Monday, August 19, 2013

New Beginnings

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that I am now blogging about my experience as an MBA student at the University of Notre Dame. The link is below. Check it out!

While My Vegan Corporate Life is my THE original blog. I promise fabulous tales and photos of life in South Bend, Indiana.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Doing Things I'm Not Good At and Loving It

The last time I went to the chiropractor she stood there while I was sulking and spouting excuses from my lips about how, "I wished I liked yoga and pilates, but I'm just not that great at it… blah blah blah."

She looked at me and with very kind eyes and proceeded to talk wisdom at me; "Danielle, A-types like you and me need to do things we're not good at. Just put your yoga mat in the back and be proud that you're not good at something."

Which led me to thinking…Maybe I could be OK at it if I actually did it? So, my Labor Day weekend has been centered around the "DO IT!" philosophy. Doing whatever I want, even things I'm bad at. For example:

I took a nap. Usually I fight it. I'm horrible at napping. But on Saturday I couldn't help myself.

I went to yoga. I realized it was hot yoga when I was sat down in the studio (whoops!) and ended up loving every second of it. Even when the teacher gave me a yoga block in front of 30 people. It's cool (it was actually really hot). I'm going back tomorrow.

I went to the driving range by myself. Which is a big deal because it was the 5th time in my life that I had swung a golf club. That and because there are no women. Where are the women? I was the only female there and wearing a bright pink skirt. I totally whiffed and just started laughing out loud, which payed off because a man dropped off an entire FREE basket of golf balls and said "I'm not going to use them." I replied, "Thank you!" But was thinking, I need all the help I can get, you know it and I know it.

I decided to start painting and to use oil paints (OMG!). A first for me and my love of pencil/watercolor. Last week I stocked up on a 30x40 canvas then proceeded to mentally vacillate between subjects. Flowers? No. Food? No. A tree? Maybe. I do love trees. While everyone else was drawing pink hearts on their books in middle school I was inevitably drawing trees. Not the illegal kind - just for the record.  But ultimately, no. I tried to find inspiration while running and walking around Portland. Bike tires? Eh, no.

This morning I woke up and just started painting. I clicked on iTunes and bam! "Blackbird singing in the dead of night…" So simple. I decided to add the bird. Then I bought the new Jason Mraz and painted for the remainder of the morning.

Step 1: Place the canvas in a walking path so that you have to paint.
Step 2: Use tape to your advantage.
Go with your gut. I had an entire thing in the right hand corner. It was bad so I took it off. 
Step 3: Let it dry. Don't touch anything.
 Wash your hands with Olive Oil. 

I hope your Labor Day weekend has been full of relaxing, fun and adventurous new things. And if it has not been all that you had hoped for, try again tomorrow.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Purely Entertaining: Pure Vegan Cookbook

When the Old Port is filled with tourists in Portland, Maine, I usually try to avoid every part of commercial street.  This time, however, I was leisurely walking up and down the grid with my very on tourist in tow…  Sarah, my friend from Massachusetts. 

We perused through the merchandise at one of the shops. You know the "shops" I'm talking about -- lots of white linens and Maine beach give-me-a-canvas-bag-with-a-starfish gear. I think there was also lots of hand-stitched merchandise and scenic Maine coasters. 

Anyway, that's where I saw the Pure Vegan cookbook and convinced myself, "Yes, it's your birthday (in 2 weeks) you deserve it!" My birthday I Deserve Things barometer usually extends the entire month of July. 

So I bought it. The photos are fantastic. The recipes are a mix complexity and curiosity. I just tried the cover photo recipe, Tomato and Three-Bean Salad and it was wonderful. We paired it with Trader Joe's vegetable pasta and seitan, dressed with organic red sauce. Needless to say it was a filling meal with promising leftovers. 

Baked Ratatouille is on my list when the chill of fall hits and Garbanzo Bean and Tomato Soup will also be in the line-up of MMs (must-makes). 

I think the book is really for the Vegan Martha Stewart's of the world. The sub title does state: 70 Recipes for Beautiful Meals and Clean Living. 

