Friday, March 1, 2019

Kombucha Journey, New-To-Me Vegan Amy's Kitchen Products, & Ms. Trinity



YIKES!  Yet again...time has gotten away from me!  I have way too many photos to post and things to blab about so I'll have to work towards checking those items off my list and not overload everyone in one post.  Altho...I have a feeling this post will surely be long enough on its own!  First up...an update on my Kombucha Journey!    This was the 2nd batch I did and we did do a 2nd ferment with it!  My parents found a few of these cute bottles at TJ Maxx for cheap!


In the first photo, you will see our first flavor.  It was straight-up Kiwi!  In the 2nd photo, that is pure blueberry!  Both were fizzy and both were tasty!


And finally, this one is orange and kiwi!  We have started our 3rd batch and it should be ready to fruit and 2nd ferment in about a week.  It's been FUN!  We already have quite the SCOBY Hotel going, too!  I think we might have to start doing more than one batch at a time!


A few weeks ago I went to the Erie Target and found a few new-to-me Amy's Kitchen Vegan Labeled Products including this Ravioli!  It was SUPER tasty!  The sauce really MADE it!  The only problem with these Amy's meals is when I find one I really like I could eat like 4 more in one sitting!


Then there were these Asian Dumplings.  At first bite...I thought it was 'ok' but as I continued eating it I found myself really enjoying it!  After it was all gone, I found myself wanting more!  


Paella!  Another winner!  I really didn't have much of an opinion of this going in only because I'm not a Paella Guru by any means.  I think I only had Paella maybe twice before and I made it both times and I made it myself so who knows if it was close to a traditional Paella.  Regardless, I did find this one quite tasty and I would certainly buy it again!


And to finish out this post I thought I would post a pic of my wonderful niece with my parents dog.  I have a series of these photos on IG in case you want to see more.  Ms Trinity calls me Aunt Ja Ja.  She's a gem!  I love her dearly!  

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

More Vegan Eats & Women Are Wonderful Event


Have YOU seen these YET?  Clif came out with new (loose) Granola!  I was able to find this Cinnamon Almond flavor and I must say it was GREAT!  Actually, it was a gift from my parents!  They are VERY thoughtful!  When I eat Granola I eat it loose and dry and usually as a snack!  Because I ate many handfuls of this it was more like a meal!


Eventho this photo isn't the best I wanted to post it because it was a meal I had recently.  It was one of the Tasty Bites Microwavable Pouches...the Spinach Dal...actually, and a side of Garlic Parsley Riced Cauliflower.  I ended up mixing it together.  It was YUMMY!


My 40th birthday is in about a month.  I wanted to do 40 Good Deeds leading up to my Birthdate but I haven't been consistent with doing one each day.  One of the things I'm doing is donating tea to our local Cancer Center for those waiting for treatment (and their families).


Another thing I have done recently is volunteer at our local Women Are Wonderful Event that took place this past weekend.  It was a FUN day.  There were about 100-110 participants about roughly 30-50 volunteers.


Participants could take up to 5 classes/sessions of various topics and there was a breakfast bar and lunch served.  This photo is one of the last classes of the day and it was a card making class.  As a part of the Zonta Club efforts, we had many volunteers there.  We also chose the winners of our Basket Raffle Fund Raiser which the money raised goes to our Service Projects.  That day we also took a collection for our "Free The Girls" Project.  The participants donated 66 bras and $56 to help with shipping our next batch of bras to "Free The Girls".


The other night I was roaming around the house - doing a few things - and I caught Cricket on the recliner like this.  Apparently, she didn't want to sit ON the recliner's seat but wanted to wedge herself in the elbow part of the armrest.


I almost forgot to post this photo.  Still not a great photo but it was a good meal.  I made some more Baked Tofu Nuggets.  This time I threw a bunch of spices in with Bob's Red Mill's All Purpose Flour and some Arrowroot.  I probably left them in a bit longer than needed but the texture was nice.  Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside!


Monday, February 11, 2019

New-To-Me Vegan Finds & Booch Results!


BOOCH!

Here is some of the finished product from the 1st batch of Kombucha that my Dad and I did.  We just went with the 1st brew and flavored with slices of oranges in the middle one and whole blueberries on the two on the left.  The one on the right is my Dad's experiment with ginger and cinnamon.  The blueberry was ok...next time I think I will blend the blueberries and then add it to the booch.  Altho I haven't finished the orange one (I have only sipped at little) I am totally LOVING the orange one!  We had to pitch one of the smaller batches due to mold but the large 2 quart and a smaller mason jar worked well...we even grew 2 baby SCOBY'S!  We started another small batch and in about a week and a half or so I want to try for the 2nd brew and carbonation!


