Vida Vegan Tech Seminar Series + Giveaway

As I mentioned here a few months back, Helen of Vegtastic! and I will be presenting a class at the inaugural Vida Vegan Tech Seminar Series (a part of Vida Vegan Con) happening Saturday, Nov. 3 at the beautiful downtown Seattle library.  And we’re quite pumped about it.

Our class is titled “Next-Level Social Media.” We’ll discuss how to cultivate your blog’s identity, to establish community, and we’ll breakdown a few emerging networks and give advice on how to stay on top of social media trends and decide whether or not they’re best for you and your blog. We’re also allotting a good amount of Q&A time.

This is the stuff I LOVE to talk about, geek out on and constantly learn more about. Helen and I are excited to present, and I think that all of the panels will be incredibly valuable. Check out the rundown of all the classes. Together, they all dive deeper into advanced aspects of social media and blogging, and will equip attendees with skills that can immediately be integrated into their blogs.

I am personally amped for the podcasting and video classes, as those are two things I want to delve into more in the future.

The class size is limited to 50 people, which is great in terms of everyone who registers being guaranteed a seat and having it feel more like a class and less like a con. But that also means that this event is going to sell out fast and if you’re not quick, you might be the left behind in a cloud of Myspace and Friendster dust.

The Vida Vegan Tech Seminar Series planners and I don’t want that to happen to you, and they generously gave me a ticket to give away to one lucky reader! Digital media is up there with veganism on my list of things I’m impassioned about and I know Helen feels the exact same way. We’d love to have a reader attend the seminar to learn more about these topics, and this is a way that you can attend (and get a delicious lunch from Veggie Grill!) for free.

To enter the contest, leave a comment below about the one tech-related topic you’d like to learn about most at the Tech Seminar Series. It could be ours (flattery will get you everywhere…but won’t guarantee your win) or maybe you too want to podcast one day. Or maybe you really want to learn some CSS. Whatever it is, let me know! I’ll pick a comment number at random on Wednesday, September 26th at noon, PST, and that individual will be the winner. I’ll also email you, in case you’re actually eating lunch or something. Non-vegans and non-Seattleites are also eligible to enter, too.

I hope to see you many of you there!

PS: Helen is also giving away a ticket to the Tech Seminar Series on her blog. Hop on over and enter there to double your chances of winning!

El Chupacabra: authentic vegan Mexican

Up until a few weeks ago, I’d had yet to experience the vegan-friendly Mexican food of El Chupacabra. Anika has raved about this place for years, but for some reason, every time we’d visit from Tacoma we’d end up at another one of our standby vegan or vegan-friendly joints. What were we doing all this time?!

I love Mexican food more than I can properly articulate. My ethnic background is part-Mexican, so I grew up eating tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tamales, and everything else delicious made in authentic style, and it was glorious. When I transitioned to veganism, (and especially after I moved to the PNW), I’d resigned myself to the fact that the only good Mexican food I’d experience would be in my kitchen. Thankfully, I now know that’s not the case, and I have a spot to visit whenever we’re jonesing for vegan Mexican eats and are too lazy to cook!

Located in Phinney Ridge/Greenwood, this Mexican restaurant/bar is adorable. Decorated in reds/oranges and Dia de Los Muertos style, I almost felt like I was at a restaurant back home for a second once inside. More things that makes me love this place: Christmas lights, board games, a working jukebox, front patio – prime for this season, and a full bar.

We’ve only happened to go on Friday nights (date night, etc.) and both times we’ve visited it hasn’t been longer than 15 minutes for a table. Not bad for a place that’s extremely popular with both the herbivorous and carnivorous types. For us vegans, El Chupacabra offers Gardein meats (chicken with green or red sauce – verde or rojo – and steak) and Daiya cheese, which means that lunch, dinner or happy hour meal options are endless.

The first time we visited, we started out with their chips, salsa and guac and I grabbed the Bartender’s Margarita, (all pictured above). Because, you know, Mexican food.