So here's the deal. 

If you're looking for something functional, everyday cuisine, this isn't your book. It only really highlights two major protein sources (beans and tofu) without any recommendations for some of other hearty staples we vegans love. For instance, seitan, tempeh and quinoa are nowhere to be found. Lentils do get a shout out in the Polenta with Wild Mushrooms, Hazelnuts and Figs recipe, which will be a hard sell to those meat-eaters in my life. 

What I'm saying is even if your life is like the book trailer and seems to be filled with shiny, young, my-closet-is-only-filled-with-flowing-dresses and seagulls and tofu and reminders of morning, noon and night and beautiful people and rice. It only really highlights 2 major protein sources.

My recommendation is buy it off Amazon at half-price. It makes a good entertaining / statement coffee table book. 


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Eden and Acadia: Vacation Heaven

Maine's majestic coast and superior forest do indeed prove to be one of the Earth's greatest treasures. Let's face it, sometimes the things physically close to you are overlooked regardless of how remarkable they may be.

This summer, Joe and I decided we were past due on a trip to Bar Harbor. We stayed one night but really needed at least three to take in the magnificence of Acadia National Park. 

Tuesday morning, when my jarring iPhone alarm went off at 5:30am we managed to pack up the remainder of things, hop in the car and drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain for sunsrise. The experience proved surreal for two reasons. First, the top of the mountain had a higher human to tree population at 5:55am than I had seen in the park the day before. Second, because most people were in pajama pants and sweatshirts, trying to hide heavy eyelids to their morning mountain comrades and were focused on looking over a cusp of the Earth. Camera and iPhone in hand of course.  

"Second star to the right, and straight on till morning" 

Sidenote: I just want to throw out a suggestion to the park to increase revenue. How great would a coffee stand at the top of Cadillac Mountain opened 10 minutes before sunrise be? I'm sure you could pay a college kid to run it. I'm not saying you need to offer Wi-Fi or anything and soft seating, but seriously, any coffee would be a hit with the tourists. You can call it the The Cadillac Mt. Caffeine Fix. Extra bonus for souvenir Cadillac cups. You're welcome. 

I highly recommend that if you do venture to Bar Harbor, force yourself to wake up early in the morning and see the sunrise. If I didn't know the origins of the novel Peter Pan, I would have taken the view of the lush tiny islands as a writers inspiration for a perfect Never Never Land. 

Anticipating there would be limited options in the vegan realm I stocked up on protein bars. To my surprise Joe said that he researched and actually found a vegan restaurant. I was ecstatic and rightfully so. It is the first FULL SERVICE ONLY VEGAN cuisine restaurant I have found in Maine that, in my opinion, is on par to other well-known restaurants in metro areas. 

I am disappointed there is not another in Portland.

The place is Eden and I had no idea the food would be great until we received our appetizers. Because I wasn't expecting to do a full review, I didn't take copious notes. However, here is a brief summary of the food we enjoyed. 

Bread: Baked lavosh strips

Beer Battered Pickled Jalapenos & Onion RingsHouse-Smoked Maple Barbecue Sauce, Creamy Herb & Garlic Aioli   $8

Joe ordered…Singapore Noodles
Wok-Charred Cabbage, Broccoli, Onions, Carrots, local Fresh Tofu, & Rice Noodles,
Fresh Chili, Kefir Lime, & Lemongrass Yellow Curry

I ordered...Almond & Panko Crusted Soy Seitan Cutlets
Pan-Fried House-Made Soy Seitan Cutlets, Sauteed Greens,
Chilled Yukon Potato & Charred Leek Salad,
Dijon, Caper, & Dill Vinaigrette   

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Pie. Yum.

Click here to visit their website. 

I would say pass on the martini, it was much too strong for my liking. The beer options were great. 

Bad lighting - but TOTAL vegan comfort food. Amazingly good!!

Definitely venture into Eden if you're in Bar Harbor. I plan to make it yearly ritual. There is also a small health foods grocery store so you should have a problem finding a plentiful amount of vegan-friendly fare. 


