"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud." ~ Emile Zola

17 November 2010

A Vegan MoFo Blogger Survey

Many of the other VeganMoFo bloggers have posted answers to a MoFo survey and I thought that I would do the same. Fun!

What is one food you thought you'd miss when you went vegan, but don't?
Cheese. The funny thing is I have developed a strong sensitivity to the taste and can detect it easily. Where 13 years ago (when I became vegan) cheese tasted creamy and wonderful, it now tastes sickeningly milky and overly rich. When I get hungry for "cheese" now, it's solely for the faux variety.

What is a food or dish that you wouldn't touch as a child, but enjoy now?
Jam/jelly, mustard, salads.

What vegan food or dish do you feel like you should like but you don't?
Raw vegetables. I hate all vegetables in raw form but carrots, unless they are drenched in a yummy dressing or sauce.

What beverage do you consume the most of each day?
Water mostly, with some soy milk in the morning.

What dish are you famous for bringing to gatherings?
Cupcakes! Vegan Red Velvet from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World have impressed many a vegan and non-vegan alike. :)

Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?
I have lots of 'food rules'- lol. No fruit with chocolate. No peanut butter in desserts. Raw foods must be smothered in sauce to be edible. A dish must smell good to taste good.

What's one food or dish that you eat too much off when it's in your home?
Anything sweet. If it's in the house, I will find it and consume it.

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available repackaged?
Salad dressing and pancake mix.

What ingredient or food is worth spending extra money on to get the good stuff?
Organic grapes and chocolate!

Are you much of a snacker? What are your favorite snacks?
I'm not much of a snacker, per se, as my normal eating schedule involves eating lots of small meals throughout the day. But when I do snack, I like cookies, chips and salsa or guacamole, steamed and salted edamame, carrot sticks or apples with peanut butter, crackers with Tofutti cream cheese, or toast with almond butter and raisins.

What are your favorite vegan pizza toppings?
Follow Your Heart Mozzarella, fresh garlic, olive oil, tomato slices (Roma are best), and roasted red pepper!

What's your favorite fruit and vegetable?
Pineapple and asparagus.

What is the best salad dressing?
My favorite is a balsamic vinaigrette I make by blending balsamic, olive oil, maple syrup, mustard, a bit of water, and sometimes crushed garlic.

What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?
Margarine and cinnamon & sugar.

What kind of soup do you turn to on a chilly day or when you don't feel well?
West African Groundnut Stew with ciabatta.

What is your favorite cupcake and icing flavor?
Hmmm... that's a toughie. Chocolate cake with chocolate icing or red velvet with old fashioned white icing.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Chocolate Chip!

What is your most-loved weeknight meal?

Pancakes with vegan snausages or Field Roast Celebration Roast with roasted potatoes and carrots. But I have many favorite, go-to meals, and my top choices change frequently.

What is one food or dish you enjoy but can't get anyone else in your house to eat?
I can't really think of anything. My partner loves all sorts of foods.


How long on average do you spend in the kitchen each day?
About 1-2 hours.

There was my survey! I would love to read yours too.

16 November 2010

Vegan "Cheeses": Adventures in Cheeze Land

Ahhhh... the quest for a fabulous (or even adequate) vegan cheeze substitute! My adventures have taken me on quite a journey thus far. :) Here I review many of them...


Yes, this is vegan cheeze! Check out my review of
Sheese below.


Amy's Kitchen Mac and Cheese- OMG. Let's start with the best, which happens to be my most recent discovery on the search for the perfect vegan cheeze. I waited for a long time for this to come to my local food stores after I saw ads from Amy's, and checked faithfully for months! Just a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to find it at my local food co-op- hooray! And YUM! SO worth the wait! This mac is soooo creamy, cheezy, flavorful and delicious pasta heaven! Plus the pasta is made from rice. It's a whopping 500+ calories for a small lunch-sized serving, so I indulge (happily) only occasionally. But I could seriously eat this every day. The secret magic ingredient is Daiya, a new and groundbreaking cheeze that has the food scene with a slam dunk. Score!


Be careful when picking this up from the store, as Amy's has several kinds of mac n' cheese, including one with soy cheeze that's not vegan.


On to others, in no particular order:

Daiya- Meh. The latest star on the cheeze scene, Daiya is getting raves across the board and helping take vegan cheeze mainstream. I heard about this months and months before I got to try it. I finally asked Whole Foods when they would start carrying the retail packages, only to find out they were selling it in the deli in containers. I grabbed both a Cheddar and Mozzarella (it comes pre-shredded in bags usually) and raced home clutching them close. I had extremely high expectations, with everyone I know who'd tried it oozing praise. First I tried them cold... pretty good. A nice combination of soft and creamy yet firm, no chalk or sourness. I withheld my conclusion.



