December Vegan Box of Wonderfulness!

My deepest apologies for my tardiness in writing this post – All I can say is that the holiday season was a tad hectic! As you can see from the photo, many of the items have been devoured leaving only the packages as ghosts of goodies past.

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This month I received a great box in the Vegan Food Swap that included local goods as well as gems from distant lands. The Vegan Food Swap creator herself, Meshell aka Vegan in Your City, was my December partner (lucky me!)

The TAZA chocolate with salt and pepper was a surprising win for my taste buds mmmm and it came in little circles that broke apart like pies. Ipanema Valley’s Pineapple Brownies are a definite favourite of mine – The only ingredients are pineapples and bananas but they only have 3 grams of sugar per serving (something in the processing)!

There are two protein powder mixes that I have never seen or heard of before (but both look delish) – Vegan1 Banana shake (from California) and Saquito Vanilla Goji powder (from Florida) – I’m so stoked to try them both but also tempted to save them for a while because I probably won’t be able to restock on them anytime soon!

THE VEGG – Vegan Egg Yolk – a very interesting egg replacer from Pennsylvania which smells very eggy and is super yellow in colour. I used it in pancakes the other day and it added very good flavour and texture. Next I’m going to try making a French toast (there is a recipe on the bag) to fully observe its flavour!

Bare Fruit apple chips are another fave of mine – I love that they don’t add preservatives, sugar or sulphites – and they aren’t fried or freeze dried so they’re just sooooo yum. Singing Canary Hemp Seeds have a very nifty package with hand drawn images and writing about the cannabis prohibition on the back – I’ve always wanted to grab a bag and now I have some!

There were also some Krisda water flavour packs, good ol’ Spry gum, a yummy candy cane and some interesting smelling tea bags (perhaps cocoa curls and some sort of bark? I have yet to taste them so we’ll see – but I love tea so I’m stoked!). Oh, and “just the goods” vegan lavender lip balm which smells tastes and feels sooooooooo good.

All in all, an insanely wonderful box. Thanks Meshell – you spoiled me! Ohhhh and it was wrapped up all pretty with colourful ribbons – I wish I had taken a photo before tearing it open, but alas, I was too excited! 

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why?

Why is it when I’m in a crying fit, snot dripping all over the pillow I’m hugging as I rock myself back and forth… why is it that in these moments, they only thing I can say is, “why?” …why did that relationship end, why did my mom have to die, why can’t I do ______ well enough, why am I not _______ enough, why why whyyy…

The word forces me into a victim position – Why me?

Although I realize this is just part of the human condition, and I’m not going to beat myself up for feeling this way in those moments of deep despair, I’ve decided today to stop this current blubber fest, and ask the big WHY in a more positive light. 

Instead of the passive, “why did x happen to me?”… I’m asking the active “why am I doing what I’m doing?”

Linkedin sent me an email that I decided to actually read instead of performing my usual select and delete option. It was a post in the Star Business Club group, of this link: http://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/what-is-your-why.html 

As an entrepreneur, I have asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” every day since starting the business in July. “Recommit every morning to your cause,” says the wonderful Dominik Loncar, entrepreneur in residence at the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF).

So. Here goes:

I’m doing this for my mother. I’m doing this because she loved to nurture people with food, and so do I. I’m doing this for animals, because I am a vegan and I believe that no animal should be used by a human for any purpose if said human can live perfectly well without doing so. I’m doing this to provide options for other food lovers – so that the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle doesn’t seem so impossible. I’m doing this because my mama always believed in me and encouraged me to make a difference in the world – and I believe that this might make a small difference. I’m doing this because some day, I may have enough money to give back to communities and efforts that I believe in. I’m doing this because I love food. I love life. I love animals. I love people. I love cooking. I love feeding people. I love my mother, and I love her vegan Alfredo sauce. 

Vegan Food Swap #1!

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I just received my first vegan food swap box!! I LOVE the banner that my swap partner made!! It made me smile :o) It’s beauuuutiful and fun. I’m trying to decide where I should put it – I’m thinking of bringing it to my kitchen where I cook for my biz, so that I have a little personal touch on my shelf, and something to make me smile as I cook up vegan sauce. I got so caught up on the banner that I forgot to look at the rest of the box for a short while ahah

The food bit was lovely as well – including Tigernut Treats by Govinda (I’ve had my eye on these for a while but had yet to try them)…Soooo yummy. Also Tutti Gourmet’s bana krisp mmmmmm pistachio (was this a green themed box? maybe). I also got this cool little ‘night treatment balm’ stick called HURRAW! ahah the ingredients look wonderful – and it’s the perfect little thing to keep in my purse for unexpected sleepovers – no more waking up with dry skin! 

Thank you for the box Robyn!

Check out   http://meshell.ca/blog/veganfoodswap/  to join in on the fun! 

Vegan Wedding Crashers

“Is this the first wedding you’ve crashed?”
….yes, yes it was… and I kept wondering why people were asking me this. Has wedding crashing become a common occurrence?
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I’ll start at the beginning. A few months ago, a wonderful vegan blogger, http://meshell.ca/blog/ wrote a blog post about my ‘Creamy’ Vegan Alfredo. I thought this was super cool as this was a true stranger, who happened to find my sauce in a store, try it, and like it! I thanked her profusely for her post, and she gave me some ideas of stores to approach and other ways to get my business off the ground (what a kind person!)

