Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Art of the Thrift: Before and After edition

I have been busy working on all kinds of projects lately! So I thought I would take some time to give you a little preview of what’s been going on. Between weekly thrifting and alley furniture rescue, I have a pretty good selection of DIY projects to get done this month. When shopping at thrift stores, I often find myself looking at an object and thinking “I know what this is…but what else could you do with it?”. The same thing happens when I'm looking for furniture. First, I check to make sure that it is not severely damaged. If its going to take too many hours to spruce up I usually wait to find something better quality. Next I check for sturdiness. A worthy piece of furniture is only as good as how long it will last and how much you will be able to use it. And lastly I check the price. I like to find pieces that are inexpensive so there is more room to make some money back; or to get my own money's worth out of it (I know that sounds bad, but you’ve got to take care of yourself also). I do find that the less expensive pieces usually need a little bit of extra TLC, but that’s the fun part for me. So this brings us to the main event. The “before” and “after”...

So I had been looking for my perfect "dream desk" ever since I went to college. It seems like desks these days are all leaning toward that industrial, office-y feel. Not for me. I am into furniture pieces that are more on the vintage looking side, but unfortunately a vintage desk will run into the $100-300.00 price ranges. Also not for me. Over the Summer I was out with my boyfriend on one of our weekly thrift trips and I saw it...the most beautiful perfect dream desk ever (and it was only $25.00, I love half off days)! Well it was not exactly beautiful...

The last person to own this desk tried to do some kind of artsy polka dot theme with it. They used thick acrylic paint that you would use on a painters canvass. And it was coated in polyurethane. Awful. I decided that it had to be rescued. I spent hours sanding off the poly and scraping off the acrylic polka dot blobs. Then all it needed was a few coats of black paint, some wood glue, 2 new drawer pulls from Hobby Lobby and it was like a whole new desk!

I get so many compliments on my new (to me) desk. When that was all finished, I realized that I needed a new chair to go with. I had been using a counter height stool from my kitchen table, but it was far too tall and didn't really go with the desk at all. So it was off to the thrift stores again. I found the chair for only $4.99 at Goodwill. It fit all of my requirements and it was the perfect height for the desk.

Check out this beauty! Hahaha. The kind of piece only an up-thrifter could love! I took that baby home, did some sanding, priming, painting, recovered the seat...

And just like that I had my pretty new chair!

I had so much fun with these projects, and they were easy and inexpensive. I have a small vintage kitchen table, 2 upholstered chairs, a side table and a square coffee table to get finished this month. With my new Dremel 200 series tool I am hoping to get these pieces knocked out fast. I also have a few painting that need touching up and finishing. Hopefully my motivation will keep up and I will be able to share them shortly :)
Peace, love and paintbrushes,

Monday, January 2, 2012

Holiday Cheers and New Years.

I hope everyone had a peaceful holiday and a wonderful New Year! I am really excited for 2012. I am going to take my life by the reins and make it do what I want. My first order of business is to post this…my belated holiday edition!! We didn't have a tree at my boyfriends this year so we used my peace lily :-)

This past Christmas was very relaxing. There was lots of snow on the ground, so my boyfriend and I just stayed in cozied up with movies and pajamas. And of course we did a lot of cooking. We both had to work on Xmas Eve, but were lucky enough to have Xmas day off (retail and ski industry = work on every holiday). For dinner on Xmas Eve we decided to be lazy and call our favorite Chinese take-out place. If you live in the Congress Park/Cheeseman Park area in Denver you definitely need to try this place…sooo good. One thing that many vegetarians and vegans don’t know is that a lot of Chinese food places use chicken stock in their vegetarian dishes. Barf. You just need to make sure to ask for your meal “water based”. I managed to take a picture of my plate before I devoured it…thanks to Peter’s Chinese (

We slept in a little bit on Christmas day, really nice for a change. My favorite thing to do Christmas morning is make coffee and sit down to open stockings! My mom sent us new stockings in the mail this year. She always fills them with the best stuff. Teas, vegan snacks, incense and fun little nick knacks. After opening our lovely stockings, it was time to eat. My boyfriend made really simple banana pancakes. They turned out fluffy and delicious. We had some leftover batter so next time we will probably half the recipe or make the rest to eat for breakfast the next day. Definitely going to try them again, maybe with other fruits, or topped with jam.

