Friday, June 26, 2020

Introducing Shaggy Chunko!!

Shaggy Chunko!

A couple months ago, we adopted a new dog! If you follow me on Instagram, I'm sure you're already up to date on #shaggychunko - but I thought this newest family member deserved a post all of his own here on the blog.

We got Mr. Chunko just about a month after Stevie died... and honestly we weren't really planning on another dog. We thought we would let our whole pack move to the Great Beyond and then we would have time for travel and global adventures. Then Covid came along and it was immediately clear that we wouldn't be traveling anywhere for quite some time. 


Also, our little old Snoopy was SO sad and SO lost without Stevie and Dottie. He is 17, and has quite a bit of dementia. His disposition is still 100% joy, but he can quickly become disoriented and not know what's going on or where he is. He really relied on Stevie and Dottie and orbited around them. We knew that, but it was extra sad to see him on his own. 

The first few days after Shaggy Chunks came home were a little unsteady, but now these two are always next to one another - it's SO sweet and Snoopy is so much happier.  Shaggy Chunko is a born snuggler and insists on being near Snoopy. It's so adorable.

Every single Morning

We got Chunko from a listing on Nextdoor. For the last 18 months or so, he had belonged to an elderly couple with a lot of medical problems, and they had both recently passed away (within 10 days of one another). Their daughter was looking for a home for Shaggy. We met them at the park - with face masks and proper social distancing of course! - and lo and behold, we came home with a new dog! From the picture online, I thought Shaggy Chunko was going to be bit bigger and more athletic... but no. He is actually shorter than Snoopy (whose new nickname is Silky Svelte-o), and built like a little tank, and is extremely UNathletic! ha ha. When he "runs" his whole body weeble-wobbles around. Mr. VE&T pretty much took one look at this silly little guy and fell in love. 

We've learned some things about Shaggy Chunko:

- he is EXTREMELY snuggly and is particularly obsessed with me.
- he is 10 years old, not 7 years old
- he really hadn't been walked at all and was very overweight and totally out of shape
- he's really smart, but totally untrained
- we are at least his fourth home in his life... he came from the central valley, where he had already been adopted once, then was brought to the shelter here, where he was adopted from the people before us
- he had to have a big dental surgery and get 3 teeth out and 2 root canals. Poor guy - but he is a lot happier now
- we also learned that he had been de-barked (so barbaric!) somewhere along the line, and that he has scarring in his airway. This may require follow-up at some point. 

he is shaped like a cylindrical little pig, but has a pointy little snout.

Unfortunately our little Mr. Chunko recently injured his knee on a very low-intensity dog walk, and it isn't getting better quickly. We're still waiting to find out if he needs surgery. Oh dear. We were hoping for a break from high-maintenance pet ownership after shepherding Stevie and Dottie through their end-of-life experiences.  But, of course, Mr. Chunks will get whatever he needs. Most of all we want him to be healthy and happy as soon as possible. 

Straight up Chillin'

Shaggy Chunko is dozing on my lap as I type up this post. He is SUCH a sweet little being. Gentle and pensive... but with a dose of terrier SPUNK that is still emerging. I think the situation he came from before us was not ideal, and after about 2 months with us, he is still unwinding into this new environment. After having all our other pets for SO many years and knowing them each so deeply and intimately, Shaggy Chunko still feels like someone we are getting to know. I can't wait!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Vegan Shoe Review: Jambu Caymen Sandals

Hello Friends!

Gentle Readers, I had big plans for monthly posts full of good stuff - food and fun and adventures... and then You Know What happened. Right after my last post, I received a lovely pair of spring sandals from Jambu Footwear to review and share on my blog. We were planning our annual trip down to Palm Springs to watch the tennis... and I thought - "I will save them and get some cute pictures in the desert with my sandals on!" But then the tournament got cancelled, and our trip got cancelled, and life was turned upside down. Honestly, it just didn't feel right to write about shoes. 