Since then I’ve been a little bit obsessed with her blog (and Facebook, and Instagram…) – reading back to old posts, new posts, going to all the places she mentions (or mentioned). Then (and this is where the story really begins), she began posting about her upcoming VEGAN WEDDING! I enjoyed reading all about vegan shoes, wedding dresses, suits, caterers, and cake – I thought to myself, “I will come back to these blog posts if I ever get married.” I’ve been vegan for about 9 years now, and I lovvvve food – so the idea of a totally vegan wedding was extremely exciting for me.

The final post of the Vegan Wedding posts was entitled “Weirdest Giveaway? You’re Invited.” The post went on to explain that some lucky person was going to win the chance to attend the vegan wedding. I stared at it for a while with mixed feelings: “that’s weird” “that’s amazing” “I must win this” …amongst others. I finally decided to “apply” and to my surprise and delight, I won!!

I decided to bring my best friend (who has also been vegan for 9 years) as we are the ultimate vegan foodies (especially as a team). We arrived late, and scurried our way to the table. Each table had a theme, and ours was ‘Apple’ (as in Mac, the computer company). I made a quick guess and thought “mmmaybe everyone at the Apple table knows the couple through only online?” Having never met either of them, I glanced around the room for a lady in white. She came running up, gave us a big hug, and told us to flag down a server for food. We took our seats and I began asking everyone at the table if they knew the couple from online. They looked at me a little strangely with responses ranging from, “No… I know them in real life!” to “I’m actually the maid of honour.” Oops.

Once we revealed our identity as “the ones who won the wedding crasher contest”, our presence made sense. The food was amaaaaazing (obviously) but my phone broke down and I wasn’t able to snap any photos of it (unfortunately). The dinner was an Autumn Veggie Cassoulet and Herb Crusted Tofu with Barley Risotto! For dessert we had a custard cream tart with fresh berries and then a slice of the wedding cake, which had lavender frosting. Everyone attending was lovely, and it was so great to meet other vegans (until that night I only knew two others).

After meeting the groom (who was also very warm and welcoming), the music started and we danced the night away! My favourite dancing partner was the bride’s mother – who kept saying “I’m so glad she picked you two” – I can imagine some of my family members being a little frightened at the thought of a complete stranger attending the wedding – I think she was just happy that we weren’t destructive or too crazy.

It turned out to be a great night, and we felt a bit like a ‘novelty’ (in a good way) – a lot of guests seemed to get quite a kick out of having wedding crashers present (thanks Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn)!

Many people say that our generation is one of broken communication, marked with a huge lack of face-to-face interactions, trapping us inside virtual worlds and text messages. While I agree with this to a point, that night I was filled with hope. The couple broke down the wall between virtual communication and in-person relations in a striking way – they invited me, who they had never met in “real life”, to the most important day of their lives. It was beautiful, and brave, and generous.

Both myself and my friend took a vow that night to carry on the tradition and invite random wedding crashers to our own vegan weddings some day.

blog? whoops!

To be honest… I totally forgot that I started this blog. I’ve since become a fan of many more blogs, and I’m constantly impressed at how frequently people update them with interesting articles! Well, it’s not my forte, what can I say. 

Since my last post, life has changed dramatically. I decided that I didn’t want to work at a crummy day job while trying to get my acting career off the ground, so I began to pursue my other childhood dream first: that of owning some sort of vegan food company! It has been several months since I made the decision to go full force with this project, while still practicing some acting on the side. Eventually, I hope for my sauce company to be my ‘day job’ and as the owner, I’ll have freedom to attend auditions and hopefully land gigs! 

To be honest again…. the reason I’ve got this blog up and running is so that I can participate in the ‘Vegan Food Swap’. I’ll be posting here about the packages I receive from the swap every month! 

http://meshell.ca/blog/veganfoodswap/

clear eyes, full hearts – can’t lose.

I’m craving a football coach speech. Only instead of Coach talking to a group of sweaty athletes in a locker room or on the sidelines of the football field, Coach is talking to me. I think football coach speeches (especially as they are portrayed in film and television) are just about the most motivating things on the planet. Maybe I’ve been watching a little too much ‘Friday Night Lights’… But there is something in that show that really speaks to the athlete in me – actors are like athletes in so many ways (insert third year university comparative essay on sports vs. theatre) … you prepare for so long for the big moment, or series of moments, in front of an audience, usually in a team/cast of fellow players/actors with whom you have undoubtedly formed a number of intricate relationships with, etc… And then you succeed, or fail – sink, swim – sometimes you even land somewhere in between, “played a good game but no win,” “great audition, just wasn’t right for the part.” I love how in ‘Friday Night Lights,’ they don’t shy away from showing the failures – not every game ends in a victory for coach Taylor’s team – but they also show the unexpected successes that rise up from the determination, strength and passion of the team.