I waited for as long as I could but had to break down and go shopping the weekend before last.  I stopped at Whole Foods Co-Op in Erie and they had a bunch of new products and a slew of sales...FIGURES...I didn't have a lot of money to go on a spree...but I did find some new-to-me items including these bagels!


And Miyoko's!  I think it was $2 off!  I know I have had some of her other vegan cheese - like the pub cheeses - and flavored cream cheeses - but this might have been the first time I have tried the 'straight up' plain vegan cream cheese.  And let me tell you...I LOVED IT!


Target in Erie expanded their vegan offerings, too, including a pumped up Sweet Earth section!  I already ate these Aloha BBQ Quesadillas.  They were ok but I don't think I would buy them again unless they were on sale.  They really didn't look anything like the photo.  The vegan cheese was near non-existent, I couldn't really taste the pineapple either.  They didn't taste bad but I I was thinking they would have layer upon layer of flavor but they really didn't.  They are good if you are in a hurry, however.


Another Sweet Earth meal I found was this.  Again...if you can find them on sale they are worth a taste.  With this I did appreciate that the cauliflower was actually roasted.  It was literally a little bit of mac with cauliflower on top.  There wasn't much vegan cheese sauce at all.  Luckily I had some of my Vegan Alfredo left over from a previous meal that I added on top and mixed it.  The flavor was good but it really could use more sauce!


Check these 'bad boys' out!  Daiya came out with some vegan yogurts.  But not just ANY vegan yogurt...CRUMBLE Yogurts!  As I type this I am eating the Key Lime one now and the taste is certainly a flavor EXPLOSION!  This Key Lime is right up there with the Lemon Cashewgurt for me - and that is saying a lot!


I haven't tried this one yet but if it's anything like the Key Lime one I know I will be a fan!  These are NICELY done.  Word to the wise...be sure to stir these well!  They are VERY thick!  That in itself puts it in the WIN category for me because many of the vegan yogurts I have had up to this point have been runny and/or thin.  


And finally, Kite Hill Ricotta!  It's the first time I have seen it locally and that was at my local Tops.  However, it was EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE, but I felt like I had to buy some to support the addition of a new product at that store so I did.  Of course, I really enjoyed it and can't wait to get more, so I hope they have it on sale VERY SOON!


Friday, February 1, 2019

Animal Photography - Color and Black & White


Thank you to those who are helping me narrow down my photos for this years fair!  I was able to get my hands on the categories and I have some MAJOR narrowing down to do now that I know what I am looking for!  I was hoping you could help me YET AGAIN!


First up...Animal Photography!  I think I have narrowed it down to 3.  A cat, a dog, and a Prairie Dog!  I can enter ONLY ONE in each category BUT there is a color category for animals and a black and white category for animals.  These first two are the Stray Cat.  


Next up is a Blue Lab.  This first photo is the color one and below is the black and white one of the Blue Lab.  


I guess the best way to ask is...out of the 3 animals which one do you think I should enter for the color and which one should I enter for the black and white?


The last of the 3 animal photos I have is this Prairie Dog!  Above is the color and below is the black and white version.


I'm not sure which I should enter in each category!  Can you guys and gals help me!?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Volunteering, Unboxing, Booch Making, Plant Saving, Vegan Eats!


Well, I had to break down and purchase a few groceries earlier than I wanted to but the plus side is that I bought all of this for $23 and I had a $25 gift card so at least I didn't have to touch my bank account.  I still have a lot of what you see here including the celery, hummus, rice, spaghetti sauce, and apple sauce.  I will be using those items as the week progresses.  


At the end of last week, I had some cubed butternut squash topped with a sweet brown mustard sauce my parents found at Walmart that just happened to be vegan.


Before I get into more of the foodie type photos I thought I would tell you about a few things that happened Friday and on to the weekend.  Most of you here in the states are aware of the government shutdown.  In our county we have approx. 100 federal employees AND their families that were being affected by it.  Friday I jumped in last minute and helped at a local church that was having a dinner for Furloughed Families.  There were about 150-200 people or-so that attended.  


When I saw on the church website they were saying there would be a tea/coffee bar - I knew I could help donate TEA from my boxes and boxes of tea leftover from The Sororitea Sisters.  I brought 3 boxes and gave away a lot of it and served a lot, too!


