Thursday, April 18, 2013


Lets travel waaaay back to . . . January! The month of January I participated in, and helped organize, an event called Fun-a-Day. The premise is that each participant does something creative every day in January. You can do a Poem-a-Day, a Portrait-a-Day, a Recipe-a-Day, the possibilities are endless!

Here's a link to the main organization, if you want to start your own next year! There are Fun-a-Day events in cities across the US. My friend started a website, sent out press releases, and set up the Art Show. The show was in the beginning of February, and about 20 people brought in their 31 pieces of art.

Look at all those people! I thought it was a great success.

My project was an Illustration-a-Day, and I illustrated the novel Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse. I wanted subject matter that would challenge me. I also needed a book that was short and in my collection, since I would have to read it closely to get my ideas for illustrations. Siddhartha is about Buddhism and INDIA, so it was pretty much research for my upcoming trip as well.

Me being me, I did about one illustration every three days, then crammed in some illustrations and chapter titles right before the show to get me up to 31 pieces.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cookies and Beer!

I had an amazing Thanksgiving vacation topped off by an amazingly long travel day! I made up for the stress of sitting in airport for ten hours by making Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles the day after I arrived home. They are so spicy and crunchy. I used really good Indian red pepper that made them extra hot, which is good, because if they were just slightly milder, I would eat them by the fistful.

Look at the sparkly sugar!

And to make my Friday that much better, my brewpack from the Vermont Brewers Association came in the mail!!

I received the brewpack by visiting ALL the Vermont breweries and getting my nifty passport stamped. Check out these glasses, they're definitely my favorites- they even have a little map with stars for all the breweries!

And we got snow this weekend! So far, no scary driving, just enough to feel seasonal. Now it's off on a Christmas Tree expedition a la National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pride and Prejudice Remix

Yet another iteration of one of the great literary classics: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on youtube! Based on Pride and Prejudice, set in modern times, told in video journal style by Lizzie.


Monday, November 19, 2012


A few friends of mine host a "Fauxgiving" every year.  Despite the name, there is no twist, it's just an extra Thanksgiving that you cook and celebrate with your friends.  It definitely gets you in the Thanksgiving mood and, who doesn't love more pie?  It was my first year attending, and I brought several dishes, because, 1) I like it when people compliment my food, 2) It sounded like the menu was pretty starch heavy and I have thousands of CSA veggies, 3) I was a little afraid my vegan-ness would preclude me from the "feast" part of Thanksgiving.  So, I spent 4 hours cooking on a Saturday morning. It felt just like a real Thanksgiving.  I made vegan/gluten free gravy, brussel sprouts, kale and beet salad, and pumpkin chocolate chip mini cupcakes.

The gravy was sadly forgotten, both in the photo and in my leaving the house.  I'll have to make massive amounts of mashed potatoes this week to eat all of it.  So sad.
The brussel sprouts were roasted in some vegan butter and topped with sea salt. Ah-mazing!  The extra browned bits were my favorite, obviously.  I only set off the fire alarm twice!

The mini cupcakes were perfect.  It was the first time I tried this recipe, from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World", because there are so many other recipes in that cookbook that I already love.  But I wanted something Thanksgiving themed, and I had many, many bags of squash in my freezer.  Technically, they were probably butternut squash chocolate chip cupcakes.  They rose a "Mary Poppins" perfect amount. Sometime vegan cupcakes don't rise as well, or fall after baking, but not these.  I topped them with a tiny dollop of cinnamon icing.  They were so light and moist!

Look at those lovely bottles!  One wine is a Rose from one of my favorite Vermont wineries.  I've visited several and there are definite standouts.  Lincoln Peak is one, the others are Shelburne Vineyards and Honora Winery in the south of the state.  I did not try the Rose, I was drinking Gewurztraminer and I left the Rose as a thank you to the hosts. On the far left is a bottle of Hill Farmstead beer, which my better half got from the brewery, along with two growlers and another bottle of beer. He is a devotee of Hill Farmstead and it is available in only a few select restaurants in Burlington.  Now, every time he is in the Northeastern Kingdom, he has to go and get more beer.

The hands down favorite was the kale and beet salad, because, well, it's Vermont. And we love kale. I had a request for the recipe, and since I was already typing it up, I decided to share it! It turns out much brighter than it looks in the photo; the green kale and red beets and pomegranate actually make it a good looking dish for a Christmas season party as well.

