10 Things I Love: Halloween Edition

OMG OMG OMG it’s Halloween! It’s the very best holiday there is (after my birthday) and I just love that it’s filled with candy, scariness, costumes, and laughter. Last year I was lucky enough to go to NYC for Halloween to hang with my homie Fritz, and it was very very fun. This year I have decided to dress slightly differently than in the past (last year I was the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, to give you a frame of reference) and I am going to be (pause, please) slightly sexy. I know! Me? Sexy? But listen, I’m 32 years old, I am comfortable and confident in my body, I’m single, and I’m getting my sexy groove on. YOLO, people! Help me celebrate all things Halloween:

1. Pet Costumes. Maybe it’s because my cat would rather die than allow me to put her in a costume (you have to admire that stubbornness) but I LOVE a pet costume. I secretly delight when I see a taco walking down the street and dream of the day when I can dress my future dog as an Ewok. How about a baked potato costume? Not to worry…the future is now. The world is your oyster. Or lobster, if need be.

2. Decorated Houses. I will never forget this one house in our neighborhood when I was younger. There were fake tombstones, spider webs, creepy music and lights galore. The owner dressed as a witch and sat in a rocking chair on the inside of her door and would cackle at you as you silently shit your pants. Everyone had to go up to her to get their candy, but my spidey sense told me to shag ass. So she had to throw the candy at my feet, which I felt was a victory for me. Yes, I was frightened, but I just think people that decorate their houses really get the spirit of the holiday. It’s about having fun and ultimately scaring little kids while giving them free sugar. Damn, what a great holiday.

3. Party City. Listen, don’t even think of going to this place during the entire month of October. It is truly the seventh circle of hell. But when I needed face paint so I could be a sugar skull, I went to Party City. When I needed fangs and blood for this years costume, I went to Party City. So what if it’s a craptastic hell hole derived to drive you crazy? Embrace the crazy. Then get the hell out of there.

4. Scary Movies. This should go without saying. I LOVE SCARY MOVIES almost more than anything. Last night I watched “Identity” and the night before it was “Let The Right One In.” For one month out of the year, I get to stock up on scary movies and watch until my scary movie cup runneth over (side note: it never runneth over). I have big plans to watch “Rosemary’s Baby” and “House on Haunted Hill” tomorrow as I try to recover from Halloween.

5. Vegan Halloween Candy. I have avoided candy like the plague since going vegan, just to make sure I don’t mess up (except for chocolate, because duh). But I’ve learned recently that some of my favorites are indeed vegan: Smarties, Jolly Ranchers, and Skittles are all safe to eat. Now I have to make up for lost time! It may very well be a Mamba sort of weekend for me.

6. Trick or Treating/Trunk or Treating. Times they are a changing, folks. When I was younger, my dad walked us around to the houses and my mom stayed home to give out candy. When our pillow cases got too heavy to carry, we headed home to organize our candy, trade, and watch “The Simpsons” Halloween special. Now, people go in groups to trick or treat for safety reasons. Trunk or Treating has become very popular, and I had the pleasure of going with Beevy and her girls to experience how fun it could be. People decorate the trunks of the cars and hand out candy, usually while they themselves are also dressed up. It’s super fun, and I have dreams of decorating my car when I have kids.

7. Bad Sexy Costumes. Ladies, we don’t have to do much on Halloween. We are all sexy as is. This is the perfect time of year, however, to show some skin and let your freak flag fly. But some costumes are just…wrong. I think we have crossed into the “horrible idea” category when you spot a “Sexy Olaf” costume or a “Corn” (the food) one. Why? Just…why? Please take some time and view some really really bad ones here and here. And then ask yourself how you have managed to live with that hamburger costume for so long.

8. Pumpkin Everything. Tis the season to put pumpkin in your coffee, beer, muffins, and pies. Get crazy and put some behind your ear if you’re sad or use some pumpkin as a face wash. Embrace the wacky orange squash! And can we talk about how good pepitas are?

9. Haunted Houses. Every single year, without fail, I talk about going to a haunted house but no one will go with me. I see this not as a “Sar” problem but more like my friends are scurred freaks. Here’s how to handle a haunted house: understand that every person that’s scaring you has also had too much coffee and desperately wants a cigarette and to go to bed, much like the rest of us. They are no different than us, and will most likely eat at Waffle House before the night is over just like you and I. That’s not very scary, is it?

10. Family Costumes. I feel like my life will be complete when I can decorate my house, dress my family up like the characters from “Clue”, and then watch as hilarity ensues as we pretend to bash each other over the head with candlesticks and lead pipes. That’s good family fun! Recently I saw a family dress as minions and the father was Gru. I died. It’s the best.

