Vegan Eats

For most of my 62 plus years I’ve been an omnivore. There are very few foods I won’t eat, and I’m usually open to trying exotic fare. So when my gastroenterologist put me on a dairy free diet for two weeks I figured I’d suffer through it and then go back to my regular diet (stomach permitting) once those two weeks were up.

The first week I didn’t do very well. Our grandkids were visiting from Illinois, and I was often in a hurry to grab something that seemed okay. It turns out there are dairy products in so many things that we’d never think to question, like crackers, breads, dry cereals. and processed meats. Even non-dairy toppings may have dairy. Go figure.

Once the grandkids departed I got serious about going dairy free. Since I don’t cook much, or well, I went in search of vegan restaurants in Tallahassee, figuring they’d be the best sources of dairy-free foods, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

Sweet Pea Cafe on Tharpe Street is an excellent vegan cafe. I’ve eaten there several times now. Just today I had yummy tacos and the most incredible sweet potato fries I’ve ever tasted. Their baked goods are top notch, too. Seriously good stuff. That’s their menu board pictured below.

The Soul Vegan Express on Adams is good, as well. It’s a bit of a drive from my home, but I’ve eaten there once and highly recommend it.

Other Tallahassee restaurants have vegan options on their menu, so I’ve had a variety of choice places to eat.

I’ve also been shopping for frozen vegan foods and have found there are some great offerings. Amy’s Kitchen brand features a couple of vegan entrees. Nature’s Path makes a terrific frozen vegan waffle. I actually prefer them to Eggos brand! There’s a flatbread pizza made by American Flatbread that is amazing. One has to read the labels, but the vegan designation always means the product will be dairy free.

Of course I can have fruits and greens, so that’s fairly easy. And I’ve discovered some tasty vegan candies. The best thing is, I feel good.

I have a follow up visit with my gastroenterologist later this month, and I’m planning to stay at least dairy free, maybe even vegan only, until I see him. I’m kind of interested in seeing how this all turns out.

Peace, people!

What Would You Do?

I was in Lucky’s Market in Tallahassee on Wednesday afternoon. The little cafe area was hopping. Some people were taking advantage of the “$6 2 Slices and a Pint” special. Others were having a coffee or tea. Almost every table was filled.

While I waited on my non-fat iced chai tea latte at the bar I surveyed the crowd and noted that the college aged African American man seated right behind me had a large piece of white fuzz stuck in his hair. For a couple of minutes I debated about telling him. I got my latte and found a seat, still trying to decide whether I should say anything.

When he got up to leave I caught up to him and told him there was something in his hair. In my best mom voice I said, “Turn around. I’ll fix it.”

He obliged me and I dusted the fuzz away. I told him I walk around with stuff sticking to me all the time, but that he was too handsome to walk around like that. Oh mercy. I think I embarrassed the poor guy half to death.

He did thank me, but I wonder if I did the right thing. Should I have just let the fuzz be? What would you have done?

Peace, people.

Snapshot #226

I’m calling this one, “Everything but the Kitchen Sink.”

I’m sure there’s a story behind this overpacked pickup truck I saw in Tallahassee today. It reminds me of one of those picture search puzzles from Highlight magazine. Can you spot the 🐧? The pink piñata? Hula hoops? An 🇺🇸? A ⭐️?

Can you imagine what might happen if one of the restraints broke?

I’ll be pondering this pickup truck for awhile.

Peace, people!

Great Expectations, Dashed yet Fulfilled

On Monday afternoon I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and read a post that caused me to do a double take. A post from a local bookstore announced that author Louise Penny was appearing in Tallahassee on Tuesday evening to launch her newest book in the Inspector Gamache series.

Quickly I read the details and called the bookstore to purchase a ticket. I freaked out a little when my call went to the store’s voicemail, but I left a message and then immediately dialed the number again. Bingo!! I was so excited! I just knew that I was going to meet Ms. Penny and she’d be smitten by my wit and intelligence and we’d become best friends forever (BFFs, don’t you know) while she composed a thoughtful note to write in my book.

The event didn’t start until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, so I was sure to arrive 45 minutes early, feeling certain I’d get a front row seat. Ha! When I arrived, the parking lot of Faith Presbyterian Church where the event was being held was completely full. I drove around for ten minutes just trying to locate a parking spot.

Then, when I walked in the door my hopes of getting anywhere near the front were dashed. The place was almost completely full already. That was okay, I reasoned, the ticket price included a copy of Ms. Penny’s newest book, so I didn’t really need to be up front, since surely she’d be signing copies.

Well, when I checked in to get my book I learned that only the first 150 folks to purchase tickets would get to meet the author. Apparently that information had been included in the FB post, but in my extreme excitement to see Louise Penny I hadn’t read all of the details. I was bummed out. Seriously bummed out. But I found a seat near the back of the sanctuary and settled in for an ordinary evening in which Louse Penny and I do not become BFFs.

The crowd was huge and excited. I began visiting with folks near me and reveled in their stories of connecting with the characters in Ms. Penny’s books. My own story included my daughter insisting that I read Still Life, the first offering in the Inspector Gamache series. I complied even though murder mysteries aren’t really my cup of tea, unless they’re set in the future and/or include zombies, elves, and/or aliens. But once I’d read the first novel I was hooked, and quickly read the rest of the books in the series. These books are so well crafted that they almost transcend genre.

