Thursday, September 21, 2017

Raw Vegan Tacos, Thrown Together Meals, & Furkid Updates

Yesterday I hinted at something that I have tried lately and LOVED and will be eating a lot of until I run out of the ingredients.  That is Raw Vegan Tacos.  I grabbed Romaine Hearts, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Guacamole (because it was cheaper than Avocados), and Cauliflower at a little mom and pop shop and I already had some Coconut Aminos at the office.

I marinated the Cauliflower in the Coconut Aminos and used it as the bottom layer along with the Sun Dried Tomatoes and topped it with Guac!  I have to say it was pretty awesome!

They are messy but I don't care.  The Guac sort of helps with the mess tho.

I will be doing variations of these in the near future - for sure!

I have been saying that my food efforts have been pretty weird as of late.  I either throw something together at the office, on the road, or in the camper.

We are having some issues with our house and I haven't been able to cook there.

This 2nd photo is something I threw together at my parents house.  They didn't have much that was vegan in their house and I didn't know prior to stopping by that I would be eating there.  I made up some Mac and added stewed tomatoes!  I threw some Earth Balance on there, too!  It wasn't too shabby!

There has been a LOT going on the last several months and I wasn't going to mention it on the blog but I feel like I should.

On of the MANY things we have been stressing about is the furkid situation.

In the past month ALL of our furkids have been at the vet as least once.  Charlie - our 17 year old feral cat - was acting weird and I thought he had a stroke but it was a really wicked double ear infection.  We also found out he has kidney failure.

After treating the ear infections we decided to switch his food to a Kidney Diet to help him with that as long as we can.  Since he's a really wild (feral-like) cat and always has been we don't want to stress him more than we have to by taking him to the vet PLUS there has to be 2 vets there to deal with him.

Moving on to the dogs - Cricket (pictured above) had to go in for a check-up and shots.  Riley had to go in for the same - and he had a double ear infection, too.  He has always had Chronic Ear Infections so we are used to it.  However, this time around they tried a new med on him and it seemed to work well.  He had to go in 3 times.  Then there is sweet Paco.  Oh...sweet Paco!  That poor guy!  He's had such a hard time with everything but he's a fighter!

I had to take Paco in for Kennel Cough - it's the only thing we give him - up the nose - we don't vaccinate him otherwise because of his immune issues.  Then a few weeks later we found out he caught something from the kennel so we treated that.  Then his nose started bleeding a little bit and we had him in twice for that.  After finding something on X-Rays we had to decide what to do moving forward.  We are still trying to decide.  He's be in about 4 times already.  They found something in his nasal passage.  It's either something that he sniffed up and got stuck or it's cancer.  Knowing how hard he has has it with other issues his whole life all I can think of is that it's cancer.  GOD!  I hope it isn't.  I think we have the choice made - and that is to have our vet go in and do exploratory surgery and see if she can remove the thing that showed up on the X-Rays.  But I;m afraid because of his immune issues.  Because he has ITP/IMHA that means he might not clot or might clot weird and it could kill him.  Also - if the vet can't remove it - we can't really do cancer treatments because of his immune issues.  From what I have seen about Nose Cancer in Dogs it will grow and morph his face and/or cause seizures.  It seems like a lose-lose situation.  Our vet was on vacation so I need to call her back to see how we are going to go about this.  In the meantime every couple of days he has a slight bloody nose.  We have been treating it with Epinephrine.   These vet bills have been a lot to handle all at once in addition to all of the other stuff we have been facing the last several months.  But those stories I will save for another day.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Husk Tomatoes, Decorated Rocks, Niece Update, Local Vegan Soups

A friend/co-worker of mine brought in some Husk Tomatoes not too long ago and shared them with us.  They were pretty yummy!  Her father grew some of them this year!  Here's a stock photo of them.  They were almost like a berry (some people say they are like a Gooseberry) but they also had a hint of cantaloupe/cucumber likeness to them, too, on top of the sweet tomato, that is.

