Going Vegetarian

It’s so funny that I am doing this because up until now, I never thought I could. Never imagined I could eat 3 meatless meals in a week let alone all in the same day and then wake up and do it again… and again… and again. How could I do all the insane things I would absolutely be required to do if I made this choice? The changes I would have to make were too extensive, too inconvenient, too much work. When you are bombarding your body with toxins and depriving it of nutrients with every bite of food or sip of liquid you take, it’s pretty easy to to feel overwhelmed with real change of any magnitude. Thus, I was causing my own horrible health, obesity and all the crap that comes in that package.

ME. I did it to myself. No one else is to blame.

Well…. not anymore.

It’s been three weeks since I started gradually moving over to a vegetarian/raw food/unprocessed lifestyle. You notice I didn’t say DIET. What I was doing, that was a DIET and I’ve decided, I’m just not going to eat DEATH anymore. I don’t want to DIE. Not by cancer. Not by diabetes. Not by heart attack. Not by stroke. All of those fatalities being the prime results of my previous DIET.

This is the truth. It isn’t a trick and it certainly isn’t complicated. If you eat DEATH, you will DIE. You will die horribly, painfully, and long before your time. If you eat LIFE then you will LIVE. You will live longer, live healthy, and pass away when you are supposed to. Not horribly painfully. Not from prolonged exposure to chemo treatments for cancer due to the acidic state of your body caused by a horrible diet or from 17 different pharmaceutical medications for all your other diet-caused, totally preventable illnesses.

If you eat dead things, you will steal both quality of living and quantity of years from yourself.

If you eat life, you will have peace of mind and body/soul. It really is that simple.

THE STATE OF THINGS BEFORE THE SWITCH:

I am 29 years old. I’m 5’4, and my “healthy” weight has been determined to be between 120 and 145 lbs. When I made the switch I weighed in at 204 which is the heaviest I have ever been. I was eating McDonald’s Egg McMuffin meal with a medium coffee with 7 cream and 7 sugar for breakfast 3-4 times a week and pretty much skipping breakfast the other days. On weekends I would make canned biscuits and gravy (actually made from scratch) for my husband and share in that meal. Every day I woke up I craved the McMuffin meal. No joke. It called to me. Seriously. Every time I ate one it was like a taste explosion of happy awesomeness and warm feelings all over. (Note: I have discovered in only a few weeks that healthy food doesn’t cause that sort of intensity of feelings when you eat it. It’s not what I think of as “emotionally charged” eating. It doesn’t have all the addictive chemicals of processed fast food.)

For lunch I was eating whatever fast, processed, hot meal I wanted at whatever chain restaurant I happened to be passing by that day. Most of the time it was Hardees chicken tenders and fries with sweet tea or some kind of burger or pizza or turkey and bacon sandwich. Those were he staples. I ate fries and drank some form of sugary drink 1-3 times a day. I would get half sweet half unsweet tea and think I was making the healthy drink choice over soda.  While that may be true, that was the extent of my attempt to make my meal healthier. Half sweet tea.

For dinner I would normally make meat-centric meal accompanied by some sort of canned vegetable. Think a pie graph with 75% meat, 25% veggie/starch. That was my plate and I thought “This is the healthiest meal of my day. I am eating lots of protein, which doesn’t spike my blood sugar, and I am getting in a veggie!”

So let’s recap my day of eating:

Breakfast: White flour english muffin topped with margarine (chemical laden trans fats… yay!), a slice of processed aluminum-filled cheese “product” (Franken-Cheddar), a commercially produced whole egg, a processed ham slice, and a soggy fat-drenched uber-processed franken-potato hashbrown. Topped with a horribly addictive coffee and a ton of bleached processed sugar. Wow, my whole mouth actually just filled with saliva after typing that. Sometimes I would get a medium hot mocha instead of regular coffee. That adds about 100 calories on top of the other one.

