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!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Weekend Hibernation

This past weekend was CRAZY!  I never left the house.  We received about 2 feet of snow and this morning it was -2 degrees.  My BIL in Erie got about 3 feet of snow and my sister in Bemus Point got about 3 feet as well.

So...I hunkered down...and hibernated, basically.

I made a LARGE vat of soup as you can see above.  I like to call it Creamy Lentil.

1 C Lentils
2 Carrots
4 C Water
Spices: Onion Salt, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder,  Cumin, Parsley, Black Sea Salt...all to taste
2 T Earth Balance Vegan Margarine 

Once all cooked in a large pot I put everything in a high-speed blender.  I added a handful of cashews and more water until I reached the desired consistency.

I've had 3 meals from it so far and the 3rd time I had a bowl I added from Daiya American Cheese and it made a nice Vegan Cheese Soup.  Tonight I might add some veggies and finish it off.

Cricket was less than impressed with the cold.  She will not go outside and she's been doing everything in her power to stick to me like glue and get under the blanket.  This from someone who doesn't usually like burrowing in blankets.  

Check these 'bad boys' out!  I made Tofu Bites!  I basically coated them in All Purposed Flour, Garlic, Smoked Paprika, Onion Powder, Black Sea Salt and Grapeseed Oil.  I baked them at 375 for about 30 or more minutes until somewhat chewy.

But what really MADE these Tofu Bites was the sauce I made for them!  I was overjoyed with the flavor of this sauce and will be making this OFTEN!

1/3 - 1/2 C Just Mayo
3 T Yellow Mustard
3 T Maple Syrup
3 T Sweet BBQ Sauce (I chose one from Wegman's that was clearly marked VEGAN)
1 T Lemon flavored Balsamic (or you can use 1/2 T Lemon Juice & 1/2 T Balsamic)

So needless to say, I was drinking HOT TEA all weekend long and catching up on LOTS of Tea Reviews over at Sororitea Sisters...when it came to my attention that I totally forgot to mention it was Betty White's 97th Birthday last week!  "Rose" from the Golden Girls was the first Funko Pop I bought and I knew I had to post something on IG.  So for those of you who aren't on IG...here is the pic I posted.

I also ALMOST forgot that I still had some Vegan Cookie Batter from EatPastry in my frig so I busted that open and made some Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Loving Cafe - Fort Wayne, IN

I figured today was the perfect day to blog about The Loving Cafe in Fort Wayne, Indiana, since I will be stuck in my house due to inclement weather.  Taking a look back on our fall road trip, I knew I had to dedicate a post about The Loving Cafe which is a 100% vegan restaurant in Fort Wayne.

The cafe was part of a plaza area that was pretty nice and had parking directly in front of the establishment.  The food was fast and fresh and full of flavor!  Hubby started off with a salad that had a nice creamy ginger type dressing.  

We decided to split some loaded fries.  There was a bean chili and vegan cheese they topped the plate with as you can see.  I decided to opt for the Mushroom Pistachio Soup and it was 'out of this world'!  Hubby chose the Cabbage soup and he said it was some of the best he ever had when it came to Cabbage soup...vegan or non-vegan!

I did sample some of his soup and it was darn tasty!  It was sweet AND savory.  I was surprised by the sweet and then realized they used raisins on the soup!  Clever!

Everything on the menu was clearly described and there were many creative dishes I was thrilled to see!  Ones I would have never assumed would be offered.  I took a few photos of the menus because I wanted to remember the food combos and ideas to see if I could make a version of some of them at home.

Some of them, I was a little afraid to try, because I thought they might taste too much like meat.  They seemed to do a lot with vegan shrimp which intrigued me but I couldn't seem to bring myself to try them at first day we were there.  I'm betting if I lived full-time near this place I would eventually have to try everything on their menu!

I loved the color of the cafe dining area!  The light fixtures were nice, too!  The prices seemed to be right in line with other non-veggie offerings in the area.  I'm so glad we were able to visit The Loving Cafe in Fort Wayne, IN, it was a great experience!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Eating Out of the Pantry, Coins from Malaysia, & a Snail Named George

I was going to blog about another restaurant today but I thought I would save it for another day...SOON!  Instead, I thought I would do a post about current happenings and upcoming events.

One thing is for sure...I don't have a whole hell of a lot of food in my house!  This photo above is from a few months ago and it's already 'ancient history'.  I have a feeling I will be doing a lot with Quinoa and Lentils next week because that is what I have in my pantry.  It will surely be 'slim pickings'.

