Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Random Musings

I reserve the right to write random musings.

As the owner and primary thinker of this blog I have decided to post a post each Monday about only the randomest of random thoughts. Vegan musings are lovely, however my other observations about life are equally as amusing.

I will admit this is the worst week to start a “series”, so I also reserve the right to contemplate whether or not I should be starting a series the Monday before Christmas. I also reserve the right to post the first Monday post on Tuesday, because I can.

As the potential introductory random blog post of  a “series” of random thoughts let me first say that about 99% of my posts will still be related to the vegan or corporate world.

The other 1% will be random. Which leads me to my first observation.

1. American media has butchered the simple phrase 'The one percent.'

You’re probably rolling your eyes right now. Not only are you rolling your eyes, you’re not even comprehending what I'm trying to tell you about the 1 percent of my posts. You’ve heard the phrase 'The one percent' so many damn times that your internal thoughts go numb and immediately start reliving some part of a middle school experience you promised you would never think about again because, at this point, it's better than hearing any commentator say the phrase 'The one percent' one more time.

Thank you newspapers, TV, Twitter and the occupy people for diminishing a simple percentage number into an overplayed media catch-phrase. Let's remember that words are more empowering when they are used in artful and a strategic manner, not thrown in your face. 

2. Speaking of the media, has anyone heard of this Tebow fella? Meaty guy, wears a Bronco’s uniform. He’s causing quite a stir on the sports front. I know because I usually have my boyfriend replay the entire Sports Center broadcast to me once I realize something interesting has been reported. I know it’s a tad annoying, but I blame my pseudo-listening on Angry Birds (It’s an oddly addicting game). Anyway, I have no real affinity or disdain for Tim Tebow. I actually am pretty neutral about the whole football scene in general. The information I pay attention to on Sports Center is the hockey information.

Which brings me to random observation #2; While browsing through NHL sites last week I stumbled upon something creative and seemingly eloquent.

Normally I just peruse the NHL homepage and The Bruins schedule, however, last week I randomly made it to the homepage of the Vancouver Canucks. The site contains the customary rotating stories located on the homepage, where I was just long enough to take note of a photographic series Behind the Lens.

I know what you’re thinking. What’s so special about photographed athletes?

And the truth is, usually nothing. Sports fans know that the websites on almost every site are very structured. The photos are usually action shots, staged portraits, or have a very awkward fan-smiling athlete-towering set-up.

These Canucks photos take on a more photojournalistic approach. I appreciate the series because I was an art minor in college. The first book that ever caught my eye in this fashion was Annie Leibvoitz’s Olympic portraits book, published in 1996. I was a sophomore in high school when it fell into my grasp and the next year was placed in a photography class a year before my peers. My concentration fell to drawing in college, however I learned how to frame subjects by studying photography for three years.

Boring photos of athletes are stale to any creative person. They lack luster and, in turn, lose interest to anyone that’s not a 12 year-old fan idolizing their favorite athlete. Unlike video, photos have only a single moment to tell a story.

I’m writing about the photo series because this was one of the most recent attempts I've seen by a sports organization to actually lend a view into a normally closed world in an interesting manner - without a handheld video or multi-million dollar commercial by Nike-Reebok-Adidas. I don’t think it’s perfect, (as I'm sure it's difficult to make every photo a masterpiece). But it is slightly different and, my guess is, genuinely under appreciated. 

The photos are divided by the days. In each day there is usually one or two very notable photos. 

3.  Speaking of appreciation, my last and final random observation is that Apple’s in store service is pretty awesome. Actually, I think the only hesitation I have with anything Apple is the supposed life sized holiday elves window display at their retail stores. It’s actually kind of creepy. I guess the capabilities of an iPhone 4S with Siri make up for any awkward plush wearing display models.

I loved ordering my new iPhone 4S while playing Angry Birds on an iPad2.  Thank you, Apple, for making my time in a store full of 50 strangers on the Sunday before Christmas fairly enjoyable.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Vegan Apple-Almond "Bite" Muffins

With all the sweets around the holidays, I was searching for some sugar-free inspiration. Below is my sugar-free yummy Apple-Almond Muffin "Bite" recipe. They're a little bigger than a bite, but a little smaller than a hearty muffin - which makes them light and perfect for the holidays. With a quick scan of the ingredients, I believe they fall just about 100 calories each, depending on the amount of almonds you use of course! I hope you enjoy it!  

1 Cup Cortland Apple (About 1 Large apple - You can add more if you want!)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Ground Flax seed
2 1/2 Tablespoons Warm Water
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1 1/4 Cups Original soy milk
2 Cups  Flour
1/2 Cup Truvia (Or Stevia, Sugar-free Sweetener)
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon 
1 Teaspoon Baking soda
2 Teaspoon Baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Enough sliced almonds to sprinkle on the muffins! (About 2-3 Tablespoons)

Makes 12 Muffins to enjoy. 