I've been having fun with the decorated rocks I have been telling you about lately.  I have been finding a lot of them as well as making some of my own.  Here are 5 that I decorated last week.  I've had some luck with Sharpies.  I took a few of them to a State Park over the weekend.  I forgot to take photos but will be blogging about it at some point.  It was a very nice fall weekend at a historic place that is for sure.  My parents and I took our Wildtree stuff and sold quiet a bit of it.  We were supposed to do the Busti Apple Festival this Sunday but I'm not sure if we have enough stock.  At the end of this year we will be ending our Wildtree run.  It's been a great 9 years but the company is making a lot of changes that aren't really what our area focuses on, unfortunately.

About a month ago my niece had her Christening.  My sisters' husband/family is Catholic.  My sister and I were raised in a Pentecostal Church (altho my parents were not Pentecostal - but that's a story for another day).  After we moved to PA my sister stopped going to church.  I continued and was even in IVCF while in college.  IV or IVCF is Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship.  It was open to everyone.

These days - I know what I believe and have strong beliefs but do not attend church regularly.  I will attend different churches for different reasons such as volunteering or to see a speaker or attend a celebration, occasion, etc.  I respect all other religions and feel my personal beliefs don't really match to any said place of worship.  I also think that it's a very personal choice - and eventho I appreciate hearing what other people believe - I don't want someone telling me what TO believe or telling me what I believe is wrong.

Plus with the way politics have been the last several years that has been a real tough one for me too.  It seems politics have entered the church and many churches are more political than about the fellowship and togetherness and equality.  I rather hang on to the values I grew up on in the church that I remember and take them on my journey from here on out.  To treat everyone equal, to be compassionate, help others when I can, and try and make the world a better place.

I'm sorry if that sounds like I'm against church - that couldn't be further from the truth - it's some of the people that confuse me - not the ideas and beliefs.  My thoughts and feelings on the subject are very complex and many don't understand them but I'm ok with that.  I feel it's what's on the INSIDE that counts.  My purpose is not to judge people - nor is it anyone's job to judge people - and I think that many have forgotten or disregarded that simple way of thinking.

Sorry for the rant here - my real purpose - was to post a photo of my sweet niece - but wanted to explain why she was in a dress 6 times the size of her.  Regardless - she is adorable and wonderful!

A while back I was telling you about a new place in town that was VERY vegan friendly.  It's called Total Evolution.  This week they started featuring soups.  3 of them - that they made themselves.  2 are vegan and the other one is meat and dairy free but contains honey.

I enjoyed both of them.  This first one is Butternut Squash and Rice and the other one below is Purple Potato and Leek.

This morning I had one of their Wild Cherry Cranberry Smoothies.  It was lovely.

They have a new and seasonal smoothie for the Halloween Season called the Frankie that I am going to have to try before too long.

I really need to get to a few local produce stands before the winter gets here.  I dread the winter months not only because of the snow and cold but because the produce is narrowed down to store bought which is usually drab and dreary.

And speaking of weather - I hope everyone is ok with all of the hurricanes and earthquakes that have been striking!  YIKES!  Please let me know in comments!  I want to hear from you!

I already have one more post on deck - hopefully I will be posting it tomorrow - it's something new-to-me that I have been eating that I am totally addicted to now.

I also have a few other grocery store finds I need to share with you so stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sweet & Tangy Mushroom Rice Soup

Just a quick post today with 1 of the 4 soups I did with my 25 pounds of free mushrooms.  This one was a sweet and tangy mushroom and rice soup.  I have to admit at first it wasn't my favorite but I tweaked it a bit and it grew on me!

