Confessions of a People Watcher

Hi, my name is Brandi and I’m a people watcher.

I’m not always good at engaging with people I know but I love to sit back and watch strangers. Festivals and other public events are especially ripe for observing other humans in action and the hot air balloon festival I attended this summer didn’t disappoint.

Here are a few random observations from this day.

Few people bother to carry around cameras these days but those who do always have nice cameras and are pretty intense about what they’re doing. I rely on my phone for walking around pictures and sometimes for photos when there’s weird light because my technique isn’t so great. Taking out my dslr is a real treat. Check out this fellow working with his camera!

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Modern fashion often leaves ladies with interesting tan lines. Strappy tops, keyholes and cold shoulder tops probably shouldn’t be worn in harsh sun unless you’re hoping for interesting patterns on your skin. I saw this girl later and she was starting to burn so she probably ending up with a criss crossy tan!

But if she’s happy, I’m happy! And it wasn’t just her. I saw several women with a similar top. Maybe I’m just behind in the times and it’s a thing! I may need one of my younger, cooler friends to weigh in on this matter.

Marysville Hot Air Ballon Festival 2019 (1)

Men are taking a much more hands on approach to parenting than ever before. I’ve been noticing more and more men taking responsibility for feeding and taking care of their kids, even when mom is close by.

At this event, there were a ton of men who appeared to be alone with their kids – whether they’re single dads or just taking their kids out for the day, I couldn’t tell you but it was refreshing to see. It’s especially nice to see guys wiping a wee child’s dirty hands without looking to his wife for help. Nice job fellas!!

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On a related note, that last photo illustrates part of the reason why I love being in and near cities. Coming from a rural area, almost everyone looks like me. Pale. We’re pale. And it feels like the bulk of the people here all think alike, worship the same and well, you get the idea.

Get closer to one of Ohio’s cities (or even just go to a college town like nearby Athens) and you’ll find people of all nationalities. You hear lots of accents and languages and see different styles of dress. This makes my heart happy and it was thrilling to find so much diversity at this event. 

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People are way too wrapped up in their technology and other distractions. We already know this but I was surprised how many people were talking, texting and taking selfies – too distracted to notice the hot air balloons. The balloons were available for viewing for about a minute after we had all waited for hours to see them so I hate to think about how many folks missed the excitement.

It’s like we’re so hypnotized by the little machines in our pockets that we’ve completely lost interest in what’s actually happening in real life and all around us.

Note: in the picture above – I don’t think there was a balloon in their background. Just a picture of a cute couple.

Marysville Hot Air Ballon Festival 2019 (159)Finally, these little girls appeared to be strangers but that didn’t stop them from dancing and having a good time together. Kids know. They know that it’s a good idea to be nice to others – even if they’re not exactly like us!

People watching is the best. Are you a people watcher? What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen lately? I love a good story!

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Headed Home

I’m wrapping up a road trip so that means fresh material is coming soon!

In my world, the best trips include some cool diners….

A little history and nature ….

Great buildings….

And some unexpected details…

I have so much to tell you guys! I can’t wait to download my camera pictures so we can get busy talking about it soon.

Happiness Is…

Happiness is having an evening free to wander in the middle of the week. A friend invited me to a Chris Thile concert earlier this week. So I wore a cute dress to work, took myself out for the Qdoba Grilled Fajita Vegan Bowl and enjoyed a little walk around the Ohio University campus before the show.

It was ninety degrees at 7 p.m. but it looked like fall and was a nice way to pass a Tuesday night. Not to mention, I had a great time with my friend and got to hear live music.

And, in case you’re wondering, that vegan bowl was delicious!

From Whole 30 To Plant Based Eating

We have discussed the Whole 30 way of eating a few times on this blog. It’s a great means to ditch bad eating habits like a sugar addiction and to learn what foods might be causing your health issues.

Unfortunately, Whole 30 doesn’t have a vegetarian plan and instead pushes pescatarian eating. I followed this plan for more than a year, mainly straying off course in restaurants and for special occasions like cake in the lunchroom at work.

But I don’t care that much for seafood and had grown tired of the meal plan. It was time for a change but I wasn’t sure what that change would be.

Ditching the seafood in favor of vegetarian eating sounded favorable but so many vegetarian recipes prominently feature a grain – bread, pasta, rice – along with some kind of cheese and beans.

I hadn’t eaten grains, beans or dairy on any consistent basis since starting the Whole 30. Sure, I would order pizza, a sandwich or pancakes in a restaurant but never brought these things home.

Not even the healthy whole grain stuff.