Macaroni and cheese was my first try at cooking with Daiya, and I was pleased with the results. The shreds melted right down into a creamy sauce, thick and sticky and gooey-good, but the flavor was a little "off" in my opinion. Pizza was the next experiment, and I gotta tell ya I was disappointed! Maybe I didn't use enough cheeze, but I thought the
Daiya thinned out and got watery, almost. Meltability= A+. The flavor, on the other hand, was good as far as vegan cheezes go, but nothing that made me fall in love. I tried the cheddar in a burrito and in a grilled cheeze with tomato. Again, meltability=A+, but I really wasn't crazy about the flavor. I may give it another go and experiment with adding additional ingredients to it now that I've tried it with Amy's Mac n Cheese, but I haven't much of an urge to buy it again.


Vegan Rella- One word... Ew. Back in the day when there weren't very many vegan cheeze options (at least stomachable ones), this was the bomb diggity. Well cheezes have come a loooong way, and if you don't believe me give this a try after eating some of today's variations. I grabbed a chunk of this when my favorite cheddar, Sheese, wasn't available, then a block of the mozzarella when my favorite brand was out. I expected fond memories of my first adventures with Vegan Rella when we first met in Tucson, AZ. Oh No. It was wet and gloppy on the outside, chalky and sour and weird on the inside. It stuck to my teeth. I spit it out and wiped it off of my tongue. Never again. I couldn't find a website for this company.


Vegan Gourmet Follow Your Heart- Mmmmm... Okay, while I don't prefer the other flavors of FYH much, the Mozzarella is my favorite of all brands in terms of flavor. It doesn't melt very well unless it's been in the oven on a pizza on the bottom rack at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. And even then sometimes not-so-much. It's actually even a bit rubbery when it's in a chunk. But I can put those things aside cause it's so YUMMY! I love it on pasta bakes and pizza best. Nothing else has measured up so far. Plus the company makes an excellent mayo alternative and lots of other great vegan foods!




Sheese- LOVE. I noticed this cheeze one day at my local co-op, having never seen it before. I asked a friend who worked there about it and he cut some up some of the Cheddar flavor to put out as samples. After one little nibble I was completely sold- AMAZING! I swear this tastes like the real thing (not that that's the goal- after almost 13 years vegan I just require a cheeze be appetizing).

Imagine an expensive cheeze or some sort of goat cheeze that you'd serve with evening cocktails, with a bold and strong flavor that really makes an impact. It's a harder cheese that's a bit on the dry side. Despite claims about it's great meltability on
Sheese's and various vegan retail websites, I have been unsuccessful at getting it to melt in any way, shape, or form. But I love it cut into chunks right out of the wrapper anyway. It makes a killer cheeze sandwich with some sweet mustard on toast. It's great in a burrito! Hands down the best tasting vegan cheeze I have ever tried. Likely to fool a non-vegan, too, possibly. At a hefty $8-9 USD a round block, it's only a sometime treat for me, but it's totally worth it! Fantastic!

Sheese is out of Scotland from family-owned
Bute Island Foods, and they make magic! There are nine flavors of hard vegan cheeze: Blue, Medium Cheddar, Strong Cheddar, Smoked Cheddar, Mozzarella, Cheshire, Gouda, Edam, and Cheddar with Chives. I've tried six: Medium, Strong, and Smoked Cheddars and Mozzarella, Blue, and Gouda. I love the Medium Cheddar most, and the Gouda is a close second. The others are good, except for the Smoked Cheddar at all, which I don't like at all. I'm dying to try the soft and spreadable Creamy Sheese (there are 5 flavors), but have been unable to find them at my local natural foods stores so far.


Teese- Umm... Yuck. The one big plus Teese has, in my opinion, is its meltability, much like that of Daiya. I also found Teese to be like Daiya in the way that it thins out and seems to get watery when it melts. I think it tastes watery cold and right out of the package, too, even though there's not really any liquid in the tube with it. I am very sensitive to certain tastes, and Teese in all flavors has a peculiar taste that I find totally unappetizing. Not sure what its source is, but it's enough to keep me from buying this again.




Follow Your Heart Cream Cheese- Just okay. Follow Your Heart's cream cheeze is unimpressive, and I could take it or leave it. To me it tastes quite chalky and leaves a bit of a coating on the tongue that I don't prefer. I have baked with this and used it in sauces and it worked okay, but I wouldn't advise it for eating right out of the container on a bagel or crackers.


Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese- Eat it up. Cause it's creamy and yummy. I enjoy this on crackers and bagels, and it works great in cooking and baking, too. I can sit with a box of crunchy little Wheat-thin-type crackers and put some Tofutti Cream Cheese aWAY. It's also really tasty on a bagel with avocado and mixed into some marinara sauce for a bit of a different spin on spaghetti.


Be careful to buy the Tofutti Cream Cheese with the yellow container, as it doesn't contain hydrogenated oils! For some very stupid reason, Tofutti makes one version with hydrogenated oils (blue and red container) and one without. Duh.


Edward & Sons Trading Company Macaroni and Chreese- ??? I was sooo excited to find four styles of Macaroni and Chreese on the food co-op's shelf one day a few years back. I immediately bought some in both the cheddar (comes in pasta shells, macaroni, and 1-2-3 shapes) and alfredo flavors! This was the very first prepared non-dairy mac n' cheese dish I'd tried, so I was thrilled to give it a try. I went with cheddar first, and after boiling the shell-shaped noodles, liked that they were tasty with a nice, chewy texture. The sauce comes as a powder in an envelope like in traditional boxed mac n' cheese, and you add it to the cooked noodles with a non-dairy milk and margarine. The results are pretty good, with the sauce turning out quite creamy and thick (stir it well to get rid of any graininess). The alfredo yielded similar results, but the sauce was lighter in color and a very, very garlicky.