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Gentlemen of the Road Tour: Mumford, Music and Vegan Beer

Well, that was fun.

Did you go? It was awesome. A plethora of people and music and sunshine and fireworks and people and more people and dancing. The Eastern Prom in Portland, Maine was a perfect place for the kick-off of the Gentlemen of the Road tour. The bands were fantastic and I actually walked away with a list of “must look-up on iTunes” immediately.

I have to admit that there was one thing I was a little disappointed in. One thing that makes music festivals awesome. I’m not going to subject you to a diatribe of pro-vegan animal rights stop-serving-hamburgers-at-concerts bull crap because, let’s face it, that’s never going to happen. The masses like their hamburgers. I’m also not going to complain about the lines or the fact that the blanket room was minimal at best… those are but minor mishaps. I’m happy we got an outside concert in Portland, Maine and that it was Mumford.

Let’s consider something more important. Something some might consider a close number two after the music… the beer.

I think the real question is: How do you put on a hipster concert in the middle of Portland, Maine without considering vegan brew?

(Don’t think it was hipster concert --- did you see the PASSPORT you were carrying in as your ticket or ANY of the vintage signage a’happening? How about knitted shirt/dresses with bright accented sunglasses – and of course the skinny jeans. Totes hipster concert.)

Passport into Mumford and friends musicland.
Hipsters like vegan beer too.

Shipyard and Gritty’s are not vegan, which were the only beer options. Don’t believe me? Barnivore says so. Which wouldn’t be a big deal if you could leave the concert, but there was no re-entry. 

I know us veggies are not a big crowd, but please, take a look around the city of Portland. There are 12 gazzillion veg-friendly microbrews in (or in close proximity to) Portland, Maine that could have been served. It’s not necessary to name them… (Allagash, Maine Beer Company, Rising Tide, Baxter Brewing Co., it’s cool).

Plus, I’m not sure if you know some vegans. There is a small percentage of us that are fanatical, pedantic and well, fucking crazy at best. Some vegans get angry when they pay for $70 worth of concert ticket with no beer options. I’m not an angry vegan. But when we take over the world some day (as noted in the most ridiculousness of ridiculous articles by The Alarmist , Alarmed by Vegans!!!. You should read it to prepare.) there will need to be some re-consideration of the way these concert deals go down.

I feel as though I’m doing a service to the other vegans on the next three stops of the Gentlemen of the Road tour. We vegans need to look out for each other. Good luck!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer photo files: Random and wonderful

Lone bike attached to the stop sign. 
Neville and his chew toy.
Ernie focused on my veggies chips….
Summer shoes.
Aprons… love 'em.
Acadia the beautiful… more to come on this...


Allie and Charlie got married! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Vacation Station: Vegan in Vegas

First and for most, Happy Father’s Day! There has never been such a relevant post on father’s day as this vacation post about Las Vegas. Clearly, hearing about my time in Sin City is a duty I must uphold on this on this sacred day. My family will be celebrating later, so right now – I have nothing to share until people get presents. Father's Day spoilers are not allowed.

So that being said…let's go to Vegas.

When you fly through Denver you get snow capped mountains to look at. 

At the beginning of this year I reviewed my calendar and realized that if I wanted to take a vacation, it would be best to leave before the department transition that was about to happen. (Before my promotion: Read here).

So after about three months of trying to figure out where we should go, Joe and I decided on Vegas. Vegas was on our bucket list.

We booked a stay at Aria and started planning our trip. With everything I had heard, it would be Disney on steroids but for adults.

Vegas had a few surprising takeaways. The wind tunnels were more extreme than I had thought. The wind actually conquered a girl’s skirt as we were making our way down an escalator by The Mandarin Oriental, only to get the comment of the guy behind her, “You just made my night Marilyn.” Lots of wind.

And when did Vegas become a family hot spot?  the amount of kids I saw was utterly… well, shocking. 

