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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Artificial Abundance and an interview with author Lindsay S. Nixon

"And let the brain-washing begin", I said to my husband a week or so ago as we rushed to find the mute button for the t.v.  The increased-volume, catchy-jingle, IN-YOUR-FACE, race is on, in full this and she'll love this to show you adore this to say you this, buy this, buy this, buy this and this and this and this.....commercial extravaganza that will plague us at full-tilt boogie for the next few weeks is on. 

I confess I have a bit of Ebeneezer in me....I have issues surrounding the holidays.....I know it.  They are deeply rooted and we won't go there right now, but, as I age, and work diligently at becoming more focused, more Zen, more relevant, more now....I am becoming keenly aware of a growing rejection for this hyper-commercialism.

Today is my birthday.  I just received a b'day wish from my beloved and much-cherished brother, apologizing for not getting me anything and promising to 'make it up to me someday'.  I appreciate the thought and I admit I really do enjoy giving others presents as much as the next guy, but, really, I asked myself, what do I want from my brother more than anything else?  Obviously.....time.  I requested that from him along with some suggestions on what we could do together and when we could do it.  My dearest loving friends (you guys know who you are, LOVE you!), give me the most precious of gifts....their time.  Long lunches with me if they are close enough, long thoughtful e-mails usually daily otherwise.  Time is their most precious commodity.  It's the one thing we really can't make more of.  And yet, can it compete with an i-Pad?  It should be able to.  At the end of our days, given the choice between an i-Pad and Time, I believe we all know unequivocally how that choice would go.  No contest.  If no contest then, why not no contest now?

Because we are mired in and trained from an early age into worshipping abundance.  I can see where this concept got convoluted....abundance in and of itself is a good thing.  Who wouldn't want more love, more peace, more intelligence, more confidence....but we somehow get wired to value an artificial abundance.  Plastic, metal, other tangibles often with little real-world practical value become senior to the simple things, the really important things.  Shania, I know what you mean...'so you got a car???.....that don't impress me much....that won't keep me warm in the middle of the night-eee-night'.

We are conditioned to hop along from holiday to holiday and from pressured purchasing days to the next opportunity (SALE!!!) to the next one and the next one, ad nauseum, keeping us in a perpetual buying-consuming mode.  Have you ever been out shopping, maybe trying to complete that 'holiday list' and found yourself sinking deep inside yourself spiraling into a no-man's land of consumerism?  Everything starts to blend together?  Maybe you wandered down the deadly 'aisle-of-pink' in the children's department to find something for a girl on your list and found yourself staring blankly with slack jaw?  I sometimes will find myself just completely stopped in a store and thinking, OMG, why do we need all this stuff???  I want to run screaming from it all at times like this.

I enjoy watching the show "Hoarders", much to the ban of my husband (although he watches Cops so has no room to criticize!), and I think one of the reasons I am so transfixed by it, is partially due to my background in Psychology and infatuation with what-makes-us-tick, but also because I see a bit of that 'hoarding-phenomenon' in myself.  I never want to be so entrenched and entrapped and even in the extreme, absolutely STOPPED in their lives by 'stuff' as those poor long-suffering souls featured on that show are.  And yet, I think, we are all somewhere on that continuum. 

I can see my goals for 2012 already lining up.  I typically like to begin setting these on my birthday, rather than with the new year....seems right and also is handy since I have a December birthday.  2012 is going to be all about the purge....all about using what I have.....all about less is more and what that really means, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  More on that later.

In the meantime, I have an opportunity here.....a new generation to start new traditions with and to set the climate of how it is going to go.  My granddaughter is one year old now and this will be one of her first 'interactive' holiday seasons.  I'm not kidding myself into thinking that I'm going to be able to just not get her anything, but I'm thinking, this is a chance for me to tone-it-down.  I stopped at a used children's clothing/toy store and found the most adorable Little Tykes tractor.  Perfect for her.  I had a moment of 'guilt' (there goes that brain-washing) of buying her something used.  It has a scuff or two on it, but nothing anyone would really notice, and I suspect she'll put a scuff or two on it herself.  It felt good to make that's more sustainable, more in line with what I am trying to say here on this blog, and in my life.  It's ok to reduce, reuse, recycle.  All that glitters is not gold.

Now I just have to control myself for another couple of weeks!  Oh yeah, and keep the mute button on during the brain-washing.

Not the most flattering picture for either of us, but I thought it was interesting, we both had the same look....what's the infatuation???  Sweet potatoes...what else?

Look at her....already a master at downward facing dog!

For a really eye-opening video on consumerism, unsustainability of the current system and the true cycle of material consumption, check this out...The Story of Stuff.
(I found this via Lori Painter's wonderful blog: )


Lindsay S. Nixon has once again embarked on a 'blog book tour' and has graciously given us some of her precious time to answer a few questions from me and is sharing a recipe from her new book "Everyday Happy Herbivore".

