The Life of Riley (whoever Riley is)

One of the (many) tasks  I do, upon arriving home from work,  is turn down my bed.  I don’t know why I do this, but I do. Ok??? Alright????  What can I say, I’m weird.  Now that the nights are cooler, I have noticed my cats are spending more time with me, in bed.  Last night, I went upstairs to go to bed and this is what I encountered — one of my five cats laying on my side of the bed, you know, the side that’s turned down.

Rough  life, eh?   Everyone is always telling me they want to come back as one of my cats.  And I always say, “Yah, no kidding. Me too!”

Allow me to introduce you to one of our rescue cats, his name is Buddy.  

Buddy laying on my bed, 9/27/2012

Cutting the Cord with Cable, well almost.

So guess what I did last Friday? C’mon guess?  Give up? I changed my Comcast Cable Subscription to *basic*.  Yah that’s right, buh-BUH-basic!  Do you want to know why? Because I am up to here (side of hand to middle of forehead) with paying the man, m-kay? When I moved, Comcast offered me a promo: basically a shit-ton of premium channels (and internet) for 80 bucks.  Far be it for me to pass up a deal.  After all, according to Azz, I am a “Chewy” (half Catholic; half Jew).  When I locked in this deal, the Comcast Service Rep said when the promo expires; I will be charged the full cost.  Whut-evah! Because I am so organized anal, I set reminders in my Outlook calendar for when the promo was due to expire. A few days before the expiration date (Read: last Friday), I called and canceled all the premium channels. That’s when I decided to take it one step further and cut my cable down to basic. I don’t have time TV, let alone Cable TV.  If you’re me, then you’re spending every waking (not walking) hour working on a money-pit of a house.  Believe me when I say after spending a full day or more, neck-deep in some suck-ass project (projects like: The Back Porch), who the hell has the energy for TV? I’m lucky if I can stay awake past 8:30 p.m. on a regular day. I will say this, it wasn’t easy changing my cable to basic, no sir and it’s not what you think. They, you know the *they* on the other end of the Comcast Customer Service line wouldn’t let me. I’m telling you, the woman I spoke with should receive an Academy Award or an Emmy for her performance. I have to hand it to her. If it were me, I’d be on the line agreeing with the customer.  I mean seriously, Cable, Dish, Direct TV, Fios et al. is the biggest racket out there.  Am I right? Would you believe that despite having reduced my cable down to basic, I still have to pay?  Christ! I’m old enough to remember a time before cable TV, remote controls, cell phones and internet!  Yes, I’m that old!  What really burns my ass is I’m paying for stations that used to be FREE!  What do you get with basic cable, you ask? [Well you might want to sit down for this.]  What you get with basic Cable is (drum roll please) Channels 2-22. Taadaaaaaaaaa!   [Are you ok out there?  Do you need a minute?] Hey listen, as previously mentioned, 2-22 is just fine and dandy because I don’t watch much TV anyway, in fact who needs TV at all? But that aside, it still goes up my arse 90 MPH that I’m paying for channels that used to be free, ah hello?

Maybe I should just cut the cord forever…

Well call me His Girl Friday because I did a little digging (natch) and as it turns out there is a plethora of ways to get TV stations without paying for them (did the heavens just part?).  I found a slew of fantastic, informative sites explaining how to cut the cord with cable; however, the one site I felt was the most information without being overly tech-y is this one from Wise Bread (my all time favorite site).  I also found this article.  I’ll spare you the details of the articles. I mean hey, if you’re intersted in learning more, you’ll click on the link. If not, well that’s ok too.    🙂

A time for reflection…

I never thought I’d see the day when I would hear myself repeating (or agreeing with) what my parents used to say when I was a kid: “TV rots your brain.”  Five thousand channels and there is never anything on but fake reality TV.  Have you ever thought about the countless hours of your life you’ve wasted in front of the TV? Do you find yourself vegging out on the weeknds in front of the TV while a list of things you should be doing rattle around in your head? I know people who cannot make time for exercise (something that is good for them and will keep them healthy), but always manage to remember to watch the line-up of their favorite shows.  These are the same people who claim they never have time to cook a meal, either.

Sad, right?

Do you want to know why my (shrinking & old) Italian father dislikes Cable? Because as he says, “If I want a loaf of bread, then I go to the market and buy a loaf of bread. But with cable, I have to buy eggs, milk, cheese, toilet paper before I can buy the bread.”  Well put, dad.  In other words, you cannot get the stations you want, without the stations you don’t want.  Bundling bastards!

In closing, allow me end with this thought:  Do you ever wonder how productive (Read: healthier:  physically and mentally) everyone would be, if we eliminated TV and Facebook from our lives (which is why I don’t do Facebook)? Heck, let’s take it one step further, let’s eliminate computers and mobile phones altogether.  Personally, I find spending an entire labor-intensive day outside very cathartic – it clears my head.  On a typical Saturday (or Sunday) you will see me outside mowing the lawn, edging, weeding and tending to my garden. After a full day of hard work and a nice hot shower to follow, I feel like a million bucks – a feeling going to the gym has never given me. I’m convinced the reason is because of the fresh air and sunshine, but also the constant exercise: walking, lifting, bending, pulling… its great, and no gym required.    Recently on NPR I heard some statistic that X (I forget the exact number) number of Americans are on anti-depressants.  That’s really sad (BTW, no judgement from this corner of cyberspace world but it is sad all the same).  Perhaps what these people need is some time away from the TV (and computer) and more time outside. Physical labor never killed anyone, at least, not that know of.

So before you turn on the TV, ask yourself, “Is there something else, something more productive I could be doing instead of watching TV?”  Think of the energy you will conserve (not to mention the $$$ you will save) by not turning on your electronics.  Hey, I gotta tell ya, nothing and I mean nothing makes me happier than a low utility bill.  I also saved $$$ by canceling my gym membership, with no regrets.  Since moving to this house I get more exercise from not going to the gym, then I did when I was faithfully going to the gym.  Noodle on that for a bit.

