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...

Monday, May 28, 2012

The WIML post: Literacy, clay shooting, zip-lines and more

There were multiple points during last week where I was thinking, “What is my life?!”, which for those of you who don’t know me can be interpreted as “How did I get myself into this?” and/or “Why is this happening?” No, but seriously, the week was a bit hectic.

Below is the “WIML?!” sequence. Let’s begin.

WIML#1: Veep for literacy no more (Monday)
My time on the Board of Literacy Volunteers of Greater Saco-Biddeford sadly ended on Monday. I have been on the board for 4 years and I will miss the people and the cause. The last meeting was a weird feeling. I am essentially giving up something that I have grown attached to over time. Something I never realized I cared that much about until I said goodbye.

It was time for me to spread my wings and move on. I always find it sad to leave something that I care deeply about. But I will leave the importance of literacy and volunteering for another post, on another day.

I did bring vegan cookies to the meeting as a peace offering. They were Liz Lovely Ginger Snap Dragons, Cowgirl and Cowboy cookies. I think I'm tied for a favorite between the ginger cookies and the oatmeal walnut chocolate goodness. 

Have you tried them? They are so good. The calories are not so good, nor is the sugar. But the taste is good. Try them for the taste.

Ginger Snaps. Yum
Photo credit: Liz Lovely

WIML#2: Clay sport shooting and guns (Wednesday)
Clay Sport Shooting. Let me make something clear. I live in Maine, but I have never shot a gun in my life. I have never held a gun. I was never even allowed to own a toy gun unless it was a Super Soaker.

Some people are really comfortable around guns. I am not one of those people.

My body seems to have a nervous physical reaction when I hear the word “gun” and my mind reels something similar to,  Don’t get that thing near me. Oh my god, oh my god.

So when one of my favorite co-workers decided she wanted to go to LL Bean for clay sport shooing as her last hurrah at the office, I decided not to think about it. I actually made a conscious effort not to think about it all until we were literally driving into the shooting range in Freeport, Maine.

We parked in the sandy lot and walked over to the tent to hear a very long list of safety rules from our instructors. One was a Maine Guide, the other was a retired Marine. They were both very sweet and brought us through how to hold a gun, load a gun, and particular safety things that I never thought I would be learning.

Oh my god, oh my god.

Me and my 80's sunglasses sport claying it with help from the instructor. 

The big question is, Is it really right for a vegan to be shooting a gun? Here is my take, I don’t like guns and I probably never will. But they are machines just like everything else and we were shooting at clay – so why not? If we were shooting at actual living things, I would have definitely not taken part of any portion of the activity – AT ALL.

After the experience I’m glad I did it. Why? Not because my right shoulder and arm are bruised from the kick-back or because I’m ever going to be comfortable being in the vicinity of guns. Or because I now know what the whole “report” “simo” terminology is. Or even because I actually had the best score from my team. (I think it was beginners luck, but leave it to the vegan...WIML?!)

I’m happy I did it because it reaffirms my belief that only certain people should EVER be allowed to carry guns, ever. 

It did make me have an appreciation for people who can actually hold a gun, as they are heavier than what you might expect. My arms are going to hurt for like the next week. To make it even more humiliating, the super sweet instructors told me at the end of the afternoon that the gun I was actually using a “youth” gun.

Luckily my day job doesn’t involve guns.

WIML #3: Annual shareholders meeting (Thursday)
When you’re a “spring chicken” like me. And you work at a company where the shareholders meeting is conducted by people, mostly men, who are at least 15-20 years older than you. You realize that they tend to reference “times” that you don’t know about.

It’s not your fault. You don’t remember the times in reference because you weren’t born yet or you were just too small to care about anything other than the songs to Beauty and The Beast.

Don’t get me wrong. I want the company I work for to be run by people with experience and expertise in conducting big business.

It’s just a very surreal (WIML?!) moment where you realize you are in a room with some of the most powerful people in your business world and you’re one of the only people under 30. And that despite the business suit and expensive necklace you wore for this meeting, you were most likely the only person listening to Jay-Z on the way into work.

Notice the generation gap.

WIML#4: Zip-line fun (Saturday)
About a month ago I received an invite to a bridal party and bachelorette outing for my friend Allie. In classic Danie style I emailed my RSVP back to the matron of honor and marked my calendar, then raced off to my next work assignment. All the time thinking I just signed myself up for a cute luncheon and a potential ropes course. 

Climbing up trees and shimmying along ropes, really, how hard could this be?

So a few weeks later when I received an email stating that I would need to sign a life waiver for this event, I was a little dumbstruck. A life waiver for a ropes course? 

Which was when I realized I didn’t sign myself up for ropes course, but ZIPPING along the rope. The longest “rope” in the continental US. Go team.

Instead of high heels, short dresses, and other crazy things that come along with bachlorette parties, we packed into a few cars and made it to New Hampshire.

Maine in the summertime = perfection.

I thought the zip-line was fun and not nearly as scary as I had anticipated. I love rollercoasters and don’t really have a problem with heights, so it was actually an equable experience for me. The sky was clear and you could see the green mountains of New Hampshire for miles.

After everyone finished we had a sparkling cider toast and then headed back for a cookout. The bride-to-be was happy. And at the end of the day, that’s all the matters.

So speaking of happy. Is it wrong to take photos of the gifts you want at your friends bridal shower? Haha. Above is a 3 slot lasagna pan! PERFECT for people who have multiple eating preferences in one household. I thought all you vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, meat-eating families would enjoy this just as much as I did. 

Have a great Memorial Day!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Mom's Super Kale Recipe

It's the weekend! Woohoo! For this special Memorial Day weekend I am sharing with you Mom's Super Kale Recipe. Given to me by my one and only mother. 