But all that aside the thing I love about Vegas is that you can do whatever you want. You could wear sweat pants, you could wear a show girls outfit, you could walk around with a snake and people just go about their business without any real sort of negative criticism or care in the world. It’s much more of a, “Uh, It’s Vegas” attitude -- which I found a bit refreshing in the midst of pure commercialized insanity.

Because I forgot to take notes and my memory is escaping me at times on the details, here are the top 8 things I liked most about Vegas. Some vegan, some just noted for fun purposes.

8. The Bellagio Fountains – Right like you don’t automatically think of Ocean’s 11. I do. The water breaks up the concrete strip. It's pretty and the music is classic.

7. The Wheel of Fortune Game - So basically I lost every time I played this game, but it is a lot of fun. If you like slots you should try it.

6. The outside moving walkway by The Bellagio - I know this is weird thing to be on a top favorite list for Vegas but I seriously loved it. It feels like you're floating outside. Some of you must be thinking well maybe she's never been on a moving belt or something? Not true. I also am not a fan of decreasing the chances for the public to get exercise, but there is something about being able to float along the walkway and enjoy yourself.

These photos are of the lobby area within the Bellagio. They're beautiful. 

5. The Aria Experience. I say experience, because the room was completely digital and it took us about 20 minutes to figure out how to turn on the lights and open the curtains. The pool looked lovely, however it wasn’t really warm enough for us swim, unfortunately. 

The actual structure of Aria is modern and beautiful. There is a waterfall wall (say that 10 times fast) at the front entrance. We didn’t have a view of the strip, but our view was serene - in a flashy kind of way. Also, Aria had a few chic bars and the Elvis show. 

The hotel is part of City Center and had a pub style restaurant directly connected to it, where Joe and I got drinks and watched The Master's.

Aria Lobby. Daisy Ceiling Garden.
View from our room.
Watching The Master's...

4. Ka and Elvis Cirque du Soleil Shows - we went to two Cirque du Soleil shows. Joe fell asleep at one of them, while I was captivated through both.

Ka is a dark tale that brings you through multiple, amazing battle scenes. I honestly never knew Joe fell asleep until the show ended and I asked him what he thought about the production. When his response was, “It was OK”? I replied with, “What do you mean OK? Did you see the two men on the circular pieces jumping rope and running? It was amazing!”

That’s when I realized he actually didn’t see that part because he was sleeping. I laughed. It’s Vegas.

The Elvis show was also great. It highlighted many more traditional acrobat moves expected from Cirque, all to the sounds of Elvis.

3. Wynn Buffet - We only ate at one buffet during our trip and we strategically selected The Wynn because of the reviews I had seen online.

Steve Wynn is a vegan so all of his restaurants accommodate vegans easily. The Wynn was a good 10-15 minute walk from Aria. But it gave us the chance to see the other notable resorts, The Bellagio, The Palazzo, Mirage, Ceaser’s Palace etc.

The buffet has many diverse choices and labeled options for vegans. Salad bars, stir-fry, soups, veggie rolls, fried rice, breads, cookies, and more. Joe could get meat stuff, I could get veggies and it was delicious.

2. Hoover Dam – If you go to Las Vegas, I highly recommend visiting the Hoover Dam. We rented a car for a day at Aria and booked it out there for a tour. It’s amazing.

The tour guides are awesome and the structural complexity and magnitude of the pieces are a bit surreal. Not like Grand Canyon wondrous, but definitely unbelievable to think that men could build something so culturally important and physically tenacious in 1931.

We took the full tour because Joe is a history buff and I just like exploring.

On the bridge overlooking the Hoover Dam.

1. Wing Lei at The Wynn – To celebrate my promotion and our vacation in Vegas, we decided to make reservations at Wing Lei. I had read good reviews online from other vegan bloggers. The dining area was wonderfully decorated with gold finishes and bright statement colors.

The food was delicious. There was  a full vegan friendly menu at the back of the dining portfolio and I ordered the best cocktail I had in Vegas. I don't normally order full mixed drinks,they’re usually too sweet or to tart for my taste. However, this drink was delicious. It was their signature martini and I believe had a hint of pomegranate. 

