Vegan Setback

So I’d been plugging along with my awesome little vegan life. Everything was delightful and I was even beginning to maybe grow accustomed to ice cream that tastes like coconut. And then it all went to shit.

I worked from home Tuesday and spent what felt like the whole day making separate meals for Soren and for me. Then yesterday Ben made breakfast burritos for dinner. He was making a bunch of them (he brings some to work to share with coworkers) and it’s a pretty elaborate process that takes up a lot of kitchen space. The original plan was for me to have pudla, which is great, but I had pudla on Sunday and don’t want to get tired of it already.

So I was going to make vegan pesto, but I was kind of grumpy and tired and I started to get the food processor out and there was like no room on the counter and I had a little meltdown. I wanted something good! And homemade! Not another frozen fake chicken patty or whatever.

Then I was all, holy shit, I can’t live like this with all these separate meals. This is such a pain in the ass and I’ve been spending so much time thinking about and preparing food and just . . . just . . . fuck it!

So I said, “I give up! I can’t do this!” I had a goddamn breakfast burrito, with eggs and cheddar. And I sulked the whole time, super dramatic style. After dinner, I moved my Becoming Vegan book to a shelf where I wouldn’t have to see it all the time. I told Ben we should order pizza on Saturday.

And then I just felt like shit. The burrito was yummy, but the totality of the circumstances left me feeling sad and like a complete failure. Ben suggested — and people always suggest — being an almost vegan, or just having dairy once in a while. But what I’ve learned from my very short time of trying to be vegan is that it doesn’t really work that way. I mean, maybe it does for some people, but for me, I think it has to be all or nothing. I either eat dairy products or I don’t. If I eat them some of the time, what’s my motivation to not eat them the other times? I don’t even think that makes sense, but that’s what it’s like in my head.

While trying to transition to veganism, I’ve been reading a few vegan blogs. They’re good for getting recipe ideas and stuff, but more often than not, they’re kind of disheartening, too. All these vegan bloggers (at least the ones I’ve found) are, like, professional vegans. They make their living by being vegan. Everyone they know is vegan. They live in and travel to exceptionally vegan-friendly locations. They go to vegan conferences. They go to vegan schools! They go to vegan churches! They go to vegan institutional learning facilities!1

And my life isn’t like that at all. I know exactly one vegan in real life. My husband isn’t vegan. My kid isn’t vegan. He likes a lot of vegan food, but he likes a lot of non-vegan food, too, and I don’t feel right about taking those things away from him. It’s harder to get together with non-vegan friends (which is all of them) to have meals, and I generally feel like a pain in the ass. Not that being a pain in the ass bothers me much, but when you add that to making all these separate meals at home and remembering to read labels to check for hidden dairy ingredients where it wouldn’t even occur to you they’d be and thinking about how to make ice cream that doesn’t taste like goddamn coconut . . . it all just feels like a bit much.

But at this point, I’d rather try harder than accept failure. So I’m going to try harder. I’ve already planned our picnic dinner for Sunday: spicy chickpea salad, three-seed bread, sun-dried tomato and basil “cheese,” and beer. And maybe pie, which most definitely will not taste like coconut.

3 1/2

(He loves this shirt because the cat is using the copier to make more cats. He only wants to wear shirts that involve cats.)

I’m not gonna lie. 3 1/2 is a challenging age. Is it like this for everyone? I’m guessing it is. There’s a lot of yelling, not for any reason but just because that’s the kind of voice you want to use when you’re 3 1/2. EVERYTHING IS VERY EXCITING. MOMMY LOOK WHAT I DID! And the mommy-look-what-I-dids are awesome and I’m not complaining about them. But there’s also the conversations that go like this, when you’re in the middle of folding laundry or washing dishes or making almond milk because you’re a goddamn hippie or editing summaries of court of appeals opinions:

Him: Mommy, can I have [insert name of thing here]?

Me: Yes, just a minute.

Him: Mommy, can I have [insert name of thing here]?

Me: Yes, in a minute.

Him: Mommy, can I have [insert name of thing here]?

Me: Son, you need to learn the value of patience. (Not really.)

Him: Mommy, can I have [insert name of thing here]?

Me: One second!

Him: Mommy, can I have [insert name of thing here]?


When you’re 3 1/2, there is no “in a minute.” There is only now. And that’s cool, but I’m not particularly well-suited for dealing with these kinds of intrusions on my flow. In the rare event I’m focusing on completing a given task, I want to complete the shit out of that task before I go get you something else and then wander around for the next half hour like I just consumed too much mescaline in Vegas in 1971.

Today out of nowhere, Soren looked at me and said, “Mommy, I’m sorry I’ve been getting you all riled up lately.” To tell you the truth, he kind of rolled over “riled up,” like he knew what he wanted to say but wasn’t sure he was saying it right. “I’m sorry I’ve been so grumpy,” I said, and gave him a hug. “Now we can be friends again,” he said. And I hugged him forever and we were friends again until five minutes later when he yelled and asked me for something 900 times and then we were friends again and when you’re 3 1/2, the highs are so high but man, the lows are so low and you never know what you’re going to get next.