It's super for two reasons: 
1. Kale is awesome and fabulously nutritious
2. The recipe is SUPER easy to complete

I'm also sharing this recipe with you because the bitterness factor, which can deter people from falling madly in love with kale, seems to disappear with the mixture of olive oil, onions and broth. 


Good for dinner and left over lunches. Yum.

3/4 Cup Onion Chopped (or more!)
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
5-6 Cloves of Garlic 
1 Bunch of Fresh Kale (Or a medium sized bag of Kale)
1-2 Cups  Vegetable Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste


STEP 1: Clean kale and remove stems. Chop kale into smaller pieces as desired. 
STEP 2: In a large skillet with cover, saute olive oil, onion and garlic for 1-2 minutes. 
STEP 3: Add kale and cook on medium-high heat, turning every few minutes until kale is fully wilted.
STEP 4: Add broth and reduce burner to a low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook slowly until the kale is tender, continuing to stir every few minutes. 


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Simple sweet tooth suggestion: Justin's PB Cups

Right now it's Sunday morning workweek meal prep time. The time where I break out the tupperware and see how much I can prepare for the next 3-5 days. Meal planning is essential. Quinoa is a top fave, as well as whatever I managed to gather at the store. 

Yesterday, I actually made it to the Portland Farmer's Market, so I have a few local leafy swiss chard greens and some fabulous cilantro that I will crafting for my meals. I actually think I'm going to make this recipe, minus the butter of course. I also have some new local tempeh options. Which for those of you that remember I hate tempeh, but not this tempeh, this local tempeh is awesome.

Wouldn't it be funny if Swiss chard inspired the range of lipstick colors in today's society. .. I'm just saying, it would be an interesting line. 

But this post is actually about a simple sweet tooth fix suggestion. Which can be cured by Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, don't be fooled by the milk chocolate package, dark chocolate are ONLY are vegan acceptable. They're pretty tasty and come with a packet of two scrumptious pb cups. Which is perfect for me since I can eat one and save one for "later". Which turns out to be 1-5 minutes after I've devoured the first. It's great because I don't have to make a batch of like 24 homemade PB cups, because honestly I don't have the time. The time I do have, I would rather spend plotting out useful meals. 

Designate your time wisely, but if you're looking for a quick sweet tooth fix - Justin's PB cups are a good choice. 

 Hope you have a great start to the week.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

I’m back, promotion in hand

Well howdy, it’s been a while. You’ve heard me say it…life gets busy. But I’m back with a promotion in hand! Which reminds that my “about me” section is out of date and therefore is taken out of the left hand navigation bar until further notice. 

Anyway, I’m a manager now. Super excited about it. My sedulous work ethic has paid off. Go me. (We rarely pat ourselves on the back, so I’m taking this opportunity.)

Back to the writing board, finally.
Busted out this post in the air - thank you mini seat tray.

During my last business trip to Tennessee I was scanning back through previous VCL posts on my iPhone and was seriously laughing at some of the things I managed to write over the past two years. I noticed that there was a blatant trend. Most of my posts were very vegan, but not that much corporate.

I can’t promise to change the content toward more business related things – I mean vegan stuff is just more exciting to talk about. Plus, I have so much to write about from events while I was away.

But today, let’s talk about corporate work. Let’s talk about one of the terms that makes me feel all suit and 1980’s black pumps. Let’s talk about professional development.

People love professional development. While I kind of grimace at the term, I actually really love the concept of what it represents. And about a year ago I realized that professional development really means strategically plotting the next 5-10 years of your life. Even if you don’t know what your life will bring or when the change will happen. It’s a direction.

It’s talking to people, learning more, growing up, realizing that you don’t know anything and touting your skills all in the same sentence. “Sure I've never completed a media transaction, but I’m a fast learner and can adjust to teams quickly.” It’s nodding and agreeing with people and presenting your own point of view in an interesting, non-controversial way.

Let me give you newbies to the corporate world a hint. When you hear the word “corporate” you may think old, archaic, static, and potentially men in grey madmen like suits. And to be quite honest most of that may be true depending on the company. Once you realize however that corporations are anything BUT STATIC, you open a world of learning opportunities for yourself.

You are the only person responsible for your development. The sooner you learn that the better. Yes, there will be people who point you in the right direction like a steadfast golden weather vane. But for the most part you are on your own in this worky-work world.

There may be times when you feel as though you’re not on a career path, but the yellow brick road to OZ. You will encounter Wicked Witches. Your colleagues will become your affable friends and hopefully will sustain courage, heart and a brain. There are no ruby slippers. And if you’re lucky, truth will prevail behind lots of smoke and mirrors.

But don’t give up. Talk to more people. Make the decision to be the best at what you do. Job-shadow, interview, volunteer for more projects. When I realized I that I was in charge of my own professional development I did all of that. I found that most people went out of their way to help me. I gravitated toward professional women and they were more than happy to give me advice.

Ok, it wasn’t ALL great. I did run into a few personality road-blocks and someone did question the legitimacy of my resume, which left me a little stunned and kind of bitter. But I didn’t let it get me down. I just kept trying to learn more, became even more appreciative of those who helped me and grateful for the information I was receiving.

Let’s go back to courage, heart and a brain for a second. The first and last seem to be the things that HR Professionals look for in candidates. If they’re intelligent and stand up for what they believe in, then they can get the job done. But I think if you want people to like you (which you may or may not care about), then the second quality is where you ultimately win. Real leaders have all three qualities.

As I embark on my first job as “manager” it’s an interesting mix of feelings. Previous experience has treated me well. There are some things I will always do, some things I will never do, and even more future things that I will leave to hard work and perseverance.  

So keep on keeping on. Until next time (which will be soon.)