5 C Mushrooms
1 tea Minced Garlic
3 T Earth Balance
1 Onion
4 C Veg Broth
1 C White Wine
 1 C Cooked Rice
3 T Tomato Paste
1 C Coconut Cream
1 tea Dill
Sea Salt, Natural Sugar & Old Bay Seasoning to taste

I sauteed the Onions and Mushroom on stove top while adding the liquid ingredients, spices, and Tomato Paste in a blender.   Then combined everything into the blender and pulsed. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

I Acquired 25 Pounds of Mushrooms Over The Weekend...FREE...And Other Weekend Happenings

Over the weekend our region had one of the largest seasonal folk art craft fairs in our area and one of the vendors asked if any of the volunteers wanted free mushrooms so a friend of ours said that he knew someone who would want them.  They were already washed, sliced, etc and ready to go.  When he brought the box of mushrooms over I was SHOCKED!  There had to have been a good 25 pounds of mushrooms in there!  Here are some of them!

 After sharing with 4 other people who only grabbed about 5 pounds each I still had LOTS left.  So last night I made soup!  LOTS and LOTS of soup!  More on those soups in future posts but today I thought I would post some other random photos from the weekend.  After 4 large batches of soup - my mother and I did a few other things with them including a favorite from my childhood that we veganized.  POM (Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms).  We cooked them in Earth Balance Vegan Spread instead of the butter/margarine we used to when I was a kid!

At this same folk art fair was this lil guy...a Prairie Dog!  My father and I adore them!  There is a man who brings his fur friends each year - and we have seen him at other events - I believe he rescues a lot of the animals - you can tell he really LOVES them!  Each animal has a name and he remembers ALL of them!  He also currently has about 300 goats and mini goats, too!  He was telling a lady that he will NOT bring a goat who doesn't want to come that day.  They all want to go (he doesn't force them).  He says "ok - who wants to go" and a bunch of them will run over to the truck(s)!  He had some turtles, large rabbits, and a mini horse, too!

Oh yes!  And the goats!  They were adorable!  All so friendly and well behaved!  I really connected with a few of them!  I have wanted 2 goats for a while now but don't know the first thing about caring for them.  Regardless they are so cute!

I can't believe it's fall already!  Oye!  It bums me out because I know that snow is right around the corner!

I will cherish the non-snow weather for as long as I can, tho!

In other news...

The decorated rocks are popping up all over for various groups so we decided to do them for the radio station.  Here are a few that I started already!

I'm not the best drawer but I try and it's FUN - it gets me out walking a bit more and it helps relieve some stress!

Friday, September 8, 2017

What I'm...

Here's something you might not know about me - I'm Dyslexic.  When I was growing up they didn't really say it much or know much about it so to make me/my parents feel better I think they said I was "borderline Dyslexic".  I think it was when I was in 2nd grade that they started saying this so almost my whole life and I still have problems to this day but I (mostly) know how to deal with it.  For me it was reading comprehension, transposing numbers, and completely shutting down during test taking.  I just had to learn in different ways than most people would.  I still have to do things differently in my adult life to retain information.

Because of this I tend to shy away from reading books - cover to cover.  I tend to enjoy collections of poetry, magazine, online sources, and recipe books instead.  That's where Issuu has come in handy as of late.  I'm trying to start up a nice collection of magazines again and have been searching their site for Vegan and Raw Vegan ePublications.  I've found MANY.  And from other countries, too!  Between that and my backlog of eBooks from sites I have frequented lately I need to start committing to some reading time.  What I'm currently thumbing thru is "5 Easy But Life-Changing Ways To Stop Stressing About Food" by Elise Museles of Kale and Chocolate.  It's not so much that I have been stressing about food lately but I have been rather bored yet rushed at the same time.  I haven't been cooking at home and have been trying to go back to simple foods like salads and veggie bowls.
As many of you know I have an eclectic mish mash of musical tastes.  I can switch from Broadway Tunes to Rap in seconds!  From Bluegrass to Reggae in a matter of minutes!  I'd like to think it's just because I like all sorts of music but sometimes I wonder if it's because I need to work my music like I work my brain...keep it interesting and active...and all over the place.  This week I have been listening to some Classic Rock and 80s for the most part but I feel a change coming VERY soon!

I really haven't been watching anything on Hulu+ or Netflix lately.  I have been more into YouTube.  I have been looking for funny and uplifting channels while still having a point to them.  I've also been looking at the Woodstock Fruit Festival videos I have been able to find.  I have wanted to go to it since the first year but haven't been able to so I figure 'why not check out everyone else's videos'.