Kale and Beet Salad with Quinoa


1 cup quinoa
4 large beets
1 bunch kale
Seeds of 1 pomegranate

Spiced Walnuts
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tbl sugar
2 tbl olive oil

2/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup mustard (yellow or dijon)
1 tsp wasabi paste (or chili paste or horseradish)
2 tbl soy sauce
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper


Boil beets in salted water until tender. Rinse under cold water to rub off skins. Chop into bite size pieces.
Chop or shred kale. Prepare a large bowl with ice water (large enough to submerge all of the kale). Steam kale until bright green all the way through. Transfer kale from steam basket to ice bath with tongs. This is how you keep the kale bright green and tender.
Toast the quinoa in a pan, stirring over high heat until the quinoa is a shade or two darker. It should smell nutty and toasty. Add 2 cups water and boil until the quinoa looks like a white dot with a translucent ring around it. All the water should be absorbed.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Mix the sugar, spices, and oil together until blended. Toss the oil mixture with the chopped walnuts and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes or until the walnuts are toasted and sugar is carmelized.
Heat maple syrup and mustard in a sauce pan and whisk until blended. Add all other ingredients, except lemon juice and simmer until reduced about 1/3.
Let all components come to room temperature. Toss together kale, beets, quinoa, and lemon juice. Mix in the pomegranate seeds and dressing. Before serving, top with walnuts. The salad can be served room temperature or cold.

Friday, November 16, 2012

COTS Speaker Training

I went to a training this morning to become a member of COTS Speaker's Bureau. The training prepares you to give talks and presentations about COTS to school groups and other community members. We spent some time talking about how to prepare for your audience and the two trainers said that they mostly speak to sympathetic groups, but sometimes they are invited to speak to audiences that are less than enthused about COTS' mission.

Oftentimes, COTS uses this as an opportunity to illuminate the faces of family and child homelessness. This is an increasing sector of the homeless population and it pulls at peoples heartstrings to hear about homeless children. I do believe that people should be educated about homelessness and that the stereotype of a homeless person as a drunk, male, bum needs to be broken. However, focusing on families does not necessarily challenge this stereotype.

Now, we have two types: the bum and the innocent child. Families can appear less at fault because the children must be innocent of any mistakes that may have resulted in homelessness and because the adults have the added economic burden of caring for dependents.

What if we look at the "bum"? He is usually characterized as an addict or mentally ill or both. While most of society will admit that addiction and mental illness are diseases, when it comes to homeless or impoverished populations, having a disease does not make them blameless.

I believe this arises from the fact that many people overcome addiction or cope with their mental illness and can function in society. So, we have come to believe that willpower is the cure for addiction and mental illness. It is not. Addiction and mental illness can be treated, not cured.

A person with cancer will earn our sympathy, but a person who has fallen off the sobriety wagon will earn our scorn. Yet, we know that both are diseases. Just as some cancers do not respond treatment, neither do some addictions or mental illnesses respond to treatment.

My boss says the only difference between a homeless person and a housed person is money. And he's right. An alcoholic who has money can afford rehabs, hide his/her addiction, take time off work, or come home drunk. A homeless person cannot enter shelters intoxicated, can be randomly drug tested by employers, and can often end up in jail if they are drunk on the streets. An alcoholic with money may eventually run through all of their funds, but it takes a lot longer and there is a lot of support for this person, not punishments.

There are as many different stories to homelessness as there are homeless people. But just because someone fits the stereotype does not meant that they are a "bum". You probably know someone a lot like them who has a home. They deserve to be treated as individuals and they did not "bring this on themselves". It is a part of a disease and they need treatment.

It's time to stop treating the homeless and impoverished like a subset of our society.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Collection of Photos

I have a few photos from my non-blogging period this fall that I wanted to show off.

First off, the COTS Zumbathon! My awesome coworker is a Zumba instructor and organized a Zumbathon with a bunch of local Zumba teachers! The Daystation, the day shelter where I work, was destroyed by a storm in July of this year. I personally raised $635!!!

A big Thank You to my wonderful family in Cincinnati- aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, and parents! Also thanks to one amazing AmeriCorps and my former AmeriCorps supervisor. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I was afraid there wouldn't be any pictures where I wasn't completely red and confused looking. Fortunately, this one mostly showcases my sweet outfit!

I want to do a whole post on the wedding I went to at the beginning of November, but here is a quick photo to hold you over until then. I'm still waiting for the rest of the photos, but I promise a pic soon.

Here are some preliminary graphics I'm working on for another COTS fundraiser! It's a music compilation CD. More to come if they decide to use my designs.

Look at this beautiful cantalope! I hope you're jealous Claire. This was from my summer CSA. I am now onto my winter CSA, and all its beets.

I'll close with this photo of a sunset over Lake Champlain. Which happens at 4:30 these days . . .

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Just a little video for your entertainment! This is George Carlin on homelessness. George Carlin is hilarious, but very much NOT WORKSAFE. (He curses a lot.) I have now appropriated the term "elitist" for all things I think rich white people do that are stupid. I use it almost everyday. Interestingly, George narrated Thomas the Tank Engine, so if this ruins your childhood memories, I'm sorry.