700-800 CALORIES

Lunch: Hardees 3 piece Chicken Tender meal with fries, BBQ sauce, Ketchup and 2 X half sweet tea:

950 CALORIES

Dinner and Snacks: My dinner varied quite frequently but I will just go ahead and say that I probably ate another 1000 CALORIES worth of snacks, sugary drinks and food. That might even be a conservative estimate on some nights.

That’s roughly 2700 CALORIES! I’m not as irritated about the calorie amount as I am the fact that almost NONE of that was fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, or seeds. In a good day I might have had a salad or a piece of fruit somewhere in there but those days were very few and far between.

The only good thing I can say I really had going for me was that I am still fairly young and I’m not on any pharmaceutical medications.

Now that I have all that unfortunate back history filled in for you, let me tell you about…

THE SWITCH:

So, what happened that made me decide to start making dramatic changes? I got on Pinterest and started surfing the Fitness section and there was this very basic recipe for a green drink. When I made it I was surprised at 1.) How good it tasted considering the fact that it had weird non-cow’s milk and pureed spinach in it and 2.) How many variations I could make on the recipe without detracting too much from the taste. I started with the basic recipe and then as the first two weeks passed I added several things to up the nutrition factor of the smoothie. I basically tried a few different versions of it until it tasted almost like a frozen blended coffee drink. Now, I drink it every day for breakfast. Most days my mix makes about 36 ounces. I drink 24 ounces of it in the morning and then the other 12 ounces in the mid-afternoon around 3 PM.

 

The basic ingredients:

1-2 cups of coconut or almond milk (depending on preference and desired consistency)

1 large handful of spinach (about 1-2 cups, and NO, your drink will not taste like spinach)

1/2-1 frozen banana (depending on how sweet you like it)

1 scoop (about 2 Tbsp) of Milled Flax Seeds

1 scoop (about 2 Tbsp) of Vanilla Protein powder (Whey is shown but I have since tried a few other types of protein powder. Word to the wise: Gemma Pea protein does NOT go well with chocolate coffee flavor or a thicker consistency drink and is more ideally suited toward a fruit flavored smoothie with a green tea base rather than milk. Learned that one the hard way… bleh.)

To this basic recipe I have added the following:

1/4 cup of frozen blueberries

1 scoop of powdered greens (mine is alfalfa, barley and wheat grass)

1 Tsp of Spirulina powder

1 Tsp of Kelp powder

1 Tbsp of Chia seeds

1-2 Tbsp of Raw Cacao or Baker’s Cocoa (depending on taste preference)

1 packet (about a Tbsp) of instant Ganoderma coffee (or another instant that you like if you want the coffee flavor. I may be ending this as soon as I run out of these mushroom based coffee packets because most coffee makes you very acidic which is not in keeping with the purpose of this drink which is to make you more alkaline.)

1 Tbsp of Organic Coconut Oil (good fat, very filling, and I like chocolate and coconut together.)

1Tbsp of Agave Nectar (or other natural sweetener if it isn’t sweet enough. I rarely use this last one anymore because I don’t need the added sweetness as much since I have eliminated almost all processed food from my diet.)

Ice (optional)

Note: I found the majority of the powdered ingredients at my local health food store. You can also find them online but I like to sample something before I buy a whole pound of it to make sure I won’t just end up wasting it. My current protein powder and green powder I bought online at truenutrition.com. It’s inexpensive (compared to health food or grocery store prices) and very high quality.

OH, and here’s a time saving tip I have found VERY helpful: I make ziplock baggies of all the dry ingredients in my smoothie so I can just open the baggie and toss it in. It takes my smoothie making time down to about 2-3 minutes! I call them my Power Powder packs… he he he. I don’t make frozen packs or liquid packs, but I suppose you could if you really wanted to shave off the time. I reuse the baggies each week so as not to waste them. Yes, I’m proud, OK?!? I have never been so efficient in my life! Bwa ah ahhhh!! Oh, and here’s a picture of the finished product… I call it SWAMP THING! 🙂 Then, when people say “EWWWW!!! What on earth are you drinking!?!” I can say “Swamp Thing, that’s what, now mind ya bidness!!” LOL. OK, I don’t actually say that… but I have fantasized about that particular situation and role-played the conversation in my head several times. I feel prepared for when that day comes… and shuddup if you wanna make fun of me for roleplaying an awkward conversation in my head, you know you do it too!