We spent the rest of the day watching movies, calling family members and casually opening the rest of our gifts. Then went off for a crisp walk in the neighborhood. And finally settled down and started prepping dinner. This year I made vegan lasagna! I have been making this lasagna for a while now, its really easy and really good. When I first made it, I used a recipe from VegWeb for guidelines. I had make vegetarian lasagna before, it wasn’t much different than that. I will list the link below.

Vegan Lasagna (here is the link:
I used Boca brand beef crumbles, only half a box of pasta, almond milk, store brand tomato sauce (watch out for cheese in the fancier brands), added mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach, and used some Mozzarella daiya shreds.

Lastly for dessert, I made vegan cheesecake!!! I combined a few recipes that I saw online, it was extremely easy to make.
Kali's Vegan Cheezecake
16 oz. Tofutti Better than Cream cheese
1/3 Cups sugar
1 package Silken Tofu (you can find this is the Asian section of health food stores, non refrigerated)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Lemon juice
1 Vegan pie crust or make your own (I used a chocolate one from Whole Foods, they also have a gram cracker type that is vegan too)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
Pour into crust and bake for 25-30 min or until top is golden.
Let cool and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.

*Since I used a pre-made crust in a foil type pie tin my cheezecake got a few cracks in it from transporting. This could be avoided by either making your own crust in a pie pan, or by keeping the pie tin on a large plate while transporting. Good luck and enjoy!

Like most people in the new year I am making some goals I hope to accomplish this year. I don't make resolutions, too much pressure and not as successful as making a goal in my opinion. First things first...New Year = New Job. I have been working for the same place for 1.5 years and I am extremely unsatisfied there. Most of our time is spent at work, and most people hate their jobs, so we spend most of our life miserable. That is not going to work for me this year!  I am planning on going to Italy with my boyfriend in April and I also hope to start my own business. I also want to do a whole apartment re-vamp. Lot's of stuff. And now that I have my internet back I am going to up my blog posting to once a week. Let's do this 2012!!!
Peace, love and veggies,

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

The last days of Fall: My belated Thanksgiving edition.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I spent mine in Arizona visiting with my family and friends. It has become tradition that we have Thanksgiving at my parents house, about 32 people this year. It was a great party. This year we had one vegan (me) and 2 vegetarians (my mom and boyfriend). So of course we had TONS of food. Tofurkey, Vegan Ham, green bean casserole with home made mushroom gravy, jalapeno cornbread stuffing, roasted brussel sprouts with olive oil and orange zest, fruit and nut chutney, mashed potatoes with earth balance and a pecan pumpkin pie for dessert! Needless to say I ate my face off and probably gained a few pounds. I was actually so busy eating and mingling that I didn’t take any pictures of our delicious vegan spread! I could kick myself…but I won’t. I do have a picture of the green bean casserole that my boyfriend and I made the week before, just to get us in the holiday spirit. It was very easy to make, and relatively healthy. We used fresh green beans, chopped white mushrooms, veggie stock, almond milk, a little flour for thickening, roasted garlic and spices. Pretty much just find a regular recipe and sub in vegan ingredients. Don’t forget the crispy fried onions to top it with!
Green Bean Casserole with Home Made Mushroom Gravy

Before I forget, I wanted to share my (super belated on this) Halloween costume I wore this year. My crazy girl friends and I went as a big flock of birds. There were peacocks, flamingos, black birds and I was an owl. My costume was inspired by a “owl dress” I saw on one of my favorite blogs. It ended up taking me forever, but I think it turned out awesome! I got so many compliments. I also added to the theme with fun feather eye lashes, a hand made feather head band, black fishnet stockings over brown tights (to mimic bird legs haha) and outrageous makeup! I will definitely have to wear it again next year.
Supplies I used:

Here's the flock!