1.  Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions, Lindsay, and congratulations on your new book.  I see that you have included quite a few extras, like the DIY section at the end and practical substitutions for 'everyday' living, e.g. the gravy section, condiments, etc.  You cover a lot of ground in these sections.  You mention your inspiration as living in the relative isolation of St. Maarten.  Did you run into any major set-backs from lack of access to ingredients?

Oh my god yes -- what was available to me was always changing. For example, I went to the store and saw they had sweet potatoes. So I bought a bag. and then I never saw sweet potatoes again. Good thing I bought that bag! I mean, a cookbook without sweet potatoes?! That also happened with a lot of other vegetables -- and we frequently ran out of some beans (black beans especially) -- which I'm thankful for, actually, because it forced me to work with other beans I normally underutilize. 

2.  What do you see is the biggest change needed to move the plant-based, whole foods movement forward?  How can we, as individuals, help?

I think its important that everyone realize that leading by example is the best way to promote this lifestyle and foster change in others. True change has to come from within. The best we can do is spark a curiosity, get them interested and kindly educate without overly advocating. Most people don't respond well to being told what to do, we want to encourage them to make a positive change for themselves. I see a lot of people sort of beating others over the head -- and I love that they're so passionate, but that's not really the best way to "convert" in my experience.

3.  What is your favorite recipe from the new book?

Asking a chef to pick their recipe is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child :-) 
                I should have rephrased that to is there a recipe you are most proud of?
 Most proud of?  Well I'm proud of all of them -- but I do think the Rum Cake is pretty amazing. I need to enter it into a contest, or something. You would NEVER guess its whole-grain, fat-free and vegan

4.  What is next on the horizon for you?  I'm sure you have another project already in mind....

I'm currently writing my third cookbook; but I have my hand in other projects too -- I've recently started meal plans on Happy Herbivore, which I'm really enjoying and want to expand on.

Thank you again, for your time and continued success to you.

Lindsay has a very active FaceBook page that you can follow her on, and blogs frequently as well. .  Watch for much, much more from Lindsay in the future.  I know her success will continue exponentially.

Thank you, Lindsay!

Chocolate Mug Cake - serves 1
Chocolate cake? check. Single-Serving? check. Made nearly instantly? Oh yeah! This whole-wheat chocolate cake goes from flour to in your mouth in under 5 minutes.

4 tbsp white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp nondairy milk
¼+ cup unsweetened applesauce
vanilla extract
dash cinnamon
2-3 tbsp vegan chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon together, set aside. For a really sweet cake, add more sugar. In another small bowl, whisk ¼ cup applesauce, nondairy milk, and a drop or two of vanilla extract together. Pour wet into dry, then add chips, stirring to combine. Add another 1-2 tbsp of applesauce, until the batter is wet and resembles regular cake batter. Pour batter into a coffee cup, and microwave for three minutes (at 1000 watts).

Per Serving: 276 Calories, 4.1g Fat, 59.3g Carbohydrates, 7.8g Fiber, 31.6g Sugar, 8.3g

This will end up being my birthday cake!  I didn't have the chocolate chips, so subbed raw cacao chips.  Chocolate is a bit of a trigger food for me and I generally don't keep it in the house, but find that I can handle cacao much better.  I used cacao powder in place of the cocoa and cut that by 1/2 T.  I also only had regular whole wheat flour, but it seemed to work fine.

Serious yum...and serious fun.  I mean, cake in a cup?  Perfect.  And fun....did I mention fun?  Oh, we will be having this around here anytime we need to celebrate.  I think Thursday is a holiday right?  Right, I just checked my calendar and it is Delmore Schwartz' birthday.  I have no idea who Delmore is, but I will have to find out and celebrate with a mug cake! 

The cacao nibs I used gave some crunch to this cake, making it almost like brownie-in-a-cup. I  could see adding some nuts or even some dried cherries....I mean this is incredibly versatile.  Great job, Lindsay!

I love those photos on other peoples' blogs where they have all their ingredients organized.  Mine never come out as nice, but I am liking getting in the habit of having everything out before starting to cook.

You probably can't see the detail on this, but this is Saigon cinnamon and the price on the lid says $.99. It's one of my finds at a scratch and dent type warehouse.  Not sure what was wrong with this---exp. date is May 2014 and the way I go through cinnamon, that won't be a problem. Besides having great prices at this warehouse, the food is donated by local large food chains rather than tossing it out---so, saving waste, and the profits go to needy families.  Win-win-win. 

Happy Birthday to me.

Sue, celebrating, in Ohio


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