The blender in the pictures is fairly old and has since been replaced. You will need a decent blender BUT I honestly do NOT believe you have to buy some insanely expensive blender to make this. I think there are some under $50 that will do just fine (such as my new one) and I KNOW there are some very good ones under $100 that will do wonderfully.

I read a few green smoothie books and looked at some online and one of the authors seems convinced that I just HAD to have a Vitamix ($400-$500) or a Blendtec, one of each if I could afford it. I’m not bloody rich, man, there’s just no way! Coincidentally, a very nice woman I know bought a Vitamix and gave her used Ninja Blender to me as an upgrade to my 10 year old Oster (which was doing just fine for now but kinda struggling with all the frozen ingredients on some mornings). I got a free blender that works way better than my old one did. Here’s the link where you can buy the one I was given on Amazon for less than $50. And may I just reiterate: IT WORKS VERY WELL!

OK, so that takes care of breakfast, but what about Lunch? Did I just say “Ok, super awesome green smoothie for breakfast? Check. And now I will just eat the same old crap for lunch.”? No! I go to a local super market (Dillons, if you must know) and they have a spectacular salad bar. I simply load up on veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds and then I go eat it with my husband and our work friends wherever they are eating. So far they haven’t kicked me out of Hardees, Imo’s Pizza, Taco Bell, Burger King or Korea House for bringing in my own salad but I wouldn’t suggest it if you’re not with someone who actually did buy their food there. That’s just rude. Here is a pic of my typical salad from the supermarket salad bar and also a veggie sandwich I had at one of our fancier lunch places one day. It was shockingly just as good (to me) without the meat. Their fresh cut basil fries are amazing.

If you don’t have a conveniently located supermarket or salad bar you can go to then buy one of the new insulated lunch bags and simply make yourself something wonderful at home and take it with you. I may eventually start doing this myself as I plan to gradually go all or mostly organic with my food. I have to start small and slow though or I will get burnt out and give up… because that is what I have done when I got overwhelmed in the past… but NOT THIS TIME. Like I said, this isn’t just another stupid temporary diet, this is a lifestyle change.

That leaves dinner time… I still make a lot of different things for dinner and I still eat chicken or fish twice a week on some dinners. I’ve only been doing this for 3 weeks and here are a few things I have found effective when handling the “What’s For Dinner?” dilemma:

I make a pot of very hearty vegetarian soup on the weekend which I then store in a large container and eat over the course of the week. If you’re gonna store leftovers, make sure to use BPA-FREE containers. Google BPA and the health hazards caused by it.

Stock up on fresh veggies, dried beans (most cans use BPA in the lining… UGH), raw nuts and seeds, quinoa, long grain rice (NOT instant as it has a very high glycemic index and is not as good for you) and buy yourself some loaves of gourmet bread, preferably low sugar whole grain if you can get it, that you can bake in the oven. If you can make your own bread, then do that. I just haven’t gotten that far yet in my dedication to this project. The fresh baked bread goes really well with the soup and makes me wonder why I ever cared about eating meat. The soup in the picture below is one I got from the Whole Foods store app on my phone, here’s a link to the recipe, it’s called Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup.

So far I have been in the switch for 3 weeks and have lost 8 lbs, I’m currently at 196 lbs and going strong. I really don’t crave anything sugary, salty or fatty like I used to. I actually had McDonalds breakfast again last Friday and I am excited to say that it was really GROSS! Bland, mushy, not as good as I remembered.

My clothes are fitting much better and my complexion and eye appearance have improved immensely. I also have so much energy it’s ridiculous! For example: for YEARS I have had trouble keeping my house clean and my laundry done. For the last three weeks my kitchen has been wonderfully clean (because I use it more and I have more energy to make it look the way I want it to!) and I actually saw the bottom of our laundry hampers for the first time in about 5 years. I even got done with the laundry and washed the laundry bags themselves! I completely refolded all the clothes in my drawers in a new way so I can see all of them, the organization is literally like a high for me now, it’s almost a sickness I think.