The guac – fantastic. Chips – warm, okay. Salsa – a little watery in my opinion, but doable. The marg – not my bag. It had a splash of cranberry and was made with Jose Cuervo, and while drinking it I was wishing I’d had the house one. C’est la vie.

In what seemed like no time at all, our food arrived. I went for a vegan enchilada with daiya and “chicken,” and R went for three tacos with the “steak” and rice and beans. See here:

The server warned me that the enchiladas were huge, and hence I got one instead of two. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had them and they’ve always been a fave. Chupacabra’s did not disappoint. All the flavors were there, the red sauce fantastic, and the combo of daiya and faux chicken was through the roof delicious. Goodness gracious.

R loved his tacos and sides and devoured them quickly too. We left no stone unturned.

On top of this, our server was wonderful: sweet, delivering excellent service and chatted with us about their vegan food. I’ve read reviews of their service as being spotty, but we experienced no such thing – not even on a busy Friday night.

About a week after we first visited, we headed back, because we both couldn’t get this food out of our minds. This is what happens when El Chupacabra gets to you.

This time we started out with the same apps, and I went for the pomegranate margarita – our server’s choice. Usually this isn’t something I’d go for, but I loved it. The flavor was sweet but not too much so, and like last time, it was strong. I’d order this again, easily. And for food, I chose the large vegan burrito with daiya and vegan “steak,” (don’t judge, I wanted leftovers!) and Rick went for the taco salad.

My burrito was indeed huge, so I halved it down the middle to look at the delicious inside.

I loved this, loved all the flavors at play again, and doused at it with their homemade sauces. I was in delicious Mexican food heaven by the end of this evening.

Comes fully loaded.

R is a sort of connoisseur of taco salads, and he gave this one two enthusiastic thumbs up. It was huge, had rice/beans, “steak,” salsa, guac, lettuce, etc., and looked like a great, filling meal option. His only gripe was that the shell was overcooked, (guessing that it was baked then cooked again with filling). Despite that, he loved it.

This place is ridiculously popular, so I feel like it’s a fluke that both times we’ve gone we hadn’t had to wait too long for a table, inside or out. If you go, I recommend either going early, going later (which is what we did), bringing a friend to catch up with or hanging out at the bar. Believe me, whatever the wait, it will be more than worth your while.

If you’ve been, what are your favorite vegan menu items? And if you haven’t been, what are you waiting for?

El Chupacabra
6711 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA, USA
(206) 706-4889

 

Sidecar Septemberfest this weekend!

Photo of delicious Sidecar goodies by veganheathen, via Creative Commons

Love supporting sweet pigs and eating delicious vegan cookies? There’s an event happening for you this weekend!

Sidecar for Pigs Peace, the glorious, volunteer-run, all-vegan grocery store in the U District is holding Sidecar Septemberfest! Happening this Saturday and Sunday, the event promises the following wonderful things:

A party!
Free cookies
Free samples
Sweet deals
A wonderful feeling in your heart knowing you supported happy pigs at the sanctuary

Come and stock up on some vegan essentials and/or splurges, hang with good people and earn raffle tickets based on how much your purchase. Rumor has it that there’ll be some awesome raffle prizes, too.

I’ll definitely be attending, as it’s been too long since I’ve visited our city’s only all-vegan store. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Deets:

Where: Sidecar for Pigs Peace, 5270 B University Way NE
When: Saturday, Sept. 8 and Sunday, Sept. 9
RSVP for the event on Facebook here.

Bearded Lady Food Company review on CakeSpy

Habanero brownie from Bearded Lady Food Company.

I love me some sweet treats. A lot. Probably too much. But this has been a part of me since I was little. Growing up I loved ice cream, and as I got older it turned to cookies. Soon came my cupcake phase, then pie, and now I’m way into cookies again. I hold firmly to the belief that life is too short to not enjoy something sweet every once in a while, (you know, especially if you’re eating your kale and fruits too) and thankfully, my friend Roxanne gets that. It’s one of the many things we have in common.

