Thank you, Universe!

December 22, 2011

This has been a pretty good week, let me tell you.

I’ve been busy taking orders – baking orders, that is!

Today I woke up to a friend asking if she could order a birthday cake from me, and I told her I was already making Pumpkin Cheesecake for another order, so she went for that as well.

Then I called the person who ordered the first cheesecake to check on what else it was he wanted to order, and he wanted his entire Holiday Basket order to be just Pumpkin Banana Loaves and Pumpkin Cheesecake – 10 loaves, and 2 extra cheesecakes, for a total of 3!

Tomorrow (or rather today, as it’s already 1:26am) is Harmless Innovation’s Holiday Basket delivery day, and I don’t think I’m going to be sleeping between now and making our little elf rounds, since I still have Pink Lemonade Cupcakes, Mint Chocolate Fudge, Peanut Butter Cookies, Gingerbread Cookies, another Pumpkin Banana Loaf, and of course icing to make.

Hooo weee! I might regret no longer being a coffee drinker by tomorrow at 7pm – which I just realized is when I’ll get my first chance to go to sleep, since I have a medical appointment at 6pm.

PLUS, I’ve been fortunate enough to not only find $20 (literally) blowing in the wind as I was walking from my car to the bank on Tuesday, but also to get a free Amy’s No Cheese Pizza tonight because it scanned at a higher price than it was supposed to (and this is actually the second time that this has happened to me, at different stores, but the same pizza).

So thank you to the Universe, and to all the little elves who have been helping the Universe help me along this week (including the person in line tonight who pointed out the store policy to me, the man at the dollar store today who let me go ahead of him, and whoever gifted me the $20 – you are all greatly appreciated!).



December 19, 2011

Well, it’s almost that time! (Cliché much?)

Christmas is just sleeps away, and it looks like I’m going to be rather busy in the lead-up.

Tonight I put up my Christmas Tree, it looks something like this:

(I lost my camera, so I have only my cell phone to rely on for photographic preservation at the moment. This is why my blog is lacking in colourful self-captured photography.)

I also made myself a youTube playlist of Christmas songs, so score one for me on my list of things to learn how to do.

This afternoon Tara and I fulfilled our first to go order for Harmless Innovations, and just a little while ago the woman we made it for emailed us to let us know she fed 7 people with what we made for 5, there were left overs, they all loved it and she said everyone wants to be vegan now if that’s how vegan food tastes! (Which is actually one of our goals – to make things taste so good that omnivores will be eager repeat customers and spread the word).

So tomorrow Tara and I will be going grocery shopping (have I ever told you how much I love grocery shopping? It’s my idea of a good time…and a good date) for ingredients to fulfill our Holiday Basket orders on Wednesday when we do all of the baking. We’re delivering on Thursday, so there’s still time to get an order in, so long as we receive it by Wednesday at Noon.

That should keep us busy through Thursday, then on Friday I think we might both be on the Animal Voices Radio Show, so clearly, the fun is just beginning! (And hopefully so is our success!)

Georgia Straight

December 10, 2011

Last Tuesday evening Tara and I were interviewed about Harmless Innovations by Stephen Hui, The Georgia Straight’s web editor and technology editor (who also happens to be vegan and is often the first to report on vegan happenings around Vancouver).

The interview was published online Wednesday, and definitely got Tara and I quite excited. There were reports of an inability to stop beaming coming from us both.


It also got our creative juices flowing, and for myself reminded me of some things I want to create and sell that I had misplaced in my memory. One of them being vegan dog and cat toys, free of leather, feathers, fur (sometimes even from cats and dogs!) and who even knows what else ‘they’ come up with as a money-making scheme at the expense of animals.

It looks like we’re going to be at another craft fair next weekend put on by Occupy Vancouver (called Occupy Santa), and we’ve put together a menu of delicious options that can be bundled together in a basket for holiday gift giving that Tara posted in our new online store.

We’ll be making festive rounds on December 22nd and 23rd, either to people’s homes or businesses, and you can decide for yourself if you would like the order delivered to you, or your recipient directly. (That’s not to say that you can’t be your own recipient, because you surely can!) For an extra $5 on top of your edible order you get a basket, delivery, and a carol sung by Tara and myself.

Eco-friendly, animal-friendly, and Vancouver's own and only vegan shoe store!

In the meantime, tomorrow I’ll be taking in some holiday festivities at Nice Shoes, who are teaming up with the waiting-patiently-to-open Fairy Cakes cupcakery with a holiday cupcake and soy nog event. I’ve invited another journalism student to come with, and after we’re meeting with a friend of mine who goes to Langara part-time to discuss starting up a student veg group in the new year.

Should be a good day! (Now, if only I could motivate myself to finish those outstanding assignments that are holding me back from really getting into the holiday spirit, all my days would be even better!)

Harmless (The Story of Us)

November 29, 2011

Check us out at the Vegan Prom. Tara's on the bottom left, I'm of course the weirdo in the top right, and we're joined by Alissa in the back and Susan in the front.

I guess I might as well announce about my latest culinary endeavor. It’s called Harmless Innovations, and I’ve started it with my friend Tara-Lee Gardiner.

Conveniently enough, Tara and I live basically on the same street (they are different streets, but they are only a couple of feet apart for some strange reason). We met through our mutual involvement with STOP UBC Animal Research, got to know each other better through working together on the Animal Voices Radio Show on 102.7fm Co-Op Radio, and solidified things over the summer with antics like staying up until 7am and getting kicked off of a rooftop and out of a pool in California.

