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Well, life has certainly changed a lot around here in the past few months! Full-time ballet has been replaced with a full course-load at University, a change that involved a move across four provinces.   So here I am, a more than 4500 kilometre drive across the country later, in a city where I don’t know a soul, about two years (if all goes well) from graduating. Apparently I’m an all or nothing sort of person when it comes to big life-changes!

Emerald Lake

My degree of choice (buckle your seat-belts folks, it’s a shocker) is …. Nutrition! So far I don’t have a good feel for the program since classes like Statistics and Biochemistry aren’t particularly nutrition specific. I am taking one class that is actually a hospitality class but it’s all about the reactions of cooking and baking and it involves a lab where you cook food (a fun class although not vegan friendly by any means).

Those changes have led to the development of bulk weekend cooking and kind of boring meals in general. However the term is almost over (I can’t believe it has flown by so quickly!) and I have a whopping three weeks off for the holidays, so I’m hoping that might result in some blog fodder. Also, exam break is coming up, and what better way to study for the aforementioned foods class than to mess around in the kitchen making up recipes?

So now I will leave you with some eye candy from a camping trip over the summer during the big move.

Takkakaw Falls (Yoho National Park)

Hope to be back soon with food!

-Kathleen

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Spring is here, and that means time for spring cleaning! Well maybe not, I can’t say that the arrival of spring suddenly sparks a desire to bustle around scrubbing my abode, but with a move in my near future, the scrubbing is on my calendar wether I like it or not.

Spring cleaning is all about a fresh start, a cleaner home, uncluttered minds and the like, but how much good are you really doing by filling your home with countless chemicals, and potentially toxic mixtures. Wouldn’t you prefer to know that you are actually cleaning your place, rather than just coating it in a cocktail of hard to pronounce, unkown substances. I know I sure do!

Sadly, with the current eco-friendly fad, it is hard to know what ‘green’ products truly stand above their traditional counterparts, and which are just a greenwashing scam designed to rid you of your hard earned cash. I’m no chemist, but a bit of research, and personal experience has led me to the products I am happy to recommend as upgrades for your current cleaning products.

So for the products I am happy to recommend:

Laundry Detergent

ECOS brand laundry detergent-fabulous stuff! Costco has been carrying these big jugs of it for the past few years now and I was so excited to see that it is a vegan product and eco-friendly to boot! It comes in a couple of different scents, although I have only ever used the one pictured (Magnolia & Lily) and despite the name, I think the scent is quite understated, and I would imagine the others are as well. While I am very happy with the detergent, I wound’t say it is amazing at tough stain removal, but otherwise, for everyday laundry needs, I definitely recommend it. Additionally, I have been using it for at least a good year to do a weekly wash of delicates like ballet tights and spandexy things, both of which can be easily ruined, and I have been very happy with how gentle it has been (those tights are pricey so decreasing the rate of turnover is of great importance!!).

Dishwasher Detergent

Method brand dishwasher tablets– I have to admit that a few years ago when method products first started showing up all over the place, I fell in love with the cute containers but I was quite dubious of their environmental claims. It looked like just another company taking advantage of the green movement. I am not entirely convinced otherwise about the truly safe and green attributes of the actual products, but as a company, I am very impressed with where method is heading. All the containers are 100% recycled, their head office is LEED certified, and new products come out that indicate they are continually working towards green initiatives. While I think some of their ingredient choices could use some work, overall they are a huge step above traditional cleaning products, work wel, and are easily found, and i am willing to support that.

As an aside, I would love to try the ECOS brand laundry detergent, but it has proven to be quite elusive…

Household Cleaner

BioSource Multipurpose cleaner– Don’t let the small container size fool you, this is a super concentrated cleaner. You mix it up 1 part cleaner to 64!! parts water for everyday cleaning. What I like about concentrated cleaners, besides the obvious packaging savings, is that you have a wide variety of cleaning strengths available from the one product- for heavy duty cleaning, just don’t dilute it as much! This is another vegan product and the ingredients are purported to be 100% readily biodegradable. While the scent is definitely one of a cleaner, it is not overly strong or offputting, and once it is diluted, hardly detectable. Another big plus, for me anyways, is that this is a Canadian product. I love supporting local companies that are doing a good thing and I heartily recommend that my fellow Canadians (and others if you can find it) give it a go.