Nutritional yeast, of which I am not a big fan, is a significant ingredient in both the Chreese flavors, and its taste is prominent. This may be the reason I felt the need to add lots of vegan parmesan (see review below) to give it anything that resembled a cheezy flavor. Or perhaps I was trying to cover up the nutritional yeast-y taste. If you love nutritional yeast, you're probably gonna go crazy for Mac n' Chreese.


Galaxy Foods Vegan Grated Topping (Parmesan)- GOOD STUFF. This vegan parmesan stinks to high heaven and its strong smell fills a room fast. But it's good- really good! It's a terrific substitute for any hard, granular dairy cheese, excellent on Italian dishes, in pesto, sprinkled on veggies. It has a sharp and sort of salty flavor, and just a little goes a long way. One of my all-time favorites!




Cheese Slices- I've tried'em all. They all suck. I don't do slices.


Hope this review helps in your own search for a tasty go-to vegan cheeze. Or at the very least, entertained you for a few minutes. :P



15 November 2010

Quote of the Week: The Dance of Existence

‎"This existence of ours is as transient as the autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is like a flash of lightening rushing by like a torrent down a steep mountainside."

~Buddha

08 November 2010

Eating Out Loud: Easy and Scrumptious Vegan Halvah!

Halvah is a sweet found in many cultures and made from varying ingredients. Though I'm not 100% sure of the exact origin of this particular recipe, I'm guessing Indian, as it's very close to an Indian halvah made with semolina flour called Sooji Halwa. ;) This is just like the halvah I used to get at one of my favorite Tucson, AZ restaurants, a delicious natural foods buffet owned by Hare Krishnas and called Govinda's. I searched and searched for a vegan version online that would replicate it, and this comes very, very close to matching Govinda's. I've added some of my own tips and instructions. It's super easy to make, sooo yummy, and has a light and grainy sweetness I find irresistible! It's an indulgence with all of the margarine and sugar, but well worth it! Enjoy the yum!

I haven't taken a photo of the halvah I've made, but this looks just like it in terms of texture. Just imagine this shaped like a square. :)

Vegan Halvah

Ingredients
1 cup vegan margarine
2 cups farina or Cream of Wheat cereal, dry/uncooked
4 cups water
2 cups unrefined brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
(I omitted the raisins and added frozen blueberries, but you can come up with your own variation! Try nuts, various dried fruit, strawberries, or anything you like the sound of.)

Directions
Melt the margarine in a heavy-bottomed pot and boil it a few minutes, being careful not to burn it. Turn the heat to low and slowly add the Cream of Wheat cereal, stirring constantly. Cook this mixture on low heat until it has the texture of wet sand. Stir frequently and don't let it stick to the bottom or burn.

When it is the right texture, bring water to a boil in a separate pot. When water is boiling, turn the heat under the cereal to high and quickly add the boiling water and Raisins. Cook a very short time stirring constantly; then turn heat back down to low and let steam about 10 minutes.

Spoon into a baking pan and smooth to the edges- the size of the pan will depend on your preferred thickness. I used a 9x11" (23 x 28 cm) rectangular clear glass casserole dish. Let cool completely before cutting into squares and serving. Room temperature is best, but it will need refrigerated if keeping over several days.

Quote of the Week: The Butterfly Effect

‎"When a butterfly flaps its wings near the tip of South America, it affects the wind patterns near the North Pole. And the same is true in the realm of consciousness: Every miracle you work in your life is a blessing on life itself."

~Marianne Williamson

04 November 2010

Eating Out Loud: Vegan Raviolis!

I came across this delicious ravioli recipe when searching the Web for special meal ideas for my sweetie for Valentine's Day. These amazing "Hearty Raviolis" from Vegalicious delicious, healthy, and well worth the extra time. Plus, the heart shapes are adorable and really make an impact!

My comments are in parentheses. Enjoy!

Classic Spinach Ravioli Floating in an Italian Tomato Sauce (serves 4)

Ingredients

Filling:
•1 lb (450 grams) of spinach, large stems removed and chopped
•1 T grainy mustard
•1 t sesame oil (I went a bit light on the sesame oil as I had reservations about it's flavor, and though it works brilliantly here, I am glad I used less.)
•1/2 t nutmeg
•2 T bread crumbs
•pinch of salt

Raviolis:
•1 c semolina four
•2 t olive oil
•1/2 c water
•pinch salt

Sauce:
•1 can crushed tomatoes (I used a 28 oz or 828 ml can.)
•1 onion, minced
•1 T olive oil
•1 clove garlic, minced
•various Italian herbs (Fresh are always best, I used fresh parsley and basil, with dried oregano.)
•salt and pepper to taste
•dash of lemon
•pinch of cayenne pepper





Directions

Ravioli dough:
1.In a bowl, combine the pasta dough ingredients to make a dough.
2.Wrap in a towel and let sit for 30 minutes.


