Monday, September 20, 2010

Flowers On A Saturday

Last week, I had a work trip planned for Madison, WI. I like Madison, I like the my client that meets in Madison, and I look forward to this trip every year. I worked hard preparing for my meeting and was ready to leave on Thursday morning.

When I arrived home on Wednesday night, I received some health news from a medical procedure I had the week before and it put a damper on my trip. Suddenly, I did not want to go to Madison any longer. I had to pull myself together and leave for the airport the next morning. (In addition to my own problems, we have been worried about our nephew and an extended family member who has been sick. When it rains, it pours!)

In the span of two weeks, my life had changed dramatically. Through it all, I have had the loving support of John, family, and friends. The sympathy and empathy that they have shown me has been touching. I have learned a lot about the people in my life who care about me and feel thankful to have so many I can lean on. I'm not kidding, some have been in contact with me non-stop, checking in on me each day, calling me, praying for me, thinking of me, and providing support. I only hope that I have been and can be as good of a friend to each of them.

And then, there's John. He has been by my side every step of the way and has provided exactly what I need. When I was terrified to face my appointment, he was there with me to hold my hand. He laughed and cried with me and hugged me when I needed it most. When I returned home from Madison on Saturday, he had these waiting for me on the kitchen table.

He went to the farmer's market that morning to get them for me. I am not a huge flower person. I never ask for them or expect them, but when I get them I absolutely love them. Best of all, they were locally grown by a farmer at the market. He knows me so well.

Thank you to John, thanks to my parents, thanks to family, and thanks to my friends who have treated me with care. I appreciate the venting sessions, the calls, the long emails, and the general care for my well-being.

Some people equate wealth to money. I equate wealth to friends and support, and based on that I am a wealthy person!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Successful Dog Wash!

My favorite event by the Durham Animal Protection Society is their annual dog wash. I look forward to it for months. The event raises money for the shelter to help them provide loving homes to deserving dogs, cats, rabbits, and other companion animals.

I love spending time with animals, especially dogs and it is a pleasure spending time washing them. Some animals are terrified of the water and others jump in and are ready to go. Each dog requires individual attention, care, and love.

All of the dogs that my group washed were sweet, even those that were scared. The very first dog we washed was the most terrified and growled at first. Luckily, with patience and his human companion we were able to wash him without incident.

My personal favorite of the day was a Newfoundland that was over 100 pounds. He was a big sweetheart! He was afraid of the water and to wanted to cuddle. I didn't mind! I pet and reassured him while we carefully and gently washed him. Sorry, no picture of that sweetie!

Overall, the 2010 dog was was a success! They raised $3,500 and washed 175 dogs! I can hardly wait for next year.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Toronto Vegetarian Restaurant Tour- Fresh

I had two awesome nights of vegan food. Was it possible for a third night? Was I really that lucky?

Day three had rolled around and this was turning out to be one of the best work trips I have ever taken. My group decided to have a dinner at the CN tower in downtown Toronto and invited me. I respectfully declined for two reasons. One, I get severe motion sickness. I once got motion sickness from standing on a boat dock on a calm lake. Two, how could I pass up the plethora of vegetarian places in the city? Carol, one of the people that I was working with, also did not want to go to the CN tower and asked if she could come with me to a vegetarian restaurant. She is not a vegetarian, but loves the food. I gladly accepted.

The next place on my list was Fresh, which was also within walking distance from the hotel. Carol and I headed out. On our walk, we decided that we would each try different menu options and split our food. When we arrived, the place was packed! It is always exciting to me to go to a vegetarian place that it full with people.
I had a good feeling about this place. There was one table left and Carol and I sat down and started the daunting task of deciding what to order. The menu was a bit overwhelming, just as the previous two nights had been. Carol tasked me with helping her decide what to pick as I was the "expert." Me, an expert?

I began reading over the menu and realized that almost everything on the menu was vegan and those dishes that were not could easily be made vegan. To help our decision process, we decided to go with the "Prix Fix" menu. We got to pick a juice or smoothie, a starter, entree, and a sweet. Let's break it down.

We each picked our drink. I chose a drink called "all green" which contained cucumber, celery, parsley, kale, ginger, and lemon. Carol choose a drink called "antioxidant" which contained pomegranate, blueberry, and banana. Carol loved her smoothie. She thought it was refreshing. My juice was interesting. I did not feel like or dislike for the juice, it just tasted healthy.

Next it was on to the starter. I chose the spring rolls filled with rice vermicelli noodles, mushrooms, cilantro, carrot, and dipping sauce. Carol chose curried chick pea dosas filled with curried chick peas and vegetables. She also decided to get a side order of quinoa-battered onion rings. The dosas and the spring rolls were excellent, but the onion rings were amazing! They had the perfect amount of crunch on the outside and sweet, soft onion on the inside. I had never had an onion ring like this before it was the best onion ring I have ever dined on and quite possibly the best onion ring in the world. I am not kidding! Carol agreed.

