Thursday, February 24, 2011

Order of Rank: Top 3 Thursday

Name the top 3
vegan cookie recipes?

My Life is a Running Sitcom: Webijargon

Company E-Mail Exchange
February 23, 2011

Ali: I’m listening to this webinar, but it isn’t really making much sense not having the slides in front of me. Meh.

Me: Well I assure you there aren’t little drawn hearts on the slide. In case you were wondering... with all this “market love” talk.

Ali: Good to know. I am also picturing a “pack” of little TV wolves…

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vegan Constellation Cookies

It was a hectic weekend, which ended with me wanting something sweet and salty. So out of my cupboards and refrigerator, from under the jasmine rice and behind the frozen strawberries I give you… the Vegan Constellation Cookie. A roll of sunflower seed butter, organic coconut and carob chip goodness. Just a little something that will brighten your night and shine through your day. Enjoy!

 Makes 12-14 rolls. 

What You'll Need 
2 3/4 Cups Wheat Pastry Flour
3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1/4 Cup Vanilla Soy Milk
2 Tablespoons Soy Margarine 
3 Tablespoons Safflower Oil
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1/4 Teaspoon Black Strap Molasses

1 Cup  Sunflower Seed Butter
1 Cup  Carob Chips
1 Cup  Organic Coconut
1/4 Cup  Dried Cranberries

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

STEP 2: Mix apple sauce, soy margarine, safflower oil, vanilla, molasses and soy milk in a large mixing bowl.

STEP 3: In a smaller bowl combine wheat flour, powdered sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Next add the flour mixture to the larger mixing bowl - stirring throughly. 

STEP 4: When all ingredients are mixed completely, scoop batter into 1 gallon ziplock bag. Roll the dough so that it covers the whole bag and place on cookie sheet. Place your cookie sheet with dough in the fridge and chill for 30 minutes.

STEP 5: After allotted time, take out cookie dough and cut off the top of the ziplock bag. Flip dough onto a floured cutting board. You can take your rolling pin and try to stretch the dough a little longer, but be careful because it may be sticky!

STEP 6: Spread sunflower seed butter across the dough about 1/8 inch think. Place a row of cranberries an inch thick at the top of the dough. Sprinkle coconut and carob chips as you see fit. (I would recommend keeping it kind of light, as you’ll be rolling the dough in two seconds.)

STEP 7: And…. roll the dough (shocking, I know) starting with the side closest to the cranberries. Try to keep the roll as tight as possible without splitting the dough. Place it on the cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

STEP 8: Once the cookie roll is baked and cooled, use a bread knife to slice into pieces. I would recommend cutting them ¾ inch to 1 inch in width. Dip in chocolate and then coconut. Eat or pack for the office, or both.

I placed the cookies in tupperware containers in the freezer overnight to help solidify the chocolate. Good luck. 


Beer Alert! Mean Old Tom by Maine Beer Company

Beer + Kale Chips = Vegan Heaven
"Guess what I found? Something that is going to make you very happy." 

 * * * 

A new stout beer from our friends at the Maine Beer Company has arrived: Mean Old Tom. The Maine Beer Company, who's delectable Zoe and Peeper Ale are my favorites, now makes a rich stout that includes aged natural vanilla bean. I can't tell you if it's at every location Zoe or Leaf Peeper is sold at, but I can tell you Whole Foods in Portland has a fairly decent display of the stout's first batch. 


Monday, February 14, 2011

Memere, Pepere, Ployes & Love

I distinctly remember the days Mom would bundle Jodie and I into the Toyota 4-Runner and navigate four hours north from Massachusetts to Memere and Pepere’s house in Maine. It happened so often that even as children we had landmarks vividly burned into our memory, knowing that once we passed the funny looking tree it was only a short-while longer to the Augusta exit.

We spent summer breaks and Christmas vacations enjoying the raspberries, fighting the cheers at family card parities, and watching Pepere comb and shape his land with his “toys” – or tractors. 

