+Pacific Northwest

It is incredible to think that Mikey and I have been married for 3 years already. Time with him seems to fly by, but when I look back on all the things we have done, places we have traveled to, friends we have made and animals we have shared our homes with, it makes me realize how jam-packed with good things our life has been. I am so happy to be able to do it all with him.
vegan wedding austin texas anniversary
Mikey and I always take a trip to celebrate our anniversary; year one was to Japan and last year was a visit to Marfa, TX. This year we decided to celebrate our anniversary in Vancouver, BC, which was rather convenient when two of our pals, Gene and Liz decided to tie the knot in Oregon around the same time (August is the coolest month to get married, obviously.) Instead of a quick trip, we decided to take our time in the Pacific Northwest and make a road trip through Portland, OR, Sisters/Bend, OR, North Bend, WA, Seattle, WA and Vancouver. The Northwest is my absolute favorite part of the United States and I was thrilled to be able to share it with my guy.
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
Our first stop was Portland, OR, which I think is my new favorite city in  America. I love the tall trees, fresh smells and good coffee. We have quite a few friends that live in PDX, and our pal and tour guide extraordinaire, Ana gave us a taste of all the best Portland has to offer. 
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
We explored the city on foot in the morning, running down to Laurelhurst Park followed by a fantastic cup of coffee at Heart. After that, we had a giant brunch in Alberta and walked it off in the rose gardens and Cathedral Park. After a stop by Powell's Books and a little farmers market, we met all of our PDX pals for a great Cuban dinner. It was just about the most perfect day imaginable.
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada  berries farmers market
From Portland, we headed out to Sisters, OR, which is in the Deschutes National Forest, for our friends' wedding. The scenery was stunning and the weather was perfect. During the warm days, the air smelled like pine needles and berries and at night, the breeze was chilly and there was always a faint hint of campfire smoke. The trees seemed to scrape the clouds and the rivers and lakes were crystal clear and cold.
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
 Look!  I found a real Mirror Pond in Deschutes!
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
It was so nice to wake up in the mountains and hop into the lake for a quick morning swim or go for a run through the trees. I could have stayed there forever.
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
The wedding was absolutely stunning and we were so happy to see these two incredible people start their lives together.
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada wedding
After the wedding, Mikey and I drove to North Bend, WA, where we camped with two of our favorite human beings, Marianna and Brian and one of my favorite canines, Zoe (who is Isabella's sister and my second dog-hter.) We stayed in a super cozy safari tent right on the banks of the Snoqualmie River. We grilled veggies that we picked up at a little roadside stand, made friendship bracelets (what?) and drank good wine by a campfire.
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
 And if you think that waterfall looks familiar, that's because Twin Peaks was filmed in North Bend (along with Northern Exposure in the next town over). I ran around North Bend like a fangirl, finding as many spots from the show as I could.
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
And OF COURSE we stopped at the RR Diner (now called Tweeds) for a damn fine cup of coffee and a piece of cherry pie.
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
After Mikey pried me and Marianna out of a hug long enough to get me in the car, we drove to our next stop, Canada! It's kind of silly that I have lived in the US most of my life and never visited Canada. I don't know what I was expecting exactly (moose, maple syrup, heavy breakfasts and flannel) but we were shocked to find an incredibly diverse and vibrant culture in Vancouver! 
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
We had some of the best food of the trip in Vancouver. The PNW is teeming with good coffee, but I had one of the best cups in Vancouver, made with a 49th Parallel roast.
With Vancouver's huge Eastern population, we naturally had some incredible Asian food while we were there. We had crazy cheap and crazy delicious sushi and the best bowl of Thai curry noodles that I have ever had period. Even the noodles I had IN THAILAND were not as good as these noodles. We also did a bit of urban exploring through Stanley Park and the surrounding wooded areas in the city, hiking up to the top of Cleveland Dam and through the restaurants, shops and boutiques along Vancouver Harbor. 
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
After a great few days in Canada, we had to head back home, but not before a quick stop in Seattle for lunch (and more hugs from Marianna) before we hopped back down to Portland to catch our flight.
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
vegan road trip and camping throgh portland sisters north bend oregon seattle washington vancouver british colunmia canada
This anniversary trip left me feeling all bubbly and warm, like I had just spent time at home, surrounded by people I love. In fact, I think Mikey and I might know more people in the PNW than we do in Dallas! It was an incredible trip and one that was very hard to return home from. 
Who knows? Maybe one day we will be able to spend some more "permanent" time up there.