Since she became a vegetarian, we often head out to places to eat veg meals together and sometimes, those dinners turn into dinner and dessert – much to our mutual happiness. That’s how we first ventured to Beaded Lady Food Company with a few other friends. One of our dining companions suggested we mosey on over to the very vegan-friendly bakery post-dinner, and we never looked back.

Roxanne asked me to visit again (after dinner together, natch) and if I’d like to help her review this magical sweet factory in the heart of downtown Oly. Naturally, I said yes.

Our review is now up on the adorable, all sweets, all the time blog CakeSpy, so check it out. If you’re in the Seattle metro area, I highly suggest you make a trip to Beaded Lady a priority on your next visit south. You will not regret it. I mean, just check out their amazing logo! Make sure to bring cash and check the hours beforehand, too.

And now I’m craving a habanero brownie.

Summer fun, food nerd edition: canning and jamming

Over a month ago, two food-loving friends, Adrienne, Roxanne and I were discussing jam-making and canning and the fact that both Roxanne and I hadn’t done either. We both love jam and have an appreciation for homemade food, but were both intimidated by the process of making it at home, (and I was admittedly fearful of botulism).

Thankfully, Adrienne is a pro at canning and jam-making, and even made homemade jam for each of the guests that attended her wedding last year – about 150 people! When she offered to teach Roxanne and I the basics of both of these activities at her home, we jumped at the opportunity. Who can say no to wine, good company, a new/educational food experience, and lots of delicious leftovers? Not this guy.

So we met up this past Sunday at Adrienne’s in Tacoma, armed with lots of strawberries and vegan-friendly sugar to make Blue Chair Fruit’s Strawberry Jam with Aged Balsamic and Black Pepper (and one batch without pepper too). The combo of sweet strawberries (and the classic nostalgia of this jam flavor), richness of balsamic and the kick that black pepper promised all sounded like an excellent mix to me, and I was excited to experience the results.

Once we arrived, we got to work quickly! Adrienne had Roxanne and I hull four pounds of strawberries for the first batch. In case you’re wondering, that’s a lot of strawberries:

After hulling, we put them in a large pot and added sugar, balsamic, and lemon juice. And then we got to stirring. One thing I learned about jam-making? It’s a mega arm workout. I could stand to make more jam.

Technically this is the beginning of batch two, but just wanted to show the beginning of the process.

Keep stirring until juice began to form on the bottom, and so that the fruit doesn’t stick to the bottom. The pot is heated to a boil at this point, so be careful. Skim away any excess foam you see if you don’t want it in the jar (we did this step, but it’s optional).

Me taking a photo of Roxanne photographing the process. Slightly meta.

Adrienne teaching/stirring away.

The jam we made was pectin-free, so we had to test to make sure that it had “jelled” by placing some of the jam on a refrigerated plate. It did, woo! Then it was time to fill the jars. Here’s all the quarter-pint jars we started with:And then we poured jam in through the funnel, filling the jars most of the way. No photos of this as we were busy learning by doing. Next the jars were tightened and put into boiling water for processing. And then…

…we had jam! It had to cool first, but you know, it was definitely jam at this point.

My sweet haul.

I had such a great time getting together with these ladies (who I sorely miss now that I’m a few cities away) and catching up, drinking lots of white zin and of course, dishing about how much we love food and all the summery things we were enjoying. If Adrienne does start teaching jamming classes soon and you’re in the South Sound, I highly recommend taking one. I’m much less intimidated by the whole process now. I’d love to get into canning right away but alas, this hobby will have to wait until I have more space.

One of the very best parts of this class happened the next morning: the tasting!

Needless to say, it’s delicious. The strawberry flavor was perfectly sweet – not too sweet like I feel most jams are, and it was enhanced and brightened by fresh lemon juice. The balsamic added a depth of flavor to this combo that was effortlessly natural. Balsamic isn’t something I think of when I think of sweet things, but I’ve always been impressed by how well it melds with them. That was definitely the case here. I couldn’t taste the pepper in the first jar we’re on, but I think we erred on the side of not pepper-crazy. If I were to do this again, I’d be more liberal with the grinder because I love some spice.