Memere and Pepere were a classic couple. They liked to dance, Memere liked to sing and Pepere always said Grace before every family meal. They met a bowling alley, had six kids, worked hard and managed to enjoy the outside when the snow melted and summer shown through. I even remember how Memere’s deep sun-crisped skin would shine as she picked homegrown green beans in the garden.

When my mother was growing up Memere would make baked beans, hot dogs and ployes as the family meal every weekend. Ployes, a crepe-like food, was a tradition taken from my Pepere’s mother in Clair, New Brunswick. Consequently, when deciding to accept Pepere’s marriage proposal, Memere picked up the recipe and made it her own, combining different types of flour, baking powder and water.

Memere made the family accustomed to ployes and passed along the tradition to her children, along with many other recipes including Tourtiere pie and Memere’s Peanut Butter Fudge, (which I’ve still not managed to master as a vegan recipe).

Now my mother and I make our ployes using Bouchard’s Family Farm ployes mix, found at the grocery store and made in Fort Kent, Maine. The ingredients include buckwheat flour, wheat flour, aluminum-free baking powder and salt. It’s completely delicious and completely vegan friendly.

When I was in fourth grade the family dynamic changed drastically, as Memere’s chair was empty at the next Christmas and the unmistakable pitch that sang through during Silver Bells was silenced due to cancer. She was gone.

So as the days go by, hopefully not just on Valentine’s Day, let’s tell the people we love how much we love them, enjoy the recipes that are passed through tradition and remember those that are in a better place.

Mem & Pep at Christmas
Mem & Me Rocking The Lobsters


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stress, Sofa Tables and Personal Choice

The brown sofa table, not a white bookcase. Boo.

I’ve been in stressful situations. I’ve played in sports games, taken standardized tests, went through finals week, introduced Senior Vice Presidents to 60 of my peers. I’ve presented to senior management, I’ve answered to Corporate finance on budget issues, worked with local businesses to plan literacy events and flew back from a conference only to immediately move into a new apartment across town. I’ve been a bridesmaid, another bridesmaid and stood by family members as they’ve struggled and peacefully passed.

Stress is a part of life and normally I am very aware of the control that it has on me, both mentally and physically. I manage to alleviate stress by running it out, drawing it out, writing, cooking, etc. Finding what stress release is suited for the situation.

So for the past three months the fact that I haven’t felt well could only lead to one conclusion: Sickness. Clearly it was the flu… since everyone around me was getting sick and it was holidays. Illness is expected.

Until one day one when my boyfriend, Joe, grabbed the keys to my car and brought up the bookcase I had been asking him to ensemble for months. I had dreams of what my lovely Vegan cooking books would look like behind the glass. Knowing I was moving apartments, I kept the pieces in the back of my car until finally I could have it constructed!

Fledging through the door, Joe placed the brown cardboard box on the ground.

Joe: You know this isn’t a bookcase right?
Me: Yes it is. It’s a lovely white bookcase.
Joe: No, it’s not a bookcase. It’s a sofa table.
(I look down at the box)
Me: A what? What the hell is a sofa table? What I am going to do with a sofa table?

As he sat there becoming frustrated with the piece of furniture that I didn’t want, nor buy in my mind, I still didn’t feel well. I was starting to get worried. It had been weeks, maybe a month or two.  I mean it had been stressful at work and the holidays, but I’m young, I can handle it, clearly it was this sickness going around.

Joe finished putting together my new dazzling sofa table that I couldn’t return for lack of receipt, said goodnight and drove back across town. I went to sleep early, as it would be the first day back in the office after the holiday rush.

The next morning I pleaded with the universe, searched under every plastic bag, every book, through the closets and all of my bags and I couldn’t find my keys.
I called Joe he didn’t have them. Oh no,“I might have left them in the front door of your apartment building.” What?! I called the management company, I searched my car but couldn’t drive it. I was late for work after a week of vacation.

