Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Today is World Spay Day!


What?!?? Every 10 seconds?  Too sad!  Have you ever been to an animal shelter? They make me sad because can't possibly take them ALL home with me!  This is the TWENTIETH anniversary of world spay day.  My little friend is spayed, and I'm so glad I did it.  Before I adopted her, they guy who had her made her pump out THREE litters of puppies, before the age of two and a half.  What kind of life is that?!  Anyway, she doesn't have to worry about getting knocked up anymore, because she is spayed!  Now she can just enjoy the rest of her life.

My parents' dog was adopted from a guy who didn't neuter the dog for a long time - and up until then a lot of other dogs would react really aggressively to him once they realized he wasn't neutered.  Once he got neutered, other dogs liked him better so from a behavioral standpoint alone, it was totally worth it.

More info about why all pets should be spayed or neutered here: http://www.humanesociety.org/news/magazines/2014/03-04/world-spay-day/infographic.html

Not Beef

This morning I had a slow morning and I had some tea, but really I wanted something savory and warming too. Soup is one of my favorite foods and I usually keep some bouillon or something in the fridge for when I want a hot cup of broth (is that weird?). I bought this on a whim a long time ago, so I expected a rock-hard cube of salt, but what came out instead was such a pleasant surprise!  

So I took one of the cubes and broke it into a few pieces before pouring boiled water over it (I used a pint glass with a thermal sleeve, so 16 oz) which I think is the recommended ratio. The cube dissolved surprisingly fast, and the the best part was ...(is this weird?) it created a thin oil layer on top of the broth, which I love!  It just makes they soup so much heartier, it feels like real soup not just salty brown water.  It tasted like Pho broth to me, with a rich and complex flavor (that could have just been the photo on the box suggesting the idea to my brain.)  I was thinking, this broth plus plain rice noodles, DINNER=DONE.  Seriously, the broth is so delicious it really doesn't need anything else. What if I had broth for breakfast every morning??  

Anyway, having my Not-Beef broth reminded me of this video about dairy cows and how happy they looked to be set free in a pasture.  Have a cup of Not-Beef instead of normal beef broth and imagine that you made this happen!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Now for this furry interlude

These videos totally make me wannabegan... (via dlisted.com)


Also, I admire this woman so much: Alicia Williams, a client services receptionist at The Duluth Animal Hospital in Duluth, Georgia.  She has these two rescued pets:


That thing on the right is the cutest chicken I have EVER SEEN!  WAAAANT!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A New Smoothie, So Delish!

I haven't been drinking that morning smoothie lately (I ran out of hemp protein powder and still need to go grocery shopping) but I DID make another smoothie that was pretty great, it was even easier to make and delicious! I made it for a coworker too and he really liked it! It's just banana, spinach, and almond milk.

I didn't invent this smoothie though, I totally got the recipe from my friend's favorite yoga teacher, Tara Stiles.  She has a whole blog of stuff she eats (Tara Eats) and I'm pretty sure most of the stuff is vegan or at least... Wannabegan!  I'm hoping one day I'll actually make it to one of Tara's classes, if I do I'll write about it here!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gifts for your Wannabegan, part 2

If you are poking around on the internet for Valentine's day gift ideas, I have news for you - you're cutting it REALLY close.  Good luck.  At this point maybe you should just get an e-gift so you can go to sleep and get ready to turn on the charm tomorrow. I know this sounds cheezy, but I sincerely believe that a really thoughtful donation to charity in  someone's honor is a great gift.  Because let's be honest, if you're reading this blog post, you have electricity, internet, and probably a computer of some sort (holla to all those folks out there using the computers at the library!), you and all the people you know probably have plenty of STUFF in your lives.  Most people have too much STUFF, it clutters up our lives, it doesn't really improve our lives that much.  So really THINK about the person you want to show love towards, and think about what that person loves. Here's some ideas:

  • Someone who loves his or her pet? Donate to the shelter where the pet was adopted from!
  • Someone who commutes every day through Central Park? Donate to the park
  • Someone wants a pet? Pre-pay for the adoption fees at a shelter and let your sweetie pick the pet!
  • A professor that really changed your life? Donate to your alma mater!

Just get creative!  For an all around animal lover, I like the Humane Society of the United States, because they have solid results helping both people and they do lots of education and legislation.

