Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Goddess Provisions Box: Under the Moonlight!

My October Goddess Provisions box arrived about a week ago! It's hard to believe this awesome vegan subscription service has been around for two years now! I subscribed from the very beginning, and I remember that first October box so fondly. What a treat to get to a mystery box of witchy, vegan things in the mail — crystals, teas, candles, oils, etc.

This month's box was perfect for its 2-year anniversary. The theme was Under the Moonlight, and the box was packed with things to help you sleep soundly and dream deeply.

There's a moon phase bracelet, sleepytime bath salts, moontime chocolate, a sleep perfume, sleep drops, and a Lucid Dreamer iron-on patch. There was also supposed to be a rhodonite crystal in the box, but they accidentally left it out. That's okay though because Goddess Provisions is excellent about replacing left-out or broken merch. I put in a "missing item" order, and my rhodonite arrived in the mail a couple days later.

It's a lovely chunk of rhondonite, a heart chakra stone that can heal past traumas. I love rhondonite because it's a stone of compassion, which is by far my most important guiding principle.

The Zenned Out moon phase cuff is my favorite item. It's made from aluminum, and it matches almost everything I wear!

I haven't gotten a chance to try the Little Moon Essentials Sleep Comes Easy bath salts yet since the squirrels have taken over my bathroom. But they'll be released soon, and I'll have my tub back. These are made with essential oils of bergamot, chamomile, lavender, and lemon, and I'm sure they smell heavenly.

I have, however, been making nightly use of the Soapylane Peace Perfume and the Calm-a-Mama Sleep Drops. The perfume is made with rose, chamomile, ylang ylang, and lavender, and you apply to your pulse points before drifting off to sleep. That in combination with the Sleep Drops (an elixir of chamomile, mugwort, lavender, and lemon) have been sending me straight to sleep every night!

The Chocolita Moontime Rose Chocolate is said to balance hormones during your moontime, so I'll wait for that to try it. But I've long been a fan of Chocolita's raw chocolate, so I know I'll like this.

My Lucid Dreamer patch has already found a home — on the arm of my new jean jacket! YAY!

Love this box! By the way, I'm a Goddess Provisions ambassador, which means I make a couple bucks if anyone signs up using this link. I don't get my boxes free though, just to be clear. I subscribe and pay the $33 a month, and it's totally worth it. It's a great deal, and the boxes are so much fun!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

37th Birthday Weekend, Day 3!

Last birthday post, I swear! Well, until next year when I do it all over again. But as I mentioned over the past couple posts, I stretched my 37th birthday (which was yesterday) out for 3 days with fun celebrations every day. My big friend gathering with dinner and a night out was Saturday. Sunday, we did birthday brunch and a celebration with my family.

Here's my 37th birthday selfie! I take one every year.

On Monday — my actual birthday — I took off work for a stay-cay day with Paul. I slept in until 7:30 (omg!) and then had Ramen Noodles with Tofu & Veggies in my PJs while I watched The Walking Dead on Netflix (I'm a season behind — no spoilers, please!).

I also had some coffee in a new mug that my mom had made for me. It has Maynard on it! He was impressed.

After breakfast, Paul and I went for an easy 3-mile run on the V&E Greenline by our house in Crosstown.

Typically, after a run, I have a protein shake or protein waffle. But I skipped that in favor of leftover Fried Vegan Drumsticks from Imagine Vegan Cafe. We'd eaten brunch there on Sunday, so I had some left, plus leftover mac and collards. Paul had some leftover biscuits and gravy and a piece of a waffle, also from Imagine. So I just made a giant plate!

My parents gave me birthday money to buy new running shoes, so we went to Breakaway Running for a little shopping time in the afternoon. I went back to Brooks Ghosts after a year-long break from them. Last year's model had a weird, hard plastic toe box that made my big toes go numb, but that's gone from the Ghost 10s. Can't wait to try them out after work today!

I also decided to buy myself a jean jacket as a birthday gift to myself. I've gotten so many patches and pins from Goddess Provisions boxes, plus other places. I put ALL of my patches and pins on my jacket. Maybe it's a little busy, but I don't care! Love it!

Around 4 pm, we headed to Alchemy for happy hour cocktails. They have half-off all cocktails and appetizers! I started with a Dirty Martini.

And Paul had a (not vegan) White Russian.

We also ordered an appetizer of Edamame Hummus to share. The hummus was fantastic, but those roasted chickpeas stole the show. They were so crunchy and perfect.

Then it was time for dinner! We drove out east to City Silo Table + Pantry — a super vegan-friendly place with bowls and sandwiches — to meet Mike, Andy, and Tyler.

