Cuppycakes

Another busy week has begun. A friend of mine is getting married on Saturday and she has asked me to be one of her bridesmaids. Everything is downhill from here. The dresses are fitted, the tuxes are ordered, the food is picked. It’s all good to go. Except my part. Well, my part is good to go, but I haven’t started it yet. As a gift to her and her fiance I offered to make their wedding cake(s). 240 cup cakes and a small cake to be exact. Plus 6 gluten-free for her niece. It’s a big under-taking, but it has to be done. Other than the gluten-free (which may be as well, I haven’t decided) all the cupcakes are vegan. So is the icing. Vegan vanilla cupcakes (dyed red) with buttercream icing and those little silver candy balls. I wanted to candy rose petals but alas, organic roses are next to impossible to find around here. Instead we have silk rose petals to sprinkle on the table.

Thankfully, my boyfriend’s sister and I have a little side business venture called Cuppycakes by Bre. We both have the same name so it works out! She focuses on the regular cuppycakes and I do the vegan and gluten-free (obviously). We’ve just started so there hasn’t been much demand and I still need to make a price-list. I figure the wedding will be a nice plug for our business.

On the news of the day side of things, we ran out of cat AND dog food this morning so the dog and four cats are getting a really gourmet breakfast. Eggs and tuna for the cats, beef and veggies for the dog. I doubt they’ll complain. I’ve never made homemade animal food so hopefully this turns out. Or they crap their guts out. Either way it will be a fun experiment.

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Just saw Planet of the Apes. What a great movie! For anyone who is into the Apes movies it is a must-see. It’s not often you go into a movie rooting for the destruction of mankind, but if you think about it, what would be better for the earth? Not that I’m some crazy extremist but in the Planet of the Apes movies everything seems so in touch with nature. I think it would be really neat to live that way! But technology will continue to grow so unless there is some crazy destruction I doubt that world is attainable. Maybe I could make a community…hmm. Nah, I like certain technological advancements. And without computers, how would I blog?!?

But back to the movie. If you go see it, watch for the little nods at Charlton Heston and also the original Planet of the Apes. Little things here and there. Go take a look-see! I hope to go again soon.

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A Reply From Good Housekeeping

I e-mailed the magazine Good Housekeeping a while ago about their green seal of approval. I’ve received a reply. There is a link in the following e-mail for anyone who is interested to check out which details the process required to get a green seal of approval. I’m still not sure I like that they allow products with parfum, but it seems to be a pretty thorough list.

Dear Ms. Brianna,
 
Thank you so much for your email and your interest in the Green Good Housekeeping Seal.
 
Yes, some products that have earned the Green Good Housekeeping Seal do contain fragrances but the ingredients are looked at very carefully during our evaluation.  For more details on exactly what is looked at please see our website which details the application:
.  The products which apply for the GGHS need to answer each of these questions and earn a minimum of 65 points in order to qualify.  Plus they need to support each of their answers with documentation so that we know how they are answering is truthful.
 
If you have any further questions regarding the GGHS please do not hesitate to reach out to me at the email address below.
 
Sincerely,
Stacy
_________________________________________
Stacy A. Genovese
Good Housekeeping Research Institute
Technical Director

Follow the Institute’s Blog at:http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/product-testing/from-the-lab-blog/

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Books! Glorious Books!

I had a great day with my Nana yesterday. We left later in the morning to go to the farmer’s market in Portage La Prairie. There was very little offered (3 sellers) but we managed to pick up kohlrabi (which neither of us had tried), green beans, beets, zucchini, tomato basil pasta (vegan!), and dandelion jelly! It was a delicious supper. I was hoping there would be a table of books but no luck. So off to the library we went in the hope that I could borrow a few. Well, imagine my surprise to find that the library was selling books. I borrowed five and bought ten! And what an assortment:

Holder of The White Lotus: The Lives of the Dalai Lama
The Tibetan Book of The Dead
Emotional Yoga
The Rough Guide to Hong Kong and Macau
The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget
The Tree of Yoga
Rage: The True Story of a Sibling Murder
Memoirs of a Geisha
Daily Power for Joyful Living
Miss Manners Guide to Rearing Perfect Children
Elephant Bill
1759 The Battle For Canada
The Great Depression 1929-1939
Moose Meat and Wild Rice
Full Dark, No Stars (for my Nana)
Green Restoration

I don’t think I need my boyfriend to pick any books up for a while!

