Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blossom Du Jour, Stage Reading Fun, And Near Death Shenanigans

Another NYC day and again it's theater related goodness thanks to a talented woman by the name of Karen Bishko.
Something has got to be done about clumsiness. For a Libra, my scales are totally off balance.
On a strange Maniac Monday full of pros and cons, I was almost hit by a bicyclist. tripped on the steps at the Roy Arias Studio (stupid maxi dress!), a certain someone smiled at me (I think?), and everything got soaked in the rain. Not that the latter is a cause of death. But pneumonia is not a pretty thing to be catching when far away from home. To appease my mixed spirits (overjoyed by the play, disheartened by the rain), I managed to pretend to be in some glamorous music video on the way towards a cheap corner store selling $5 umbrellas. Salvation. Oh and to whom smiled at me, I'll get to why that nearly killed me in just a moment.

Apparently I need to watch Dallas. That's all. Sorry to bump my rated PG blog to R.
Prior to actually going to Roy Arias Studio for a stage reading of Karen Bishko's latest musical play, Still Single, I stopped by Utrecht Art Supplies. I am obsessed with art supplies. Almost as insane as my chocolate addiction. May need therapy for both. I blame the hard to miss sign. They seduced me with "buy ANYTHING we mean ANYTHING from the clearance section and get a t-shirt!" Certain kinds of artists are way too easy to persuade. Yes, I am one of those artists.

Thank heaven for 67 cent stickers that I will probably never use. Check out my new sweet t-shirt. Perfect for late night studio! This is probably the last shot in its cleanliness state.
89 cent miniature canvas squares????! Win! Win!!!!
Off to Blossom Du Jour. Now I have heard only great things about this 100% vegan restaurant. Everyone told me that they had THE best sandwiches. Some say Blossom is way better than my beloved Terri. So I listened to the word of mouth gospel and tried my luck with a smoked tempeh and avocado wrap and a vegan cronut! (yes! my very very very first cronut ever!).

