Easy Curry Tofu Hot Pots

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It has been awhile since I’ve posted a recipe on the blog. I guess I needed a break from Vegan MOFO, where I posted a whopping 14 recipes, that is almost a new recipe every other day! And there is the holidays where I get a little scared of breaking out the new recipes and try to stick with the classics. And I really haven’t been feeling like cooking as of late. I think my new house set up seems like such a bigger commitment to either be in the kitchen or be on the computer. In the old apartment the computer was so close to the kitchen I could hear if something would overflow and hear timers, etc. Now the computer is on the second floor, and I just get anxious that something bad would happen.

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But before I talk about this hot pot, can I stop and talk about mourning someone who died awhile ago? Last night I noticed that my husband has been really preoccupied, and more stressed than normal. Sure work might of been really crazy, but something seemed different. Turned out he found out one of the girls he dated in high school died, but it happened several months ago and he was just finding out.

I know this can suck, and can happen often in smaller town. It has happened to me, with my friend Pete. We were friends senior year of high school and he wanted to hang out during our breaks during college, but I was sadly in another state and couldn’t hang out. I made some comment about his brother with Alexa, then proceeded to ask about Pete. She was dumbfounded and told me he past away, like 2 years ago. Nobody mentioned it to me because everyone thought someone else told me.

It was weird, because I couldn’t really talk to many people about it, because everyone already knew for such a long time. They had already passed the different grieving phases, so I was kind-of left alone with my feelings. I felt terrible for not being able to go to the funeral, not being able to hang out when we could of, and I felt bad for his brother, who under the circumstances of the death, felt responsible. Where do you turn? Luckily I could talk to Alexa about it, and I had a friend in my area who actually went to college with Pete, and also thought I knew about the death. So it we talked about awesome he was.

For my husband this girl got his by a car while running, so maybe it hit him on a closer level since we both go running. So now I am a little nervous what my next run will do to his nerves. But it is bound to happen. I don’t know, it is such a weird feeling about finding out someone passed away so long after it happened, it can feel embarrassing and isolating on top of all the feeling you get from mourning.

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But this post is about soup, so we will change the topic. This curry hot pot is one of my favorite weeknight dinners. It is super simple to make, and probably only need 10 minutes of prep time. Just chop, add broth, and boil. No sautéing, or prepping the protein. And even better, it is super easy to customize! That can be great when your partner doesn’t totally jive with your palette. In this case it is my husband not wanting his soup as spicy as mine. And if they don’t want tofu, it is easy to sauté some meat or faux meat for them. One wants a gluten-free diet? Use some other noodle (I’ve tried bean noodles, it is bitchin)

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It is worth noting the star of this recipe are individual hot pots. It was something I never bought because I thought it was silly and maybe a waste of money. It went on a wishlist for our wedding, and my sister and brother in law bought them for us. I mean it is an expensive item- $36 a pot, and you need to buy TWO for a couple. But I can safely say this is the greatest thing for two people living with each other. It is nice to have our own bowls for own meals. I’ve already posted recipes for dolsot bibimbap and mushroom hot pots with these pots. Again, this made it so I could have my super spicy bibimbap, while my husband could have his whimpy version. If you in a serious relationship and living with your significant other, I totally recommend buying them. You get the satisfaction of making what you want but sharing a similar experience.

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Keeping with the idea of customizing, this recipe is super flexible. I posted what I made in these photos, but I’ve switched around the ingredients. I’ve made this with seitan sausage instead of tofu, grilling the seitan and adding it in with the ramen. I switched noodles, switched the veggies (using sautéd onions, raw celery, potatoes, etc), this is a forgiving recipe. If you are thinking of different veggies to use, I usually use winter vegetables that last long in the fridge. Celery, radish, root veggies, cabbage, nappa, green onions, carrots, heck try out some beets. Go crazy. That is what I love about hot pots. Super simple stuff here. 

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If you are wondering where to get vegan ramen there are a few places. Some of the style of mainstream American ramen (oriental and chili) are vegan, and you can just toss the flavor packets. But that seems a little wasteful, but easy to find at your local supermarket. There is an organic all vegan ramen line called Koyo Natural Foods. They sell organic ramen noodles that are plain and have no flavoring. They also sell packets with powders, but I think my hot pot packs more flavor. Your next bet is to check out an Asian Market and look down their aisles. Look under the noodles aisle, ramen package aisle, and refrigerated sections. Read ingredients as egg can be a common ingredient in some of the fresh noodles. I found a package of noodles that came in round dried blocks, and came in one bag. So it saved money and packaging. Once you find a ramen source, you will likely go nuts for it. Continue reading

My Vegan Restaurant: VLife

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VLife

348 7th Ave (29th&30th) New York City, NY 10001
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New York City is known for it’s large selection of vegan restaurants. Even if you aren’t eating at an exclusively vegan place, many tend to have a vegan option. The only downside is that New York City, particularly Manhattan, can be very expensive. Sure you could go to Chipotle, but that wouldn’t be an exclusively New York or vegan experience. When Jon and I went into New York to celebrate Alexa’s birthday we wanted a cheap place to eat since we know we would be spending more than normal on drinks and karaoke. VLife filled that gap.

Oh boy are you guys ready for some great photos?! Well too bad. These were taken with my cellphone because I didn’t want to lug around an expensive camera while at a bar (we went to Ginger Man, which has a killer vegan black bean soup) I already get nervous with my wallet and cellphone! Sadly, it was night time so you aren’t getting the greatest shot of the entrance, and we were a little intoxicated by the time we stopped in so I didn’t have the will power to stop and take a good photo before eating.  That being said, enjoy the review.

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Just like my review of Beyond Sushi, this is another hole in the wall sort of place (if you notice I do these a lot, as we tend to eat out mostly when out and about). There were a decent amount of seating, but the lighting and environment wasn’t the greatest. You can at least give them some points for trying. The walls are white with bright green circles, so it isn’t the worst. It seemed that there were a lot of take out orders with people picking up, and delivery people picking up orders (which BTW, looks like they use a third party service, not sure which one though.)

If you aren’t aware of the location of the place, it is on Manhattan island close to Penn Station. So if you are going to Madison Square Garden or just getting off/to the train this is a quick place to go. Other areas you will be walking distance of (like 10-15 min walk) would be K-town, Bryant Park, New York Public Library, Garment District, Empire State Building, and Times Square. If I was instructing a vegan who is heading into New York via bus or train arrive in Penn Station, I might suggest heading here first to grab a bite, then heading up north on the island to Central Park, Saint Patricks Cathedral, Rockefeller Center and all that fancy shit- but then again I don’t know what tourists do in NYC.