Why don’t directors or acting teachers ever give speeches like football coaches? (maybe they do and I’ve yet to experience one) Here’s an idea… I’m not in a place to give myself a football coach speech right now about the current kicked-out-of-theatre-school situation, there hasn’t been enough distance… but what if I were to write one to my younger self regarding an event that seemed catastrophic at the time? Here goes, channeling my inner coach Taylor:

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“Hey! You! Yes, you, get on over here. Now! Geeze, now what are you doing crying over there in the corner of the theatre lobby? You gonna answer me? or am I gonna have to go into the office and ask what in the god’s name happened to you out here? You didn’t get cast, did you. Well now I am damn sorry about that. I truly am. You are a fine actress and you’ll just go out an’ get the next one. Or the one after that. Hell, you might not land an audition for the next five years! It dun’ matter! You know why? Why, because you want to be an actress. It makes you very very happy. And you like the challenge. If this were a walk in the park, maybe you wun’ like it so much. Am I right? Now who’s to say that that casting had everything to do with your talent. You know it di’n’t. Necessarily. It had a lot to do with your talent, now that’s for damn sure, but there are a lot more factors at play here – maybe you di’n’t look right for the part. Hell, maybe they di’n’t like your shoes. That’s not for you to figure out. What is for your figurin’ out is how you’re gonna practice, and get better, and pump yourself back up so you can go back out there next time and blow them away. An’ I know you can do it. I know you can because just look how far you’ve come. Just look how much better that audition was than the one you did back in grade 7 for that community theatre troupe. An’ you got that one! This i’n’t the end. You gonna dust your self off, pick yourself up, put your helmet on, and plough through that defense. Ther’ll be a lot of people an’ things in your life puttin’ out their best defensive line to try to stop you from reaching your goal, but you gotta know that you can push through. You got me, you got your friends, your family, your fans out on the sidelines all rootin’ for yah, so you just gotta come into every challenge with passion and focus and then you know that you dun’ everything you could. Clear eyes, full hearts – Can’t lose!”

RWK: Random Words of Kindness

Yesterday at work, I was having a quiet conversation (lacking in details) with my boss about my not returning to school in the new year. A customer, suddenly very serious, looked me in the eye and said, “Say NO to NO. The key to achieving your dreams is perseverance. Don’t give up.”

It was one of those moments when a strangers seemingly simple advice really gets to me… Like the time when I was in grade 9, in a bad relationship, and a sales clerk at a second hand store randomly said, “don’t stay at any job you don’t like, don’t live where you don’t want to, and NEVER stay in a relationship that doesn’t feel right. It’s not worth your time, life is short.”

Well anonymous wise word folk, I very much like my job, and I’m certainly never going to give up on my dreams. Thanks for saying the right thing at the right time. Also encouraging to the rest of us to follow our impulses when we think someone needs some positive reinforcement!

lists lists lists

Feeling of the week: embarrassment. Sure I’ll face a lot of rejection out in the acting industry, but not even making it through school? Ouchh.

… But if I think of every “cut” as an audition, and include the initial audition for the school, that’s 5 ‘auditions’ – and I got 3 of them… I would be extremely lucky to get 3 of 5 auditions once I start auditioning. Slightly comforted. Also, to think of the people who have been cut, and how shocked I was, and how they have absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about, is helpful.

Time for a list of goals me thinks (in no particular order):

– write the screenplay that has been writing itself in my mind since high school
– get headshots
– send packages to agents
– research open calls, audition notices, everything!
– yoga. doo it.
– drop-in dance classes
– sign up for on-camera classes
– read the news – subscribe to the globe and mail or star? re-energize political mind
– maybe take off on a plane to Ireland or somewhere just for a month (if finances allow)
– speaking of finances… Figure them out! Get tuition refund, look at OSAP repayment options…
– contact teachers for private coaching and / or mentorship

I highly doubt I’ll ever share this blog with anyone, as it is currently nothing more than a journal with to-do lists and internal conversations with myself. If it becomes something that may be of use or of interest to others, then I’ll share. I guess if you’re reading this then I’ve decided to share. So… Welcome?

branching out

Two words: not promoted.
Translation: kicked out of theatre school.

I always thought blogs were pointless, selfish ramblings (sorry)… But then I actually started reading some by friends and realized they can be inspirational, funny and very brave. So here goes my account of one very big door closing… And what is yet to come (hopefully thrilling and mind-blowing) (but possibly sad and mundane) (for a while anyway) (patience!) Also, I’m a fan of parenthesis, get over it.

Ever since my mom passed away in 2011 I’ve felt like I’ve been running to catch up with life – finish my degree, audition for schools, pack up life-long family home, move to the city, start school, Christmas, more school, get a summer job, resume school … Running running running running

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Then all of the sudden the ground beneath me was no longer there. It was as if I were one of those cartoons who run off a cliff but keep running in the air because they don’t realize it until they look down – then they plummet downwards into some gruesome cartoon death (but they luckily have an unlimited supply of lives) or are rescued by angels.

I’m not sure if I’m in the falling part, or if I’ve hit the ground (was there supposed to be a monumental thud?)… Most likely I’m strung up awkwardly flailing on a branch somewhere in the abyss. Yes. That feels about right.