If you can handle more vacation pictures, you can see them all on my Flickr page.

+Laika Magazine

I am thrilled and so incredibly honored to be featured in the current edition of Laika Magazine!  If you aren't familiar with Laika (drop what you are doing and get familiar) it is a gorgeously designed national vegan lifestyle quarterly magazine.  It is one of my favorite reads and I am over-the-moon to be included in this issue.  


Photo: Laika Magazine

I originally was asked to be a part of the issue as a vegan, animal rights advocate who works in companion animal welfare, but as soon as they caught wind of my sweet, little Benjamin's story, the article began to focus on his incredible journey.  Sylvia Elzafon snapped the beautiful photos (which was a privilege in and of itself) and I am so happy to have these photos with my youngest little boy.

Photo: Sylvia Elzafon

Photo: Sylvia Elzafon

Photo: Sylvia Elzafon


Photo: Sylvia Elzafon

It is so incredible to think that only one year ago, Benjamin was in the middle of one of the most traumatic, abusive and cruel situations imaginable and now he is a little star online and in-print.

If you can't find Laika on newsstands in your area, hop over to their website and you can download a digital copy or have one conveniently delivered to your door . 


+2014 Texas Veggie Fair

Whether you live in Texas or not, you may already be quite familiar with the Texas Veggie Fair.  This annual festival is a celebration of all things vegan and is held in Dallas, Texas.  In its fourth year, TVF is set to be the best and biggest yet and I can't wait for fair day to get here!

After watching all the vegan fun from afar for the last few years, I am so, so excited to have the opportunity to be involved as a TVF team member! This year, I will be working as the Product Vendors and Exhibitors Coordinator.  So, if you or anyone you know would like to join in with awesome past TVF vendors like NadaMoo!, Upton's Naturals, Mercy for Animals, Petit Vour, Vitamix, Herbivore Clothing and more send them on over to the TVF Partners Page.

Now through March 1st, TVF is offering an Early Bird Special that offers vendors a chance to get involved with a 20% savings!
I am so thrilled with how the planning is coming along so far, so keep an eye out for more information throughout the year and I hope to see you all there on October 19th!

+New England

A few weeks ago, I took a trip to Rhode Island to visit my Dad.  It was the first time I had been back up to the East Coast in a very long time, and I was thrilled to be able to spend about a week surrounded by water and hanging out with my Dad.
Rhode Island Lighthouse
My Dad lives in and was born in Newport, RI.  I visited his hometown when I was little, but I don't remember very much from that trip. It was so neat to be able to explore this historic town with him and see the houses he lived in when he was small, the school he attended and the spots where he and his friends caused trouble as teenagers.  It seems like very little has changed in Newport since those times (although I am sure my Dad and anyone else who has lived there a long time would beg to differ) and the beautiful old houses, stone streets and reconstructed ships and shipyards make it feel like another time- which is something I miss very much about living in that part of the country.  And speaking of beautiful old houses....

The Breakers, Rhode Island
Check out where my Dad lives.  Just kidding.  We visited some of the gigantic and lavish old mansions in Newport, like this one called The Breakers. I also got to spend some time walking along the beach, collecting seashells for my niece- something I do at every beach I visit. 

Seashells in Rhode Island
Even though the weather was pretty cold and windy, we decided to do a little ocean kayaking, which was really fun...and cold.  