Filling:
1.Wash the spinach and remove the large tough stems.
2.Chop the spinach and steam or saute in water. (sweat)
3.Place in a large mixing bowl.
4.Add the mustard, salt and bread-crumbs and mix well.
5.Season further with salt, cayenne and pepper.

Sauce:
1.Saute the minced onion in the olive oil until the onion is glassy.
2.Add the minced garlic and saute.
3.Add the tomatoes and reduce heat to simmer.
4.Add the herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper and continue to simmer on a low heat.
5.Season to taste with additional salt, pepper and cayenne.





Making the ravioli

1.Divide the dough in fourths and roll out each portion on a floured work space, allowing the first sheet of pasta to sit while rolling out the second. One of the tricks to the pasta is to make sure you’ve rolled the dough out very thin.

2.Cut out your ravioli shapes and fill with the filling. Place the top part of the ravioli over the filling and close with a fork.

3.If you have a form or press, then of course that saves time you merely place 1 sheet of dough on one side, put the filling on the dough and then lay the 2nd sheet of dough on top. Close the form to seal and cut off the extra using a knife.

4.Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salty water to boil.




5.Put your ravioli into the salty water and cook. They are ready when they come floating to the top. I would suggest cooking only a few raviolis at a time.

6.Place the first cooked raviolis in the oven to keep warm until they are all ready.

7.When ready to serve, put a layer of sauce on the plate and lay the raviolis on top.

8.You can garnish with some fresh cut herbs or if you have soy cheese, you can dust some on top.

03 November 2010

Making the Connection: An Excellent Short Film on Veganism

Some "food for thought" for Vegan MoFo!

"The thinking man must oppose all the cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition or surrounded by a halo...We need a boundless ethic which will also include the animals."
-Albert Schweitzer

Just wanted to make mention of Making the Connection, a thoughtful, artful short film on the the various advantages of a plant-based diet and lifestyle by The Vegan Society.

Watch here!

01 November 2010

Happy World Vegan Day!

November 1st is not only World Vegan Day, but kicks off World Vegan Month and Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo)! :)
















What is "vegan"?
A "vegan" is someone who chooses to live free from animal products for compassion and peace, health, the planet (or any combination of these things). A vegan diet is easy and healthy, based on fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and legumes. Vegans choose to save the lives of other living beings each time they eat or shop! They do not consume meat, fish, eggs, dairy, honey (some vegans do eat honey) or any other food that is derived from an animal or processed using animal ingredients (such as bone char used to refine some sugars and salt). Most vegans do not use or wear any products that are tested on animals or that are derived from an animal, like wool, fur, silk, and leather.


Have you thought about trying a vegan lifestyle? Try it for one meal, one day, one week, or one month to see if being vegan is the right choice for you! Take the first step by taking the "Vegan Pledge!"















I made these yummy, super simple vegan pumkin cupcakes for Halloween yesterday! Delish!



Here are just a few of my favorite resources for vegan information and recipes. Check my blog throughout this week for more resources for vegan living!

Compassionate Cooks

International Vegetarian Union

Live Vegan

Post Punk Kitchen (PPK)

The Vegan Society

Vegan Outreach

VegWeb

Free Vegan Starter Kit



Happy World Vegan Day!

27 October 2010

EtsyVeg Spooktacular Sale and Giveaway

Come Haunting with the Etsyveg Team October 27th-November 2nd, 2010! EtsyVeg kicks off the EtsyVeg Spooktacular today, with creepy savings and a frightfully fantastic shopper giveaway! In my shop, save 15% on all purchases, get free shipping on all orders $25 and over, and receive a free gift with all purchases of $40 or more!





SPOOKTACULAR SAVINGS
EtsyVeg's vegan and vegetarian artisans are celebrating Halloween with special treats abound, from discounts to free shipping to free gifts! Shop the participating shops listed below to save big!


* 3 AM Art Productions- BOGO on all art prints/photography

* Au clair de la lune

* Blackbird and Peacock

* Crickets Creations Handknit Scarves- $5 off anything tagged "Halloween"

* Gardenia's Garb- 10% off any item tagged "Halloween"

* Jen O'Connell Paintings and Original Artwork- free shipping

* JFIllustrations- free shipping

* Kimbas Critters

* Lalu Jewelry- 15% off

* Maple Ash and Oak- 15% off

* M's Knits and Things- 15% off all scarves

* Mumbot Shop

* Palafox Studio 23- free shipping

* SilentLotus Creations- 15% off entire shop, plus free shipping over $25 and free gift over $40

* Starfirewire- Free Shipping and Free gift


GHOULISH GIVEAWAY

As part of our ghostly event, EtsyVeg is hosting a giveaway in which lucky shoppers will receive scarily fabulous handmade prizes from our ghostly talented artisans! All shoppers who make purchases from EtsyVeg member shops participating in the Spooktacular (see list above) are invited to comment on the EtsyVeg Blog. Include the link to the item(s) you purchased and your Etsy shop name or email address so we can contact you if you're name is drawn, and you will be entered to win an
incredible prizes ( a random number generator will be used to choose winners). Winners will be announced on November 3rd!