I took a Smokacado and Vegan Cronut to go.
The insides were pretty. But the only thing I really liked about the wrap was the avocado. Avocado is a hard ingredient to mess up on due to its yummy irresistible factor. Cold tempeh, however, is likely not a desirable temperature for me to eat again. I didn't particularly like it. Maybe it's an acquired taste. I don't know. Plus I wanted to find the nearest basket of salt and pepper packets. Not only was cold tempeh unappealing so was it's lack of salt. How could a wrap with all the fixings- tomato, lettuce, chipotle aioli be a bland deal? Dissatisfied, but full (because hello! I wasn't going to let $8 go to waste), I wanted to immediately wash away the unpleasant situation. Thankfully, the cronut looked at me and smiled.
Oh where art thou cronut? It disappeared. Crunchy sugary sweetened exterior with a chewy interior. Crumbs everywhere. It was like Crumbaggedeon.
Roy Arias Studios was to be a four minute walk. Until I discovered power striding in the wrong direction. As usual. But I made it on time- at three. Okay three something. But hey! As I headed up the stairs (reminded me of a better version of high school bleachers), somehow forgot that one must pick up the hem of a maxi dress. Some near fatal, quite disastrous, very embarrassing falling occurred. My hands saved my life and I appeased worried folks.
Moments later, it all began.
The cast players came out- Melissa Van Der Schyff, Catherine Porter, Peter Davenport, Emily Stockdale, Lauren Downie and wait for it....... Tom Pelphrey!!!!(insert mad fangirl screaming and overzealous enthusiasm). I kept a calm composure. I truly did.
In a stage reading, the actors read from manuscripts on a brightly lit stage. And since this was a stage reading of a musical, they all sang LIVE with REAL accompanied instruments. No synthesizers and artificial beats here. So so good!
Still Single is primarily centered on Leah, a successful divorce lawyer, a most caring, supportive BFF, who is horrid in the "love" department. She's been hung up on Andy, a cheating ex, for years. However, she is a terrific, closeted singer- shy about sharing gift to the world. With MJ as her ringtone, Leah got more and more loveable as each act continued on. Melissa was simply an excellent lead, playing the single gal on the prowl loving the alcohol and the cake too much while comparing every man to Andy. She can be a witchy woman. Yet sweet, sincere, and completely relatable due to commendable touches of vulnerability. I definitely appreciated that the ending didn't have Leah "put a ring on it." Single life is not all that bad. In fact, it's pretty darn great.
Ummmm.... so I didn't get the memo about Tom's singing abilities. I didn't know he could sing. Like theatrically trained. Seriously. I mean, the man is talented, but when he started turning dialogue into belted song, my jaw dropped. That voice turned further impressive as his evil (kind adjective) character Benny the rock band drummer (one of many- there's also Jacob the temperamental surgeon, Andy the cheating pilot, an Israeli man in Anger Management, etc ) starts singing (bragging really ha ha) about his hazel eyes and stubble. His pipes just flowed like wine when he was really getting into it. For a moment, my brows froze at the top of my forehead.
"I can't help if girls like that...."
Umm... folks. I'm still alive after that. I thought almost getting hit by a bicyclist was horror, but hearing him breaking into serenade just made my heart stop beating. He was a part of like four sings man. Four songs. Is there a thing that he can't do? I struggled between tears, laughter, and fangirl swooning. 30 going on 12 years old....
Karen Bishko- singer, songwriter, magician (okay not a literal David Copperfield magician) owns my heart!! Her songs are hilariously fantastic! And she's also a former portrait painter to boot! Too much goodness to handle. Three days later, I still have tunes stuck in my brain and may start singing to my mom about her hazel eyes tomorrow. She doesn't have stubble by the way. Ha!
Other than that, delighted by this stage reading. Very delighted. Good use of props by all.
The cast sang their group number, took a bow, and enjoyed the applause.
Then it happened.
The sudden acknowledgement. The smile. I felt like a deer caught in headlights. Cheesy but true. In the back of my mind, however, I think, maybe he was staring at the patterns in my scarf, the wall interested him or someone else. But the most surreal feeling, the most unexpected engagement to have whilst applauding a wonderful performance, is to see these sung about hazel eyes looking at the crowd with genuine sincerity and lips curving into a grin sweeter than a vegan cronut.
As for Still Single, I do hope it finds a place on a Broadway stage. Truly an excellent treat.  Everyone performed harmoniously. If I didn't have homework, I truly would have stayed for the 7PM performance just to see if they could really pull it off twice in a day!
Afterwards, I left on weakened, faint legs, picked up the maxi dress hem, and headed out, too afraid to say "hi" amongst the swarm of folks braver than me. That's when the rain poured outside with a heavily unwanted greeting, soaking my entire chic wardrobe including pretty faux snakeskin flats.
Now I wish I can say this is the end of the Tom Moral Fan Support Life y'all (okay not really). But good news- Tiger Lily Road is an official selection for the Soho International Film Festival. You bet your bottom cup of soy two pump raspberry hold the whip hot chocolate that I will be there. I cannot wait to see the film again! And my little Ohioan friend- oh she cannot wait either! (She's played the trailer out). I have a creative surprise to put to work and I'll share when May day comes. Squealing with delight just thinking about it!!!

The introduction flyer. It got a little soaked, but it's mint condition.
I'm going to be a Tom follower until he personally tells me to shoo like a fly. Oh god. Maybe I'll stay hidden in shadowy corners, watching his brilliant work from "afar," so that he never says that. I would be crushed, flattened like well... a swatted fly?
In other news, soap opera related, apparently there is a Young and the Restless Comedy Tour with Joshua Morrow and Steve Burton. It stops in Dayton of all places this weekend. There has never been a soap opera related anything back home. I sobbed to my mom about the horrible timing. Such injustice! It's sold out anyway.
Anyways, it's back to the kitchens for me. The kitchen kitchen, the studio kitchen, and the writing kitchen. I'm all kitchen and nothing but the kitchen.
Blogger Tricks

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Vegan Cheesy Grits, Tempeh, And Avocado

