Sunday, December 30, 2012

Egg White Face Mask

I've heard of this before, but had never tried it.  With a leftover egg white, I decided to put it to good use and try this beauty out.  An egg white face mask is an excellent way to tighten the pores and also gives temporary lift to your face. Most people swear that it’s a wonderful treatment for blackheads, acne and other skin conditions. Even though it is a bit smelly, it is inexpensive, easy and a great way to help you feel as if you have been treated at a spa.

The HOW is easy.  Separate egg whites and yolk, whisk the egg whites really good and apply a thin layer of the egg white on your face. Leave it to dry (about 20 minutes) and then rinse with warm water. Ta-da!

Since I only tried this once so far, I can't vouch for many of the spouted benefits.... but I will say your face does feel tighter.  Almost like you've had a clay mask.  Being vegan... I'm not sure I'd do this on a regular basis.  It grosses me out to think what that egg white really is (or was).  But I tried it.  :) - Christina

Saturday, December 29, 2012

121 Artisan Bistro

Since moving back, I find it VERY difficult to find restaurants that either 1.) provide veg-friendly menu items or 2.) are willing to accommodate my food allergies and choices (vegan).   But I'm ALWAYS up to try something new, so this weekend it was on the list.  121 Bistro is tucked away in Lake Charles, and honestly I'd have missed it if a friend hadn't suggested we dine there.  At first glance, the menu was very limited to me... so I held my breath as I asked the server about altering a few dishes to accommodate my vegan needs.  "No problem at all!" was the response.  WHAT?!  No problem?!  I'd grown accustom to "No" and that's it. This was a very welcome surprise.  Not only was it not a problem, the chef came to the table to see how the food was. Very nice touch.  My meal was amazing (basic penne pasta in olive oil base with tons of fresh veggies) and my friend's steak was delish (so I was told)... and the service was terrific.  I'll definitely be back when in the area.  Maybe they will stay open the idea of incorporating some veg-friendly menu items for future consideration? :) ~ Christina

Vegan Boudin

Boudin (pronounced boo-dan) is something I associate with my PawPaw and coming to Crowley.  Boudin is AWESOME.  There is just something about the taste of it that is simply DELISH.

But, boudin has pork in it.  And it's made in a pork casing.  So it's a no-no for this vegan now-a-days.  Until last weekend that is.  Since moving back home, I've been dreaming of creating a vegan version of this cajun dish that had the same taste (and spice) without the pork.  After talking about it with several of my cousins (who make boudin), we decided to give it a try.

We replaced pork with extra firm tofu. Nasoya was the brand I found, and we stuck with a small batch in case it didn't come out as tasty as I hoped (2 pounds).

We used all the same spices as normal, and I cooked the tofu for about 2 hours (or three beers according to the cajun way of cooking) along with about a cup of diced onions.

While the tofu was cooking, I chopped up about a cup of green onions and two cups of parsley and of course cooked the rice!

Next you mix it all up (and add a ton more seasoning).  It's basically dirty rice... but a lot spicer (at least that's how I like it).

Next you insert the mixture into the sausage making machine (see below) and pump that yumminess into the casing.  There was synthetic casings you can find to keep it completely animal-free.
And voila!  Vegan boudin!

I have to say... this stuff came out DELICIOUS!  Even my meat eating cousins all said it tasted just like regular pork boudin (and trust me - they would be the first to say it was terrible).
The batch made about 11 links... plenty for little ol me.  But I've got to think... if we could perfect this recipe (a few tweaks), I wonder if I could sell this.  I know before figuring out how to MAKE it, I would have traveled to find a vegan boudin.  Maybe... just maybe... ;)
~ Christina

Friday, December 28, 2012

Little Christy - the Calf

We pulled up to my cousin Johnny's house, and saw about 10 trucks. 
"These aren't all his," I told Emily, "I wonder what's going on?"

Turned out a baby calf was born... and not without a little (or a lot) of drama.  My cousin Dustin's cow gave birth earlier that afternoon, but needed some help having the calf.  Hence all those trucks.  

After getting the lowdown on what had happened, I asked if we could see the calf.  I've never seen a newborn calf before.  So we trudged into the field to find the baby all wrapped up in hay with only her little head sticking out.