If you’re like me and desperately trying to reduce my carbon footprint (which is the point of this blog), then consider the amount of energy your electronics suck and leave them turned off for a full day or two.  You know how we have *Meatless Mondays*, well why not consider a *No Electronics Saturday or Sunday*.  By literally unplugging and leaving my electronics off 1 day a month, sometimes more, last month’s electric bill was $30.  How much was your bill?

Yours truly,



Recently, a blogger I follow (Somer), branched off and started her own blog: which is a fabulous blog.  If you click on her Why Vegan? Page, you can read about how she changed her health and consequently her life, by adopting whole foods, plant-based diet. Somer doesn’t necessarily refer to herself as a vegan per se, because as she writes, “…many vegans are compassionate, but don’t eat healthily.”  However, “after feeling remorse” and being “horrified by the treatment of animals intended for consumption”, she is, essentially, a vegan. 

Recently, in my August 17 post entitled B.R.A.T.  I blogged about my stomach issues and how I came to the realization that maybe part of what’s going on is the result of straying from my macro diet over the summer due to being all-consumed with my fixer-upper house. I wasn’t necessarily eating bad foods; however, I was eating foods that mimicked my non-vegan days.  One example is the August 7 post:  Naughty Vegan Polenta & Seitan Parmigiano (or casserole if you prefer).

The reason I am mentioning this is because Somer is correct, some vegans do tend to eat poorly.  They desperately cling to and in turn try to mimic all their non-vegan recipes instead of embracing a new and creative way to eat. Take for example: Bubba burgers or Garden Burgers. The only time you’ll catch me eating either of these is if I am attending a cookout and the host was kind enough to buy them (although full disclosure: I generally decline invitations to cookouts – it’s not my thing. Sorry!).  When I decided to become a vegan, after having been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for years, I made a commitment to follow a completely different diet, one that was macrobiotic (btw, a macrobiotic diet isn’t synonymous with vegan). I purchased several macrobiotic books whose focus was vegan.  I quickly grew fond of the macrobiotic way of eating because I believe in its principles, one of which is to eat in accordance to the seasons. [FYI: This is why I am very excited about fall.  Fall macro dishes tend to be cooked slower, with larger chunks of root vegetables (Mmmmm) which are my absolute favorite.  I also love apples and fall is the time for apples, especially my favorite: Honey Crisp and its close second: Elstar].  What this means is, come winter, you will not see me eating tomatoes, blueberries, watermelon, strawberries or any other fruit (or vegetable) that was flown half way around the country. If it’s not in season and local, well then I will not be eating it.

Now, with all that said, sometimes even GiRRL_Earth has a hankering for something from her non-vegan/macro past; which is why I created the Polenta/Seitan Parmigianino. The only other recipe I have created, which mimics my non-vegan past is Nachos or in this case, Vegan Nachos. Why nachos? Well, nachos were a big thing in my household (and Azz sure do love his nachos).  Before I became a vegan, we used to make our nachos with the following ingredients: Tortilla chips, 1 full block of Habañero Cheese (manually grated) jalapeños and Mrs. Renfros’s Habañero Salsa (YUM!) but now that I am a vegan, I make nachos using the same ingredients minus the habañero cheese. I also like a little fresh cilantro sprinkled on mine.

The last time I made vegan nachos I took a picture with my iPhone (a lousy photo at that!) with the intent to blog about it, but I had forgotten.  It was only after reading Somer’s about page that I remembered.

Below is a photo of my vegan nachos.  I have also attached a photo of the ingredients.  When I first went vegan, I discovered Daiya cheese and thought it was the closest thing to real cheese a vegan could get, but since then, I have found a better vegan cheese that melts like the real thing and it is called Galaxy Foods. Can I just say the stuff is Ah-May-Zing! Now mind you, I don’t eat this stuff very often because even though the cheese is not made with cow’s milk, it’s still processed and is considered “junk food”.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel lousy after a movie/nacho night. My body cannot handle that style of eating anymore so despite Azz enjoying his nachos on a weekly basis, I limit mine to every once in a while.

So without further adieu. Behold my vegan nachos (please excuse my old/outdated kitchen in the background. As I said, I purchased a fixer-upper and I have yet to tackle the kitchen yet.)

Vegan Nachos. Yum!

Doesn’t that look like real cheese? I’m telling you the vegan cheese from Galaxy Foods are deceptively good, considering it aint cheese.

This is a photo of the ingredients I used:

Vegan Nacho Ingredients

And please pass the Brioschi [Bree-os-kee]. (If you’re Italian-American, you will know what this is.)

© 2012 GiRRL_Earth


“The inferior “others” have often been our own kind — Jews, African slaves, Aboriginals, American Indians, women and gays, to name a few.”

[Note: The title of this blog was extracted from the article:


Quite often I will run up against some block-head who will make a snide remark about my being a vegan or veganism in general. Comments are either made to my face, my blog or another blogger’s site that I have made comments to. Most of the time, I ignore the remarks because I know the person is trying to taunt me.  Feeding into their childish taunts doesn’t seem to make much sense. If I haven’t said it five times, I haven’t said it once, you cannot argue with stupid.  Besides, I think Forrest Gump said it best:  “Stupid is as stupid does.” 

And then today, I received the following article from from Free From Harm and learned there is a better way to handle such remarks.

Below is a snippet of the article that I received.  If you’d like to read the entire story, please click here:


Dealing with Carnistic Defenses: ‘All This Talk About Animals Is Making Me Hungry for a Juicy Steak!’

By Free From Harm Staff Writers | September 25, 2012 | Categories: Food and Culture

courtesy of Bizarro Comics,

Have you ever found yourself in a situation with someone who completely derails the discussion with a statement that goes something like this: “All this talk about animals is making me hungry for a steak!” or “All this talk about cows is making me crave a big hunk of cheese!”

Some of us would find this so off-putting, we would retaliate with something insulting and end the discussion then and there. But that’s actually the worst thing you could do. It’s exactly what these statements intend to do, that is, shut down the discussion. And their sincere passive-aggressive hope is that you will shut it down, leaving them with the last word.