Also your 3 1/2-year-old might sing this song 800 times a day.


Yesterday, I completely redesigned this site, if by “redesigned” I mean switched to a different theme, which is something I don’t think I’ve done since I started blogging here in 2006. Everything should function as well (or as poorly) as before, and I hope you like it!

If that’s not exciting enough, here’s a picture of Soren enjoying a peanut at last night’s Rockies game.

Veganize It: My Signature Pizza

Is it useful for me to tell you when I veganize an old recipe (or quasi recipe, as the case may be)? In the event that it is, I veganized my signature apricot preserves, chard, roasted garlic, and brie pizza this weekend and it turned out really well. Rather than repost the (quasi) recipe, I just updated the old one with veganized instructions.

(FYI the vegan brie recipe is not included because it’s from a book and I’m not going to copy something from a book. It’s probably a worthwhile investment if you’re into vegan cheese, though!)

Chicken Coop & Garden Tour

So, here’s what’s been happening in our yard.

Here is the framed chicken coop, with the interior wall about to go in. All window and vent openings are covered in hardware cloth. The main thing you need to know about building a chicken coop and run, if you’re into that sort of thing, is that when they’re inside, the chickens must be surrounded on all sides by a solid surface (such as wood) or hardware cloth. That includes above and under the ground of the run portion — yes, you have to dig up some dirt, install hardware cloth along the ground and attach it to something, be it other hardware cloth or a frame) and then put the dirt back in. Otherwise, you might have wildlife or Rottweilers digging into your chicken run, and nobody wants that. We used 1/2-inch hardware cloth from Amazon, because it was the best price we found.  (When the coop is finished, I’ll let you know how much it cost and provide links to stuff we bought online. For now, I’m living in denial.)

The triangle on top here is a vent. One thing I learned from my extensive perusal of is that your chicken coop needs more ventilation than you might think, even in winter. So we (well, Ben) put in lots.

chicken coop construction

Here is a view of the beautiful linoleum floor Ben got from Habitat for Humanity. It’s always good to visit places like H4H just to see if you can score any materials on the cheap, or cheep if you’re a chicken. (Sorry.) I was partial to the blue floral linoleum tiles, but we figured a big sheet would be cleaner.

Back of the coop, also with a big vent area. The big open space is where the nest boxes will go.

View of the other side wall, featuring one vent and one window.

Looking toward the run.

Here are the framed and linoleum-ed nest boxes. We certainly don’t need 3 nest boxes for 3 chickens, but we can have as many as 8 chickens in Denver, so Ben designed everything to accommodate as many as 8 chickens.

Side view of nest boxes. The nest box roof is a door that opens upward, so we can reach in to gather eggs.

This is the current state of the coop. This weekend, Ben did the flashing on the roof, put in a ton of insulation, and installed the windows (there’s another window across from this one on the other side) and the outer walls. The windows are shed windows, installed so they can be opened and closed from the outside.

From here you can see the human doors to the coop and, on the right, to the run. Both have locks, mainly because we don’t want to risk any child we know opening a door on his own.

Here you can see the coop and run, as well as the main plot of our garden. Here’s what’s in there:

  • arugula (in a container)
  • mint (in a container — always put mint in a container because it is super aggressive)
  • spinach
  • onions
  • carrots
  • 3 kinds of lettuce
  • kale
  • tomatillos
  • jalapenos
  • Joe E. Parker peppers
  • pepperoncini
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • tomatoes, including several heirloom varieties

This looks like ass, but bear with me. When it comes to gardening, we are passionate about two things: spending as little money as possible and using what we already have. This giant thing used to be part of a trellis that Ben removed to make room for the chicken run. Rather than throw it out, we’re using it to keep the dogs off our plants. Here we have several varieties of cucumbers (marketmore, lemon, homemade pickles, something else, and maybe something else — I want to make pickles this year and cucumbers are great for juice, so I wanted to have as many cucumber plants as possible); edamame; zucchini; and mini eggplants. Way in back are a few more tomato plants in containers — Ben put our favorites in containers: peacevine (which are little), red pear, and early girl.

I planted a few things in the front yard, too: garlic (Soren and I planted some cloves in the late fall and they’re all growing), a few more tomatoes, and more zucchini.

We still have a bit more to plant: more tomatoes, basil, oregano, corn, and some kind of bush beans.

A cool thing about this year’s garden! With the exception of a few jalapeno plants, everything was grown from seed or acquired for free at an awesome neighborhood gardening festival. So if all goes well, we’ll get tons of food without spending much money (for once)!

As you can see, Sadie is really interested in the chickens all day every day. And we’ve been pretty busy!

Chickens in the Coop

They seem to be enjoying it. (For the record, it’s habitable but not finished. Eventually, what you see here will be painted awesome colors, inspired by grandmas who live in Miami and like to go to the beach, and there will be a chicken ladder instead of straw and a plank, arrrrrr matey.)