STEP 1: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl whisk the milled flax seed and warm water. Once completely combined mix in the almond extract and soy milk. In a separate bowl add the peeled, chopped apple with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and mix until all of the apples are covered - place to the side.
STEP 2: In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, Truvia, remaining cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly. Add the liquid ingredients when ready and stir until combined. 
STEP 3: Stir in apples and place mixture into a fully oiled muffin tin (you can also use silicone muffin liners - paper not recommended because the batter is fairly thick). Sprinkle with sliced muffins and place in the oven.
STEP 4: Bake for 12-17 minutes and let cool completely before serving. 


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Photogenic Side of (Vegan) Food

And Lastly… my very own Apple-Almond Muffins, 
which I will be posting the original recipe for later this week!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Friends Get Friends Vegan Body Soap

Don't let the jammies fool you, we were crazy little ones. 

Well, mostly just when you gave us sugar. 

Melis's family and my family grew up together. We spent Halloween's together, watched The Little Mermaid together, spent vacations in the pool and watched  Are You Afraid of the Dark, well the other kids did, I usually resorted to hiding in the kitchen with Melis's mom.   

So now that Melis and I are grown our lives are busy. We live in different states, we have different professions, we see each other only at special family events or the holiday season. 

I guess it's the reality of life and time. 

Over Thanksgiving Melis gave me a birthday present she had been holding for a year. A Babycakes NYC cookbook and a set of Hugo Naturals products. Their products are vegan and gluten free. They smell delicious and best of all...they're VEGAN! 

My favorite part of the Hugo Naturals website is their ingredients list, so you know exactly what you're putting on your skin. Melis gave me a French Lavender salt scrub, soap bar, sea salts and body butter. She also gave the Pineapple lip balm, which is awesome. 

If you're looking for what to buy your best vegan friend for Christmas or their birthday, I greatly suggest the Hugo Naturals products. 

Thanks Melis!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vegan LivingSocial and Groupon Deals…Yes, They Do Exist

Check. Check. Check. Delete. Delete. Delete-te-te-te.

Spam, nobody likes it.

How did my inbox get this way? It’s an organized disaster. I refuse to believe I let my guard down for five seconds while browsing the web, however now that I have Self sending me “Recipe of the Week” I guess it’s undeniable. I signed up for this… stuff.

What is my life?

Guilt Free Mac’n’Cheese Recipe. Delete. I don’t eat cheese, so the whole less cheese to save my waistline isn’t going to help me. I’ve requested to be removed from this Self email list literally three times and I still have these articles popping up every week.

Oh those silly automated email lists, they rarely care that we find them annoying.

So, one day while at the office a collegeau mentioned a great deal on a Portland resturant and told me she would send me the link to services that were providing these fantastic prices.

“Great!” I said.

Great if I want more junk in my inbox. Bah! I went back to my desk and devised a mental plan on how I could stop the epedemic of resturant deals about to hit. I moved to Saving Danie's Inbox Plan A:

  • I could just delete them and not sign up for the services. But what if my collegeau asked me about the deals? I would be left with telling her I have no soul and I deleted the recommendation she so excidetly shared. Not beneficial for office morale.
  • Ok, Plan B. I could let it run for a few weeks to make small talk then delete, delete, delete. 
  • AND Plan C. I could actually enjoy it. 
Assessing my options I realized that Plan B was my only option. The other two were either quasi-mean or quasi-frivolous. 

After a month of receiving emails from LivingSocial and Groupon, originally thought to be temporary, I realized that deals were floating past me and I wasn't taking advantage of buying vouchers for things I actually liked. Again, what is my life? I had an attitude toward the email blast and I needed to get over it. 

Of course they do try sell you on deals that promote meat or things that I would never want to do - like buy a session of a One-Month Math Enrichment Program in Southern New Hampshire (I feel sorry for the kid whose mother saw that one right before Christmas). But the alternative is the awareness of activities and restaurant deals that make life more interesting and definitely more affordable.

Also, if you promote the site to more people via your personal link you have the ability to get some of the deals for free.

Recently I bought a voucher to eat at Figa in Portland, a place I would not normally go to, however, looking at the menu realized that both Joe, the meat eating bf, and I could go and get something we both enjoyed. It's a perfect idea for a date night AND I just bought a $40 voucher for the cost of $20. I win.

The other restaurant vouchers I've purchased are for places that I already love, like Local Sprouts and Cafe Indigo. And of course I bought the pilates voucher at Pure Movement, because I really need to do something other than run and if I bought the voucher then I will have to use it, and if I will have to use it then I will be more toned, and if I'm more toned then I can eat more Endangered Species mint chocolate because I love it.

That's probably an inaccurate account of what is actually going to happen with the chocolate, but it's motivation nonetheless. 

Overall, LivingSocial and Groupon are great for vegans. You probably won't buy something every day, but when you do find something you like it's well worth the price. They provide a diversity of options to your email and can show you places that you never knew existed. Enjoy!