Saturday, January 31, 2009

More Weddingy Things


Yay! I got a handy planner (for $2.99!) because it was recommended for putting together a wedding in 3-4 months. We are excited and love planning a party!


We've decided on a backyard party with friends and family to mark the occasion. I am getting really cheerful about planning. Hopefully this will be a really fun night of music, food, and visiting with all the people we care about... plus that whole making it official thing!

As usual, I am being thrifty and creative, doing most of it myself and with the help of Mr. Groom, Kids, Pets (very helpful, ha!) and friends. I am shopping for dresses and plan on rocking a magical and spunky one-of-a-kind creation.

Here are some of my other ideas...most from Etsy because I am in love with the whole handmade wonder of things. (My ring came from the wonderful Laurie Sarah, who sells through Etsy as well. Check her out!)

Candy Labels! We can get these printed with our info. Labeling 324 pieces of candy sounds like a great job for the little ladies!

Cupcake Toppers! But I'm thinking of being even thriftier and having a little get together with friends to make some of our own toppers using pretty paper (scrapbooking paper in several designs of poppies...on sale for pennies!) and toothpicks.

Invitations!

Oh so many choices! Can't wait to look at more and pick out some things. Fun fun!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Crapalache

Recipe for a Craptastic Day:

One very long work meeting

One present for a baby shower lost in the mail


One broken down car


One tow truck


One policeman giving one ticket to one girl who doesn't know how to turn the headlights on in her boyfriend's car she borrowed in order to replace lost baby present


One crying girl



Dessert:

Finding this note on the windshield of aforementioned broken car before it was towed:


Chocolate, wine, and beauty products

Going to my Godson & his mommy's baby shower :)

Getting help from all the people who care about me, even strangers!

Sweet Sweet Potato Mash

Here in North Louisiana (and South LA too, I believe), we have this particular fancy pants restaurant that loves to make big heavy Southern meals and sell them to you for obscene amounts of money. They have held me captive with their Mashed Sweet Potatoes for oh so long...but the oppression is over. My investigation squad and I have recreated this delicious dish at home for pennies!!! We thought we would settle for a box mix, but we like to make it from scratch (and the mix was fulla milk and stuff).




Meet my squad. Tougher guys you've never met...



Here's what I came up with. Two sweet potatoes, boiled and mashed with almond milk and Earth Balance. I topped it with an amazingly terrific sauce made of melted Earth Balance and organic brown sugar. (The youngest child yesterday informed me that I was almost out of brown sugar...I think I've been hitting the jar to much lately!!)

Ohhh listen closely and you can hear my joy..or is that the sound of me telling that restaurant to kiss my thrifty vegan heiny? Mwah!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Delicious Pasta Salad

This weekend at the grocery I was playing with the recipe generator while Brad grabbed items from that chilly section where I never go (the m-e-a-t). The recipe generator is a touch screen machine that prints out your selected recipes. It's neat, but usually a laugh due to the complete lack of recipes I would make. This time, however, I found a cool vegetarian section. I printed out one for Marinated Macaroni Salad. Sounds mayonaisey, right, like a gross picnic offering? Nope! It was a delicious pasta salad with a few ingredients I've never thought to add to my pasta salads.

This is the recipe with my few tweaks...I used smoked tofu in place of the smoked mozzarella and it was great!

3 T olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 c red wine vinegar
2 T chopped fresh oregano
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1.5 t kosher salt
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
6 c cooked macaroni pasta (I used shells)
2 c chopped red bell pepper
2 c endive, chopped coarsely
1 c olives, wedged
1 c diced smoked tofu (or smoked mozzarella iffn' you like the cheese)
Heat oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic, turn to low, and cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally till evenly golden. Remove from heat.
Allow oil to cool for 3-4 minutes, then whisk in red wine vinegar, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper flakes. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, peppers, endive, olives, and tofu/cheese. Add red wine garlic dressing and toss to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes, then serve cold or at room temperature.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sammich Champion

Brad was featured way back when for his famous "pizza toast." Here we have a second installment of manly sammich greatness: the peanut butter frito sandwich.

Here's the formula:

+

+


=


P.S. I think some bananas in there would be yummy too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Crazy Jar Lady

I love bright colors and dazzling rows of stuff in jars.

It pains me to throw away perfectly good glass after we use the contents at home. What is up with this craziness?!

I save the jars we use and try to find other purposes. Occasionally the jar shelf is overflowing and nuts, but generally they are going to very good use. (Maybe I'll post in the future about my other weird activity: washing and reusing plastic zip bags.)