Lastly, my favourite cleaning buddy:

Baking soda is just fantastic!! I’m sure most of you are aware of the cleaning properties of baking soda, but I had to put it up there anyways. The texture makes for good scrubbing, I often make almost a paste of it and water to put in pots to cook off burnt food (not that I ever burn food or anything…), you can use it to wash your hair, clean your teeth, and perhaps best of all, in baking!! An incredibly well rounded product.

 I would love to hear any other product suggestions you have in the comments. I’m always game for trying out new green things.

Speaking of moving, it’s always rough trying to find roommates unless you have people you know that you can live with. The process is generally assisted when you’ve got friends helping you out in the hunt though, right? After posting an ad online, I was having a good time regaling Eve with the various gems that I was getting responses from and then I got a real winner:

hey
i saw ur ad on craigslist for the house, and i think i would make an awsome roomy. i am doing some high school course this summer @ college, and i need a place to stay and i think i would like to stay with you like you said in the ad. i am not a vegtarian but i am respectable of your ideas, and i can keep my meat on my half of the fridge. as for smoking, i am trying to quite and will only smoke outside. i always make sure to wear lots of colone so you will never smell smoke on me. also i have a pitbull, so im happy to hear that you like animals. he is pretty nice most of the time, so im sure it wont be a problem. anyways if this sounds like i might be a good fit i am around pretty much anytime since i dont have a job right now, but im looking lol. not to worry, i will be sure to have rent, no matter what! let me know when you want to meet.
ttyl.
leon.

Needless to say, we had an excellent time over that one, until Eve finally came out with it; Leon was a creation of hers (the stinker!!) anyways, it was all in good fun, and we then suckered her boyfriend into it as well (under the guise of me wanting some advice on various people I was thinking of getting back to! :D). Hopefully that gave you a few chuckles, and I certainly hope that none of you  have Leons in your life to deal with!!

Kathleen

Whew, February was a bit of bust in terms of blogging and all in all it seems like the month flew by! Its been pretty busy though and I thought I would do a bit of a recap here even though it is wholly un food related (hopefully someone out there finds this interesting!) but I promise I have a couple of exciting foodie things to share with you in the next little while. 🙂

So here goes my photographic recap of the weekend insanity that was February:

Whirlwind weekend trip to the great white north for a family wedding. Okay so it wasn’t really the great white north (the people getting married actually live in the Yukon and it was purported to be -50 there the day of the wedding so I can’t talk) but compared to the weather I’m used to now, it sure seemed like it. Winter coat, long sleeved dress (didn’t matter, I was still freezing on the walk between the car and venue), boots (vegan!!), fancy shoes, and non dressy warm clothes galore! I also managed to squeeze in a visit to an all vegan restaurant too (recap on that soon!) which served as a lovely contrast to the hotel restaurant that was very swanky but managed to have zero vegan options (not even the proverbial iceberg lettuce and carrot shred salad!).

Show time! This weekend was a particularly glorious one with three shows and a midterm for a class I had to miss several lectures for due to rehearsals. Needless to say I was kind of stressed! Pictured is my preshow layout: school materials for cramming during free time, dance attire including two pairs of show tights in case one gets ripped (tights which happen to be about $40/pair – do they not realize dancers have no money!?), water bottle, prepared show shoes and an extra pair just in case, super classy produce bag of makeup (I actually have a nice folding makeup case but its just so big and when I have to bring so much other stuff to the theatre it just doesn’t seem worth the space), hair paraphenelia, evening dress plus jewlery for the gala reception after the show (can I just say that I have never watched the oscars but I always am vaguely in touch because I love to ogle all the pretty dresses afterwards!)

Prepping show shoes involves what is called ‘pancaking’ them, which basically means matting the satin so they aren’t as shiny and are the same colour as your legs (the idea being that they will then elongate your line). To do that, we use either calamine lotion, or white shoe polish mixed with foundation (the cheapest kind you can buy! ;)). If you pour the foundation into the shoe polish, you can use the sponge to apply it to the shoes. Then you ideally let it dry for a day or so before wearing them.