I finished Rage; The True Story of a Sibling Rivalry by Jerry Langton last night. It’s the story of how Kevin Madden brutally murdered his little brother. It occurred in Toronto in November of 2003. Talk about a book that will make you appreciate just how great it is to not have any serious family problems. Everyone complains about their families quirks. How their mother won’t stop reminiscing about their skinny days or their father won’t come to visit them, but these are so minor compared to what this man did to his brother. I’m no psychologist or judge so I will make no commentary on Kevin, but imagine the horror and pain his brother suffered before dying. Their mother, father, and step-father will be forever wondering if there was something they could do. The grief would be enough to debilitate most people. That little boys friends will never be able to forget their last moments with him, wondering if they were kind enough or feeling guilty if they weren’t. It’s a stark reminder to always end things on a good note, and try not to go to bed mad. Love the people in your life to the best of your abilities.

On a happier note, my day with my Nana was pretty great. She also picked me up Game of Thrones which has been made into a fairly successful tv show of which I have not had the pleasure to watch yet.

Well, I’m off to devour another book. I think Emotional Yoga looks inviting. A happier topic anyway. I hope.

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Books! Glorious Books!

I had a great day with my Nana yesterday. We left later in the morning to go to the farmer’s market in Portage La Prairie. There was very little offered (3 sellers) but we managed to pick up kohlrabi (which neither of us had tried), green beans, beets, zucchini, tomato basil pasta (vegan!), and dandelion jelly! It was a delicious supper. I was hoping there would be a table of books but no luck. So off to the library we went in the hope that I could borrow a few. Well, imagine my surprise to find that the library was selling books. I borrowed five and bought ten! And what an assortment:

Holder of The White Lotus: The Lives of the Dalai Lama
The Tibetan Book of The Dead
Emotional Yoga
The Rough Guide to Hong Kong and Macau
The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget
The Tree of Yoga
Rage: The True Story of a Sibling Murder
Memoirs of a Geisha
Daily Power for Joyful Living
Miss Manners Guide to Rearing Perfect Children
Elephant Bill
1759 The Battle For Canada
The Great Depression 1929-1939
Moose Meat and Wild Rice
Full Dark, No Stars (for my Nana)
Green Restoration

I don’t think I need my boyfriend to pick any books up for a while!

I finished Rage; The True Story of a Sibling Rivalry by Jerry Langton last night. It’s the story of how Kevin Madden brutally murdered his little brother. It occurred in Toronto in November of 2003. Talk about a book that will make you appreciate just how great it is to not have any serious family problems. Everyone complains about their families quirks. How their mother won’t stop reminiscing about their skinny days or their father won’t come to visit them, but these are so minor compared to what this man did to his brother. I’m no psychologist or judge so I will make no commentary on Kevin, but imagine the horror and pain his brother suffered before dying. Their mother, father, and step-father will be forever wondering if there was something they could do. The grief would be enough to debilitate most people. That little boys friends will never be able to forget their last moments with him, wondering if they were kind enough or feeling guilty if they weren’t. It’s a stark reminder to always end things on a good note, and try not to go to bed mad. Love the people in your life to the best of your abilities.

On a happier note, my day with my Nana was pretty great. She also picked me up Game of Thrones which has been made into a fairly successful tv show of which I have not had the pleasure to watch yet.

Well, I’m off to devour another book. I think Emotional Yoga looks inviting. A happier topic anyway. I hope.

The Grand Search For Perfection?

