Saturday, December 20, 2014

Half way there

It's official: I am half-way done with law school! There were times last year when I thought this day would never come. While learning about the legal system is incredibly interesting and mentally stimulating, law school itself can seem rather daunting. But, I did it; I got through another semester!

I did a lot of this:



And the day after my final exam, I did a little of this.
Not only are my way-too-long roots now blonde again, but I'm pretty sure I was able to get free cable for a couple hours.

And now, I shall get reacquainted with 8 hours of sleep. Nice to see you again, old friend.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving in Las Vegas!

This year, my mom and I decided to visit my brother in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. Warm weather + no dishes > snow + dirty kitchen.

It was a quick trip filled with losing money and gorging ourselves.

On our first night, we headed to California Pizza Kitchen, which is surprisingly vegan-friendly. We ended up drinking fancy drinks and closing the joint. Oh, and we practiced posing for family holiday photos.


Here's my mom and brother doing it slightly less awkwardly.

When my mom and I headed back to our hotel after dinner, we played the slots for a while (read: lost money for a while). We also took full advantage of the $1 PBR special our hotel was having.

On Thanksgiving, our day centered around the Wynn Buffet. The owner, Steve Wynn, is vegan, so there are tons and tons of vegan options. If you go there (which I HIGHLY recommend), you can even take the vegan tour, where the chefs will show you all of the vegan items at the buffet, and all of the custom dishes they can prepare. Plus, you get the added bonus of the other customers looking at you like you're super fancy.

Here's just a sample of everything I crammed into myself:
That's sushi, chips and guacamole, some sort of curry rice, creamy tomato bisque with salad, cashew cream ravioli, pizza, and mint chocolate chip soy ice cream. Holy Lord.

I'm pretty sure I gained 7 pounds during that meal. In fact, I know I did since I'm writing this entry post-trip. To try to feel better, I convinced myself I'm just an overachiever and was simply getting a head start on gaining the weight I usually do during finals. I guess I know what my New Year's resolutions will be.

We waited for over two hours to get seated. And, despite having to practice more badder control than I ever had previously, it was totally worth it.

In line:
 
Just 1/4 of the line:

Happy to finally be nearing the end!

After eating for nearly as long as we were in line, we walked around the Wynn and checked out all of the decorations. So pretty!

 
We also took some post-food coma family holiday photos (note to self: next time, take family pictures when your face hasn't blown up three inches due to consuming enough sodium to season 500 packs of fries). Looks like that practicing didn't do us much good.
Yeah, probably not going on a Christmas card any time soon. Although, if someone is looking for blackmail material, I think this would be a prime candidate. 

After a whirlwind trip, I had to return to this:

Not happy about it, although I think my waistline probably is.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Vanksgiving

One of the top questions vegans seem to get (at least, in my experience) is, "So, what do you eat on Thanksgiving?" Rather than just answering the question, I decided to post some recipes. While this year I'll be Las Vegas getting my feed bag on at the Wynn Buffet (big ups to not having go wash dishes!), I usually make the following:

-tofurkey (recipe not included as it's pre-made)
-mock chicken pot pie
-green bean casserole
-stuffing (my grandmother's recipe that I veganized)
-mashed potatoes
-pumpkin pie

Oh, and maybe a salad since it's nice to have some food that doesn't send you into a carbohydrate-induced coma.  

Mock Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients: 
1/4 cup vegetable bouillon 
2 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 15.5-oz. can white potatoes, drained and cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups frozen or canned and drained mixed corn kernels, peas, and diced carrots
1/2  lb. faux chicken, cut into tiny cubes
1 box puff pastry sheets
Directions:
       Preheat the over to 400 degrees. Mix the vegetable bouillon powder with the hot water to make stock. Combine the nutritional yeast and flour in a large pot and stir constantly over low heat until lightly toasted. Add the oil, stirring to make a roux. Slowly whisk in the stock, garlic salt, and pepper. Add the vegetables and faux chicken. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until heated through. Roll out one sheet of puff pastry and place in a 9-inch pie dish, trimming to fit. Place the pastry in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until it starts to puff. Remove the pastry from the oven, pour the filling into it, and place the other sheet of puff pastry on top, cutting and pressing together the edges and making several 1-inch slices on top to allow the steam to escape. Continue baking for approximately 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and puffed.

Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:
¼ cup vegan butter (like Earth Balance)
¼ cup flour
1 ½ cups vegetable broth, warmed
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Two 14.5 oz cans green beans, drained
One 2.8 oz can French fried onions
Directions:
1. Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add flour and whisk continuously for 1-2 minutes until it forms a roux.
3. Add broth, soy sauce, and garlic power; whisk for 1-2 minutes until the sauce is thick and bubbly.
4. Add the oil and nutritional yeast. Whisk again until smooth.
5. Pour the sauce into a small casserole dish, add the green beans and stir to coat.
6. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, then top with the French fried onions and bake for 5 more minutes, until browned and bubbly.