  

School extravaganza weekend. It seems like wen it rains, it pours. I had something due for pretty much every class I am taking which coupled with my procrastination, ended up being quite the load of stuff to work through and to top it off, the backlight on my laptop screen died. This was my bedroom floor for pretty much the entire weekend: laptop plus external screen hookup (cumbersome and a pain in the butt but it sure beats what I did for the day and a half before that solution came up- holed up in my room with the blinds down and the light off with a lamp held over the top of my screen so I could just barely make out what was on it. I blame any future eye problems on you laptop!!), three courses worth of textbooks, assignment handouts, exam review sheets, lab writeup forms etc.

Hope February treated you well, and if not, here’s to a calmer March!!

-Kathleen

Sometimes I wish someone had warned me that artists (can I just interject here and say that I feel like a fraud writing that, but I couldn’t think of a better term) should not be inclined to be sentimental about holidays, after all it is when the majority of people are off work that they want to be entertained-enter aforementioned artists. So with Nutcracker performances taking advantage of the calendar holidays, my ‘Christmas holiday’ got bumped back and is just finishing up now so please excuse the rather late holiday wrap up, but I’m still working on getting back to real life just now.

My holiday travels took me to two fairly different climates, so I got a white christmas (hooray!!) but also a wet, watery one.               

     

I figured I owed you a picture of THE tree as well. Here it is all decked out on Christmas morning. This one was about average height-wise but we often end up with a wider one than this. I went through a phase of being displeased with the non- Martha Stewart ness of our trees, but I have come to accept the fact that our trees are beautiful and festive in their own, natural way (although that still doesn’t stop me from trying to come up with ways that I could cultivate my own or something so it could be huge and perfect! :D).

Here are the trees that decked out our apartment as well. Our little living room was nice and festive for the holidays- the best way to have it!

                                                                                                                                                

In addition to general family time, there was much baking (saving that for another post!), visiting friends, engaging in wintery activities, bunny sitting, sewing and a bit of holiday crafting. All in all it was a lovely and restful vacation and now it’s back at it!

I started working on these ornaments a few years ago, and have been veeery slowly getting them finished. There will be, eventually, four large (finished this go around!), eight medium (finished last year), and eight small (still to be completed). A classic example of a project that sounds great in my head but ends up being way more work than I anticipated.

Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful holiday and getting back into the real world wasn’t too harsh!

-Kathleen

I am doing a smidge better on my gift list; we are now at 1.5 gifts! Hey, its a 150% increase – great success! 😀 In other news, in case you happened to be wondering, deciding to do 300 jump lunges as an exercise safeguard on your day off is a bad idea unless you are planning on not moving around the day after. However if you do, you can look forward to everyday activities like going up and down stairs and sitting on the toilet (and furthermore, getting back up off it) becoming monumental acheivements. Of course, I’m not speaking from experience or anything, just thought that was a useful tidbit of information to share in the spirit of giving for the holidays. 😉

Okay so yesterday we covered the foodies on your list. How about the fashionista? Possibly a difficult individual if vegan, or even if you just are and don’t want to compromise your beliefs with your purchases.

Under $100:

Jewlery. This can basically fall into any category, so go take a peek at the links in the over $100 category. Etsy is also a great place to look and it’s wonderful to be able to support small businesses and artisans.

Cosmetics are another good bet, and more and more vegan brands are able to be found locally. Try Sephora or MAC for makeup and other higher end products, if you are looking for a local store. Also, here are a few of the more common brands to look for that are vegan:

Giovanni

Some Burts Bee’s products (more if you are okay with bee byproducts)

Jason

Natures Gate

Urban Decay (not all vegan-look for the pawprint)

Accessories are another good bet to find locally (since that is quickly becoming the only option for us last-minute folk). Think scarves, gloves (though beware of leather!), mitts, etc. and if you are crafty, you still have time to whip up a lovely handmade goodie or two.

Over $100:

Jewelry is always a good bet. The earrings shown are from Brilliant Earth which touts eco-friendly metals and cruelty-free diamonds. Something from here would definitely be a splurge (of varying proportions) but they do have really nice looking products and you can even design your own ring, which I think is pretty exciting (though I don’t even want to think about how much that would probably cost). Some other, potentially less costly options for vegan jewelry are:

http://www.snootyjewelry.com

http://www.christyrobinsondesigns.com/default.html

I am also partial to the offerings from this Etsy seller, however the products aren’t specifically vegan so it depends on where you draw the line.