It was cold out (about 35 degrees).  And the momma cow was on the other side of the field nursing a hurt leg.  My cousin and his friends were caring for the calf, and keeping her warm and getting her to feed were on the top of the priority list.

I asked if I could feed her.  Still covered in afterbirth, she was shaking and so tiny.  Well... tiny being about 50 pounds.  In the photo above you see me holding the bottle and my cousin Dustin holding her head while also keeping her tongue in her mouth.  Apparently she didn't know how to suck properly, so that helped her to learn.  She was PRECIOUS!!

Due to the cold, and the neighborly coyotes, Dustin ended up bringing her into his dad's outdoor kitchen that night.  It most likely saved her life. The next morning we reunited her with the momma cow (see above) and I'm happy to share that both are doing exceptionally well.

During the night while feeding her, I nicknamed her "Little Christy."  I told the boys that since I was vegan and didn't eat cows, that maybe it would help to save her and life and ensure she made it until morning (something we weren't entirely sure of).  Who knows... maybe that added a little good luck voodoo to her evening.  Either way, when I asked Kace (who plans to show the calf when she gets bigger) this past weekend what he named her... he said....

"Her name is Christy."

Awwwwwww........... xoxox

Tofurkey Roast

Photo not mine - I didn't even think to take one.  But this is exactly what it looked like!
Thanksgiving isn't my favorite holiday for two simple reasons. First, it's centered around a dead bird.  The CENTERPIECE of the entire holiday is a turkey.  A poor innocent bird that was murdered for human consumption.  Poor thing.  Since becoming vegan I've become also become accutely aware of these things... and it annoys my family and friends to no end.  That's ok.  It's just who I am now.

Second, I can't eat 90% of what is fixed on Thanksgiving... and since I don't eat meat, no one is asking me to host (and cook) the entire meal.  So this means I typically end up going to someone else's house.  And THAT means, 90% of everything prepared has either milk, cheese or butter in it (even if the chef doesn't realize it).  My dairy allergy makes this quite a dilemma.  I hate hurting people's feelings, and I end up feeling extremely awkward when I have to turn down most of the meal (and oftentimes educate people that YES, margarine really is a dairy product... and NO, I can't just have a little taste unless we want to invite the paramedics to join us before a fun trip to the ER).

You see my challenge?  The same goes for Christmas.... and this year, we were scheduled to spend Christmas (and it's meal) with my uncle, aunt and three cousins in Baton Rouge.  We (MawMaw and I) were to bring the meat and they were providing the sides.  Due to a little hiccup with tornado warnings all day, the union didn't actually happen... but that actually had nothing to do with this post.  Let me get back on track... TOFURKEY.

I've been vegan for a little over a year and a half now and I've yet to try tofurkey.  I try to avoid processed foods whenever possible, and of course a "fake" turkey falls into this category.  But I purchased a Tofurkey Roast for this Thanksgiving.  The Tofurkey Roast is a pre-cooked vegetarian feast designed to be the veg-friendly centerpiece of your holiday meal.  It's made from a tofu-wheat protein blend, and actually has quite a remarkable turkey-like taste and texture.  It's stuffed with rice and whole wheat bread crumb stuffing that is quite yummy.

Overall, I was quite pleased.  Of course since I'm the only one who will eat it, I've now also experienced tons of Tofurkey left-overs... and I'm quickly growing tired of eating "faux-turkey".  But now I know... it's a wonderful alternative to the holiday classic.  Maybe this year some family members will try it with me. :) ~ Christina

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Noel Acadien au Village

Noel Acadian au Village is put on by the Acadian Village every year to benefit Lafayette Association for Retarded Citizens, Inc. (LARC). This light show features half a million lights in displays around Lafayette’s 10-acre vision of life in 19th century Southwest Louisiana. So glad we drove over to check this out... Simply stunning.  Check out some of the amazing lights on display! ~ Christina

Spanish Chickpea Balls - Vegan Albondigas

I LOVE when a new recipe comes out yummy (sadly that's not always the case for me).  This was a winner and one I'll make again.  The only challenge is the time it took to make it (and the mess I somehow made in the process).  But it was worth it.  Yum! ~ Christina

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Faux BLT

Who doesn't love a BLT?! Well.... When it has pork in it, this girl doesn't. But I've solved the problem. Faux BLTs! Or TLTs I guess. I got my BLT fix with this vegan tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato and Vegenaise on Ezekiel bread. Maybe next time I'll add a couple slices of avocado.  Either way... I wasn't the only one loving my first try at fake bacon.  Denver was a fan too! ~ Christina

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lake area purple stride 5K walk

"Be part of a day of inspiration and hope, and help support the fight against pancreatic cancer."