After a weekend of fried craziness and booze, it felt really awesome to be eating such a healthy dinner. The El Goodo Bowl had buffalo tempeh, brown rice, quinoa, garlic greens, black beans, corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and a serrano-avocado sauce. YUM!

I had such an amazing 37th birthday weekend! Thanks for all the birthday wishes (and thanks for putting up with my many birthday posts!).

Monday, October 16, 2017

37th Birthday Weekend, Day 2!

Today is my birthday! Yay! But since it was a Monday birthday (and real talk, because I'm a Libra), I made this a 3-day birthday weekend! Last night, I posted about my birthday party with friends on Saturday night. And tonight, I'll post about my Sunday pre-birthday brunch and family dinner. I'll save the actual birthday pics for tomorrow night.

My BFF Sheridan and her partner Drew spent the night at my house on Saturday night since they live in Little Rock. So on Sunday morning, we woke up and went to brunch before they hit the road back home. Of course we went to Imagine Vegan Cafe! They had Fried Pickles with Ranch on special, so we started with that. Y'all know I love some fried pickles!

For my entree, I went with Vegan Fried Drumsticks with Ranch & BBQ Sauce, Vegan Mac & Cheese, & Collard Greens. BEST FRIED BRUNCH!!

Here's a pic of me and Sheridan at my house before they left town. We're both wearing Herbivore shirts!

Drew always makes the best videos when they come to visit, and he created this awesome birthday video from our Saturday and Sunday adventures.

After they left, Paul and I drove to Jonesboro, Arkansas for a birthday dinner with my parents.

I requested Totchos! So my mom made vegan chili, and she had vegan cheddar, sour cream, homemade guac, pickled jalapenos, and scallions. So good!

For dinner, she drizzled a Daiya New York Style Cheesecake with chocolate syrup and crumbled Oreos on top. We enjoyed this with Ben & Jerry's vegan Cherry Garcia. Yay birthday!

Okay, one more birthday post tomorrow, and I promise I'll stop with the birthday stuff — until next year!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

37th Birthday Weekend, Day 1

My 37th birthday is Monday, October 16! But I like to stretch birthdays out for as long as possible. A Monday birthday is a perfect excuse for a birthday weekend with parties and awesome food every day! On Saturday, I started my 3-day birthday celebration with a fun day with friends, food, and booze. I'll share those pics tonight, and then I'll catch y'all up on days 2 and 3 over the next couple days.

My BFF Sheridan and her partner Drew came up to Memphis from Little Rock on Saturday afternoon for my birthday party. Sheridan and I have been besties since eighth grade, and I'm so glad we live close enough to see each other every few months. We had a little time to kill, and Crosstown Concourse — the amazing building where I work — has only been open a few months, so I wanted to take them on a tour. Plus, it was around lunch time, so we started with snacks from Mama Gaia, the all-veg, organic restaurant inside Concourse.

I ran 16 miles on Saturday morning, before they arrived, and I was famished. But I knew I also needed to save room for birthday dinner (which was only a few hours away), so I went with a light snack — the Cena Petitzza with vegan cheese and mushrooms.

After lunch, I gave Sheridan and Drew a tour of this awesome, repurposed 14-story building. Here are Sheridan and I in front of artist Kevin Bongang's mural, a temporary piece that wraps around the Crosstown theater (which is still under construction).

We ended our tour at Next Door American Eatery, also inside Concourse, for beers! 

From there, we walked across the street to Crosstown Arts for a couple of art openings, one of which was for this awesome mural depicting local artist Michael Roy. It was painted by a visiting artist, Patrick Kane McGregor. Both artists posed in front of the mural for us.

We goofed around a bit.

And took a photo in front of the I Love Memphis mural.

And then it was time for dinner! I made birthday plans at Blue Nile with a bunch of friends.

I started with a Tofu Skewer appetizer.

And I went with the Veggie Platter for my main entree. I love Ethiopian food SO MUCH. So very much.

After dinner, we moved the party to Railgarten — a fun outdoor bar that's pretty much like hanging out in someone's giant backyard. They were having their Oktoberfest celebration, so the place was especially packed. We took some pics. I drank wine from a can (classy). We hula-hooped. And we chilled by the bonfire. Perfect night.

More birthday pics coming tomorrow!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sweet, Savory & Free

I'm so lucky to not have any food allergies! I can only imagine how hard it would be to avoid such ubiquitous ingredients as gluten, soy, or nuts. But I do have a few friends with food allergies, and when I cook for them, I have to be very careful about what goes into my dishes. Debbie Adler's new cookbook — Sweet, Savory & Free: Insanely Delicious Plant-Based Recipes Without Any of the Top 8 Food Allergens — should be a great help in those instances. But it's also just an awesome book that anyone can use because her recipes are delicious!