Saturday Morning I stopped over at a place here in town that does Community Breakfasts and volunteered there, too.  I wasn't sure if they would see an influx of people because of the Furloughed Families or not but I knew I had the time and wanted to help.  When I got there I learned that our local Special Olympics Athletes were going to be volunteering as well.  


It was a nice morning and those who volunteered with The Special Olympics did GREAT!  Over 20 years ago I volunteered with the Special Olympics for about 2 or 3 years and LOVED it!  I helped with Basketball, Track, Softball, and attended a few Swimming and Bowling tournaments.  I really enjoyed my time with the Athletes.  And I enjoyed Saturday morning with some of them serving breakfast, too!


I just received another goodie box from Thayers!  WooHoo!  I'm totally LOVING their products and have so much more to share with you but that will be for another day and another post!


Check this out!  BOOCH!  It's official!  My father and I started brewing!  I figured that my parents' house is the best place to try it!  He already has all of his winemaking stuff set up!  Special thanks to a family friend who gave us 2 SCOBY's to get us started!  YAY!  This was the 'granddaddy' of the booch we are brewing.  We had 2 smaller ones we are trying, too.  And with a creative way to cover them, too!  Up top...that's a sterile mouth mask that my dad had and it fit nicely.  We used a bunji cord on this one, too, just in case!


I do have more foodie pics...I swear...but first...my poor plant!  I'm told this is a Dumb Cane Plant.  I've had it for 5 years and over the last 2 or 3 months it's been wilting away to nothing.  I've been trying to save it any way I can.

But after months of this happening to 90 percent of the leaves I knew I didn't have any other choice but to hack it.  It pained me to do it but I had to!


It even had new growth on the top.  So, I took the better-looking tops off and I'm trying to propagate a few of them.  So far they aren't rooting so I'm not sure if they are going to work or not.


There was also new shoots on the bottom...as you can see here...after I hacked nearly everything off.


Here's another look at what I had to do to try and save what I could of this plant.  I'm not sure if it's going to work but time will tell and I will surely report back!


So...on to the FOOD!  First up...Potato Celery Soup!  Saturday I went over to my parents' house and my mom and I cooked for several hours and actually did some meal planning (which I am horrible at).

This soup contains the following:

1 T Earth Balance (Vegan Margarine)
1 T Coconut Buttery Flavored Oil (Vegan, of course)
1/2 Onion
3/4 Bunch of Celery (I used leaves)
2 Small Potatoes
2 Carrots
About 2 and 1/2 C Water
1/2 C Almond Milk
1/2 C FRESH Parsely
Pinch Onion Sea Salt
Pinch Black Pepper

After cooking everything in a pot until soft I took about 75 percent of the mixture and pulsed in a blender and then added the rest of the mixture in for a heartier soup.  It was YUMMY!  I think we also added just a little bit of Bragg's Liquid Aminos and Old Bay Seasoning to it - to taste.


Next up...we made a HUGE batch of Lentil Veggie Stew.  This is the veggie part!  I could have totally eaten it just like this!  It was tasty!  We then added the Lentils and cooked down and it looked a little like this...



Here's what this recipe contained:

1 and a 1/2 C Green/Brown Lentils
Coconut Oil - Vegan Butter Flavored as needed
1 Sweet Onion
1 Carrot
2 Celery Stalks
1 Potato
4 Cloves Garlic
1 Small Zucchini
1 tea Ground Coriander
1 tea Ground Cumin
1 tea Turmeric
1/2 tea Cinnamon
2 and a 1/2 C Water
3 C Canned, Diced Tomatoes with Juice
1 C FRESH Parsely
2 T Lemon Juice
1/2 tea Old Bay Seasoning
Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Braggs Liquid Aminos, Agave Nectar - to taste

This was pretty wonderful and we divvied it up into many meals for my parents and myself for the week.


And...finally...Quinoa Black Bean Spinach Stuffed Peppers!  These had the following in them:

About 3 C Cooked Quinoa
3 C Spinach (cooked down)
1 C Black Beans
Oil as needed
1 Small Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
2 tea Cumin
2 tea Smoked Paprika
1 Can Diced Tomatoes with Juice
1/4 C FRESH Cilantro
Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Lemon Juice, Bragg's Liquid Aminos, Chili Powder - to taste


We put the mixture into 4 Bell Peppers that we cut lengthwise.  They looked a little dry and we all like sauce so we poured some sweet spaghetti sauce over top of them.


