VegBooks.org 500th Review! (and a contest)

VegBooks.org posted the 500th review on the site the other day! Go have a look, I’ll wait. . .

I can’t believe a review I wrote was chosen, it is a great series of all ages comic books/graphic novels about a vegetarian owl named Owly.  I have seen numerous copies on the shelves of our local libraries so you can check them out there or on Amazon (affiliate link).

Comics are such a part of who I am, I have probably about 1,000 comic books, most of them are issues of the Fantastic Four but there are others besides superhero comics.  I know some people call it “sequential art” but I don’t think the term “comics” is pejorative or anything.  If you are looking for a local comic book source, the BEST comic book store I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to some of the largest) is here in vegas: Alternate Reality Comics.  The proprietor, Ralph, really cares about independent and off the beaten path work and in my active comic buying days introduced me to some great ones.  He blogs over at “Ich Liebe Comics!

Without further ado, here are the details of the contest to celebrate the 2 year VegBooks.org anniversary!

Vegbooks.org – a site that reviews kids media from a veg perspective – is celebrating its 500th review with a contest.  Readers are encouraged to submit an original book review, which will be evaluated by a panel of Vegbooks judges for writing style, subject matter, and creativity.  The winner will receive three vegan-friendly kids books and Vegbooks will spotlight the winning book review on its site.

Drawing from the experience of vegetarian and vegan parents and educators, Vegbooks provides insightful reviews of children’s books and movies.  Launched in 2009 by Jessica Almy, a Washington D.C.-area vegan mom, Vegbooks has been featured on Our Hen House, Vegans on the Move, Kind Green Planet, and Super Vegan.

“I launched Vegbooks to assist parents — and aunties, uncles, teachers, godparents, and friends — in finding books and movies that affirm vegetarian and vegan values,” says Almy.  “Together we can raise children who value life, the connections between humans and other animals, and the need to protect the earth and all its inhabitants.”

To enter the contest, readers are encouraged to submit a book review of 350 words or less to vegbooks@gmail.com by October 24, 2011 – the second anniversary of the website. The winner will receive That’s Why We Don’t Eat AnimalsGarlic- Onion- Beet- Spinach- Mango- Carrot Grapefruit Juice, and Our Farm, and the winning review will be featured on the site.  Complete rules are posted to Vegbooks.org.

Mission Beach Photos

Another round of phone camera photos, I was going to crop these but they are kind of funny as is.  You see, when you are at the beach or pool it is a good idea to put your phone in a ziploc bag.  You can still talk on it and use it (even a touchscreen like my Droid X) but I like to take the phone out for pictures so they aren’t hazy.  So I was holding the bag and the phone, ready to slip it back in once each photo was taken but. . .well, you can see for yourself:




Another ziploc bag photobomb:

People told us not to go to Mission Beach with kids but we got a great parking spot early in the morning and the walk wasn’t long like we’d been told.  Perfect, classic beach.  We initially sat where emergency vehicles needed to be so they asked us to move when they laid the cones out for that purpose but we had a beach umbrella, a big quilt, and a chair so it wasn’t difficult to move.

We found an anemone and put it in some water for a photo but we think it was maybe dead and that was why it washed up to shore.  Very beautiful though and a good chance to talk about the wildlife in the ocean with the kids.  My mother in law watched R and E for a little so my husband and I could go into the cold water and swim.  It took a little while to adjust to the cold but it was so very nice to jump into the waves and let them carry us.  Now it is one of my all time favorite memories.  I joked that the sea was rejecting us and my husband pointed out that it is better than the alternative, which is true!

Fantastic morning.  That afternoon the power outage hit that I mentioned in my last post.  Even so, it was a great day.  I was born near the ocean (the Atlantic) and my husband was born near the Pacific and we are both drawn to the water even though after a week of humidity it is nice to get back to a dry heat in Las Vegas.

San Diego Wild Animal Park Photos

On one of our last days in San Diego after Labor Day this year, we used our Costco park hopper passes to visit the San Diego Wild Animal Park.  It is up in Encinitas so it was a long drive and unlike the Zoo they charge for parking ($10) which was a bummer.  We went the day after the big county wide power outage and I think many people must have assumed the park was closed so there were no crowds.  (The picture above is of some Macaws in a tree.)  At the entrance they have a neat area where you can see an animal up close to learn more about it, out at the “meet and greet” was a Monitor Lizard named Tarzan.  The kids liked seeing his long tongue flick out while he ate some breakfast.

The big plan was to get on the African Safari and see the park that way but the trek to the Safari is long.  I don’t like to complain but when you are with little kids your time is at a premium, it was hot as well (great time to be in San Diego, for a heatwave, at least that meant the beach was perfect the day we went!).  Once we got on the safari though, we loved it.  The picture above is the view 3/4 of the way to the tram entrance.  Isn’t it expansive?  Amazing to see Wildebeest running across green plains (gave me chills, but I can’t think of Wildebeest without thinking of this video, it has NSFW language but Billy Connolly is hillarious), a 13 month old Rhino being nursed by his mother, and to learn of the conservation efforts of the Zoo.

