Monday, December 6, 2010

Save the NEW Date...

Ok, I lied. Cross April 29th off your calendars, and mark Tony and Ev in a little heart on April 30th! We found an awesome (and green!) venue called event1013 in downtown Plano, which saved us a nice wad of cash compared to the other place we were planning on using. Check it out!


While you're at it, check out our wedding website. It's in need of some work, but I'm waiting until we get our engagement photos done. Anyway, there's still some stuff done on there, so have at it!

Tony and Ev


Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Side Order of Guilt

Last night Tony and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie (hooray!). We got there about an hour and a half early, so we opted to sit down at their cafe and split an order of french fries. I LOVE french fries and potato chips, but I usually avoid them due to the greasiness, high calorie content, and lack of nutritional value. I hadn't had either in a while, though, so I figured, meh, what the hell! But then, as we sat there munching on fries, I looked over at the next table where they were having fried chicken tenders. I thought to myself, "Hmm, I wonder if they have separate fryers..." Now, I know most places usually do have separate fry and meat fryers, but I've heard that if the restaurant gets busy, they'll often toss whatever into whichever.

I guess that thought bothered me more than I knew at the time. Every once in a while when I feel guilty about something I've eaten, I'll have a nightmare in which I eat meat. Last night was one of those times. I dreamed that my mom served up fried chicken for dinner, and I had a few bites before realizing, "WAIT! WHAT AM I DOING!? I DON'T EAT MEAT!!!" Then I set the chicken down, disgusted. Sometimes parts of dreams feel so real, and tasting the nasty, greasy chicken fat sure was a horrid, realistic feeling. I think the fact that Thanksgiving is coming is another reason I had this dream. I've been dreading seeing that poor animal carcass sitting on the table while the rest of my family chows down on its flesh.

My point in all this is not that vegans and vegetarians should beat themselves up over little slips. My point is that you should listen to yourself. From now on, I'll probably never touch a restaurant french fry again. I'm obviously not OK with eating them, and I feel good knowing that I discovered something about myself.

I'll end with a little plug for Farm Sanctuary. If I had ANY spare money right now, I'd love to donate to this. Hopefully someone else out there will read my blog or one of the many places it's posted and decide to take part. Maybe I can convince my mom as a way to make our Thanksgiving more compassionate. Check it out, and sponsor a turkey!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My new favorite vegan products

I finally gave a few of Strawberry Hedgehog's products a try after many months spent lusting after them. I learned about Strawberry Hedgehog through the wonderful Vegan Beauty Review (awesome blog, check it out)! Strawberry Hedgehog products are ALL vegan and handmade without chemicals, sulfates, parabens, artificial fragrances, dyes, or other harmful crap. Hooray!

My absolute favorite new thing is Tracy's organic whipped body creme. It's "unscented" other than the natural scents of the ingredients, which make it smell like almondy, vanilla-y, chocolatey cookie deliciousness. The creme is a bit thick, but after a little rub between my fingers I can smooth it on with ease. This stuff is heaven. Literally. A lot of lotions and body cremes don't really seem to absorb into my skin, but this one is very hydrating without being greasy. How fantastic does this look:


I'm also loving her tea tree rosemary face soap/cleanser/thing. Recently my face was getting pretty icky. I could feel the dead skin in a few places (sexy, no?), but nothing I tried would get it off. Just one use and those nasty patches started coming right off. Two uses later, my skin feels 100x better. Not to mention I've been very blemish-free for me (though I also gave up caffeine and started drinking a lot more water, so that could be from any combination of things).

I'd really like to try one of the facial treatment oils next time I make a purchase... which will definitely happen soon because I AM IN LOVE.

Save the Date!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Appreciation of my Kitty Love

This may be a bit of an odd post to the majority of people, but I felt it needed to be made. I owe so much to my baby girl; she has been a blessing in my life. It's strange to think that one little cat could significantly change the world, but the way I see it Kitty has. Especially my world.

Tony and I adopted Kitty together very early in our relationship. We were both slightly different people back then, and without her our love may not have survived. Both of us were somewhat anti-commitment and would rather walk away than fix our problems. We broke up a few times, and that probably would have been the end of things if it weren't for Kitty. She kept me coming back. My parents wouldn't let me keep her at home, so I had to go over to Tony's daily to see her. I couldn't abandon my baby! Where our pride and stubbornness kept us from making amends, Kitty came in; we were connected by her. Eventually we stopped fighting it. We realized how great of a couple we are and that we wanted to spend our lives together.

Then, of course, she inspired a huge change in my lifestyle. If it weren't for her I doubt I would have gone vegan. Now when I think about the animals that other people eat, I think how if they are anything like Kitty, I could never harm them. I want them to have the love, respect, and lives they deserve, just as I try to give her and little Cindy. They never cease to amaze me with their intellect and adorableness hehe. Kitty melted my heart and helped my love and appreciation of animals grow. Thanks to her I've lessened my carbon footprint, around 100 animals a year are saved by my diet, and Tony and I are both healthier.

Here are a few pictures of the kitty that made the world a better place:

Napping in mommy's lap

Getting in the Christmas spirit


With daddy :)


Being a good sis


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Progress, FINALLY!

Good news, everyone! Tony and I found the place we are going to get married. Wow, I teared up writing that, hehe. I am so happy and excited (oh, and looking for a job to help him pay for it so Tony can also be happy and excited)! Now that we found our venue, we're really close to setting a date.

THIS is the place! The photos on the website really don't do it justice in my opinion.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Urban Decay: super vegan-friendly!

I'm a little late on this boat as a result of my whole, umm, not posting ever thing, but Urban Decay is too cool to not post about. Around a month ago-ish Urban Decay came out with the most incredibly awesome vegan eye palette. I was stoked because I had recently been checking through every shadow in their other palettes, trying to determine if any were vegan. I was a sad panda because they sure weren't!

The new vegan palette comes with six eyeshadow colors, a small black pencil eyeliner, and one of their eyeshadow primer potions in a pretty champagne color. I think they did a good job of choosing colors that are fun and flattering to pretty much any eye color and skin tone. As with all their palettes, the vegan one comes in a cute little flip open box with a mirror inside and tattoo-type animal art on the cover.