Yummy spin on the classic cheesy grits phenomenon.
School is almost over. Trying not to stress or get teary eyed.
I mean, I still have two more years at PAFA, but the Post Baccalaureate Program has a certain kind of tight intimacy that the larger MFA Program will not have. Yes, I'm excited about it, but I'll miss the small group. It was nice and pleasant.
Now transitioning onto food. No need to be overly sentimental about school right?
Polenta always brings joy. Haven't you noticed? I'm a polenta feen. It's my college ramen noodles. Haha! It's $2 for an 18 oz log. I easily get four to five servings out of it. Not the same as 10 servings from 5 ramen noodle packs, but so much better in my opinion.
Ain't nothing like a comforting bowl of golden cheesy grits (polenta's other name) to start one's morning, especially when there's some seasoned tempeh and ripened just right avocado involved. There's varied creamy textures going on in this incredibly savory breakfast, but the tempeh (which I love getting a few sides slightly blackened) adds a delicate crunch and certain meaty chewiness. Very simple to make and just enough for two happy very hungry inhabitants.

Vegan Cheesy Grits, Tempeh, And Avocado Ingredients and Preparation

2 tablespoon olive oil
4 oz. tempeh (half an 8 oz block, chopped)
1 teaspoon liquid aminos
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 18oz polenta log, diced1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 oz. Follow Your Heart Mozzarella
1 avocado, ripened1/2 teaspoon kelp flakes
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat skillet with olive oil.
In a small bowl, hand mix tempeh cubes with liquid aminos, turmeric, garlic, curry powder, black pepper, and crushed red pepper.
Toss this into skillet and brown on each side for 3-5 minutes each.
Add the diced polenta and start bashing it in with a spoon. Do minutes this for a good 3 minutes, adding the almond milk and stirring until a creamy albeit chunky consistency.
Stir in nutritional yeast and Follow Your Heart Mozzarella.Turn off heat once cheese melts.
Gently open ripened avocado and scoop out the lime green goodness. Try hard not to eat it all before sprinkling kelp flakes and crushed red pepper on each slice.

"Cheese" melting action.
Place seasoned avocado slices atop grits.
Another angle of beautiful, delicious, mind blowing food.
And then there were leftovers to be had for the next morning. With a fresh avocado of course!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Washington D.C.: A Trip Of Vegan Soul Food, Women's Art, And Devil Dogs

Woodlands Vegan Bistro was the place to be! Look at that fried "chicken!"
Ms. Glasper Goes To Washington D. C. Take that Mr. Smith!
The weather couldn't have been lovelier for going rogue on a splendid Saturday of food and fem art education.
First of all, I arrived with a growling belly. Our pit stop in Maryland left little to be desired.
I had received many vegan restaurant recommendations, but selected two. Many art galleries to visit, but stayed footed in one special place that means the world- The National Women in the Arts Gallery. Most of the D.C. galleries- like countless others celebrate and cater male artists, but here is my home. There Judy Chicago, one of my favorite feminist heroic artists, has put up an exhibit in accordance with her 75th birthday. Here lies some of the women she wants me to study: Paula Modersohn Becker, Elisabet Ney, Madame Deronda, Lily Bart. Of author Virginia Woolf, she declares, " poor Virginia. She was a flower of genius, a shaking lead. She tottered on the brink of sanity, holding long enough to speak with a true female voice which like a beacon beckons us."
Whilst studying Chicago's pieces, colored pencil drawings molded into meaningful circular patterned forms, it is her writing that drives my passion, that speaks intimately. It is so refreshing to see, especially after Friday. Neysa Grassi's (one of my critics!) show opening at Locks Gallery contained a varied scale body of ethereal, sensual, tranquil paintings that were both studies of intriguing technique and myriad form. In Chicago, I found her writings (all dated within the 70's) just as compelling and difficult to turn away from. Her scripted scrawl gave profound insight into connections between all the ladies (philosophers, writers, scientists, activists, etc) she studied and the tribulations a woman artist goes through just to have a solo show. She is right above things. The struggle still exists today.