So should you call their bluff?, ask them to admit to you and themselves that animals mean nothing more to them than a cheap piece of meat? Some would argue, it’s just not worth the energy to continue at this point. I completely disagree. It’s a golden opportunity to show the conviction you have in your beliefs and to point out to them what’s really behind such a statement. Because when they realize what’s behind it, I see them backpedalling.

Put aside your emotions for a moment and instead read between the lines at what someone is really telling you when they make such a statement and then find a creative way to respond that will take the higher ground and restore the discussion back to one that takes the interests of animals seriously.


Yours truly,



Recipe: Vegan Butternut Squash Curry Soup

A follower of my blog (Kevin @ has asked me for the recipe to the soup I mentioned in yesterday’s post: 17 Inches.  I told him I didn’t have a recipe per se, because I just winged it. Generally, I do not follow recipes.  That said, I promised him I would try to recollect how I constructed the soup and post the recipe.

So here goes nothing…

Susan’s (slap-dashed) Vegan Butternut Squash Curry Soup


  • Diced Onion (I used Vidalia because it is all I had on hand)
  • Curry Powder ~ eyeball it, I use the palm of my hand to measure
  • Cumin ~ eyeball it, I use the palm of my hand to measure
  • Oregano ~ eyeball it, I use the palm of my hand to measure (OPTIONAL)
  • Coconut Milk (1 can – mixed well) ~ Optional NOTE: you could make this non vegan by adding heavy cream
  • Celtic Sea Salt ~ eyeball it
  • EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) ~ eyeball it
  • 17 inch Butternut Squash – rough chopped (sorry, couldn’t help myself ha-ha!)
  • Water (I used a full Zero Water Pitcher and then some ~ again, eyeball it)
  • Fresh Cilantro ~ add at the end when the soup is finished

Method of Prep:

Gather all of your mise-en-place and equipment

Preheat Stock or Soup Pan

Prep your vegetables: dice onion; peel and rough chop BN Squash, chop cilantro (and set aside for garnish)

Once pan is heated, add evoo and sauté onions, toss in some Celtic Sea Salt (eyeball the amounts to your liking) and cook onions until translucent (I liked to wait until mine turn slightly brown).

Add spices: curry and cumin (or whatever spices you have on hand).  When you begin to smell the spices cooking, add the oregano, saute for another minute (careful not to burn) and then add some of the water, all of the chopped squash, and then the remaining water. NOTE:  If you add all of the water first, you may not have enough room for the squash, which is why I add some water, all of the squash and then the remaining water.

When the squash is mushy (past the point of fork tender); begin pureeing the soup, either with an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor (I used my blender pureeing the soup in batches). NOTE: You can either puree all or some of the soup – it all depends on what consistency you are going for.  I pureed most of it, leaving some texture.   While pureeing the soup, begin adding the coconut milk (or dairy) so as to temper it before adding it back into the pot.  It is important to temper your coconut milk or dairy, otherwise, could wind up with a disaster on your hands.  Ha-Ha!

Once you have pureed the soup with the coconut milk add everything back to the pot and simmer until the coconut milk and soup flavors blend together seamlessly.  Once the soup is heated through, be sure to taste it to see if it needs more salt, cumin, et-cetera and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Serve with chopped Cilantro and toasted Ezekiel Bread.

If you have any questions or are not sure of my instructions, please contact me.  


17 inches…

I’m talking about my butternut squash. What did you think I was referring to, my waistline…? Ha-Ha!

Take a look at my first Butternut Squash of the season. Wahooooooooo! I am so proud. Feast your eyes on all 17 inches of this baby.  This is the largest BN Squash I have ever grown in my life!  I cooked it (only seems right to not assign a gender to my food) yesterday. I made a vegan butternut squash curry soup with cilantro and it was, yum-o-licous (if I say so myself).

My first Butternut Squash September 2012

And this picture is of my cat Sam, who was keeping me company Sunday morning, 5:30 a.m. while I was having coffee.  In fact, this is a pretty regular routine where he lies across whatever I’m reading/writing at the kitchen table, which in this case, is my food/exercise journal that I review with my fabulous nutritionists in Cambridge.  I rely on her guidance to ensure I’m eating a well-balanced, vegan diet.

Oh and no that’s not cow’s milk in my coffee, that is hazelnut So Delicious Coffee *creamer* which truly is Soooooooooo Delicious!

Comfortably Unaware by Dr. Richard Oppenlander

Please take a moment to watch this video, which I have extracted from

The video is inspiring (at least to me, anyway) and is about Dr. Oppenlander’s book: Comfortably Unaware.


Just so you know, the video is not about blood, gore or even an inside expose of the egregious activities taking place behind factory farm doors – I assure you, there is none of that [so you can stop rolling your eyes].  What you will get is the story of one man who is inspiring others. Please be sure to watch the entire video because towards the end, one of Dr. O.’s friends speaks about how he never really cared about […humans or animals, even on a basic level…].  Wow, huh? That speaks volumes right there. I mean, if people don’t care about people, why would they bother to care about animals or what’s happening to the planet?

I know some of you out there feel it is impossible to live and/or raise your children on a plant-based diet. But as you can plainly see in the video, Dr. O and his family are living proof that it is possible. Quite frankly, I think he has a beautiful and  healthy looking family. (Personally, I want to hang out with all of his farm animals, especially Priscilla the pig.)

I hope Dr. O’s video will inspire you to adopt a plant-based diet.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Your’s truly,



Good Times…

Me and my goombah friend CC, July 2012 at the House of Blues in Bahston

This is a photo of me  (R) and my partner-in-crime-goombah-friend and co-worker CC (L). The photo was taken at the House of Blues, Boston,  July 2012.  CC and I have only known each other a short time and yet, I feel like I’ve known her for years! I recently met her hubby, (I blogged about the two of them in my post regarding The Back Porch) and I have to say, I have never met two people better suited for one another — they truly are soul mates and good people. CC is also a Harley Davidson riding bad-ass (she owns an Fat Boy and her hubby owns a Dyna-wide).   Good people are hard to come by these days, so I cherish those that I have the opportunity to share my life with which is why I wanted to capture this memory in my blog.