I have also rearranged my living room, cleaned out my kitchen cabinets AND refrigerator, rearranged our big living room (game room), consolidated my book and dvd collection AND starting working on my “junk” room and consolidated and donated about 10 boxes of old junk from the garage! That’s a lot, and all in the last 3 weeks. It’s not a coincidence, it’s the diet or “Live-it” as my friend Leo has started calling it, and I feel fantastic. I feel ALIVE. I will write an update in another couple weeks or a month and let you know how it’s going! 🙂

I’m hoping to continue at a loss of about 2 lbs per week and maybe be back at 170 by my 30th birthday on July 3rd! I don’t celebrate birthdays but this one is kind of a milestone for me. If I can get back to a decent weight and be healthy (maybe for the first time in my life, if I’m being honest) then maybe I won’t risk wasting the rest of my life in such poor health as I did the entire decade of my twenties. I really can do this. 🙂

Divergent: Paper or Plastic?

I have been on Goodreads.com a lot the past week because my righteous spectacular magnanimous kindred spirit friend type person, Karen Nelson, has started a new book club group that I am pretty excited about. But this post is not about that.

It’s about me perusing Goodreads and checking out the Goodreads 2011 Book of the Year Winner: Divergent by Veronica Roth. I read the synopsis and guess what? It’s Dystopian YA and even though there is only one right now, the next book is due out next Spring. Could this be the next Hunger Games trilogy I’ve been searching for? I went onto Amazon and read the first two and a half chapters and I dare say IT IS!!! YAY!Rapture! Joy! Expectation!

Here is the book description:

Series: Divergent | Publication Date: May 3, 2011
One choice can transform you. Pass initiation. Do not fail! Thrilling urban dystopian fiction debut from exciting young author. In sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior’s world, society is divided into five factions — Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent) — each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue, in the attempt to form a “perfect society.” At the age of sixteen, teens must choose the faction to which they will devote their lives. On her Choosing Day, Beatrice renames herself Tris, rejects her family’s group, and chooses another faction. After surviving a brutal initiation, Tris finds romance with a super-hot boy, but also discovers unrest and growing conflict in their seemingly “perfect society.” To survive and save those they love, they must use their strengths to uncover the truths about their identities, their families, and the order of their society itself.

If you are intrigued, here’s a link to the Amazon page for the book so you too can read the first few chapters and possibly find yourself a new book obsession just as I have:  http://www.amazon.com/Divergent-Veronica-Roth/dp/0062024027

Also, here’s a link to Veronica Roth’s personal blog,  veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/

Check out her November 23rd, 2011 post, “The Break Up Letter”, written to her Macbook Air, I laughed out loud about 12 times on that one.

By the way, a little more snooping around to find the pictures to put on this post and I discovered a rumor that she already has a movie deal on this first book in the trilogy. Double awesome.

SO, my real question is this: Now that I am definitely going to buy this book should I A.) Kill a tree and feel the surge of enjoyment by splurging on the Hardback copy or B) Give the greedy pigs at Amazon my money so I can download it instantly to my new (still free) 3rd Gen Kindle? BTW, if I buy the Kindle copy, I can only lend it out ONCE. How I do love to hate you Kindle.

What do YOU think? Shall I kill a tree or support Greed?

1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a Nerf War.

OK. SO this is somewhat random. It seemed almost too vague to put on the Awesome List, so I will just go on about it a bit and that should cover the subject in an acceptable manner. So here goes.. I have recently discovered Etsy.com (which I may very well actually write an Awesome List article) and I have also recently become friends with a girl who writes Steampunk fiction novels. Now, I have been obsessed with the show Firefly for quite a while as it is most surely the best show that has ever been on television. I would not normally make such grandiose statements and now that I’m thinking about it, I will definitely be adding it to the Awesome List.