In my search to better myself and my surroundings I’m trying to be happier, read more, and healthify my body. When it comes to being happier, for me, it’s a difficult journey. Not that I’m depressed or miserable or anything of that sort, but I do seem to love to get my grump on. If I can nitpick it to death, I just might. I read The Happiness Project and I really think I can relate. She seemed to be of a similar mind to me. Her temper would flare at the smallest thing but she was not inherently unhappy. I come from a family of angry happiness. We seem to be in a perpetual state of negativity and thriving! But I like me better when I’m happy and so do those around me. The majority of people around me do not see my temper. Hell, most people thing I’m the calm one (I say as my boyfriend scoffs). So, I’m embarking on my own happiness project/journey, but first I will do some research.

Which leads us to our second project; read more.

I don’t know how this will be possible since I already read A LOT. I think, in my mind, what I mean is read more quality. I read good books. My recent books have been The Happiness Project, Prisoner of Tehran, and The Help (recent as in the past ten days), but I’d like to read more learning books. I’m looking into Buddhism (to help with my happiness journey) so my boyfriend will be picking up some books for me. I also want to expand my horizons and since reading Prisoner of Tehran I’ve been curious as to the atrocities committed around our world. It sounds macabre, but I want to know just what it is I’m appreciating in Canada. I know freedom is the big one, but it goes so much deeper than that. This isn’t going to make me feel miserable, it will make me feel grateful. I also want to know what I can do to help, but that will come after education.

With expanding my mind comes expanding my knowledge of making myself healthy. I eat healthy (very healthy) but I want to take it to the next level. I want to maximize my nutrient intake, minimize my food budget, detoxify, and build on my all over body health. This also adds to my quality reading. It also ties in with Buddhism as I believe that meditation leads to a healthy mind, body, and soul. Yoga will also be on my study list. I already know how to do many of the yoga moves but I want to learn the history and fundamentals. I love knowledge if you can’t tell.

While I’m not about to run off to a Tibetan monastery (yet) I AM ready to dive into a different lifestyle whole heartedly. I just need to figure out where to start. I also have a few letters/e-mails to send in my continued quest to save the earth. Off I go to save the daaaay (Mighty Mouse. I realize it’s not the lyrics, but the tune is in my head). Later days.

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Subscribing to?

My grandmother subscribes to quite a few magazines which I then peruse. Three have really caught my attention and I’ve sent e-mails in response to my experience with their magazines. I won’t give overviews of each since the letters are pretty self-explanatory.

Hello,

My grandmother has subscribed to Chatelaine for many, many years and I always get to look over the magazine after she’s done with it. I enjoy many of your articles and especially the recipes.

I have a few questions and concerns though. I notice that you promote the use of such items as Dixie cups, bagged salads, and processed foods. I’m sure you realize the environmental implications of using these items. Plastic is one of the worst things clogging our waterways and garbage dumps and processed foods cause all kinds of horrible health problems in our nation. Surely there are alternatives such as shot glasses for Dixie cups, or whole lettuce heads instead of bagged salad.

Chatelaine is a very influential magazine and it’s a shame to see the encouragement of products that are not in your readers best interests. I’m curious to know what kind of environmental changes Chatelaine has in the works. I look forward to your response.

Brianna

No response yet.

Hello,

My grandmother has subscribed to Good Housekeeping for many, many years and I always get to look over the magazine after she’s done with it. I enjoy many of your articles and especially the recipes.

I was disappointed to see that some of the products with the Good Housekeeping Green Seal of Approval contained chemicals like fragrance/parfum. I’m not sure if you’re aware but according to David Suzuki these are on the top twelve worst chemicals for a person. They are so ambiguous they could be anything being placed on your reader’s skin or inhaled by them and those around them. I sincerely hope that you take this into serious consideration in the future when promoting a product. I hate to think that due diligence is not being done when researching a product.