Funny, how always, the bus traveler finds herself exiting off one form of public transportation to another. The terminal is crisp, clean, impersonal. No rat would feel welcomed here. Haha! This has got to be one of the most efficient forms I've ever commuted on. Very impressed.
I took the yellow line, got off at Columbia Heights, and walked 12 minutes to Woodlands Vegan Bistro- a friendly ran place on Georgia St. with a soulful menu recommended by VeRAWnica, vegan owner of my favorite Instagram accounts!
Customers are directed towards the back to a cafeteria style setup to order. Items like collard greens, cornbread, and "chicken" pot pie tempt my hunger. But it was that irresistible fried "chicken" that caught my eye. I wanted it sans sauce and accompanied my "meat" with steamed broccoli, out of this world macaroni & cheese, and the most incredible yams ever prepared.
OMG! The chicken was off the scales! Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, I couldn't believe how deliciously creative concoction. Everything was seasoned perfectly. I never touched the salt and pepper shaker. Yes! Yes! Yes!!! I would definitely come back here. Well aware that Megabus will get me back here in a three hour jiffy! :D
I walked off my soul food for a Sticky Fingers treat- another Instagram user recommendation.
I had such a hard time choosing one dessert. Too much to handle. On the plus side, a birdy told me that Whole Foods out in the Philly suburbs sell Sticky Fingers baked goods. Definitely worth checking out!
Mosaic magic!
I spent remainder of the field trip inside of one of my favorite places- National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Judy Chicago's "birthday" party. I had such a phenomenal time at her dinner party after all, shedding a few tears in its lavished presence at the Brooklyn Museum. Her birthday celebration was no small consolation. There were sketches, plans, ideas set in motion. She lets the viewer see all the ingredients of Dinner Party before it was ceremoniously mixed and baked. I'm utterly moved by the fact that she studied every female she placed at the Dinner Party. She really genuinely cared about that work, going as far as studying lace making from experts for the Emily Dickinson part of the place card.
Just a taste of Chicago's prismacolor sketches and writings for her lithographs. It entails her whole process of preparing the epic Dinner Party work. There were also another set of primsacolors on the opposite wall and the story of how her male printer gave her such trouble that she didn't get them made into desired prints. I, however, enjoyed the drawings though saddened by her plight. "these would have been beautiful lithos," she had wrote on one of them.
Africa by Lois Mailou Jones, another admirable artist. A trinity of rounded voluptuous forms, elongated necks, and mask like features engage a vibrantly painted composition. It evocatively speaks of the beauty behind divine heritage.
Faith Ringgold, an inspiration. Honored to walk down Ringgold Street and just think about her work, these mixed media enjoyments that celebrate African Diaspara and African Americans living in America. This piece in particular seems to revel in dance.
Amy Sherald is new to me. her intriguing paintings of humorously outrageous costumed ethnic portraits with deadpan expressions, lifeless skin color, and bold, abstractly decorated background fascinated me. This large scale painting is entitled They Call Me Redbone But I'd Rather Be Strawberry Shortcake.
Another Sherald- It Made Sense.... Only In Her Mind.
The Call by Remedios Varo, an artist that is new to me. Her elongated forms, heavy use of bright focused lighting, and spiritually etched illustrative painting rendered me breathless. The center woman flows through these grey ghostly forms like a floating, glowing brilliant figure of suspended bravery.
Only admiring one of my favorite painters of all time, Frida Kahlo. I wish I could lay a pillow right in front of Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsy and lay forever without ever shutting an eye. Each brush stroke is applied with all the sensual beauty that one expects from a Kahlo work. Very beguiling and hard to tear gaze away from.
Young Girl With a Sheaf, Camille Claudel. Such a fascinating piece of bronze sculpture finished when the artist was only twenty-six years old.
The great French actress Sarah Bernhardt was also a very talented sculptor! This is After the Storm comprised of white marble. Amazing in every angle.
Hotel Harrington is where the Art Academy of Cincinnati students stayed at during the five day field trip so long ago.... 
Ended my day with a delicious Sticky Fingers devil dog- yummy cream between two thick slabs of chocolate sandwich goodness. So good! Wish I had gotten two....
To pass time in the last hour on the road, I played the Highway License Plate Game- you know where you count the states of the license plates? Well, I tallied in case anyone was interested. Even though it looked like New Jersey (14 in total) would win in the first twenty minutes, Delaware (24) came strong, but Pennsylvania (39) won in the end. However, I must admit there happened to be 32 unknown cars that drove by so who knows who would've been the real victorious champion. Others in the race included 2 for Virginia, 2 for Maryland and 1 each for New York, Quebec (yes a Canada car!), and a car sans license.
Any who, that was fun- the D.C. part of the journey. I never ever in my life want to play Highway License Plate Game again. Unless I was high on a lot of Sticky Fingers' Devil Dogs!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Out Of Africa Product Line Review And Giveaway