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We were pretty hungry when we headed in, so we ordered fast. Jon got the Bodacious Burger, which is a soy based burger. The patty was pretty good, and super juicy which I don’t get often in a vegan burger. The burger came with a side dressing/sauce to spread on the bun. But the burger was juicy enough on it’s own that we saved the sauce for the fries, which is ordered separately from the burger. We picked their cajun french fries (which doesn’t seem to be on their online menu) with their mild chipotle chili sauce. The fries were very yummy, and my husband LOVED the sauce. Personally I found it a bit too sweet, but still a fun way to switch it up from ketchup.

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I just came back from my trip from Florida (and had so many salads) where my Aunt made everyone authentic po’ boys. Naturally I couldn’t eat the shrimp, so when I saw it on the menu, I figured I had to get it. It was a little disappointing. This is my first time having fake shrimp, and they were actually close to the real thing. Sadly there were some problems with the authenticity of a po’ boy. The shrimp was simply too big (they probably should of just chopped the faux shrimp) and the batter seemed to have a hard time sticking on the shrimp. I guess I shouldn’t of expected so much from a regional food. But if you look past that, the sandwich was pretty good.

What I like about this place is the price point and location. This is a great lunch stop for most NYC tourists. The prices are cheap for the city, leaving Jon with a $7 burger, and me with a $9 sandwich, and fries that were an undetermined amount (it could of been $2 to add to my sandwich, or around $4 as a side, I don’t have the bill with me right now.) The Happy Cow got a lot of mixed reviews on their site and I can see why. I would probably give the place a 3 out of 5 stars, but might come back for more. Most everything is mock meats on the menu which can rub people the wrong way, but I rarely cook with them so they are usually a treat for me. 

Ani’s Raw Food Asia Review

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When I first went vegan I did it mostly for health related reasons. In the middle of it all I started to get sucked into the raw lifestyle. I slowly branched away from it, but I am still always interested in eating more raw food. I decided to try and eat more raw lunches and decided to use some of the recipes from Ani’s Raw Food Asia cookbook. I love Ani’s simple and easy recipes, making it quick and easy to prep a lunch.

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The pictures are pretty true to what the food looks like, which I really like. Nothing drives me more bonkers than seeing a photo that will never match my recipe. Ani’s food does look inspiring to make, but there aren’t that many photos of the food themselves. The photos in the book are actually more about the sights and people that are in Asia. There are photos of Ani preparing recipes, and posing at markets. I would say this is annoying in a cookbook, but honestly, I like it. I find it relaxing and I like flipping through the book to just look at the photos. And let’s be real, do I need a photo for all these salads? Answer- no.

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Unlike most modern cookbooks, Ani’s organization is a little all over the place. This might be a smart move. It isn’t often do that people sit down and read all of a cookbook. So Ani takes advantage of how people read a cookbook, by flipping through recipes, and gives information and facts throughout the recipes. Most of her tips are mostly about keeping up health, mentally, physically, and living an eco-friendly life. Before doing this review, I’ve read most of the note she has written, which I normally don’t do.

What does drive me nuts about this style is that certain recipes are scattered all over. I would of liked to have the sauces and pastes all grouped together rather than all over the place. If I just want to make that sauce, it is easier to find in a chapter devoted to sauces, rather than tucked away under the “rice” section. It isn’t a huge problem though. Otherwise, like any other cookbook there is an introduction, recipes divided up by types, suggested menus, then some more closing remarks about living a healthy life. 

Writing

Ani’s writing is always easy, but sometimes a little too dumbed down. It is a little frustrating to read some poorly worded information, that ends up being false. I might know what Ani is trying to say, but it the wording makes the information easily misinterpreted. For example she talks about buckwheat and writes “buckwheat is a seed, not a wheat, so it’s gluten-free.” Yes buckwheat is gluten-free, and yes, it isn’t related to wheat. But “not a wheat”? That is just horrible english, and makes the definition of grains even more confusing for most people.

On the flip side there is also some great information that is very much true. I have to agree with many of suggestions she makes for living a generally healthier life. So I wouldn’t say that everything is false, but when it comes for nutritional and food specifics know that she is simplifying the information a lot.

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In general I like Ani’s super easy raw style of food. This book is probably better than her other books for starting out with a raw diet since most of the food doesn’t use a dehydrator. The dishes are pretty veggie heavy which is what I am looking for in a raw recipe. I do wish she offered up more recommendations for substitutes for recipes that use a dehydrator. She does recommend using the oven but it would of been nice is she suggested other substitutes like using a rice paper wrap instead of her dehydrated coconut wraps.

What I do like about the cookbook is that it isn’t very judgmental, particularly at the end chapter. Ani shares her experience with raw food over the years, and admits that she doesn’t eat raw all the time. Nor is she totally a vegan anymore, but is more so a pescatarian (or maybe a flexi-pesca-tarian? Basically fish is only a small fraction of her diet.) It takes a lot guts for a person to admit when their health isn’t 100% when their whole profession is built on it.

The authenticity of the recipes are a little up in the air. Ani doesn’t claim that these recipes are authentic, clearly since some of the originals involve cooking. Some of the Korean namul and kimchis are probably rather close to being authentic since she has Korean roots, and says in her book she visits family in South Korea. I think it bothers me when Ani tries to call a recipe after an specific dish, and it just isn’t even close. For example the samosas were delicious, but didn’t use potatoes, nor did it have a wrap around it. The only recipe that really made me annoyed was the “black rice pudding” which was a recipe for chia pudding. Neither are anything alike, and it really should of just been left out of the cookbook in my opinion.

Overall, I think I would recommend this book to anyone who is trying to eat more raw foods. There are some light dishes that are quick to make. I don’t think there was a recipe I wouldn’t make again (except the ‘rice,’ but that isn’t exclusively something Ani has made up, just give me normal rice please.) Sure there are some modifications people might have to make if they don’t have a dehydrator, but if you have a blender and food processor, you will be able to make most of these recipes.

If you are interested in individual reviews of recipes just click to expand the review.

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Sunday Reading 01-18-15 #57

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Hello everyone! I can report that Alexa and I doing very well and are safe from the big blizzard. We never lost any power, and personally didn’t have any flooding issues. The storm was really bad for the coastline in South Jersey, with flooding that is worse than Sandy. Hopefully the response will be faster than Sandy was. I haven’t ventured out of the house much yet, and I have a feeling the snow distribution will be weird. There are so many mini snow dunes in my development, and one car is covered in snow, while the other is pretty much untouched!

So I put together some articles I found interesting this week, and hopefully you can agree. I didn’t have a ton of articles so I am reverting to my old school way of formatting with pictures and all.

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Why I Went Vegan

There really isn’t anything earth shattering, especially for vegetarians, and vegans here. But I was really excited to read an article on a major non-vegan platform- The Kitchn. There is a series of articles being published as well, like “what do I buy now?” and “what do I eat?” sort of posts. Hopefully this gives a nice transitioning olive branch for people who are thinking about going vegan. Sometimes us vegans and write and write and write but if we keep networking with each other, there is a good chance we aren’t reaching as many non-vegans. So I find this exciting.