SO, the style of dress and weaponry and the general feel of Firefly is the best audiovisual way for me to describe my idea of what Steampunk is. Lite Steampunk anyway. If you’ve never been graced with the splendiferous jewel of genius that IS Firefly, then just think post-apocolyptic space pirate cowboys. I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, that’s the coolest thing ever. I want to go to there.” And you would be correct. If you were somewhat confused by that jumble of imagery in your head and hadn’t yet made it to that conclusion, don’t worry. I know you would have reached that conclusion eventually cause you’re just cool like that I reckon. Let’s go on.

I used to play with Nerf guns with my 5 year old nephew until he moved away, which made me very sad. I miss him terribly. I miss having someone to have Nerf wars with. The great thing about Nerf guns is that they have the cool factor of guns without the murderous psycho life-taking crap factor of guns. Also, most children that love nerf guns are young males, usually with some form of ADHD, and I can’t think of anything more fun than unleashing a butt load of Nerf arrow fury out on some annoying overly energetic turd that pokes me in the shoulder fifteen thousand times to get my attention while I am trying to have a conversation with his mother or sisters. Don’t worry, I’m not going to procreate. The children are safe.

We have established that I love Nerf gun shoot outs and Steampunkery. So here is what the combination of those things looks like:

THIS:

     

                                                                                                      

PLUS THIS:

EQUALS THIS:

  

And if you add a steampunk chick to it, it looks something like this:

 

THAT IS ALL. AND… YOU’RE WELCOME.

 

 

Our First Week with Sundance

Hello all. I realize I haven’t written anything in almost a week. Sorry about that. My mission to lease a horse so I can ride every week met with great success last week and I have been having way too much fun with it; I am starting to wonder if my health insurance covers equine therapy visits. Heaven knows it is doing much more for me (and My family) than any kind of man made antidepressant ever could.

I rode three times last week, on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I visited with Ashlee, the owner of Sundance, on Monday night after picking Heather and Kate up from a ball game at the high school where they had to take pictures for yearbook. The place seemed to be a little far out but in all reality it is only 10 minutes from my house. The owner of the horse is not the owner of the property, but he was there too. His name is Mitchell. I have to say, I feel so fortunate to have found such wonderful people to get back into this with. She is a 20 yr old trick rider and owns three of the horses on site and he is in his 50s and has been around horses his entire life. I know I will be able to learn a lot from them both.

I had to wait until Thursday to ride again but I ended up coming out on Wednesday to see the horses again and talked to Mitch for about an hour. Turns out he has several (10 or so) other horses on site and is a breeder and farrier. I will also probably be able to keep a horse there with him when I decide to buy my own. In all honesty, I’ll probably just end up buying either Sundance (if he becomes available in the next year or two) or one of his as yet untrained horses. No, I’m not crazy, the one I might want is just unbroken right now as he is only 2 years old, but he will be trained by Mitch in another year or so. He’s very small, probably only end up being about 14 hands high, and I think I would like a smaller horse. Mitch says his sire had a very good and gentle head on him, very even tempered, and he will be a good “grade horse” which basically means he isn’t a pure breed, he is a mix breed. This also means that I probably wouldn’t be able to register him. For me though, not wanting to show or compete or breed, this is not such a big deal. An unfancy horse tends to have an equally unfancy price tag.

Thursday’s ride was difficult, almost discouraging. Heather and I went out and Ashlee and Mitch were both there. She helped me saddle and bridle him. He almost wouldn’t go at all for us and when he did walk a bit ended up just heading back toward the barn. It was difficult to get him to obey for me and Heather. Ashlee was of course able to get on and make him to do cartwheels. I blame that on my unfamiliarity and inexperience.I’d say one of the best parts of the afternoon was giving him a bath. I’m sad to say that I’d never given a horse a bath before.

