Goings On in Pictures (and some words)

I watched this squirrel for an hour one Saturday. Yes, an hour. Squirrels here (compared to Atlanta) seem chubbier. At least this guy (gal?) did. He ran around the back porch and ate the seeds out of these “helicopter” leaves  (who knew they were even edible?).

Goings On | Luminous Vegans

After not knowing what else to put in the recessed window above our kitchen sink, I finally decided on just a few of my precioussess. Like my tea collection, cashews and Vitamix. Along with some mugs, random appliances, kitchen towels and napkins. I might add a plant to this mess some day. But only a plant that requires zero maintenance. Does such a plant exist?

Goings On | Luminous Vegans

The cooking goings on have been mostly throw together or tried-and-true meals. Like the Italian “sausages” from PPK

Goings On |Luminous Vegans

that I used in this hearty, throw-together carrot, cabbage and sausage soup.

Goings On |Luminous Vegans

I also made these cranberry muffins, from PPK too. I made a few alterations based on what we had on hand. Which means I used dried cranberries reconstituted with water instead of fresh cranberries, almond milk instead of OJ, 1/4 cup of applesauce + 1/4 cup of canola oil instead of all canola oil and I added 1 tsp of lemon juice. It came out perfectly and was delicious with homemade vegan butter.

Goings On |Luminous Vegans

I am also cooking and eating my way through ALL the foods in these two new cookbooks I got! I shall have a proper review of each sometime in the future.

Goings On | Luminous Vegans

I switched from a broken iphone to an android for a new carrier that uses wifi hybrid calling. I did the maths and we’ll be saving about $700 during the first year. After that, we’ll be saving over a grand each year. Take that Verizon! If you research it and wanna try it, I have a linky for $19 off for you and me. I’m not affiliated with them. I just like the company’s mission. Plus I’m cheap.

Goings On |Luminous Vegans

We decided not to exchange gifts with each other for the holidays this year. Instead we got new beds for the pups and they finally arrived. They deserve it. These beds are BIG, durable and super cushiony for their bony bodies.

Goings On |Luminous Vegans

The too-small-gettin’-really-flat beds are now the guest beds in our offices. (PS that’s a black sock on Miles’ back foot because he refuses to walk around the house without a sock. Not really. He runs a lot super fast and gets boo-boos on his feet that have to get covered with a bandage and then a sock. No sock = a foot licked raw and/or random tiny blood spots on the floor)

Goings On |Luminous Vegans

My current library reads include The Voyage of the Turtle by Carl Safina. It’s an intriguing look into the life of Leatherback turtles. I’m almost halfway through and it makes me go from being angry that I’m human to utterly amazed at these giant “dinosaurs”. It makes me want to visit the Turtle Hospital in Florida again.

And I just started Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar. I’m a woman, I like domestic things like knitting and baking and I’m also a feminist. Is this conflicty or not? I hope this book has some good discussion on the topic.

Goings On |Luminous Vegans

Neal made this desk (using this tutorial) for my office. I love it because it’s simple, small and hand-made.

Goings On |Luminous Vegans

So far I have filled my office with toys and yarn. And some photography things. I suppose I should get more grown up office-y stuff.

Goings On |Luminous Vegans

Nah.

Knit So Fast: Vegan Knitting to Soothe the Mind

I moved across the country a month ago. Moving can be hard. Hard on the body. Hard on the soul. While I love exploring what this beautiful new city has to offer, I’ve been having trouble finding a routine. And I enjoy need routine in my life like Tom Cruise needs Scientology.

It’s the little things that I’ve been working on figuring out. Like finding “our grocery store” or learning where to get the best food photos in the house (this is a real thing). And just learning how to navigate a city that is now my home.

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

To help my jumbled mind at the end of each non-routiney day, I’ve been knitting. I’ve been a knitter for a while, but never as devoted as I have been lately.  There’s something comforting and cathartic about winding and looping yarn around two sticks over and over. It forces me to slow down and be in the present moment.

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

My project of choice lately are these knitted cloths made of 100% cotton yarn (that’s what makes this vegan knitting since wool comes from an animal). They are quick, easy and durable. Just throw them in the washer and dryer. They are also very versatile. Use it as a dish rag. Or a coaster.

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

We use them as reusable napkins and wash cloths in the shower. Not at the same time though. Unless I’m eating in the shower. Just kidding. I still use a separate rag for washing my body when I eat in the shower.

I don’t really care if stuff in my house is matchy-matchy so the more colorful and mix-matched these are, the better! Which is good because I have a very random collection of cotton yarn in my yarn stash. My favorite pattern right now (the one shown under the coffee mug) is from Neal’s mom’s mom.

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

This is a great project to learn how to knit on because of how simple it is. There’s only a few techniques to know and they are all very easy. Plus, if you mess up it’s not a big deal. Not like a one-sleeve-is-longer-than-the-other kinda deal for sweaters and such.