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Buffalo Bills Just Hired Their First Female Coach

I think I’ve linked an article before of how the cardinals hired the first ever female assistant coach, Jen Welters. She was only hired for an “internship” and isn’t working anymore. And now the Bills hired Kathryn Smith, and hopefully she will stay around longer than a summer. But even still I’ve been noticing more and more females in football advertisements outside of hot chicks and cheerleaders. There are more women in the Play 60 commercials, which is great. I know my one cousin really liked playing flag football, but surprise, her mother encouraged her to play more “female” centered sports. Football might not be the perfect sport, but I do see positions that women can excel in.

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Long Thought To Be Extinct, Bizarre Tree Frog Surfaces in India

This is really exciting news, a revival of an extinct species. This isn’t the first time, as I love the story about the kakapo (which is like a cute chubby fluffy dinosaur, in my opinion.) But what makes this story super interesting is that scientists think that they never noticed this frog because their tadpole phase could go on for years. This is another case of how we have to much to learn about animals in their natural habitat.  Which brings me to the next article…

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Danes Say Zoo Dissections Fit With Country’s “Very Honest” Parenting

The Danish get a lot of criticism about their zoos, and I do feel a little bad. Zoos put animals to sleep all the time, they just aren’t coming out about it. I do think in someways it is good for the vegan movement. The public rarely sees an animal butchered, and therefore find it disgusting. But I think if you are going to eat meat, you have to stomach it otherwise you are a little hypocritical.I also take faith that kids do listen to their hearts, and even the reporter speculates that these dissections could spark interest with kids in animal activism. I think these dissections are examples of showing that zoos are not natural places for animals, and another example of humans creating new “animal” problems.

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Consoling Voles Hint at Animal Empathy

A new study shows that animals might be empathetic. Seems a little silly, but it is hard to determine different emotions objectively. So scientists construct really weird experiments to try and prove different emotions. Feel free to read, but this experiment does involve distressing and hurting voles.


Why Are Vegetarians Annoying? (An Exploration of a Cultural Rift)

Hank Green has done a few videos about vegetarianism, and I have to give some respect to him. Sadly the comments are full of the same ol’ same ol’ “how can you tell if a person is vegan” jokes. Basically Hank Green admits, he is a little selfish for eating meat, which I totally respect. Very rarely do people come out and say this. There are tons of excuses that give me a big roll of the eyes, bacon, its for my health, it isn’t natural, blah blah blah. And Green is right in saying that we need to draw a line sometimes in the things we do. I would go out of my mind if I questioned every single item I bought in order to live a guilt-free, cruelty-free, sweat-shop-free, lifestyle. I also look at this video as a way to try and live my life less judgmentally, even if everyone else is judging me (which seems likes like a pretty conceded statement, but man reading those comments, people do judge vegans.)

Sunday Reading 01-18-15 #56

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Alexa is ready for the snow!

Hi everyone. I feel like I am failing blogging in 2016. The main two reasons is that one week I went to go visit my Grandfather in Florida. He hasn’t been in the greatest health lately, and even has been in a hospital for most of December with a bad case of clostridium difficile, which I read about in this article about feces enemas. Anyways, we booked a trip for the weekend to visit him once he got better. Let me tell you that trip was EXHAUSTING! I kid you not when I say it was non-stop socializing affair. It also was a humbling experience, I am so picky about the quality of my food but I had to take a deep breath and think about why I was there. I did NOT do any research about vegan friendly places. And I messed up. I eat out so little I forget what things are usually not vegan, like onion rings. But mistakes will be made, and I am just glad I don’t need to eat (crappy) salad again for lunch AND dinner.

All week I was trying to catch up on things from the previous weekend, and then the weekend after I went into NYC to celebrate Alexa’s birthday. It was tons of fun, except the karaoke bar that Alexa booked didn’t put in her reservation for the right day. So we had to book it to someplace different that wasn’t BYOB. Our bottles of soju got opened, and confiscated. No big deal, it was like $10. I was tipsy, and doing fine, then when we leave the guy hands me an open bottle of soju back… which was nice but I had no idea what to do with it. I was drunk enough to think chugging it would be a good idea. Uh… wrong. I quickly got super drunk, I am so glad Jon was with me because I don’t remember much from that night. And I had the worst hangover all Sunday, it even lingered into Monday morning. So let’s just say I was pretty frustrated with my very stupid decision. I should of asked that nice guy to just dump the stuff.

So I have a bunch of articles that I wanted to share over the course of several weeks. So sorry that the list is so long. But I need to break the silence on the blog. I hope everyone had a better weekend than me! I will also have some reviews on some restaurants from Disney and NYC.

Health

A cool study on the effects of ultra marathoners

Women’s health is being ignored because of fat-shaming

I have to agree with this article- don’t join a gym.

I was thinking about making an exercise post like this, but this person got it so right.

People are surprised that I am not anti-GMOs. This article kind-of breaks down why, it is hard to define GMOs.


Extreme health diets are not new. Not saying everyone doesn’t have a grain of truth to their statements, but always use your brain. There is a lot of room food various types of food in your diet.

Veganism

Gina from the Full Helping has some great tips on how to transition to a vegan lifestyle

Scientists Have Found Evidence That Fish Have Feelings Too

There is a Buddhist monk in South Korea making the most amazing looking vegan food

This is an interesting article about some of the not so great representation of veganism.

Other Stuff

If you already know that tardigrades don’t care, then you will find this article about tardigrade stealing DNA cool

I have totally forgotten to share this awesome blog post about ethical fashion by Annika.

Here are some badass women you probably didn’t hear about in 2015

This house is crazy awesome

Rolling Stones released this bizarro interview with David Bowie and William Burroughs


This video makes me so sad to see all this wasted food.

Project 365: Days 332-365

Hey guys, I’ve sort of fallen behind in December with posting my daily photos. So here are the rest of the photos of 2015. I decided to not do a photo a day for 2016, but I am hoping to start it up again in 2017. I need a little break, that’s all. Anyways, I hope everyone enjoyed this little challenge.

Day 332: Jon loves his little Giant gingerbread man. Too bad the Giants aren’t doing so hot this year, not that Jets were any better.

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Day 333: I was feeling the holiday decorations and took some photos of my festivity deers.

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Day 334: Snapping some of the sparkles on my railings.

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Day 335: Someone’s cat was walking around and I tried busting out my telephoto lens. This little cutie had some crossed eyes.

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Day 336: Tried taking some photos of some Canadian geese that were resting in the little man make ponds in my development. They apprently didn’t like my presence and flew away.

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Day 337: Still taking some photos of the plant life.

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Day 338: Target had the most sparkly wrapping paper. I thought my nieces would love it- apparently not. On Christmas day they declared it TOO sparkly. Oh well.

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Day 339: Jon went to Wordcamp (a convention for WordPress) for work, and got an extra ticket from one of his co-workers. So I was able to go on Saturday. We sat through a few lectures, then went to HipCityVeg, then to the art museum. The museum had their Christmas decorations up, and a chorus singing throughout the museum. It was pretty amazing.