Extra Entries: Earn one entry for every shop from the list above that you purchase from (please comment separately for each shop)!

Throughout the Spooktacular, check the blog daily for updates, featured artisans and their screamingly awesome handmade creations, and more! Please email us with questions at etsyveg@gmail.com . And Happy Halloween!

18 October 2010

Frick Park Fashion- What's Hot and What's Not?

Fall Forest Fashion: In a Word? Leafy!



We're fresh from Frick Park Fashion Scene! What's new and fresh in woodland style? Plump berry and tall and twiggy are the season's most envied shapes. The hottest looks are trampled-grunge and earthy-crunchy, and a glimpse of nude branch is oh-so-sexy! Hats are all the rage in accessories as acorn caps make their debut. Brown is the new green- last season's greens look old and whithered next to the colors du jour, vibrant golds, oranges, and rusts. An occasional crimson or plum is daring and avant garde, and reveals itself to hushed oohs, ahs, chirps, and squeaks. A hint of what's to come? Perhaps...


Stay tuned for reviews of the latest in swamp-marshland couture!

15 October 2010

Blog Action Day 2010: Water

Today is October 15th and Blog Action Day 2010! Powered by change.org, this year's Blog Action Day will bring together thousands of bloggers from all over the world to help shed more light on water issues around the globe.

Here are some facts that illustrate the severity of the global water problem, and why Blog Action Day 2010 is such an important opportunity to raise awareness about the issue:

* Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Unclean drinking water can incubate some pretty scary diseases, like E. coli, salmonella, cholera and hepatitis A. Given that bouquet of bacteria, it's no surprise that water, or rather lack thereof, causes 42,000 deaths each week.

* More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and causing disease.

* Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water. They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted. Aside from putting a great deal of strain on their bodies, walking such long distances keeps children out of school and women away from other endeavors that can help improve the quality of life in their communities.

* The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washing our cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective, the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using that same amount to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.



Petitions by Change.orgStart a Petition »


One of the most negative impacts upon the global state of water is animal agriculture and the consumption of meat and other animal-derived foods. Subsequently, transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is one of the most critical actions you can take to help shift ongoing degradation of the world's water supply (and the environment as a whole). Here are some important reasons to go vegan or vegetarian for water, for the planet, and for and all of its inhabitants:

* It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger. That 6.3 gallons covers everything from watering the wheat for the bun and providing water for the cow to cooking the patty and baking the bun. And that's just one meal! It would take over 184 billion gallons of water to make just one hamburger for every person in the United States. (
Blog Action Day 2010)

* The livestock sector is probably the largest contributor of water pollution, the major sources being animal waste, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for animal feed crops, and sediments from eroded pastures. (
EcoHearth)

* The largest amount of water the agriculture sector uses for livestock is to provide them with food. The feed production industry uses huge amounts of water to irrigate the land on which food is grown for all these animals, which have been bred to provide people products like meat, dairy and eggs. It has been estimated that the livestock sector may account for about 45 percent of the global budget of water used in food production (source Zimmer and Renault 2003). (
Vegan Peace)

* Plant-based diets only require around one-third of the land and water needed to produce a typical Western diet. Farmed animals consume much more protein, water and calories than they produce, so far greater quantities of crops and water are needed to produce animal ‘products’ to feed humans than are needed to feed people direct on a plant-based diet. With water and land becoming scarcer globally, world hunger increasing and the planet’s population rising, it is much more sustainable to eat plant foods direct than use up precious resources feeding farmed animals. (
Vegan Society)

* In most of the developing world, untreated manure enters water used by people for drinking, washing and bathing. Along with the manure flow lots of other undesirables including pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and their breakdown products, not to mention the surplus of nitrogen and phosphorus coming from fertilizers placed on the feed crops. All of this livestock-related influx upsets balance in nature. It can lead to fish kills and algal blooms which can deaden lakes. (
Vegetarian Resource Group)

* It takes 5,000 gallons (18,900 Litres)of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons (94.5 Litres).A totally vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons (1134 Litres) of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons(15,120 Litres) of water per day. You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year. (
useecofriendlyproducts.com)

While these facts may be grim, there is hope for real solutions as more and more people around the world are waking up to the clean water crisis. It's not too late to join the efforts of Blog Action Day 2010! By registering your blog, sharing something you've written or come across about water, embedding an action widget, signing the petition, fundraising for clean water and spreading the word, you're helping shed light on an often over-looked, yet incredibly important issue.

Be a part of this amazing day of blog activism!

11 October 2010

Ommmmmm



An extraordinary finding in my blueberry bush- the symbol for enlightenment or "Om", which signifies the One-ness of all creation and the essence of all the universe. Om (or "Aum") is the sacred sound to which everything that *is* vibrates. I have the tattoo on my foot, inspired from my yoga and Buddhist studies. This mysterious and inspiring leaf message was left by an enlightened little foliage-munching caterpillar. heehee I am amazed every time I see it!

