Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! Congratulations to Jessica Menn Anderson! She will receive her very own 8x10 Canvas Print from PrintCopia!
I used Random.org to select a number 1-11 (the number of people who entered the contest) and it chose lucky number 7. Thank you all who entered. I'd love to do more of these things, so be sure to check back!
As you may already know, my awesome cousin, Jenna, has her own blog which I love to follow. I love seeing her daughter growing up and reading all about the latest kitchen experiments. If you haven't already, be sure to check her out here: Jennaseverythingblog.com.
"What does this have to do with me?", you may be wondering. Well, Jenna recently did a canvas print giveaway, which I entered. I didn't win, but a few weeks ago, I got an email from someone at PrintCopia.com
saying Jenna had referred them to me and would I like to review them on my blog and do my own give away? "Absolutely!"
Ever since getting my hand run over, I haven't been cooking or baking much of anything. In fact, I was physically unable to do a myriad of everyday tasks I've grown accustomed to over the past 23years. This was frustrating for many reasons, not the least of which is I'd just bought a bunch of new dishes and was super excited to use them!
A week and a half after my accident, I rolled out of bed and decided to make brownies to take to work. It was the first recipe I'd made since my hand got smushed, and I'd actually never before made brownies from scratch.
I started with this "Fudgy Brownies
" recipe from All Recipes (something I'd pinned ages ago on my pinterest
). Based on reading the comments, I tweaked the recipe a bit. While the ensuing result wasn't particularly "fudgey" to me, it was incredibly delicious, and I think more of a fudge quality could easily be achieved with some added ingredients.
I can't claim this year hasn't started with a bang! I'm proud I've spent this whole first month living up to my word for the year - New. I learned to throw knives, am working a steady job that I love, learning office skills, doing aerial silks, I even got run over by a car! Wait. What?
I had a jarring realization the other day. I was shocked and angry when my eyes were opened to the truth of something I had allow happen to me. But instead of letting myself roil inside and get all eaten up about it, I took a step back to see where I had gone wrong; how I had let myself get this way
If I had a defining phrase describing my childhood, it would be "I'm bored." I said it All. The. Time. Ask my mother. When I moved to New York, I told myself, "If you're ever bored, it's your own damn fault."
I'm 23. It keeps hitting me in little waves of realization. I'm 23. I've never been this old before. I was just 15. What happened to those years? I look at people and am about to say, "Oh, honey..." at their antics, and then I'm like, "Oh my goodness, I'm 23 now! How weird is that?!" People always say you grow so much between 18 and 25. They were right. But now I'm closer to the 25 side of things rather than the 18. I am almost a quarter century old, people!
This NYE was one for the memory books.
Growing up, I LOVED going to zoos. I thought they were the coolest thing ever. But even as my child-self gazed in awe and wonder at the myriad of creatures, I felt a pang of sadness that such beasts were locked up. I rationalized my unease by claiming the animals have a better life in captivity than they do in the wild: they're safe, have medical treatment, and food is handed to them - no need to hunt and face hunger from possible failure. I like to think the animals are taken care of by people who truly care and love them. But even when people really do care and want the best for the animals, sometimes the funds aren't there - and I have seen some cages that had no business holding the animals they did. It's sickening. Yes, you can argue that zoos are an important learning experience for the children of today, but is that what we want to be teaching them? To capture and put living, feeling, thinking creatures in cages for our amusement? It's appalling.
Wolves and moose may have seemingly lovely, large enclosures, but these man-made habitats don't even come close to the hundreds of miles they would traverse in the wild. And aquariums - seeing dolphins and Orcas in tiny pools of shallow water just makes my heart constrict. What are these small tanks compared to the vast, diverse ocean? And the people working at these places are often so ignorant - spewing false "facts" to the public that management has told them to keep up public relations; ie. Orcas live for 25-30years in captivity, which is longer than their life in the wild would be. WRONG! Wild Orca bulls can live to be over 60, and cows often reach 100 years! And less than 1% of wild Orca dorsal fins flop over, despite being 6-8 feet tall, whereas in captivity, nearly 100% of bull Orca dorsals are flopped (there's debate over the cause, but it's thought to be a sign of poor health/depression, and diet).
And something I never thought about was HOW the animals got to the zoo or aquarium in the first place. Yes, many are born there - but where did their parents or grandparents come from? They were hunted, captured, ripped away from their own families, brought over continents, and thrown in with different animals to be a "family". This is wrong, plain and simple. How could anything like this be right or worth the pain, suffering, and trauma caused to the animals for the "betterment" or "education" of the human race? In no healthy world should this EVER be acceptable.
I highly urge you to watch the documentary on killer whales entitled Black Fish. I stumbled across it on Netflix, and it broke my heart and made me burn. They showed one of these hunts. There is no question whales are sentient, thinking, feeling creatures - they worked to trick the hunters in an effort to save their babies, but with advanced technology on the side of their enemy, there was no escape: mindless, merciless slaughter to get to the calves and rip them from their mothers, who wouldn't leave them and were CRYING out. We would never allow this savage hunting and kidnapping of other humans, so why is it forced upon other species just so we can go see the animal do silly tricks and splash us with water at a SeaWorld show?