A little sneak peek at current beauty routine.
First of all, sincerest apologies. I didn't mean to forget Daytonian pride. I was never a University of Dayton student or had interest of attending, but I drank often at the Starbucks on Brown Street near campus. That must count for something right? So here's my late shout out: Way to go University of Dayton men's basketball team on making the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament! Wooo hooo!!! What an amazing adventure and fantastic feat! What a thrill ride!

Way to go Dayton!
Now I'm not the biggest sports fan, but even I am impressed by beloved Cinderella story of my hometown. I wasn't the only one. Some artist friends and colleagues commented on their journey and applauded them too. We didn't make the Final Four, but getting up there beating out Ohio State and other heavyweight teams meant everything for us underdogs.
This brings me to the second blog giveaway. It is tough, wishing everyone to win the prize. That is how it goes in the way of life. Still, everyone's a winner because by reading this post, you'll all know just how terrific Out Of Africa's products are. 100% cruelty free, this vegan based body and skin care treats make skin glow with vitality and softness. Plus, 5 cents of each purchase benefits a child's education in West Africa and provides PBS programming. We all know how terrific PBS programming is- don't we? I still remember learning so much from beloved shows like Reading Rainbow, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, Lamb Chops Play Along, and Sesame Street. And yes, I still watch Arthur sometimes- when the writers aren't writing unbelievable episodes on vegetarians...
As for Out Of Africa, I am currently using the Lavender Body Wash (which smells and cleanses amazingly), the Verbena 100% Pure & Unrefined Shea Butter (softens and keeps ashiness at bay), and the Africa Black Soap for my face.
I am usually more of a facial cleanser lady. However, Out Of Africa's Africa Black Soap happens to be one of those rare occasions that don't dry up my face like a California raisin. Of course, I tone and moisturize after, but that new found radiant dewiness is definitely from the gentle, non-fragrant soap. Made from natural and sustainable ingredients like organic Shea Butter (hand made in Benin and rich in vitamins A, E, and F)), aloe vera, olive oil, and even plantain skins (yes!!!), your skin reaps benefits from these remarkable rewards. Then again, not all skin types are created equal. I only know it has impacted my face over the course of a week. It's good stuff. All the way from Africa. That touches me in ways no one can ever fathom.
So the Out of Africa Giveaway package consists of Out of Africa's Lavender Body Wash, Lavender Body Lotion, Orange Cream Lip Balm, and Lavender 100% Pure and Unrefined Shea Butter, and a Fair Trade chocolate treat! It begins now! Good luck everybody! Winner will be drawn April 9th!

Smiling educated kids in Africa- that's what I love seeing twice a day!
Rounded edge soap is so cute. Love the giraffe design.
Face washing is so fun in the morning. You know, after the grueling hitting the snooze button a gazillion times and then finally waking up.
Before toner and moisturizer. Also that horrid pimple above top lip is all but faded now. Stress is real!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Vegan Mini Pepperoni Polenta Pizzas

