Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Thanksgiving Turkey

No, I haven't changed my mind since yesterday to eat a turkey. I "adopted" a turkey!

Meet Turpentine: 

Farm Sanctuary, a farm animal rescue and advocacy organization, is doing their annual "adopt a turkey" fundraiser. In exchange for your donation to the non-profit organization, you receive a cute certificate and photo of the turkey you choose to adopt.

Did you know [source]:

  • Researchers have identified 30 distinct vocal sounds in turkeys.
  • Turkeys recognize each other by their unique voices.
  • Turkeys form strong social bonds that can last a lifetime.
  • Turkey's heads change color depending on their mood.
  • Possessing superb geographic skills, turkeys can mentally map up to 1,000 acres.
  • More than 46 million turkeys are killed each year for Thanksgiving alone.

You know what most of those facts remind me of? My own cats, the pets that are part of my household and my family, and whom I lovingly care for and protect. They - cats and turkeys - may not be capable of human intelligence, but they are nonetheless smart, beautiful creatures who are capable of loving and being loved.

Maybe, instead of basting a turkey tomorrow, you'll consider adopting Turpentine, Gable, Anna, Tibbott, Elsa, Cecelia, or Martha.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving: The Veg Entree Dilemma

In large part, I can't complain about holiday meals - especially Thanksgiving - even though I'm vegetarian. Rolls, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie. On Christmas, add in cookies of many varieties. All vegetarian, all things I love.

However, even if it's just a handful of days a year, it's not exactly ideal to have a meal totally comprised of refined carbs. So what to bring as an alternative to the main dish?

For a while, I always brought Tofurkey. My mom always had some, and even my dad would put some on his plate and at least pretend to tolerate it; but the extended family was significantly less enthusiastic. I'm actually not a a huge fan of it myself - I mean, it's ok, especially with ketchup, but it's by no means the most delicious thing ever.

I also really don't like the idea of pretending to eat meat, or something that's overtly trying to take the place of meat. I want a less-carby entree, sure, but utilizing products like a Tofurkey just makes you a party to reinforcing the concept that a main dish is "supposed" to be meat-based. I'd also really like to introduce the omnivores I love to meatless entrees that don't scream that they're vegetarian, so eventually I started branching out into other dishes to bring for my veggie contribution.

2011: A rice-stuffed squash. I can't find the exact recipe I used, but it was less a recipe than just instructions to assemble a boxed rice mix into a scooped out squash. 

2012: Maple coconut baked tofu

2013: My contribution was in desserts (nanaimo bars), but we had Thanksgiving day with Abe's family which mostly leans at least flexitarian, so there was actually a Tofurkey as a main part of the meal, which more than just me partook in!

2014: We're planning to make this kale salad. I think the cranberries will make it nice and festive, and despite being kale I think most of the relatives there will at least be willing to try it. :)

What's your favorite non-meat holiday dish?

Monday, November 24, 2014

My History of Blogs

I have no idea how I initially came across it, but I know the first blog I ever read and subscribed to was Zen Habits. That is, now, I realize it's a blog. At the time, in my mind it was merely a "website", and it seemed pretty nifty that you could "subscribe" and get an email whenever they added new stuff to it.

Sometime after that, I also came across The Minimalists and Miss Minimalist. (Any guess where my interests lay at the time?) It was around here that I realized the concept of a "blog", and that that's what these websites were. 

Eventually my interest shifted slightly, and my knowledge of the blog world started to expand, and I started subscribing to many many blogs, primarily in the arena of environmentalism and reducing plastic. One of these, My Plastic-free Life, has a challenge to follow her lead and track your own plastic trash and share it on a forum on the site. 

I finally decided to start my own blog - about environmentalism, called Weighing the Waste. I enjoyed the topic, and was making connections with bloggers with similar topics, but started to feel constrained, so started a second blog to track the 30 Before 30 list I had started. (Most of those posts I've copied over to this blog with original publish dates, since I deleted the other blog - the handful of posts prior to July 2012 are originally from the 30 Before 30 blog.)

As time passed, I realized that I was more and more often reading and commenting on blogs that fit in to the genre known as "healthy living blogs" (aka HLBs) (and had taken up running as a real hobby). When I signed up for a summer "best body bootcamp" challenge, I decided to start yet another blog to document that. I chose the name "Balancing Meanderings", though, specifically to allow myself the flexibility to take it in other directions in the future.

If I had to classify it now, I guess I'd still called Balancing Meanderings an HLB/fitness/running blog, but I've definitely been enjoying using the platform to explore other things, such as feminist musings and rants, and talking about every day life.

As I'm exploring potential new niches within the blog, I wanted to get some feedback from you guys. Though in some ways this is essentially my diary (and running journal), and I'd likely enjoy and continue writing even if I didn't think I'd have any readers, it really does add a lot to try to make this a conversation and community!