Standard Bread Stuffing

Ingredients:
3 quarts soft bread cubes (3 quarts = 12 cups)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground sage
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 melted margarine
2 heaping tablespoons of corn starch plus 4 tablespoons of water (mixed together) 
3/4 boiling water

Directions:
1.  Mix bread, salt, sage, pepper, onion and celery in large bowl.  Pour melted butter over it and mix well.
2.  Add corn starch mixture and water.  Mix lightly until well blended.

Note - If a dry dressing is preferred, decrease liquid.

Cook at 375 degrees for 1/2 hour.
Cook in a casserole dish or in a covered bowl.

Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients: 
1/4 cup olive oil 
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes
Salt

Directions:

1. Place the olive oil in a small saute pan set over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, and cook until garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and set aside.
2. Peel the potatoes, and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Place chunks in a medium saucepan filled with cold water. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until a knife inserted into a potato chunk comes out easily. Drain potatoes in a colander set over a heat-proof bowl, reserving 1/3 cup cooking water. Transfer potatoes and reserved water to a medium bow
3. Using a whisk, mash the potatoes and reserved cooking water until smooth. Whisk in the reserved olive oil and garlic. Season the mashed potatoes with salt, and serve.

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:
2 10.5 ounce packages silken (soft) tofu
1 pre-made pie crust
1 16 ounce can pumpkin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
In a blender or food processor, process all ingredients, except for the pie crust, until smooth.

Pour into pre-made pie crust. Bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Chill before serving, if desired.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween in Iowa

I spent Halloween in Iowa. As a law suit. Hashtag wocka, wocka, wocka.

The day before Halloween, I hit the road with my good buddy, Steve Sabo. First stop: performing at the Big House East Sports Bar in Harlan, Iowa.  The crowd was a ton of fun, and I got to meet these folks:
 
The couple on the right even knew someone from Dexter, who they immediately called upon hearing that's where I'm from. It's always great to chat with another Dreadnaught and reminisce about being from a town nobody has ever heard of, in another town nobody has ever heard of.

After Harlan, we drove four hours to Manchester. We were set to perform the next night at the Pine Oaks Event Center, so we figured we'd get there a night early, dress up in our ridiculous costumes, and make fools of ourselves.

Mission accomplished.

Yes, I actually went in public with this.


First, we stopped at a restaurant where nobody else was dressed up. Not only were we the only ones in costume, but I'm pretty sure Sabo was the only one wearing a onesie. Nobody knew what we were ("an attorney?" "a zombie rabbit?"), which we'd later learn would be a theme for the night.

I ordered the veggie burger, which came with lettuce and tomato. Just because we were in rural Iowa, where it seemed the only other restaurant for miles was Dairy Queen, I asked for clarity from the server, "that is vegetarian, right?" She confirmed it was.

Ten minutes later, she returned to our table. "I am so sorry. That's actually not a vegetarian burger. It's a hamburger...with veggies on it."

Oh, Iowa, where iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato count as "veggies."

After the restaurant, we bar-hopped for a bit. And, I ran into Sparty!

At the final bar/club where we ended up, we were not the only people dressed up. In fact, there was a contest that featured some really amazing, homemade costumes, like the one this guy created:

We met a lot of townies, and even convinced some to go to our show. Some of them even bought us drinks in convenient containers.

All in all, it was a fun place to spend Halloween. And, I can now say I've heard "Man in the Mirror" blasting at a dance club.

Thank you, Iowa.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Making masterpieces

I went to my first ever Paint Nite last weekend. This is one of the many activities (like running 5K's) people have recently discovered are much more fun if they involve alcohol. So, my mom and I decided to give painting and drinking a whirl. I was pretty pumped about the wine, and honestly, I would have been fine with finger painting provided it offered the same amounts of wine.

This was what we were supposed to create:
Yeah, not so much.




Contemplating drinking more shots, turning my picture into a Jackson Pollock knock-off, and calling it a night.

Us with our masterpieces, and by masterpieces, I mean something an eight year-old could have made.

Paint Nite was surprisingly fun. Despite having no artistic ability (see evidence above), it was an amazing way to get my mind off of the stresses of law school and the stresses of life in general (like, how do you manage to get both food and toilet paper when your fridge is empty and you're still in your pajamas? Answer: go to Taco Bell and ask for copious amounts of napkins. You're welcome.).

I was quite proud of the following:
  • I never once mistook the water cup I used for cleaning my paintbrushes for my beverage. This despite the dirty paint cup being red and in very close proximity to my right hand.
  • I did not get any paint on myself.
  • I also managed to keep it off of my neighbors.
  • My reaffirmed faith in my ability to multi-task. That's right, you're looking at reading someone who can simultaneously eat chips and salsa and make green from primary colors.
And, after mine dried, I even hung it up.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nick and Knight


On Sunday, Jordan Knight and Nick Carter came to Michigan. Sadly, they did not swing by my apartment, but they did play the Royal Oak Music Theatre, and I was fortunate enough to get tickets.

Despite my love of everything boy band (especially the New Kids on the Block, of which Jordan was a member), I didn't hold out too many expectations for the show. I had no idea what songs they would do, if they would perform together, how good they would sound live, etc.

