Saturday, July 19, 2014

Going Vegetarian / Vegan

For most of my adult life, I've always considered myself a borderline Vegetarian. Even though I probably ate more meat than I think I ate but it wasn't something I ate everyday. Especially during the summer months, where my way of life was big salads with fresh veggies, I use to always say that I could easily be a vegetarian.

Well, earlier this year, after a series of crazy, and I mean crazy, health issues in 2013, I decided to tweak my diet one more time and decided to quit being a borderline Vegetarian and go full fledged. The crazy thing is I never intended to go Vegan but I'm naturally progressing in that direction, also. I don't know if this move is paying off healthwise, but I do know that I'm feeling tons better and seemingly have more energy, even with my crazy sleep habits.

For most people, that go Vegetarian / Vegan, it brings on major changes. Since, I never ate that much meat to begin with, it hasn't been a major change for me. The one thing that has occurred is I have discovered even more wonderful foods. It hasn't seem to be a big issue, either, as I've moved toward Veganisim. Surprisingly, I've not missed cow's milk, cheese, or eggs nearly as much as I thought I would. Of course, I've not done much if any baking since heading in this direction. While I don't do that much baking for myself, I do do a lot of baking for friends, so I'll need to learn to adapt my recipes or just not eat any of my baking, which crazy as it my sound I never did away. It's not that I don't like sweets but I much prefer a salty snack. Like I said, I usually bake for others, which is my way of ensuring that I don't have mega quantities of sweets lying around my house.

Overall, I think probably the biggest change is eliminating many of the processed foods I used to use. I probably still use more than I should but I've eliminated some, too.

The hardest 2 things about being a full-fledged Vegetarian / Vegan, is 1) the people that just don't get it when you say you don't eat meat any more and are constantly trying to push it on you and 2) the stupid questions you get from people who think they understand nutrition but have no clue. On point #1, my toughest person is my mother, who I really thought would be the easiest. It was my mother who taught me to eat this way. Growing up, she emphasized fruits and veggies, grains and legumes, etc. We had plenty of meatless meals. So, wouldn't you figure that she would be the one person who understood. Absolutely not. Somewhere along the way, she has bought into the hype from the meat industry that you must have meat, poultry or fish at every meal. Because she's one of those typical southern mom's who even 53 years later, still enjoys the role, whenever I'm over in the hometown she always feels the need to feed me. She always asks what I want and then proceeds to tell me what she has to offer. No matter how many times I've told her in the past few months that I no longer eat meat, anything meat related has suddenly become the first words out of her mouth these days.

Then there is point #2. The first question anyone always likes to ask is well then how do you get your protein. Well folks, first protein is in practically everything you eat. Yes, veggies have protein especially those peas and beans and all sorts of other wonderful things. And you know what, most people eat way more protein than the body needs. Most days, I've already consumed half of my daily needs for protein at breakfast. How many folks do you know who can say that? Trust me, an egg doesn't have nearly the protein that you think it has.

So here's my assessment of my current health and the changes I've made this year. Will making these changes help me live longer. I have no clue but will it help my quality of life. Absolutely and to me that is more important than anything. I've watched one to many loved ones being prescribed pill after pill that treats the symptoms and not the underlying cause. During the craziness of last year, I was put on high blood pressure medicine, then Lipitor. The Lipitor made me feel lousy, so I'm conducting my own little experiment to see if it was the change in the diet or the Lipitor that so dramatically reduced my cholesterol levels. I'm suspecting it's the diet but since I started the Lipitor and the diet at the same time, I need to confirm that first before telling my doctors that I refuse to take that poison any more.

So, as I continue on on this sort of new life style, I'll definitely give updates, valuable tips, etc.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Backyard Revamp - Conclusion of Phase One

If you've been following along, you know that my major home project for this year was beginning the revamp of my backyard. You can read about the earlier happenings of the backyard revamp here and here.

After clearing out the brush / overgrowth / natural area / forest or whatever your term for it would be, there was only one more thing that needed to be done during this phase, which was to install a fence. This phase of the project seem to take the longest between researching what type of fencing I wanted, talking to fence companies, ordering and finally installation.

Even though one side, neighbor's side, will be wood, I knew I didn't want a wood fence. I knew I didn't want to deal with the upkeep of wood. I've never seen one that looks nice because most people don't keep them up. So, I decided I would go with vinyl but I didn't want the white vinyl. I wanted a wood look so that it would blend in with the rest of the neighborhood. Home Depot had exactly what I wanted. While I like supporting smaller companies, in this case, none of the local fence companies that I contacted seem to have exactly what I was looking for, so yes I went with the Big Box Store and so far I'm happy with my choice.

The following pictures are during installation







































And now the final look





As you can see in one of the above pics, the four-legged wonder, Shelby, is also enjoying the new space. 

I'm really loving how this part of the project turned out. If I had it to do over, the only thing I would do differently is put up vinyl on that fourth side instead of using my neighbors fence for that fourth side.

When I get funds build back up, I'm thinking I'll probably go ahead and install the fourth side or talk to my neighbors about staining the side of their fence that faces me.





Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Beginning of Backyard Revamp - Phase 1 (Con't)

The first part of Phase 1 of the backyard revamp was to totally clear out the forest. After getting several quotes, I actually decided to go with the highest quote, which was Hyatt Landscaping. Why you may ask, did I go with the highest quote? 1) They were the only ones that seemed to fully understand the scope of the project and exactly what I wanted. Several people just talked about pushing everything back into the forested area;  2)they were honest about what to expect. There is a lot of ivy growing on the floor of the natural area with deep and widely dispersed roots. They told me they couldn't guarantee that I wouldn't have some ivy popping through but it would be easier to deal with  and 3) they gave me tips to save money, such as hire a fencing contractor instead of using them as they would just be the middle man.