Joe drove me to work but I didn’t feel right. My keys were gone. Someone had them. My boyfriend felt awful. I was late. I had things I needed to catch up on at the office. I ate lunch and my stomach twisted and turned in knots. Not unusual these days because of that stupid flu.

I took my laptop and headed back to my apartment mid-afternoon via my mother, feeling more like a child being picked up from the nurses office rather than a mid twenties professional. What is my life? I got home and searched some more, thinking I need to figure out a plan.

So I called Joe one last time as he was leaving the office, “I need you to go home and just check through your stuff one more time before I start calling the dealership, locksmith, and the management company, who will need to hire someone to literally remove the metal portion of my mailbox…”

As I waited and typed company e-mails, my stomach twisted and turned and wouldn’t stop until I got a phone call with a voice and the first thing I heard was, “I’m an idiot, I must have grabbed them. I’m bringing them over now.”

A wave of relief swallowed me and it was the first time I realized all of those lovely flu symptoms were actually due to stress. It was like I needed this one condensed concrete incident to realize the last four months were not my imagination, yes they were actually crazy. Crazy enough to wear on my mental and physical health. Before Joe even dropped off my keys I knew this would have to change.

I gave myself a little pep-talk, and it went something like this:

“Ok, Number 1: You don’t have the flu, so stop blaming your cousins and their defenseless babies for magically giving you something at Christmastime – it’s bad Karma. Number 2: You have choices. I know you’re young and willing to work pretty much all the time, if not all of the time. But sacrificing your mental and physical health is not worth it. Number 3: Get it together (at least you're having a good hair day). Number 4: You should probably do yoga.”

So the lesson in all of this is: Stress is what you make it out to be. I’m a perfectionist, that’s a fact. I’ve stopped denying it. But sometimes you have to take what you’ve been given and make it work, like the sofa table incident. It’s clearly not my bookcase, but I can make it work in the space.

Your situation may not be the most ideal. It may not allow you to go into work at 9:00am and leave at 5:00pm with a one-hour lunch break and a chance to do office yoga, only to return home with dinner on the table and three lovely children smiling at the very sight of your face. You may not be able to make it for your run every night of the week or get to every soccer game your child is playing in. However, you do need to make time for you at some point, for the sake of your sanity and the people that love you. Making time for you is important and great employers know that it’s important. 

My advice is plan accordingly and be willing to stick up for yourself when it comes to personal time. Your work may actually benefit from your rest.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Let's Appreciate Kanye

This is exposing my love of rap music, however I thought it was so well done. It's social commentary in an artistic fashion and I like it.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Order of Rank! Top 3 Thursday

Last year I was in a leadership program at my company. The first half was a group project and presentation. The second half was working with a mentor in an area that we wanted to learn more about. I was assigned an AVP who had been with the company for a large portion of his career and in addition to the great knowledge he provided about business areas and structures of organizations, he also provided me the concept of order of rank.

DC: You always have to know what your order of rank is.
Me: Order of rank?
DC: Yes, order of rank. Who’s your number one, number two and so on.
Me: Why?
DC: Because it will help you make decisions, like assigning bonuses and raises. It also makes you ready, should anybody in the organization need something from you, what employees strengths are and how you could cope with the structure of a different team.

So with order in rank mind, I’m introducing Top 3 Thursday, where you rank whatever means the most to by the subject provided each week. So for example, I could put:

Top three… things to put on pizza.

And you could say: 
1. Sauce, 2. Mushrooms, 3. Sun dried tomatoes

This week we’re going to start off easy because the Northeast has been inundated with snow, I’m going to say:

Top three… favorite things to do with snow.



Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Photos of Food

When you're stuck inside what do you do? 
Maybe make some veggies and take a photo or two...

My Life is a Running Sitcom: Snow Signals 2

Layers make it happen.