When Louise Penny stepped up to the pulpit (we were in a church after all) she instantly charmed everyone present. She spoke of her life and early writing influences, how she’d overcome alcoholism and how she’s handling the loss of her husband to dementia in 2016. She spoke of writing to satisfy her own needs, not those of an audience, and of needing to write characters she personally cares for. She was entrancing. Maybe I didn’t get to meet her up close and personal, but I feel like I know her now, at least that bit of her she shared with all of us.

And I have her brand new book that she launched right here in Tallahassee, Florida!

If you haven’t read her books, I urge you to do so. Start from the beginning with “Still Life,” though. They’re better when read in sequence.

I’m still floating from Tuesday night’s experience. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t actually get to meet her. I’d have been comatose with joy, if that’s possible.

Peace, and good reading, people.

How to Ruin a Day

Yep. That’s my car in front. The guy in back came in too hot and rear-ended me at a stoplight. His car is stuck on my trailer hitch, so we had to maneuver out of traffic hooked together. Dammit.

Now we’re waiting on a tow truck to come unhook our vehicles. The police officer on duty only asked the driver of the other car what happened. I had to ask the officer if he wanted to hear what happened from my perspective.

“You got rear ended,” he said.

No shit, I thought, but didn’t say.

Now we’re waiting on a tow truck to pull us apart. Sigh.

Peace, people.

Hot Toddy Lunch

This morning I had a massage at the Aveda Institute in Tallahassee. I’d booked it months ago and totally forgotten about it. Thank goodness for iPhone and appointment reminders. The massage was delicious and relaxing. Twice I dozed off, and that’s a rare thing for me. Afterwards I walked next door to The Hobbit All-American Grill on Pensacola Street.

Now, the temperature in Tallahassee was 49° when I entered The Hobbit. I’d just come from being snuggled under a warm blanket in the spa. I was shivering when I sat at the bar.

I asked if they had any coffee brewed, thinking I’d warm up that way. But there was no coffee to be had. Then Armando, my new best friend/bartender, asked if I might like a hot toddy. Without hesitation I said, “Yes, sir!”

Hot toddies are my go-to when I have a cold, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one other than when I’m sick, but it hit the spot today. I feel a bit decadent having one for lunch on a weekday, but I’m a whole lot warmer.

Peace, people!

Pumpkin Patch

On Saturday morning I went in search of pumpkins to place on the bench in front of Doright Manor. Several churches in Tallahassee set up pumpkin patches at this time of year, and finding a suitable patch was fairly simple.

I believe Christ Presbyterian Church on Bannerman Road has one of the nicest pumpkin patches.

There were lots of families with young children taking pictures on this beautiful fall day.

Soon I’d selected five pumpkins of various sizes to display on my bench. As of this writing they are all in the back of my car waiting for me to clean up the little courtyard where my bench sits. Picking out the pumpkins was way more fun than cleaning out a spot for them will be.

Peace, people!

Volunteering

You know how Facebook reads your posts and all of a sudden your feed is magically filled with content that is in some way related? I’m hoping you do, because if it’s just me that happens to that might creep me out.

Anyway, after I returned to Hurricane Michael ravaged Florida from Texas I posted on FB that I was looking for opportunities to volunteer in some way. Voila! Within mere minutes a post seeking volunteers for storm relief miraculously popped up. The group, Operation BBQ Relief, made it easy to sign up.

As soon as I’d answered a few simple questions their website told me I’d be contacted with a place and time to volunteer. I kept checking my email and text messages all Monday evening, but hadn’t heard anything by the time Studly Doright and I went to bed last night.

First thing on Tuesday morning, though, I saw that during the night I’d received three emails. The first one told me I’d been “deployed” to help on Monday morning the 15th. Hmm. That boat had sailed. I figured better late than never, though, and hurriedly dressed to drive into Tallahassee. The second email just told me what to wear and where to go, and the third told me I’d been okayed to help. I might’ve read them out of order, but I figured everything out.

When I arrived at the staging site around 7:30 a.m., things were already hopping. I signed in, got a hat and a name tag and tried to find my niche. I hadn’t been there long when a man with an official looking t-shirt on tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I knew of a laundromat in the area that would pick up and drop off clothes. I’d just been to the closest one a couple of days ago and knew they weren’t doing that at this time. One would think this would be THE time for such services, but what do I know? I volunteered to take the items and launder them. Soon, I had a large trash bag full of gloves, dish cloths, and aprons. I was cool with being the laundress. Once everything had finished drying I hurried back to see what other tasks were in store.

Basically, OBR prepares, cooks, and packages foods to be picked up by groups like the Salvation Army and local churches. These groups deliver to places without electricity and water. One of the team leaders told me that even yesterday they spoke with local folks who hadn’t had a meal since the hurricane hit last Wednesday.

I found myself packaging and labeling items such as red beans and rice, peas and carrots, and bbq beans. The meats were handled by a separate crew–those with food handling certification. As volunteers packed items, trailers pulled up to be loaded. Everything was well organized and efficient with permanent team members directing volunteers of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities. What an experience!

At lunch time, they fed us an amazing lunch. The country group, The Zac Brown Band donated the services of their huge kitchen trailer and a cook to feed volunteers. I got a quick tour of the trailer. It’s like a chef’s dream.

After working until two p.m. on Tuesday everything on my 62-year-old body hurts, but if I am able to walk on Wednesday morning I’ll go back to work again. It felt good to know we were there to help. Here are a few photos I took during some downtime.

One of the volunteers wrote little love notes on the box lids:

Pallets stacked with water bottles:

Peace, people.