Those top eight allergens include dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Plus, Debbie's recipes are also free of refined sugar and oil. And they're all vegan of course! The book contains everything from sweet and savory breakfasts to homemade condiments (HOMEMADE SRIRACHA!), soups, sides, pizzas, pastas, gluten-free breads, and desserts.

I tried a few recipes and loved them all. I typically eat ramen noodles every Sunday, and I tend to buy those Lotus Foods gluten-free rice ramen packages just because they're all-natural and delicious. So I had to try the recipe for the Sweet Miso Forbidden Rice Ramen Noodle Bowl.

I accidentally got the Lotus Foods Jade Pearl noodles instead of Forbidden Rice noodles, but they were still gluten-free. Just not the right purple color! The broth is made from sweet potato, ginger, turmeric, and green tea, and it's so savory and amazing. I usually add frozen veggies to my ramen bowls, but I've never had a broth made from pureed veggies. Genius!

From the Main Attractions chapter, I made the Mushroom Herb Ragu over toasted quinoa (from I Heart Keenwah). Paul loves mushrooms, so I knew this was a main dish we could eat together. Plus, I'm still doing the Dr. Fuhrman GBOMBS thing, and I need to get mushrooms in daily. This creamy dish is made with coconut milk and thickened with tapioca starch. I did have to add a little extra tapioca starch beyond what the recipe called for though as mine didn't thicken quite enough at first.

On the side, I made the Creamed Kale from the Meals in Muffin Tins & Ramekins chapter (what a fun theme for a chapter!). I've never actually had creamed spinach, but this is Debbie's take on that classic dish, using kale instead of spinach. The kale is steamed, chopped, and stirred into a creamy coconut sauce seasoned with coconut aminos. On top, you sprinkle Debbie's homemade Parmezan (a parm blend made from ground sunflower, pumpkin, and hemp seeds), and then you bake it in the oven.

Wow! The creamed kale is so full of flavor, and it's just fun to eat an individual portion in a ramekin! And I'm glad I have extra Parmezan left for topping other dishes.

I had a hard time deciding what to make from this book because everything looks so good! The Sriracha Hemp Noodles, Chipotle Mexican Omelet Tostada, Fakiin Bacon Crescent Rolls, Ultimate Veggie Pad Thai, and Cookie Dough Cupcakes are all calling my name! I also love that Debbie includes lots of traditional Jewish dishes, like Matzo Ball Soup, Challah, and Kugel. I'm not Jewish, but I've long been drawn to those traditional dishes.

Whether you have a food allergy or you just want healthy, wholesome, vegan meals (free of oil and refined sugar!), Debbie's book has something for you!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New Items at Mama Gaia!

Mama Gaia — the totally organic, vegetarian restaurant in Crosstown Concourse — has added two new menu items for the month of October. I tried them both, and they're among my new faves at the restaurant. Full disclosure: I do the social media and PR for Concourse, as well as Crosstown Arts. But I'd be sharing Mama Gaia news whether I worked in the building or not because I love this place! I'm so lucky to have an awesome, healthy vegetarian place in my office building.

Everything at Mama Gaia is organic, and nothing is fried. So you can feel pretty good about whatever you're eating there. The menu consists of pita sandwiches, bowls, and salads, but they just added a new vegan burger that blows so many others out of the water. And it's the first vegan burger offered in all of Concourse (several places there have veggie burgers, but they're not vegan). I tried the Smokehouse Veggie Burger this week — with vegan cheese, smoked onions, and garlic aioli. This typically comes with dairy cheese, but they're happy to make it vegan.

LOVE this patty! It's a homemade veggie patty, not a soy/seitan patty. So it's soft, but it holds together well, and it's packed with flavor. The smoky onions really take it up a notch. For all of October, you can get the burger in a combo meal with a side and drink (they serve Oogave agave-sweetened sodas and ginger-green tea lemonade) for $12. I opted for the Hummus & Veggie side.

They also added a new BBQ Tofu Pita with a smoky BBQ tofu and a creamy, vegan Asian slaw. It's a messy sandwich, just the way BBQ should be. And they're very generous with the tofu! I got one to go last week with a side of Mama Gaia's baked fries. This is also available for the $12 combo.

By the way, my pics are just everyday shots, but my friend Justin of The Chubby Vegetarian did these pro shots for Mama Gaia. YUM!