With that in mind, I wold greatly appreciate if you would provide some tangible feedback by answer a short survey: here. It should only take a couple minutes - it's just ten questions, and three of those are optional comment boxes just in case you want to expand on your multiple-choice answers. Thank you in advance!

What was the first blog you ever read?

Have you answered my survey yet?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Seattle Half Training Week 7 (Taper)


Monday: Swim 1,100 yards - pyramid workout: 50 yards, 100, 200, 400, 200, 100, 50

It felt nice to be back in the pool! What with having to drive somewhere, change, shower, etc., it feels like much more of a hassle to swim than any other workout (ok, I still change and shower for other workouts, but I have the option to lounge around in the sweaty clothes afterward if I want), so it's one of the first things cut when I get busy or stressed. But it really is a super relaxing way to sweat (and pleasantly warm compared to the outdoors).

Tuesday: Ballet class (75 minutes)

WednesdayEasy run 2.5 miles (14:02 pace)

ThursdayBike trainer 20 minutes (est. 5 miles) + swim 1,100 (same pyramid as Monday)

What?! Back in the pool and on the bike in the same week?! Yeah, after some lackluster weeks, I finally re-found some motivation. 

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: Easy run 3.1 miles (13:52 pace) + bike trainer 60 minutes (est. 15.5 miles) - modified from this workout (reduced warm-up to 15 minutes, and recovery between sets to 4.5 minutes)

Sunday: Lazy rainy day

Total swimming: 2,200 yards
Total biking: 20.5 miles
Total running: 5.35 miles

Not as much running as I should have, even considering it's taper, but a fair amount of exercise in total. Enjoyed getting back into swimming and biking (though my butt sure isn't used to sitting a bike seat for that long any more!). I don't know if I'm entirely ready for the half marathon, but to the point of what's done (or undone) is done, so all I can do is do the best I can on race day. 

Also went on a bit of a race-sign-up rampage:

  • PRC Peacock Lane Run (December 15) - Not a race, just a sight-seeing run to see the Christmas lights
  • First Run 5k (January 1) - I've done this for the past couple years, and if you're in Portland I highly recommend it! It's just the right size (small enough to not be crowded, but big enough that even at my slower pace you're not completely by yourself), and a great atmosphere.
  • Fight for Air Climb 80 floors (January 25) - This will be a new challenge, not sure I really know how to train for it, but should be fun!
  • PRC Winter 5k Series (February 22) - This is the third of a series on the same course (unfortunately can't do the first two - out of the town for the first, the second is the same morning as the stair climb), and is a "predict" race - no watches are allowed, but you win by accurately predicting your finish time.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Family Food Traditions

Tonight we had a pre-Thanksgiving meal with Abe's dad and his girlfriend (we have similar dinner plans with his mom for Monday), as we're spending Thanksgiving day with my family. (Our plan is alternate - each side gets one of the major holidays - Thanksgiving and Christmas - each year, and alternate who gets which. His parents are divorced, but fortunately both live in the area, actually both within a 5-mile radius of us, so it's not difficult to share between them, the way it is with my family and relatives spread throughout Washington state.)

So that means his family gets Christmas, and we were discussing some details of Christmas day while at their house tonight. Abe asked what we should bring, and I piped up that I'd bring Nanaimo bars. Though my family has a handful of cookies that we tend to have for Christmas, Nanaimo bars are an absolute MUST! I thought it'd be fun to try to bring that in to my in-laws traditions.

Along with today's NaBloPoMo prompt, this got me thinking about other holiday food traditions. Since I've been vegetarian since high school, the turkey centerpiece doesn't hold much meaning for me (I ate it previously, but it wasn't ever one of my favorite things). I also have a thing with textures, especially anything along the mushy spectrum, so I've also not been a fan of stuffing. Holiday meals, to me, mostly mean three things: rolls, mashed potatoes, and desserts. For Thanksgiving, that dessert is obviously pumpkin pie (the filling's fine, but crust combined with whipped cream is amazing!* For Christmas, it's all about the cookies. Nanaimo bars, hello dollies, spritz, meringues. 

*FYI, my FIL's girlfriend is gluten-free, and the pumpkin pie at tonight pre-Thanksgiving dinner included a premade gluten-free crust from Whole Foods - if I hadn't known it was gluten-free because everyone at the table was eating it, I never would have guessed. If you need a GF crust, I highly recommend it.

Almost more important to me for Thanksgiving is the day after, at least when we're with my mom's side of the family: we get pizza on the Friday after. One year I had a big disappointment, as I spend Thanksgiving with an ex's family, and we went up to join my side the next day. I'd told him about the traditional pizza, and we were both looking forward to it. Our dismay, my family was trying to be nice and held a second Thanksgiving-type dinner for us instead! I think that's probably the most disappointed I've ever been at a holiday meal.