How cute is this?

Urban Decay does not do any animal testing, and they even have a section of their website set aside for vegans. It lists every vegan product they carry. In the stores you can tell the vegan products apart because they put a little paw print by the name.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A bit of a ring debacle

Well, hello again! My last post was SO long ago. Since then, I've been through a bit of a personal struggle involving my engagement ring choice (see previous post). It's not really vegan related, but it's wedding related, and that's priority one in my mind these days!

First off, let me say, Simply Wood Rings is an A+++ company with wonderful customer service. Whether buying, requesting a custom item, or even complaining, they are quick to respond and very friendly. Ok, now on to my problem.

I received my ring a few months back. I was ecstatic... my engagement ring, teehee! Unfortunately, one thing bugged me about it: I didn't like the way the topaz was set on the wooden band (I must say the wooden band itself was spectacularly done!). I kept my discontent completely to myself for the first few months. This was my ENGAGEMENT ring, a symbol of our love! No bride-to-be wants to be unhappy with her ring! Ultimately, though, my internal struggle to be in love with a ring I wasn't entirely happy with bubbled to the surface.

I contacted the seller with my concerns, and boy was it a relief. Lauren was incredibly understanding and accommodating. She offered an exchange or return and was quick to send pictures of other possible ways they could make me a ring with no setting. Well, Tony and I decided to get a different engagement ring, but I still couldn't bare to part with the one I had (I'm sentimental, ok!). After discussing it with Lauren, I decided to have the topaz taken off my ring, and crushed turquoise inlaid all the way around the band instead. It will be like a promise ring I decided. I can wear it on my right hand or on a chain. Oh, and did I mention the changes are being done free of charge? They are too kind.

This is me, so I can't promise I won't have a change of heart, but I'm pretty set on another engagement ring now. I found it in an etsy shop called singleB: Beautiful. These rings are handmade with conflict-free stones and recycled metals, so I still get my eco-friendly ring, it's still not exactly the typical engagement ring, and now I get a socially-friendly version of my birthstone: diamond!

Here's a link to the ring I've chosen: 3 stone ring. And here's a picture!


Saturday, July 17, 2010


Ok, well, considering everyone that reads my blog already knows that I'm engaged (everyone probably meaning no one with how often I've been updating), it's not really a surprise. Not to mention I'm almost a month late posting this. But uh, yah... I'm still damned excited, and you better be, too! This means a VEGAN WEDDING is in the planning! Green AND vegan. Just to make things extra difficult on myself! Difficult, but perfect with no regrets. I will (hopefully) start updating with my green and vegan wedding finds. I've planned SO much already, I have some blog catching up to do.

I'll start where it all starts: the engagement ring. My dearest Tony Balogna (tofurky balogna, of course!) knows me well. He took me on a surprise trip to Austin for the weekend to propose, and he told me I could choose my ring. GOOD decision, dear. I am picky! I had happened across a ring I liked previously, so I knew EXACTLY what I wanted.

The site we ordered it from is called Simply Wood Rings. They carry very unique handmade wooden rings. I picked out one of the more "traditional" engagement rings (traditional in comparison to some of the other choices). It's made of rosewood from recycled xylophone keys, with a 5mm round blue topaz. Beautiful and eco-friendly! I also fell in love with their poetic description of the ring. They're making it special for me, so I can't wait for it to be done!

Here it is:

Friday, June 4, 2010

10 Vegan Things I can't live without!

In no particular order:

1. LUSH's new Turkish Delight body polish - I LOVE LOVE LOVE roses!!! This thing is filled with roses and whipped up plant butters. Makes my skin soft and my showers smell heavenly!

2. - a great place to find eco-friendly and handmade things, a lot of which are also vegan! I can spend hours perusing items on Etsy. I hope to one day have my own shop on there. What I'll sell? No clue.

3. Coconut milk ice cream - the brand is irrelevant, this stuff is an insane sweet (but agave sweetened and not too sweet!) treat. Got some Mint Chip in the freezer right now!

4. Spiral Diner - I think I've already said how delicious this place is. Veg*n or omni, TRY IT OUT!! (if you're in the area, that is... they have a location in Ft. Worth and one in Oak Cliff)

5. Cupcakes!!!!!!! - Vegan cupcakes are seriously better than the normal versions. Seriously! They're more moist and less nasty to your body than their not-so-animal-friendly counterparts. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule is a must-have. I've tried 3 of the recipes with my family (coconut lime, tiramisu, and chocolate mint). They are all to die for!

6. Vegan Beauty Review - I think the coolest thing about this site is that the owner, Sunny, was also inspired by her cats to go vegan (though many years before I was). She always finds all sorts of neat vegan cosmetics and other fun things. On the down side, my boyfriend would probably have a bit more money had I not found this site! GOTTA TRY IT ALL!!!

7. Lip Balm - Hurraw! Balm is the most wonderful feeling thing I've ever put on my lips. I'm also in love with LUSH's new Mint Julips lip scrub. Makes my lips so soft!

8. LUSH's Karma Kream (and Karma Perfume) - The most intoxicating scent I've ever had the pleasure of smelling. This will be my signature scent for a while.

9. Mineral Eyeshadows - There are several neat brands out there. Mine are all Bare Minerals, but I'd love to try a brand that is vegan-only.

10. Soy candles - Candles are so pretty and elegant. They smell so damn good, too! Definitely one of my favorite things on earth. I love Soy Candles by Phebes and Pacifica's soy candles.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spiral Diner

I feel incredibly blessed that Dallas has an amazing vegan restaurant. It's called the Spiral Diner, and I freakin love it! I actually discovered it before I was vegan, when my sister, Beth, had the family go there for her birthday lunch two or three years ago. All the food is vegan and organic (unless they absolutely can't get a product in organic). Most of the meal choices are vegan versions of traditional American foods (like bbq sammiches, burgers, or even a brunch of sausage, biscuits n gravy, and tofu scramble), and they are so delicious that all the meat-eaters I've taken love it as well. My two favorites (so far anyway) are the Viva las Migas! and the current special, Vegan Meatloaf. I'll be sad when that special is over.