Butternut squash is such a delicious side-dish, why do I only make it at the holidays? It is so easy to make and such a beautiful, eye-catching color, while its mild but oh-so-mouth-watering flavor complements many a main dish. It's not thick and filling like potatoes, and it's not a vibrant green vegetable, which for some people is like a big ol' STOPDON'TEATMEBLEG! sign (not me - but I've heard there are people who don't like broccoli, lettuce, and even..GASP..Asparagus! ::Swoon::).
I make a sweet Butternut Squash mash, but you can easily make it a much more savory dish. Below is a simple recipe for this yummy little gourd.
Butternut Squash Mash
1 Butternut Squash - I like to find a medium to large one
Butter to taste - for a med/lg I usually use 3-4 TBLS
Brown sugar to taste
1. Peel the Squash and cut into large chunks - scrape out the seeds when you find them.
2. Put in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let cook until tender (easily pierced with a fork) - around 20minutes.
3. Pour off water and mash the squash until smooth. Add in butter and brown sugar as desired.
4. Transfer seasoned squash from the pot to the serving dish. Serve warm.
Not my picture - I didn't even think to take a picture of the finished product as I was making it to take to a friend's apt for thanksgiving and didn't think about presentation. Just imagine it was as lovely as the squash pictured here :)
My former bosses from Instinct took me to a screening of a movie - The Ghosts in Our Machine. It was a look into factory farming, for food and fur, and it was the first movie of it's kind I'd ever seen. It was incredibly well done, with a compelling story and nice ebb and flow of graphic/hard to handle images followed by images from Farm Sanctuary - an organization that rescues animals from factory farms.
Both my Instinct bosses are vegan, and I'd never thought about veganism until meeting them. I don't think I could ever go full vegan, but talking to them and being opened up to this whole new world, I've gained a greater awareness and knowledge of the plight animals are forced into. For instance, I had no idea they have fur factory farms - raising foxes, raccoons, minks, etc. simply to kill them for their pelts. I've always loved the way fur feels, but in my naivete I'd assumed they'd been hunted from the wild, not raised in a cruel existence bound for slaughter as soon as they were large enough. You can be sure I won't be wearing real fur again! And even if meat is certified as "grass fed" "free range" and "organic" doesn't mean they have a better situation/are treated more humanely than in a factory farm.
While I'm not planning on going full-vegan, I am interested in trying out many different vegan products - see how their meat substitutes taste, find some vegan recipes and try to eat that way a few times a week. I may switch my dairy habits over to completely vegan options and see if that helps with my allergies. My bosses were extremely helpful in providing info on products they like and where to get them. They recommend Whole Foods - but pretty much any good grocery store should have vegan options.To be honest, I'm not sure if being vegan truly changes anything in this world. They say every little bit helps, but I don't see the factory farm machine leaving our culture anytime soon, if ever.
As I'm experiencing this new awareness, I find it seeping into other aspects of my life.
I am a huge makeup person - I'm doing it more and more as a paying job, and it's great. I went into MAC yesterday to look for a new liquid foundation and on a whim asked if they were cruelty free. The saleslady assured me they are, and continued to cover my face in some fantastic products I really liked. This morning, I decided to do a little checking - I usually don't take one person's word as the end all on any subject. And guess what I found out? MAC DOES animal test! They hadn't until about a year ago, but since China REQUIRES animal testing, to market their makeup line to the Chinese, they've started mutilating bunnies. This makes me so angry - that a once cruelty-free company turns to animal cruelty for more profit. Obviously, they didn't NEED to test on bunnies to prove it was safe for human skin, but because China has some fucked up laws, they started doing cruel experiments on animals. Maybe the saleslady was just ignorant of the change in policy, but I'm still angry at being lied to.
So, this little incident prompted a search at companies that do and don't test on animals. And holy cow - it's insane some of the companies that do animal testing! Here's just a few of them: major makeup companies (MAC, Revlon, Oley, L'Oreal, Mary Kay, Avon, Estee Lauder, to name a few), CLOROX!, SC Johnson, Johnson and Johnson, Puffs, Proctor and Gamble (Head and Shoulders, Ivory, Herbel Esssences, Febreze, Crest, Downey, etc), Dove, Dial, Coppertone, Mr. Clean, and Ponds, to name a few. For a complete list, go here. If you're interested in making a change, here's a list of companies that do NOT animal test.
Not gunna lie, even doing a bit of research on this topic this morning, it's ridiculous trying to find the truth - different sites and people argue whether certain brands are or aren't cruelty free. And even though I'm not seeing Inglot on the PETA list, everything I'm finding says that they are cruelty free. And while yes, it is a hassle, an annoyance, trying to find cruelty free makeup, I encourage you to google search animal makeup testing. It's graphic, so I'm not posting it here, but it's something to keep in mind next time you're at the makeup counter.