We hopped around Rhode Island most of the week, driving through beautiful country filled will Fall colors and searching for awesome vegan food in Providence (oh, Wildflour and your delicious vegan mushroom pizza!)  We also had a day to spend in Boston, which I somehow had managed to never visit before.  I fell in love. 

Boston in Fall
I had an incredible time in Boston.  We had fantastic food at Veggie Galaxy, walked around the city and parks, explored some farmer's markets and met some of the friendliest squirrels in all of America. 

Lettuce at a farmers market in Boston
Leaving Boston after only one day was so hard and I had already started to plan my trip back before my plane left the runway.

Mugshot in Rhode Island with Williamsburg, Virginia
I had such a good time visiting my Dad.  The weather was perfect and it was so nice to go back to the part of the country where (dare I say it?) I feel most at home.  Don't worry, Texas.  I still love you the most (because New England couldn't make a taco if its life depended on it) but the rocky, cold beaches, narrow, stone streets and old wooden houses of New England are such a wonderful contrast to your open skies and endless land.  I'll see more of you soon, New England-after the winter, of course.

Your can see all of my pictures from my trip to New England here.

+ Thanksgiving Dinner for Dogs

Here's a festive Thanksgiving treat for your pups, originally created for Peaceful Dumpling
Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner for Dogs
Tis’ the season for family, friends, celebration and food:  Lots and lots of food.  While the holidays are a time for sharing and giving thanks, they can also be a time of danger for our four-legged friends and family members.  Many traditional holiday spices and ingredients can be harmful to dogs and sharing our meals with them can result in upset tummies or worse.  Give your pup a safe and delicious meal of his own this year with this easy Thanksgiving dinner made right in your slow cooker!

This recipe can be made the night before your holiday meal and can be served at room temperature or chilled.  The leftovers will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.  

Slow-Cooker Thanksgiving Dinner for Dogs


(Use more or less of each of the ingredients, depending on the size of your fur-babies.  These measurements are not exact, so feel free to play around with the proportions.  This feeds 3 medium sized dogs, with some left over for the next day-because that’s always the best part!)

3 cups of lentils (any type)
2 cups of brown rice
2 cups raw yams, sweet potato or pumpkin, roughly chopped
1 inch nub of fresh ginger
2 cups raw white potatoes, roughly chopped (be sure there is no green on them)
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 whole carrots, roughly chopped
½ cup chopped, fresh parsley
Optional ingredients: Beets, spinach or green beans

Give the brown rice and lentils a quick rinse and remove any small stones that might be in the lentils.  Add to the slow cooker bowl.  

Using your blender, blend the remaining ingredients with water until they are in very small pieces, but not completely smooth (think very chunky applesauce.)  This will take multiple batches, adding the chopped veggies to the slow cooker after each batch.  Chopping the veggies this small will help your dog digest them more easily.  If you don’t have a blender, just chop everything as small as you can with a knife and add more water at the end.  

Once the veggies, lentils and rice are added to the slow cooker bowl, add enough water so that it rises about half an inch above the ingredients.  Remember, the rice will absorb moisture as it cooks.  For a soupier texture, add more water.

Give everything a stir, cover and cook on low overnight or on high for 4 hours if preparing the same day as serving.  Cool and serve.  

This dish can be served all on its own or mixed in with your pup’s favorite kibble.  Add a little nutritional yeast and/or some non-dairy, unsweetened yogurt on top for an extra special treat

+ Best of Vegan Dallas Contest

Dallas Vegan Best of Vegan Dallas Contest 2013

Before I moved to Dallas, I assumed that there was little in the way of vegan fare here (except for Spiral Diner, of course) but I have been and continue to be pleasantly surprised by how vegan friendly Dallas is.  Not only are there great restaurants that are completely vegan or veg-friendly, there is also an incredibly passionate group of activists here.  One of the biggest vegan voices in Dallas is Dallas Vegan, which holds monthly Vegan Drinks get-togethers, a yearly Texas Veggie Fair and serves as a great resource for vegans in the DFW metroplex.  I am very honored to get to work with such a great team on the DV website and right now, we are doing something new for Dallas: A vegan "Best Of" list. 