Tony and I had brunch there this morning. Well, more like lunch... he got a Philly Cheezesteak and I had the Vegan Meatloaf. For dessert we shared a Deathstar Sunday -- a brownie covered in a hot shot of espresso, homemade "I-Scream," and whipped cream om nom nom. Where else can I jazz up my cup of (organic) coffee with soy creamer and irish cream flavored agave nectar? It's a dream come true! And because Tony is such a sweetheart, I still have a Spiral Diner cupcake waiting for me after I digest a little!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

5 months vegan!

Silly me... I didn't write down what day I went from vegetarian to vegan. I think I really started doing it unintentionally before I made a conscious decision. Anyhow, I believe it's been about 5 months, so I thought I'd post how things have changed for me. Ok, so a 6 month post would probably make more sense, but I've had this on my mind and couldn't wait!

Physically, I lost a few pounds fairly early on, and I've kept them off. I feel much more energetic, too. I used to feel tired ALL the time, so I'm happy to be rid of that annoyance. Mentally I'm much happier and more confident. It took finding this passion for me to realize that it's more important to be myself and see where that takes me than to try to be the person I think others want me to be. Not everyone will like the crazy vegan and eco-friendly Ev, but that's ok. I like me!

I also found new interests. Before I went vegan, I was going through a weird anti-girl phase. My daily attire consisted of crappy old t-shirts and jeans. I have no job or classes to attend, so I figured there was no point in getting all dolled up. I wore my hair up and rarely bothered with makeup. Now I'm in love with fancy soaps, colorful eyeshadows, henna hair dye, face washes... the whole shabang! The vegan scents are so naturally yummy and uplifting. It probably has something to do with the self-confidence thing, but now I just like to look good for me. I feel pretty! ... I smell damn good, too!

Speaking of intoxicating scents, I also discovered a new love for cleaning! Yes, I LIKE cleaning. It's so much more satisfying when you're inhaling fruit and herb oils rather than harsh chemicals. Somehow, a clean home makes life seem so much less chaotic. I also read an article recently in Body + Soul magazine (I freakin love that magazine) about using cleaning as a meditative practice. It explained how most people hate cleaning because it feels so repetitive. You do it, and things are dirty again the next day. But in the end, it's one of the few things we can really control. As you scrub away, you're guaranteed to find the shiny surface beneath.

The last change going vegan brought about I've mentioned in previous posts. Actually, I'm not sure it's a change as much as getting in touch with something I already cared about -- I decided to try harder and do more for the environment. No more bottles or cans going into the trash at this apartment! My long-term plans have evolved to include owning a clean green home with my man and my kitties one day. I can't wait to plan that out! I'd also like to get more into DIY recycled crafts and stuff, haven't really done much of that yet, though.

All in all, health has gone up to priority one. Both my own and the earth's. I feel more calm and centered, more loving, and just plain more excited about life. Okies, I should try to sleep now. It's far past my bedtime!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A little older and a new love

So, my boyfriend is pretty awesome. Totally awesome. Aaaand he always gets me the best gifts. A certain cute vegan I know is about to turn 25 (it's me)! This year he got me the best early birthday present possible for a compassionate animal lover: we adopted our second kitten into our little family. The organization from which we adopted our sweet Cindy Lou (named for her Christmas birthday) saves and fosters companion animals from shelters that would euthanize them. They can only foster so many at a time, so every adoption saves another life from the shelter. That knowledge alone makes my soul super happy, but little Cindy Lou is just the sweetest thing on earth. She is so affectionate and she adores Kitty. Cindy follows Kitty around and mimics her; it's too cute. I love my family :)


Monday, March 8, 2010

Just a little update...

Well, I'm a baaaad girl. I started playing WoW again with Tony. I will definitely try to keep posting here more often, but here's how things have been going:

Still vegan (of course)! Tony has been really good, too. He's had meat once in the past couple months. I'm so proud of him! Lately my go-to easy vegan meal is kind of a rice and beans soup. I have been obsessed with lentils and black-eyed peas. So, I've been putting about 2 cups veggie stock, 2 cups water, half a cup to a cup of brown rice, and a can or cup and a half-ish of drained and rinsed beans in a pot. If I use canned beans, I add them later on, because the rice needs to cook for about 45 minutes. I know that seems long, but I just throw it together and leave it. Easy peasy! I usually add some kind of vegetable (or multiple kinds) and shoyu (a type of soy sauce) for a little sodium. It's simple and makes me feel so good! I've found leeks and carrots seem to pair quite well with lentils. Another veggie I use a lot is kale (it's super healthy!).

My favorite fast food is miso soup. For that I heat up water, I crush up some dried wakame flakes (dried seaweed), and throw in cubed tofu and any veggies I happen to have around. When the veggies are soft, I reduce the heat so the soup is no longer boiling and add a teaspoon of miso. Miso comes in little tubs and it will dissolve in the soup, but boiling makes it lose some of its healthy enzymes. Add shoyu to taste, and there you have it! My absolute favorite vegetable to put in miso is daikon. Never heard of it? I hadn't either until recently, but it's so good! It looks like a white carrot and takes a little while to soften up, but it is so worth it! Carrots and celery are great, too. Oh, and kale again.

Hopefully I'll be writing again soon!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

LUSH update

I think I did guuuud with my selections yesterday. I got to try out my new things this morning:

I hopped in the shower and picked up my first new item, Karma Komba shampoo. I brushed it across my scalp in a few places, and amazingly it started lathering up. I was not expecting so much lather from a little solid bar! Next was my Jungle conditioner. It smells so good with avocado, banana, figs, and cocoa butter... as does my hair! I followed the instructions on the website, and gently rubbed it from root to tip of my hair. So far, this stuff seems to be working really well for me. I let that sit for a moment while I washed my face with Baby Face. Baby Face (another divinely scented item) uses oils and butters to lift off dirt, so make sure to clean it off with a wet towel if you try it. Then, I rinsed my hair, turned off the water, and hopped out. FIVE MINUTE SHOWER, HURRAY (okay, I kind of forgot to soap up, though)!