It worked really well!  And we are still eating leftovers!  My mom has been doing a lot of cooking for the two of them since my father has been out of the hospital and watching his food intake more.  He's been doing really well.  They aren't vegan or even vegetarian but they are eating more plant-based foods than before.  My father has lost about 15 pounds already.  And has enjoyed nearly everything we have been fixing!  PLUS...it's great because I can grab some leftovers! 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

State of Bliss Photography


Just a quick update today...and I'm also asking for some help!

Would you be able to visit THIS SITE - it is my NEW Photoblog.  I'm posting some of my photographs there in hopes to narrow down what I could and should submit in out fair this summer.

It would REALLY HELP ME if you could hop over and click on the ones you like best and comment in some way!  The photos with the most feedback by this spring I will be printing and entering in our fair.

I haven't done this in the past but some of the rules have changed and they no longer require matting so I thought I would see if I could get a few ribbons!

Again...my NEW Photoblog is:
State of Bliss Photography

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Letchworth State Park


Back in Mid-September DH and I decided to take a day trip to Letchworth State Park.  Eventho I grew up in and around Western New York I never visited Letchworth.  Come to find out, I used to live about an hour away from it!  People from the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area joke that locals don't visit The Falls (or more specifically ride on The Maid of The Mist) until after we move from the area.  I guess the same could be said of Letchworth State Park.


These first two photos are part of the Glen Iris Inn at Letchworth State Park.  It was formerly the estate of William Pryor Letchworth and has been a country inn since 1914.  It overlooks the Middle Falls on the Gennessee River and overlooks Letchworth. 


Before I start posting the waterfall photos I wanted to make special mention of this area within Letchworth.  It's called Tea Table Rock area.  It's located in the Wolf Creek section of the park and named for the unusual rock formation.  In the 1920's, photographs of the scenic area were said to show the 'table' high on the edge of the cliff.  As for this specific photo that I took this is one of the many picnic areas of Tea Table.  It was an open-air pavilion.  There was a back wall with a fireplace and chimney.  The two sides were somewhat enclosed but had window frames that were cut out much like you see on this back wall...other parts of the sides had half walls that were about hip-high or so.  Where I was standing - taking the photo - that entrance side was open and exposed.  I think it was a great way for people to huddle to get away from the elements but still have open air for the nature lovers.  It looked VERY old and really took me back to a different time.


Here is a photo of some of the cliffs they were referring to.  When we went in mid-September, the leaves had yet to change...as you can see here.  It was still an amazing sight to see, tho!


I tried to take as many photos as I could before DH's patience ran thin.  There is a lower falls, middle falls, and upper falls.  The Middle Falls was the largest.  We mistakenly thought that was the Upper Falls and didn't actually make it up to the top.  I know we have to go back at some point so when we do I will report back and hopefully have more photos of that waterfall.


I know it's hard to see, but close to the middle of this photo, there is a small bridge that you can walk over.  We didn't make it over to the other side so I didn't get any photos from that area.  Again, I hope to go back and explore it more!


Here is a closer look at one of the bridges.  It's a little grainy because I zoomed in as much as I could.  Again, we didn't make it over to that side or else I would have gotten a better snapshot.


Here's another angle of the gorge area.  And another one of the many cliffs.  Overall, Letchworth State Park is nearly 14,500 acres and about 17 miles long.  It's about a 35 mile drive from Rochester and a 60 mile drive from Buffalo.


I was able to get more photos of the Middle Falls when we went.  Here is one as we were approaching.  In the upper right-hand corner, (which is actually the Portage Viaduct), you can see what looks like a bridge and/or railroad bridge way type structure or skywalk.  That area is where the Upper Falls is.


As we continued to walk, we could feel the mist of the falls.  The stone surrounding everything was truly amazing!  It was a bit windy that day and because we arrived earlier in the day it wasn't too busy YET and was a tad chilly.


I've always LOVED waterfalls!  When I saw how massive the Middle Falls were I knew I had to take as many pictures as possible!  I'm bummed we didn't make it to the Upper Falls that day.  Letchworth State Park is also known as the "Grand Canyon of the East".


Here's a side-shot of the Middle Falls.  I read that as many as 50 waterfalls found on tributaries that flow into Gennessee River.  In some places, the rock walls are over 550 feet high!  I had a lot of fun that day and can't wait to go back!