The first ever Dallas Vegan Best of Vegan Dallas contest is open until December 2nd and it is a great way to give your favorite veg-friendly spots a big ole pat on the back.  If you haven't had an opportunity to visit all of the nominated businesses, START EATING RIGHT NOW.  Winners will be announced on December 9th! 

+recipe: Slow Cooker Chick-un Pot Pie

It is going to be COLD in Texas this weekend, so cuddle up and get warm with a big bowl of this chick-un pot pie, a recipe I originally created for Peaceful Dumpling
Vegan slow cooker chicken pot pie
The weather is getting chilly and the days are getting shorter.  There is only one thing to do when the cold weather season is upon us–stay in bed and hibernate (if it’s good enough for the bears, it’s good enough for me.)  But what happens when you want to have a cozy, hot, home-cooked meal without spending too much time out from underneath your favorite blanket?  Slow cookers happen, and this hearty, comforting recipe takes a cold-weather classic and customizes it to be vegan, with ease and with your toes under the covers. 
This recipe uses Beyond Meat vegan grilled chicken, but this can easily be substituted with your favorite vegan chicken brand, seitan, tempeh or firm tofu.  Tip if using tofu:  freeze, thaw and drain your tofu before cooking for an extra firm, chewy texture.

Vegan Slow Cooker Chick-un Pot Pie


(For the filling)

3 tbs olive oil, refined coconut oil or canola oil
½ tsp liquid smoke
2 tbs poultry seasoning (don’t let the “poultry” part scare you, it’s just a combination of spices that is great for everyday cooking)
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, chopped
4 celery stems, chopped
1 package of vegan chicken (I used Beyond Meat grilled)
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1 cup plain soy milk or other non-dairy milk
1 bunch of fresh chopped parsley
4 medium sized red potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes
1 vegan bouillon cube
1 cup white wine
4 cups unsalted vegetable stock (one box)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup of frozen peas
Salt and fresh black pepper to taste

(For the biscuits) 

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk or other non-dairy milk
1/3 cup olive oil, refined coconut oil or canola oil (if using coconut oil, be sure to melt it first)
Vegan slow cooker chicken pot pie
Begin by lightly coating your slow cooker bowl with 1 tbs of oil and set aside.  Cut the vegan chicken into smaller pieces, in any shape or size you desire.  Using the Beyond Meat brand, I like to cut it into thin, 1 inch pieces so that it tears apart after being cooked.  Sauté with 1 tbs of oil and the liquid smoke until brown and set aside.  
In the same pan you cooked the vegan chicken in, sauté the onion, carrots and celery in 1 tbs of oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Once the mixture is slightly cooked and the onions begin to appear translucent, add the flour and nutritional yeast and sauté for another minute or so, until the mixture becomes thick.  Add the vegetable mixture and vegan chicken to the slow cooker bowl.
Add to the slow cooker bowl the soy milk, fresh parsley, potatoes, bouillon cube (just throw it on in there), wine and vegetable stock.  Give it a quick stir and then add another 1 tbs of poultry seasoning, ¼ tsp of fresh black pepper and 1 tsp of salt.  If you can’t find unsalted vegetable stock, just omit the extra salt here.  If you would prefer to use soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos, they would be a great alternative and give another depth of flavor to the dish.   Give everything another quick stir and cook on low for 3-4 hours, or until the vegetable are cooked, but still firm.  Then, add the peas.  
Once the vegetables are cooked, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and mix in the soy milk and oil.  If you want to put your fancy pants on, go ahead and add some chopped chives, vegan cheese or roasted garlic to your biscuit mixture at this point for an even more flavorful dish.  Drop small pieces of the biscuit mixture on top of the cooked filling, cover and cook on high for another hour.     
The biscuits will be fluffy and soft from the steam, but if you like a harder crust, just leave the top off of the slow cooker before serving.  If you like a lot of biscuits with your pot pie just double the biscuit recipe. 
This dish can be easily customized for those with gluten or soy allergies or can be made with your favorite veggies.  A favorite of mine in a pot pie is broccoli, so I just add a handful when I add the potatoes.  Mushrooms would also give it a chewy, meaty texture and would be great cooked in with the vegan chicken.  Play around with this recipe and give it a try on a cold, gray day.  Your tummy and your cold toes will thank you.