Old Fashion Dish Cloths

makes a cloth that is about 8 x 8 inches pre-wash (they shrink a teensy bit after washing)

Tools:

  • size 9 knitting needles (Not that important.  Smaller needles will make a smaller rag and larger needles will make a larger rag.)
  • 1 ball of cotton yarn which will make 2 rags (I use either Lily Sugar ‘N Cream or Peaches And Creme yarn which can usually be found at big craft stores like Michael’s.)
  • yarn/tapestry needle to weave in ends

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

Pattern:

Links to video techniques included.

  1. Cast on 4 stitches (I use the long-tail cast on method, but the single cast on method is good for beginners).
  2. Knit two rows.
  3. Knit the first 2 stitches, yarn over, knit the rest of the stitches on the needle.
  4. Repeat step 3 until there are 42 total stitches.
  5. Knit the first stitch, knit the next two stitches together, yarn over, knit the next two stitches together, knit the rest of the stitches on the needle.
  6. Repeat step 5 until there are only 4 stitches left on the needle.
  7. Bind off and weave in ends.

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

Are you a knitter? How do you unwind from the day?

Lessons Learned from Traveling Across the Country

We recently moved from Atlanta, GA to Eugene, OR. These are a few lessons I learned from traveling vegan-style with two greyhounds in a Buick for nearly 3500 miles.

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1. Pet friendly hotels are not hard to find. Our daily driving schedule was not rigid, so we ended up in random cities for the night. But we were always able to find a room in the following pet-friendly hotels  (in order of niceness): La Quinta, Best Western and Motel 6.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

I think the only one that charged an extra pet fee (which was pretty low) was Best Western but it does vary by location. A helpful pet friendly site that we used was bringfido.com.

This guy was always the last to get up.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

2. Although I am in awe of the dark, almost black rocky sand and huge rocky shores of northwest coast beaches, it is intense and scary if you’ve never seen a beach before (like Miles).

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

We drove along Highway 101 towards the end of our trip and had to pull over frequently to enjoy these scenic beaches.  They made me wanna yell…’Heeeey, yooouuu guuuyss!’ because Goonies.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

3. It’s nice to have generous and kind friends who will give you a place to stay along the way (even when they think you’re part of some vegan army stuff).

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

We enjoyed the momentary break from hotels and the pups enjoyed running and meeting new friends.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

4. Despite how soy-cheesy it may be, stop at the tourist areas. They’re tourist areas for a reason.

Outside the Trees of Mystery, Nikko and Paul Bunyan.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

An elk at one of the elk viewing areas about two hours outside of Eugene.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

5. When driving west, the end of the day becomes a perpetual chase of the sunset.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

In Joshua Tree National Park.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

6. Traveling across the country by car with two greyhounds, it IS entirely possible to eat well vegan-style even when we didn’t research restaurants before hand (because ain’t nobody got time for dat).

Most mornings we grabbed as much fruit as possible from the continental breakfasts (served at many of the places we stayed). I also had oatmeal and tea that I packed which just required hot water from the coffee maker.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

And while we certainly ate our fair share of Subway sandwiches, we managed to throw in some unique all vegan or vegan-friendly places along the way as well. Thank goodness for cell phones and Happy Cow! A few eats…

Chopped BBQ sandwich with grilled seitan and an El Paso Burger with chipotle vegan mayo and guacomole from Spiral Diner in Dallas, TX.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

A Mediterranean picnic in the park from International Delights in Las Cruces, NM. The server knew what “vegan” meant and happily accommodated us.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

The “Vegan Caper” bagel with an amazing tofu spread, capers, red onions and a sweet sauce from Los Bagels in Eureka, CA. They had seats outside so we brought the pups.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

Wonton Soup from Noble Veg in Sacremento, CA. I grabbed a menu while Neal stayed with the pups in the car. We decided what to get. Neal went to order and the kind people at Noble Veg brought the food out to the car. In retrospect, eating hot soup on my lap probably wasn’t the best car food. But I was really craving soup.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

A vegan barbecue “Chicken” pizza from Tomato Joe’s Pizza in Valencia, CA. This was dinner and breakfast the next morning.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

I think had this road trip been taken more than ten years ago, it would have been much more difficult to find places to eat good vegan food without meticulous planning ahead of time. But nowadays, its like my phone and the internet gives me super vegan powers. Or at least the ability to find vegan food easily…..unless of course we’re talking about Pecos, TX….now that’s a different story….

Have a Happy New Year!

How to Prepare for a DIY Cross-Country Move

3500 miles of changing weather and landscapes, too many dog farts to count, and far too much packing and unpacking shenanigans later…we made it! We traded sunny Atlanta for the damp lushness of Eugene, Oregon. As I type this, I am looking at moss-covered trees blanketed in fog. And I kinda like it. A lot.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

Getting here was not easy. It’s not the norm that people just up and move to a place across the country on what *seems* like a whim. Up until this point, I let my job dictate where I live. This time I decided to choose where I live. Because as the youngins say YOLO*!