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Day 340: Pine Trees.

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Day 341: Toulouse is snuggling in the bed blankets

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Day 342: Some fungi growing on tree stumps at my work

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Day 343: I didn’t notice until now how many times I took photos of these gifts. I just really like how they turned out. Sadly the light in the house wasn’t so great at capturing their sparkliness.

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Day 344: A photo for my gift guide on vegan books.

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Day 345: Oddly things are still blooming. I knew if I didn’t snap some photos I would regret it.

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Day 346: No photo this day

Day 347: This is the first year Jon and I live in a house/space big enough for our own real tree. We went with his parents and Jon cut down the tree himself.

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Day 348: Taking some photos of Rebel drinks, this one was awesome but not vegan. They have others that are, so I eventually went out to grab more.

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Day 349: Some plants are still kicking it, so I figured I would take some snaps before they all die.

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Day 350: Because December was so mild in weather- or extreme in warmth, there were still flower blooming!

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Day 351: Another angle of the same flower, kicking it the next day.

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Day 352: Took a photo of the cookies I baked to review Vegan Cookies Invade Your Jar.

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Day 353: Finally there was a sunny day so I could let lots of light in to take a semi-decent photo of our fully decorated Christmas tree.

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Day 354: Jon really likes bears. One year I made a instagram photo shoot of all the bears on our tree. Sometimes I can’t stop taking photos of them

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Day 355: Another ornament.

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Day 356: Got this cool nut cracker from my boss who was emptying out his attic. It belongs to his parents and he never put his Christmas stuff out, so I snagged them

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Day 357: Photographed this weirdo retro santa mobile I got from my boss

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Day 358: For Christmas Jon’s father built us a new bookshelf just for our cookbooks. Isn’t that sweet. We actually have extra space so we put our Christmas cards up there.

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Day 359: Got my Petit Vour box for December and I took some photos for reviews. I only have the blush paper to try out

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Day 360: No Photo for this day.

Day 361: My housing development is right next to a water treatment place? Not really sure what it is, but there are huge round towers and lots of barbed wire. It was a pretty gloomy rainy day so it seemed appropriate to get some emo barbed wire shots.

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Day 362: I found some Nitro infused coffee at Whole Foods and will be writing a review about it soon

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Day 363: More gloomy skies for gloomy shots.

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Day 364: I made some Curry Ramen Hot Pots and took photos to post the recipe on the blog.

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Day 365: No Photo for New Years Eve. Whomp whomp.

What Jen Read #4 Spring, Summer, and Fall 2015

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Boy I am horrible at keeping up with my book reviews! I don’t read much, but I always seem to take awhile to actually write my book reviews. And then when I finish the review, I’ve read yet another book to add to the site. Well, I finally completed my reviews of the rest of 2015. I am usually good about writing reviews for winter reading, so if you want to see what I read last year around this time, check out my Winter 2015 post.

As for reading, it was my goal to try and read less comics in comparison to novels and non-fiction. I kind-of failed but that is mostly because I tackled on a really long novel- 480 pages, which is a long book for me. I have always been a slow reader, and always enjoyed shorter novels and short stories instead of long epic novels. That is probably why I like modern literature over some of the classics. The overall theme this time arounds? Booze and animals.

What I am Currently Reading

Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu – I love Junji Ito’s horror comics, in fact he is the first manga I picked up to read. So I was excited to see that he wrote a comic about cats, and it is oddly suppose to be funny not scary.

We Always Lived in the Castle – I saw some blogger drop this book’s name (I can’t even remember who) so I thought yeah why not? Spooky house? Weird families? Yeah I’ll check it out of the library!

What I’ve Read

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Eating Animals

Eating Animals starts as a memoir of Jonathan Safran Foer relationship with veganism and vegetarianism. Bouncing in and out in his youth, which I can relate to. I was vegetarian in middle school, then vegan in college, but truthfully I would “treat” myself to certain non-vegan foods whenever it meant my only option would be a salad. But the book quickly turns and talks about factory farming. It is a pretty hard read for me personally since I became vegan without the horrible videos and gruesome nitty gritty details about how the meat industry worked. I honestly just had the “feels” that there wasn’t any ethical way to mass produce meat. Add in health and environmental reasons, it sealed my fate as a vegan.

The book works on many levels, memoir, poetry, and investigative journalism. Majority of the book revolves around the author visiting many different styles of farms. Factory farms, slaughter houses, and those small ethical farms. There is a thorough investigation about the smaller farms, the places that people grasp so heavily to for ethical treatment of animals. The book talks about why those farms are in jeopardy of going out business, despite having eager consumers.

What I like about this book is that it goes into the grey areas that many vegans avoid. Will people ever STOP eating animals? Probably not, at least not for awhile. So should we conserve energy to get people to stop eating meat or getting more ethical treatment for animals? Can you do both?

This book isn’t a piece of journalism. Yes there are facts, there is research, and much more. But Jonathan Safran Foer places a lot of weight and emotion into the book, which to some might be impossible not to. The books conclusions are very much his thoughts. Sure you as the reader will come to your own conclusion, I’ve know a person who read the book and has made no changes to their diet or practices with animals. Was that because the book came off too preachy? Or was he so un-judgmental that people found it easy to ignore his message? I think the ideal audience for this book is either the already vegan, or the person who is already somewhat invested in where their food comes from.

Paper Towns

I like picking up young adult fiction from time to time as an easy read. I enjoyed reading The Fault in Our Stars, and saw the trailer for the movie for Paper Towns. The trailer looked very fun and made the Paper Towns story more fun and uplifting than The Fault in Our Stars (or at least a different type of uplifting). The story follows Quentin, a teenage boy living in the burbs of Florida. He has been holding onto a crush for the girl next door, Margo. She’s popular, adventurous, and beautiful. One night she comes knocking at his window, and the two sneak out for an late night adventure. The next morning Margo goes missing, and Quentin makes it his job to find out where she went.

There are some things I loved and somethings I found annoying in the book. The slang used by Quentin and his friends sounded a little forced, and perhaps that is just to emphasis how painfully uncool the guys are. But knowing when I was a teenager, I would of found this language embarrassingly bad, and would have a hard time getting past. But there are somethings Green hit right on the head, like the social boundries falling down at the end of senior year, that new found freedom of owning a car, and friends being kind-of jerks.

As an adult there really isn’t any new profound meaning to take home, but as a teenager, I think I would of taken a lot of good advice. There is more to people that what you can see on the outside. And this largely why many people “break up” or relationships don’t work out. You might feel like your know this person you have a crush on, but there is only a certain side to our personality that we share with people. I wasn’t too fond of the ending, but I won’t go into the spoiler details. I do know that John Green addressed they did change some parts ending in the movie, which I think are for the better (I haven’t seen it yet, but I have my hunches about what it is). But it is a quick read and was still really good.