+Serenity Springs Animal Sanctuary

Serenity Springs Animal Sanctuary in Forestburg, Texas
 A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Serenity Springs Animal Sanctuary in Forestburg, Texas.  Believe it or not, this was my first time visiting a farmed animal sanctuary.  I have always wanted to visit a sanctuary and after spending time at Serenity Springs, I am totally hooked and can't wait until I can visit another.

Serenity Springs is located about an hour Northwest of Dallas in a tiny little town called Forestburg.  It is quite a journey to get out there (and I looked ridiculous driving around on dirt "roads" in my little hatchback.)  The entire operation is run by one, bad-a of a woman, Terry.  She cares for the hundreds of animals in the sanctuary by herself, along with the help of the wonderful volunteers who make the weekly journey out to the sanctuary.  Serenity Springs is home to many animals who were previously abused and neglected, including dogs, cats, sheep, chickens, horses, burros, peacocks, guineas, goats, squirrels and just about any one else in need of rescue, rehabilitation and love.  However, the stars of the show (in my opinion) are the pigs, which there are A LOT of.  I think pigs are just about the cutest thing on the planet and looking at their adorable faces literally makes my stomach hurt, like a ball of cute-induced love is going to make my insides explode.

Serenity Springs Animal Sanctuary in Forestburg, Texas
 While all the pigs out at Serenity Springs are amazing and have wonderful stories, this little girl named Petunia stole my heart.  Tunie, as she is called, was attacked by dogs and had both of her ears torn off, along with a pretty large chunk of the left and right sides of her face.  When she arrived at Serenity Springs, the wounds were open and infected.  When I arrived, Tunie was almost completely healed and was as happy as she could be.  Her physical scars are obvious, but her resilient personality is what I noticed first.  Tunie loves to snuggle and talk and will do just about anything for her favorite treat: peppermints.  She gets so excited about them that she makes a little sucking noise and puckers her lips when she sees them.  SO CUTE.  I could have spent all day with this little lady.

Serenity Springs Animal Sanctuary in Forestburg, Texas
There are so many animals out at Serenity Springs that are happy, healthy and loved and that no longer have to live in fear or suffer abuse. Animal sanctuaries are so incredibly important, not only for the animals who find refuge there, but for the people who visit.  Most people do not get the opportunity to spend time with these amazing animals and never get to know how intelligent, loving, social and connected they are.  The animals that we share our homes with (dogs and cats) are no more intelligent or social than these animals.

Serenity Springs Animal Sanctuary in Forestburg, Texas

But speaking of dogs, I of course found a puppy pal to hang out with all day.  This little lady stayed right by my side the entire day and even followed me into the pig areas.  Seeing her romp and play with the pigs makes the connection even more true.  Why love one and eat the other?

Serenity Springs Animal Sanctuary in Forestburg, Texas
If you ever have an opportunity to visit an animal sanctuary, I ABSOLUTELY recommend that you do it!  If you live in Texas, specifically around the Dallas area, head up to Serenity Springs to help out for the day.  If you love animals but don't love animal poop, consider donating to sanctuaries instead.  There are so many around the country aside from Serenity Springs (which is always in need of financial help) including two of my favorites, Farm Sanctuary and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.  Check out Serenity Springs on their website or Facebook and take the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of rad animals and their rad human guardian, Terry.  You can see all of the pictures from my visit here.


