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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

It's Thanksgiving time again, which is my favorite of the big holidays. Giving thanks and gratitude and showing love and appreciation: we just don't do that often enough.

Elsewhere on the interwebs, not affiliated with this blog, I had been posting almost daily, up until Thanksgiving Day, what I was thankful for. Some of the posts were silly things, and some were more personal. I don't get very personal on this blog, but now that the big day is here, I want to share my final gratitude for the holiday with you here.

I am thankful for myself. I am thankful for the strength I have and the bravery I continue to find within me. I am thankful for the moments I speak up, even when my voice shakes. I am thankful for my silliness, for my goofy personality, for my heart (both the one that beats and keeps me alive and the one that reaches out to others). I am thankful for my health, which is actually pretty darn good, all things considered. I am thankful for my body, every square inch of it, and I am thankful that I finally stopped hating it this past year. I am thankful for my adaptability, my resourcefulness, and my "won't-take-no-for-an-answer"-ness. I am thankful for my creativity and talents, even though they often seem quite hidden. I am thankful for my dreams that keep me going and my constant burning desire to make them a reality. I am thankful that I finally learned to not settle for anything less than I am worth.

I have so much to be thankful for, every single day.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Still VegFestin' After We Left the Park: Ethos Vegan Kitchen & Artichoke Red Vegan C-Store

After we left Central Florida VegFest, our bladder's painfully full, we high-tailed it to nearby Ethos Vegan Kitchen to use their toilets and eat a proper dinner.

I went with the pecan-crusted eggplant with mashed potatoes with a savory herb gravy and pan-seared fresh green beans. Holy cow, this was super comforting!

The eggplant was so crispy and flavorful. The pecan crust kinda gave it a hint of breakfasty flavor, in a good way.

Amber ordered this big-ass bean burger.

Lisa ordered the flaky savory veggie pie and a side of tomato basil soup.


After sufficiently stuffing ourselves, we headed up the street to Orlando's vegan convenience store, Artichoke Red. They had a booth at CFVF, where we picked up a discount coupon that was burning a whole in our giant purses.

It's tiny, but 100% vegan!

I picked up some Nacho Mom's vegan and gluten-free queso dip.
I had been reading so much buzz about this stuff all year, and was excited to find a gluten-free variety.
(Unfortunately, I didn't like it. I don't know if it was a bad batch or if it's always this way, but it tasted dusty.)

Do you have a vegan convenience store in your city? I've also visited Food Fight! in Portland and Sidecar Pigs for Peace in Seattle. I made it to the door of Fast and Furless in Minneapolis, but they were closed the day I was there. I think Tampa needs a vegan c-store. Who wants to open one with me?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Central Florida VegFest: Food & Pugs

As I mentioned in recent blog posts, it took me awhile to finally upload my pictures from Central Florida VegFest in Orlando in late October. Since a couple of weeks had passed, I pretty much forgot what I had photographed. Upon uploading and reviewing, I discovered that I pretty much only photographed three things: the wiener statue, food, and pugs. That kind of sums me up as a person, too... But anyway. Let's start with food! Check out these GORGEOUS cupcakes from Raphsodic Vegan Bakery. (And no, that's not my misspelling; that's actually how they spell their name.)
Infusion Tea also had pretty cupcakes.
But it was too soon for sweets, so let's switch to the savory. My pal Amber ordered some vegan mac & cheese from Ethos Vegan Kitchen.
I ordered the vegan nachos from Dandelion Communitea Cafe, which was plenty huge to share with Amber and Lisa.
Lisa ordered a "meatloaf" sandwich from Infusion Tea, and I just ordered a mango green tea (and later went back for the hibiscus, too -- it was a warm, sunny day and the tea was good!).
And now it's time for the pugs!
I'm still getting the hang of wielding a larger, heavier camera, which might be why there are so few pictures, as well as the fact that I was distracted by everything going on, especially when those two glasses of tea caught up to me and all that was nearby were port-o-potties. (This led to a screaming - literally - chase to find proper restrooms.) Central Florida VegFest was a great event. There was a steady stream of speakers and demos happening, tons of booths on various veg-related topics, a large children's area, and plenty of food (more than what was shown here). It gave me a lot of ideas for next year's Tampa Bay Veg Fest.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Green After Dark

I was looking forward to buckling down and finally blogging about the Central Florida VegFest in Orlando a couple of weeks ago, but when I opened up my browser and started typing my intro, I realized that I hadn't even uploaded my pictures from the festival yet. Duh! So in the meantime, here are some pictures from Green After Dark the Saturday before Halloween (which happened AFTER CFVF, but somehow I have these pictures up and not from the festival. Whatever).