After the shower, I lightly spritzed my face with my new Tea Tree Water toner and gently rubbed in a very thin layer of Enzymion face moisturizer. I swear, my face has never felt so soft (or smelled so wonderful). I had to call up Tony and rave: "OH MY GOD DEAR YOU HAVE TO FEEL MY FACE!" Haha, I'm such a nerd. Anyway, it turns out I was probably overly cleaning my face in the past. Previously, I'd get out of the shower and it would be incredibly dry. Throughout the day my skin would try to overcompensate and get too oily. Today it is about 4:30pm and I'm still soft and oil-free! I'm a happy camper.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My obsession: LUSH

I have no idea why I've not previously posted about LUSH. There's more to being vegan than changing your diet. Many bath and beauty products contain animal products, too (or are tested on animals... or both). I started checking out PETA a while back, and was completely dismayed to find that almost every bath and beauty product I owned contained animal fats (gross!) and was tested on animals. The exceptions were my Burt's Bees shampoo and conditioner (though they do have honey), and Bare Minerals makeup (unfortunately their brushes are made from rat hair or something... again, gross!). If you'd like to check PETA's list of animal-friendly or animal-testing companies, go here.

Anyway, I decided I'd search the internet for some vegan shampoos and such. One of the first things I came across was a post about LUSH on Vegan Beauty Review (LOVE that site). I was instantly intrigued looking through their products online, so I found a LUSH store near me and gave it a visit. Mmmmm, that place is seriously heaven. Everything smells so natural and yummy! My favorite scent is karma; it smells kind of like incense (with patchouli, lemongrass, pine, and orange oil). They have all kinds of goodies on which you can easily blow way too much money... trust me.

I've been using their I Love Juicy shampoo and Veganese conditioner for about a month and a half now, and my hair has never felt softer. My hair is super picky, too. Wavy and very fine, it easily gets too dry or too weighed down by most conditioners. I've also been using Karma Kream body lotion (it smells so intoxicatingly good!), a few different LUSH soaps, Happy Hippy both as an occasional shampoo and shower gel, and Aromarant Deodorant (a solid chunk of deodorant that also smells totally amazing with lemon and sandalwood). I'm completely in love with them all!

Today I got to go on a mini Lush shopping spree. I was in dire need of a facial moisturizer, but of course, I did not stop there! In accordance with my new commitment to live a greener life, I decided to try a solid shampoo and conditioner (less packaging + no preservatives + lasts longer). I also picked up a spray facial toner, a new face wash, and one of their bath bombs. Oh, by the way, bath bombs are awesome! You toss one in the bath and it fizzes up and dissolves. A lot of the bombs have cool little things in them that float in the bath, like dried flower petals, too. And of course, they smell delicious!

I can't wait to see how my new purchases work out. My hand smells so great where the store associate tried the face wash and moisturizer on me. I highly recommend LUSH whether you're vegan or not! Oh, one last thing: look for the little green encircled V on the products to signify vegan.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Birthday cupcakes

Ok, so, I'm a little late on this, but I had to post the cupcakes Care and I made for mom's birthday on Monday. We followed the recipe in The Kind Dietfor Alicia's favorite cupcakes. I am not exaggerating when I say they were probably the best cupcakes I have EVER had. And that's including Sprinkles! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Alicia. My hero.

The frosting came out looking a little funny (we didn't beat it fast enough at first), but mmmmm!!! Part of the success may be due to the fancypants organic madagascar vanilla and organic green's black cocoa powder we used (yah, not the greenest ingredients considering their travel time here, but I feel a few indulgences are alright when they bring such pleasure). One other cool thing about these cupcakes: they use agave nectar rather than sugar! That's always exciting to me. The cake part is plain white cake (we substituted half the vanilla with almond extract, since mom mentioned she'd like almond flavored cake; it worked well!) and the frosting is chocolate. Om nom nom *drool* So moist!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Go Green - Part 1

As you may have noticed, I've been working on the book Green Chic in my spare time. I'm not done reading it yet, but I want to share some of Christie Matheson's suggestions with you. There is so much important information, I figured I'd post it in parts to make it easily digestible (like a plant-based diet! ... had to throw that in there). Today I'll share some easy changes you can make from the chapter "Little Green Things." (Don't you just love that chapter title!?)

- Replace your lightbulbs with CFL's (compact fluorescent lightbulbs). CFL's use on average 2/3 less energy than incandescent bulbs. Also, use lower wattages in rooms in which you don't need to see as well (like the bedroom) and save higher wattages for places you do need to see well (like the bathroom and kitchen). Christie's suggestions are 23W in the bathroom, 19W in the kitchen, 13W in the living room, and 11-13W in the bedroom. CFL's cost more than incandescents, but last ten times as long and save you money on your energy bill. The only thing with CFL's is that it's not safe to simply trash them when they burn out. If they break, they can leak mercury, which we all know is not good! Awesomely enough, IKEA offers receptacles for them.
- Turn off the light if you leave a room, even just for a short time. Pretty obvious, right?
- Don't buy bottled water. I remember seeing a commercial on this about a year ago that really drove the message home for me. Something about 100 years in a landfill for your one bottle of water. Your best option if you like to tote water around with you is to buy a faucet attachment water filter and fill up a reusable bottle. Trying to reuse bottles from purchased bottled water is a bad idea because they serve as great breeding grounds for bacteria. Along these same lines, if you're like me and have to have your daily Starbucks, get yourself a reusable coffee cup. Added benefits: your coffee stays warmer longer and a lot of times you get a small discount on your drink.
- As far as I know, at this point conserving water has passed conserving energy in importance. We are running out of clean water (and evil factory farms like Smithfield like to dump animal waste into rivers or let it seep into groundwater from their lagoons of waste). So, that said, don't leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth or go #2 with people around, don't run the shower for long periods of time before getting in, and try to use less while washing dishes.
- This one is pretty simple. Ask for no bag when you purchase something small. Throw it in your purse or pocket instead.
- Take shorter showers. This one is going to be the hardest for me. I am notorious for my long showers. Christie suggests checking a clock as you get in and out of the shower to get an idea of how long you take, so you can begin cutting back. Yesterday I took ten minutes (sadly it was one of my shorter showers, too). I'd like to see that number drop to six! If you can stand it, turn down the heat a bit, too.
- This one is for the ladies! Try waiting 15-20 minutes after you get out of the shower before you dry your hair. Your hair will still look great and you'll cut back on drying time.
- Unplug chargers. Even when they aren't charging anything, they're still sucking energy. Plus, they just plain aren't pretty! If you think about it, you're already unplugging your phone or ipod or whatever, so how hard is it to take the extra second to unplug the charger, too?
- Wash your clothes with cold water. It works just as well and helps prevent fading.
- Turn your thermostat down a degree or two in the winter and up a degree or two in the summer. Amazingly, you'll save 240 pounds (if you use electric heating, 320 pounds if gas) of CO2 emmissions a year by turning it down a degree in the winter and about 120 pounds by turning it up a degree in the summer.
- Lastly, do NOT go out and buy a whole new set of "green" furniture. Just buy greener the next time you need something. Consumerism is very not green.