But we are all adapting and life goes on and yesterday was Mr. VE&T's birthday. So, I decided to put on my cute jumper and my cute blue Caymen Sandals and have a day of it! Two of our friends came over and we had a long-distance "stay apart" (opposite of a "get together"). We sat far apart in the driveway and had Aperol Spritzes in carefully-sanitized glasses. It was SO fun to be together and feel safe, to see their faces, to laugh and connect. Instead of pictures of me feeling stylish in Palm Springs, you get pictures of me feeling stylish in the driveway. Ha ha. 

Caymen Sandals, in Indigo

Jambu has a lot of cute spring vegan shoes for women this year, but I chose the Caymen Sandals to review because I didn't have any shoes like this in my life! They have an ankle strap, but actually it's a really an easy velcro that just looks like a buckle. I'm definitely a fan of easy on-off. I also I really like the coir styling around the base of the shoe... so summery and reminiscent of espadrilles. They come in indigo (blue), blush (a pale pink/ivory), and black. I ordered size 9 and found them to be true to size. 

They have a memory foam sole that is smooshy and comfy, but they aren't designed with massive arch support in mind. 

Our Front Yard... can you see Footie in the Window? 

I'm definitely looking forward to wearing these sandals all summer long. These are fashion, fun, kickin' around and feelin'-styley shoes... not hiking sandals! That's actually what I really love about them. So many of the sandals I have are extremely functional and not extremely cute. They're great for long walks or day hikes... but feel too clunky when I want to wear a skirt or just feel a little less sporty. These Caymen sandals feel simple and feminine and will go great with skirts and summery dresses - even if Mr. VE&T and Footie are the only ones who see me!

After our friends took off, I went to check on my veggie garden. Mr VE&T got this cute picture when one of our neighbors called out and said hello. I'm grateful for these little interactions! It was fun to go my garden chores in my pretty sandals - added a little emotional perk. Maybe I should dress up a little more often during all this shelter in place! (except that my cute jumpsuit was quickly covered in white footie furs after he cuddled with me --> less fancy. ha ha) 

Just for a couple more days!

Maybe you need some summer sandals to spice up your driveway time this summer? 

Use the coupon code VEGANEATS to get 20% off any shoes at - good through Thursday April 30th. Just a reminder that Jambu has lots of cute vegan shoes and vegan sandals, but not all their shoes are vegan. So many sure you're in the vegan section of the site before you start shopping! 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Stevie Wonder: A Very Good Dog

World's Best Dog

This week we said goodbye to one of our most special friends, Miss Stevie Wonder. We had Stevie in our lives for 15 years... almost to the day. She was about 16 years old and died of the effects of cancer and old age. 

It's hard to put into words just how wonderful and special our Stevie was... She was a gentle and pensive spirit, she thrived on connection, and was a true friend. 

Most of all, Stevie was PERFECT. She was a perfect spirit. She had perfect little button ears, perfect black paws, a perfectly shaped dome head, perfect and sturdy little legs, perfect athletic agility, a perfect hairless little "pig belly," a beautiful and elegant perfect tail, perfect brown eyes, her perfect feathery Farrah Fawcett hair, perfect lady-like proportions, and a perfect heart full of all the complexities of a living being - love, fear, oddities, confidence, and mystery. Somehow, she was a surprisingly complex being, and knowing her felt rich and layered and meaningful. 

There is a yoga teaching that says "You're perfect the way you are. And also there is always work to be done." Whenever I would hear this teaching I would think "I am obviously not perfect, this doesn't apply to me." But when I really learned to love Stevie, I saw that she WAS perfect - even if she growled at other dogs and was an absolute weirdo... maybe even BECAUSE she of those things? It helped me think about myself and my quirks/"flaws" in a new way.

Stevie preferred quiet little pets, "tiny pets" as we called them: cheek scritches, ear rubs, and especially tiny armpit rubs. Her little armpits didn't have any hair, and she loved to roll over on her back and lift up her arm "PET MY PITS." You couldn't be rough or sudden with her, so she taught us to find a quiet place in ourselves. 

The very first night we brought Stevie home. 
Her eye was shaved because of a small surgery she had on her eyelid.

We adopted our Stevie from the ARF group in Walnut Creek. We drove up that day, determined to come home with a dog, ANY DOG, but we had no idea just how lucky we were.