A beautiful vegan winter coat. These are hard to come by but Vaute Couture has you covered (and often you can find sportswear coats that are vegan as well).

Shoes! Most fashionistas are big into shoes, but depending on the individual it might be a difficult thing to buy for someone else. However, if you are (or maybe this is your gift to yourself?) take a gander at my previous shoe list or investigate a few of these vegan retailers:

http://charmone.com

http://www.novacas.com

http://www.beyondskin.co.uk/

http://formandfauna.com

http://www.terraplana.com/index.php (not all vegan)

http://www.simpleshoes.com/index.aspx (also not all vegan)

A bag. Matt and Nat is a great all-vegan brand to look into and if a bag is too pricey, they also have wallets and belts that are more friendly budget-wise.

-Kathleen (I figured that after over two years, I should stop hiding behind just a letter! ;))

So, it would appear that we are 9 days out from Christmas (which may or may not be putting me into a mild state of panic- I have one gift and it is in progress; a scarf for my brother that is about half knit) and I have been meaning to post some gift suggestions and I think it is pretty much now or never. If you happen to be like me and still have a list of folks to buy for, maybe I can be of assistance. Today, we are covering the foodie:

Under $20:

How cute are these whisks? And at $10 these would be a great stocking stuffer or small gift for a friend (hostess gift?) They also come in a bird variety.

Cookie Cutters are always fun and there are endless varieties and you can pretty much always find cute ones locally. This set is from amazon but Ikea and Michaels both have nice sets as well.

A silpat! This one from amazon is $18.07, which seems quite reasonable (I recall seeing them in stores for much more than that) however for those of you trying to purchase from stores I am pretty sure Williams Sonoma carries them (and probably other fancypants kitchen goods type stores) but I would guess it will be pricier. I have a silpat and it’s pretty much the best thing ever. Greasing baking pans is pretty much the bane of my existance, and with the Silpat ‘t you don’t have to and you needn’t worry about having to chisel burnt cookie bits off your pans either. It’s great for roasting veggies too! Needless to say, this comes personally recommended.

A good silicone spatula that won’t melt. Another thing that would be pretty easy to find locally, a fun stocking stuffer type gift, and really who can’t use another spatula?

$20-$100:

Ice cream maker. You can really choose how much you want to spend on them. The one pictured is very similar to the one my parents have and it works quite well, albeit does require some planning as the insert must be frozen for at least a day before you can use it. It would also be super cute to gift this with a vegan ice cream cookbook inside.

Cookbooks are always a good bet, especially if it comes personally recommended and you have favourite recipes to tab. Or how about a cookbook with a favourite recipe highlighted and the ingredients to make it? Some of my favourite cookbooks are Veganomicon; Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan; The Voluptuous Vegan (I really like the desserts that I have made from it, but definitely more time consuming); Vegan Yum Yum (Eve has been cooking up a storm from this one lately); Vegan Cookies InvadeYour Cookie Jar (a cookbook of cookie recipes, need I say more? Not health food though, just saying! ;))   

 

Over $100:

A Vita-Mix. Okay, so this is an awfully pricey gift, but really, Vita-Mixes are all kinds of amazing and if you are looking for a big gift, you should definitely consider one. Eve and I each have one and we use them all the time, and in our current living situation we have them on either side of the sink- duelling Vita-Mixes!! Amazon sells them and I know Costco has had them as well from time to time.

Food Processor. I have a Cuisinart, which is what I grew up with and I have been really happy with the quality (I think my parents replaced theirs after 20+ years of heavy use)  of it and I love the attachment blades. I got mine as a package from Costco a few years back and it came with two blades, a slicing and a grating blade, and I use the grating blade all the time! I linked to a really expensive combination pack on Amazon, but you can definitely find way cheaper options out there, so do shop around.

Happy Shopping and here’s hoping you are further along than I am!

-K

I can’t believe it is already the end of November, and Vegan MoFo. Time flies when you are having fun! 😉 The holidays are almost upon us (very much so if you happen to be Jewish/celebrate Hanukkah) and the year is coming to a close – good grief!