After the Safari we saw the Lions, sleeping of course.  Nearby was a splashpad and a picnic area so we settled in for lunch and let E and R get a little wet.  It was already time to beeline it to the exit so we’d be back in time for afternoon naps.  I was able to get some free ice from the concession stand which is one of my standbys, you can usually get cups of ice for little or no charge.  We got to see some Meerkats as we made our way to the exit.  The next day we headed home and concluded that though we loved seeing all the attractions, maybe our next trip will be a beach only one.  These parks take a lot of walking and work and the kids don’t have the stamina for too much.  That said, it was a great trip and we learn more about traveling every time we do it.  Oh, and there was a fantastic rainstorm on the drive home which was fun as well.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Photos

These are momentous.  Not just because they turn out great, and much better since I started using corn free xanthan gum instead of guar gum (see a great comparison here), but because it was my first taste of chocolate since a year ago when I stopped eating chocolate in case it was contributing to R’s colic.  It never seemed worth reintroducing, which is sacrilegious but when you are thinking of your baby’s happiness you, too, can give up chocolate.

Oh, that first bite was so good.  These are vegan, wheat free, oat free, nut free, etc. etc. and just marvelous.  From my favorite cookbook: the Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook by Cybele Pascal (amazon affiliate link).

Family Friendly Activities (new page)

When my husband saw me preparing a new section on the site he asked if I was going to post about it, I am sorry if this seems like filler but I do like to mention it because it is nice to see all the ideas in one place.  Sometimes it is easy to give Las Vegas a hard time for being devoid of family friendly activities.  We’re no Portland or San Diego or even Albuquerque but if you try you will find things to do year round.  Not just play gyms either (which we do enjoy but it is a lot of money just to play with some foam inclines!).

The libraries have free events, there are beautiful parks (especially in nearby Henderson), and when the weather is cool(ish) you can just be outside in the sunshine.  You just have to make the most of where you live, make it your home and maybe the community will change.  I, for one, am giddy with excitement about seeing Wicked at the Smith Center (Tickets go on sale in February of next year for the August shows, R will be 2, E will be 4, and rain or shine I am going to drag my husband with me!  Oh, and I am going to dress up, even if it is for a matinee.).

Speaking of libraries, I have a new review up on VegBooks.org, it is a fantastic book we discovered while on vacation in San Diego – Houndsley and Catina by James Howe and Marie-Louise Gay.  Apparently the imprint the book is under, Candlewick Sparks, has some great books that we will be checking out soon.

Books aside, home is where your friends are.  Let me just say I am overwhelmed at the kindness of our friends for supporting us as we walk to raise awareness for food allergies on October 1st (donation page here).  E and I will make some thank you cards to send to everyone that contributes on our page, thank you all so much.

Sunset Park

We rode our bikes to Sunset Park on Sunday, I think we were there 8-ish in the morning and it was sunny but not too hot, which was awesome.  The only bummer was that we were trying to ride to a particular playground area and it was entirely torn up with bulldozers.  So we moved along to a different playground area near the lake and it seemed impassable as well.

That is how we ended up in the “new” area of the park so I snapped some pictures with my cell phone.  I think it was our second or third time in this area and I am not usually a fan because it is for much older children (ages 5-8) so there are no slides and mostly just spinning devices.  Feels a little sterile to me.  That said, this time both kids had a lot of fun climbing around under the canopy.  I am most certainly not in the best shape but riding a bike to a particular destination is something I can manage even as it taxes me a little bit!

I do like the new bike and walking trails as well as how the new area has nods to the animals of Southern Nevada, I wonder if they will do something similar in the currently demolished areas of the park.  Here’s a 2010 article in the RJ about some of the improvements being made.

Traveling with Food Allergies – Part Two

So we know things are tricky, but don’t despair, you can have fun (and maybe relax a little) on a family vacation when you have food allergies added to the mix.  Here’s a sample of how I plan out meals.  Don’t start your calendar with the first day of our trip, start it with the week before.  There’s baking and cooking and freezing to be done!  Take advantage of your full kitchen strength to make large portions.  We don’t have a microwave at home but in the hotel it is handy for re-heating things.

Here are seven dinner ideas on vacation:

Refried beans and Rice – you can pack boxed rice if there is a safe one or measure rice into ziploc bags – do you have a safe canned refried bean?  pack it or pack a frozen homemade version.  You can round this meal out with some locally bought veggies.

Gravy, potatoes and veggies – I have a go to gravy recipe that I make in large batches.  You can freeze your gravy or use individual baggies with pre-measured spices along with a box of veggie broth and an onion to whip up a quick batch at the hotel.  I discovered steam fresh frozen veggies on vacation and they are really easy to microwave since I didn’t realize the room wouldn’t have an oven.

Soup! – You can freeze veggie soup and a split pea soup, they are different enough that you won’t get the food “blahs” eating soup twice in the span of a few days.  Makes a good lunch when out and about as leftovers, it doesn’t have to be hot to enjoy.

Persian Lima Bean Rice – Hear me out!  Just make this the day before you leave and load it up in a lock & lock.  It keeps well and it can be your dinner the day you arrive at your destination.

Quinoa and veggies – Use leftover quinoa to make a tabouli-like salad that you can take out with you for lunch the next day.  You can also serve the quinoa with marinara sauce but we are not eating tomatoes right now with R’s allergy.

Pasta and sauce – If you can have tomatoes, rice pasta with marinara sauce is a great idea as well.  You might be able to buy a safe sauce when you arrive if you don’t want to bring a frozen one or one from home.

Baked potatoes with fixings – if you have an oven, or I think you can microwave them as well.  The next day you can make potato salad, if you make baked potatoes the day before you leave you can have salad for lunch on the road.

Next up: Snacks and sweets!

(Part One can be found here)