For our 2 year anniversary, Mikey and I took a trip out to Marfa, Texas.  This teeny, tiny West Texas town is smack dab in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert.  The area of the town itself is less than 2 square miles and there's not much around it except for the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park.  With less than 2000 people and only one stoplight, you might think that Marfa would have nothing to offer.  However, this tiny town happens to be one of my most favorite spots on the planet, not only for what it doesn't have, but for all the special things it does.  
Marfa is a hotspot for art, film and music, which is apparent from the moment you arrive.  Galleries, sculptures, graffiti and murals are around every corner.  That, coupled with the noticeable lack of billboard advertisements and corporate chains (a city rule) gives Marfa a calm and comfortable feel.  Marfa has been the setting for many awesome movies, including Giant, one of our favorites.  We were able to find some little landmarks left over form the movie, including the frame to Jett's house and (spoiler alert) the windmill he struck oil with in the film.  We also stopped by the Palace theater where Dean, Taylor, Hudson and the rest of the cast would review the previous day's film each morning.  Marfa is also home to the Marfa Lights, a phenomenon that has puzzled scientists and residents for centuries.  These bouncing balls of light seem to appear out of thin air and mysteriously change shape and color with no explanation.  The have been attributed to everything from distant car headlights to spirits leaving Earth.  If you ask me, its atmospheric, but the other stuff makes for a better story.
Marfa is in the desert, which makes for perfect camping weather; warm days and chilly nights.  The scenery is beautiful, surrounded by mountains on almost all sides and the skies are the biggest and bluest I have ever seen.  Rather than miss all the beauty in some hotel room, Mikey and I decided to camp (air quotes) and headed to El Cosmico for a stay in a  teepee.  El Cosmico is owned by the same folks who own Hotel San Jose in Austin and Hotel Havana in San Antonio, two of our fave Texas spots and this stay was fantastic, just as all our other stays at Bunkhouse hotels have been.
We spent some time lazily eating and drinking our way around Marfa (I was so excited to see so many vegan options around town!) and also headed out to Balmorhea State Park for a swim in San Solomon Springs, a literal oasis in the desert.  Marfa has just about everything:  good people, good art, good weather, good skies, good tacos, good dogs and good public radio, but the biggest thrill of the trip was our evening spent out at the McDonald Observatory.  We went to the Star Party, which I highly recommend every person immediately put on their bucket list.  The night sky is incredibly dark out in West Texas, dark enough to see the Milky Way with the naked eye. At the Star Party, we had the chance to use some pretty fancy high powered telescopes and peeked around the sky at the International Space Station, star clusters, the Andromeda Galaxy and Saturn, including all her rings and her largest moon, Titan.  Seriously.  I saw Saturn's rings with my own eyes, not in a picture.  I definitely cried a little.
Our trip to Marfa was amazing, just as every other trip has been in the past.  I love that little slice of desert heaven so, so much and I can't wait until we can visit again.  You can see all of the photos from our trip here on my Flickr page.


A few weeks ago (six to be exact) I introduced you to Dasol, our blind, Korean foster pup who had been severely abused and burned while living in Korea.  We have spent the last month and a half living with this little guy, helping him to physically heal and learn how to trust people again.  He has amazed us every step of the way and created himself a special little place in our hearts.  Last night, Mikey and I had a very serious talk, one that I am sure many of you expected.

We have decided to adopt Dasol (now named Benjamin.)

We are absolutely thrilled to have him as a permanent member of our family.  Deciding this has also allowed me to open up a little more to him, since I previously kept a little wall up around my heart knowing one day I would have to hand him over to a new family.  Deciding to adopt him has allowed me to love him without limits and I didn't expect how happy and fulfilled this would make me feel.  I guess he was ours all along and we were just kidding ourselves. 

Here are some cute pictures of Benjamin lately:

Welcome to the family, Benjamin!