Remember the addage: "reduce, reuse, recycle," and think of it literally in that order. Yes recycling is great, but first we need to reduce our consumption and reuse everything we can. I hope these suggestions help one of you three or four loyal readers!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Intro to Green Design

As you know, Monday was my mom's birthday. I was supposed to go to my green design class that night, but my family convinced me to email my professor the research I had due and stay home to celebrate with them. The assignment was simply to choose an environmental problem and research it. Shockingly, little vegan me chose factory farming as my topic. I found information on factory farms' excessive use of pharmaceuticals, hormones given to cows, and mainly environmental devastation due to toxic animal waste. I found a great Rolling Stone article on Smithfield (the largest American pig raiser and distributor).

Well! The professor was so intrigued by my research that he waited until today's class to have everyone present their information, and he asked me to go first. I was pretty nervous, but I think I did a decent job of clearing some of the fog about the factory farm system for my classmates. I am still completely stoked that I got the chance to spread knowledge on something I'm so passionate about. It's pretty cool to look around a room of concerned faces hanging on your every word and know your point got through to at least a few.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Birthday gifts for mom

I'll be honest, I kinda got this idea from Alicia Silverstone's Kind Life website. She made a post a few days back (January 25th) about giving homemade gifts. My mom's birthday is tomorrow, so awesome timing! I decided to whip up a few vegan treats from The Kind Diet for her. With the help of my little sis, we made crispy almond butter treats, almond butter cups, and some soup for dinner! Boy am I glad she came over, it was a lot of work, but definitely worth it.




So I got a little lazy when it came to prettying them up, I was pretty tired from all that cooking. Mom will love it, though, I think!

Prettiness to come

I'm working on a photoshop project in my Graphic Design class, so this blog will soon have a sweet new background! I can't wait to finish it!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Why I haven't been posting much recently (OH AND CUPCAKES):

I started some classes on the 19th, so a large chunk of my free time is going to that. I also got addicted to The Sims 3, so right now I'm trying to make little Evelyn and Tony be boyfriend/girlfriend in a third game, while mastering all their skills. It's important stuff! That was sarcasm if you didn't catch it. I'm enjoying it, though. Anyway, once I figure out a stable daily schedule for myself and wear myself out a bit on The Sims, I should be back posting regularly again.

I leave you with this!
Yes, there is a God! I don't know what exactly causes my ridiculous attraction to cupcakes; I don't much care for regular cake. I think it's somehow hardwired into the female brain to love them. They're so visually appealing and tasty! Before I went vegan, Sprinkles was a nice guilty pleasure for the ladies of my family. I became a fan of them on facebook, and I have to admit, I felt a tinge of sorrow everytime I saw the delicious pictures. Fortunately, now I can indulge once again! They started making a delicious red velvet vegan cupcake (red velvet is my favorite anyway)! I dragged Tony in the pouring rain to Sprinkles last night after I found out about them. Holy crap, best cupcake I've ever had! Vegan or not, you've got to give them a try!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grocery Day!

Miso soup with carrots, daikon, celery, and kale and quinoa with fresh basil. The homemade miso is my new favorite food. Both recipes were my own inventions, but I combined things I saw in some of Alicia's recipes to come up with them.

Amazingly good peanut butter rice treats. Super easy to make, too! This recipe I took straight from The Kind Life. Thanks Alicia!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Disaster Meal

I've always loved Macaroni Grill, and now I live right next to one. Excited, I looked at their menu online the other day and was happy to see many new seemingly vegetarian, or even possibly vegan items. So, Tony and I decided to try it last night. What a mistake.

I first ordered a cup of the Pasta e Fagioli soup. It sounded great: cannelloni beans and pasta, mmm! I asked the waitress if the soup base was vegetable stock or chicken stock. She replied vegetable, hurray! Then the soup came... with a nice little pile of cheese on top. Ugh, I felt my heart sink a little. Ok, not a huge deal, a little cheese won't kill you or an animal, I thought. So I ate the soup, which was actually really good.

For the rest of my meal, I ordered the warm spinach salad with no cheese. When it came, I looked down in the dim light and saw a strip of something odd. Maybe a caramelized onion? Nope. A piece of prosciutto, Italian bacon. Oh my god, has it really been that long that I forgot prosciutto was a meat, not a cheese? Dead pig. On my plate. My fault. Nausea. I did my best to eat around it, and not waste my food. But still I knew there was pig fat on my spinach, and I wanted to cry. In fact, I almost did cry a few times. I still keep apologizing to the poor pig in my head for its sacrifice and suffering. I named him (or her) Spinach. Creative, right?

It's one thing to watch my family eat veal. While slightly horrifying, I can remove myself from that. But to have meat on my own plate... That hasn't happened since my dad threw turkey on my plate at Thanksgiving, despite my assurances that I didn't want any. I learned something, at least. I need to be more clear about my dietary concerns when ordering at restaurants. I hate to be a bother, but it's worth it in cases like last night. I'M SO SORRY SPINACH THE PIG!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vegan Starbucks Fare!