And here’s past Sunday’s breakfast: Ezekiel bread toasted, and slathered with this perfect homemade spread. We’re slowly enjoying it, and I’m also currently thinking up other ways to utilize it. If you have ideas/recipes/suggestions, please mention them in the comments.

For the teacher’s perspective of this class, the full recipe and much more precise directions, check out Adrienne’s excellent post.

Welcome to Seattle, Veggie Grill

Dear Veggie Grill, I’m so happy you’ve finally arrived in Washington state!

I’m lucky to have visited Veggie Grill in So Cal on visits home, and have long envied friends who text me with: “Guess who’s going to lunch at Veggie Grill today? THIS GUY!” ever since. I vividly remember the first time I went before heading to LAX to head back to Seattle. I grabbed the All Hail Kale salad with added Blackened Chick’n and the chocolate chip walnut cookie for my flight dinner home, and I reveled in every bite of both on the plane while nearby passengers looked on jealously (or so I imagined).

It seems like many months have passed since news first broke that the chain would be moving further north after landing in Portland, and I knew that I’d have to visit opening day. So the bf and I walked down to South Lake Union Wednesday night to check out the digs and 100% plant-based eats.

First off,  location. I walk through South Lake Union constantly but rarely stop to hang there. Due to Amazon taking over the ‘hood with their campus, there’s a lot of cool new options available and this definitely makes the area bustling and perfect for an outfit like Veggie Grill.

When we stepped inside, what I was blown away by was how much larger this location seemed than those I’d been to in CA. It also had a variety of seating available: a few bar seats to watch the food orders come up, private two person tables, booth + chair tables for groups and one long row table situated near the window – perfect for a group outing. I loved this and the options it opens for gatherings and meetings. Bright, modern and oh so clean, this location was definitely visually appealing.

Veggie Grill offers beer and wine options (yay!), as well as iced teas, juices and other beverages. They’ve also got some killer dessert options, which I’ll get to later.

Most assuredly due to the fact that this was opening day, our food came out in mere minutes.  In addition to the service being lightning fast, we were approached by no less than four employees (including the general manager) asking if we’d heard of VG before, if we had questions, and how we’d heard of them. I personally appreciated this, and thought it would be especially helpful for noobs and non-vegans. Every individual we interacted with was incredibly sweet and helpful, so kudos Veggie Grill on your impeccable hiring process!

Okay, let’s get to the stuff you really want to read about. We tried a few things for some variety (things we hadn’t tried in the past), but our stomachs are only capable of so much. Thankfully, they’ve added a few new items to the menu that caught our eyes.

Sweetheart Fries

I’m surprised that we hadn’t had these in past visits. We’re both huge sweet potato fries fans, and these were good, but not the best we’d ever had. They were nice and crisp and covered in a vegan parmesan cheese-esque topping when they arrived at the table, but the flavor was okay. I would order these again, but I am eager to try some of the other appetizers on future visits.

Buffalo Bomber

This was my main meal choice. Everyone has been begging me to try the buffalo wings but it wasn’t in the cards last night, so I thought this a nice compromise. This sandwich was composed of Veggie Grill’s signature crispy chickin’ (made of soy, wheat and pea proteins), which is eerily similar to the real thing in both texture and taste. Covered in vinegary, spicy buffalo sauce, a smooth and savory ranch dressing and lettuce/tomato/onion, it was a treat. The texture was substantial with a great (I hate this word) mouthfeel, and all of the elements of this burger worked together well. I opted for the main side – red cabbage ‘slaw – and it was a nice cooling option. Red cabbage + onion + carrot all melded well with a vinegary dressing (as opposed to heavy mayo), and it was a nice counterbalance to the heartiness of the sandwich. I respect and stand by my choice.