As you can tell from reading my previous posts I have been on a comfort food kick. I have been craving soup and bread. My boyfriend and I recently made a Butternut squash, garlic and green apple bisque, served with toasted whole wheat French bread. I found the recipe on Vegweb and used it as a guide line. Here is the link: I love reading other peoples recipes, but it is also fun to change them up a little bit. I always try to make my food the healthiest it can be without compromising on flavor or comfort factor. Little things like using low sodium veggie stock, subbing almond milk (it has the least calories of the vegan milks) and baking instead of frying. It may take a little longer, but your body will thank you.
Butternut Squash-Green Apple Bisque with roasted Garlic

Tomato Soup and Cheddar Daiya Grilled Cheeze

Enough of the healthy talk, this is the holiday season. The season for food, fun, friends and family. The night before Thanksgiving at my parents house, my dad and brother always make a big bon fire in the yard. My parents live in a rural part of northern Phoenix so it’s nice and dark out, you can see all the stars. Family friends come over and we all sit around the fire and relax. Coming from a family who loves to go camping, I have always associated camp fires with making Smores. Gram crackers, chocolate and marshmallows….yummy. For vegans making smores is totally possible, and you can get all the items you need at the regular grocery store (we went to Albertsons but not all grocery stores have the same items). For those of you who do not know, regular marshmallows have gelatin in them, an animal derived product. Gram crackers usually have honey in them, try store brand or digestive biscuits. And watch out for milk in the chocolate, dark is usually milk free. You can buy vegan marshmallows at health food stores like Whole Foods, but my mom and I found an amazing rice marshmallow cream at Albertson’s grocery store (Brand I found is "Suzanne's". It was a little messy, but aren’t smores supposed to be?!

Now that we are in December (where did this year go), my mind it back in the kitchen. I have a few things I want to make and do; decorating sugar and/or gingerbread cookies, baking something chocolate and peppermint-y, cook something amazing for Xmas dinner, go see or do something Christmas themed (I do have a fugly sweater party this month), and of course lots of crafting!
Peace, Love and Veggies,

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pardon my absence.

I apologize for my absence. I have been dealing with the sudden loss of a close friend (I am also without regular internet). I have lots of posts planned. And my belated Halloween costume reveal. Stay tuned.
Peace, love and veggies,

Monday, October 24, 2011

All things I love about Fall: Comfort food edition

Its hard to believe that winter is just around the corner. The days are getting chilly. Its staying darker in the morning, and getting darker earlier in the evening. As the season is changing, so are my food cravings. Its time for comfort food season! I have already been busy with my pumpkin spice inspired baking. Now its time to focus on food. I am a big fan of food. And I have been getting better at cooking (thanks to a lot of help from my boyfriend). The other day I was thinking about Shepherds Pie. I have never actually had shepherds pie, but while working in an Irish restaurant I served a lot of it. The thought of veganizing it got stuck in my head all day. So I looked up a few simple recipes online and went from there. I found a recipe from Rachel Ray: . I also looked up a few mushroom gravy recipes on Vegweb and gathered some ingredients. Here is the gravy recipe: My boyfriend actually knew how to make gravy already, so we just used this recipe as a guideline. It turned out sooo good, I almost felt guilty eating it. Making shepherds pie is actually really easy. I will just list the ingredients I used, any variations would be delicious.

Cruelty Free Shepherds Pie:
1 Bag Meatless Crumbles (prepared as instructions say)
1 Can Sweet Peas
Chopped baby carrots (steamed)
3 Chopped celery sticks (steamed)
3 Russet Potatoes (boil peeled, cubed potatoes for about 12-15 min. Mash in a bowl. I added Tofutti sour cream and 1 Cup plain almond milk. You could use vegan butter or Tofutti better than cream cheese too.)
Mushroom Gravy
-I mixed the carrots, celery and peas together in the bottom of my casserole dish.
-Then layered the meatless crumbles.
-Then poured the gravy over the top
-Last I layered the mashed potatoes and covered with foil.
-We baked it at 350 for about 15 min, then removed the foil, sprinkled with parsley and baked uncovered for another 15 min. Let it cool, it will be super hot. Then enjoy!
-I also bought a small loaf of Italian bread to serve with it.