Watership Down

I saw a trailer of this movie from Criterion Collection and thought it looked cool. Added the book to my To Read list on Goodreads, and kind-of forgot about it. But I was scanning my bookshelf to pick the next book to read and saw the title! My husband took a lot of the books from his Grandmother who use to be an English teacher. The book still has the envelope in the back for students to check it in and out of the school library, which was kind-of cool.

It took a long time to read since it is much longer than what I am use to, 480 pages, when I normally read things that are 300 pages or less. I knew the book was about more than just rabbits, in the same way Babe is more than just a funny pig. I figured the book is a classic for a reason. I thought it might have a hidden “save the environment” or “respect the animals” message, and it kind-of does. The story paints a picture showing that animals can be more complex than we think. The author has done a lot of research on rabbits and their habits, so in some way we do get a great view of how an animal thinks. The book does show how humans shape animal’s lives. The rabbit’s home are destroyed by humans, they are constantly in fear of being killed by humans. But they still have some sort of understanding of our habits and will steal our produce from farms.

But this book isn’t about rabbits- it is very much about humans and the nature of war. Why do people go to war? How do we react to our homes being destroyed? What do we look for in our leaders? The story even touches about dictatorships and folklore. Many very “human” characteristics are given to rabbits but we never forget that the book is about rabbits not humans. What makes the book so brilliant is that by making the story centered around rabbits instead of humans, we as a reader can step back and think about war without any cultural constraints.

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Bee and Puppycat, Vol. 1

For my niece’s birthday I was trying to find some comics for her. I wanted to try and find some that weren’t based on super heroes. I am big fan of alternative comics, so I searched around. I randomly found Bee and Puppycat, and I loved the cartoons, so why not? I read the book before giving it to her and dubbed the books not very kid friendly. Some bits were a little confusing and the story had QR codes part of the plot. A cool thing, but I knew they would need the help of their mother. So I kept it for myself ^__~

The collection of comics are by various artists and writers so they quality changes a lot. But in some ways I like seeing the varying art styles and story lengths. What does stink is that because there are different artists working on the books there isn’t an overall theme or story arc. If I remember correctly there was even a story ending with “to be continued” but doesn’t get finished in this volume.

But I do think the stories capture the feel of the cartoon. The stories really utilize the comic medium well, which can be hard when making adaptations to an animation. It didn’t feel like they took the character from a cartoon and plopped them down on paper. I could imagine the voices of the characters and the movements that would be represented from the cartoon. I think this is a great comic for anyone who like the show, and it is fun for people who haven’t seen it as well.

Creepy Comics Volume 2: At Death’s Door

I picked up this book from my bachelorette party. Alexa wanted to check out her old comic book stomping grounds. The staffer suggested this collection since I said I liked Japanese horror manga. The book is throwback to the old Creepy anthology. The comic started in 1964 and ended in 1983. The series were black and white comics and came in magazine binding, with Uncle Creepy introducing all the stories.

The relaunch in 2007 keeps to the basics. Comics are still in black and white and the stories are still introduced by Uncle Creepy. What makes this comic collection so interesting is that there is a huge variety of artists working on the same book. Some are drawn in a very mainstream style that could be found with superhero comics while other stories have a much more indie vibe. For example Red Knife by Emily Carroll is an excellent comic with a loose narrative. Her panels weren’t always defined and the ending was open ended (but still creepy!)

The stories do truly change up a lot in artist style and subject matter. Some were very modern, some tried to give campy throwbacks, some had existential themes, some where creepy facts, and one took place in an ancient tribe. Because of this some stories were hit or miss. I think overall, the stories were pretty good, about 50% I really thought were solid stories that stood out. The stories were good enough that it makes me want to pick up another issue.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal

I originally picked up this book as a birthday gift for my niece. Both of my nieces have been reading more superheroes books and watching more shows. I am a little disappointed (and so are they) about the lack of female super heroes. So I picked up Ms Marvel. What I enjoyed about it is the representation. Ms. Marvel is Kamala Khan, a muslim girl living in Jersey City. Then she graced by the “superhero gods” who give her special super powers. She is now the new Ms. Marvel.

The book is really a coming of age tale, focusing on two struggles with Kamala. She is a muslim growing up in American, trying to find a balance between her culture and fitting in the United States. Her parents are strict, and want her to stay faithful for her heritage and religion. But Kamala is currently rebelling, wanting to go to parties and wear “normal” clothing. The second half of her struggle is trying to balance her new powers. Controlling her rubber hand can be difficult, and she isn’t always successful with her plans.

I found the story decent, but it is much more of a story for a teenage kid. I got it for my nieces that are much younger, kindergarten and 2nd grade, but I think having an adult read the story to them is fine. There were only a few refrences that might need to be censored for kids. What is nice about the book is that it can be saved for when they get a little older. When they can read it themselves, they can appreciate the message about growing up and peer pressure.

If you want more, I suggest checking out Idea Channel’s review/overview of Ms Marvel and how her representation is important for media.

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Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition

Let’s Bring Back is pretty straight forward, the author Lesley M. M. Blume shares many vintage cocktails and how to make them. The book is less about technique and types of glasses and more about looking into the old cocktail culture. She usually gives a recipe with a cute little blurb of history, or a quirky reason to have the cocktail (celebrating something? need liquid courage?) This isn’t a book you just read cover to cover, but is more about flipping the book open to a random page to read.

What makes the book weird is that it walks a fine line of expecting you to make drinks from the book, and doesn’t. Many ingredients are left with their old name swedish punsch, vichy water, and cake of ice, things that aren’t so easily googled. There also isn’t an index which can be a bummer. If I have some absinthe and are looking specifically for cocktails that use it, I would have to search through the whole book, rather than to look it up in the index.

What is nice about the book is the variety of cocktails. So many! You can try and mix and match all the various liquors you have in your house. The drinks also don’t use that much alcohol so you can drink more often. I do know I have a heavy hand with the bottle, but I do think cocktail culture today is a little too much booze. You don’t need to be hammered each time you drink, and the smaller size lets the drinker actually enjoy a cocktail. My only complaint would be that there need to be less vermouth. Goodness did people love to drink vermouth! It is pretty much the only liquor that is hard to store since it is suppose to stay in the refrigerator.

If you have a friend who is into vintage clothing, antiques, and historical novels, I would highly recommend buying them this book. The cocktails vary greatly from time periods, and gives people authentic drinks. I might consider buying this book for myself to refer to for making drinks on the fly at parties.

The Drunken Botanist

I bought this book thinking it would be great inspiration of centralized around making cocktails from fresh plants. It did inspire me with cocktails but in a different way. The book centers around the various ways that plants are used in drinks. She starts but covering the various plants that are used in the fermentation process, and all the different ways a certain plant will get used. For example she talks in detail about agave plants and the differences between mezcal and tequila. She also covers more unusual plants like sorghum, cassava, parsnip, and bananas! What I found most helpful are the fancy differences between various brandies, vermouths, and the like.