I was not sure anything could live up to the start of the meal. As we finished up our appetizers, our main entrees came out. I ordered the buddha on brown basmati rice. The dish came with a Thai peanut sauce on marinated tofu cubes, tomato, cilantro, cucumber, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, herbs, and spices. Carol ordered enegry on soba noodles. Her dish came with marinated tofu cubes, coconut curry sauce, chick pea and vegetable stew, cucumber, tomato, red onion, sunflower sprouts, and tahini sauce. I took one bite of mine and my mouth instantly was delighted by the peanut sauce. I love peanut sauce, but this was the best peanut sauce I had ever tasted. I could not figure out what was different about it, but I did not want to stop eating. Carol's dish was delicious. The flavors worked wonderful together. I liked hers, but I liked mine even more. I could not get enough of that sauce! I was full before I could finish and decided to take the rest to the hotel for breakfast the next day (they boxed up my food in a compostable container!). I could hardly wait for breakfast, it was going to be awesome.

As if the meal so far was not enough, we still had dessert on the way! Carol said that I could have her dessert as she was staying off of sweets. Could this day get any better? All of the dessert choices were vegan. Score! I picked one cashew chunk and one chocolate chunk cookie. I was too full to enjoy them at dinner, so I also took them back to the hotel for later. I could hardly wait for later. Well, later came around and I decided to try the cashew chunk cookie. I took one bite and yet again, I was in heaven! I had never had a cashew cookie before, but could easily say that this was in the top five best cookies I have ever had. It was made with cashew butter! Hello- cashew butter on its own is heavenly, but cashew butter in a cookie? I think I found the definition of bliss! The chocolate chunk cookie was also divine. Nothing could compare to the cashew cookie though.

The verdict. I am not sure I could have liked this meal any better. Like I said, I think I found the definition of bliss. I had so many bests at dinner this night. The best onion ring I have ever had, the best peanut sauce, and the best cashew cookie. Mind you, these were all vegan and my comparison went back even to the non-vegan versions of these foods. So, even compared to the non-vegan counterparts these options were worlds better. I say this because so many people think that vegan food is lacking in taste. The key word is "think" here. I might write to this restaurant and beg them to come to North Carolina,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dog Wash for the Durham APS

It is that time of year again! It is time for the Durham APS Dog Wash event! The Whole Foods in Durham is so kindly hosting again this year. The Annual Dog Wash will be on September 11th from 11 am to 3 pm.

This event will not only leave you with a squeaky clean buddy, it will benefit the Animal Protection Society of Durham. The event will include contests for your furry friends. Such as best doggy kisser and pet/owner look alike. They will also have a microchip booth and doggie pools. In addition, your furry companion can even get a spa after bath treatment complete with a nail trim and bandanna.

Would you like to know how to help? You can start by telling your friends and family about this awesome event. Then you can bring your buddy on the 11th.

Wait! Do you still want to do more? Awesome! We need TOWELS!! Don't fret, the donated towels will not be thrown away after the dog wash. They will be taken to the shelter and used for the animals currently housed at the shelter. You can bring the towels to the shelter during normal business hours or you can give them to me and I will bring them to the wash.

Want to do more? Yes, there is more you can do! You can bring water buckets with handles. The donated buckets will be re-donated to the Coalition to Unchain Dogs after the wash.

Still want to do more? Right on! You can donate money to the APS.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Vegan Etsy

I am trying to get a bit more serious about my Etsy shop. I have been creating new (re purposed) products and have been taking pictures of other products that I want to sell. I have been slow about it, but have been making small steps.

I have been a member of Etsy Veg for about a year now and I love the team! I have met some awesome people and have connected with like minded crafters. I have become a blogger on their site, although I have been delinquent about blogging, and have recently offered to help with other aspects of the team.

I decided that I need to do more. I need to get even more involved in Etsy groups. Not only to promote my shop, but to also meet awesome, compassionate crafters. That is when I stumbled upon the Vegan Etsy team. Everyone on the team is vegan and all products in each Etsy store have to also be vegan- no animal products or bi products including honey, wool, leather, and silk. Me and my store match the description, so I filled out an application AND they accepted me!

Stay tuned to my Etsy shop as I add my creations and my vintage finds!

Friday, September 3, 2010

LPHOH- Have YOU Voted?

I have had the pleasure of knowing an amazing woman who has survived breast cancer. Over a year after being diagnosed, she is cancer free! She is stronger than I would have been in her situation and is an inspiration.

As if being strong and beating cancer was not enough, she started a program called Little Pink Houses of Hope (LPHOH). The mission of LPHOH is "to offer families living with breast cancer an opportunity to reconnect and celebrate life in a relaxing environment." They offer a beach setting for families to come together. They don't have to worry about anything because everything is taken care of for them. They can just be together.

During the month of September, vote for Little Pink Houses of Hope through the Pepsi Refresh Project. You can vote once a day, every day for the whole month. We need to get them the 50k! You can also text 102293 to PEPSI (73774) to vote.

Voting is a start, but please do more! Post a note on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc. to let your friends and family know about the voting.