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My name is Valerie. I am currently a grad student in Communication Studies (interested in art institutions and the internet) who thrives in a realm of yummy smells, instant and speedy wifi, and the artists, designers and thinkers who make everything worthwhile. Welcome to my website.

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10 September 2008 @ 11pm

exercise, recipes, veganism

Settling in

Posts have been scarce lately what with my camera lens being broken, settling into my new apartment, and beginning graduate school after having taken a year off.  I can feel my brain getting into gear again (all of that dust being blown off from the areas that weren’t being used for travelling and working) and starting into heavy theory and interpretation – it is refreshing, but overwhelming.  I have cut myself off from TV to completely immerse myself in reading.  Not just for school, but for fun as well – I am inspired by Matt Web over at Interconnected to write monthly posts with all of the books I have read, both fiction and non-fiction.  In the meantime, I keep track of them over at Goodreads.

Aside from the stress of adjusting to studies, the experience of living in Montreal has been lovely.  I have a vegan roommate who is just as passionate about animals and good food as I, and we happen to be very compatible personality-wise.  It is the kind of luck that I seem to keep having, to have found her on craigslist looking for a roommate at the same time as I move to the new city.  I met her only once before moving in, but knew right away that it would be a good fit.

I have a very large bedroom that I have divided in half with a generic IKEA bookshelf to make a separate office and sleeping spaces.  Everything is close by, including a large grocery store and excellent health food store.  It takes me only 15-20 minutes on one bus to get to school, and I just found out that there is a YMCA 15 minutes away by foot that has a really cheap monthly rate for students.  In short: everything is excellent, and it all feels right.  J and I are commuting each weekend, so I spend every other weekend in Ottawa – but so far this has been fine, and has allowed me to concentrate fully on school without cute J or Benjamin-style distractions.

Before I left for Montreal, though, J and I managed to buy some used furniture to renovate our apartment.  We have enough space for a dining room and living room.

Here are J and Benjamin lounging in our new living room:

our new living room

Benjamin loves the new (well, used) papasan chair:


Benjamin enjoys the new papasan chair

And I am loving our new dining table, that seats 6-8 people if we have all of the chairs to do it (a little messy here, but you get the idea):

the new kitchen/dining room!

Here I am showing off my new shirt from Herbivore:


No pictures of the Montreal digs yet because of my camera. But now that our fantastic Montreal kitchen is set up (newly renovated before we moved in!) and I have all of the essentials – spatula, colourful mixing bowls, pantry items such as quinoa and couscous – I have of course started to get busy in the kitchen.

This is important readers, I have stumbled across a FANTASTIC recipe you should all go into your kitchen and make. Right now.  OK, well if you peruse the culinary vegan blogosphere at all you probably already know about it.  Veganyumyum’s Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta.  Cashews, tomatoes, etc. So easy and so delicious!  You can whip this up in practically 10 minutes and it tastes absolutely divine.

Today I also had a super healthy day in the kitchen.  I went for a 20 minute run (well, it’s a start) then came back and had a spinach-strawberry-banana-blueberry green smoothie with small amounts of wheat germ and ground flax seed.  Then for lunch, I whipped up the Chickpea and Quinoa Pilaf from Veganomicon, which was surprisingly delicious and also very easy to make; I am really loving these fast and simple recipes that have so much flavour packed into them.  I will definitely make a double batch of this next time.  Beside the pilaf I had a spinach salad with tomato and orange pepper.  I had forgotten how tasty orange pepper can be, and a very different taste from red pepper.  I also picked up some brussel sprouts, which I have never cooked with before – since I had the inspiration to try roasting them in the oven; rumoured to give them the best flavour.  We’ll see if I can tackle that tomorrow.

Oh, and I am trying to get as many dark greens into everything that I can, throwing kale or other nutritional giants into things like stir fries and soups… but I discovered the best way to lightly cook dark greens on their own.  Sautee some onions in a pan with a bit of olive oil, throw on some garlic, put the greens on top to steam and very lightly cook them until they are bright green and not completely soft – then take them off the heat and mix in a bit of tamari sauce.  Then eat!  I loved eating collard greens done this way, and I am going to try to do the same with the swiss chard in the fridge.

When I get my camera lens fixed I will hopefully have some pictures for you!  Until then I will not be posting as often since I will be buried in a pile of books; but I am not giving up and will try my best to update.

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