The second part of the book is about the plants used in flavoring in a liquor. Amy Stewart breaks down the chapter further by centering around specific plant types, herbs, trees, fruits, etc. This helped breakdown and decipher all the different liquors and gives the reader a better idea of what are some good replacements. As some people are aware, unlike food, booze rarely needs to list ingredients. This can be problematic for vegans and people with allergies. The last part of the book is about the plants in actual cocktails (think the mint and lime in the mojito.) This part was rushed through and I wish Stewart made it longer. She leaves the last chapter a quick “inspiration” on how to incorporate plants into a cocktail, rather than give examples of cocktails that use specific plants (though specific cocktails occasionally sprinkled throughout the book.)

I personally loved The Drunken Botonist, it really gave me some inspiration to try new liquors. I learned the history and the importance of some of the drinks that might not be so popular today. But mostly the book makes you revel in the awesomeness that are plants. So many flavors, so many ways we found to highlight their flavors. Vermouth, brandy, wine, all made from grapes but they all taste remarkably different.

I checked this book out from my library and it is definitely on my list of books to add to my library. I can easily see myself taking this book out over and over again reading inserts from it. I am sure there are more definitive books about the topic, but this one is an easy read.

New Year Resolutions for 2016

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Happy New Year everyone! I love January since it gives a nice resting period after the crazy holiday season. Once all the hustle and bustle of December is done, it gives you a chance to reflect and set new goals. I know a lot of people dislike the idea of a New Year Resolution, and I usually agree with those ideas. I mean if you need a change in life, why wait until January? Some of the things I want to work on I’ve already started in December, but I now have the time to focus on them.

But I always like seeing blogger reflect over the year, and making solid lists of goals. I especially like it when they make a list and write about what they did and didn’t get done. With that in mind, I will copy and paste my goals from 2015 and write if I was successfull or not.

Drink Less Booze – Hmm… I think I failed this one. I am pretty sure I drank more booze than I did last year, BUT I did change one important thing- I am drinking less beer because I’m bored. I think the year before I was drinking it too often before dinner when my husband was working late. I didn’t like that. It felt like I was hiding beer bottles because I felt bad that I was drinking more than him. Now it doesn’t quite feel that way, but I am still drinking on a fairly daily basis. It won’t last… but I won’t go into that just yet.

Run and Workout More Often – So this was also a kind-of fail. I was doing pretty good for awhile, but then when I moved I messed up my foot, putting the whole exercise thing on the back burner for awhile. Pretty much this is a repeat goal for this year.

Kick the Coffee Habit – Yey! Something I accomplished! I still probably drink more coffee than what I pictured when I first set the goal, but I don’t feel the NEED to drink it like I did last year. I drink often, but I don’t noticed when I don’t drink it, which was what I was hoping for. I think a lot of the reason is that I stopped drinking the beans from Starbucks. I swear they add caffeine to their coffee.

Read 16 Books (with less comics) – I set a challenge on Goodreads for 28 books (16 books + 12 cookbooks) and I failed. I read a total of 17 books, 6 comic books, 3 cookbooks, 2 food-humor, 3 non-fiction, and 3 novels. You can see the summary on Goodreads.

Have a Cup of Tea Each Night – I know why I set this goal, less binge eating at night, and I think I am worse than ever. Time to reset that goal.

Pay More Attention to Vegan Clothes and Beauty Products – I have to say I am doing really well with this. I have gotten a lot of new lip balms that have beeswax from Christmas gifts, but some I gave away. I have been much better at checking companies and ingredients before heading out. I even like getting some of the beauty boxes, and will have a review for Petit Vour soon.

Start taking a photo a day – I didn’t REALLY get a photo a day, but I didn’t do too bad. I missed some days, and I fell of the wagon towards the end of December. But I will add the photos from last month soon, but you can see the other photos with the 365 2015 tag. Truthfully I was thinking about doing it again this year but my new place is very boring. Yeah I get lots of light, but I don’t walk around as much as I use to, and the area isn’t as dense with cool things. It feels a little devoid of life and the roads are packed with fast cars. Maybe next year.

Get Out of My Apartment – Accomplished! It is a little sad that we didn’t get a single family home and got a rowhouse in a development, but you gotta start somewhere right? I am a little sad but I am a little relieved to not have to worry about lawn maintenance… yet. We are working slowly to make our house look and feel like a home, and it is slowly growing on me. 

Goals for 2016

Work out More Often

As mentioned before, I wasn’t doing so hot with my working out in 2014, and I was doing pretty well in 2015. I was a little stressed with trying to balance my new schedule and finding a new house. Then I kind-of started to hurt my foot, and it was all down hill for the move. I just started to get back into the swing of things in December. My general goal is to work out 4-5 days a week, two days strength training, two days running, with a floater day to pick and choose a workout. 

Start Practicing Yoga and Meditating

I hear so many people saying how much meditating helps keep them grounded. I am feeling pretty overwhelmed by new home, and oddly the “calming” enviroment makes me stressed! I feel like people have new obnoxious driving methods, it takes forever to drive places, and the walk and run anymore is unpleasant. I think meditating and doing yoga will help me out. I am trying to do Yoga Camp on YouTube, and I really like the instructor. I am only on day two, and I technically started to do the challenge that was done last year, before hand. I am already starting to really enjoy it, and her methods. After yoga camp I might just do meditation, but I haven’t decided.

Stop Late Night Binge Eating

After moving I really got worse with my late night binge eating. I am not even hungry and some nights I went to bed felling like my stomach would ooze out if I felt asleep on my tummy. I don’t like feeling this way, and I am not burning calories to need all this food. I am trying hard to listen to how much I want to eat, and to not feel like I always need to snack. I am trying to drink more tea, and keep better entertained. Really focus on what we are watching, or do something else other than watch TV, play a game, color in a book, read a magazine, etc. Otherwise I am great at listening to my body during the daytime.

Read 28 Books

I set the goal last year, and I want to stick to it. I think last year was a flop in part because I tried to read a book that was almost 500 pages! Ack. I am a slow reader, so that took most of year to read. I also stopped reading and reviewing cookbooks the way I use to, so that kind-of took away from my overall numbers. So I want to get back to that.

Start trying to get pregnant

Cats out of the bag! I want to have a baby. It seems weird for me to say it since so many blogs I follow are run by people who don’t want to have kids. Sure there are some with children, and I get both ends of the spectrum. In fact I am kind-of in the middle. My husband and I decided we would start the journey of trying conceive, and I am not sure if this will be a fast or slow process, nor do I know how much I am willing to try and get pregnant. But the important thing is that we are starting the journey.

Buy a second couch

Oh such a materialistic goal. But I think it is a good one. We currently have once couch and it was donated to us from my boss, who was getting rid of some of the crap her ex-husband left. At the time our current couch had a broken foot, and I was tired of Jon trying to periodically fix it. Now that we have the space, we would like two couches because 1) we might get a third human 2) sometimes we both want to read a books in the living room 3) we both want to stretch our legs at night. 