Moving on from donation gifts, home-made gifts are particularly special and who knows I might get around to making that vegan chocolate fudge for my husband one day. The nice thing about home-made gifts are it's not so much about the thing, but the fact that you put in the time and thought nice thoughts about your gift recipient while you were making it.

OK, I know non-material gifts don't cut it for everyone, so here's some things for dudes out there that might actually need stuff.  (Part 1 inadvertently turned into a post about ladies' gifs, so this one is men's gifts!).

Patagonia Men's Nano Puff Hoody - It's usually cold around Valentine's day, and I usually project my own personal preferences when I give a gift, so there are a lot of warming-related V-day gifts. I've had my eye on this jacket for a long time because it is synthetic and super light (I'm always freezing and sometimes I like to look at insulating outerwear online and fantasize about wearing it all).  I like that this is an insulating layer, which makes a perfect gift because it's cozy and you can wear it indoors or out, over several different seasons depending on what you wear it with.  If you're not into these colors, you can usually find previous season colors (on sale!) and styles (vest, pullover, jacket) online. Even though Patagonia certifies its down as "non-live plucked" (jeesh!), I still prefer to stay away from down completely, so Nano Puff is the way to go. I would get this for my husband if he didn't already have a enough hoodies, but once those wear out he might end up with this!

Uniqlo Faux Shearling Full-Zip Hoodie My husband has two of these right now, and he's wearing one right as I write this! He wears this almost EVERY day, so I'll just add it to the list of gift ideas (especially since this one is way more affordable than the Nano Puff).  This hoodie is super warm and it's soft and cuddly like a teddy bear inside(!).  So when I think about this hoodie, it's like 2 gifts in one- 1) It's warm and nice and he likes it 2) He didn't have to go shopping for something to wear himself, so it's like I'm giving him the gift of his own free time.  Every once in a while he does accompany my while I'm out shopping, and it's pretty sad, he usually finds a quiet corner and reads the internet on his phone.  I spared him!  
Uniqlo Heat Tech Socks and Finger Socks - The socks in our home are pretty sad- most of them are from 12-packs bought years ago, and now there are holes under the ball of the foot and at the Achilles from being worn completely through.  I get grouchy when I wear them because they droop down and bunch up under my foot, which is very uncomfortable (especially when wearing boots and it's hard to pull them up!).  Some times when it's past time to do laundry, we wear them upside down so the hole (and the heel material) is on the top of the foot.  So anyway, I bought these nice socks as a gift for my mother-in-law's boyfriend, who was really kind to us while we were staying at her apartment.  He's a dancer, so I thought the toe socks would be good for him to stretch his feet in, and the Heat Tech socks were appropriate because it's been super freezing cold out.  He said he really enjoys wearing them and that having nice socks totally makes a difference in his day!  He's totally right, having comfortable feet makes a big difference. I know socks sound really boring and utilitarian, but NICE socks really do make your feet and by extension, the rest of your body feel better. A lot of people have told me to get wool socks because I'm always cold, but honestly I don't have time to separate them out of the laundry and wash them in cold and line dry them and all that so they don't shrink, plus I don't care if it's made out of unicorn wool, those things still get itchy.  That's why we have TECHNOLOGY!!

Bonavita Porcelain Immersion Coffee Dripper - I got this for my husband because he looooves his coffee every morning. Sometimes in the evening he'll get a faraway look on his face with just the slightest hint of a smile, and I'll ask him,"What are you thinking about?"  He'll snap out of his reverie and reply, "My first sip of coffee tomorrow morning."  So anyway, about 2 years ago my mom gave him a lifetime supply of paper cone filters and a Clever Coffee Dripper, which he has used and loved every day since then.  I am happy he loves it (PS the cheap part of me is glad that he's not paying $3+ for coffee every day) but I was worried about the plastic slowly disintegrating from from the repeated heating and cooling of having boiling water poured into it.  I wanted to find something similar but made of glass, metal, or porcelain, and here it is!  All the parts that touch the coffee are porcelain, except the little stopper which is silicone.  A long time ago hubby used to drink coffee with milk and sugar, but now he drinks it black.  So he veganized his drink!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

FWD: New York City: FREE Screening of 'An Apology to Elephants'!

Please join local activists for an intimate screening of "An Apology to Elephants," an HBO documentary narrated and produced by actor Lily Tomlin. This memorable film explores the beauty and intelligence of elephants as well as the psychological damage that these majestic beings endure in captivity.