I came out Saturday, fighting the discouragement from Thursday and determined to try again when it would be just me and him, and it was much better. Mitch told me the best way to get him out of that default to the barn mode was to work him out for a good long time around it. If he associated the barn area with work instead of rest and being unsaddled, then he wouldn’t be so anxious to get back to it. He called it reverse psychology and it worked well. I practiced weaving him in and out of some trees and we followed the same course each time. Then I took him through the barn out into the main part of the yard where he was hesitant but a little bit curious too. It was a very educational day and I loved every minute of it. I only rode him for about an hour or so. On our way back to the barn from our short trip out into the main yard, we got stopped by three kittens crossing his path. They were all looking up at him, playing and mewing. He watched for them and waited until they were out of the way before proceeding.

After I unsaddled him, brushed him, gave him his treat apple for a good session, I ended up talking to Mitch for another hour. We leaned on the fence overlooking the pasture with his other horses in it, mostly mares that are intended for the purpose of trail riding. They were all kind of huddled in a big group by the fence. The smallest one came up to me and put his muzzle in my hand. I didn’t have any food for him but he kept rubbing his face in my hand. I kind of fell for him right then. He’s supposed to be black but looks almost brindle from being out in the sun. His hair is black with caramel brown tips. He has a white blaze down his face and his muzzle was a little sunburnt. I petted him for another 10 minutes or so before heading off to work to get some rent checks deposited. As I got in the car my hands were filthy and it made me smile. There’s something so calming about a well earned pair of dirty hands. I know it’s silly, but this will be a novelty to me for a while. When I got home Heather was upset because she hadn’t gotten to go riding that day. I told her we’d go back tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and I waited what seemed like FOREVER for them both to wake up. I made breakfast and took a shower, then we left and got there around 1:30 pm. Sundance was fidgety today. The flies were driving him crazy, then we put the bit in his mouth and due to needing his teeth floated, which should happen fairly soon, he had issues with it the entire time we rode and was being a bit difficult again as he had been on that first day. He kept stopping and heading back to the barn and just being, well, a little stubborn. Mitch and a couple of his friends were cutting down trees in the other field and all the horses were whinnying about it. This may have had a little to do with his apprehension as well. My husband really liked him which was an important goal accomplished for me. I want him to know that when I’m there, I will be taken care of and not in danger.

We had a good time. Heather got to run a little on him when she turned him back toward the gate. We walked out to see my little sweet 2 yr old prospect again but he was way out in the field. When we got to him he wasn’t quite as friendly, maybe a little concerned about Heather and Matt because he’d never seen them before and we were all three out there, so that might have made a difference too. I’m looking forward to building a friendship with this little one over time too. Mitch says he can get started on breaking him if I want. I know it’s probably silly, but I want to call him Skydancer. I was crazy about Rainbow Brite when I was little and my favorite character was a girl called Stormy that was in charge of the winter weather. She had a purple horse with light purple main and tale and a lightening bolt on his forehead and that was his name: Skydancer. Here’s a clip of them giving Rainbow Brite some grief when spring rolls around.

 

Yeah, OK, I probably won’t call him Skydancer, after all, I’m not 8 years old anymore. I don’t know what horse I will end up with. I’m pretty content riding Sundance for now. He’s a good horse, and I’m so very lucky to be able to ride him and let him teach me to ride again. Let’s just hope I can lose some weight with all this moving around so whatever horse I do choose won’t end up sway backed from carrying my big fat butt! 😛 I will post something non-horse related this week… or at least soon. Bye for now!

Awesome List #2: SAAF House

     

First let me tell you about my recent dilemmas and then I will tell you what this is and why it is AWESOME.

I originally purchased my two dogs, both black pomeranians,  from breeders. Yes, I said BREEDERS, aka Puppy Mills. Boo hiss and I should have saved a humane society animal and so on and so forth… let’s just get past it. These were the only pets I intended on having.

Since that time we have added 3 cats and another Pom to our household. WHY? Because we have been feeding a feral mommy cat and she keeps having babies. My husband grew attached to George and Jade, the first two we were able to catch, and he ended up wanting to keep them. Several litters later, I grew attached to The General, so we ended up keeping him too.