I also wonder why so much paper is wasted on advertising. I understand that much funding comes from your sponsors, but there must be a way to reduce the amount of paper used to promote products that are horrible for us and the environment (ie. hair dye, makeup, cleaning products). Many people look at Good Housekeeping as a trend setter and follow the advice given in the magazine. Please promote a healthier and more environmentally friendly magazine. I look forward to your response on what is being done to remedy these issues. Thank you.

Brianna

Response #1
Hello Brianna,

Thank you very much for writing to Good Housekeeping– it’s so important for
us to hear what our readers are thinking. Your message was forwarded to our
top editors and our staff behind the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, who
will take your input into consideration for future issues and product
reviews.

Many thanks again for the note!

Best wishes,

Kathleen Corlett
Editorial Assistant
Good Housekeeping

So that was pretty much a brush off. I think that I might e-mail her back and ask for an update on what is being done to change their green seal policy. The last was a congratulatory note to Country Living.

Hello,

My Nana subscribes to your magazine and I always borrow (steal) it from her when she’s done. I just wanted to give you guys a big pat on the back for your promotion of reusing. I’ve also noticed that you encourage the use of very little plastic, and even gave a great tip (bringing your own cutlery to work to reduce plastic) in your latest issue.

I often e-mail/mail/call companies to question their environmental policies and give pointers as to how they can update or change their current habits. It’s so easy to overlook companies like yours that make an effort to be environmentally conscious, but I’m making a point of congratulating as well as cajoling. Thank you so much for a great magazine and keep up the good works.

Country Living is a GREAT magazine. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it I highly recommend checking it out. Their ideas are wonderful and, as it said in the e-mail, they encourage reusing instead of buying new.

Hopefully I hear back from Chatelaine. I don’t need to hear back from Country Living but if they message back with an environmental policy I will be stoked. Peace Out!

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Working On It

Since leaving for Alberta I haven’t been afforded much of an opportunity to blog. I was going to spend a portion of the drive out doing some pre-emptive blog posts but my phone died within a few hours (all I ever use is my phone). Then once at my mother’s there was WAY too much going on. Friday was spent with my brothers going to the movies, wandering around the mall, and playing lazer tag. Saturday was a lazy day but it was also a day spent with my mom who I only see a couple times a year. Sunday we went to Discovery Canyon in Red Deer. You can rent tubes and float down the little rocky river thing they’ve got going. This is not an activity for adults. After scraping our butts and legs my boyfriend and I decided to watch from the sidelines.

I made Sunday a vegetarian day (as opposed to vegan) for ease of purpose. We were going to Marble Slab Creamery as well as Glenn’s Restaurant (which is NOT vegan friendly but IS vegetarian happy). Glenn’s has the most amazing selection of teas. If you are in the ReD Deer area go there! They have hundreds of flavors. And the French Vanilla Chai Tea Mocha…*drool*.

After Discovery Canyon turned out to be a bust we went to the local pool/gym. The waterslide was a blast but at some point in the pool excursion I pinched a seriously bad nerve between my shoulder blades. Because of this the drive home was excruciating and frankly, I haven’t felt much like doing anything since. Today I was actually able to lift my arms high enough to wash my hair. Maybe tomorrow I can attempt to clean my room so I’m not laying in piles of books and water cups.

Speaking of books, I just finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It’s based in the 60’s in Jackson, Mississippi from three women’s perspectives. Two of the women are black maids and one is a white woman. They decide to write a book exposing the true side of being a maid in the South. It’s being made into a movie later this year and I for one will be firs in line to buy tickets.

I also started reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. I’ve been meaning to pick it up for a while so I’m glad I just happened to see it on sale at WalMart. I’m only on chapter 3 but so far it’s a good read. Gretchen is very candid about the trials she goes through to be happy and how her husband reacts to her various experiments. I hope to try something similar very soon.

I have to write a letter (eeee! snail mail!) to Bulk Barn about their plastic bag policy. When I can actually sit at the table without my back seizing up I will do that. In the meantime it’s all books and pain meds and squishy arm chairs.