My pal Lisa and I handed out vegan candy and vegetarian information to people perusing the nighttime farmers market. We had some great conversations with people and enjoyed the dogs in Halloween costumes...



The Chik Fil' A "cow" won the costume contest, but all poochy participants won a Puppy Popsicle from Whatever Pops.


We also had some delicious vegan eats from King Natural Catering. I started with their raw veggie "patty" and salad

and then I had to go back for more, this time for their cooked veggie-and-bean burgers.

* Avocado is always good, and these smooth, buttery slices were amazing with both orders
* Who knew that just olive oil, Bragg's, and a squeeze of lemon could make such an amazing salad dressing?
* Black-eyed peas make a dandy bean burger
* As do soaked walnuts and pecans with various veggies and spices.

If you see a small group of meat-eating men flocking to this guy for seconds and thirds (and maybe even fourths), then you know this guy is cookin' up good vegan burgers!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vegan Scores from Big Lots

Anyone who knows me and knows me well, knows that I love Big Lots.

I feel like there's a common misconception that all Big Lots stores are "ghetto." Granted, some stores might be located in unsavory neighborhoods, and some stores might be older and not as bright and shiny, but it all depends on the city you're in. I find that the content is always the same: you never know what you'll find, but you WILL find some vegan products.

Yes, bargain hunting vegans, take heed -- Big Lots is vegan-friendly! It's a closeout store, so their merchandise changes all the time, but I have found method and Seventh Generation products, Bob's Red Mill gluten-free (and regular) baking mixes, Newman-O's (all four flavors! For $2 a package! Needless to say, those didn't last long.), gluten-free organic cereals, and more. You just have to look!

Between Tampa's VegFest and Orlando's VegFest, I paid the nearby Big Lots a visit. I often text my local veg friends when I score some wicked vegan goods at Big Lots, but this time I made a point to take a picture of my recent haul to share with you.


From Left to Right, you are seeing:
Boulder Canyon Hummus & Sesame Chips - which are AMAZING! So thin and crispy and flavorful.
Dry Roasted Edamame - great to keep in the car if you're often on the go.
Coconut Dream Unsweetened Coconut Milk - great on its own, for baking, or with cereal, such as...
Cascadian Farm Organic Fruity-Os - Fruit Loops without all the junk!
Two packages of Miller's Finest gluten-free pasta - Fusili and Rigatoni. Great GF pasta. Not at all mushy.
A jar of Barilla Olive spaghetti sauce - black and green olives. Total yum.
and in the center, Mexican Coca-Cola - No HFCS. I know, I know -- soda is the devil, but I'm no purist. Sometimes I get a craving.

All of this for under $13!

If there is a Big Lots store near you, I encourage you to pop in and see what vegan goods YOU can find!

Do you shop at Big Lots? What's the best deal on vegan goods you've ever scored?

Would you be interested in more posts about vegan bargain shopping?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2nd Annual Tampa Bay VegFest

October 15th held the 2nd Annual Tampa Bay Veg Fest in downtown Tampa, Florida. The weather was perfect: sunny and warm. There were loads of vendors, plenty of food, and a great turn-out of people: vegan, vegetarian, and other. It was an event that required many hours of hard work from so many volunteers. I, myself, was a volunteer the day of the event, and I have to say, being so involved in the event made it more difficult to truly enjoy everything. I was so busy and pulled in so many directions, but yet my 10-hour day felt like only 4. The day truly flew by.


But regardless, it was a great event.

There were lots of critters from rescue groups...









And lots of food...



and great speakers and great volunteers!

Ellen Jaffe Jones


Comedian Carol Leifer

Harold Brown














Whew! What a day!

Coming soon: my recap of the Central Florida VegFest in Orlando
Also: I'm still waiting to hear from MURDERCAKE, the winner of the Tampa Bay VegFest Swag giveaway! Please email soon!