Hike More

I want to hike around more, and I don’t have any specific goals like “hike x amount of miles” or “do a trail once a month.” I know that it needs to be somewhat organic, for example I wanted to hike on New Years Day, but it has been so rainy the past few days that I thought it would be a muddy mess. We now live a little closer to Wharton State Park so we might try longer hiking trails, and maybe travel up north more often for different trails.

Visit a new vegan restaurant with Alexa once a month

Alexa doesn’t know this one yet, but I want us to hang out more. I also want to try more restaurants. I don’t eat out often, and sometimes I feel bad for not supporting local businesses. So I want to make more road trips into New Jersey, and post them in the blog. Maybe check out a few new places in Philadelphia too. Overall I am hoping to eat out with Alexa 12 times this year… so cross our fingers.

Watch a Movie Once a Week

I’ve probably mentioned a few times on the blog that I went to college for film and digital video. My husband went to school for screenwriting. You would think that would mean we watch movies all the fucking time, but we don’t. Jon really likes watching TV Shows, which is the medium for screenwriters. I miss watching movies, and I want to take the time to watch them much more. Perhaps I will post a small review each week with Sunday Reading post, to keep me on track.

Start working towards the goal of being a Dietitian or Wellness Coach

So my Mom and Aunt mentioned I should look into becoming a dietitian, and it actually has been something that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. I’ve waffled back and forth with it just because I was a little scared of what the clientele would look like. But I am  slowly finding out that I know a lot about food and nutrition to the degree that it is starting to bother me I can apply it something. I am in the early stages of trying to figure out what type of certification I want, and it might be a process that will take 2 or 3 years, but you have to start somewhere right?

Alright guys, I hope I didn’t bore you too much. What are the goals you are aiming for this year?

Things I Learned This Christmas

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I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas or a happy holiday. I hardly consider Christmas a “christian” exclusive holiday since most of the traditions are not rooted in the birth of Christ. And there are many books and articles written about how Christmas is pretty much a bunch of pagen celebrations that no one would give up, so they tacked on the celebration of Jesus Christ part, and made it okay to celebrate.

Now that Christmas is over I have been mulling over a few things. What I want to do with my life, different aspects of veganism, health, and whatever else. And I figured I would share what I have learned this year for Christmas, then eventually my New Years Resolutions/Goals.

1 I need to clear up what vegan means

I noticed what I got for Christmas this year has shifted. Clearly people are getting me things that they thought were vegan, like my sister got me some nice beauty products from a hip brand in Brooklyn called Flynn & King. Most of their products are vegan, except the lip balm (beeswax), which my sister got me (she also got this cool soap, which is vegan). I have also gotten some foods that I think people picked up THINKING it would be vegan, but they weren’t like candy cigarettes. Which is a bit of a bummer since you just check the ingredients it would be quick to see that there is cow gelatin in it. Sadly no chocolate, which can be somewhat easy to find vegan.

So most everyone is starting to understand what vegan means, but it is the uncomfortable transition to non-food items. Leather, fur, suede, beeswax, wool, silk, alpaca, and so on. I am pretty lenient on certain things. Like I am keeping the non-vegan lip balm since I already used it, and they used locally sourced beeswax which is better than nothing. But truthfully now that I am starting to use more vegan products I am learning that beeswax is pretty shitty. 

2 My Family now remembers I am vegan, this is good and bad

I’ve been pretty much vegan for 3 years now. The first year I went back to veganism I let some things slide with family, like my Aunt bought me a special quiche since there wasn’t anything vegetarian, and I felt pretty bad for it. I was still transitioning out of seafood and eggs so I figured I would let it slide. My Grandmother was shocked that I was vegan (or vegetarian) even though I kind-of dabble in and out for a few years before. The next year, I made something, and yet again my Grandma was shocked to find out that I was vegan, even though I was a year ago. At this point I was pretty strict and got my shit together. This year, my Grandma FINALLY remembered, though my Aunt still hasn’t figured out the difference between vegan and vegetarian and I had to decline her special meal she made for me. But now everyone is assuming I am “so healthy.” Which is funny since my husband yells at me when I make some vegan mac and cheese, and how I am always craving ice cream. Health is relative, and I wish people didn’t look at my food as healthy, it isn’t. I use oil and whatever else that most people use.

The other downside is that my Father remembers that I am vegan. That means he doesn’t touch my food anymore. Ugh. I’ve tricked him into eating vegan donuts and vegan lasagna (he had no clue we was eating tofu, his mortal enemy!) Now he introduces my food as “vegan” instead of names. It is also worth noting that my Father has a very weird relationship with food. He eats like a 5 year old, and loves meat and grease. I think he is the main reason why I never liked steak (he did a poor job cooking it.) So I need to be stealthy about my food, maybe hand off to my sisters to bring into houses instead of me so my Father doesn’t know who cooked what. I get a little petty when people don’t eat my awesome food.

3 Vegan food isn’t global and therefore diverse

One thing I thought about a lot was what Jon and I do when we travel abroad. Part of me knew we could be vegan, but I was scared it would mean not being able to try some of the local foods. But over the year I have followed so many different blogs and everyone really has their own local vegan cuisine. There are so many guides on how to eat vegan in certain cities and the food looks truly unique from American food. Heck, I can noticed a different between West Coast veganism and East Coast veganism!

Even countries that I wouldn’t think that would be all that different seem to have their own flair. Like some Australia blogs pop out new recipes I’ve never heard of. There are foods I never thought was particularly American end up being so. And there are some countries that are actually naturally vegan friendly like Taiwan, which is high up on my must visit list now. I think I might make some exceptions if I was in a jam while traveling, but it seems like I could still plan ahead of time and still be pretty darn happy.

4 I really miss spontaneity

I have to admit, I miss not thinking about food all the time. Going to a party? It would be nice to never have to think about what to bring. Going out, it would be nice to just walk into a place and “try it out” rather than looking at what is vegan friendly before hand. Yes, there will always be a way to get a vegan option, but sometimes it is nice to go into a vegan restaurant and know I can try ANYTHING on the menu, and not have to ask no this, sub that, etc.

If someone would ask me what I miss most about going vegan it would be spontaneity. Never having to question your products. And I guess the end goal as a vegan would be that everything would be friendly for the animals. But that isn’t how the world works now. It stinks that I have to think out what I can eat before heading off to a restaurant, or ask a million questions before hand. Things are changing and I know it is much easier now than say 10 years ago.

5 My kids will grow up to be freaks

I was checking my social media feeds since I had the time, and found this picture on Instagram. A kid who is straight up PUMPED about chlorella tablets. I love sea greens, and I know most people don’t love spirulina. It is an acquired taste, and kids that grew up on spirulina loved it (I know my friend Devin loved them when he was a kid). And I know my kid will not be the “norm” if I choose to have one.