Following the film, local animal rights activists Rose McCoy, who appears in the film, and John Di Leonardo of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature will expand on the topic of animals used in the circus industry.
Saturday, February 15, 7 p.m.
Bluestockings Books (at the café and activist center), 172 Allen St., New York, NY 10002 (See this map.)

(This came to me via email from PETA.  I LOVE elephants, I love Lily Tomlin, so I'll be there!  Let me know if you are too so we can meet in real life! -Wannabegan)

Gifts for your Wannabegan Part 1

I'm not really a believer in Valentine's day.  It seems really contrived, it's hard on single folks, and it's a lot of pressure and expectation for people who are in a relationship.  My husband and I choose to celebrate "not-Valentine's day" which is all the other 364 days of the year, because people should celebrate their loved ones EVERY DAY!  Also, I assure you, it's easier to get a table at a nice restaurant without a reservation on not-Valentine's day.

Anyway, I do love giving (and getting!) gifts, so here's a round up of vegan friendly gifts that I have given recently and you might find great for giving to the people you love!

Urban Decay Vintage Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner - Recently my husband and I stayed at my mother-in-law's home for over two weeks, and she showered us with loving kindness the whole time we were there.  She loves makeup, so as a gift I bought her some of her favorite glitter eyeliners (her favorite colors are being retired, so they are on sale so you can stock up!!)

I bought a little something for myself too, the Urban Decay Shattered Face Case, partially because I am a sucker for anything that is on sale, I have a compulsive need to meet the free-shipping minimums whenever they are available, and also because all my eye makeup is really old and I worry about it irritating my eyes.  I thought these colors looked really nice and neutral plus there is a lip color and eye liner all packed together in there.  All you need is a little foundation and mascara, and you're DONE! PS the order came with a free sample size of face setting spray, I haven't used it yet but generally they offer a little sample of something when you order.  GUESS WHAT!? NOW THERE IS EVEN A PROMO CODE!  FFSPRING14 = 20% off (except on Naked3).  I didn't have the promo code when I bought all this stuff, but at least it was on sale. But now you can get it on sale AND get 20% off!

Harry and David Succulent Wreath - I was obsessed with this wreath ever since the moment I saw it, but the price was straight up crazy, and that's before the taxes and shipping and handling. When it finally went on sale (50% off!) I thought it was still a bit pricy (don't forget about that S&H!) but I was so obsessed that I caved and gave it to my friend who loves plants for her birthday. She was quite pleased! Exact quote: "I GOT THE SUCCULENT WREATH!!!! I LOVE IT!!! It was such a nice surprise this morning!!!!" (That's eleven exclamation marks, for the record.) I was concerned that it wouldn't look quite as nice as in the photo because that often happens with mail-order, but she sent a photo (on the right) and in my opinion it looks even cooler with those tall succulents!  She loved it so much, I ended up ordering one for myself, it just looks so cool I'm still obsessed.

Kusmi "One Moment, One Tea" Gift Set - Last night was the last night of our 8 week meditation course that I totally LOVED, so I got a little gift for our teacher.  I knew I wanted to get her something tea-related, because she mentioned that she loves tea (and the weather has been so cold lately, wouldn't it be nice to give something warming?), so I went to a couple of places looking for something tea-related.  I went to a shop near my office and they had all kind of gorgeous gift boxed teas.  This one was called, "One Moment, One Tea" and meditation is all about being IN THE MOMENT so when I saw this one I immediately knew that this is what I should get for her!  It's loose tea plus a tea infuser spoon.  "Thé du Matin is a strong, black tea morning blend. Thé Vert au Jasmin green tea perks up the afternoon. Spicy Kashmir Tchai is ideal after dinner. Both Traditional and decaffeinated Earl Grey are perfect anytime." Yum!

Actually now that I think about it, the 8 week meditation course would be a really great gift.  My husband found out about it and convinced me to to give it a try, and it really has been one of the best gifts I've ever received, because it really improved my life!  If you give this as a gift, the recipient would really need to be open and ready and willing to give it a chance, and if that's the case there is such an opportunity a better quality of life right there.  I saw an ad for a cellphone that said "Upgrade your life" and before I realized they were trying to sell me a phone, I thought, "Is this an ad for a mediation class?" because that's what I felt like I did, I upgraded my life.  If you're not in NY, then you can start with a mediation book!   


I'm on Foursquare, Eating Vegan Ice Cream!

