just plain repetitive. Which is part of the problem in general on large projects for me. But it is pretty and I will finish it. But first, I needed a new project, for this weekend.

Since I couldn't do the tank top, I had to find something in the patterns they were offering. I flipped through a bunch of different options, one woman decided an afghan was the way to go. I'd like to do an afghan, but I'm currently unemployed, so I don't have the budget for an afghan. Anyways, I was flipping through various resources until I wandered over to the Afghan binder of patterns, flipped it open and, voila, I found the most magnificent pattern.

An Entrelac Pillow. Not an afghan. BUT a type of knitting I've never done before and have always admired. It's something I've been wanting to do for a while now. And this seemed like just the thing. A giant rectangle of entrelac, no other interfering shaping, just a square. I'm using Cascade 220, which again makes me a horrible vegan (vegans and wool supposedly don't mix. I may or may not eventually get there). I tried to choose somewhat sedate colors, ones that might fade into the background.

But I may be fated to fail in every project in this regard. See for yourself:

I don't normally choose greens. And I tried to choose not bright greens, but it appears that, alone, the greens may not seem all that bright, but when you put them together...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why I hike

I follow Husky Hiker on my blog reel or whatever it's called. Today, he posted a Why I hike as a response to the question/challenge put out by Tom Mangan at Two Wheel Drive (a blog I'll probably start following soon).

Since I've moved all my food related posting over to vegan appetite, I figured my next post should be about hiking.

So. Why I hike. I hike for the feeling it gives me when I'm moving. I hike for the views I get when I least expect them. I hike for the release of emotions I experience, both positive and negative. I hike to feel the burn of my legs. I hike because it feels natural to move my legs, cover a distance. I feel connected to history, I feel connected to the earth around me. I hike for the others hiking. I hike to see things I would never see in a suburban environment, like black bears and moose 10 feet away from me. I hike for the beauty. I like the burn of hiking up a mountain, rewarded by either cold rain or the best view you could ever ask for. For the surprise of practically running from Mizpah Springs Hut to Lake of the Clouds Hut. For the shock of walking up to McAfee's Knob. For the luck of having a warm, super clear day on top of Katahdin, for the views of Katahdin over a lake. For seeing the wackily named outhouse in the 100 mile wilderness, for the pizza at Partnership shelter in Virginia, for the lovely older section hiker with the amazing stories who is finishing the last 50 mile section he has left and going to Trail Days afterwards.

I hike for my sanity. I hike for me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Disordered Eating, Part 2

I don’t know exactly when my disordered eating began, but I was always a picky eater as a child. I was an introvert and did not make tons of friends naturally. I was anxious about many things. I remember a conversation I had with my parents at what seemed like a late hour to me (after my brother and sister and I had been put to bed) about death and what it was. I was terrified of death. Still am, really.

Somewhere in there, something in my brain started thinking that if I ate certain foods, I felt better because they tasted that delicious. And I played soccer, but that didn’t prevent weight gain, nor did it do much for my clumsiness or my socially awkward persona. I had a really good friend who stood up for me (as I tended to be the brunt of teasing at points), but I really started turning to food. Food just tasted good. Especially the sugary kind (which isn't so surprising, I suppose-especially with having watched this video- that it wasn't a surprise that I tried to make myself happy with sugary foods.

In high school, I had a few really good friends, but my best friend stressed me out as much as she was a good friend. I still turned to food to calm myself, sedate myself. I think sedate is a good word in this instance. Because by eating sugar and lots of carbs, I can simultaneously cause a sugar rush and cause myself to be sluggish, slowing me down, putting me in a funk and creating yet more desire for food to ‘perk me up’. It is such a circular process.

In college, I kept attempting to exercise and lose weight. It did not work all that well with the exception of the summer between junior and senior years when I lost 15 pounds (which I promptly gained back and more because of the stress of college). After college, I worked in two kitchens. The first focused on natural/healthy foods and I'm pretty sure I managed my weight fairly well (although I didn't weigh myself). The second was more about speed and fewer people doing more things-so good nutrition went out the window, really. So that didn't help. I gained weight despite my best efforts.