All content and photos on GiRRL_EARTH.COM© 2011 are protected by COPYRIGHT. Pictures and content can only be used with prior consent of GiRRL_EARTH and they have to be linked back to this blog. It is forbidden to use the pictures for commercial reasons.  Photography by GiRRL_EARTH or GiRRL_EARTH.COM©

Low Carb, No Carb, Gluten Free Diets

How many of you, your friends, and/or your family members have adopted a *low carb diet*? I can count on both hands the number of people in my office alone who claim to be on low-carb, no-carb or gluten-free diets.  It’s asinine.  I’m sorry, but it is.  These people fear carbs and gluten like the Boogeyman, and yet give nary a care as to how their eggs, chicken, beef, pork, and fish were raised (and slaughtered).  Carbs and Gluten are the Devil, but consuming a chicken breast is well within their comfort zone, irrespective of how that chicken lived (and died!) before landing in their salads or wrap.  Personally, I’d rather gorge myself on carbs and gluten — at least no one died in the making. You see my point?

As most of you following this blog know, I am a passionate advocate for animal rights, a vegan lifestyle, and macrobiotics.  To that end, I follow many animal welfare sites.  The other day, the following article  via Free From Harm landed in my email inbox and I felt it was worth re-posting here.  The source of the article can be found here. But I have also copied and pasted the article into this post for your ease.

‘Allergic’ to All But Meat, Cheese and Eggs?

comic I respect the fact the some have food allergies, and some of these allergies are serious and life-threatening. The fact that these allergies are real threats to their health and survival has been well-documented. On the other side of the spectrum is a growing chorus of people today who are claiming to be allergic to almost everything imaginable — except meat and cheese and eggs. Isn’t that interesting?

Many people who have adopted a low-carb diet regimen claim that complex carbs, which consequently have been the nutrient-dense staples of civilization for millennia, just “don’t agree with them anymore.” Others claim to have adverse reactions to soy and other legumes, the very superfoods that could sustain them well on a plant based diets. Suddenly with all of the options they have ruled out, they are left with no other option than to bring animal products back into their diet. And these are doctors orders, they will assure you!

Are these really allergies or are they simply excuses, ways to rationalize a return to eating animal products? To what extent do powerful psychological and sociological forces play a role in this process of elimination and justification of food choices? These are questions that continue to fascinate me and that I intend to explore more fully in the months to come.

I also can’t help but see the uncanny coincidence that none of these people I am reading about — not one — is allergic to meat, cheese or eggs! And equally baffling is the fact that no one seems to question that the animals we are eating get all of their nutrients from plants, the same plant sources they claim to be allergic to! These animals are essentially herbivores by nature (even though they are often fed animal by-products and manure on modern farms).

And why do they have so much faith in their doctors, the vast majority of whom have only a cursory understanding of nutrition and are simply regurgitating what they learned from the USDA, handing out USDA My Plate pamphlets that come from the same government agency whose job is to promote animal agriculture? If they really want to observe a plant based or largely plant based diet, why aren’t they consulting leading nutritionists who have made it their business to show how people can get all their nutrients from plant sources and show how animal products do not offer us anything we can’t get from plant sources? There’s plenty of them out there today, and they have plenty of internationally-recognized, peer-reviewed evidence to support them. Even the American Dietetic Association, also beholden to animal agribusiness interests, agrees! So what’s the real problem here?

In my efforts to dispel the myths about eating animals, I have been criticized that I am not looking at the individual nature of dietary needs. I am not a nutritionist, but at the same time, I know that calcium is calcium.

So let’s take calcium as an example. Calcium can be obtained from dairy products or they can be obtained by going to the same plants where the cow gets hers! And they are easier to digest and more readily available when we go directly to the source. I’m not failing to recognize that each individual may have different calcium needs and even at different times in their lives. My point is simply to acknowledge that calcium sources are abundant in plants. There is no disagreement about this simple fact. And we can go down the list of every essential nutrient and do the same, showing what plant sources have an abundance of said nutrient.

And yes, it is true that  B12 does not exist in a reliable or consistent manner from plant sources today (though it may have prior to modern agricultural practices), but it’s easy to take a B12 supplement or simply eat fortified plant-based foods that contain B12, like enriched breads or fortified soy or almond milk. All you need is a trace amount. Big deal! And nutritionists today, recognizing that even people consuming animal products heavily, cannot readily absorb B12 from food and therefore should also be taking a B12 supplement.

Honestly, I hate to get into the nitty gritty of nutrition debates! I say, leave it t the experts. If you want to know how to get optimal nutrition from a diet that does not include animal products, get the reference book, Vegan for Life, by Norris and Messina. You won’t need any other reference. It answers all of the concerns and objections I’ve heard.

I’d rather spend my time examining the psychology of eating that I think is really at the core of this sudden widespread epidemic of allergies and intolerances. I think we risk falling into a self fulfilling prophecy that blinds us to a deeper understanding of nutrition facts. Does it really make any sense that one could be allergic to everything but meat, cheese and eggs when these products are built upon the very ingredients they claim to be allergic to? Does something magical happen when they get ingested through an animal’s gut and become part of their flesh and mammary gland secretions? I’m waiting for real answers.

About Robert Grillo

Robert Grillo is the founder and editor of He has been a vegan for three years now and loves to write on the subject of food choices, psychology and popular culture. He shares his life with four rescued hens and a rescued homing pigeon. You can email Robert at

The Back Porch

Warning: The following post is littered with swears, especially F-bombs.  If you find swearing offensive then I apologize (but you have been warned).  I try to refrain from swearing and using F-bombs in my posts (as much as I can, anyway…). However, I do feel I am not being my authentic- self when I edit my writing. Seeing as I am the sole inhabitant of my own mind (and this blog), I have decided to throw caution to the wind and just *be* [unedited] me in this particular post. Again: you have been warned.