The Stevie we met was extremely fearful. She was panting a lot, but mostly it was because she was anxious and unsure. She was afraid of the car, afraid of leashes, afraid of lots of men, afraid of people with hats, afraid of being hit...

But over the months and years, Stevie grew into herself. She became the quiet and undisputed alphadog of our pack. She knew what she liked, and what she didn't like and she wasn't afraid to stand up for herself. She didn't particularly like other dogs, and was sure to let them know immediately, with a sharp growl and snarl of the teeth. Ha ha. We were always having to apologize to other dog owners "Sorry! It doesn't get any worse than that! Shes's just a grump!"

Young Stevie

- Stevie's fuzzy, reddish puppy undercoat. She looked so different back then. I think she must have been 11-12 months old when we got her.

- When we adopted Dottie, Dottie showed Stevie how to shred up stuffed toys. Before that, Stevie didn't really understand how to be a rowdy young pup. But, she embraced this new idea with great joy, and there was a long phase wherein we lived with polyester stuffing all over the house. Ha ha.

- Can you see Stevie's beautiful perfect tongue, and the two black half-moon shapes on her tongue? She used to love to run and run and run and run and run and run and then lie down in the cool grass and unfurl her huge tongue to catch her breath. She looks so happy in this picture. 

Stevie at the Beach

Stevie was such an agile and elegant athlete. She was a creature of the natural world and nothing brought her more to life than her off-leash time in nature. Around the house, she would sometimes just look sorta glum and mopey... like an existentialist contemplating the meaninglessness of it all... But as soon as she hit the trail, or the beach, or the forest - her whole spirit would transform. She would run and chase and dig and sniff and wade and explore with confidence and vitality. It was so beautiful. 

Our Stevie always loved to be reassured that she was very good and very loved... she kinda had low self-esteem. She LOVED her own name, she loved being told what a good girl she was, she loved rousing affirmative good-girl snuggles, and even when she went deaf, we had a special hand sign for "Good Girl" - which made her wag her tail EVERY TIME until the day she died. We called this "puffing her up." Sometimes, on a walk, she'd check in for a sec, just to get "puffed up" and we'd razzle her fur and douse her in lots of praise and she'd start to rev up and get all overjoyed and then she'd run off again - all puffed up and recharged for more fun. 

"Go Swimming!"

Stevie loved a good wading session... not much a fan of the full-body swim, she loved to get her naked tummy and her naked armpits wet, just enough to cool down. On our many, many, many walks through the forest, we would reach a spot with good access to the creek and say "Gooooooo Swimming!" and she and Dottie would tear down the hillside and into the water. Dottie usually just gingerly stood there and drank and little water, but Stevie would leap in and have a soak.

It makes me so happy to remember the joy and energy she experienced on these walks. Of all the wonderful adventures and walks we shared every day for 15 years, the forest was her absolute favorite. 

A Head-Out-The-Window Dog

Stevie always loved to feel the breeze in her hair. She never enjoyed long drives, but she LOVED a short drive to the park or the woods...  her head would pop out the window almost immediately. It was so fun to sit in the passenger seat, look in the side mirror, and see her contented little face, squinting into the air. 

She valued calm and peace and safety, and was a natural protector. She almost always slept by the front door, by the back gate, by the door to my yoga room - taking her self-appointed job as our guardian very seriously. One time the FedEx man came in our back gate with a package (WTF?!), and I heard all this barking... I went to the backyard, only to find little 28-pound Stevie had him pinned up against the gate with terror. I apologized to him, but afterwards I praised her effusively. 

All that said, although she preferred calm, she was also a joyful part of the absolute chaos whenever someone rang the doorbell ( FREAK OUT!), when we left for a walk, when we were doing tricks and training time, or when all the dogs would start to howl and sing together. I love about her that she had a distinct comfort zone, but also found ways to enjoy an emotional range outside of that. 

