Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Accidental Vegan. Me.

As many of you may know, I’ve ventured into the world of veganism. Now, there may be some who are taking bets as to how long this will last, not to mention many rolling their eyes at me and thinking I’m crazy. Or that I’m going to starve to death, living on carrot sticks and something called kale.

And I completely understand that.

If you would have told me, five years ago, even, that I’d be considering veganism I would have laughed it off. I mean, give up meat? That’s not too hard, but don’t tell me I’ve got to let go of all that cheesey goodness! Cheese is an Achilles’ heel. And I’ve got to have my coffee the way I like it – and that’s with light cream. No sugar, just real cream.

But that’s exactly what propelled me down this path. Dairy.

Now, don’t start cringing. I’m not going to divulge all that personal stuff that even I don’t want to see in print! Suffice it to say, I finally came to the realization that dairy and I don’t mix (even though removing lactose does work, but only to a point). So, one late summer morning, I threw my hands up in the air and decided to just get rid of it altogether. And I felt…lighter.

No, I didn’t lose any weight. Not that kind of “lighter”. With my luck, I’ll probably end up being the poster child for “Vegans who need to go on a diet.” Just ask my jeans. The non-elasticized ones.

It’s hard to describe, but I feel better. Now, some would say that giving up dairy doesn’t mean I have to be a vegan. And I agree. But, see, I never really have liked meat, and we cook most meals without it, as well as rarely use eggs. Throw out the dairy, and, well, I guess you could say an “accidental vegan” was born. Now, I did try to add some dairy back in over the weekend to see if this “feeling better” was all in my head. But at 1AM Monday morning, my body convinced my mind this ride is for real.

Since I started this journey, I learned of others trying it out, including Bill Clinton. I think this interview sums up some of my thoughts pretty well. (And if the IT gods are smiling on me this rainy morning, the YouTube link will work.)

In reality, who knows where this journey will take me? Let’s face it, soy in my coffee just isn’t the same! But, at the end of the day, I feel better when I eat this way. And let’s face it, when you cut out a few food groups, you almost have to, by default, up your fruit and vegetable intake, and that's a good thing. Veganism may not be for everyone, but presently, it seems right for me.

If you want to follow this accidental journey, let me know, via comment or message, and I'll blog more about this experience.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What Started it All (My Studio)

It all started one cold and rainy fall morning about a year ago. My daughter’s school offered up a yard sale opportunity for parents to sell their stuff, putting all the proceeds toward a very expensive field trip to our nation’s capital. We couldn’t really swing the cost, so, as much as I am uncomfortable with these things, signed up for the tag sale.

We didn’t have a lot to offer up. We’re relatively simple people, and much of the excess we did have was donated during the move. But one thing I did have was plenty of fabric. Not one to give up easily, I decided to spend the previous day sewing fabric plastic bag holders. I made the pattern up as I went along, and found a way to eliminate elastic from them. Not only ingenious, so I thought, but cost and time effective as well.

The big day came, and the crowd was sparse. More came to sell than to buy, as the cool mist called for so many to sleep in that Saturday morning. We only sold a few things, one of which was a bag holder. It drew the most attention of anything we had, and seemed to pique a lot of interest. But at the end of the morning, we packed them all up, along with old jeans and a few baking dishes, and headed home. Not enough money to make a dent in the trip, but enough inspiration to wonder if I could sell the bags elsewhere.

Over the next few months I wondered how I could do just that. Jobs are hard to come by, and the longing to work consumed me. So, in true “Julie form”, I decided to make my own work. I opened up an artisan studio on, listing the better made bags from the yard sale. Now I find myself several months later going in a new direction. The longing to make practical art pieces works well with totes and placemats, but not so well with the bag holders. And as of this morning, they are now being discontinued.

It’s a bittersweet thing, really. The piece that started it all is the first to “go”. But I’ve learned a lot, and continue to learn. Among other things, I’ve learned to narrow down my studio’s focus and create that which gives me energy – not saps it.

And as for the field trip? In true Asperger form, my daughter decided some of the stops would be too sensory for her to handle. We couldn’t argue with that. And neither could our checkbook.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thank Goodness for Skinny Jeans. No. Really.

It was back in the 80’s. Neon socks, studded belts and leg warmers filled the halls of my high school. That’s when I learned what the color “chartreuse” was and how to spell it. And how to wear it. I had soft limey yellow socks that could light up the night. And make my eyes cross looking at them. And, for the first time, I also had jeans.

Like my daughter, I couldn’t stand the feel of jeans. The tougher, rougher material felt abrasive, not to mention a bit more snug than those polyester (cringing yet?) stretchy pants. But once high school hit, the desire to “fit in” pulled hard, and I recall spending hours trying to find a pair or two that didn’t feel like a tourniquet.

Eventually, like any other teen, jeans became a staple of my wardrobe. And jeans, way back when, were “skinny”. So skinny, we had to unzip the bottom of each leg just to get them over the ankles. And once over the ankles, getting them the rest of the way became nothing short of a contortionist’s warm-up. Back then, jeans were so solid, they probably made Kevlar blush.

Once my daughter hit high school, the fashion sirens came screaming. The knit pants and gauchos were becoming an embarrassment for her, but she felt stuck. With buttons (still) off limits, and her sensory concerns, shopping for pants felt like an exercise in futility. But shop, we had to.

Transitioning (love that key word?) from young girls to juniors was a close to a chasmic leap for her, not unexpected for someone with Asperger’s. Somehow, we stumbled on a store with some interesting “acceptable” hip pieces, and found a “miracle.” Skinny jeans.

Initially, I laughed to myself, remembering wearing them. But while she was trying on new shirts, I took a closer look. No buttons. No zippers. They looked like denim. They felt like denim. But they s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. Hallelujah.

Thankfully, the school allows these.

Thankfully – and you can see the relief on her face – my daughter can now, comfortably – wear jeans. Real jeans. Fashionable jeans. Skinny jeans.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

About Those Cookies

Don't ask me about computer cookies. I kinda sorta know about them, but not enough to text home about. Besides, I don't think there's any sugar involved. But chocolate chip cookies? Feel free to ask me about those! Over the past week, I've discovered two new recipes, alone.

Well, one recipe. The other came from a box at the natural grocer. My kid is allergic to natural - so she claims. Somehow, she thought buying those cookies would help her overcome that aversion. I don't think it helped any, but, darn, they are good!

But the biggest surprise of the week came in the form of wheat-free vegan (yes, vegan!) chocolate chip cookies. I pulled out the cookbook, gave them a whirl, and now my entire family is hooked on them. (You can find the recipe here, thanks to the Post Punk Kitchen.) They are so much easier than the - ahem - "real" thing, I think we've found a cookie for life. So inspired, I even used them as a prop in my latest photo redo.

But then I ran out, and had to use another kind for rest. Hmm...wonder how that happened?

Honestly, these are terrific. They suggest whirling oats in the food processor if you can't find oat flour. I tried that because I found oat flour - and I'm too cheap to buy it. Their suggestion worked beautifully. Let me know if you give them a try!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I can't believe I'm on twitter

I finally did it, after swearing I never ever would. I took a deep breath, and signed up. Julie Clark Art is now part of the twitterverse.

Heaven help us all...

Happy Thursday, everyone!