Last night I realized I never blogged about my vacation staycation. Yah, that’s because it was a complete shit-show.  I had a whole list of projects I needed to tackle. Suffice it to say, I barely made a dent in said list.  The weekend commencing my vacation was fine. I did my usual chores and Monday (Labor Day) my friend Wheeza and I had dinner with a Harley Davidson riding couple (slash) friend (slash) co-worker in Providence, overlooking some glorious body of water (don’t ask me what body of water, Narragansett Bay? Fuck if I know).  It was a beautiful evening and a lot of fun.

Flash forward to Tuesday and Wednesday. For some reason I was trapped in a funk (possibly due to the gloomy rain) which caused  poor GiRRL_Earth to dive (and remain) under the covers for an extended periods of time, only escaping to use the bathroom and/or seek out something to drink – which was mainly coffee as that is the only substance that doesn’t give me the urge to hurl like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.  When the sun finally broke through the gloom, so too did my mood.   Finally, I began to tackle the looming To Do List.  I won’t bore you with all of my To Do List items; rather, I’ll focus on the one project that nearly sent me over the edge: The Back Porch.

Side Note:  I also have a front porch but I do not plan to tackle that Magilla-of-a-project until next year; especially after what I went through painting my smaller back porch. In fact, let me state for the record now:  before I can even consider the front porch painting project, I am going to need the following items: Valium (or the equivalent); large amounts of alcohol (Kettle One, Beer, Wine, all, one, I don’t care); A pallet of Starbucks Verona blend coffee and a personal masseuse. In that order, si’l vous plait. [Oh and have you ever noticed that when you mention painting to a group of friends they scatter like rats? Yah, that and moving are two surefire ways to scare off your friends for at least a week maybe even two.]

 The back porch:

Jesus! What an undertaking. First things first, I still hadn’t made up my mind about a color scheme. Part of me was leaning towards your typical Cape Cod colors: blue/white/seafoam green. The other part of me (the dark side) was thinking: go with colors no one would ever think to paint a porch.  While at Lowes, I combed through the excessive amounts of paint chip choices, which in itself is quite a task.  Guess which colors I finally decided on? Yep, you guessed it: colors no one would ever think to paint a porch (could this be residuals from the 2 days hiding under the covers?).  I chose 3 colors, all part of a color palette pamphlet/brochure, whatever, that you see scattered about the paint section. Rather than confuse you with the manufacturer’s names, I’ll give it to you straight. The colors I chose were: chocolate, opal and lilac (essentially anyway). [BTW reader, I can feel you cringing right now.] As I said, these colors were part of brochure.  So my thinking was: paint the walls chocolate, the trim opal and the door will be Lilac. Sounded pretty good in theory, until…

 Day 1:

I forgot to meniont that the GD porch required me to scrape and consequently sand the old paint. Fun! Not. Thankfully, there were only certain sections of the porch where the paint was actually peeling.  I then had to Spackle and of course caulk.  Next: the primer:  JeeeeeeeeeeZUS!  The GD porch required two, count ‘em TWO coats of primer. Well that wasn’t expected, planned or allotted for. It was then that I quickly remembered why I hate painting.  Next: the chocolate color.  [Before I forget, I should probably mention that my porch has a chair rail of some sort, which somehow escaped my little brain while in Lowes.]   I pour the chocolate paint into the roller pan (or whatever it is called) and holy sheeeeeeeee-ite! This is one dark mutha fucking color — now THAT was unexpected.  Well shit (!) now what I am I supposed to do? First random thought that ran through my head: How about adding some of the primer to the chocolate color to see if I will lighten it up (in a good way)?  What if I fuck it up? What if I ruin an entire can of paint?  I’m too old to be this adventurous. Next thought: Fuck it! I don’t have time to screw around.  Next dilemma: to cut in or to tape off? Which will take less time? And the winner is? Cutting in!  So on went the paint.  Oh my FUCKING God… this is one dark mutha fucking color! (Didn’t I just say that?)  Next thought: I cannot put this color over the entire wall, I just can’t. It will make my porch look like a cave.  Jesus! Now what? Decision: Only paint half way up, keep dark color under the chair rail. Fine. ‘Nuff said.  Three bloody coats later, the chocolate color is done and I am one pissed off, irritable, GiRRL-Earth because that took all freakin’ day! Clean up, prep for tomorrow, shower, PJs, protein drink, bed.

Day 2:

Wake up next morning and stare bleary-eyed at upper walls. Now what? Go to Lowes and pick out another color? Fuck no, I am in no mood for people.  Another option: root around in the basement to see if the professional painter I hired back in February (before I moved in) left anything viable.  Tromp down to basement. Score! A full can of leftover paint in Antique White.  Trudge back upstairs, shake can, feel a twinge in my back, pry off lid, stir and pour into roller pan.  FOUR FUCKING COATS later, 2nd color is on the upper walls and is done with a D!  Doesn’t look half bad but I’m not 100% smitten either.  So far porch project has turned into a complete buzz kill.  Thoughts at that moment: Whatever professional painters earn, it aint enough! Current mood: Maximum Irritation.

Next project: Paint the trim opal color.  Next dilemma: tape off or cut in? Frig it, cut in.  FIVE flipping coats later, trim is done. Irritation level: Code Red!  GiRRL_EARTH has a strong urge to go smash something.

Next on the list:

The door.  Thoughts running through my head: Don’t fuck this up Asnes; this is a brand new custom door that cost you a fucking kidney to pay for and an earful of complaints from the other Asnes to install.  Next thought: cut in or tape off? Definitely tape. This door was much too expensive to chance getting paint in places where there should not be any paint. Last color to be used: The Lilac.  Shake can. Open, stir and pour (sounds like a cocktail doesn’t it?). Response to color: Disappointment.  This is one light color for a supposed *complimentary color*.  Thoughts running through head: This isn’t going to have the impact I was hoping for.  Time on the clock: 8:00 PM.  NPR has been on for hours in the background and I have NO idea what the hell I’ve been listening to.  Could be subliminal messages for all I know (or care).  Coat #1. Reaction: Disappointment.  Coat #2. Meh. Coat #3. double Meh. At this point, I am so bleary-eyed and high on paint fumes that I decide the best course of action is to clean up for the night, shower, choke down a protein drink and fall into bed, face first.

