Musings On A Dreary Day

It’s bleak and muddy here in southern Ohio and the barren landscape has left me feeling somewhat uninspired.

The last couple of months have been void of adventure and filled with a lot of work and much quiet time at home.

Part of me wants to head out on adventure and part wants to stay inside till things green up and look less depressing.

This is a season in my life – it happens the same time every year and will be over soon. While I have enjoyed the solace of home – reading, playing music, and relaxing – I hope to soon snap out of this annual funk so I can hit the trail and find some fun to tell you about!

Nick Nack Paddy Wack

Remember that little diddy from your childhood? Nick nack paddy wack, give a dog a bone….?

That’s what he was playing for this young mother and infant. A sweet moment near Prantl’s Bakery in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood.

It made me smile.

My Wish

My wish is that I never become so busy or cynical that I don’t stop to appreciate the dawn of a new day.

I also hope to always smile when I see the silhouette of a deer grazing against the first rays of light on a cold morning.

If you see a pretty sky, pause a moment to enjoy it. Take in some fresh air and smile.

It’s a new day.

Devil’s Tower, Black and White, and Stall Tactics

Weeding phone pictures is a task that I am unapologetically bad at until warnings start popping up about full storage.

I don’t carry a camera most days and instead rely on my iPhone for walking around pictures. That means there are fun pictures of cool things collected here. There are also funny memes, images of recipes and pictures of things to remember. Products in the store and their barcodes save time later but they also accumulate until cleaning house is forced.

At this moment, photo weeding is supposed to be a priority. Instead I’m reliving adventures and converting some western vacation pictures from last summer to black and white.

Who needs productivity when you can have art?

Here’s a scene from Lusk, Wyoming. Classic and western, right?

And this is Devil’s Tower.

It’s sacred ground and it is monolithic. To call it impressive would be an understatement.

Here’s the view from the trail.

It was here that I saw my first Prairie Dogs and, I know how ridiculous this sounds, but that was a trip highlight. Cute little guys, those prairie dogs, but they’re prone to carrying disease so don’t try to pet them!

So that’s enough stalling. Time to resume photo weeding and back up. Tell me I’m not the only person who postpones organizing phone pictures until it’s an absolute requirement!

Cheese Sauce?

It’s hard to believe but it’s been about six months since a vegan friend encouraged me to try his way of eating for thirty days

This plant based journey has taught me a lot but one of the most valuable lessons is that it’s important to make the right choices for yourself in the kitchen.

Many vegan cooks manipulate ingredients in attempts to recreate familiar dishes in new, plant based and healthier ways. For example, there are scores of recipes on the internet to help you create a “cheese” sauce, ideal for nachos, mac and cheese and scores of comfort food dishes that you may remember from your past life consuming dairy.

I’ve tried a few of these imaginative recipes. Many use cashews and nutritional yeast. Some add a host of seasonings or use roasted red peppers. Nearly all create a neon orange sauce that resembles melted Velveeta. Well, resembles it in appearance at least.

In taste, perhaps not so much.

I have finally learned to cut the recipes in half so that I don’t feel as bad throwing away nearly all the completed product. After the last batch, I stood in the kitchen for a long time, contemplating whether to throw it away right then or stash the concoction in the fridge with hopes I would think of some way to salvage the two cups of mediocrity.

In other words, should I throw it away now or wait till later? This is the inner dialogue sometimes.

I’ve met plenty of people who think these recipes are great. Lots of bloggers, online reviewers and even some real life friends rave about how tasty, how authentically cheesy their favorite recipe is.

I’m happy for them but it’s not for me.

From now on, if I want mac and cheese, I’ll go to a restaurant and enjoy the real thing. It can be a treat, something to be savored and enjoyed occasionally.

For me, plant based eating should be about eating clean and eating well. There’s little more delicious than sautéed mushrooms, onions, peppers and zucchini heaped on top of a baked potato. No sauces, just some pepper and sea salt to taste. In-season blueberries are so delicious they’re hard to resist and homemade soup packed with veggies makes for a tasty dinner.

All of these things can be enjoyed in the simplest form possible. Torturing ingredients into forms they weren’t mean to take on isn’t necessary or worthwhile when you have such tasty meals and snacks at your disposal.

I’ll save my cashews for snacks and occasionally treat myself to the authentic cheesy dish.

After all, food is meant to nourish the body but I think it’s also meant to enjoy. It’s ok to take a break, especially if you’re doing it infrequently. At least, that’s the right choice for me.

What Are They Discussing?

Anyone else remember when people dressed up to leave the house? Heck, forget dressing up. At this point, I would be happy just to make it through the grocery store without seeing people in their pajamas.

These days have passed but this is a great picture. What do we think they’re talking about? I’m guessing it’s not saltines and frozen fish!