Happy Halloween to everyone!

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To Run or Not to Run…I Forgot the Question.

You may remember that a while back I was super into running. Very into running. I loved that shiz. I mean, I was never really good, and I always mix running with walking. But I ran a few times a week and did many a race. And then LIFE happened. Don’t you just wanted to yell at Life, “Quit happening, ok? Either stay or go, but you can’t just keep popping up into my life all willy nilly and expect me to stay composed or at the very least not eat all of the Whole Foods vegan chocolate chip cookies.” The movie promotion took up time, and then I’m driving too Atlanta a few times a week, and then I’m tired, and I’m mainlining popcorn, and I’m eating vegan chocolate and tacos, and I’ve gained 10 pounds and my pants are tight and I want to do anything other than run. I miss it, though, but I didn’t realize how much until I ran on Sunday.

Here’s what happened: I signed myself up for a few Fall races a while back and then proceeded to promptly forget about them. Happens to us all, right? Then I started getting the emails about how to pick up your race number, and where to park, and then I remembered. Holy shitballs, Batman…I’m running a race on Sunday! Zoink!

On Friday I took my happy (read: unhappy) arse to Brookhaven to pick up my race swag (my 16-year-old niece taught me the importance of the word swag, but in this case, I actually picked up my race swag) which included my race number and shirt. Now it’s for real.

#swag.

#swag.

Let me clear: I did absolutely nothing to prepare for this race. I have not jogged in a while (I actually can’t remember the last time) and figured that I could just walk parts if I needed to. On Saturday I slept in to the late hour of 8:00 am (that’s a victory in my book) and headed to town for some Fall family fun with Beevy and her kids. By 8:00 pm, I was exhausted, not so much from doing anything taxing, but more so from having a really really horrible week and my body requesting that I sleep off any leftover horrible feelings. So I was asleep by 10:45 on a Saturday night (don’t hate) and awake by 5:30 am for the big race.

Of course, living in Gwinnett has its disadvantages at times, and it seems that a HUGE one is that 100% of the races I’ve done or want to do are in Atlanta at ungodly early times. But I wasn’t deterred…I left the house at 6:00 am and got stuck in the worst stand still traffic at around 6:40 at Atlantic Station. We are talking dead stopped. We are also talking about people not letting me into their lane, when, during dead stopped traffic, I KNOW YOU SEE ME AND NOW IT’S AWKWARD BECAUSE I CAN WATCH AS YOU DRIVE BY ME. Sigh. The bad news: the race started at 7:30, and I pulled into the parking deck at 7:30. The good news: they stalled the race from starting for a good 20-30 minutes because of the traffic fiasco.

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Dead stopped.

For me, I LOVE races. I would rather do 4 races a week than jog 4 times by myself. There’s something about the camaraderie, the complete strangers cheering you on, the loud music playing to pump you up, the volunteers that took time out of their days to help out, and the finish line that really get me going. In truth, people on the sidelines cheering you on make me go that extra mile (that’s a figure of speech, I still only go the required distance of the race) and always always always make me smile. Yesterday, the roller girls were out in full force, playing loud music, holding signs (one of my favorites is “Worst Parade Ever”), clapping and cheering. I instantly smiled and picked up the pace. Then there’s the finish line. Ahhhh the beloved finish line. Yesterday, there were people who were waiting on loved ones, people who ran the race, and supporters all lined up on either side of you as you crossed the finish line. They were clapping, cheering, yelling things like “Great job!” and “You did it!” and I wanted to fly into a cloud of rainbows because I was so happy. This is why I love a race…people you have never met join forces to be happy for other people. It’s a wonderful thing.

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So, how did I do? Let’s just say that I could have done better, and I could have done worse. I realized that I wanted to walk more than run (no surprise there) and that I actually was sort of sad about it. I understand now that I miss running on the reg, and that my schedule and life have only gotten crazy because I’ve allowed it. Time to put on my big girl panties and kick the shit out of this lazy ass that I’ve gotten so used to. I feel better when I run, I look better, and my pants are not longer tight. That’s a win win, right?

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Pro tip: ask for no mayo and then spread some Sriracha on it.

Pro tip: ask for no mayo and then spread some Sriracha on it.

To treat myself for doing a quasi good job on the race, I headed to Lee’s Bakery and gorged on vegan Pho and vegan Banh Mi. I regret nothing. Now, it’s time to put the foot to the cement and slap this life in the face, because #yolo, bitches.