Day 3:

Upon waking I realize I cannot feel my right arm. There are socks on my teeth and it feels like someone with stilettos has been walking up and down my back — and not in a good, Kinky Boots, S&M kind of way either.  I roll over and fall to the floor. Looking up I see the cats are staring down at me from the bed. I look up at them and say, “What?! Be thankful you’re a cat!”  Hoisting myself to an upright position, I walk (and moan) down the stairs, make my way to the bathroom, and then the kitchen, feed the cats, put on a pot of coffee, open the back door and stare… First thought that flashed through my head: if no one told me this color was lilac, I doubt I would even have noticed. At this point, I’m too tired to be angry. I slip into another pair of clothes I do not care about getting paint on and proceed to carefully paint more coats of lilac. Four or maybe five coats later (lost count). The door is finished. Step back. Assess. Reaction: indifference. [Sigh]

Oh and in case you are wondering about the ceiling. I left that primed as there was NO G.D. WAY I was going to paint that again after hitting it with three, I said THREE, coats of primer.

With the painting project complete, I proceeded to clean up.  I puttered around the house doing other chores while periodically going into the porch to assess the final results wondering if it will ever grow on me  like a mold spore.  Final answer: Not really.  Later in the day, I became inspired to decorate my newly painted porch in a Halloween Motif, off to the garage I go, to rummage through unpacked/unopened boxes.

And finally!

Below are some photos of my porch. I am sorry I do not have any before photos but trust me when I say, the porch was ugly as shit so there really wasn’t a need for a before photo, or so at least I thought anyway… looking back, I now wish I had taken a before photo so those of you reading this blog can appreciate my hard work, labor, sweat and tears (well maybe not tears but a whole lot of hissy-fits).

As for the rug you see in the photos. Well, guess what? The previous owners glued it to the porch floor. Yah, what were they thinking? Suffice it to say, there was no way in H-E-double hockey sticks(LL) I was going to tackle that nightmare. Besides the rug is in decent shape, winter will be here before we know it, so I might as well leave it.

So you see GE Followers, this is my painted porch decorated with a Halloween Motif (which would include the cushions on the chairs). As for those back pillows, well, I had found them while rummaging through unpacked boxes from my recent move. I was hoping the pillows would work with the newly painted décor but in the end I decided they do not.  I probably should have removed them before I snapped the photo.

Porch View 1

Oh and btw, I grew those mini pumpkins you see in 2nd Porch Photo. Yah that’s right, I’ve got a pumpking patch, thank you very much Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.


What do you think of my witch? I love her. I bought her over 15 years ago… she’s a gem!

And finally, this is how I felt when I was finished with all of my staycation projects. (This is my cat: Mother Teresa):

Mother Teresa looking all forlorn

 Thanks for following GiRRL_EARTH.


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B.R.A.T. this is the acronym my doctor used when advising me on what to eat. For those of you who do not speak doctor, B.R.A.T stands for Bananas, Rice, Apple Sauce and Toast.  Mmm. NOT!

You see, I have been having some stomach issues. When I say issues, what I mean is, when I eat something, I either have the overwhelming urge to barf or I have abdominal pain that feels like a scene from Alien. I rarely have an appetite (which is unlike me) and  I feel best when I do not eat anything at all. However, not eating poses another problem (if continued long term): death by starvation.  Lately, I’ve been subsisting on vegan protein drinks mixed with almond milk — and sometimes nothing at all. Mystified by the cause of my pain & nausea my doctor recommends I eat B.R.A.T.

So after work on Friday, I made an excursion to the wallet raping store known as Whole Paycheck (I mean, Foods) to pick up some bananas, (among other sundries).  Every cell in my vegan/macrobiotic body screamed out in protest of buying bananas.  Macros don’t do bananas, m-kay?  Bananas are tropical and I live outside of Boston, which last time I checked, isn’t a tropical place. (Although, living through the summer sans AC sure felt like the f*cking tropics, minus the beach and fancy drinks with umbrellas.)  I also picked up some apple sauce, a loaf of Ezekiel bread, another bag of brown rice (figuring I’d better stock up if this is going to be my diet staple) along with some macro staples such as: daikon root, kobacha squash, ginger, sugar snap peas, cilantro and scallions…I also perused the vegan desserts by MooCluck (love this company) and wound up buying the vegan version of a Hostess cupcake, minus the ground up animal bits i.e. eggs & dairy – hence MooCluck – get it?? C’mon, keep up, will ya?

Saturday morning I dropped (or should I say made a effing mess of) a banana into my protein vegan shake. Wasn’t bad — thickened it up a bit and held me until dinner time.  (I tend to go hours and I do mean hours between meals. I’m not an eat-every-three-hours kind of gal — used to be, but not anymore. That ship has sailed.)

Sunday, before heading outside to do extensive yard and gardening work [groan] — man do I wish it were winter already — I decided to toast some Ezekiel bread, smeared on some almond butter, sliced banana and drizzle of agave nectar. Do-able, and surprisingly, no pain or nausea — so far so good (thus far anyway). More to come on this…

This morning, for breakfast, I ate a honey crisp apple (yum!) and a banana. About 3 bites into the banana I realized something — I hate bananas (sorry monkeys).  They make me feel heavy, bogged down, sluggish, irritable and…well… just plan blah.