I'm great at completely ignoring things... Like all the things in the new displays Starbucks has had up the past few weeks. I noticed the vegan cookies pretty quickly, but meh, they looked dry. I can make tastier cookies myself, I figured. I also noticed the dried fruit. Organic dried mangoes ingredients: organic mangoes. Score! Today, however, I finally noticed the granola. Why didn't I notice it sooner!? Not only is it delicious, IT'S SWEETENED WITH AGAVE INSTEAD OF SUGAR. The little child inside if me is doing backflips right now! The company that makes the granola looks like it got a start similar to a lot of other vegan companies I've read about. One of the owners cured her Multiple Sclerosis with a raw food diet, so she started coming up with raw vegan snacks that her friends and family loved. The end result? The company Two Moms in the Raw, which so far makes sea crackers and granola. While I haven't tried the sea crackers, I gotta say, you MUST try the granola. It's to die for!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Thoughts on Avatar


Yesterday, my Tony took me to see Avatar. That movie deserves every bit of praise it gets! I know what you're thinking, what does Avatar have to with being vegan? As I watched, I found several parallels to our treatment of animals and the planet. Sorry in advance, this post is not as lighthearted as usual.

The alien race of Pandora, the Na'vi, live with an immense reverence for their planet and all the creatures on it--I wish we could say the same. Anytime they kill an animal, they say a sort of prayer for it to release its spirit back into the earth. They believe in an interconnected transfer of energy between all living creatures on Pandora. Hmm, that sounds familiar! That sounds like much of what I've been reading about macrobiotics. On Alicia Silverstone's macrobiotic Kind Diet, supposedly you gain a sense of interconnectedness with the world around you. Same with concentrated and continued yoga practice. Maybe it sounds silly, but I believe in these things. I am not yet on a macrobiotic vegan diet, but by simply cutting out meat and dairy and practicing yoga, I do feel a greater sense of being a part of the world around me. And believe me, that came as a huge and welcome change. Before, I always felt like an outsider, looking in on a foreign world. The idea with the Kind Diet is that you put clean, unprocessed (and preferably local) foods in your body, and feel the sustained and calm energy they give you. How beautiful.

No surprises here, the humans came to Pandora to take a precious metal, and the "savage natives" lived on top of it. So what do they do? Bulldoze and burn down sacred forests that helped the Na'vi connect to their planet. They bomb their home and wage war on the natives as a precaution before they can gather and strike back. It's typical. We do it to our own planet. What is the resource in the real world case? Cattle. So we bulldoze rain forests, the lungs of the earth, to give cattle a place to graze. We kill off a myriad of species as we destroy their homes. Not only that, the cattle are given ridiculously small areas to roam (on which the fertile layer of topsoil is ruined so plants can no longer grow; it takes as much as a century to get the topsoil back), they're fed unnatural foods such as corn and dead animals (they eat grass naturally), they're pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones, then they're ushered off to the slaughterhouse at a young age. They aren't treated like animals; they are simply commodities. And what's the point? As far as I'm concerned no animal NEEDS to die for me to live. I don't want that blood on my hands anymore, and that's the initial reason I made the changes I made. Each dead animal is a dead individual that the world can never get back.

I hope we start taking into account the damage we're doing to our planet before it's too late. We need to stop killing billions of animals each year, stop breeding monstrously genetically mutated animals, stop dumping their toxic waste in rivers, stop keeping them in such poor conditions that they're all sickly or injured, stop wasting massive amounts of water for the small profit of a few pounds of meat, stop wasting the majority of our grains on feeding factory animals (it takes an average of 7 lbs of grain to produce 1 lb of meat). It's time to wake up and act more responsibly!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Real food, junk food, and scary food

Today I have lots of food pics to share! (And that's the best kind of pics, right?) First off, I think this is the best vegan dish I've thrown together just from crap in my fridge/pantry. I dragged my love to Whole Foods last weekend for a few things, and talked him into buying me some organic tempeh to try (tempeh is a fermented form of soy with a grainy texture that somewhat resembles ground meat). I thought it looked like a great thing to toss in a pot of chili. I was right! After cooking the tempeh for a minute in the bottom of the pot, I added a little canned tomato sauce, canned diced tomatoes, and a can of mixed kidney beans (all organic, of course!). I seasoned it up with some fresh lime juice, cayenne, cumin, fresh cilantro, and a dash of garlic salt. To go along with the chili, I cooked up some rice, to which I also added fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, and lime zest. Sprinkling chopped scallions on top perfected the meal. Mmmmmmm, it was probably the best thing I've ever made myself. Well, aside from my cookies that is! I took the leftovers over to my mom and sis--they loved it, too! Mom is a tiny woman; she really does not eat much, but she finished off most of the large bowl by herself. I take that as a hefty compliment. My boyfriend was out of town for work, so I recreated the meal for him the next night.

The night I took leftovers to mom's, Care made us all some brownies from a vegan recipe she found and tried before. Me and Care, together, making sweets... who woulda thought? In case you haven't figured it out yet, my family has a bit of a sweet tooth! Oddly enough, I make cookies and things way more often now that I'm vegan. I suppose that's for a few reasons: out of excitement that I can, knowing that while it may not be healthy, it's still healthier (not to mention the extra room in my diet for "naughty" things if I so desire), and I want my family and friends to see that I'm not missing out on anything! I share my treats with them, and so far they've received nothing but praise (which in my dad's case comes in the blunt form, "Tastes like a cookie.") By the way, I've gone from 108 to 103 so far on my new diet full of chocolate, coconut ice cream, and other goodies. Jealous?