As I wrestled with food questions, it became increasing clear that my desire to eat vegetarian was at odds with many of the unhealthy recipes the internet provides.

And then I met Dewey, a friend whose health scare caused him to completely overhaul his traditional American diet of basically everything he wanted. Now he eats a plant based diet which also eliminates oils and sugar.

He has cut his cholesterol in half and lost about forty pounds in a season. He now enjoys each day as a new man – energetic and happy.

When I expressed interest in his food habits, he shared the details of his diet – called the Engine 2 plan – and how it has improved his life.

Then he suggested I try it for thirty days.

I said yes because you can do anything for thirty days, right?

As the thirty day marker approaches, I am quite happy with this way of eating. I feel energetic, my skin looks better and I feel better most days.

Honestly, I’m still figuring out what works and what I like, experimenting with new recipes and trying to determine what is right for me.

I don’t expect to have such stunning results as Dewey has enjoyed. For one thing, going from eating mostly seafood and produce to including grains and beans seems like it will make weight loss a little harder.

But I love that I feel clear of mind and have lots of energy. Plus, I’m hopeful that my cholesterol will be a little lower at my next doctor visit.

The biggest challenge to date has been restaurant eating. There’s a road trip on the horizon this fall and restaurants in the towns where I’ll be have limited plant based options. If they have a meatless option, it’s typically grilled cheese or maybe some kind of heavy pasta or a sad little salad.

Restaurant green beans are often cooked with pork in them, giving even the sides section of a menu the feel of a mine field. And I refuse to live off the sad little iceberg lettuce salads that so many places try to pass off as a meal.

There are some fast food options. For example, the Burger King Impossible Whopper is tasty but it’s still heavily processed fast food that should be a treat rather than a dietary staple. Qdoba caters to vegans but I assume they use oils in their cooking. Yet cooking oil on vegetables sounds like a lesser evil than greasy grilled cheese someplace else. Subway preserves their vegetables to the point they taste like plastic so that’s not a viable option either.

The good news is that I’m clearly committed because I’m already considering how to make it work and how much I’m willing to bend on vacation.

Since I’ll be in one hotel for a few days, taking a blender would allow for breakfast smoothies in the room.

I’m thinking there will be pancakes for dinner one night – a comfort food and a luxury at dinner time if there ever was one. That’s a single meal with pancakes made from white flour, eggs and milk with highly processed syrup instead of the pure stuff from home.

What other concessions am I willing to make on vacation? These are not game time decisions because I promise you, I will make the wrong choice when I’m hungry and the pressure is on.

Every. Single. Time.

I don’t want to be so strict that eating becomes a hassle but I do want to find hacks and means for nourishing my body without sacrificing my goals.

That’s not asking too much, right?

Welcome Fall!

Fall officially begins today and I am ready. It’s the best season, if you ask me. Not only is it beautiful and blessedly cooler, there are tons of things to do in the fall.

My calendar is already filling up for the month and I’m happy to see it so busy. After all, it won’t be long before the snow blows and drives us all indoors.

Meanwhile, it’s still warm here, too warm for the jackets, hats, boots and sweaters that I love to wear. So all I can do is open my closet and admire my pretty boots and dream of the day there’s enough of a chill in the air to wear my cute jackets!

What’s on your fall bucket list? My October will be busy but there’s always room for more fun and adventure!

Recovering From Surgery

Scout was neutered this week. It’s a pretty simple process these days- I dropped him off at the vet before work and he was awake and playing with the staff before I came back at lunch.

I hated leaving him with strangers and felt guilty for having the procedure done in the first place (even though it’s in everyone’s best interest). I was pretty sure he would punish me for abandoning him there and allowing them to do something so terrible to him.

When he came home, he was clearly tired but couldn’t settle down enough to sleep. So I cuddled him on the couch while he napped all afternoon. Well, ok, I napped some too despite the fact I never take naps.

He slept well, purring and snoring, occasionally waking up to gaze adoringly at me. And I realized that he wasn’t mad at me for taking him there but he loved me more for coming back to get him.

It was a sweet moment.

That sweet moment has been followed by two days of worry and trouble. How do you keep a kitten calm?

He’s not supposed to jump or run around a lot. Keep him calm, the vet said.

Attempts to keep him calm or to remove temptation to jump have the opposite effect. He is willful, to put it kindly and shows no sign of slowing down.

At this point, I’m just hoping he doesn’t hurt himself.

Wearing the cone does slow him down but he keeps finding ways out of that thing and I’m afraid he’ll hurt himself in the process if I continue forcing him to wear it.

Have a tip for keeping a wild child… ahem…. an active little cat…. calm? I would love to hear it.