And speaking of that phrase - I had to Google the origin.  I knew it was old but I didn't know it went back to the 1600's!  And that is according to Dictionary.com...and what they had to say about what it alludes to is a bit ironic due to me being a vegan and all but I still thought it was interesting...
A small amount left after others have taken a share. For example, After each of the children took what they wanted of Mother'sthings, it was slim pickings for the rest of the family. This expression alludes to animals devouring a carcass. [Early 1600s] 

Something that is LONG overdue is a THANK YOU to Suituapui for these wonderful coins from Malaysia!  I received them a few months ago and totally forgot to blog about them!  YIKES!  So sorry!  Because we are in the 'thick' of winter I'm sure I will be sorting out coins over the next couple of weeks again!  We are supposed to get anywhere between a foot of snow up to 2 and a half or even close to 3 feet of snow in some spots!  YIKES!

This is a photo of George the Snail.  It was reported that he passed away on or around the 10th of the month at the age of 14.  He was a land snail species, Achatinella apexfulva, which used to be plentiful on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, and George was believed to be the species single survivor.  He lived his last days alone in a terrarium in Kailua, Hawaii, alongside an ample supply of fungi (a food his ancestors liked to scrape off leaves in the wild). (Article)

According to Wikipedia...as of January 2019, the IUCN's 1996 conservation status assessment (the most recent IUCN coverage of the species) still lists the species as Critically Endangered.

A few things that I am in Planning Mode for have to do with several boards, groups, and committees I belong to.  Such as...celebrating the 100 years of Women's Right to Vote...we have a planning meeting of how various organizations can work on the local level to celebrate for a full year!  Another project in the planning stages is our county's first annual Weekend of Service.  We are trying to promote Volunteerism and trying to encourage more people to volunteer!  That will be the weekend of May 17 thru the 19th.  We have a lot of things in the works for League of Women Voters and Zonta International, too.  And, we are in full force for obtaining new vendors for the county fair in August!  In addition, I have been trying to submit more reviews again over at Sororitea Sisters.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Thayers Cucumber Witch Hazel & Face Chatter

I would like to take this opportunity to blab a bit on Thayer's.  More specifically their Cucumber Witch Hazel Facial Mist.

I need to preface this by saying that my own personal skin care regimen is next to nil.  That's right...I really don't do anything to my face.  I don't even really 'wash' it.  I know you are probably thinking...EWE GROSS...so let me explain...

I don't wash my face with soap or other chemicals.  When I was a pre-teen and teen I battled with acne like most of us did.  I had oily skin.  Once I turned vegetarian that seemed to improve - as did the acne.  I didn't really add it all up until later in life, to be honest.  From that point on I had more of what they call 'combination skin'.  And NOW that I'm getting older - and AGAIN - I'm being completely honest here - my combination skin only seems to be a problem this time of year...when it's bitterly cold and windy and dry both inside and out.  For those of you who don't know I live in the Tri-State area of New York/Pennsylvania/Ohio and am placed right around that snow belt area.

Anyhow...back to...I don't wash my face...

Yeah...I know...I went off on a tangent but it was going somewhere I PROMISE!  

For the past 20 years or so I really haven't used much on my face!  I don't wear make-up often (if at all) and the few times a year I do it might only be a little bit of cover-up.  And I'm talking like 2 or 3 times a year.  When it comes to 'washing' I usually only use water and for the more oily times, I would use a natural toner such as Witch Hazel.  I have used other brand of Witch Hazel in the past but Thayer's not only stepped up their game to the next level - they have been around since 1847!

Ever since I got my goodie box in the mail a while back from Thayers I have been LOVING each of the 4 items I received!  This Cucumber Witch Hazel Mist is AMAZING!  What I have been doing is spraying some on my Norwex Facial Cloth at night and wiping my face once with it.  In the morning, after my hot shower, I spray it directly on my face.  That's it!  That's all I do for my face/skincare and it's been great!

I'm such a low maintenance person it's scary!  I also LOVE that the mist is so refreshing that after I get out of the hot shower and spray it directly on my face it's a nice little WAKE-UP.  A great way to start the day!  The aroma of the cucumber is delightful, too!

And...I have to tell you...it put a smile on my face to know that the items they sent me were natural, cruelty-free, and vegan!

I can't wait to tell you more about Thayer's so stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Lunch Room - Ann Arbor, MI

I know I briefly mentioned our trip to Fort Wayne, IN (which ended up being our 'home base' and we hopped around to several other cities in the process) a few posts ago when I was doing my 6-packs of photo posts and recaps since I was so behind on blogging but I really wanted to dedicate a blog post to my experience at a few of those places because of their vegan friendliness!

First up is The Lunch Room - Ann Arbor - Michigan.  It was nestled in the Kerrytown District of Ann Arbor and I TOTALLY FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS PLACE!  It was original hippie meets new/millennial-hippie and I seemed to fall smack dab in the middle age-wise.  There were brand-new college kids straight up to the higher ages of the Baby Boomers and I couldn't have been more 'at home'.  Their menu was completely vegan.  Because was 'new to the place' I asked the guy at the counter if everything on the menu was vegetarian or vegan and he said with a big smile 'always been vegan - always will be vegan' to which I said AWESOME and THANK YOU!