But then again my 5 year old niece loves shoes and still freaks out when she gets them for her birthday or Christmas. No joke, this year she opened the gift from Jon and I (these shoes by the way) and proceeded to put them on, and prance around the living room. I also use to love drinking carob soy milk, so I guess every kid will get excited about their own thing.

6 My relationship with desserts is frustrating

No, I am not talking about a fear of eating too much dessert that I will get fat. It is more complicated and annoying. I love dessert, but I need to be in the right mood, and I need the right dessert. I don’t like how most Americans make sweets so sugary. Then there is the whole vegan issue, and I have learned that vegan baking is pretty easy. But no one puts there effort, and I kind-of understand why. Lots of people just buy a pre-baked goods, there are classic family recipes, and people assume that to bake something vegan, you need special “fake” stuff. Which is mostly true.

BUT here is the problem, I like baking, I like certain sweets, but I HATE coming home with a whole cake. I made a whole bunch of cookies, probably gave away 60% of them, but now I have tons of cookies. Not too big of a deal, just send them to work with Jon. Then there is the pudding cake from Oh She Glows. It was pretty good, but no one touched it at the one family Christmas get together. So we have a full cake, and I don’t want it. I am all desserted out. So I think I come off as a “health freak” to family and friends

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7 Boxed Gingerbread Houses suck, but I knew that anyways.

My husband said he never decorated a gingerbread house before and it is kind-of of the things I grew up doing. I know Gingerbread Houses aren’t something most kids do, truthfully. At least to the extent that we did. Yes we did the graham cracker houses when we were low on time, but we have baked our own gingerbread and put together our own houses. Those are the best.

But I haven’t tried making vegan gingerbread yet, so I am a little nervous how it would turn out. So the other day I passed by a Chanukah House and laughed at how little effort was given to hide it’s “stealing” of Christmas traditions. But as I mentioned, Christmas isn’t Christian to me so I am not judging. I bought it since it looked vegan (I am not use to reading labels with so many bi-products and dye names) and we made it. 

Our house looks like shit. Yeah, super horrible. Part of the problem is the garbage frosting. It was way too thick, it wouldn’t stick to the cookie, and the bags were chunky making it impossible to pipe. How do people use these things? Plus everyone has questioned my motives of eating it, because taste isn’t the number one thing with these kits. So now I am not sure what to do with this ugly house…. I don’t even want to eat the much better tasting cake I made let alone crappy cookie. **NOTE I tried the house, it actually was pretty good for a hard biscuit cookie.

8 My Mother is horrible at buying gifts

We aren’t getting any Shamwows from my Mom, she actually is very good at buying thoughtful gifts. She is just bad at communication, and there are almost always doubles at Christmas. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we haven’t gotten duplicates. This year was pretty bad, though some of it was on our end. I got a whopping 3 double gifts! It usually works out fine, like returning the gift, or in this case, giving away the extra copy of Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen.

But here is an example of the crazy Mom gift buying escapades. My older sister was trying hard to get this creepy unicorn doll for my niece. It was apparently one of the few things she asked for Christmas. But the doll was backordered and it didn’t look like it would arrive in time for Christmas. In a panic my sister tried to buy the doll from another supplier. Both dolls arrived in time, and SURPRISE! My Mother heard my sister talk about how she was concerned about not getting the doll in time so she bought one too! It is thoughtful, and not totally her fault, but now there are three creepy unicorn dolls.

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9 My Cat is the fuzziest

As a semi gag, I put on the Lil Bub Yule Log video on Christmas morning as we were getting ready to go to my sister’s house. We had a ha ha moments then mostly ignored it. Then we noticed Toulouse started to watch. She jumped on the TV stand at one point and sniffed the TV, looked behind the TV, then eventually sat on her pillow and just watched the TV like we would. It was probably because the video had a loud purring that she must of liked, but it felt a little bit like we helped give a little Christmas gift to her.

10 How did I live so long without a tofu press?

I just got one for Christmas and it was awesome. So many wasted paper towels, and the tofu still didn’t get as pressed as using a special device. Sold!

Vegan Snack Attack #5: Rebbl

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The other day I was at Whole Foods looking for some Eggnog, they were all out. I was a little crabby because that was pretty much why I went there. So I handle it the way I always do, grab a fancy as fuck drink. I love liquids, something about slurping up a liquid really makes my tummy happy. I also am a sucker for trying out new flavors and companies. I happen to notice a matcha latte, grabbed it and went to the register.

matcha

It has been awhile since I’ve had a matcha latte since it is something I kind-of have to make at home. There aren’t many vegan matcha latte, which then prompted me to flip to read the ingredients- NOT VEGAN. I do that often when I am hungry, as it happened with Califia’s Protein Drinks (which are now vegan). Luckily it was only honey in the matcha latte, which isn’t the worst considering I still have some mixed feeling about honey consumption (I try to avoid it, but my husband doesn’t so it kind-of sneaks into my diet from time to time.) I am pretty bummed since tea drinks love using honey, and it has been proven that it doesn’t have any special effect on your blood sugar levels short term.

BUT the drink itself was amazing. If you are a “plant based” vegan and will still eat honey, I would recommend this drink. There are tons of flavors going on, and the coconut wasn’t overpowering. I loved how much you could taste of the plants in it, and reminded me of the matcha spirulina shakes I have for breakfast. Well, that wasn’t too far off since there is spirulina in the drink as well.

both2

Since it was so good I went to the Rebbl website to see if all their drinks had honey. Turns out that they only put honey in their matcha latte and turmeric golden-milk. I noticed they had some maca drinks which I haven’t had any maca in a while, and boy do I love it. I am haven’t had it in a while since of the insane prices that happened last year. So I was irresponsible and ran back to the store after work and grabbed whatever they had- maca mocha.

mocha

Let me say this is super amazing. I think I will be poor because I want to drink this all day. There is no coffee or cocoa (or not much cocoa) in the drink, which I think gives it such a great flavor. They use chicory root, which is known in the USA in the south to be mixed with coffee during rations. Carob has a reputation of being crappy fake chocolate, but I like its richer flavor, especially with savory flavors.

I am really liking these drinks and the company seems pretty awesome as well. They seem to trying and make sure all food is fair trade, and they donate 2% of the sales to Not For Sale. I hope I will be able to try their maca cold brew, reishi chocolate, and ashwagandha chai. I am bummed about the use of honey in their matcha latte and turmeric golden-milk since I liked the matcha, and the turmeric drink looks pretty tasty. I really hope they change the recipe at some point, but for now I’ll stick with that maca mocha.

*NOTE* After writing the rough draft I went to Whole Foods AGAIN and found the reishi chocolate. It was awesome as well, and pretty much satisfied any chocolate milk cravings. The drink was super decadent and would probably taste great if it was gently heated to make a hot chocolate. Although it was super awesome, it was a dynamic in flavor as the matcha or maca mocha drinks.