Ok, so the last item for today. Reading more into The Kind Diet (which I've now almost finished!), Alicia mentions over and over something called umeboshi plums. She uses them to re-balance herself after having things like sugar or processed foods. She even says that when she was introduced to them, sucking on half of one cured her hangover! Sounds like a miracle food, right? Well, Tony (my bf) and I went out to the Asian market by our apartment this morning to peruse the isles for these plums and any other cool finds suitable to the superhero diet. Holy crap did they have a large vegetarian frozen section, with everything from fried tofu to vegan fish, shrimp, and even vegan peppercorn steak! Anyway, eventually we found them, but I must say I'm a bit scared. Umeboshi plums are pickled plums. Pickled plums. Hmm. I'll let you know when I gather up the courage to try one.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I want to be a superhero!

Ok, so! Continuing into The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet, I am COMPLETELY in love with the whole idea presented. Alica offers three levels in her book: flirting, vegan, and superhero. Flirting is trying a few substitutions (veggie meals every other day, fish instead of other meats, whole grains instead of white, green tea rather than coffee). That's where I left off in the book right now and where I'd say my boyfriend is as far as eating right now. He won't attempt vegan with me, but he also doesn't ask me to prepare him any meat when I make dinners. My goal is to get him to try cutting out all but fish (as it is the easiest animal protein for us to digest) for a month, then let him choose how he wants to eat from there. That's a fair compromise, right? I know I can be a little too pushy with him, but he can also be a little too skeptical and stubbornly resistant!

The idea behind the superhero diet seems almost romantic. I love that Alicia gets into how different foods affect us on physical, mental, and emotional levels. Mmm science! Anyway, once you're free of meat, dairy, and other processed foods, she says you can feel a huge difference. If you try them again after your body adjusts to life on natural plant foods, she says you'll notice how bad your body feels. I haven't made it into the superhero section yet, but I hope I can achieve either superhero or at least somewhere between vegan and superhero. Supposedly as a superhero you become more energetic, lighter, happier, centered and balanced, and more in tune to the effect things you eat have on you.

Personally, I may have a hard time giving up sugars, though I am fond of the alternatives (brown rice syrup, maple syrup, agave nectar, nom nom!). I hope that by learning more about vegan baking, I can eventually start adjusting recipes to use these other sweeteners. Right now I'm simply using organic sugars, since they aren't processed using animal products like regular white sugar may be. The problem white sugar and organic sugars have in common is that they are stripped of the other nutrients naturally found in the plants from which they come. If you nibble on the sugar cane plant, your body will not have trouble processing the sugar because of the balance with other nutrients.

My other huge addiction is coffee! Fortunately, I've made progress on both the sugar and coffee fronts in the past few months. I've gone from having a triple shot latte on a daily basis to a single shot latte, green tea, or even herbal tea. I've also cut out a lot of sugar. I used to get sugary vanilla lattes, which I've replaced with a plain and simple soy latte. When I need a little sweetener in my tea or oatmeal, I use agave nectar. Agave nectar is a gift of nature! It has a low glycemic index, meaning it won't cause your insulin to spike like sugar does. (When your insulin spikes, your body is signaled to store fat.) Alicia says brown rice syrup is her sweetener of choice (she uses agave nectar sparingly due to its more concentrated sweetness) because of how it makes her feel after eating. I'll have to grab some next time I shop. I've only tried it once before in the yummy vegan baklava my little sis made as a Christmas snack (which was a godsend considering I spent the day walking around a house littered with plates of non-vegan cookies, cakes, and candies--thanks Care!).

Wow, I had more to say than I thought! I advise everyone to pick up a copy of The Kind Diet. It'll change your life!!! Or at the least, it will get you thinking more about what your food is doing to your body.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Monopoly Monster

Ok, so this post has absolutely nothing to do with being vegan, but I thought this picture was just too freakin adorable. I had to share it! Here is my extremely well-trained cat (ha)


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Kind Life and Cooking Classes (oh, and more cookies!!)

I started The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet today. So far I'm loving it. I get to learn about a macrobiotic vegan diet, which sounds incredibly healthy! Anyhow, I decided to check out the website Alicia started to go along with the book, The Kind Life. On the front page, she made a post about Christina Pirello's macrobiotic vegan cooking classes in Philadelphia. !!! I would kill to be in those classes! Well, okay, maybe not kill considering I refuse to even eat animals, but boy do I wish I could somehow attend them. If only I wasn't broke and living in Texas. Perhaps once I find a job I can save up for one of the 3-day weekend classes.

Last night, my Care Bear and I made more cookies! This time we attempted sugar cookies, again with wheat flour. They turned out ridiculously delicious, especially with the royal icing. I am a lime freak, so I added lime juice to the icing rather than lemon, which I think gave it a uniquely amazing taste. I learned something from my past two cookie recipe experiences. While both still turned out delectable, substituting in wheat flour tends to make them a bit more dry. I looked into it some online, and it appears wheat flour absorbs more liquid than white. I found a great solution, though -- organic white wheat flour. White wheat flour comes from white wheat (duh) rather than the traditional red wheat, and it is lighter and more similar in taste to "normal" white flour, while maintaining the fiber and nutrition of traditional whole wheat flour.

I forgot to take a picture before digging in, but here are Care's and my addictive little sugar cookies:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies!


Friday night, my wonderful baby sister, Carolyn, and her husband, Alex, came over for a little late night snack. For one of my Christmas gifts, my mom bought me The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks' Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets. With the book's help, Care and I whipped up these fantastic whole wheat flour vegan peanut butter cookies (are those enough modifiers to describe one kind of cookie?). They sure went fast! I also tried the recipe a week or so ago, substituting fresh crushed almond butter from the fancy whole foods machine for the peanut butter. OH MY GOODNESS, the aroma was out of this world. The taste? Heaven!

(Please excuse the Fall paper plate leftover from packing Thanksgiving cakes!)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Endangered Species Chocolate

I figured today I'd share a cool brand of one of the things I absolutely can't live without: CHOCOLATE!!! Endangered Species Chocolate makes several fancy varieties of vegan dark chocolate (dark chocolate in general is usually vegan, rejoice!), and they donate 10% of their net profits "to help support species, habitat and humanity." What could be better!? I get my chocolate fix and donate to charity at the same time.