After that, I went home to do a temp job at my dad's company. Night shift. I got a membership to a gym as a christmas gift, which I was grateful for, since it allowed me to workout without having to suffer in the cold in the dead of winter. I did re-discover just how much I hate gyms. Monotonous and boring. I prefer to get my workouts more naturally. Or by appeasing my short attention span...

I just barely managed to keep even over the 6 weeks there-I even lost two pounds. How very exciting.

And then the biggie-I hiked the appalachian trail! I lost twenty pounds in the first six weeks, all while pigging out. Not exactly the healthiest way to lose weight in the long term. The weight loss slowed to more of a crawl because I ate more than I needed in town-in the effort to make sure energy levels were good on trail. I eventually lost ~40 pounds.

The first two months after the thru-hike saw me working out furiously, and succeeding at maintaining my weight. I gained a little back in November/December. And then I gained more in January and February. I was terrified of this, after having lost all this weight. I didn't learn how to eat on trail. In fact, i indulged in all sorts of bad habits. So I've been a bit lost in the sea on how to eat correctly in order to NOT gain weight. I'm hoping that I've turned a curve and can start in on the healthy eating/plenty of exercise now. Maybe those jeans will get a little more comfortable.

If I'm lucky, I'll be lessening the effect food has on me. Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Disordered Eating, Part 1

I have disordered eating. I refuse to say an eating disorder because it makes me feel like an invalid, sick, and out of control. In a way, I suppose that it is out of control. I feel out of control all the time. I watch myself eating stuff and I wonder why I’m eating it. I’m not experiencing pangs of hunger, I’ve eaten very recently. I’m not worried I’m not going to be eating for another two days. It doesn’t even make me feel good. I feel gross afterwards.

I have dealt with this style of eating for the last decade of my life, or more, really. Since I’m not even quite a quarter century old, I’m fairly positive that’s a decent chunk of my life right there.

I’ve called it emotional eating before, and I’m fairly positive that my feelings are very, very, tied into what I’m eating. But that’s not all that’s going on here. Sometimes, certain foods will trigger me to eat more of them. Sugar, for example. I’ve recently gone through an entire thread on a forum at theppk.com entitled “No sugar support thread.” I was quite skeptical at first, since I like my sugar. I like cookies, muffins, sweet things in general. But as I read it, and I watched (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM) this video, I became more concerned. Some of the ways I was eating could be linked into the amount of sugar I was eating. It’s only started this week, but I’m attempting to reduce the amount of sugar I consume every day. For several days, it worked quite well, but I seem to have hit a wall. I’m also a baker by nature. I love playing with ingredients to create new cookies or improve vegan chocolate chip cookies.

Sugar hides itself in so many ways though, that I’m not concerned with consuming no sugar. That’s just not going to happen. What I am looking to avoid are High Fructose Corn Syrup and refined sugars. So my nature valley bars? The ones that always make me feel like I should eat more after having one (yes, that’s definitely a sign I should have stopped getting them ages and ages ago. I eventually did until I got a box last week at the grocery store. No, I don’t know what I was thinking). Well it turns out they have brown sugar in them. And the sugar content for two bars (in one package) is startlingly high.

I still consume fruits without worry. Those are natural sugars, ones our bodies are intended to consume. The fruits have nutrients in them that I shouldn’t get from anywhere else. So far, I’ve felt decent with the exception of last night and this afternoon. Because an addiction to sugar is not the only thing I have to worry about. Unfortunately.

I eat when I’m stressed. I eat when I’m worried. I eat when I’m bored.

I should confess a few things here and now: I’m a natural worrier. Also, I’m unemployed. So I’m stressed about job hunting, I’m worrying over the fact that I don’t have a job and I have a crap load of free time on my hands.