I am not a doctor but I swear my stomach issue might have something to do with the fact that I have been neglecting my macrobiotic diet. Since April, I have been all consumed by gardening, yard projects and maintenance – let’s face it – it never ends. As a result, I haven’t had as much time to devote to macro cooking.  I do all of my cooking on Sundays so I have meals for the entire week. I always make time for cooking – always! I will forfeit other things, in order to accommodate my cooking.And yet, for some reason, as soon as the weather turned, I began spending every flipping weekend outside, working, slaving in the yard and my garden, instead of balancing (key word here) outside responsibilities with my macro cooking. Don’t misunderstand, I was making wholesome meals but they were not macro – not by a long stretch. Vegan polenta & seitan casserole, anyone?

Back to Sunday:

Sunday morning (before the yard work), rather than sleep in, which I often like to do on Sundays, I got up at 5:05 a.m. (my usual M-F rise and shine time), blew the dust off my favorite, most cherished macro cookbook: Mayumi’s Kitchen: Macrobiotic Cooking for Body and Soul and skimmed through the book looking for one or two recipes that would put me back on the path to wholeness (is that a word?). Finding what I needed, I proceeded to make three meals (soup, Nabe and a lentil dish) incorporating all the ingredients I purchased at WF. Call me crazy, (go ahead, I can take it) but last night, after a hectic day of yard cleanup (R.I.P. my cucumber plants) I ate two bowls of Mayumi’s soup (this is a soup she made, while feeling run down, after touring with Madonna) and within an hour of eating the soup, I felt better – more centered.  That’s the beauty of macrobiotics, it centers you.   Now mind you, I am not an expert macro chef and have botched one too many a recipe but I keep trying and learning. Some recipes I have perfected, others I still struggle with —  it is what it is. Learning to cook Macro is long road — and some say it’s an arduous one. There are schools, (The Kushi Institute) but I don’t have the time or cash flow to pursue something like that, right now. However it is on my bucket list.  In the meantime, I buy books and experiment.

Anyhoo, while outside working, I reflected on how far off the macro path I had strayed and chided myself for being so careless.   Why did I stop following the macro principles that are the foundation of good health (eating fresh fermented ingredients, chewing at least 30 times, only eating until 80% full, and having dinner at least 3 hours before sleeping)? How could I have allowed this to happen? Easy. I was trying to be all things to all people — well sort of. Actually, I was trying to be superwoman which is, as my friend Wheeza says, “Stupes.” I fully believe good health stems from the foods you put into your body. This is why I converted to veganism after having been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for years. This is also why I adopted a macrobiotic lifestyle.

I do not have much faith in doctors — I’m sorry, but I don’t. Most seem to want to “put a pill on it” as my co-worker DB says. Since my stomach troubles began (about 2 or 3 months ago, who can remember?), I’ve been struggling, trying to find the cause.  Yes it’s true, I have been under a lot of stress lately due to managing and updating an old home but that cannot be it in its entirety. I’m beginning to think, straying from a macro diet has a lot to do with my stomach issues — or at least, this is what I have chosen to believe. Who knows… maybe I’m a crackpot or maybe I’ve been impregnated by an Alien and will soon give birth to a chest burster.  :-/

Things that go bump in the night.

My house has a presence.  I learned this about a month after moving in. Although, I’m not the least bit surprised considering the history of the house (two sets of adults passed away in this home).

To give you some history:

February 2012, I closed on a home that was built in 1915 and owned by two Italian families (how fortuitous!). From what I was able to find out, there are only two owners on record (well three if you count me).  The original owners  sold the house in 1935  to another Italian family, the G’s (out of respect for privacy, I will refrain from using full names).  Mr. and Mrs. G. had four children:  2 boys and 2 girls, who are now in their late 60s and 70s. Because the house was an estate sale, I met two of the siblings (brothers R & J) at the closing, both in their mid-late 70s.  During the closing, R & J told me that at one time, eight people resided in the home: grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, 2 boys and 2 girls.  Considering the house is a cute, cozy 1,044 SF home, I couldn’t imagine eight people living in it.  Of course, when I think back to my childhood (the 60/70s), everyone lived in small houses so it wasn’t uncommon for the parents and grandparents to reside under the same roof.   R & J mentioned that the grandparents passed away in the house. They also said their mother passed away in the home (she passed in her sleep) after having lived there for 75 years, she was 94 years old.   Evidently, their mother had all of her faculties about her, only she was becoming more and more frail. [I got the impression they were waiting for her to die and grateful they didn’t’ have to put her in a home.]

About 2 months after moving into the house, the sister of R & J (also the youngest of the four) stopped by to introduce herself.  I gave her the nickel tour and she was thrilled with everything we had done to the house.  It was during the tour when I learned not only had her mother passed away in the home, but the father too.  At that moment I realized, four people died in this house. No wonder there is a “presence”!  Listening to the sister tell the story of her parents made me a bit sad.  I mean, standing before me was a women whose entire history was wrapped up in this piece of real estate. I could tell it was emotional for her.  During the closing, her brother, R, was also very emotional.

Ok, back to things that go bump in the night.

About a month after moving in, I started to sense something. Nothing menacing like you see in the movies. [Personally, I think Hollywood has given houses with a ‘presence’ a bad reputation.]  It’s hard to say exactly what I was sensing but I knew there was energy in the home – not a bad energy, it is a good energy. That’s the first thing I noticed (and liked) about the house, the first time I walked through it. Even my R.E. Broker agreed that the house has “good energy”. The house was loved – which was apparent.  Anyway, after moving in and sensing the energy, I consulted with a professional and she advised me to not be afraid (which I wasn’t). She also advised that I not acknowledge the presence, for acknowledging it will give it more energy. In other words, speaking to the presence (whether in a positive or negative fashion) will make it more active. She made a few recommendations (which included a couple of books) on how to handle the energy on my own, versus paying her $$$ every time I have a problem.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I have had friends who claim they know how to clear a house and…well… all I can say is, after working with an expert, I realized those friends are FoS!   You cannot just walk through your house with lit sage, say a few words and expect that to clear you home – believe it or not, there is more to it.

Get to the good stuff, will ya?

