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ZEELEMONS has moved!

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ZEELEMONS has moved to www.zeelemons.com! Please remember to bookmark that new page because I will no longer be updating this blog.

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project 333

I was very productive during yesterday’s snow day. I drank a lot of water. I crocheted two wash cloths. I purged and cleaned out my closet, finally.

Confession: since moving into our apartment last April, I’ve had a least one bin of clothes lingering in our bedroom. Within the last month, all four bins made it up to the third floor and spilled across the hardwood floors. As of last night, all four bins are back into the basement- sorted, labeled by season and stacked neatly next to my tennis racket and mini grill.

Second confession: I have so many clothes that I can literally go about a month without doing any laundry. And while for many that may be a sign of wealth/success/great sense of style, for me it’s an embarrassment. Where do you think one keeps a month’s worth of dirty laundry? I can tell you that it doesn’t neatly stay put in the tiny laundry basket in the bottom of my closet. Nope. That stink becomes mounds of nonsense.

My solution: I give you Project 333.

I don’t know when I had first heard of this solution but I’ve been trying to implement it for a couple of years. The concept is very simple: the less wardrobe items one has…

  • the less confusion there is about what to wear
  • the more room one has in their home
  • laundry day is much easier because there is less to wash

I am determined to make it work this year! Not only because I’m sick of hauling ten loads of laundry to the laundromat, but because I’d like to be a better roommate and not take over our place of rest.

Here are the basics:

  1. Every three months, you evaluate your wardrobe. This is important for us in upstate New York because we have four distinct seasons. I like to break the months down by January-March, April-June, July-September, and October-December. Mark your calendars!
  2. Choose 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear, and shoes. Confession: I’m not to this point, yet. I realistically only choose 33 items of clothing, which don’t get me wrong, is a HUGE improvement. I feel like I’m in transition with my shoes, weeding out those that aren’t vegan as the season comes. As the year goes on, I may start to limit my outerwear and accessories because realistically, I don’t wear accessories frequently.
  3. Items that are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off (for me it’s my college ring and acorn necklace), underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout). I don’t have in-home lounge wear but I do have two designated drawers in my dresser for hiking and running.
  4. Choose your 33 items and put the others out of sight. I put them in bins, labeled with tape in the basement. Out of sight, out of mind. *This was my downfall in the past; I didn’t always get the items out of the bedroom. Call it laziness for not wanting to carry them all down three flights of stairs, but last night the beau helped and they are out of mind. I have four bins: Spring, Summer, Cold Weather and Work Clothes/Special Occasion Dresses.
  5. Remember that you aren’t doing this to punish yourself, you are doing it to clear your mind. Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway. Last night I purged items that I knew I wasn’t going to realistically going to wear this year, items that I didn’t wear this past winter and items that no longer fit or have holes and/or stains. There are a couple of staples that I’m going to replace over the next month (white tank top and tee). Remember to donate when you can!

I filled up a big basket of clothes that I’m going to either donate or take to Plato’s Closet for cash trade. I know I won’t get much for the items but it would be better than nothing.

My idea or goal for the year is that with each season, if I don’t wear a piece of clothing, I will purge it. Last night I saw so many items that I didn’t wear last year simply because I have too much and didn’t choose wisely. It’ll be tough but it’ll let me appreciate the items that I love (and for many, have been a part of my wardrobe for many years).

Do you rotate your wardrobe with the seasons? Do you limit the number of garments that you keep out? Does this sound like the answer to your laundry prayers? Let me know if you jump on board!

Polar Cap recap.

The Polar Cap 4 miles put on by The Adirondack Runners was my first race of the year and the first of twelve races I have planned for 2014. This was also my first run with a friend, Alison. She suggested this race about a month ago and because I couldn’t find a more appealing one locally, I made the drive up to Lake George. No race really looked appealing because of the frigid temperatures we’ve been having the past week or so. That and I hadn’t really trained at all.

But I had registered and a goal is a goal!

I was happy when I saw that the race started at ten o’clock; it gave the day a couple of hours to warm up. We all got lucky with the temperatures, too. The sky was blue, it was almost thirty-five degrees and there was no wind. My kind of day to be running in the winter!

I got there about forty minutes early to pick up my bib and assess my outfit. Because I hadn’t ran outside since New Year’s Day, I was really unsure of what to layer on. I decided on my warm pair of UnderArmor tights, a long-sleeved Lululemon shirt, my warm-up jacket from college volleyball and a baseball cap. And really, I would have been fine with my light vest instead of the jacket. I was surprised to see such a great turnout, but then again, I couldn’t blame them because of the weather conditions. Before I knew it, it was time to line up at the start.

The start is a slight up-hill and the crowd sprinted up at the sound of the gun. Alison and I had mutually agreed that this would be a fun run because neither of us felt prepared. We fell into groove and the first mile was at 9:05! I saw this and knew I could hold it however, what I hadn’t taken into account were the remaining hills that I hadn’t anticipated.

The first hill sucked and I wanted to walk but there was a great recovery after so I convinced myself to keep running. The course was easy to follow and there were volunteers at every turn. Before I knew it, we were down by the lake and taking in the views. This was also the point where you could see the top finishers zoom pass.