Here are some ideas on re-using jars.
*Candle Holders: I decorate the jars with decoupage clippings and throw in a votive. Check out this link for more neat ideas.

*Orange juice: I make OJ from fresh oranges or concentrate, then use a couple of big jars to hold it (doesn't last long around me- I love juice!!)

*Piggy Banks: Allowance earned at our house is stored in decorated jars.

*Homemade vegetable broth: I save my scraps every week, cover with water, and simmer for an hour. I put the resulting broth in re-used jars and use them all week in recipes.

*Leftovers: I got tired of buying plastic containers then losing the lids, melting them in the microwave, etc. Now I use jars to save things like gravy, sauces, etc. and rely a lot less on plastic containers.

*Art supplies: Jars hold staples, paintbrushes, old film (remember the antiquity of actual film! ha!), rubber bands, etc. They neat all in a row.

*In the bathroom: I use jars with bright lids for my hair things, makeup pencils, etc.

What are your ideas?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Vegan A Go-Go


I really want this cookbook!

Does anyone have it?

Is it worth getting if I already have the other three?

Any favorite recipes?

Thanks!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Egglings :)

I got a really neat present: Egglings!


These are little eggs that grow things! Yay! I received a strawberry plant, basil, and lavender.


Yesterday I started my first little Eggling. I can't wait to see what it does!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Coffee Creamer Quandary

I got some delicious coffee from my zine idol, Alex Wrekk's Etsy store a while back. I've been fairly off the coffee for a long time, because it had just become too much of a habit and wasn't really fun anymore. I'm easing back into enjoying a cup or two on weekend mornings (uhhh..mid-mornings..we have been sleeping hella late and loving it!).

Trouble comes in here! I love my coffee and none of the non-dairy milks I am using seem to make me happy. My almond milk separates, rice milk is too thin, and I don't love the soymilk/coffee combo. I have used Silk Creamer before, and Mimicreme once, but none of that is available locally. I can order some creamer if it comes down to it, but I'd love to come up with something on my own instead.


Here's my first plan:
Raw Vegan Coffee Creamer (recipe lifted from this forum.)

1 cup almonds
1 cup spring water
3 tablespoons agave
1 vanilla bean (optional)

Directions: Soak almonds over night or at least 8 hours. Discard the water the almonds soaked in and rinse the almonds under the faucet. Blend the almonds with 1 cup of spring water. You may have to add a little bit more water to assist in blending, but only add enough to blend. Strain this mixture through cheese cloth into a bowl. Pour the strained almond milk back into the blender and add the 3 tablespoons of agave. You can adjust the agave to your taste but the creamer should be sweet. Scrape the vanilla beans from a sun dried vanilla pod into the creamer and finish blending.

You now have raw vegan coffee creamer. Enjoy.

If you are not a raw foodist, you can simply sweeten the creamer with your own sweetener, it does not have to be agave. Also, if you are not a raw foodist, you can just use vanilla extract instead of whole sun dried vanilla pods.

Anybody have any recipes or ideas for homemade vegan creamer? I'm interested!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Boo hiss!

Gorsh! I decided to give Vegan With A Vengeance one more try before it got the boot. I haven't found anything I liked in there, with the exception of Punk Rock Chickpea gravy and one cookie recipe. What's up!? I know people rave about the book. I guess I'm a weirdo!!

I made the Jerk Seitan and Coconut Rice (can't remember the actual name of the rice recipe). I also made some kale as a side. I was really sad to have used half my batch of delicious seitan in this wonky recipe. Poops! The rice smelled great, but didn't have a great taste.


The kale rocked as usual. I used to follow the recipe below from Dr. Ben Kim, but now I just tear up the leaves, wash them, and sort of steam them with some minced garlic and home made veg broth until the liquid is gone and the kale is tender. Yum!



Delicious Kale!
By Dr. Ben Kim on August 13, 2005


Ingredients:
1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped

2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1/4 lemon

1/2 cup of vegetable broth or water

Sea salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

Directions:
Warm olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or pan. Add onions and cook for 3-5 minutes or until slightly translucent. Be sure to stir the onions around once in a while so that they don't burn.
Add garlic and kale and mix them together with onions. Allow garlic, kale and onions to cook for one minute, then add vegetable broth and cover pot or pan for 4-6 minutes. Check kale from time to time starting at the 4 minute mark for tenderness.
Once kale is tender, add sea salt and just a few drops of lemon juice. Give it one last stir and serve.
Be sure to taste as you add lemon juice. Adding too much can turn the whole dish sour.
We enjoy this dish with avocado and a bowl of brown rice or quinoa.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blog Alert: Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Life

I read about Kris Carr's movie, Crazy Sexy Cancer somewhere or another and bought a copy of the DVD from the video store clearance rack (yay me!). I enjoyed the movie and the DVD has excellent bonus features (Rodney Yee yoga, meditations, and extra info stuff).