Okay, okay… in addition to sensing something, the following incidents have happened in the six months of living in the home:

One time (I forget when) before dawn, I was awoken to a white vapor hovering above me.  instinctual, as if a reflex action, I moved my hand through vapor which caused it to disappear.

One Saturday in March, while busy with chores, one of the upstairs bedroom doors slammed shut on its own [and no, it wasn’t from the draft of an open window.]

On another occasion, while downstairs watching TV I heard something drop on the floor above me. It’s hard to describe the sound — it wasn’t muffled, it sounded like someone dropped an object of some sort. I went upstairs to investigate to see if one of my cats were up to something but after checking all the bedrooms, I couldn’t trace the source of the noise and there wasn’t anything on the floor to indicate my cats had gotten into anything – not to mention, they were not even in the vicinity.

And that’s another thing – I can always tell when the presence in my home is acting up again because the cats start acting nuts.  Now I have had cats my entire life, so I’d like to think of myself as an expert in feline behaviors and there is a significant difference between cats behaving normally versus cats that are out of sorts.  One of my cats in particular, Anubis (who we call Noobie or Scooby), is extremely sensitive to the energy in the house. Whenever he starts acting squirrelly I know something is up.  Sometimes, he will not go upstairs. He sits at the bottom of the landing, staring up the stairs, refusing to move.  One of my other cats, a stray I found and named Mother Teresa (because I found her near a closed/abandoned church), is also extremely sensitive to the presence; although, unlike Anubis, she talks to it.  Often times I’ll find her sitting facing a particular corner of the bedroom, looking up, meowing and tilting her head to the side and she keeps meowing like she’s talking to someone (or someone is talking to her).  Mother Teresa is a character of a cat.  She is a grateful little stray who often acts like a small dog, following me around the house from room to room.  And sometimes, she’ll sit on the floor or on the bed staring at me and if I talk to her she’ll tilt her head one side, just like a dog. It is hysterical!   Out of all of our cats, she is the only female. She is also very small, but don’t let her size fool you, she’s tough and challenges the bigger cats, especially Buddy, our Maine Coon, who is about 20 lbs. We like to call her MT for short (which sounds like ‘meet’).

The goings on in my home is never consistent. It comes and goes and I never know what’s going to trigger the energy to start-up again.   Whenever I feel the energy is out of control, I do as instructed and cleanse the house which involves, sage, salt, candles, rose-water, a chant,  etc… it’s a process and time-consuming and not something that can be done on the fly. However, I do feel it calms the energy, but (as instructed) it will never completely remove it.

So what prompted me to blog about the energy in my home? Well, around 3 o’clock this morning (give or take) I was awoken to someone caressing my head. Similar to what you’d see in a movie, say in a hospital seen, where the family member is stroking the head of the patient who is lying in bed.  The feeling was very soothing but clearly significant enough to wake me up. Actually, the way I awoke is hard to describe, because as I said the feeling was very soothing but once I came to and realized what was happening, I sprang upright in bed.

I don’t mind living with a presence, I really don’t, especially when the presence is harmless like the one I’m living with, but this is the first time the presence has made physical contact. I suppose I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a wee bit freaked out.  That said, I don’t really even mind so much, but what I do find annoying is when I’m woken from a sound sleep – which happens quite a bit. For some reason, these shenanigans often happen between the hours of 2:00 and 4:00 a.m. After last night’s incident, I lied awake until about 4:00 a.m. debating on whether or not I should just get up and get jump-start to my day. Instead,  I opted to lie in a bed, falling in and out of sleep.  As I type this, I am a bit bleary-eyed with Louis Vuitton Steamer Trunks under my eyes, (those are some seriously HUGE bags under my eyes) which means I cannot be held responsible if this post doesn’t make much sense.  I also spent a good part of the day painting my porch, which turned out to be much bigger endeavor than I had anticipated.  As I wrap up this post, it is now 12:17 a.m. Saturday morning and I have a wee bit of apprehension about going to sleep… which I need to get over because I have another full day of painting ahead of me.


Well, that’s it for now…off to bed I go.

Yours truly,

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (or in this case: Ms.)


Seven Things About Me Award

I was nominated by bookpeeps  for the Seven Things About Me Award. (Thank you BookPeeps!) please be sure to check out her blog.  Because I enjoy her blog as well as spreading the news about other terrific bloggers. I would like to nominate the following bloggers for the Seven Things About Me Award as follows:


Do you enjoy reading blogs by people who are brilliant writers (to which I am not)? If so, then check out these fantastic bloggers:


Do you enjoy a good laugh, snark and sarcasm by an amazingly creative and talented decorator/DIY-er? Well then please check out:


He hasn’t blogged in a long time but my aspiring writer friend Kenny (a.k.a Wheeza) has a blog:

(I’m hoping sending traffic to his blog will inspire him to write again.)


Although, she has taken a break from blogging, I find myself turning to this spectacular woman when I need inspiration or advice on all things vegan and/or green living.  Allow me to introduce you to:


Because Somer “liked” my recipe for Vegan Polenta Seitan Casserole, I am now following her collaborative informative blog called:


And lastly,  allow me to introduce you to the woman who was not only the inspiration for my blog, but is also a writer, (published a fantastic book entitled: In spite of Everything: A Memoir, by Susan Gregory Thomas Random House July 2011).


And now for the Seven Things About Me:

1.)   For the past two years I have been a vegan (former vegetarian).

2.)    I am an animal rights volunteer/activist (and the property of five fury felines).

3.)    Seven years ago, I made a promise and commitment to myself to get back into ballet and I have been faithfully attending classes ever since.

4.)    I believe in a power greater than myself.

5.)    I learned to forgive and to not respond or react to hateful people.

6.)    December 2004 I quit my corporate job to attend culinary school with a focus on pastry arts.

7.)    I like to pursue things that interest me. You only get to go around this ride called life once, so you might as well get the most out of it.


In closing, here are the rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Tell everyone seven things about yourself.
  3. Choose other blogs that you think deserve the award, and post a comment on their blog to let them know they have been nominated.

Thanks you again, BookPeeps!  🙂