But, before the show, I had some wonderful sushi and beer (almost as winning of a combo as a member from New Kids pairing up with a member of Backstreet Boys to tour the country) and knew I'd be in a room full of equally obsessed boy band fans, so I didn't much care.

 About to enter my happy place.

When they first started singing, I was instantly impressed. They both sounded great live! And, they were really charming on stage. They played an equal combination of old and new songs, and their 90's medley was one of the best I've heard.



P.S. Does it get any better than Nick and Knight singing "No Diggity"? I think not.

It was a really fun night, and I can't wait for my next chance to see them live!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Oddball Festival


One of my favorite parts about comedy is that I've gotten to meet some pretty incredible people and go to some really awesome places (I'm looking at you, South Dakota Corn Palace). This past weekend was yet another great experience to put in the ol' life journal (yes, in addition to this rarely-updated thing, I keep one of those).

I got a chance to perform at Oddball Festival, and while I didn't exactly get to share the stage with Sarah Silverman, Bill Burr, and a whole bunch of other hilarious people, I did get to share a flyer with them.
 
I got to perform on the second stage, which was so much fun. It was great to see so many Michigan comics in the crowd.  And sharing the stage with Brody Stevens, Grant Cotter, Robert Jenkins, and Bill Bushart was awesome.


 
Plus, I got to hang with Joel Fragomeni, one of my first friends in comedy.
 

Beer was still $11 (urg!), but getting to watch the rest of the show up close (not to mention securing a nifty wristband that granted me backstage access) was pretty awesome!

Oddball was a blast, and getting to see so many hilarious comics live was incredible.

Although it certainly makes going back to performing in crappy bars with 12 people in attendance pretty hard.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Adventures in Iceland

Iceland has been on my list of "to go to" places for a very long time. I'm happy to report that it's now moved to my "to visit again" list.
Getting there was quite the adventure. The plan was for Drew and I to meet up in Boston and head to Reykjavik from there. Between him missing his flight and the first leg of my flight nearly being canceled due to weather (the Chicago airport wasn't allowing any air traffic because of terrible thunderstorms), I was worried we wouldn't make it.  Luckily, we both did, met up and then killed nearly five hours in the Boston airport bar. It's amazing how much more fun lay-overs can be when alcohol is involved.


Yes, that is an empty beer glass.

Since we both had early morning flights to Boston on Tuesday, neither of us slept Monday night. And given that our flight to Reykjavik was a red-eye that evening, we didn't sleep Tuesday night either. Perhaps Red Bull would have been a better option than beer.  Luckily, our excitement kept us fairly awake.

When we arrived, we headed straight for the Blue Lagoon. The weather in Iceland was around 50 degrees and rainy, so the warm waters felt particularly great.




Right before the unfortunate realization that in addition to exfoliating your face, silica mud also takes 30+ minutes to remove from your eyes.


After spending a couple hours in the water, our sleep deprivation finally kicked in, so we found some indoor lounge chairs and fell asleep for several hours. Post-annoying countless other spa-goers with our snoring, we boarded a bus for Reykjavik and found our hotel.

Still exhausted, we planned to take a quick nap before venturing out to explore Reykjavik's nightlife.  Said nap turned into 14 hours of sleep.

We woke up the next day and began our quest to eat at all of Reykjavik's vegetarian restaurants.  We found this awesome place called Glo (strangely enough, on our way to finding another veggie place), which was absolutely delicious!





We explored the city for a while (well, not that long, after all, only about 200,000 people live there so it's not terribly huge) before heading to the National Gallery.












 I promise Drew likes modern art more than this picture indicates...well, maybe.


After that, we checked out the famous Hallgrímskirkja church.





And since we were in Europe during World Cup (and because the U.S. was playing), we thought it was imperative that we watch it.  We went to several bars that were absolutely packed before we found an Irish Pub that had some seats available. We met a few other Americans and took advantage of the happy hour specials.


That night, we found another fantastic vegan restaurant (who knew that a country that's national dish is cured shark meat would have such awesome vegetarian cuisine). That raw chocolate cake was nearly $8, but worth every penny.




The next day, we woke up and headed to the Pearl, where we took in some views of the city.  And of course, we had to try on some Viking hats for good measure.








Oh our way back, we stopped by the Penis Museum (I mean, how can you not?). It was no where near as scandalous as one would think, and the most exciting thing in there were probably the bathroom door handles.  But, I can now brag/sheepishly admit (depending on the company) to people that I've been to a penis museum.




In the evening, we did more exploring. It never truly gets dark there in the summer, which makes taking touristy pictures at midnight quite convenient.




Before heading out, we tried (yep, you guessed it) yet another vegetarian restaurant.


While our time in Iceland was short, I had a fantastic time, and I can't wait to go back! The only downfall is, it's REALLY expensive, so I'm currently contemplating starting a kickstarter for my next trip. I dare you to find someone who wouldn't want to contribute to penis museums and chocolate cake.