Yeah. Basically I’ve got the trifecta going and there’s not a huge amount I can do about it, unless I magically solve my disordered eating. Dear magical food fairy, can you please take away my disordered eating so that I eat 6 small meals a day that are perfectly balanced? And so I don’t resort to food when I feel anxious? It really doesn’t make me feel better, despite what my brain says to my hand, guiding it to my mouth with that delicious chocolate baked good.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Back! AT Day 13

I woke up at NOC and managed to wake Silver up (I never sleep all that well in new indoor places-the shelters are all starting to feel similar, so I sleep well there) accidentally. We ate a delicious breakfast at the restaurant, piddled around with the Picnic sisters while waiting for the outfitters to open (got in a little after 4, when they closed) at 10am. Finally, it did so I ran in to get my packages. Decided I was an idiot for wanting my snowshoes and had to head over to the offices to send them back. Which I did, after I bought a dinner or two plus some snacks-this was supposed to get me through the majority of the smokies after all.

Ended up taking a while, but the hike today would be a short one, even if it was ALL up hill. Silver had left a half hour before I did and I didn't expect to see him. And so I didn't. The first part was a decent hike, a few blowdowns, but nothing awful. And then, a couple miles in, it just became completely awful. As it turns out, we arrived a few days/a week too early, because the recent storms had created severe blow downs that hadn't been cleared. I had to climb over/around/under rhododendron bushes and trees that had fallen over. The sides of the mountain were completely wrecked from previous hikers doing the same thing and I'm positive they had to reroute at points. It was complete misery trying to get through it.

And then I ran into Count (named for reading Dracula, I believe) who had turned around. he had needed to be halfway to Fontana Dam on this day but he couldn't find the trail, so he was going to shuttle around tomorrow. Told me to call him if we could find it in the morning. (note-I think I can find his number still in my phone) Met some 'day hikers' (overnighters) who were heading down a half mile before the shelter and finally pulled in, seeing Silver. Ate my dinner just as the picnic sisters came in. Mashed potatoes so kindly donated by silver, seeing as how I'd not eaten them before from a package. He got half since I couldn't finish it all.

Fell asleep to the sound of the picnic sisters playing bananagrams. We all stayed on the second story of the shelter.

One interesting thing I remember: a tree by the spring fell over just after Bou came back from getting water. Very lucky she wasn't hurt.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Carry it as long as you can

As many of you know or have realized, I follow a vegan diet. I would also be the first to say that I am not the healthiest vegan out there. And I'd like to change that. But that isn't the point of this post.

One time long ago, in some Quaker meeting, a Friend once asked of another Friend (I believe it was John Woolman) of the evils of slavery: (something to the effect of) When do you wish us to lay down slavery? To stop owning slaves? This Friend's response was: Carry the burden as long as you can.

These words have such an incredibly strong effect on my way of thinking, of viewing the world. You might ask why the immediate response is not "Immediately! Slavery is awful and horrible and cannot be abided any longer." It is because, I believe, personal culpability and personal ownership over a decision was very important to him. People needed to understand in their hearts that the action was wrong. He set a personal example, by refusing to draw up legal documents transferring ownership of slaves amongst a wide variety of other actions, he spoke to others of how wrong it was, he refused to be served food by slaves in certain types of cups and plates (silver and such) because of the abuse of slaves to mine that ore. (I am referencing Wikipedia, so some of this may be false)

He travelled for long periods of time and often to spread his word that slavery was wrong, that Quakers should not be participating in the trade of other human beings. It is something that Quakers pride themselves on, that they were among the first to fully oppose slavery. John Woolman was one of the first of the first.

But back to the "Carry the burden as long as you can" statement. I have started thinking recently about this phrase in conjunction with my life as a vegan. I eat in a vegan life style (I ate six eggs last week from very healthy well cared for chickens in a backyard. Sue me.). Some parts of it, though, are not quite in line with a vegan viewpoint: I still eat cheerios and honeynut cheerios, both of General Mills, which, one of my vegan books claims, infuses their delicious cereal with some kind of ingredient that either is of animal or is made from animal product. So, not vegan. I know this.