Crispy Chickin’ Plate

If I picked well, my dude friend hit a home run. This was one of three new homestyle plates and it is very much a hearty meal option: fried chickin’, cauliflower mashed potatoes, porcini mushroom gravy and steamed kale. I had a few bites of all of this and I was blown away by all the flavors at play. It was a very home cooked meal kind of meal, with the vegan chicken fried steak, smooth and flavorful potatoes, and all of it covered in rich mushroom-based gravy and lightened with the addition of kale. I would totally order this myself and plan on doing so.

Chocolate Pudding Parfait

One. Thousand. Times. Yes. What I loved about this dessert is that is sounds unassuming, but your taste buds have no idea what’s about to hit them. A velvety chocolate pudding is topped with a richer chocolate sauce, crushed cookies, walnuts and walnut crema. Just typing this out is making me want another. The walnut crema really stood out to me with its fantastic flavor and its ability to tie this all together. This was especially perfect on a warm summer evening.

Aftermath.

 

Carrot Cake and Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie

Full disclosure: these weren’t items that we purchased, but rather were extra treats offered to us on behalf of Veggie Grill.

Let me be frank: I hate carrot cake, and have since I was about five years old. Usually the carrot/nut combo is too overpowering to be considered a dessert and the frosting has never been quite right with the cake. I’ve tried some since to no avail, but when the manager of the restaurant suggested that we try it, I figured why not? I’m so glad we did. The cake portion of this dessert was decadently rich: screaming of vegan butter and the right amount of sweetness, I could’ve eaten this dessert without the frosting. Carrot flavor was present but melded well with actual cake, and when combined with the smooth cream cheese frosting, forget it. Sold. I’m now a carrot cake lover.

I’m really impressed by our ability to have picked all winners this evening. Usually there’s one dud in the bunch, but not so. I highly recommend all of the aforementioned items. Though Veggie Grill is part of a chain restaurant it is an all-vegan one that boasts non-GMO food, and that’s something I can stand behind. Our first trip was a success and I was pleased with how packed it was on opening day, but I look forward to future lunches and dinners once the dust has settled and every vegan in Seattle has made their way over to check out the new spot, (and tells me about all their dining choices).

Veggie Grill
446 Terry Ave. North
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
206.623.0336

 

Vegan Filipino cooking adventure

Last weekend, I got together with two friends, Helen and Madeline – both Seattleites, food bloggers (Helen is vegan, and Madeline is a vegan sympathizer), and alumni of the graduate school program that I’ll be starting next month – the Master of Communication in Digital Media program at the University of Washington.

One day, Madeline and Helen were chatting up the possibility of having a dinner party where they made vegan-friendly Filipino food so that Helen could experience it (and Madeline could veganize some of her traditional dishes) on Twitter. Madeline messaged and thought I might be interested in joining. Of course I was interested!

Growing up, one of my best friends in my hometown was Filipino. Her mom would make big batches of food for parties and just weeknight dinners and would always invite me over. She loved me, because I ate everything on my plate and always exclaimed how wonderful it was. It was definitely not vegan, but the impact of those very distinct flavor combinations and textures never left my memory. Thus, I was excited to take up the challenge of making some of these (veganized) dishes myself for the first time with great company.

We all gathered at Madeline’s lovely home with fresh ingredients, cutting boards, knives and Helen’s addition of authentic San Miguel beer in tow. Madeline was amazing and prepped separate “stations” (so very Rachael Ray of her!) so that we could each prep different dishes at the same time.

I was in charge of making the adobo – veganized by the usage of Portabello mushrooms. It called for whole peppercorns, which excited this diehard spice lover.

Here was the entire menu, written in order that it was prepared:

Sounds amazing, right?

Madeline was in charge of the afritada, Helen the filling for the lumpia, and Helen and I worked together to prep veggies for an Asian cucumber salad. While we each choppped and prepped, we all chatted about the nerdy things that we’re all passionate about: food/eating, Seattle and social media. The more that we hung out, the more I realized how much we all have in common.