I've left this majestical, mysterious leaf growing for weeks now, wanting to prolong the wonder of it. I think it's time I pick and press it before it disappears! :)

08 October 2010

A Glorious Sunny Day!

It's a glorious, blissful day, warm with a tinge of fall crispness, a sweet breeze, bright and happy sun, and a brilliant blue sky. Though I do adore Autumn, this year I'm having a tough time letting go of summer days (the cooler ones). Just a few days ago we were seeing the end of a string of grey, cold, damp days that really affected my mood for the worse. I'm not ready for a season of that yet!

Anyway, this morning there are lots of good things to talk about. I just came inside from studying a beautiful Woodpecker traversing the giant trees in my yard for a mid-day snack, breathing in wonderfully woodsy air (I love living near the park and so many trees), soaking up some sun, and watching my kitty having an adventure in the yard. AND, I got package in the mail!


Sophie!

I love packages! I recently ordered an amazing handcrafted bracelet from my EtsyVeg pal Debbie of For the Animals Sanctuary! Debbie makes incredible vegan jewelry with passionate messages about compassion, and 100% of the profits from her Etsy shop go to running her wonderful non-profit animal sanctuary! I love my bracelet, which reads "ahimsa", or "non-violence" in Sanskrit, a way of living that involves passionate avoidance of injury to any living being through thought, spirit, intention, word, or action. I am very familiar with the concept from my yoga and Buddhism studies, and hold it close to my heart. The bracelet is sooo pretty, wonderfully made, and I love the chain and adorable heart clasp. I feel happy just having it on! Thanks so much, Debbie! Check out Debbie's shop to see her love-inspired work. :)



My beautiful bracelet! I love it! :D

Another good thing about the warmth and sun sticking around longer this year is that we still have plenty of lovely blossoms adorning our porch and yard. As I walked around today, I also visited our garden and the last of the tomatoes still growing.




A Clematis bud- the vine is still growing and blossoming.

Our garden was the source of much joy throughout the summer as we tended and weeded and tried to balance the nutrients in our soil with fertilizer and compost. The yield, however, was somewhat of a disappointment, as you know if you've been following my garden updates. Our lettuce and spinach were a bust. We got some tasty greenbeans and a few handfuls of oddly-shaped cucumbers. lol Lots of tomatoes, though pretty puny (and really yummy). Finally, within the past few weeks, we tried again to dig up our carrots and... we had some! They were ittybitty (we're chalking it up mostly to not thinning enough and packed soil), but they were there, and were so sweet and flavorful. The next step is to ready the garden for the winter.


The last one standing- our tomatoes! We had intended to plant a fall crop of lettuce and spinach, but got a bit too lazy for it.


Our teeny weeny carrot harvest, all pretty and multi-colored! It's a start- next year we're going for big!

07 October 2010

Window Lockets- New in My Shop!

New Etsy shop listings- awesome window lockets (I love playing with these) holding tiny art collages! Each little collage has a different theme, and images created from vintage and antique materials like glass jewels from the 1940s; a page from a 1920s calendar; an old botanical journal; discarded encyclopedias, children's and art books; rare little copper stampings, fabrics from vintage sample books; handmade paper; bits of chain, jewelry, and millinery; and natural materials like dried leaves, flowers and twigs! I've been having a ball with the whole process, especially hunting for old materials in thrift stores, at flea markets, and online vintage shops.

I shared pics of a couple of these a while back. Two of those are now available in my shop, plus more- hope you like the new ones, as well! :)


"Autumn Woodland" (This one is in an autumn-themed creative contest on the EtsyVeg blog- please go vote for it!)




"Heart Song"




"Madame X"

30 September 2010

Top Ten Reasons to Buy Original Contemporary Art

This post comes from Paula Lewis of Scorched Eyebrow Studio, as shared by Nick from the Handmade in PA blog.


"Free Flight", by SilentLotus Creations. Watercolork, and gesso on birch panel.


Top Ten Reasons to Buy Original Contemporary Art

10. Bring yourself into your décor. Surround yourself with art that speaks to you and of you. You are unique, so why would you settle for the PierWhatever/BullseyeBox carbon copy stuff?

9. Assure your place in civilization by supporting the Arts. Bonus: By buying from local (and there are fabulously talented people in your community) artists, you stimulate the local economy directly.

8. Develop your own collection. Art is lots cooler to collect than stamps or coins and when you collect contemporary art, you can collect artists as friends- and we are a very cool group.

7. Make your neighbors jealous. All of them will wish they had your self-confidence and sense of style!

6. Connect with your deeper self. Buy original work that speaks to you emotionally, not because it matches the couch. (NOTE: It’s okay if it happens to match.)

5. Feel less like a cubicle-dweller and more human by surrounding yourself with art born of real live passion and creativity – art made because the artist was moved to do it, not paid by the brushstroke.

4. Tap into the mystery of the muse. There is something magical that happens within artists that often pushes them beyond their initial vision; share that wonder.

3. Learn something new. Exercising your mind is healthy and realizing you are developing your eye for quality, style, talent while you’re having fun looking at art is a real kick.