In these first three photos you can see the outside of the building.  The first one was taken from the back of the parking lot and the other two are looking in on the middle section of the building...their courtyard, if you will.  I took one from inside the red tunnel and the other one outside from across the way.  They were all decorated for fall and it was lovely!

This was a pic of their counter area.  They showcased a slew of vegan desserts and goodies but by the time we were done with our meals I couldn't eat another bite AND the place was totally packed and wanted to make sure we weren't hogging a table.

We decided to get nachos to split.  They were HUGE!  The Loaded Nachos were about $10, I believe.  It was a meal for one (or two) by itself that is for sure! Tortilla chips, Cuban black beans & corn, avocado, their house vegan nacho cheese & pico de gallo. Gluten-free, too!

Next up...this GINORMOUS bowl of Vegan Mac & Cheese!  Spoiler Alert...I took most of this back to the hotel with me and ate it for another 2 meals!  So yeah...$8 for Gourmet Vegan Mac that lasts you 3 meals was TOTALLY WORTH IT!  The official description of this dish?  "The ultimate comfort food. The “cheese” is rich with butternut squash & red bell peppers. With a crunchy almasen (almonds, lemon zest & sesame seeds) & parsley topping."

And then there was hubby's meal...Queso Burrito Bowl.  It was a Gluten-free bowl with Black Pepper Tofu, Cuban black beans & corn, rice, pico de gallo, nacho cheese, chipotle ranch, avocado, baby greens, red bell pepper & tortilla chips.  I believe this was about $10 as well but DH the omni said he liked it.  However, and it was to no fault of The Lunch Room, between the vegan cheese on the nachos and the vegan cheese on his GIANT Salad/Bowl, we learned a lesson that day...Nutritional Yeast isn't a friend to those with Crohn's Disease.  I have been reading about it ever since and apparently SOME Crohn's people can't handle Nutritional Yeast.  DH hardly ever eats my food at home so he hasn't had much if at all any Nutritional Yeast in the past and even if he did it was in very small quantities.  He had a LOT that day and now we know he can't handle it.  YIKES!  But....everything was WONDERFUL tasting and SO FILLING!  I highly recommend The Lunch Room to anyone!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Recent Cheap Eats & Zonta Happenings

Today I have updates on recent cheap eats and local Zonta updates.  I thought I would start off with food stuff and I'm working a little backwards because this is what I had to eat last night for dinner.  I made a couple of sandwiches.  Chickpea Sandwich Spread Sandwiches to be exact.  I still had some canned chickpeas from a Brandless order in my pantry.  I added some Just Mayo, Garlic, Parsley, Black Sea Salt, and Smoked Paprika.  I made a double batch so I still have some for dinner tonight.  I might try and pair it with something else, maybe, to change it up.

I've been a little too addicted to making sauces and homemade vegan sour creams with a cashew base.  It's been too pricey and I really shouldn't do that in January which is the worst month budget-wise.  So I challenged myself to make a vegan Mac & Cheese with no nuts, no seeds, no potato/carrot-combo, and using just a few ingredients.  This is what I came up with.  It's been a while for a vegan cheese sauce like this for me.  I used a little Vegan Butter Flavored Coconut Oil, Earth Balance, Yellow Mustard, Flour, Almond Milk, Onion Sea Salt, and Nutritional Yeast.  It turned out pretty good.

Saturday I continued cleaning our kitchen that has gotten out of hand.  While I was doing that I was able to take some time to cook a few things for a bit of meal prep...such as Lentils!  But before I get to what I did with the lentils I have to tell you about this dish, first.  What you see in the photo above is a Sweet Potato Spinach Mash topped with leftover homemade vegan sour cream.  It was AMAZING!

Enter the LENTILS!  After I cooked up the lentils I added the leftovers from the Sweet Potato and Spinach Mash and that is what you see in this next photo  I ended up adding quite a bit more vegan sour cream (because...why not) and it was super tasty!

Late last week we had our monthly Zonta meeting.  This month was a lunch (next month will be a dinner).  They are VERY open to vegan options and always accommodating!  This month we did a Taco Bowl Bar!  This was mine!  They set aside the bean and corn salsa without the dressing special for me and they had a taco seasoned chicken that was cooked separately and offered off to the side!  Of course, I passed that over and opted for extra avocado instead!  Mine contained Quinoa, Tomato, Corn, Black Beans, Avocado, Red Onion, and Lime Juice.

During our Luncheon, we recognized 3 women in our community who make a difference.  These are the 3 ladies we recognized.  I knew all 3 of them.  The one I nominated is the person on the right.  She is highly involved with several dozen aspects of our county fairgrounds as well as our local Red Cross.  The person in the middle is involved with many literacy programs, student programs, senior citizen programs, voter registrations, and others.  And the person on the left is involved with early childhood education, child literacy, area fire departments and first responders, and more.