Action shot of Helen prepping lumpia filling.

After most of our dishes were done or prepped, Madeline gave us a lumpia-rolling lesson. Having no prior lumpia prep experience, I was intrigued and also a little nervous that I was gonna mess it up. Thankfully, Madeline was an ace teacher, and after a couple lumpia, Helen and I were rollin’ em up like pros. See here:

Madeline was a great and patient as we learned the subtle art behind lumpia-rolling.

And she showed us the proper placement of the filling on the lumpia wrapper. This resonated with me, as it seemed similar to where you place filling on a tortilla when making burritos. Then came the rolling part, which seemed like it could be dicey, but we got the hang of it quickly.

Lumpia pile success.

I fried ‘em up, and I fried ‘em up good.

Madeline shared that the secret to perfecting fried food: adding kosher salt immediately after it comes out of the frier. Brilliant, and from what I could tell, it worked like a charm.

Big ol’ pot of adobo.

 

Our mighty, vegan Filipino spread.

Madeline had prepared a vegan coconut sorbet as our dessert, but it didn’t firm up as expected. With a slight of hand and amazing improv skills, Madeline and her husband whipped up this amazing dessert for us:

Banana and Jackfruit Turon, with coconut sauce as the topping.

Holy moly. I don’t really have many words for this dish, just delicious “mmms,” “ahhs,” and an assortment of other guttural noises of delicious contentment. It was truly that good.

A few days after we left, Madeline realized that a certain traditional flavor was missing from her afritada: fish sauce. Did she see this as an obstacle? No way! Instead she took it as an opportunity to make Helen and I bottles of vegan fish sauce, and brought some to me at work!

I have yet to use it, but I’ve been plotting all the ways I can integrate it into my cooking in my head since I received it. It was such a thoughtful gift and I’m so excited to use it and see the difference it makes in certain dishes.

I bet you’d like links to the recipes we used for prepping this vegan Filipino meal, huh? Head over to Helen’s post where she has all the tasty links.

It was an awesomely fun and delicious evening with some amazingly inspiring ladies. I can’t wait for our next veganized dinner party/cooking evening, where I’ll be showing the ladies how to cook a specialty from my Mexican heritage that I haven’t prepped in some time: veganized tamales. I’m already pumped.

 

 

 

 

 

From The City of Destiny back to The Emerald City

Life hasn’t slowed down for me lately, but in reality I wouldn’t have it any other way. Lots of life changes have been happening for me, and all of them seemed to have been pulling me in the same direction. Let me back up a bit, like a year ago.

Admit it Tacoma, you’re beautiful.

I started this blog last March in Tacoma primarily so it could be used as a resource for other South Sound vegans and vegetarians. I felt that the area needed more representation and coverage in terms of vegan events, people, restaurants and more. And I think that I accomplished that goal. Covering bake sales, new restaurant openings, vegan-related events and must-eat items was great, and it was amazing to meet so many other vegans. Every time it happened, I exclaimed “where have you all been hiding?” I ate some incredibly delicious meals there, (all of which I want to compile in a list…one day). And I loved it all.

Perennial fave and vegan-friendly Tacoma bakery, Corina.

I still do, and am going to continue doing what I love. But I’m going to be doing it in another city.

At the beginning of July, the partner, our two cats and I packed our stuff and moved to a much tinier place in Seattle. With both work and school here, it made infinitely more sense for us to relocate rather than have me commuting home on some late nights, and miss out on some networking and other relevant events. It wasn’t an easy decision for us by any means, as we both have strong ties to Tacoma. In the end though, we went with our guts. Change is good, and I think we were both in need of some.

Seattle. Where the streets are paved with Mighty-O Donuts.