I didn’t feel as though I should take pictures because the atmosphere seemed more reserved, but you can get a sense of the restaurant through their website

So our time in Vegas was great. If you're traveling there as a vegan -- there are mounds of options. My advice is to call ahead and make it to The Wynn. 

If all else fails there is a Walgreens located in the middle of the strip near City Center. Grab some snacks. 


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chunky cherry (vegan) granola

There is serene calmness at my house today. Much the way I feel when there is a meager wind across the lake during a summer afternoon.

I’m not sure if it’s the sunshine booming in through my kitchen, or the multiple plants that I purchased yesterday, but I am happy this morning. Living things in constructed space always seem to make me happier. 

Regardless, I had an intense yearning to put on my lovely polka dotted apron and craft something delicious.

On a side note, can I confess something? My life is always much more creative with music. For some reason the time seems to escape me when music is playing in the background. Not like when I’m watching TV and my brain is only concentrated on one screen, attention fixed. Alternatively, music allows me to go in and out of concentration and therefore allows my thoughts to run off on pathways that bring me to interesting observations. It’s a much more creative process. I think this is one the real benefits of Sunday mornings and why I love them so much.

So my music choice today? I decided to listen to Mumford & Sons while I composed the beginnings of the chunky granola recipe. Which brings about another confession…I honestly have never listened to the entire Mumford & Sons CD and I’m going to see them in August. They will be playing in Portland, Maine August 4th on the Eastern Prom and I GOT TICKETS! Woohoo! Have you seen the Gentlemen of the Road website? It’s actually a very cool design. Check it out.

Another thing I love about Sundays - no make up. Just sunshine and Lots'O'polka-dots.
I love when my boyfriend buys me flowers.
I mean, I picked them out and brought them to the register, but he paid. So technically he bought them for me. 10 points for Joe. :-)

So anyway, let’s get to the granola.

Granola isn’t granola to me unless it’s chunky granola. Chunky granola is where it’s at.

 2 Cups Rolled Oats
1/4 Cup  Garbanzo flour (high in fiber in protein!)
1/4 Cup  Flax meal 
2 Tablespoons Raw sliced almonds
1/4 Cup  Raw sunflower seeds
1/4 Cup Dried Bing cherries1/4 Cup  Light Agave
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
Vegan cane sugar to sprinkle on top if desired.

(Makes about 4 cups of granola)


STEP 1: Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Place raw sunflower seeds and almonds on a cookie sheet. Toast until golden brown. About 10-15 minutes. 
STEP 2: While you're toasting the sunflower seeds and almonds, start to combine the dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl mix oats, flour, flax meal, and cherries. 
STEP 3: Take out the sunflower seeds and almonds from the oven and increase the heat to 350 degrees. Wait a few minutes for the sunflower seeds and almonds to cool. When done, combine with the dry mixture.
STEP 4: Now add the vanilla and the agave and stir until all portions of the mixture are consumed by the agave.

STEP 5. Take the mixture and place into a greased pan. I would recommend greasing the pan with coconut oil, but use what works best for you. Spread the mixture about 2-3 centimeters thick and press down with a wooden spoon until flat. 

SIDE NOTE: I prefer using smaller pans because they crisp the edges, and therefore increase the chance of chuck. However, if you want to use a larger pan OR a smaller bite size muffin pan or other cookie bar pan feel free. Just make sure you adjust the cook time for the appropriate pan. 

STEP 6: Sprinkle vegan cane sugar across the top if desired. Place pans into the oven (at the 350 temp) and cook for 20 minutes or until the granola is golden brown. When finished, let cool and shuffle into a storage container or your breakfast bowl/sandwich bag. 

I hope you enjoy the rest of this Sunday! I'm going to go wander to the art store and continue searching for a decorative clock for my kitchen. 


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Food finds through photos

Farmer's market finds taste better...

Gazpacho in a jam jar. Like this isn't the best entertaining idea...
And of course, drink and be merry...