We have been trying to tame this wild mommy cat for 5-6 years with no results. She still hisses when we come near her and she still runs off every time we open the door to put food out. All of this despite the fact that we feed her, shelter her, and take care of her mass of kittens she pops out every 4-6 months. Oh, and we kept 3 of them too.

In the last 5 years she has had 1-2 litters per year, totaling around 30 kittens. The majority of them I have been able to adopt out on Craigslist and via friends and residents, but this year she has had three litters already, which is getting stressful. Come to think of it, even though I love me some baby kitties, they were all stressful. Every single litter. Buying food, litter box supplies, and bathing the stink off of them, not to mention dealing with changing the litter, keeping them contained in a spare bedroom away from our other animals, hearing them mew and whine… it’s a LOT to take. BTW I still have 4 male kittens (pictured above) that are free to good homes, please take one!

I was complaining about this while buying more kitten food at All Pet  few weeks ago and the lady said “Sounds like it’s time to get her to SAAF house.” I asked for more info and she gave me their card. They only charge $25 to spay or neuter feral cats! For a $30 deposit they will even provide you with the trap to catch them in. There is no long waiting list, I called on Tuesday and picked up a trap that afternoon, brought my cat in to be spayed the next morning. Yes, it’s that quick. I picked her up the morning after and they refunded me $5 of my original $30 trap deposit and sent me on my merry little way. YES, It really was THAT easy.

Oh, and don’t let me forget this: I have also scheduled my sister’s doggie, Diamond, to be fixed and given all updates on shots and it is only costing me $75. THAT’S IT! Go price this at your local vet and then come back to me jumping for joy when you realize how affordable this is.

Here is the information on them so you too can rid the world of unwanted kittens and tame the cat whores in your neck of the woods; hopefully with that happening the folks at the inhumane society will be able to adopt out more animals and eventually save the world.

SAAF House: Springfield Animal Advocacy Foundation.

http://saaf2018.org/index.html

Here is a wishlist of items that they currently are in desperate need of, to which I am sure any number of people could donate. Please do so, they are amazing, non-greedy, and I am 10,000% grateful for the work they are doing.

http://saaf2018.org/wishlist.html

Dear SAAF house people,

You are wonderful. You have saved my life, my nerves and my finances. When we were having coffee at an independent coffee shop the other day, because he’s not a big Starbucks supporter, Jesus told me that he has very nice tracts of land set aside for all you people when the world becomes a paradise again. I told him I thought that was wise and he said “DUH!” then we both laughed and he took another drink of his hot spiced chai. He’s surprisingly zesty… and so are you. We SALUTE you SAAF house. That is why you are AWESOME.

Lan Mars

Awesome List #1: Brandi Carlile

I occasionally find something, whether it’s music, a website, a service, a place in town, a type of beverage or a zillion other things that I consider to be AWESOME. This doesn’t happen that often, most of the time things are just OK. I am going to start a thread of these things so I can express my zeal for them and it shall be called The Awesome list.

1. Brandi Carlile: Every song is epically beautiful and her voice sends chills like angels’ breathe down my spine when she reaches the high notes. I bought four of her albums from GoMusicNow.Com a while back and every single song is amazing. I’m gonna go see her in concert in December (Columbia, MO at the Blue Note).

Dear Ms. Carlile,

I hereby dub you Awesome, so much so that I am making you El Numero Uno on my Awesome list. Now sing a song and do a dance in your underpants… cause you’ve earned it!

Lan Mars

An Old Love Remembered

A person that truly loves something, no matter how they try to avoid it or their life brings them out of contact with it, will feel an aching, an emptiness in their life without it. Existence becomes almost meaningless, empty, tasteless, numb. There were always three things that made me feel that way: writing, drawing and horses. I occasionally pick up a pencil to draw again, and I have recently begun writing again. These things refresh my soul and enrich my life.