I lived in Seattle when I first moved to Washington state back in 2006, and I loved the sense of awe I felt when roaming the streets and acquainting myself with neighborhoods. I also loved the plethora of vegan restaurants and vegan options that are available in this city. And guess what? 5 years later, there is so, so much more. It blows my mind to see how much has changed. I’ve naturally kept tabs peripherally through social media, but dang if I don’t see a vegan option on almost every menu in this city. It’s refreshing and a welcome change from Tacoma, where vegan is just starting to become an option that more restaurants and businesses are starting to seriously consider and take to heart.

And the home of the Georgetown Liquor Co. build-your-own Bloody Mary bar…

Tacoma’s a city where I changed a ton, learned a lot about myself, and is a place that really helped me in terms of getting my writing out into the world – something that I’d been wanting to do for years. My affinity for the city will never go away, and I will always defend it when people try to tear it down. A piece of my heart will always stay there, for sure.

…and so many Ethiopian restaurants with spongy injera! Oh how I missed Ethiopian food.

Though that’s the truth, I’m honestly very excited to be back. I walk to coffee shops, the co-op and restaurants, take the bus as often as humanly possible and am making plans to hang with all of my lovely friends who live here. The kitties have adjusted, and things are grand.

I can’t wait to get out and start reviewing all the things I find, previewing Seattle events and chatting about more general vegan things/topics. I have about three posts lined up for you all, but I’d been holding onto this news for too long. The move also explains my longer-than-normal quiet period. Hope you all understand, and hope you’ll all stick around though Vegan Moxie will now cover Seattle metro vegan-related events.

I realize that I’m fortunate to be in the best company here. Two talented and amazing friends – Anika and Helen – write fantastic vegan blogs here, as well as Molly, Rhean, and many more. We all have very different perspectives and voices, and I’m so happy to be among them. I don’t think a city could ever have enough vegan bloggers.

Thanks for being awesome as always, dear readers.

 

 

Vida Vegan Tech Seminar & Vida Vegan Con 2013

To put my life in terms that others from my generation will understand, things have been coming up Milhouse in a big way for me lately.

More personally (and reflective of real life Dawn), I’ve started a new job that is creative and fun and allows me to write all day.

More professionally but not job-related, I’ve been invited to speak at not one, but two vegan blogging events coming up in the next year that you’ve possibly heard of:

The Vida Vegan Con Fall Tech Seminar in Seattle,

and Vida Vegan Con 2013 in Portland.

How does all of this amazing news makes me feel, you may wonder? Kind of like these super pumped, ridiculously adorable otters.

But really, I’m mostly just honored and so, so grateful.

At both events I’ll be speaking (it’ll be a different talk at each for those attending both!) about a topic that is near and dear to my heart, so much so that I’ll be studying it this fall, and that I sit on a board discussing it with other nerds: social media.

And I’ll be presenting at both with a fellow Seattle-ite, Vida Vegan Con 2011 alumni and Field Roast hot dog-eating friend, Helen of Vegtastic. She’s one of the savviest social media mavens I know, and I’m confident that when we combine our powers, we shall compose two awesome sessions filled with strategic digital media and marketing tips, tricks, and much more.

The Tech Seminar is a one-day event that will focus on all things tech/nitty gritty about blogging: it’ll go more in depth about starting a blog from scratch, which forms of social media to use and how to integrate them, as well as more advanced blog options such as audio/video integration.

The Vida Vegan Con 2013 event will expand upon what the first was: a combination of workshops, panels and social events all celebrating and focusing on vegan blogging and spreading the word about the vegan lifestyle in new/emerging mediums.

VVC friends at the Bye & Bye, looking awesome.

I’ve described Vida Vegan Con to those who couldn’t attend the first as “vegan sleepaway camp,” and I’ve reminisced about it longingly since last August. Sitting at dinners and in talks and social gatherings with hundreds of other people who immediately *get* a big part of your life is an amazing thing to experience, and having the opportunity to learn from these people who all have something to share is even more wonderful. I met so many bloggers I’ve come to admire and came out of the event with a crazy long lists of blogs to read, and many of them are favorites now. More so than that, I’ve got memories and friendships that will last a lifetime, (cheesy, but true).