Text Message Conversation
Portland, Maine

9:41 AM
Me: Honestly I feel as though these weather peeps are over reacting…
Me: We could have worked today.
JP: Don't ask questions… just go with it. 

* * * 

1:35 PM
Me: It's here.
JP: What is, the plow?
Me: Nope. Cabin Fever.
JP: I know. We've resorted to watching Vanilla Ice flip houses…bored… You should see how buried Bessie is right now.

Bessie, the car.
Me: Poor Bessie.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lisa Valentine on Being Vegan, Her Career, and Training for the 2011 Mrs. Maine America Pageant

You never know when you'll call the US marketing department with a question about a flier and your business partner starts telling you that her friend, who's a vegan, who is married to a vegan and has a vegan dog, made the best meal the other night... 

I would like to thank Lisa Valentine for sharing her story about living a vegan lifestyle, giving back to the Maine community, getting her MBA and training for her first ever Mrs. Maine America pageant.

 Good Luck!

* * *
Interview with Lisa Valentine

The Valentine Family

You’ve been a vegan since 2007. What made you decide to become a vegan?

My husband and I decided to become vegan as a result of the inhumane treatment associated with many of the products we were currently consuming, both in our diet and our lifestyle. It started with us recognizing the problem, doing research, understanding how we could positively affect this through our own actions and the rest is history!

What encouragement would you give to someone who wants to start a vegan lifestyle but is intimidated?

Many people view a vegan lifestyle or diet to be restrictive, but in fact, it can open up someone to a whole new way of eating and thinking about the decisions they make, subsequently giving them more choices. A lot of this stems from one’s knowledge of veganism. Without completely understanding what it essentially entails, they might be turned off at the thought of eating only vegetables. But with a closer look, those vegetables, paired with sauces, spreads, whole grain pastas, legumes and beans (the list is endless), become a discovery of new ways of eating the basics. 

I hear so often that people “can’t live without cheese.” They don’t have to! There are numerous “nut” cheese options available that can be made at home or purchased online (my favorite site is where they have an entire selection of various types of cheeses including cheddar, cream cheese, parmesan – even chipotle options!) I can’t even begin to tell people how much these taste like real cheese! Dr. Cow is one I would highly recommend. 

So my biggest piece of encouragement is to not look at veganism as restrictive, but as an opportunity to explore new ways to eat, shop and protect our beast friends while enjoying the same foods and products as you do today.

What made you decide to run for Mrs. Maine America?

To be honest, this was a complete surprise to me. One of the pageant staff had contacted me via Facebook last June. She introduced herself and the Mrs. Maine America pageant. I thought she was asking me if I wanted to be a judge! The concept of participating in a pageant had never crossed my mind, but I am however, extremely involved in my community in various board-level and civic volunteer capacities. So really the judging seemed initially to make the most sense! But she laughed and said she wanted me to participate.  We met over coffee a week later where I had my notebook and no less than 100 questions for her. I talked to my husband and family and everyone loved the idea-as did I! I’m particularly excited to use the opportunity as a platform for the various commitments I have, including animal welfare and veganism, mentoring less-fortunate children and growing our sustainable business economy here in Maine.

What does training for a pageant entail? Is anything particularly difficult because you’re a vegan?

The biggest shift came in the form of my diet and exercise. As those that know me can attest, I was a gym nut before the pageant, and it become even more evident as I took up personal training. Lucky for me, my trainer had experience with pageants from a training perspective so basically whatever he said, I did. It has taken a lot of discipline but it’s been very easy, knowing that I will be on stage. In a bikini. In heels. EEEK! No alcohol, pasta or bread until the pageant? Done. I haven’t consumed any of those in over 3 months.  It did stump him because of my diet-he kept forgetting that I don’t eat eggs or baked chicken breast or fish. But he did his due diligence with his research. Coupled with the 5-6 week workouts sessions of which 2 were personal training, I’m ready.