Seriously though, this kind of untraditional way of moving is super scary. But isn’t anything that’s not the norm scary? Ultimately, this is not a tutorial. Everybody is different and has different needs and financial situations. In this post, I’m gonna share with you some things we did along the way to help us “pull off” a DIY move across the country. Keep in mind that some of these steps are over a very looooong period of time.

How We Prepared for a Cross-Country Move

1. We saved money. This has given me peace of mind and I know that it will act as a security blanket if we need it.

2. Made sure we had dat cash-money flow from a geographically independent source. Think freelancing (Neal) and telecommuting (me). This required Neal to work nearly up to the day we started packing our stuff.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

3. Spent time researching cities to live (helpful sites that we used here and here). Narrowed it down and took a trip out to scope places to live. We got extremely lucky and found a house to rent on our trip out. I think this is partly due to the fact that our move was during an atypical time to move (winter!). Could we have gotten a place to live without traveling out here? Probably. But I felt better having seen the hood and the actual inside of the house.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

4. Set a moving date. We had already built a good rapport with our Atlanta rental company. As such, we were able to break our lease without too much cray-cray.

5. Rented relocubes to pack our stuff and have it transported. This was the cheapest moving option we found. They pick up the packed cubes when you call them and deliver them to your new location. They’ll even send out an extra cube if you ask in case your stuff spilleth over and they won’t charge ya if you don’t use it.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

6. Packed and purged. This one is self-explanatory eh?

We got large cardboard boxes from a retail store for free (craigslist and me are BFFs). These were great because they were all uniform sizes which made packing the cube easier! Grocery stores are also a great source of free boxes, you just have to ask. We got smaller sized boxes from the Atlanta co-op to fill in small spaces in our packing cube.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

The kitchen was the hardest to pack. Yet it was also one of the last rooms to get packed because food. Nearly every non-refrigerated good was brought with us.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

I learned to adapt to the constant transitory state of our house during the days leading up to packing the relocubes. Things got ugly for a few days.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

We had to be okay with sleeping on the floor for a night as well.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

We packed our cubes in ONE day. Had I a chance to do it over again, I would have given ourselves at least two days. It’s challenging and time-consuming to fill in those cubes because we wanted to occupy every inch. This involves some serious tetris skills.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

7. Did our walk-through with our Atlanta place and then hit the road (road post forthcoming)!

After living in Atlanta for so long, we had established some wonderful friendships and had family nearby. So somewhere between #4 and #7 we made sure to find time to say goodbye. The ease of our move was certainly not possible without the extreme generosity and continued support of friends and family.

I don’t think I could have asked for a better moving experience. But if had to do it all over again,  I would trade places with this guy in a heartbeat…

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

Happy Holidays!

 

*YOLO = You Only Live Once

TruVeg International Vegan Cuisine in Eugene, Oregon

I love that feeling I get when I happenstance on something wonderful when or where I least expect it. Like that time I found a crisp twenty-dollar bill in the back pocket of some jeans before I did the wash.

TruVeg Eugene, Oregon - Luminous Vegans

Or that time we were driving around Eugene exhausted from searching for a place to live and found a vegan food truck tucked into the parking lot of an auto mechanic shop. The owners of the TruVeg International Vegan Cuisine were some of the nicest folks I have ever met. Even though we were outside on a drizzly, cold day I felt like I was being warmly welcomed into someone’s home.

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The menu is 100% vegan and they also offer many raw dishes. I ordered the Bi Bim Bap which was sautéed carrot, onion, mushroom, spinach, and spring onion served over brown rice with their own spicy kochujung sauce.

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I had never had a Bi Bim Bap prior to this so I didn’t know what to expect. But I fell hard and fast for this dish. The combination and ratio of well cooked veggies was perfect and there was plenty of their spicy, flavorful sauce to coat every single bite. Shortly after this meal we drove up to Salem, Oregon and every twenty minutes or so I blurted out — gosh, my lunch was soooo good…I can’t stop thinking about it. That’s how delicious it was.

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Neal ordered the Singapore Noodles which was mung bean noodles with sautéed onion, carrot, mushrooms, spinach and spring onion seasoned with their special curry spice blend. While full of flavor and very delicious, it didn’t compare to my preciousss Bi Bim Bap bowl. Or perhaps I just wasn’t in a curry mood.

TruVeg Eugene, Oregon - Luminous Vegans

What I like about TruVeg, aside from the insanely delicious and filling meal I got from them, is their commitment to caring about people, animals and the environment. All their containers, bags and eating utensils were completely compostable.

TruVeg Eugene, Oregon - Luminous Vegans

What’s more is that when I talked to the owners they mentioned wanting to have a brick and mortar location. And it looks like that is slated to happen in January of 2014! It doesn’t matter to me if they are in a truck or in a building. I definitely plan to go back for the Bi Bam Bap bowl and to try other things on the menu.

Have you ever had a Bi Bam Bap bowl? What is your favorite vegan food truck?