I'm telling you because I'm going to start checking in at all my fave places and leaving tips about the all the vegan friendly things to enjoy!  For example, last night we (my husband and I) were walking home from meditation class (when I was meditating, thoughts kept creeping in about how I need to update this blog!) and I had always looked in the window across the street at Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream and thought how warm and cozy it looks in there, and on the window there was a big poster for vegan ice cream!  It was below freezing outside, but for some perverse reason that makes me really want ice cream (and hot tea).  My husband is super easy to convince we should eat anything sweet, so we went in even though I don't like to eat too late at night.  Look at all these flavors!!!!

The cashier said that their vegan ice cream is cashew-nut based, along with some other nut-milks.  Amazing!  The texture and the flavor were both fantastic.  I consider non-dairy ice cream a completely solved problem- My husband is lactose intolerant, but looooves ice cream (I don't mind the his farts, but I think it makes him uncomfortable) so vegan ice cream it is!  Between this and the coconut sorbet, I feel totally fine never eating dairy ice cream again.

So if you're on foursquare, look for me, my screen name is....  Wannabegan!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

New Foods: Prickly Pear Fruit

I love cactus!  Isn't this prickly pear fruit sooooo pretty?  The color is amazing!

Nopales salad is one of my favorite foods, but I had never eaten the fruit of the cactus before! (I had been tempted to when I saw one growing on my neighbor's cactus when I used to live in California, but my husband was like, "Keep moving!")

I forgot to take a picture of this  BEFORE I started eating it, but the picture above is the very last slice (sitting in the dish) and the peels.  The flavor was actually quite subtle, not that sweet, and not that distinctive.  There are round black seeds embedded in the fruit which I swallowed (I hope that is OK) and those give the fruit an interesting texture.  When I picked up this fruit, I saw some directions that said cut off both ends of the fruit, cut it in half lengthwise and then peel the skin off.  I didn't know if I was supposed to peel the skin off with a knife like you do with an apple, but then I quickly realized there is a softer layer between the center and the peel where you can separate the peel and the fruit quite easily by just pulling.

I ate the whole thing by myself as a snack, but I think most people use them in recipes, and it seems that most people like to use the fresh juice in things.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Happy Lunar New Year, it's the Year of the Horse!

Last night January 31, 2014 marked Lunar New Year (also known as Chinese New Year but it's also celebrated in lots of other Asian countries).   It's supposed to be all about getting together and eating a ton of food with your family, cleaning out all the clutter in your life beforehand, settling debts, etc etc.  I had to read the wikipedia page for it, because even though I am of Chinese descent, I grew up in the Midwest and I don't know all the customs. (Picture above courtesy of a mass email from my Aunt, I hope that the Chinese reads Gong Hay Fat Choy, otherwise I'm no different than when people don't know what their tattoos say).

So let's talk about horses for a second (the animal, not the people born 12x years ago), because they had a rough year in 2013!
  • NYC Horse Carriages continued to operate: in the scorching heat and sun, freezing snow and rain.  They walk all day on the hard pavement, breathing exhaust, pulling heavy carriages and tourists, they get in accidents, and some are forced to work while injured by sketchy drivers (I'm not saying all drivers are as bad as that guy, but I've seen so many run red lights, text while driving, etc). 
  • Horses died while racing:  These animals are given "performance enhancing" drugs, then given other drugs to cover up the use of the illegal drugs, forced to race when they are injured, drugged up with painkillers so they don't know they are injured, and then they injure themselves to the point where they have to be euthanized.  That industry is incredibly corrupt and cruel, once you start reading about all the sad things that happen to race horses, you'll never want to watch a race again.  
  • Horse meat was found in the human food supply: This is really messed up on so many levels.  Especially because a lot of horses sent to slaughter come from the racing industry, where as mentioned above they are pumped up with chemicals that should not be in the food supply.
  • Horses were slaughtered:  Healthy American horses are shipped to Canada and Mexico to be cut up and sold as meat (see above).
  • "Horse Soring" exists - Certain kinds of show horses have burning chemicals applied to their legs so they walk weird - help end that practice!
So here's to a fresh start and hoping that 2014 and the Year of the Horse is better for them!  So far, NYC's new mayor DiBlasio already promised to retire the horses in the carriage industry (and they all have adoptive homes waiting for them), that's a good start. Also, Congress has temporarily blocked horse slaughter in the US, you can help make it permanent!   GONG HAY FAT CHOY!