Now let me fill you in on a little pet-peeve of mine. If you sprint by me but then I pass you when you walk up a hill, I sure as hell don’t want to see you sprint past me once the road evens out. I take note of those people very early on in a race. There was a gentleman who did this maybe FOUR times throughout the race. I’d chug right along, and bam! He’d be in front of me again. Red coat, orange and grey hat. Note taken.

The last half mile of this race was uphill. If you were running on a treadmill, it would be approximately a 3.7% incline. I hate hills but for some reason, run harder and faster. Happens every time. I started up strong and in a zone. I then remembered that I was running with someone and slowed down to let Alison catch up; I didn’t want to cross the finish line before her. (Another pet peeve of mine: running the race with someone and then sprinting away during the last leg to only finish first.) When I turned to see her, she said “go ahead” but my response was “I WANT TO CATCH THAT MAN IN THE RED COAT!” A passing running dude in a grey hoodie and sunglasses said, “you want to catch that man in the red? Let’s go get him!” I looked back at Alison, she gave me the-go and I took off! That man in grey was much faster than me but I tried my hardest to catch him. I didn’t but let me tell you, I passed that man in the red coat!

The race photographs aren’t very flattering but hilarious. You can see my tense face as I’m struggling for air as I was running up that hill. You can see me look back to check his distance. You can see my smile and then relief as we approached the finish line chute. Oh man, Alison got to see my competitive side come out full-blown within the last few seconds of the race.

After a couple of sips of water, she and I ran another mile because we were participating in a virtual 8k for the Winter Miles Challenge. It was much slower but comfortable and just what I needed to shake-out my legs.

Overall, it was a great morning and I loved seeing some new faces. And the long drive home wasn’t so bad after I made a quick stop for fries. Mission accomplished!

Because I’m still working diligently on the new site, I figured I’d share a post that could last you all week. And not just any post. The post including one of our most favorite recipes, the best vegan buffalo dip in town!

I know what’s going to happen after you read this and see the corresponding photographs. You are going to run out and grab all of the necessary ingredients that you don’t already have and make it tonight for dinner. And then, because you are going to love it so much, you are going to make it again this weekend for your Superbowl party. Don’t feel guilty at all. I don’t, even after devouring almost half a pan of this stuff! You think I’m kidding?

Vegan Buffalo Dip serves two very hungry people or can be shared at a gathering like any other dip

  • 1 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup raw cashews (they don’t have to be soaked overnight if you have a Vitamix)
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s original Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 cup unflavored, unsweetened non-dairy milk (we always use coconut)
  • 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 heaping tbsp of nutritional yeast (don’t skimp- this adds a cheesy flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp of both onion and garlic powder
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained*
  • 1 cup of shredded vegan cheese**
  • fresh chives or scallions for garnish (optional)

*We’ve experimented with baked tofu instead of chickpeas. Just as delicious, but preparation will take longer if you are baking the tofu yourself. You can purchase small blocks of baked tofu at your local market, including Trader Joe’s, just diced it up finely. We personally prefer the chickpeas for a heartier bite.

**We’ve always used Daiya cheddar-style cheese but found that it didn’t melt like regular dairy cheese. Go Veggie! Mexican style shreds melt and have a great texture. This is now our “cheese” of choice and you can find this brand at both Hannaford and Price Chopper.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the white beans and cashews into your food processor/blender.  Pulse several times to break them up a bit.  Add the hot sauce, non-dairy milk, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of black pepper.  Process until the mixture is entirely smooth (this time will vary depending on what machine you are using), stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Scrape the mixture into a 9×9-inch square baking dish. Stir in the chickpeas and 3/4 cup of the shredded vegan cheese.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on top. (Note: Dip can be made up to this point a day or two ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to heat and serve.)  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until warmed through. Garnish with thinly sliced chives or scallions and serve with tortilla chips or veggies for dipping.

You’re welcome.

Recipe adapted from here.

twenty-eight!

Dear Self: You’ve accomplished so much this past year, I am proud. And happy. Don’t forget about your goals and dreams, they are there for a reason.  Dear New Year: This is going to be a year of change, I know this because the plans are almost ready to be set into motion. Many hours will be spent working and learning and I may stop and doubt my persistence, but I’ll remind myself that it’ll all be worth it in the end. A clean conscious and positive attitude out-weigh a salary every day. Dear Twenty-Eight: One year closer to being debt-free, welcome!

Yesterday was a simple day, filled with an overwhelming amount of thought and love. Thank you to every single one of you that took time out to message me; I’ve read every message and appreciate every one.

Cheers to a new year filled with much happiness, better health, great workouts and new inspiration.

a positive spin.

With kitty’s diagnosis, the beau and I have had to make some changes in our daily routine. He needs to have his shots twelve hours apart, which can seem impossible for two people who rarely seem to be home. Six o’clock is the magic time and in result, I (we) are now forced to become morning people. I really don’t mind the mornings, I just don’t care for the darkness. And because I’ve found myself in a great routine of working out on lunch, I now cook in the early morning.