If you missed the inaugural event and have been kicking yourself since, I suggest you start planning for 2013 now. Whether you’ve been blogging for a while, you’d like to start a blog or you actually don’t have an interest in blogging but would like to meet and collaborate with those who do, I highly recommend the experience. It’s an event that you will gain an inconceivable amount from in just a few precious days. And I’m not just talking pounds from all the amazing PDX food that’s to be consumed.

100 early bird tickets for VVC 2013 go on sale over on the Vida Vegan Con site Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 12 p.m. PST for $200.  After they sell out, the remaining tickets will become available at regular price.

Here are some more pertinent deets:

When: Friday-Sunday, May 24-26, 2013

Where: Portland Art Museum, 1219 Southwest Park Avenue,  Portland, OR 97205

I can’t wait to see everyone who attended the 2011 event again, to meet a whole bunch of new folks next May, and to continue eating my way through one of my favorite vegan-loving cities in the country.

So, will I see you at the next Vegan Lovefest?

 

 

Tacoma Food Co-op: bruised but not broken

Hi guys! Remember me? Life has been kind of crazy from March on and I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to. The past three weeks went into nutso overdrive and thus blogging has taken a back seat to other life happenings. Good changes have been afoot, though, and things are slowing down. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things here soon.

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In case you haven’t heard the news by now, on May 31, a car drove into the Tacoma Food Co-op. Four customers were injured and taken to the hospital, in addition to employees getting knocked around. The car drove straight through the building’s glass doors and knocked into both checkout lanes/cash registers. The driver had passed out, and we’re still not sure why yet.

Thankfully, all of the individuals were released from the hospital the same night with only bumps and bruising.

I found out about the accident through Facebook, when a friend posted a photo. I immediately emailed a fellow board member, talked with her as she was arriving, then decided I needed to head over, too.

Interior after the accident. You can see that both registers/lanes were knocked from their original locations by the car.

When I arrived, many members from the community were there in solidarity/support. Some were taking photos/video, KIRO, KOMO and KING5 were on the scene with video cameras. Many more came by to ask if we needed help with anything. I must’ve been stoned faced when I walked on the scene, as I’d been in the store just about an hour before this happened. Though shocked and rattled, many of us got to work immediately to get the co-op cleaned up and to prep covers for the windows/doors that were knocked out.

So much glass.

As the co-op hasn’t even been open a year yet and is still very much in “startup mode,” this was a bit of a blow. Though we’ve been doing well financially thus far, any setback in the first year is rough. Thankfully, the co-op’s board, general manager Henri and employees are a strong-willed, determined bunch, and rather than worry about what was going to happen the next day, we all kept reminding each other that things could’ve been worse – a lot worse. We were all just happy that everyone came out of it okay.

I stayed for a few hours and some of the people who helped put the temporary plywood door up were at the co-op ’til 1 a.m. the next day.  A group of local bicyclists were out in front of the Red Hot nearby on the evening of the accident attending the last event of Bike Month. Henri mentioned many times that had bike folk from the Red Hot not yelled out “car, car!” he would not have known that there was a car approaching at 35 mph that wasn’t going to stop.

Co-ops are by definition voluntary organization composed of a group of people and formed for their mutual benefit. The co-op provides many in the community with healthy food and products. Though we’ve been around for only a short while, I’m amazed at how many loyal customers, members and fans have come about as a result of the store existing.

Our co-op’s bruised, but it’s far from being broken. Due in part to the amazing, sheer support, concern and help from the community, we’ve proven that it would take a lot more than this to take us down. This is one of the many reasons why I’m so thankful to be a part of this organization.

Functioning register success.

If you haven’t been to the store since the accident, know that we were up and running the next day at 8 a.m. Both registers are functioning, our plywood door will soon be replaced with an actual one, and all of your favorite items are still available. Employees and Henri appreciate all the concern, but more than anything they (and the board) appreciate your support.