Skip the dough fest and use polenta for a fresh spin on pizza!
Time is of the essence. Deadlines and critiques and graduation galore. My thoughts are of nothing else.
March is over today. After endless showers, the weather unveiled pretty sunshine. Well, sort of. The gusty wind blew away good intentions. Still a jacket required outing.
On the plus side, I used my new baking pan. For a while there, I used a cheap cookie sheet, now with this $25 retail valued nonstick addition found for $7, I feel a sense of worthiness.
Polenta. Polenta. How I love polenta. Once I had baked pasta with pepperonis because the soy ground was all gone. I called it pizza mac. Now here it goes with polenta- my other love. Who doesn't enjoy using polenta as a pasta substitute? Garden veggie polenta lasagna with tofu ricotta or ravioli stuffed polenta are just some delicious sounding meals that I would love to create sometime. Thankfully, polenta is versatile- a recipe underdog for the toughest entree fix. For now, here's pizza.
Seasoned with garlic, Italian seasonings, and olive oil, same ingredients added to homemade dough, little polenta rounds are then topped with tradition. I was disheartened that my oven is a weirdo. How else could I explain how some of Follow My Heart's cheese melted on some rounds and not on others?
Anywho, these miniature pizzas are quite delicious! Great appetizer fun. If having a party, five people could have five apiece, but if eating solo.... well, do your own kind of math. Ha ha! ;)

Vegan Mini Pepperoni Polenta Pizzas Ingredients and Preparation

1 18 oz. pkg polenta, sliced thinly (I made 25 slices)
olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic
1 1/2 Italian seasonings
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
tomato sauce
Follow Your Heart mozzarella, thinly sliced and cut into small squares
Yves Pepperoni (had 25 pepperonis)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bake polenta for 30 minutes- 15 on each side.

Spread about 1/2 tablespoon tomato sauce on each polenta circle.
Top sauce with a sliver of cheese.
One slice of pepperoni each. Bake for 15 minutes.
While some of the cheese didn't melt like how I wanted (will maybe slice thinner?), still pretty good nonetheless!
Two bites and bam! They disappear instantly.
The melted cheese ones were the best surprises!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vegan Gluten Free Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes With Blueberry-Lemon Maple Syrup

Blueberry supreme!
Graduation is hailing near. And frankly, I must admit, I forgot that I was graduating. Between immersion into being accepted into PAFA's MFA Program, watching old Guiding Light reruns (cannot get enough!), journal writing, crying over a dead laptop, gearing up for playing a greedy king in our seminar's Rumpelstiltskin play (next week curtains open!), and drawing lioness fantasies, somehow completing the intensive strenuous year long Post Baccalaureate program somehow slipped my mind. I missed the graduation rehearsal and everything. My only hope is that my name is pronounced right. On the plus side, I have two invitations and have to decide who I love more.
Can't I just invite pancakes? More specifically blueberry sour cream pancakes with blueberry lemon syrup drizzled on top? Imagine that having a front roll seat.
So here's a vaulted recipe from weeks ago.
Back in Dayton, on the strange weather nonsensical spring break, I really enjoyed these light, fluffy pancakes aided by the creaminess of sour cream and joined by bursting blueberry sweetness. The day before Krogers had a sale on organic fruit. I bought up a fresh pint of blueberries, thinking only of pancakes- that gluten free pancake/waffle mix had to be put to good use! Again as simple as the raspberry pancakes and just as delicious.
Why have maple syrup plain? Yes, maple syrup is so ridiculously good. Why mess that up? I adored the raspberry syrup so much, why not add another fine fruit to the mix? It was incredible! With lemon juice and ginger to counteract the sugared intensity, nothing is more fun than witnessing blueberries popping and syrup turning into an elegant shade of royal purple.
Pancakes that are perfect as breakfast, brunch, lunch, dessert, or dinner. Everyone would be sure to love them- vegan or nonvegan! :)

Vegan Gluten Free Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes With Blueberry-Lemon Maple Syrup Ingredients and Preparation

olive oil
1 cup Maple Grove Farms Gluten Free Pancake/Waffle Mix
1 cup almond milk
2 tablespoon Tofutti Sour Cream
1/4 cup blueberries
pinch of cinnamon

1/2 maple syrup
1/4 cup blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
lemon zest
pinch of almond extract

Heat skillet with olive oil.
Mix batter ingredients together.
Spread 1/4 cup onto warmed skillet and wait for the edges to brown/ center to bubble.
Flip over.
Repeat.

To sauce up your blueberry-sour cream pancakes, warm up syrup with blueberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, ginger, and almond extract for about 5-7 minutes until color changes to a deep purple.
Serve hot.

Served with a side of seasoned tempeh strips.
Perfect breakfast. Or dinner. Or lunch. Or whatever.
Yum.