Which pageant event are you most excited about?

I’m really excited about the interview. I love talking to people about the various commitments I have within the community, as I mentioned prior, and this will be the outlet where I can share my experiences, and why, along with other key attributes, I am the best contestant to represent the Mrs. Maine America title in 2011.

Lisa's final dress fitting before the event!

Do you work in an office? From a vegan standpoint, what’s been the most challenging experience? Best experience?

I do work in an office but the environment is extremely accommodating. Any office gathering, be it Summer or Winter parties or other luncheon-type events, will have a vegan option for me and my husband (and anyone else who wants to try it out!) I’m the only vegan in the office, although there are a few vegetarians. I love that they consider my diet-it really means a lot to me. 

For the past two years, we’ve had our office party at Grace which included a three course meal. From the salad to dessert, there was a delicious vegan option. So good! It’s died down a bit, but when I first started with the company, I fielded a lot of questions about what I ate, how I got protein, what beers and wines are vegan. It was a lot of fun educating people!

You’re in the process of getting your MBA from St, Joe’s in Maine. Did you enjoy going back to school? Did your veganism ideals or concepts apply to learning?

I absolutely love being in school. I love learning and applying new concepts every day and the MBA program with St. Joe’s allows me to do that. The course content is extremely applicable and timely-really a great program all-around. I can’t say that I can connect my vegan ideals or concepts to my application of learning, but it did come up in my Ethical, Social and Environmental Responsibility class. I tend to find that my vegan ideals tend to parallel those within the environmental and social sector. I think one would find a heavy correlation between those that follow a vegan diet and those that recycle or have lower carbon footprints in general. So my ideals were a unique way I was able to contribute to class.

Who or what is your inspiration (vegan or just in general)?

Every animal. Each and every animal that exists-that is my inspiration. That’s it. I do it for those that don’t have a voice.

What’s your favorite thing to buy at the farmer’s market?

My husband loves sweet green peppers which we tend to buy at the local Farmer’s Market. I’m lucky enough to work just steps from Monument Square so the Wednesday market always gives me an excuse to buy fresh flowers for my office! Really anything. It’s all so fresh and crisp and crunchy. I love vegetables, especially in-season!!

You’re passionate about volunteering. Why do you think giving back to the community is so important?

We live in a system – a living system that is constantly changing, adapting and accommodating – each moment relying on the one previous and the one to follow. Most people don’t understand how truly interconnected we are. Not spiritually mind you (although some would agree that is true) but through our actions and the choices we make.  

My love of volunteering stems from this belief that in order to make us proud of the society in which we live, we must understand the impact we have on each other, and contribute to those less fortunate or organizations in which we believe in, to create a more livable and harmonious society. I’m not looking for world peace, mind you, although I’m all about it. But I understand the value of giving to back to our neighbors and the impact that can have not only on tomorrow and next week within our own communities, but eventually the world over. A ripple effect, if you will.


Fill in the blank, If I could change one thing about the world I would __________.

Ensure that no animal is mistreated and given proper care, including food, shelter and LOVE.

What is your favorite vegan comfort food?

I have a friend who makes the most AMAZING homemade Mac and Cheese. I really can’t say much more than that because I’m off pasta for another 3 weeks and I want to eat it RIGHT NOW!

What are you most thankful for?

I’m most thankful for the various good fortunes that I’ve experienced in my life. My wonderful and supportive family, my fabulous group of girlfriends and, of course, my dog Bagel :-) I’m especially thankful to my husband who shares the same ideals concerning the treatment of animals. We were both carnivores when we met so it’s been amazing, to say the least, to make the crossover in our diet and lifestyle together. I find that being vegan is a learning and discovery process so I’m glad to be on this thoughtful journey with a friend.

Lisa and Bagel hanging out by the pool.

Maine Marathon Relay Team

Make sure you check out Lisa's blog at