An activity I have been getting into lately is finding decorated rocks just about EVERYWHERE!  I know during fair week the Queens Court was doing them on the fairgrounds for people to find but then on Labor Day I found one at our local Perkins Restaurant and it was from the #RockOutErie group.  Less than a day later I found another one for #WarrenRocks and #WarrenPARocks.  I found more of them with #RockOutWarren today, too!  Because I work at a group of radio stations I figured it would be cool to do some for our 92 Gold station so I started the hashtag #92GoldRocks...and we are starting to make some and place them around town.

The one above is one I found while I was on lunch.  A co-worker found a 'watermelon', too!  I figured it was something to do, eh!?  I think I needed a distraction from things happening in real life.  Then again - don't we all?  What have you been up to lately!?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Customization & Options!

There are so many things I have been wanting to update you all on but I haven't been able to bring myself to do it YET.  One of these days I will but not today.  Today I would rather blog about better things.  One of them being a new(er) business that is in town.  I mentioned it yesterday but I thought I would expand on that today!

The business is called Total Evolution Cafe & Smoothie Lounge.  This place offers a LOT!  There is a core group of people that attend exercise classes there.  Some of the classes that I have been seeing info about are Kettlebells, Dance, Kickboxing, Tabata, Circuit Training, PiYo, Cardio, etc.

In addition to the classes they have a Cafe.  Here is one of the things I ordered yesterday.  It was from the Build Your Own Rice Bowl Option.

Here is what I chose of this bowl...Rice, Tempeh, BBQ Chickpeas, Avocado, Carrots, Sprouts, Marinated Mushrooms, and I ordered their vegan ranch but I think they forgot it.  It was pretty good.  I LOVE that they have Build Your Own Wraps and Rice Bowls.  They have some non-vegan items but are VERY vegan friendly and knowledgeable.  I can't wait to go back there and try something different!  I'm totally digging this place because of the way you can customize.

I couldn't resist trying their Avocado Toast.  I enjoy putting mashed Avocado on toast and bagels whenever I can but the price of Avocados have been INSANE lately on the local level.  So I do try and get something while ordering out.  This is their take on Avocado Toast.  It's on Super Grain Bread with Avocado, Tomato, Maple Mustard, and Salt and Pepper.  There was only a pinch of salt and for that I'm grateful - you know that I'm not much of a salt person.

Some of the other things I found interesting on the menu were Chia Pudding made with Coconut Milk...Super Food Energy Balls, Smoothie Bowls, Fresh Fruit Cups, Shakes, Juices, MANY Menu Wraps in addition to the Build Your Own.

I'm going to try their Oatmeal Bar one of these days!  Hot cereal of your choice with about 22 different toppings to choose from.

I grabbed this photo from their social media because I forgot to take a pic of it before I ate it last week.  I can't remember what they called it and it wasn't on their menu from what I could see.

This wrap had Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Carrots, Sprouts, Greens, Beets, Beet Hummus, and 2 dressings that they made in-house which was the Vegan Ranch combined with the Greek Balsamic type dressing.  It was AWESOME!

So YEAH...needless to say I will be frequenting this place often.  LOTS of options and LOTS of ways to incorporate different foods in different ways.  PLUS they have healthy snacks!  YAY!

Not to mention some of the things you can buy in their shop!  I'll save that for another day!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Positive Activism

Since this blog is about trying to keep things POSITIVE I thought it was rather fitting to post about something I have been doing lately that is a form of positive activism.

Many activist get a bad rap because of all of the negativity that pops up.  And I'm fully aware that we wouldn't be activists at all if everything was 'hunky dory' and all was perfect in the world.  I have been thinking of more positive ways to spread the word and a few months ago when I saw that The Humane League had these static stickers for volunteers to hand out to restaurants I knew it was within my calling!

The stickers I was passing out lately are a little hard to photograph but I wanted to give a shout out to a few places for placing these stickers in their window and in a great spot!  Both places were overjoyed to slap them on their window!