What would be the biggest food disappointment for you on a holiday?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wedding Crap: The Veil

(See introduction to this series here, and other posts in the series here.)


1. This is merely a hobby, so I'm not going to great lengths of research to find the most accurate information possible about the history of these traditions. I am trying to verify information to some degree to avoid continuing the spread of non-facts, but mostly this is a summary of the general consensus I've heard through out my life. Ultimately, I think how we treat these traditions has just as much to do with what we believe to be the origin of them, as the actual origin.

2. I am not trying to demean anyone who has chosen to partake in any of the traditions discussed. My goal is to spark discussion about what the history of these things mean to us today, how changing our language and treatment of traditions can affect our culture now, and, ideally, encourage anyone who wants to follow wedding traditions to do so as a conscious choice, not merely as a default that honors our patriarchal past.

wedding veil

What is the tradition? 

During the ceremony (but often removed for the reception), the bride's outfit includes a veil. Depending on the venue (e.g., church versus golf course), religion, family culture, and other factors such as personal preferences and style, this may range from a full, cathedral length veil, extending as a train on the floor, to a fascinator with a short mesh hanging over one's forehead, and anywhere in between.

What is the origin of the tradition?

There is a long history of women wearing veils in general society, not just at weddings, so ultimately it appears to me that the significance is one of separating women from men, as being held to higher standards of modesty, and possibly even showing ownership (i.e., only males who are related to you should see your face). 

Within weddings specifically, the veil tradition evolved to take on additional meaning. In ancient times, it may have been intended to protect the bride from evil spirits. In times of arranged marriages, it may indeed have prevented the groom from seeing the bride and being disappointed while he still had an out. In times of strong Christian culture, it likely became a symbol of purity and virginity, along with the white dress.

Why do people still follow it?

Similarly to the dress, the veil has been built up in people's mind as the epitome of womanhood; the ultimate signifier that this woman is a bride. If you've ever watched a show like Say Yes to the Dress (I'll ashamedly admit to this), you know that if a shopper is hesitating, the consultants add a veil, and that often does the trick - you make you feel like a bride, and she'll buy everything that makes her look like that role.

There may also be a religious/purity aspect to it still in some cases, but fortunately I think that's becoming less and less common, in all but the most extreme subcultures.

Why is that crap? 

Women wearing veils is ultimately based on separating women from society, and then the purity/virginity implications make it even worse. Even if you don't personally hold the beliefs under which the tradition developed, why unintentionally pay homage to those beliefs?

Plus, it generally covers up the pretty hairdo (and often a gorgeous back of a dress) you spend so much money and/or time on!

What am I doing with this tradition?

I had absolutely no interest in wearing a veil, so I didn't! I didn't want to feel like a "bride", but rather the dressiest/classiest version of myself. My dress was accessorized just with a pearl necklace (made by my mom) and a fancy-ish, curly hairstyle. 

Photo by Stephanie Kaloi

How did/will you handle this tradition?

I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!

Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Would You Rather

From Running in Real Life - from a while ago, but it was sitting in my drafts, and I don't have much time left in the day to write something else.

1. Run a race at -10 degrees with slushy roads or 85 degrees with the sun beating down?

85 degrees for sure. I can barely handle running in 30 degrees! I'm sure one gets used to cold weather if you're in it regularly, but even though I don't enjoy running in hot weather, at least I do it often enough to have some idea of how to handle it.

2. Wear running clothes that are way too tight or running clothes that are way too loose?

Too loose, so long as it's pants and not shorts, as loose shorts would cause terrible chafing on my thighs.

3. Have really big upper body muscles or really big lower body muscles? (The kicker here is that whatever you don't choose is super puny.)

Well, since this is sort of a running survey, I guess big lower body muscles, to better facilitate running!

4. Travel to the past to meet your great, great grandparents or to the future to meet your great, great grandchildren?

Hmmm. I think to the past to meet my great, great grandparents, because it's never good to know too much about you future.

5. Watch your favorite sporting event on a nice big TV or watch your favorite sporting event in person but in really crappy seats?

Let's substitute "show" (music or theater) for "sporting event" (since I really don't have a favorite sporting event to watch), and I'd say watch it on a big TV. I'd rather be able to see more detail on the performer's face, than have the experience in person.

Your turn:

1. Run a race at -10 degrees with slushy roads or 85 degrees with the sun beating down?

2. Wear running clothes that are way too tight or running clothes that are way too loose?

3. Have really big upper body muscles or really big lower body muscles? (The kicker here is that whatever you don't choose is super puny.)

4. Travel to the past to meet your great, great grandparents or to the future to meet your great, great grandchildren?

5. Watch your favorite sporting event on a nice big TV or watch your favorite sporting event in person but in really crappy seats?