I am well aware of this. But that doesn't stop me from eating them, because, I, personally, think they are delicious and I was unwilling to sacrifice it. Today, I realized that I shouldn't be eating honey nut cheerios, especially as honey was part of the name. So I will continue to eat cheerios, but this box of honey nut? It's going to be my last. I am laying down that aspect of the burden.

Another part of my non-vegan life is knitting. I refuse to give up wool in my knitting, quite frankly. I don't find myself horrified at the use of wool and so I'm quite fine with continuing to use it. There may come a day in which I am no longer willing to condone the practices of the wool industry, but it is not today and I doubt it will be tomorrow. I am still carrying that burden, because it is not so heavy that I can no longer carry it.

That being said, I also have pictures! And a recipe! For gluten free, vegan chocolate chip cookies!

I made these this afternoon after suddenly feeling motivated to make chocolate chip cookies that happened to be gluten free and vegan. As someone who does not eat gluten free all the time, but is vegan, I found myself casting around for gluten free recipes. I only found one that listed the variety of flours to use in a recipe (as opposed to a general baking mix you can buy in a store that pre-mixes a bunch of flours together) and was not happy, as it focused too much on one type of flour, in my opinion. What I have noticed in previous observations of gluten free recipes, is that good recipes tend to have a mix of flours. So I decided to do it myself.

The cookies look really nice, like real chocolate chip cookies, which I found promising. The taste was good, quite like most chocolate chip cookies, if slightly more bitter. As normal for gluten free, the texture.. left something to be desired. It wasn't awful, but it was definitely grainy. Overall, I'm pretty happy with my attempt!

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 Cup Sweet White Sorghum flour
3/4 Cup White Rice Flour
1/4 Cup Chickpea flour
1/4 Cup Potato Startch
1/4 Cup Tapioca Flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 Cup Earth Balance, melted
3/4 Cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
~3 tablespoons almond (or other non-dairy) milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
Dash of cinnamon
Chocolate chips (Ghirardelli's semisweet are the only vegan ones I have access to. But whichever you have)

Now, usually, cookie doughs have you mix the liquid ingredients and the sugar first. I was so focused on finding a balance of flours that I just threw everything in together and mixed it, adding a little almond milk until it became the sticky crumbly texture that I figured was good for chocolate chip cookies.

Bake for 12-13 minutes until tops are just becoming golden. Let cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring.

For your viewing pleasure, a few dishes from ages ago: Havana beans and Rice:

 Monkey bread, deconstructed

Black beans for the beans and rice. They look purple, which I find hilarious.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Random Tuesday

Since it's been so long between updates and I have no big news to share, I thought I'd share random tidbits:
1. I made the PPK's blackbean quinoa chipotle raspberry dish, ate a little and proceeded to avoid it for ~two weeks. I opened it and it stank. Almost blew me away stank.
2. I have one arm strap and edging left to do on my vest that I've been working on for three months.
3. I made dinner last night with my first attempt at seitan from last friday. Specifically, this recipe. I also conveniently made the PPK's Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodles. I'm not sure if I'll ever finish them, since there is literally a teaspoon of cayenne in there. And you don't taste any of it until about 20 seconds after biting into the cookie.
4. I found a new exercise plan for myself (I've been flailing around recently, trying not to gain weight but panicking and sending myself into eating binges) from bodyrock.tv. Uses only a very few pieces of equipment, and exercises can be modified with some thought if you don't have those pieces of equipment (except for the timer thingy. I bought one of those. It'll come this week). I'm hoping it gets me stronger in general, which will lead to a nice hiking/backpacking season! :-D
5. I may have a job that is part time. Very part time.
6. I still need more jobs.
7. I hate applying for jobs.