The first place is The Arbor House Cafe and Tea Room and their Facebook Page is located HERE.  I've blogged about them before and I will blog about them again!  It's a neat place and I graduated with the brother of the owner.  He works there, too!  Their mom was actually my Color Guard adviser while I was in high school marching band, too!  Wonderful family!

I took this snapshot this morning as I was walking into the office.  You can see the sticker in the upper left hand corner.  Some of the vegan options they offer are bagels (with peanut butter), a few different kind of wraps with veggies, hummus, sprouts, their own dressing, etc.  They also have a garlic hummus and corn chips that is good, too!

Their walls are often covered with art and they have acoustic groups and bands in there every once and a while.  Their tea offerings are expanding, too, and they even offer High Tea (Afternoon Tea) gatherings!

The other place I would like to give a shout out to is Total Evolution Cafe and Smoothie Bar which is within the same block as Arbor House.

They are fairly new but the business owner has owned other businesses in the past.  The sign outside and above their entrance currently says Seasons On The Avenue - that was her last business name.

As you can see she put TWO in the on the left of the entrance which is near the bottom of the window near the wheel of the exercise bike.

The other was in the right side window below the display of smoothie mixes.  You can see some of the things they offer for healthy snacks, smoothies, juices, wraps, etc.  But I will be posting something later today or tomorrow with some of the vegan options I have been gnawing on as of late.

What I find the most interesting about this place is that they have a base menu but almost everything is customizable, too!  They offer an Oatmeal Bar with Steel Cut Oats, Grits, and more for your base and they have over 20 toppings to choose from, too!  They do 'build your own wrap' and rice bowl meals, too!  Very Cool!

I hope to make it over to Tabouli very soon, too, to see if they would like to put a Vegan Options Inside sticker on their window.  I'm assuming they would because they note the vegan options on their menu!

There aren't any fully vegetarian restaurants where I live but a handful of them have been opening their minds and hearts to include vegetarian and vegan options lately and if that is the case I want to do what I can to promote that fact.  I have mentioned before that the next city over they do have a veg restaurant but I haven't been able to visit as often as I would like to.  I hope to go over there, too, and give one of these stickers to them!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Quick Fair Re-Cap

I know it's been a while.  A lot has been going on.  And I mean A LOT.  Pretty much every part of our lives have been going thru changes the last several months.  Personal, Family, Work, Volunteer, Community, Health, Relationships, etc.  Instead on rambling on and on about it I figured it was best just to jump in on current event rather to rehash things from the last weeks and months.

What I will re-cap QUICKLY for you in that we are past fair week...which ended up being more like fair month OR fair summer.  There was a LOT of preparation in this years county fair.  There ALWAYS is but this year seemed to be even more so.

Here are photos of 2 of the concerts from this years fair.  This first photo is from last year but this year it was more of the same from the Morning Show!

Tuesday Night - Neal McCoy was LIVE in concert at the Warren County Fair in Pittsfield, PA.  It's was a HECK of a show!  I've said it before and I'm sure I will say it again...I'm not the biggest country music fan...but I do know what I like and I've always liked Neal McCoy.  He was actually the first performer I saw LIVE when I was in High School...and here he is 22 or so years later back at our fairgrounds!  He's a wonderful individual and a HELL of a performer!

He performed to a jam-packed 'house' (building).  He spent most of the show IN the crowd!  I think it's fair to say that Warren County will ALWAYS love Neal McCoy!

Wednesday Night - The Pam Tillis Trio performed to another FULL HOUSE!  It was Pam Tillis with 2 other females on stage with their acoustic instruments and vocals.  This show was unique and more intimate than her full band.

I originally was going to do a longer post but we are under severe weather warning at the moment so I might do another post later today or tomorrow.

I have a lot to share but haven't had a lot of time to actually POST and for that I am truly sorry!  Don't give up on me!  I'm back but I'm still trying to get fully back in the saddle so to speak!

What have you been up to!?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Mixing Leftovers & A New Mug!