Horses are harder though. You have to know someone with horses, or have the resources (land and money) to own and take care of your own horse. As of right now, I have none of those things. My house is in the suburbs, there’s not a pasture or barn in sight. And it’s not just that easy to move either, we own this house. Last week some time I got this mad hankering to watch Black Beauty, one of my all time favorite movies. I cried (of course) and all those feelings of love, fascination, joy, rapture… all those things I felt about horses came flooding back, overwhelming me.

Then Saturday, I was at the Ozarks Romance Authors meeting and the speaker was a “western” writer. His sister had recently written a book with a young girl riding a horse on the cover. On the back was a picture of her with her own horse, looking all majestic and gorgeous. I got to meet her and talk with her briefly. Then I wrote a blog about my favorite books, several of which…. that’s right…. had to do with horses in some way. I made the mistake of getting passionate about reading Robin McKinely again and I remembered why I loved her books so much: her characters always have a close bond with either a horse or a dog the size of a horse.

I have been listening to the Hero and the Crown on audio book, the main character in this one is a red head named Aerin who fights dragons and re-tames this old war horse of her father’s named Talat. The picture to the right always reminds me of this book… but she seems to be a lot nicer to dragons than she was in the book. The first time I read this I was in 8th grade. My adorable little English Teacher, Mrs. Bastian, recommended it to me. I read a book in 4th grade called Pounding Hooves, about a girl who draws and becomes obsessed with this wild arabian mare that moves into the field close to her house. I started reading Beauty a few weeks ago but it isn’t holding my attention. Last night I dove into The Blue Sword again, which was better than I remembered. It’s the sequel to The Hero and the Crown. The horses have names like Red Wind and Fire Heart. The main characters of all these books have these deep bonds with their horses and a love of riding. Of course, it also doesn’t help that I “liked” the Cowboy Magic page on facebook and now I am daily inundated with pictures of beautiful horses from them. It makes my heart sick with memories.

I had a horse from the time I was about 12 to the time I was 16 or so. My broke single mom convinced the old man that owned the field down the road from us to let me use it and she helped me get the most wonderful thing I have ever owned: a Palomino mare, 15 hands high, and her name was Ginger. I was in love with everything about her. Her eyes, her feet, her hair, her whinnie, her smell… everything. I remember when we went to get her, the old guy selling her was a good man. When I saw her I started crying, I couldn’t believe something so wonderful could be for me. My brother in law at the time, Hoss, was a horse man and taught me everything I needed to know to take care of her and be safe around her. I miss him, but more accurately, I miss those days.

I remember the first time we cantered, how exhilarating it was. The first time we galloped!! The time she decided to go down to the pond for a drink while I was riding her and then she decided she would just go for a nice little swim across the pond with me still on her back! It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I fed her sweet oats, apples and carrots. I brushed her and played games with her. No wonder I never got my school work done. I was in love. The picture to the left is of me when I was about 12 riding my horse, Ginger. My childhood friend, Kara, is peaking out from behind me! I miss those sweet simple days.

In the spirit of those days I started looking at ads for horses on craigslist and came across one for a herd of mustangs that a guys was training and selling for like $125 each! Lots of colors, lots of choices and it was right here in Springfield!!! I checked the address and it was close to my work, like 2 minutes away. I got off work early and went to see the people and as it turns out it was a place that gives classes on horsemanship. It’s a big beautiful place, they keep the Greene County Sheriff’s Posse horses. They are state owned and operated.I talked to one of the trainers/care takers of the horses and she said that if I wanted to I could even apply as a volunteer. I was so excited I could barely move… I feel like I’m twelve again! I’m gonna do it! BEST THING EVER!!!

So, as a treat and hopefully to start a relationship with the people of the ranch so we can volunteer, Heather and I will be taking an adult beginner class there next weekend. It’s 4 hours long and you get to learn all the basics of care, grooming, saddling, catching, feeding and so on. Oh, and I will be riding a horse for the first time in about 13 years. I am so excited. I can’t wait! Neither can Heather. 🙂

Now, here are a few other horsey pictures… just for fun. Enjoy!