While the beau is in bed reading and sipping on tea, I’ve been in the kitchen either making lunch or prepping for that night’s dinner. We’ve both admitted that my meal planning has been great for saving on cash and inhibiting us from eating out too frequently. This morning I made a big batch of hummus and a chickpea salad. Lot’s of  beans protein for my post-workout meal.

Roasted Carrot Hummus adapted from The Gouda Life

  • Three monster carrots (from FG), washed and cut into 4 inch sticks
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • splash of EVOO
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • tahini to taste (I prefer only about 1-1.5 tablespoons)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the carrots and garlic in the EVOO and season with the salt, pepper and cumin. Wrap in foil and bake until the carrots are soft, about 35-40 minutes. Pour  the foil contents into a blender, along with the lemon juice, tahini and chickpeas. Blend until creamy and season with more salt to taste. I added a tiny extra splash of EVOO to make it smoother.

Chickpea Salad 

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • vegan mayo
  • finely diced red onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crushed reed pepper flakes (if your heart desires)
  • few pinches of dill

Using a fork, mash the chickpeas but don’t puree them. They should be chunky with a few whole ones included in the mix. Add in a spoonful of vegan mayo and mix in your seasonings. If you have scallions, throw ‘em in! If you have celery in the fridge, dice it up and throw ‘em in! Really, anything goes. Well, except for gummy bears. Those wouldn’t taste good with chickpeas. But raw red peppers would!

I sliced open a pita, spread on some of the roasted chickpea hummus, stuffed in some raw spinach and filled it with the chickpea salad. Lunch was delicious! I don’t know why I haven’t made this within the last year; it really fulfilled my craving for tuna.

Be prepared for some more vegan recipes this year as I cook my way through the sunrise!

progress report: kitty

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to everyone who left a comment here or sent a private message to me over the weekend regarding kitty kitty cocoa puff. I really appreciate it and can’t believe the support I have, even if you’ve never met kitty or myself. We finally have an answer to the bizarre behavior we’ve been experiencing this past month: diabetes.

His symptoms: Kitty started drinking a lot of water, right around the time we got our Christmas tree. I didn’t think anything about it or the fact that he was urinating a ton, until the urine no longer smelled like ammonia. It was sweeter in smell, and mixed with the walnut litter I buy, it kind of smelled like spoiled cheese. Odd, I know. He was eating his food quickly and begging for food constantly, but I didn’t think anything of it because I was home for two weeks on holiday and didn’t know if my schedule changed his. And despite being so hungry, he lost weight. When I adopted him, he weighed 21 pounds. He’s now at 14 pounds. Much healthier weight but not by healthy means. He stopped playing around the apartment and stopped grooming himself over the last two weeks.

Diagnosis: It took a few minutes for the veterinarian to draw blood and test his blood glucose. Normal range for cats 75-120. Roscoe’s glucose levels after a 12 hour fast was 417. His poor pancreas!

Our treatment plan: I have done a lot of research about diabetes in cats over the last week/this past weekend and want to start off by saying that I am not a professional and don’t claim to be one. I’m using what I’ve found in research, paired with his veterinarian’s recommendations to treat kitty. We all do our very best to sustain life in those we love and this is my very best.

Kitty needs an insulin injection twice a day following his meals. This is very expensive and I am determined to find an alternative to the name brand that was prescribed on Saturday. His veterinarian and I have a follow-up on Monday and this is something that is going to be discussed. Like people, his glucose levels have to be checked frequently, especially in the beginning when we are trying to drop them to a normal range, so I may purchase my own tester so that I don’t have to travel once a week with kitty. This will be determined once I see how he’s responding to his change in diet.

The veterinarian also prescribed him a diet of Purina D/M canned food, of which I’ve refused for a number of reasons. First, do a little research on the Purina brand and where they get some of their meats and fillers. You’ll be disgusted to find out that they put euthanized pets in the mix. Yeah, I’m not kidding. Second of all, I’m not going to purchase food that can only be purchased from an animal hospital. If it’s “so good” for the health of an animal, it should be available to all. And it’s ridiculously priced. Lastly, per the veterinarian and the website he gave me as a highly reputable source (catinfo.org), this brand still has too high content of carbohydrates. Check out Purina’s website, it’s 18%. For a diabetic cat, there should be less than 10%; 7% ideally.

After a few hours of research and asking a close friend, we’ve chosen a brand that is found at your local Benson’s and is 95% animal protein. Don’t get me wrong, this canned food option is also more expensive than what we’ve been paying previously, but I am optimistic that it will contribute to a better health. Hopefully the all protein diet will drop his blood glucose levels to a normal range and we’ll be able to wean him off of the insulin in no time.

If you have or had a cat that was diabetic and have any tips for me, please, pass them along! This is all so new to me that I tried to make the best decision over such a short period of time to not only try and help him fast enough, but as efficiently as possible.

Oh, and kitty doesn’t mind the needles at all. He really hasn’t reacted and is in heaven that he has been eating like a king these past couple of meals. I don’t think he realizes it’s permanent.

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