While I didn’t quite fulfill my original goal of posting five days a week for the month, I was pretty close, and very much more prolific than usual! I also have a newfound respect for daily bloggers- where do you find the time and ideas!? Sadly I don’t have an “out with a bang” recipe or contest or anything really for this last post of Vegan MoFo, but there are some exciting things on the horizon. I do, however, want to thank all my fellow MoFo contributors; it certainly was an inspiring month and it is always great to be introduced to new blogs so keep up the good work! 🙂

I am off for now (to go catch up on my blog reading, whew!) so thanks again and thank YOU for stopping by this little corner of the interwebs for a visit.

-K

In case the dearth of posting lately hasn’t clued you in, both Eve and I have been rather preoccupied as of late with other commitments. Such is the life of a student at the end of the term. Fortunately, yesterday marked the day of my last exams. I have had plenty of ideas swimming around in my head for a while now, and I am finally able to start putting them into action guilt-free which will hopefully make for exciting blog fodder. Alas, the aforementioned exams have been taking up the vast majority of my non-ballet time as of late, so here is a quick pictoral view of my life over the past few weeks (okay, well maybe skimming over some things, but thats how it felt!)

Textbooks, notes, and more notes. Fun times.

 

Yes those notes are written in super tiny writing. For one of my exams we were allowed a hand written, one sided cheat-sheet, and since my claim to fame has been itty bitty writing for basically my entire schooling years, I put it to good use! 🙂

Pointe shoes! I actually took this picture just because I was amused at the huge difference between my shoes after I had sewn the ribbons and elastics onto a new pair. Old, well-loved, pair on the left and  brand spanking new on the right, unfortunately for my pocketbook it takes an impressively short time to get from the latter to former, and those puppies are pricey! Ah the life of a starving artist! 😉 (okay, well starving notsomuch, I will gladly give up plenty of other things in lieu of good food!)

In other news, I have decided I need to catch up on my pleasure reading which has been nonexistant while I have been doing school courses. I would love to hear any book suggestions you might have (I am up for both non-fiction and fiction, really anything that comes with a recommendation!) so let me know in the comments.

A little while ago I won a giveaway from Keri at I Eat Trees! The tote bag (and bonus pin!!) I won arrived today, and I can hardly wait to fill it up and lug stuff around town! It is huge, durable, and the straps are the perfect length for looping over my shoulder, so I know it’s going to get used all the time. Thanks so much Keri, you totally made my day! Make sure you check the I Eat Trees Shop, because these graphics are way too cute! 🙂

This is the very last piece of a pan of Happy Herbivore’s infamous (or maybe just famous!) Black Bean Brownies:

This bite was literally on it’s way into my mouth when I realized I should probably take a photo! I may or may not have more black beans soaking at this very moment, specifically to make another batch! This time, I’m think I’m going to try adding oat flour instead of whole oats, as I think the smoother texture might be more up my alley. As an aside, I totally think that this recipe would be beyond fabulous baked as a pudding (with only a bit of oat flour?) and eaten warm. And of course, they make awesome brownies!

Other exciting, but less food related things:
1) I’m counting down the weeks until my boyfriend and I are moving to British Columbia! We’re moving at the very end of May, and I seriously can’t think about anything else these days! Moving out west has been our plan for the future for so long, and the future is finally here!! Well, almost. Are there any readers in BC? Hellooo? 🙂
2) If you’re like me and have no interest in paying gym fees (or um, sweating in front of other people), the workouts at www.bodyrock.tv are amazing! They are quick, intense, effective, and use mostly bodyweight exercises – I really can’t say enough good things! I think Zuzana (the woman behind bodyrock.tv) has been getting some attention because her videos are super popular on youtube (perhaps mostly among the male crowd?), but once you get past her choice of workout attire, she seems really genuine and knowledgeable. And of course, she is super fit! 🙂
-Eve

Hey! What’s all this!?

Taking pictures? Of me?? I’m flattered!

…though I really must insist that this isn’t my best angle……

And have you noticed that it’s the middle of the day? Can you leave me to my beauty rest now?

Much better!

-Mimi, c/o Eve