Here's one of 3 new mugs I bought over the weekend!  It's from a local vendor that I couldn't find online anywhere but HAD to post this bit of pottery!  LOVE LOVE LOVE it!  I will save the other 2 mugs for a later date.

As for my Food Challenge for this week - I didn't spend any additional money yesterday on food and used leftovers and added it to something I had a little bit left of in my pantry...pasta!  It turned out tasty!  It was a bunch of stuff thrown together that is for sure!  I ate it for dinner last night and the rest today for lunch!

I used the leftover black beans, and leftover cauliflower rice, carrots, and peas from the night before and added it to elbow mac.  I used - all to taste - Vegan Mayo, Dijon Mustard, and Garlic...YUM!

This is a different take on a Vegan Macaroni Salad.

Also a good way to get in more veggies for the day!

I was pleasantly surprised!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Budget Blabbing & Babies!

Before I get to my semi-daily updates on what I ate and how much it cost I thought I would share 2 more photos of Trinity.  My sister was gifted a Baby Photo Shoot from her Co-Workers and these are the first ones I have seen from that session.

OMG I can't get over her!

In other family-related news that I haven't mentioned YET while I share these cousin and her husband traveled up from Tennessee last week.  They stayed for a week over at my parents house.  It was WONDERFUL to see them.  I was able to spend a little time with them while they were in town.

While they were here we were able to take a tour of Southern Tier Brewery.  That was really neat!  We got to see all the machinery and ins and outs of everything!

This past weekend my parents and I were part of a committee that helped put on a craft show at the fairgrounds.  Also on the grounds this past weekend was a car show, BBQ, and Horse Show.  Of course I didn't grab anything at the BBQ but I did stock up on some convenience items last week to put in the camper freezer to have on hand...and good thing, too!

The event went really well!  I'm super excited that my parents were in the committee, too!  Next major event is Fair Week which is always in the beginning of August.  If you have been around my blog for a while you know that I always share photos after that week is complete.

Oh!  Another UPDATE...I was voted in as a board member with the Secretary position of our local League of Women Voters - so that's exciting!

And semi-daily food update!  So after blogging yesterday I noticed I had 2 gift cards in my purse that had about $5 each left on them.  I wanted to get my dinner stuff for the next few days and hubby needed bread and a few things for the house.  With everything I only spent $1.24 out of pocket.

What I ended up buying for food was Black Beans for $1, Chickpeas for $1, Corn with Onions and Spicy Peppers for $1 (all of these items were canned), then I found a frozen bag of Cauliflower Rice with Carrots, Green Onions, and Peas for $1.79, and a package of Tortilla Wrap/Burritos for $2.29.  So that was really only $7.08 for the day but I got it at no cost to me because of the gift cards I used.  But for sake of argument we will look at it as a 'charge' for the day and week.  So far I have spent $14.58 on food this week.  BUT...with what I bought yesterday that should take care of me for 2 to 3 days I'm thinking.

I have been doing a lot of research on other people and their vegan food challenges.  Yesterday I found a girl online who posted about her food journey for the week.  When she added everything up she spent $21.88 for 10 days of meals!  I thought - HOW WONDERFUL - so for the heck of it - I went thru her list and put what my local prices were and came up with the total of $52.77 and that included me already having 5 items in my pantry and deleting 3 other items!  So with NOT having to purchase 8 items from her list my total was between 2 and 3 times higher than hers!  Oye!

I have been out of cashews for a month, I'm totally out of Nutritional Yeast at the moment, I have NO fresh produce either.  I currently only have French Fries and Frozen Artichokes in my Freezer, and with what I got yesterday I have some leftovers but only have 1 unopened can of chickpeas and the Mexi-Corn for canned items.  This will certainly be interesting!  If I buy a 1 pound bag of Nutritional Yeast it's $19 here.  If I buy 14 to 16 ounces of Cashews the cheapest price in my town is $12.99.  If I buy only those two items the total would be $31.99.  I guess THIS is what happens when you eat out of your pantry and take it down to nothing, eh!?