 

Cowspiracy, tattoos, and the need for another damn list.

Well, it’s happened. I have officially co-hosted an event in Atlanta. I never thought that would go down, and to be honest, never had the desire to. But when I learned of the movie “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret”, I knew I had to see it. The only problem was that it wasn’t showing in Atlanta. That’s when Holly (of Veganadian fame) and I decided to put on our big girl panties and bring the movie to us. Turns out that hosting a movie is not the most difficult thing in the world, but selling tickets just may be. I guess I never thought about that aspect, but we got the hustle down and our event was last Thursday. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I greeted people, had to get the event straight with the theater manager, and then was elected by my oh so kind and yet shy co-hosts to make a speech in front of everyone. I was sweating profusely, is what went down. I basically blacked out and said some things that sounded like words and strung them together and then smiled. No clue if it went over well. But that is clearly not the most important part, which is the movie itself. The movie revealed a hidden side to animal agriculture and how it is one of the most protected and secretive aspects of the government and lobbyists. To fix the Earth’s problems, we must first recognize that animal agriculture is the leading problem for pollution, deforestation, obesity, disease, drought, hunger, etc. This movie laid it all out on the line. I think it gave everyone so much to absorb about their place in it all.

The PlantBasedATL Crew.

The PlantBasedATL Crew.

I guess you had to be there.

I guess you had to be there.

Adrienne (cracktheplates.com) and Holly

Adrienne (cracktheplates.com) and Holly

After the movie, we all headed over to Taverna Plaka to eat some yummy Greek food. They even made vegan versions of their spanikopitaki and eggplant dishes for us. How awesome! Seriously, they even gave each person two spinach pies to go. But I took four home cause that’s how I roll.

My beloved dolmas and spinach pies.

My beloved dolmas and spinach pies.

I may or may not have eaten my leftover spinach pies for breakfast on Saturday. (I did).

I may or may not have eaten my leftover spinach pies for breakfast on Saturday. (I did).

As some of you may know, I’m taking a trip to Asheville in November with my best friend Beevy. This shall be the trip amongst trips; we’ve been looking forward to this for ages it seems now. This trip shall include: a lovely stay in the mountains with no internet/cable/phone service (a true blessing in disguise), hot tubs, eating ALL of the foods that Asheville has to offer, window shopping, day hiking, and a possible tattoo. I’ve been wanting a new one for a while (not shocking to anyone that knows me) and I think I’ve decided  on what I want. It turns out that the hardest decision for me is usually where on my body I will get a tattoo. Most of mine are on my back, but I have recently branched out to more visible areas. To be honest, if I could, I would have a full sleeve going. Maybe one day.

Fast forward to today when I was THISCLOSE to calling my chosen tattoo parlor and setting up an appointment for November. This week I have started to feel slightly anxious in general, not really about anything in particular. When that happens to me, I know I need to check my house. Not my physical domicile that I reside in (cause that’s my mom’s house…hi mom!) but more like my body, my mind, my spirit, my heart. My house, ya dig? I did a mental check and I realized that I needed to start making a new list of things to accomplish. You may be wondering: What the shit is up with this lady and lists? And the only way I can explain it is that with a list, I am able to clear my mind, focus my energy, and deal with the alligators closest to the canoe (you can borrow that phrase if you like, it’s a winner). It calms me down. It centers me. When I feel slightly overwhelmed and anxious, I make a list (or a few).

Enter, today’s list:

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If you can’t read that, it says “To Do List…or how to calm the fuck down.” As of right now, I have approximately 15 items on the list. One of them is to get a tattoo in Asheville which has now been crossed off of the list. As soon as I wrote it down, I realized deep down that I wasn’t really ready right now for one, that it just didn’t feel right. To be honest, it hit me that I should probably save that tattoo money for Christmas presents. Ahhhhhh to be a grown person. Responsibility is a bastard, amiright?

My list making today has calmed me down. I also am very very guilty of “burning the candle at both ends”, another phrase I love. I am learning to say no to plans (I’m actually not doing too well at that one). An awesome friend with the cutest dog around (Ni + Beanut) once told me to tell people that I’m busy all weekend and then do nothing. That woman should be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize or some shiz for that kernel of wisdom! This has also helped me today:

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and this:

I'm learning the states and capitals and their placement on a map by my next birthday. NERD ALERT.

I’m learning the states and capitals and their placement on a map by my next birthday. NERD ALERT.

and this:

Yes, I have Halloween feet.

Yes, I have Halloween feet.

 

What do you guys do when you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed?