Now here's the real kicker: dark chocolate, as long as you consume it in small quantities, can actually contribute to your health! One of the first resources I turned to upon my decision to give up meat is Vegetarian Times magazine. I picked up a special of theirs on 25 healing foods. Guess what, dark chocolate was one of them (you can't imagine how ecstatic I was)! According to the magazine, dark chocolate is not only loaded with antioxidants, but also contains flavonols called procyanidins and epicatechins (don't ask me for pronunciations). These are the main flavonols in cocoa and "can improve heart health by reducing both blood pressure and cholesterol levels--and these compounds may also lift your mood."

An ounce a day keeps the doctor away?

Endangered Species Chocolate

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

I haven't finished this book yet, but I cannot stress enough what an impact it has on me every time I pick it up. I actually found out about Eating Animals while reading about Natalie Portman (I totally have a girl-crush on her). The book spurred her to push from a long-time vegetarian to vegan.

Jonathan Safran Foer, the author, had long been back and forth between vegetarian and meat-eater. He started research for his book for the birth of his first son, so he could figure out his diet dilemma once-and-for-all and the best way to raise his child. I am absolutely amazed by the amount of numerical and statistical facts, first-hand accounts, and Foer's own work experiencing multiple types of farms and a small slaughterhouse (he couldn't get into the industrial slaughterhouses, no one can).

Eating Animals graphically covers the ethical dilemma and ecological damage caused by factory farms and slaughterhouses. It infuriates me as I read about large factory farm-owning companies dumping millions of gallons of waste into rivers. It tugs at my heart reading about the painful lives and horrific deaths factory animals are condemned to endure. I can't believe companies legally get away with their irresponsible genetic manipulation (many of the animals raised in factory farms are so genetically altered they can no longer survive outdoors, walk, reproduce, etc) and overuse of antimicrobials (we use them sparingly, but factory animals are pumped full of them) to make a profit off living animals. Their profit comes at such a hefty price to the world.

I suggest this book to everyone; in fact, I believe it should be required reading! All people should know where and how they get their food, so they can make educated consumption choices. I plan on passing around my copy to anyone that will give it a read.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My first blogspot post... over a year after subscribing

Hello! I made this blog a while ago as a place to jot down and explore thoughts and questions I had in regards to life and the world around me. Finally, I've come to put it to use, as I'm about two months into the greatest journey of my life so far: I decided to become vegan.

I'll start at the beginning. Way, way back. I always grew up with pets, which I think was essential in developing the (possibly excessive) compassion and love I have for animals. We had a cat, Frisky, from before I was born, until I was about 15. I also had a bird, a parakeet, that I was extremely close to. Priscilla was a gift for my tenth birthday, and unfortunately he (yes, Priscilla was a he) died young, just three years later. I was incredibly sad, completely devastated. It possibly sparked the onset of a ten year bout of depression. A year and a half ago, I met my current boyfriend. A month into our relationship, we went out to play some pool, and passed by a yard which encased an adorable gray kitten. I stopped at the fence oohing and awwing, trying to coax the kitty towards us. He realized how incredibly, ridiculously much I loved cats, and offered to buy and house one for me after that (I was staying with my parents, who would not have another cat in their house). After that Miss Merryweather, also known simply as Kitty, came into my life. I love her to death, and I tell her every morning that she is my inspiration.

I still remember being horrified as a child discovering that the eggs I ate were chicken eggs. My parents consoled me, "They were the duds, they wouldn't hatch anyway." I took their word for it, as children do with parental explanations, and didn't think about it again for a long time. About a year or two ago, one of my sisters (I have three!) read Skinny Bitch, which prompted her to begin living more vegan, or at least vegetarian. Despite the relatively short duration of her veganism, she still continues to avoid animal products more often than not. She also piqued my interest in the subject along with getting my parents somewhat accustomed to the lifestyle. At that point, I decided that I, too, wanted to quit using animal products. Having no income of my own, however, the idea quickly faded, as I didn't want to be a burden on those taking care of me. I also fell prey to the false advertising of the meat industry, and did not understand how Beth would get all her protein!

Now, the moment that resparked my desire to give up meat! It is really quite silly to describe... I was watching an episode of Survivor (one of my favorite shows!). They always give out chickens as a prize for one of the reward challenges, so that they can lay eggs and provide protein for the Survivors. Usually, one of the Survivors talks to and spends time with the chickens, almost like companion pets. As the end of the game closed in, the Survivors became hungrier and decided to kill one of the chickens to eat. One of them exclaimed that she did not want to be there when they killed it or see it running around bloody and headless. That's when it clicked in my head. THAT is what I'm eating. I finally made the connection between the chicken I eat and the chicken animal. Of course we all KNOW that chicken comes from chicken, but I had forgotten what that really meant.

Yet I still wasn't quite ready... My parents thought it was a stupid idea: "Oh, don't do like Beth did!" My boyfriend was okay with it, but not particularly encouraging. Fortunately, one person told me to quit eating meat if I felt it was right, and that was all the push I needed. After that conversation, I finished off the half of a chicken sandwich I had waiting in the fridge, and have not since touched any form of meat but fish (making November 11th my first day of pescetarianism).

But obviously that's not where my story ends! Today I am vegan, not pescetarian. I started doing a lot of research. I wanted to make sure I knew what vitamins and minerals I'd have a harder time getting in my diet, as well as sources of them. After finishing my first book on vegetarianism (Being Vegetarian for Dummies... yes, I went for something obvious), I was sold on veganism. That book didn't get much into the environmental problems associated with a meat diet; it was more of a nutritional aid. From a nutritional standpoint, veganism seemed (and seems) the best option. I continued my research, looking into PETA and other books. The more I learn, the more infuriated I become at the inhumane, irresponsible practices of the meat industry, and even the government for permitting them.

I mentioned previously a ten year bout of depression. In combination with other factors, doing something I'm so incredibly proud of (going vegan!) has finally brought an end to my depression. I am 24 and excited to get back to a life that I actively participate in, rather than passively letting life pass me by. I hope to continue researching, find many ways to contribute to change, and help (nicely, not forcefully) others to see the light. I intend to use this blog to jot down recipes, review books, share my cool new vegan finds, etc. I WANT TO SAVE THE WORLD!