The clearing out of the jungle was schedule for Feb 7th. A few days before Snowmaggedon 2014 struck. I was thankful that they were able to finish the project in one day.

I was immediately struck with the transformation of my yard.

Although it's a bit difficult to tell in these pictures, but I literally doubled my backyard.







One more step to go for Phase 1, fencing, which I will show in my next post.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Beginning of Yard Revamp - Part I

Since starting this blog, I've started a few projects around the house. However, most aren't fully completed nor did I post anything about them.

So, I thought I would start with one of my current projects and then catch up on the others as time goes along.

I've wanted to work on the backyard from the moment I moved into the house nearly 9 years ago or is it 10. I always forget the year unless I actually stop to look it up.

Anyway, the side of the subdivision that I live in backs up to a wooded area. Said natural area took up a good portion of my back yard and was encroaching more and more into the back yard with each passing year.

Every year, I meant to get to it but every year there was more important projects.

But this past year, right before Christmas, I walked out my back door to an even bigger mess when the other half a dead tree came down.








You can tell in the second and third picture how much of my backyard was taken up by this simply by looking at far the forest comes up on my neighbor's fence.

And so, major project for 2014 was dictated to me. Financially, I knew I wouldn't able to be able to do everything this year, so the main goals were to get the forest cleared out and to install a fence. Hey, I need a clean slate before I can even begin to thin about things like landscape and the little four-legged one, seen in the second picture could use a place to run without me always having to go out with her or having to tie her up.

Pictures of the completed Phase 1, as I've termed this phase of the project, will be posted in my next post. I promise I'll get those posted quickly.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring is in the Air + Another Wreath

Spring has finally arrived hear in the Carolinas.

Spring is my favorite time of the years. These days though it often brings a mixed bag of emotions since it also represents the time when my father died.

That being said the renewing of life with birds chirping and flowers blooming always brings a smile to my face.

There's always something about the gentile nature of Bradford Pair trees in bloom. I don't have one myself (one of these days) but whenever I'm in my front yard , I get to see my neighbors.


And even though yellow is not a color I typically decorate with but during the spring months, I seem to have to have it and it all starts with the Forsythias in bloom. Forsythias are some of the first flowers of the season and you see them every where in these parts. There's small one's like my own (pictured below) and there are ones that are about 3 times or more this size.


Of course all this blooming also makes me realize there is yard work that needs to be done like sprucing up the mulch in the planter area.

Spring also triggers that creativity and crafting gene, too, which means time to make another wreath. This one was inspired by a wreath I say in the January / February 2014 issue of HGTV Magazine. This was a super easy and I had it put together in less than 2 hours. It was actually probably less than an hour but since I didn't check the time when I started making it, I erred on the high side with saying 2 hours.


This was my first time of making felt flowers. I was always intimated to try to make these or similar flowers but they were easy peasy, which means I'm sure they will be showing up in other projects in the future.





Thursday, February 13, 2014

SNOWMEGEDDON 2014

These past few years, I'm always amazed at the time between posts on any of my blogs. No matter how much I seem to vow to do better, I never seem to quite get back to posting on a regular basis. Starting next month, I'll try to do better.

I thought for my first post for 2014 on Random Home Endeavors, that I would show pics from the big snow storm, PAX, of 2014 that hit the Southern / Southeastern states. We get snowfall from time to time here in the Carolinas but we haven't seen anything like this in ages. Three days of rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain and then more snow.

This is my backyard. I use to have this jungle back there that took up almost half of my backyard. I had it removed right before the storm hit. I'll show before pics of the yard when I hopefully start posting more and take you on the backyard redo journey.






I don't know why I never got the cover on the grill. Look at all my poor lifeless flower pots, makes me sad. Between all the frigid weather in January, our coldest on record, and Snowmegeddon, I'm so ready for spring, flowers, colors, live plants, birds chirping. You get it!

And here's the front yard, you can't even see the street.



My little valentines flag has almost gotten buried under all the snow. By the end of Wednesday, February 12th, we had gotten about 7" of snow with another 3-6" for today.

Around 3:00 pm today, the sun finally came out, and some melting actually started.

I love seeing snow, I think it's pretty but that's where my love affair with it ends. Eons ago when I was a kid, I loved it because it meant snowdays / no school. Now, since I'm expected to get out and drive in it because it seems like plants here in the Carolinas never cancel work, I don't like it nearly as much. The other reason I don't like it is because in these parts, the snow always seems to be accompanied with ice. I don't do ice at all. 




Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Little Fall Decorating

Because I've had so much going on this year, I'm not going to have an opportunity to get the house all dolled up for Halloween. In fact I'm not even sure there will be much seasonal decoration.

That being said, I did manage to create a little fall candle garden for my coffee table. I seem to have fallen in love with birch this year especially birch candles. This all seemed to happen when I fell in love with this Pottery Barn inspiration picture.



Here's the problem though, I can't afford Pottery Barn prices and so begin my search for affordable Birch Candles when I came across actual birch candles from World Market.


I actually like the World Market Candles better than the Pottery Barn ones because they use actual birch bark and are not just painted to simulate birch.

So here is my rendition of the Pottery Barn look.



In addition to the candles, I also picked up the large hurricane from World Market. The tray is from IKEA and the gold acorns came from Pier 1. I did purchase one thing from Pottery Barn and that would be the pine cone vase filler. I already had the two smaller hurricanes that contain the tapers and they came from Dollar Tree.

Here's a view of the candle garden with burlap underneath the tray. To me, it just screams fall.