Another fun comfort food dish we have made this month came to us after going to Denver’s Octoberfest. We bought some Tofurkey Beer Brats, hot dog buns and ingredients for Potatoes Au Gratin. Prepared the brats as the package instructed. Made the potatoes au gratin just from looking up a few regular recipes online and substituting vegan ingredients for the dairy and we added some Bac’O bits on top. Don’t forget the yellow mustard for your brats! Another dish that tasted so good it almost makes you feel guilty eating it.
(As you can see I had a little problem with the picture below, I just can't get it to upload. Tease)

Lastly, I have made yet another pumpkin spice inspired dessert. My favorite pumpkin-y dessert I’ve made so far.
Pumpkin Pie Milkshake:
1 slice pumpkin pie, or ½ Cup pumpkin pie filling (I used the pie filling and also added a leftover pumpkin cookie to serve as the crust)
1 ½- 2 Cups Vanilla ice cream (I used Rice Dream organic vanilla, so good)
1 ½ - 2 Cups vegan milk

-Blend until creamy. No matter how much of any of the ingredients you use I guarantee you will love this milkshake! It is very filling, I had half on mine and then froze the rest for another day.
It feels like it took me forever to actually get this post uploaded. I am looking forward to finishing my Owl costume for Halloween this week. I will share the finished product. Hoot hoot!
Peace, love and veggies,

Friday, October 14, 2011

All things I love about Fall...part 2.

I’ve been keeping mighty busy here. Between baking, cleaning and crafting projects I haven’t had much free time. But luckily I’ve found some time today. And may I say it is a beautiful fall day here in Denver. I am definitely going to take a bike ride after this. I am still going strong with the pumpkin spice inspired recipes. Just last night I made my favorite banana bread recipe with a pumpkin-y twist. As I’ve said before, I will add pumpkin spice to anything…so I did. I cannot take full credit for this banana bread recipe. I found it on Vegweb and made a few modifications. This recipe is so simple and delicious.
Here it is:

The only modification I have to make is to add some vegan milk to the batter for moisture. And since I am at high altitude I add a little extra baking powder/soda. To make Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread just simply add 1-2 Tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice (pretty much a given) and sprinkle some on top before baking.
I had a slice for breakfast this morning, accompanied by a home made pumpkin spice latte. My mom gave me her old espresso machine. It’s seriously one of the best gifts I’ve gotten in a long time. I save so much money! I heated up my bread and topped it with some earth balance. It would also be good with some agave nectar or even Tofutti better than cream cheese. This fall twist on a classic banana bread would be a good addition to any gathering this season. I plan on making some to share for a light breakfast with all my family and friends helping cook our Thanksgiving meal this year.

As I am always on the prowl, yes prowl, for new fall inspired products this season; I was so happy to find a pumpkin spice tea! Thanks to the people at Bigelow for creating it. I do admit I have been drinking a fair amount of espresso lately because of my new obsession with my machine, but my all time favorite hot drink has to be hot tea. Bigelow’s pumpkin spice tea is really good. I just drink it alone, but it would also be good with a drizzle of agave or a splash of soy milk. I think I will have a cup now! (In my fave Beatles Love mug)

I have lots of fall crafting projects brewing, but right now I have focused all of my time on my home made Owl Costume. My friends and I are going as a big flock of birds this Halloween. Yeah you heard me right. We meet in large, loud groups, like a gaggle. As you gathered I am going to be an owl. I started on it last night, it’s going to look super cute. I was inspired by a post I saw on my favorite blog “A Beautiful Mess”.
Check it out, lots of inspiring crafts. I am going to wait to reveal the finished product until it’s completely done. Some of my supplies are pictured below. Hoot hoot!
Peace, love and veggies,