Everyone knows how the holidays can wear you out and leave you exhausted.

This year was no exception for me and my family.  From traveling hours to spend time with my family and my husband’s, being referee to the kids on the car rides, and making so much food….it was really delicious, the whole family is exhausted.

Today while my kids are on their playdates and my husband is working at the office, I am dedicating today to myself and relaxing and distressing.



My husband got me a new book for Christmas so I plan on reading it all morning, sipping my tea, and indulging myself in a hot bath.  This afternoon I even scheduled a massage.  I haven’t had one in ages, I can’t even remember when the last time I had one was.

Even though Christmas was exhausting it was so worth it.  We had an incredible couple of days.  We went to the annual Christmas parade with a few of our family friends.  The kids had so much fun catching candy and seeing all the floats.  And we got to catch up with a few old friends while sipping hot chocolate.

On Christmas Eve we went to my husband’s family’s house for dinner.  It was great seeing everyone and watching the kids play with all of their cousins.  On Christmas day we went to my parents’ house for dinner.  I was so proud of my mom, she made an almost entirely vegetarian dinner.  It makes me so happy seeing my family embrace my lifestyle and incorporate it into their lives as well.  It was delicious, she even used some of my recipes.

Santa Claus came to our house on Christmas Eve and the kids had so much fun opening all their gifts on Christmas morning.  Hannah got EVERYTHING she wanted….her exact words. :)  Liam was so excited he got a new bike.  He wanted to ride it in the house when he first opened it…Santa wasn’t feeling that generous though.  He ended up spending all afternoon riding it up and down our street.



It was a great Christmas full of fun with our families and friends, so today is a much deserved day of relaxation for me.  Between the kid’s schedules, running around and spending as much time with them as I could, working at the restaurant, and keeping my house in order, I definitely deserve this.

Hope you had a great Christmas and take some time to relax.

Go Green and Stay Keen,


Julie

My two kids have just began winter break from school and I am so excited to spend some time with them and do some Christmas activities.  I was able to get quite a few days off from the restaurant so I can spend lots of time with them while they have a break from school.  Hannah and Liam have been looking forward to sleeping in and having fun with Mommy and Daddy.

We have a few fun things planned as a family to do with the kids off from school.  We are going to go ice skating, make our annual ornaments, making and building ginger bread houses, and going to the local Christmas parade.  It is going to be a fun filled couple weeks.

This morning I am surprised the kids with snowman pancakes to decorate.  They are really simple, I just shape the pancakes like a snowman and the kids add chocolate chips, raisins, powder sugar, and whipped cream.  It was a great way to start off the day in a fun delicious way.



We are going to go shopping for the supplies to make the Christmas ornaments this afternoon and starting to make them.  I found a bunch of good ideas on Pinterest, we will see if Liam or Hannah need some inspiration…probably not though, they always have a bunch of silly ideas to make their ornaments special. :)

It is going to be a good couple weeks full of Christmas fun and activities.  Here are some pictures of our crafts from last year.  The Popsicle stick snowmen were really easy and fun! Hannah’s ornament masterpiece was the clear bulb filled with beads, and Liam’s melted snowman was his; they were so cute.  The glitter reindeer was really easy too, just very messy.



Happy Holidays!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie




Do you really know what is in your foods?  When I was first learning about vegetarianism I was naïve to what was actually in my food.  I just assumed that if it wasn't the actually meat it was vegetarian.  When I am researching, I always make sure I have a tough stomach because some of the things I have come across make my stomach turn.  It is shocking what ingredients are actually in the foods we eat all the time without thinking.

Even though I’m not vegan, I still like to be conscious about the ingredients in foods I eat and prefer my foods be free of animal byproducts.  I made a list of cringe worthy products that have animal byproducts that might make you think twice about what you are eating.


DISCLAIMER- if you have a weak stomach or just ate lunch, you might was to wait to read this until your stomach is strong enough to hear all the ingredients might be in your favorite foods.

When first beginning to research products that we not vegetarian gelatin was the first product I learned about.  Gelatin is mainly made from collagen, a protein often collected from animal skins.  Gelatin can be found in frosted cereals, yogurt, candy, some types of sour cream, and deserts.  The gelatin in deserts often comes from pig skin.

Beef fat is an ingredient many Hostess Products.  It is gross thinking a favorite sweet childhood snack contains beef fat.  The ingredient is included in the list of other oils that may or may not be used.

This is a more widely known animal product, crushed bugs are used as red food coloring.  Dried insects are boiled to produce a liquid solution that is turned into dye.  It is often called carmine or carminic acid.  YUCK

Beaver anal glands, castoreum, are common in perfumes and colognes.  I don’t want to use anal glands to smell sweet, that’s for sure.  Another use, they are used to enhance the flavor of raspberry candies and sweets.

It is more common people know Caesar salad dressing is made with anchovies, but they are in Worcestershire sauce too.  I was unaware of this until I did some research and now I avoid both sauces.

Like jelly beans or candy corn?  The shiny hard coating is make from the secretions of the female Kerria Lacca, an insect native to Thailand.  I personally don’t like any bug secretions in my candy.



These are just a few of the cringe worth products that use animal products to be more appealing and satisfying to the consumer.  After months of researching and growth I learned that animal products are in so many unexpected places and products.  I find it very interesting to learn about all the products that use weird animal parts and secretions.  Peta.org has an extensive list of animal ingredients that are in food that might shock you.

Know of any more cringe worthy products with animal products? I would love to learn more, comment to share your knowledge!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

With so many holiday parties and nights out with old friends that are back to town it’s easy to forget what you are drinking.  About a year after becoming a vegetarian, I was on the internet looking for recipes and stumbled upon a website about vegetarian beer.  It never dawned on me that what I was drinking could have animal products in it.  I was shocked at what I read!



I am not a big drinker so it never dawned on me to look at the ingredients.  What I read made me cringe; some beers are processed with isinglass, the swim bladders of fish.  I am no beer expert so I had no idea, fish bladders? I was so grossed out!  Some beers are also processed using gelatin, made from boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones from cows or pigs.  After this I made sure to know where everything I was consuming was coming from.

The holiday season prompts many parties and dinners, I made a list of common beers that are vegetarian safe.  For a full list from PETA, click here.

Amstel & Amstel Light
Bud Light & Budweiser
Busch & Bush Light
Coors
Corona
Dogfish Head Brewing
Heineken
Michelob
Mike’s Hard Lemonade
Miller Brewing Co.
Natural Light
Rolling Rock
Samuel Adams Brewing Co.
Thirsty Dog Beer

Hopefully this list helps new vegetarians going out with old friends during the holiday season know what to order! If you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask, I love sharing my knowledge! :)

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie





Cheers: Vegetarian Beers

by on 12/04/2014
With so many holiday parties and nights out with old friends that are back to town it’s easy to forget what you are drinking.  About a year...