 

Go Vegetarian: A Review

There’s a new horse in town, people! And the buzz is this: if you’re looking for a yummy, quasi fast food-like meal, then this is your place. Go Vegetarian, though guilty of an odd name, is delicious. It’s located near North DeKalb mall which was very near to where my friend Beevy and I were on Tuesday night. She’s a meat-eating person that is totally supportive of the the veg-head way of life. And who wouldn’t be down for some onion rings and fried foods? EXACTLY. It’s not health food, people, but this shiz is good.

The restaurant is super clean and new, but they’re experiencing some new restaurant type jitters. Possibly not enough people in the kitchen could be one of the reasons, or maybe it’s just growing pains. But our food came out much slower than we anticipated. The owner, David, made sure to come around to each table to apologize for the slowness of the food. He even gave everyone a 15% off coupon for our next visit. Great customer service!

Turns out part of the reason our food came out slowly is because they made Beevy’s salmon cakes from scratch. To be honest, I don’t mind waiting for yummy, delicious, and made to order food. I’d rather not have food that’s been sitting around for hours, so we were happy to wait.

As for the food, it was worth the extra wait time. Thanks to a friend’s suggestion, I got the Roast Veggie Steak Sandwich with Cheddar. Remember to say “Go Vegan” when placing your order or else you’ll get dairy cheese. The sandwich was like a Philly Cheese Steak and was the perfect mixture of messy, cheesy, drippy. Basically, heaven. I also got the “50/50”, which is half onion rings and half fries. The onion rings are the JAM and were so crispy delicious and fried to perfection. Beevy got the Salmon Cakes and 50/50, along with a salad. I tried her salmon cakes and they were, I think, an artichoke heart mixture with maybe some seaweed mixed in. When I asked David if there were artichoke hearts in the cakes, he laughed in my face, which I took to mean that I had cracked the code.

Because I HAD to try the milkshakes (I’m doing research for the blog, people!) I chose the chocolate, because duh. It was really really really good. It made me realize how much I miss a damn milkshake in my life. They made it from scratch, too. It was the perfect dessert to my delicious dinner.

Long story short, I will have to go back ASAP because I have to try all of the items on the menu. I mean, who doesn’t want a BBQ Veggie Pull Steak Burger or a Fried Veggie Chicken Sandwich? What about the Chili Style Veggie Sausage Link or the Buffalo Veggie Chicken Nuggets? And now I’m hungry.

Has anyone tried this place?

On Meeting My Hero.

It’s been far too long since I’ve last posted, but if we’re being honest (and when aren’t we?) I needed a breather. That Vegan MoFo, though guilty of completely rocking my socks, wore me the f out. I realized that I will have to reevaluate my Vegan MoFo game for next year, because the ish got real about 2 weeks in. I started to feel like I was forced into blogging or something, which made me not want to. I realize how ludicrous that sounds, because wasn’t the whole point to blog about awesome stuff that I wanted to write about and try new awesome recipes and just mainly continue being awesome? Yes. So I think for next year’s MoFo, I will plan a little better and think things through more and possibly do things before hand to take the pressure off. No worries! I’m back and ready to commence talking about all of the foods I’ve been eating and about meeting Gene Baur.

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Last Thursday was Mohandas Gandhi’s birthday as well as the World Day for Farmed Animals. When I first heard of that celebration, I knew I had to be involved. It’s a day that raises awareness of the billions of farmed animals around the world that suffer, are tortured, and eaten for no reason. I did a 12-hour fast on Thursday in honor and remembrance of the farmed animals (and I may have even had a cry). It was a special day and I’m glad I could participate. Any reason for me to drink coconut water and kombucha is a great day.

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On Friday I was super stoked to make a vegan meal for my amazing and awesome friends Beevy and JT. They’ve been really supportive of my lifestyle change and are interested in eating healthier. Score! So I made the one meal that I feel confident that all meat eaters will like: Isa’s tempeh meatballs and spaghetti. Those meatballs are the jam, homies. Beevy and JT finished their plates and even ate the leftovers the next day. I consider that a success! Hopefully there will be more cooking parties when life settles again and I actually cook and stop eating take out. That day will come, right?

Have you guys seen “Gone Girl” yet? I saw it on Saturday and really really enjoyed it. I’ve read the book twice (I’m a book re-reader by nature) and love me some Gillian Flynn. Go see it, but make sure you pee beforehand, because that movie is blatter-bustingly long.