Yes please!  While I've been a part of the Central Florida PurpleStride the past three years (two of which as the Affiliate Coordinator), I've never participated in another area's event.  So I was ELATED to be able to walk with TEAM MINUS in PurpleStride Lake Area 2012.  The even took place at Prien Lake Park in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is a beautiful area for such a walk (though a little on the small side and parking was a nightmare!). Just like past PurpleStrides, all proceeds benefited the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. It was a fun morning with family and friends as we celebrated my PawPaw, Minus J. Leleaux, and all the many people who are currently battling this horrific cancer (or have lost their lives to it).  Lots of fun photos to share from this one!  It was a great experience for me to see how another group does this event... learned lots and had a ball!
MawMaw and I
The REASON we stride!
TEAM MINUS (missing Uncle David and Amy)
Amy representing Team Minus!
DEAR friends... Kim, Kathy and Kassie.  So sad they have also been affected by this terrible disease!
Leleaux part of Team Minus!
Just a few of the cousins striding together!
Aunt Agnes, Uncle Bill and MawMaw 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas in Crowley

Christmas in a small town has several advantages.... The biggest being its small town rituals and the closeness you feel around the holidays. Crowley, Louisiana is SMALL and I must say... Just a bit beautiful. The hearts here are amazing and the Christmas spirit was so strong during "Christmas in Crowley", which is one night of caroling, shopping, and just plain Christmas fun. Denver seemed to be one of the larger attractions...or maybe I should say novelties. I guess people don't being their dogs to events like that here. Well I do. And we BOTH has a great time! ~ Christina

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Frog Festival - Rayne, La.

When in Rome... or Rayne for this particular post... right?!  That was my motto the second Saturday in November when I dragged a cousin out to the annual Rayne Frog Festival.  The main draw that evening was Percy Sledge... and what a crowd that drew!

The annual Frog Festival, celebrates the city’s role in promoting this unique Louisiana delicacy (you guessed it - frogs!!), is held the  second weekend in November.  Activities include frog racing and jumping contests, the Lions Club Frog Derby, a queen’s contest, parade, carnival and live music.  The first official Rayne Frog Festival was held in September 1973 under the sponsorship of the Rayne Chamber of Commerce.  I guess they are doing something right since this year was the 39th for the Frog Fest!

So I've been there... done it... and probably won't return.  I LOVE the various festivals my homestate has (literally all the time for anything and everything)... but frogs are frogs.  And quite honestly, I'm not sure it really gels with my vegan beliefs (actually, nothing about this event does).  Frog legs, frog on a stick, forcing frogs to jump in competition for human entertainment, etc.  No thank you!  ~ Christina

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pastor Brothers Cajun Adventure

Homegrown cajun fun.  That's how I'd describe this outing.  A quick, easy and inexpensive way to spend your day in Cajun country. We spent the afternoon on the water taking in the beauty of the Vermilion Bayou aboard the covered party barge, sipping their signature complimentary T-Julips and listening to some cajun music. Captain John was hilarious with tales of “good ole days” and passing along stories his father and grandfather told him.  Growing up near the water, I wasn’t terribly impressed by the actual sights (no wildlife, etc.), but it was a fun way to “pass a good time” as we’d say here in Louisiana. 

I’d recommend them for sure.  Here’s their website:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park

The Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park is a cultural development within the Bayou Vermilion District, serving to preserve the cultural resources of Lafayette Parish and the surrounding region. The museum contains many unique restored historical items within its collection. There are artisans working daily in the park providing an example of how various tasks and crafts were completed back to the early days of the Acadians and Creoles as they worked to create a successful life in the Attakapas Region of the new Louisiana territory.