2. Honor your inner creative spirit. We all have the need to express ourselves. Twitter, Link’d In, board meetings, and lawyers are not sufficient. Express yourself visually by living with art you love. Get back in touch with your own creative self.

1. Delight in the presence of art that “you get” and realize that the art “gets you!”

22 September 2010

Vending Awesomeness!

Just got done vending at a string of awesome shows over the past few weeks! Lots of interesting venues, environments, people, handmade eye candy, and colorful sights! :) Thanks so much to Steel City Rockers vs. Mods, to PCC for a terrific Crafts N'At, to Friends of Ohiopyle for a delightful weekend at Music in the Mountains, and to the Steeltown Shakedown for the most colorful, old skool-ified weekend I've had in a while. :) And a big welcome and fat 'thank you' to all of my new customers!

Check out some of the best sights!















Cuties in the Rockers vs Mods pin-up contest!


Testing my new display setup at Rockers vs Mods.


Adorable rocker baby with her rocker daddy (who just happen to be my brand new niece and brother-in-law- lol).












The fabulous space and artisans at the Pittsburgh Craft Collective's annual show, Crafts N'At!







Can you believe this view of the Monongahela River from my tent at Ohiopyle' Music in the Mountains? It looks photoshopped! It was beautiful!





Crafty pal Rachel in her flirty and fabulous hand-altered dress at Steeltown Shakedown (that she helped organize). You should see the awesome flame applique she handsewed onto to the bag to match her sweetie's car! :)






Old-skool cool!


This weekend will be my last show until the holidays! Come and check me and lots of other fabulous local artisans out at
Art Harvest on Sunday, September 26th from 12-5 at the East End Food Co-op! :)

21 September 2010

New Studio!

It took a freecycled-from-the-curb bookshelf to transform the second room in our apartment into a working studio! After years of working on my dining room table amidst boxes and bags and clutter and of storing my supplies in disorganized piles and stacks and mayhem, I finally have a craft room and work space! :D Who knew a shelf could make that all possible? I am SO EXCITED! Our yoga/massage room turned storage room is now a craft room/art studio (well, and storage space for clothes and sheets and laundry, but you can't have everything)!


My dining room table was never the most ideal space for creating.


Neatness and actual room to breathe! My work table sits in the middle of the room now, with plenty of light to prevent me from blindness from working with tiny things. :) Yay!

The Big Fake Meat Debate

In the veggie community, discussion about whether or not folks can "stomach" meat substitutes and how a *true* veggie can eat them (due to the opinions some have about the similarity fo their taste, texture, and smell to the "real thing") has come up quite a bit. So I thought I'd chime in.

I have no problem with fake meats, and I eat them quite a bit. Their texture and smell don't in any way remind me of meat, nor does their taste.




I find the texture, smell, and taste of meat to be highly unique and unreplicatable. I don't eat "faux meats" to "pretend to eat meat" or because I am hungry for meat but want to avoid eating it. I eat them because they are yummy, protein-packed, and time-saving. I never ever get hungry for meat after nearly 13 years of being vegan and 2 of being veggie before that. My palette and mouth don't ever think that anything I eat is 'like meat' cause it's such a foreign concept to me anymore (that doesn't mean I don't recognize the taste of the real thing- I do).

When I think, "Mmmm, I could sure eat a Celebration Roast or veggie burger right now," I am getting hungry for the specific yumminess of that food, not any sort of meat at ALL. In my mind and spirit, there is no connection between 'fake meats' and the real thing . There is no way any kind of veggie food could "fake" the blood, flesh, suffering, and terror of the real thing. And in fact meat "substitutes" are meant to save other beings from ever becoming that in the first place. I don't even consider them "fake meats" unless I use the term to explain to someone with no familiarity what such a food is.

To me, they are just a protein source and way of changing things up a bit. Bring on the BBQ Veggie Riblets! ;)

13 September 2010

Pittsburgh Walk for Farm Animals 2010!

I am thrilled to be part of the upcoming Pittsburgh Walk for Farm Animals 2010 next month! On Saturday, October 2nd, Pittsburgh will host its very first Walk for Farm Animals to support the lifesaving rescue, education and advocacy work of Farm Sanctuary! This event takes place annually in more than 75 cities across the United States and Canada to celebrate and promote compassion for farm animals and raise funds to enable Farm Sanctuary to continue its vital work. One of the amazing walk organizers, Kim Piper of Sunstone Soap, states, "Our goal is to walk together as a compassionate community while we have fun, raise money and help better the world for all beings!"


Please consider walking with us! Everyone compassionate about animal welfare is invited, and non-vegans and non-vegetarians are absolutely welcome! You can walk solo, create your own team, or join my team called "Team Craftastic." :) When you go to register for Pittsburgh's walk, you will be given the option of choosing a team.
Register here by clicking ‘Get Started’ & selecting the Pittsburgh Walk. Advance registration is only $15 and includes a t-shirt. Or visit my page and follow the registration links. I hope you'll join me!



You can also help by sponsoring me in the walk. Any amount donated, whether $1 or $100, is hugely helpful. Visit
my fundraising page or look for the widget on my left blog sidebar to contribute!