Sunday had me setting my alarm for 7:45 in the am to drive to Piedmont Park. Let me start by saying that it was one of the m0st beautiful days I may have ever seen. If I could live in a place that was 65 degrees with a blue sky and the sun shining with a slight chill in the air at all times, I would be very very happy. I’m not quite sure that place exists though. At any rate, I met my new friends for coffee and we joined up with the Walk for Farm Animals crew. Gene Baur is the president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, the first sanctuary for farmed animals. There is one sanctuary in New York and two in California. He was at the walk and I totally was starstruck because he is one of my heroes. I think he is the cat’s meow, and he fights for animal rights like few others. At one point, I stood close enough to share a shoe photo:

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Yes, my legs are approximately 8 shades lighter than his. WHO’S COUNTING? Then I worked up the nerve to ask for a picture and mumbled “I’m going to your talk at UGA tomorr0w” before this picture was snapped:

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Ahhhhh totally awesome. He was so very kind, amazing, generous, and humble. He spoke to anyone and everyone, took pictures with whomever. He said a speech before and after the walk about how awesome we all were and about the sanctuaries and his work.

 

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The walk was catered by some awesome places around Atlanta, and we were lucky enough to have all you can eat pastries from Dulce:

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DUDES. There were scones with lemon glaze. Don’t even try to understand it. Also, Dulce made this amazing cake for the event:

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Yes. Those are pig swimming in a mud pit and pig butts are sticking up in the air. Yes. That happened. Chipotle also catered and we got fat burritos and yummy salad:

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I may or may not have taken a burrito for the road and eaten it for lunch on Monday. Here’s some pics of my new friends:

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SUCH an amazing day! I felt energized, and so full of self-love because even though becoming vegan had some bumps, it truly has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. How many things can you say that about?

Monday was the real joy. I headed to Athens after work and immediately went to the Grit. It was my first time eating there as a vegan and it did not disappoint. I had the gyro with sweet potato fries and a slice of their almond joy cake, which is basically coconut flakes for a crust and chocolate pie goodness in my mouth.  I also got the Golden Bowl to go for lunch on Tuesday (I guess I’m a big fan of thinking ahead with my future lunches).

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At UGA, my awesome pal Rebeb came and met me for Gene’s lecture. He spoke about Farm Sanctuary, the animals, and what happens to them in factory farming. And while I pretty much know all of this already, I have promised myself that I will never close my eyes or ears or heart to what happens to them. I owe them that much.

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Finally, the moment came when he was signing his book. I went up to him and introduced myself and told him I had been at the walk the day before. Then I thanked him for all that he’s done because he is truly my hero and one of the main reasons I went vegan 6 months ago. He was so appreciative and humble and kind. I even told him that I’m going to try and visit his NY sanctuary next year. And then we took this amazing picture:

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On the inside of my book he wrote, “Thank you for caring.” I found that so profound, because while health was the first reason I became vegan, it has morphed into being the second. The first reason is for the animals. Because I have opened my eyes and heart to what is happening, I have made the decision to never look back and question myself again. I’m on the right path for me, and I understand that it’s not for everyone. But damn, does it feel good to try and live in alignment with how I feel.

In lighter news, I have found some new vegan finds from my recent store trips to include burritos, pizza, chicken, and of course, Halloween cookies:

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Because a life without Halloween cookies that you can dip into unsweetened almond milk is not a life I want to live.

Goodbye, Vegan MoFo

I have learned many a lesson from participating in my first Vegan MoFo. A very important lesson is that no matter how hard you plan (i.e. make a calendar of all of the posts and recipes you’re going to try), you will constantly change your mind due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances. When I came back from New York, I had amazing posts planned and wonderful new recipes to try, and all of that went down the drain because I was wicked tired and could barely dress myself. Sometimes you have to drop back and punt, homies. Make that warm lemon water out of lemons. Or sometimes I got to the day of a certain post and just plain did not want to write about it. Other times, life happened and I felt that I wanted to write about something off the radar of normalcy.

It has been amazing reading all of the other blogs and learning new recipes and seeing what other people do with their time. Seriously, I need to crank it up over here because I have far too many cookbooks that need trying and food to be eaten. There’s not enough time in the day to eat all of the food I want! Makes me think of Jessie Spano and how the poor girl didn’t have time to study or sing with Hot Sundae.  What’s a girl to do besides pick up a nasty caffeine pill habit?

Lucky for us all the only caffeine I have these days is in the form of hot green tea and the occasional cherry Coca Cola Classic.  Here’s to more recipes tried, more food eaten, and singing “I’m so excited!” at the top of my lungs while my hair is crazy giant and I have a stretched out grey sweatshirt on! Keep on rocking, MoFo-ers!