Kris Carr also has a blog and website. Never fear! You don't have to be battling cancer to benefit from her blog or film. She is an inspirational person full of good ideas and encouraging thoughts.
I love this shirt from the Crazy Sexy Life store! Check out the blog and enjoy!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cereal Alert!

I just want to say: YUM!!! I bought a box of Kashi's U cereal a while back because honestly, I liked the box. I don't buy cereal very much, and this one was an impulse. I have been snacking on Bear Naked's Heavenly Chocolate granola (mmmmmm) lately.



Today I broke open the box of Kashi U and wow! It's so tasty! There are whole grain flakes, granola, walnuts, black currants, and acai berries. Dang! The bonus is that this box is super cute and I can think of a million craft project reuses, especially for this big bright U on the front. Bonus number two is that you can sign up for Kashi updates and be entered to win a year of free food. Score! Bonus number three, which should be number one, is how healthy this stuff is. Look:


350mg ALA omega 3 from walnuts and 100% of vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid

50% of your daily value for vitamins A, C and E as well as zinc and antioxidant super fruits black currant and acai

More calcium & vitamin D than half a glass of milk* plus zinc to support bone health

7g of fiber and prebiotics to help the good bacteria grow

Over half of the daily recommended amount of whole grains


Whee! I feel more energetic already!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Breakfast Treat!

Oh Sarah Kramer, how do I love theeeee? I don't even know thee!

The first vegan cookbook I ever had was How It All Vegan. This is what seems like centuries ago, so I have no idea why or where I got it. I'm guessing I thought the cover was cool, but had no clue what all that vegan talk meant. This was way before any thoughts of being vegan had entered my head. Anyway, I loved the cookbook and love it's follow-ups, The Garden of Vegan, La Dolce Vegan, and Vegan A G0-Go!

This weekend Ms. Kramer's recipes once again added joy and wonder to my day. I have been craving French Toast. I found a recipe in Soy Not Oi, but it called for a block of tofu, and I have been trying to moderate my soy intake just for good measure. It also called for half a loaf of bread! The Soy Not Oi recipes are magnificent for feeding half your neighborhood, but a little overkill when you are just one lady wanting a good breakfast. I went with the recipe in How It All Vegan and was well pleased!


I usually botch pancakes, waffles, and the like, but this French Toast came out so well. It ate it all too! Definitely will be a repeat performance in my kitchen!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Home Cookin'!

Brad and I ran errands the other day which took us by the Piccadilly. I dunno where all the Piccadilly restaurants are, but it's an old-people haven of cafeteria style magic. One of my most favorite meals in the universe is a vegetable plate from Piccadilly. Having veggie leanings for most of my years meant I always ordered some combo of sides. The best mega-wonder-plate ever is mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese, and a big fluffy dinner roll, chocolate milk to drink, please! Since the unfortunate dawn of lactose-intolerance awareness in high school and the subsequent move to vegan eating, I haven't been able to appropriately appreciate my favorite Piccadilly plate!

Never fear, that long intro has a point. This VegNews Mac & Cheese recipe is CREEPILY EERILY cafeteria-style mac & cheese like, which is my book is AWESOME. Furthering it's awesomeness is the fact that it doesn't rely on nutritional yeast, tofu, fake cheese, etc. to get that perfect taste. It's super yummy and I love it! I can't imagine that anyone wouldn't gobble this up. Try it! Here's a closeup of the breadcrumb and paprika topping.

We had it with broccoli and some homemade "Parmesan" herbed biscuits, which are another happy story. A while back I posted about one of my favorite old cookbooks, Dining With The Duchess. I decided to try my hand at my favorite biscuit recipe from the book, veganized of course. I began my making some vegan Parmesan using the recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes. Then I veganized the Duchess' ingredients by making my own yogurt out of silken tofu and lemon juice.

The biscuits turned out good, minus fennel which I couldn't find in the Abyss, aka, spice cabinet. I burned the bottoms because our oven is possessed, but the tops sure were good. Success! This was a tasty meal that filled our bellies and made us smile like little kids.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Curry Mediocrity, Chocolate Excellence!!