If you would rather, you can also donate by sending to me directly via PayPal- let me know if you'd like my email address for that.

You can also donate a prize for the event, whether handmade, a gift certificate, or other item.
Contact me to arrange this.

GIVEAWAY ALERT: Every fan of
my Facebook Fan Page who donates toward the Walk for Farm Animals via my fundraising page will be entered in a giveaway to win two 5x7(ish) art prints of your choice! Yay!

Just donating any amount gets you one entry. Every $10 donated gets you another entry. So a donation of $10, for instance, would mean one entry for donating and one entry for $10 and so on. :) Just "like"
my Facebook page and comment there to let me know you've donated!
ANY AMOUNT IS WELCOME! :)


Thanks so much for your support!

Lady Gaga... WTF?

Okay, so I adore and am a huge fan of Lady Gaga, but I am so disappointed in her and so pissed off about her wearing an outfit entirely made of meat for a recent magazine cover and for the Video Music Awards. I won't post a picture, but you can Google it. To Ellen Degeneres she claimed she did not want to disrespect vegans and vegetarians, but how is wearing meat as a fashion statement NOT disrespectful?!?! Never mind whether or not she offends us veggies, but what about the animals who died to make her outfit and the million more who will die because society is still sending the message that commodification of animals for human use is okay? For fashion, for food, for sport... It's so f***ed up and WRONG! :( >:[ It's the ultimate disrespect of life!

30 August 2010

COW!

I love this little cow! She's waving but you can't tell from my background... :)

26 August 2010

Brand New Creations- Collaged Window Lockets

Months ago, I purchased some awesome handmade glass lockets from my friend Lynne who had extras, not exactly sure of what I would do with them. Well, I finally got around to seeing what would happen when I set out to try creating something with them, and here are the results! Introducing the latest line from SilentLotus Creations... Collaged Window Lockets!



On each locket, one at a time, I began gathering bits and pieces and images to create a collage. I used images and words from vintage and antique paper ephemera like books and magazine illustrations, vintage rhinestones, bits of artificial dried flowers and leaves, pieces of nature like twigs, old enamel pieces, fabric from vintage fabric sample books, and tiny jewels and ornaments from vintage millinery. As the subject emerged for each piece, so did a theme, which let me add just the right touches to create the mood of each finished locket.



I am so pleased with the results, and am super excited to unveil them at this weekend's Crafts N'At indie craft market by the Pittsburgh Craft Collective (PCC) on Sunday! I've already ordered new lockets in both this crystal shape and new shapes (diamonds, and house sort-of shapes), so look for more to come soon (like at Music in the Mountains on Labor Day Weekend- see my events list on the sidebar)! :)

Speaking of Crafts N'At, please come and support the PCC's fundraiser for Animal Friends this Friday night at 6pm at Wildcard in Lawrenceville! The Crafts N'AT Pre-Party will be serving free food, beer from East End Brewery, music, raffles of awesome local handmade goods, and a meetup with adoptable Animal Friend's animals! Please come on out!






19 August 2010

17 August 2010

The Steel Town Gets Down & Old School!

I will be vending at two fabulous upcoming car and motorcycle rallies over the next month! Woohoo! My craft business, SilentLotus Creations, is teaming up with other Pittsburgh indie crafter to vend our handmade wares alongside hot rods, pin up girls, live music, prize givaways, old school good times, and the coolest of the cool around Pittsburgh! The 1st Annual Steel City Rockers vs. Mods on August 21st (this Saturday!) and the Steeltown Shakedown on Sept. 11th are two events you definitely won't want to miss!

Mention this blog post when you visit my booth to save $2 off every $10 you spend! Hope to see you there!

1st Annual Steel City Rockers vs. Mods Vintage Motorcycle & Scooter Rally



Pittsburgh's first vintage motorcycle and scooter rally! Get out the gear, polish up the Nortons, Triumphs, and BMWs or Vespas, Lambrettas,and Allstates (depending on your allegiance) and commemorate this unique period in Motorcycle history with the First Annual Steel City Rockers vs. Mods! Join us for a one-of-a-kind rally featuring bands, DJs, a pin-up-girl contest, raffles, tattoos, entertainment, vendors, and of course, lots of bikes! Special guest judges will be on-site to distribute awards to both motorcycles and scooters. Come on out and help us make this event one to remember! A portion of our proceeds will benefit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's Hard Head Patrol.

Visit http://steelcityrockersvsmods.com for more info!


Steeltown Shakedown, hosted by The Drifters Car Club



On Saturday, September 11, The Drifters will be hosting the 5th annual Steeltown Shakedown at the Twin Hi Way Drive-In on Route 60 in Robinson Township. This all day car show is open to all pre-65 rat rods, hot rods, and custom cruisers. Shop the vendors and enjoy the various raffles, flamethrower contest, pin up contest, and live music. If that isn’t enough for, then prepare yourself for a one night only showing of a true vintage movie when the sun goes down. Bring your old ride and help us celebrate the 76th anniversary of the very first drive-in movie theater the only way we know how: ol’ skool.

Visit www.steeltownshakedown.com for more details.