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Easy Vegan

Tomorrow (bright and early) we leave for Alberta to visit my mom, step-dad, and brothers. I have quite a few companies I want to e-mail so I’ll be doing that on the long drive. Thank God for my BlackBerry!

As I mentioned in an earlier post my mother has been asking me what she can feed me. She seems to think that being vegan I can only eat about five food items, 4 of which can only be found high in the Andes mountains under one certain rock surrounded by attack griffins. The fifth one is in a magical stream in a valley in Narnia.

Truth be told, I eat a much more versatile diet than my omnivorous partner. He won’t eat most grains, cooked fruit or vegetables, onions, mushrooms, (well most vegetables in general), soup, stew, chilli, spicy food, curry (although I’ve got him onto lime curry), Americanized Chinese food, a lot of vegan protein sources….the list goes one. I eat everything except dairy, meat, fish, and poultry. You do the math.

Cooking for a vegan is not scary. Use oil or water instead of butter. If making a dish like potato salad, just leave a potato out and mix it up with some veggies and a non-dairy dressing, like a vinaigrette. For protein there are grains, beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan, lentils, quinoa (which everyone should be eating all the time) all of which can be mixed into any dish you would normally put meat. In baking, milk can be replaced with soy, rice, or nut milk. Eggs can be switched up with egg replacer powder, apple sauce, banana, oil, or tofu depending on what you’re doing with it. Their are so many soy cheeses on the market, but make sure the ingredients don’t include rennet or casein.

Side note: rennet is found in most dairy cheeses and comes from mammalian stomach making a lot of cheeses non-vegetarian.

I’ll be bringing tofu out with me so she shouldn’t worry too much. Vegans don’t have only certain recipes that they will eat. Almost any recipe can be converted to be vegan. It’s not scary and it certainly doesn’t hurt. Try it out sometime. Take your favorite recipe, and switch out the meat for tofu. Tofu will take on the flavor of whatever you cook it in. It’s good.

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Reading, Writing, and Yoga

My Nana has a few magazine subscriptions, Chatelaine, Good Housekeeping, and Canadian Living, and she always hands them off to me. I used to skim through, read an article here and there, bitch about the skinny models and how I could look like that too if I didn’t have such an aversion to chemicals and plastic (heh, fake boob jab), and check out the recipes. But this month I went through the magazines with a vengeance. With my new finely tuned senses I narrowed in on fragrance laden products, processed foods required for recipes, and encouragement of such horrors as Dixie cups. I am still in Winnipeg and thus unable to go through the magazines (I left them at home) to articulate the exact locations of said atrocities, but Thursday on the drive to Alberta, with so much time on my hands, the e-mails will be flying. I’ll have page numbers and proper grammar. Oh, I’m not messing around.

Another e-mail I am itching to send, just have to do a bit more research, is to XBox/Microsoft. My partner and I are very large comic/gamer/collector/anything-nerdy-you-can-think-of-not-involving-a-computer geeks but I really dislike the amount of packaging and waste that goes along with this profession. I’m going to look into what kind of plastic is used in the XBox game boxes (I have to start somewhere, it may as well be there) and go from that. I’d like to see less inserts, recyclable packaging, and a reduction in packaging used. PS3/Sony has less packaging so I don’t see why Microsoft can’t.

Now, you may or may not be able to tell from the few posts on this blog that I am a little high-strung and intense at times. Maybe you can’t tell in which case, great! But my friends and family can. I am going to do something about it. Two somethings actually but they tie together. I am going to take Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation challenge. Meditate ten minutes a day…for 21 days. By then it should have formed into a habit. I have enough bad habits, maybe a good one will push a bad one out. That’s how they work, right? The second thing I’m doing is yoga. I’ve dabbled in it. I loved it but let it fall by the wayside, much like a few ex-boyfriends (but I stuck by the good one, right honey?). I realize that expecting myself to do an hour of yoga every day is unrealistic because I’m too easily distracted and bored. Three times a week should do it. Level out my breathing, tone some muscles, settle the heck down…all good goals. Maybe they’ll be my meditation mantra.

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