Recently I made this Indian-inspired recipe from Vegan Planet. My general conclusion is that pasta should keep its nose outta perfectly wonderful rice territory and leave the curry alone! This recipe was too bland for me, but I spiced it up a lot and served it with extra hot sauce, chutney, and pitas. I think I may just be spoiled by, as I've referred to in other posts, the perfection that is the Hot Damn & Hell Yeah/Dirty South curry recipe.



Dessert was considerably more exciting in my book. I had a cup of my favorite relaxing tea, Yogi Tea's Stress Relieving Kava, in my favorite fancy teacup. I enjoyed the last delicious chocolate from my Christmas treats. Brad gave me a beautiful box from Rose City Chocolatier in the vegan variety! I can definitely say that these beat every vegan sweet I have had in my nearly-year of vegan dedication. They are really pretty too! This was the chocolate cherry. Cheers!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Reusable....everything!!!

As you all know, I LOVE reusing things. I also like getting crafty when I am devising ways to reuse stuff. One of my favorite types of reuse is using items that are designed to work over and over. In our house, that means dishtowels, cloth napkins, and cloth personal products (for some of us!).
Here are some links to buying reusable goods for your home and life.

Wallypop- family products
Raghag- feminine- LOVE this lady and her stuff

Gladrags- feminine items
Lunapads- feminine items
Kelly's Closet- cloth diapers

Green Mountain- cloth diapers


These are just a few. An Etsy, Ebay, or search engine query will result in gazillions of sellers of reusable home and personal items. If you are crafty and good with sewing, here are some sites that tell you how to make your own stuff:


Look around and try your hand at making something! Or...find a seller you like and buy a nice set of napkins, diapers, pads, etc. and give them a try. Most sellers sell a sampler pack that allows you to see how you feel about it all! Give it a shot and see how fun and easy reusable can be :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dare I Say, Wedding Thoughts....

We are kicking around every kind of idea from cupcake towers to Slayer tributes to doggie wedding costumes. My idea today is that I want this headband here to magically be mine for the big day. (Don't worry, friends and family...you will be updated as soon as there are any concrete details. For now, we continue to rhapsodize about inflatable jumpers for grown-ups and famous bands rocking our back yard).


Yes!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Compact, Superflous Buns, and Colorful Living

Since I have been conducting a not-buying-stuff experiment (today is day #20-something and I'm not counting anymore), I am saying this post is about compacting. Really though, it's just the way I ideally want to live: reusing things, being crafty, etc. in order to meet needs and keeping my cash moneys for my own enjoyable pursuits.

Here's a good little explanation from Paul McFedries Word Spy:

"You're not really spending money when you spend money, Joe and Vicki say. You're spending the life energy you put into earning that money. You only have so much life energy. What do you want to use it for? Commuting? Shopping sprees? Going for walks? Playing with your children? Serving your community? Taking that question seriously does wonders for one's joy-to-stuff ratio, decreasing stuff, increasing joy.—Donella H. Meadows, "One woman's search for the American dream," The News & Record, July 17, 1995
Whee! Good stuff. I have been really turned off by reading accounts of people who join The Compact or embark on some other similar plan to reduce traditional consumption standards, then spend the next year of their lives complaining about the lack of iced mochas and new jeans in their lives! It's not about martyrdom or being miserable...it's supposed to free you from worrying about superfluous crap! (Please raise your hand if you love the scene in Father of The Bride where Steve Martin has a meltdown about superfluous buns).


What I have learned thus far, and what I intend to stick to is:

1. I can make, reuse, or extend the life of a great many things at home if I just take the time. Example: my fancypants Lush shampoo bar fell apart. Instead of smooshing it down the drain or starting a new bar just yet, I cut up a bath poof/puff/thing that someone gave me as a gift and made a little shampoo bar bag. Yay!!

2. I can think about how long it takes me to earn the cost of an item, and then see if it's worth it to me. Example: I needed more cloth napkins to make it through the week at our house without washing like a maniac. Ebay or garage sales for a bunch of used cloth napkins is certainly more eco-friendly and budget-friendly than either buying cloth napkins new or plowing through untold rolls of paper towels (no, no, no!). Taking the time to find some old scraps of fabric in my cabinet and cut nice square napkins= even better.


3. I still love Etsy with a fiery passion, but have realized that I do not need to order something adorable and wonderful every single week. Etsy, outside of homemade treats, is still gonna be my go-to for nice gifts.

Lastly for today, being thoughtful about your money and deliberate in your choices does not, repeat DOES NOT, mean you have to be boring. I love creating a colorful, comfortable, fun, good-smelling, moderately rebellious, and love-ful life. Cultivating a diehard respect for people (myself included), animals, and the environment only makes it all better.