She loved learning tricks, loved treats, loved being praised, and was easy to train. When we first got her, we had a really exceptional trainer, whom Stevie immediately loved. We learned so many good tricks from that trainer, which held us in good stead for all those years. Doing tricks together always made Stevie so happy - she loved the attention, and she loved the routine of it all. Her favorite tricks were probably good ol "sit, down, shake"... but she was a very cute and proficient high-fiver too. 

More than anything, Stevie was a sweet and loving being. To be loved by her felt like an achievement - like you had been awarded a valued status. She was wary, until she loved you, and then she was a loyal and lifelong friend. She remembered people she loved, even if she had not seen them for a very long time. She was deep like a river, and it felt good to shower her in love. She just soaked it up. She loved being in bed with the whole pack...  in the mornings she loved to sleep in all the way until breakfast time, and she loved a soft pillow under her beautiful head. 

Life will be different for us without this special beauty, but boy do we feel lucky that we accidentally brought home a dog who turned out to be such a marvelous and special friend. Onward, sweet perfect Stevie Weevie... 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

January Round-Up: Simple Home Cookin

January was a quiet month around here, which was really wonderful. I started the month with a big and special teaching commitment... and then I had a relatively light load for the rest of the month. It was so nice after all the hub-bub of the holidays, and especially after Dottie's sudden death, to finally have a chance to lay low, cook lots of healthy meals, and watch some extra Netflix. Y'know. 


Lately, my very favorite cookbook is Power Plates, by Gena Hamshaw 

I have been cooking from it so often, and we've had so many great meals from it. All her recipes are balanced, nutritious, and well-seasoned... satisfying both emotionally and physically. They almost all have protein, veggies, grains, greens... all the good stuff you want in a perfect meal. I already have a long list of favorites, but I've been challenging myself to make more recipes that I haven't tried yet.
Here are a few we tried recently:
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lentils
Tofu Migas (with greens on the side)
Stuffed Bell Peppers

That Roasted Cauliflower Salad sounds like the kind of thing where you'd be hungry 20 minutes later, but with the lentils and the dressing, it's heartier than you'd think. I had a huge cauliflower, so I doubled the dressing - No Regerts! 

Also the Stuffed Peppers were great! I have another recipe from Vegan Diner that I usually use, but I loved this variation. Even Mr. VE&T who doesn't like tempeh (sad face) really loved these. They were easy to make, packed with nutrition, and then we had them for dinner two nights in a row, plus a couple lunches. Yes! 

Roasted Veggies with Spiced Tahini Sauce with Yogurt and Sumac
from Whole Food Cooking Every Day by Amy Chaplin

Whole Food Cooking Every Day by Amy Chaplin is the other book I've been loving and using a lot lately. It was an xmas gift from Mr VE&T and it's full of innovative ideas, interesting flavor combinations, and daring spices. It's not 100% vegan, but mostly vegan, and it's just so fun to have a book that feels really creative and new to me. It's not the easiest book for beginners, but is a really fun book for a confident and creative home cook. I really love having a recipe to follow and just being "told what to do," and this book challenges me a bit by giving me direction (like a great sauce recipe, and some ideas - but not specific recipes - on how to use it). 

We've had several great meals from this book and I look forward to using it more!

Fruit Tree Care!

One of the great xmas prezzies that I got from my auntie this year was the gift of her knowledgable time to help me take care of our fruit trees! First we spent a long time pruning our beloved apple tree (a big project) and then we moved on to my insanely overgrown lime tree. My aunt is a properly skilled and educated gardener (I am not!) so her help really means a lot to me. We pruned the lime tree WAY back and collected SO MANY LIMES in the process. I gave two huge boxes of limes to one of my students who owns a restaurant, and brought some to my trainer, and brought the last box to my class. Plus, the tree is still full of more limes! 

While we were at it, we did some nice gentle pruning on the orange trees and I picked lot of oranges. We've been having fresh OJ with breakfast, and have lots more oranges that are still ripening on the trees. 

I love my fruit trees so much and I appreciate all the deliciousness they share with us, so it felt really good to give them some TLC.

lovin' up the cozy crew

And of course there's been lots of love and cuddles and quiet times with our sweet little fur gang! 
As you would expect!