That evening we had a Service Committee Meeting.  That went really well and we planned for the next several months.  In addition, we had another Free The Girls (FTG) Bra Shipping Party!  We shipped another 456 bras in 5 large boxes!  

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Kidney Bean Quinoa Burgers, Close Call, & Vaquitas

Well THIS was a challenge!  I was trying to make something with less than 5 ingredients, on the cheap, based on what I had on-hand, and of course, VEGAN.  I came up with these Kidney Bean Quinoa Burgers.  These are the raw patties.  I'm still testing them.  They weren't bad.  But I think I will be adding garlic next time!  I would also like to try these in my dehydrator.  What you see above contain the following...Kidney Beans, Tri-Color Quinoa, Smoked Paprika, and Nutritional Yeast.

When I left for work this morning I saw this.  A tree limb fell on or near my Fiat.  I looked and looked and couldn't see any scratches or dents.  That was a close call!

The weather has been overly nuts this winter!  No real snow to speak of...not that I'm complaining...I'm not a fan of snow!  We had 50+ degrees and thunder and lightning yesterday!  VERY unusual for us here in the snow belt.  Over the next couple of days, we could see some snow and today has turned colder with wind gusts!

The feedback I have received so far about adding more animals to my posts was a very positive one!  I won't be doing this every day but I hope to include many more in my posts when I'm able to.

I'll tell you one of the species that has really been on my heart lately is the Vaquita (pictured above).  Look at those eyes!  According to many sites, there are less than 30 individual Vaquitas left.  I've even seen some sources say as few as 12 to  15 remain.  They are only found off the coast of Baja California/Baja Mexico and are usually seen thru illegal fishing operations.  They were discovered in 1950 when a dead bleached skull was found.  The following year 2 (or 3) additional skulls were found and that was enough to declare a new species of porpoise by 1958.  By 1997, the population was estimated at around 600.

To put that into perspective, I graduated in 1997...so in just about 22 years WITH these beauties being on the endangered species list and the focus of many efforts to save them...they have gone from 600 down to between 12-30 individual beings!  It breaks my heart!  But if we can continue to protect them and educate others about them MAYBE we can bring them back from the brink of extinction! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Stresemann's Bristlefront & Lazy Vegan Meals!

For the new year I am going to include more animals on my blog.  More specifically ones that need attention.  Whether that be educating myself and others about an Endangered Species or posting about another animal in need.  I thought I would start this off by sharing info about a bird that goes by Stresemann's Bristlefront.  I have been reading on this bird because of the information I received in my inbox from The American Bird Conservatory.

It's a unique bird that nests in underground tunnels.  They went unrecorded for over 50 years.  Back in 1995, there were about 15 birds that were located.  As of today, there is only 1 individual female bird of its kind that has been accounted for.  Professionals are saying that it's due to logging and other issues as to why the Stresemann's Bristlefront Bird could be the world's rarest bird.  It was recently found in Northern Brazil.

The group is trying to raise money to locate and start bringing the species back from the brink.  You can learn more about that HERE and even hear what she sounds like. 

I've been in RESEARCH MODE over the last several months.  Whether it's for the Votes For Women National Trail to celebrate 100 years of Women's Right To Vote and how I can submit historical places in my area to show up on the national trail map - or if it's Geography based to learn more about different countries and cultures.

While researching different countries and islands and such I have been keeping an eye on my Flag Counter.  It's the widget on my sidebar if you scroll to the bottom.  Yesterday I had people from 40 different countries visit my blog!  Overall, I've had 223 countries visit.  As of today, I'm only missing 20 country flags!  I will be researching these 20 countries and see how I can not only learn more about their culture but their foods and see if I can veganize them!

Speaking of food, I'll move on to my LAZY MEALS as of late!  The photo you see above is a little diddy I threw together.  It's made of frozen, riced Cauliflower & Sweet Potato.  I added Tofu that I pan fried and added garlic while pan frying.  I added a little brown sugar and dijon mustard and mixed well.  I know it sounds like a strange flavor combo but I'm kind of hooked on it now.

This past Sunday we went to a potluck and my mom and I made a HUGE tossed/veggie salad and some Vegan Macaroni Salad.  Here is a photo of the Mac.  We made the elbow mac like we usually do and then I added Just Mayo, Frozen Peas, Relish, Garlic Pepper, and Old Bay Seasoning!  We brought back an empty container.  I know most people didn't know it was vegan!

Another lazy meal I made not too long ago was this dish.  I made it in the microwave.  It has Rice, Black Beans, Sweet Corn, and Tomato Sauce.  It only cost about $2 to make and I had enough for 2 to 3 meals!