The park is a picturesque representation of a village from a time period of 1765 to 1890. Within the park visitors are allowed an up close look at many examples of early building architecture as well as how inhabitants worked in their day to day life.

Our trip to Vermilionville definitely provided for a historical and cultural experience.  Quite interesting and a perfect day with my MawMaw. :) ~ Christina

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,082 groups with 9,267,398 members around the world. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers. Membership is free.

While I’ve heard of this amazing site before, I’d never used it.  But with my pending move, I decided to give it a whirl.  I listed several Halloween costumes, along with several household items leftover from a garage sale I had.  The results?  Several very happy individuals!  The down side is that depending on what you post, the response can sometimes be overwhelming to deal with on email.  Plus, unless you can just leave the item(s) somewhere for easy pick up (like a front porch) you have to contact the other individual and coordinate a time and location (and that often times runs very late).  I’ll use the site again for sure… but will need to see how I manage my expectations a little better.  Check them out:  A GREAT way to give back to Mother Earth and to each other.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rug Doctor

I have never used one of these things before... and let me tell you.... WHAT. AN. EXPERIENCE.  To cut down on moving costs, I decided to clean my own carpets with the trusty Rug Doctor instead of bringing a professional in.  Costs WERE saved but my sanity might have been frayed just a bit.  I'll spare you the rugged details... maybe I'm just not all that coordinated.  Maybe I didn't read the directions well enough ahead of time.  But regardless, I got my condo security deposit back so I must have done something right. :) ~ Christina

Sunday, October 28, 2012

15th Annual Diwali Mela - Festival of Lights

The Association of Asian Cultural Festivals presented the 15th Annual Diwali Mela celebration on Saturday, October 27th, 2012 at the Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando.

Also known as the "Festival of Lights," this annual cultural celebration has fun for the entire family. Entertainment included traditional singing and dancing performances by many top local artists. Vendor booths offering unique clothing and a wide variety of delicious traditional cuisine.  

As one of my last local events before the big move... this was a perfect example about what I'm going to miss.  Such cultural diversity.  Such richness.  I loved it! ~ Christina

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Canoeing with Jordan

I am so glad I made time to do this before moving... Jordan had never been canoeing before. So Jeff and I took him out on the Wekiva River one morning.  He loved it! And I must say... he was pretty good at it.  At least when he wasn't getting me drenched with his oars! :) ~ Christina

Friday, October 19, 2012

Melissa's Sidewalk Cafe

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the iPhone app "Happy Cow".  Anywhere I am, it helps me to find local vegan  or veg-friendly restaurants.  That's how I discovered this little gem in Crestview, Florida.  On the way back from moving a load of my belongings to Louisiana, Jeff, Denver and I stopped here for lunch.


This little food truck specializes in vegetarian and vegan take-out.  Everything is fresh and locally grown. I'm so stoked to find something like this along I-10 (or at least not that far off it) for my drives back and forth.  ~ Christina

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hussong's Cantina Taqueria

In search for vegan eats in Vegas, I stumbled upon this place in the Mandalay Bay Shoppes area.  Veg-friendly and so delicious!  Vegetarian tacos (made vegan) with beans and rice was my first official meal in Sin City.  Awww... it was far and few between when I could find a dish chock full of fresh veggies that tasted as good as it was for me.  Plus the bar atmosphere had most games on the big screen so I was able to keep tabs on my Saints while here. ~ Christina


We went to StripSteak for our chapter dinner this past week while in Vegas... and I have to say I had mixed feelings about it.  The chapter guys love their meat and potatoes so it made sense for the dinner to take place there (plus the reviews are all fabulous about the chef and his creations)... but this vegan felt like a fish out of water (literally).  On the plus side, the chef went out of his way to create a vegan dish for me (delicious!)... and the service is amazing.  But as a vegan... there are too many negatives.  From the hanging raw meat slabs on display through glass door coolers, the french fries cooked in duck fat (wish I'd known that BEFORE eating a few of them - talk about upset tummy!) to the pricey meat dishes.... I had to leave a little early.  Way too many animals lost their lives for that place and at $100+ per person... I just couldn't stomach it all.  If you are a meat-eater... definitely check this place out.  But it's not vegan friendly at all.  ~ Christina