We also danced the night away recently at the inaugural Vegan Prom (pictured above) here in Vancouver at the Wise Hall on November 5th.

I can’t remember now exactly how it happened, but sometime between the prom and the following Sunday or so Tara and I determined that we both wanted to start hosting a Secret Supper Club. Obviously we decided to join forces (that was a no brainer – oh wait…I mean, two heads are better than one. Right? That must be it).

Within the week we were sipping (soy) hot chocolate in Starbucks after singing Christmas carols as we skipped from the car and up to the counter (Walkin’ In a Winter Wonderland, to be exact), watching one of the first snowfalls of the season through the foggy windows and plotting our next move. Just kidding – but only about the skipping. The rest is all a true story.

We were trying to think of names, but weren’t coming up with anything that quite fit our idea to host Secret Suppers, attend bake sales, put on our own events (like movie screenings, parties, dinner dances, and other stuff we’re not ready to publicize just yet), as well as cater others’ events, and make jewelery and native arts like the beautiful dream catchers Tara has already produced. We were trying to think of something that was animal friendly to stand for BS in No BS, but the best I could come up with – which I’m aware was terrible – was No Boob Suckers.

Then Tara asked something along the lines of, “What’s another way to say ‘Less harm’?” We both pondered for a minute in deep thought before Tara took a bathroom break, and I continued to fumble around inside my messy head wading through all my thoughts. And that’s when it hit me: Harmless. Duh. I knew Tara would love it (since she basically suggested it).

By the end of the night we had a growing list of plans, a website ready to be purchased (which happened the next day), and had decided on Harmless Innovations as our name (since the website for Harmless Productions was taken, and Innovations sounded more like what we’re going for than Productions, anyway).

That was November 17th, and in the week and a bit since then, we’ve gotten a secret invite-only Facebook group up and running, as well as our general Facebook page with a bio, a Twitter account (HarmlessVan), and we’ve already had a table at a craft fair selling vegan baked goods and vegan dream catchers.

Tara made Chocolate Chip Cookies and Chocolate Mousse, and I made Peanut Butter Cookies, Pumpkin Banana Loaf, and three (!) Pumpkin “Cheesecakes” (one of which I ended up eating myself – whoops!).

We’re also going to be at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre (1607 E. Hastings) this coming Saturday (December 3rd) from 10am to 5pm selling more (vegan, of course!) baked goods, the aforementioned dream catchers, and jewelery.

I’m not sure what Tara has in mind for this weekend, but I’m planning on baking bags of Mini Donuts, Christmas Fudge, and Mini Apple Crisps. With the extra time to advertise all this week (versus the 6 or so hours’ notice I gave people by making the Facebook event at about 3am last Saturday morning), it’s already looking to be a good turn out.

Please feel free to like us on Facebook, and do let us know if you’d like to be added to the Secret Supper Club.

Another Year Older

June 26, 2011

Today I find myself yet another year older (yesterday was my birthday). I feel like I’m at least a little wiser – actually, I feel a lot wiser. I’m also really impressed with myself looking back on where I was a year ago and how I handled all the ‘bad’ stuff that was going on with a positive attitude, and how far that’s brought me since.

A lot has happened and changed in the past year, and I’m really thankful to be exactly where I’m at right now. After all, exactly this (and every) moment is all we really have, when you put things into perspective.

While my birthday dinner at Foundation Lounge in Vancouver looked a lot like a disaster (they wouldn’t make nachos with the Daiya shreds I brought, one person watched everyone else eat for 10 minutes before getting her order, another person had the wrong dish brought to them, at the end of the night they tried to say that two people who had left hadn’t paid when they had…), it’s mostly just comical that things could go so awry.

Particularly with regards to the cake I had made and brought (which when I called ahead had been pre-approved as something they were willing to do, unlike the Daiya which they said would be up to whether or not the chef working felt like it). It was an ice cream cake, as I often like to make for my birthdays.

Since last year’s edition was such a huge hit among the meat-eaters in the bunch, I decided to go to the added effort of making the crust – dates, almonds, coconut oil, and cinnamon processed and pressed into the bottom of a spring-form pan – in Squamish, then going to my friend’s house in Vancouver to add and freeze the layers of ice cream – strawberry on the bottom and vanilla on the top – so I could take it to the restaurant without it being mush from the hour-long drive from Squamish.

The incredible irony is that it ended up that way in the end, despite my best efforts and intentions. The (new, but still) girl who took the cake and Daiya from me somehow misunderstood when I asked her to put the cake in the freezer and the Daiya in the fridge. I think you can see where this is going… Cut to two plus hours later when I asked our server to please bring the cake, and she came back and let us know that it was melting all over the fridge. Not much to do about it at that point, but still kind of disappointing. The make-up fondue was a pretty good substitute, though.

I don’t think I’ll be going back there for a third year in a row next year, but it’s still pretty marvelling that so much could go so wrong. Thankfully I don’t feel the need to get overly upset about such things, just a little bummed.

On the brighter side (or is that the greener side…?), I found some broccoli that was quite happy to make its way into my belly.


The Book Shelf

June 11, 2011

Today I went downtown to check out the Squamish Farmer’s Market to size-up the competition before I put all the necessary effort into joining their ranks.

I was pleased to find that there was a stall selling bread that had three vegan breads. I was slightly weary that one of them was a pumpkin bread, as one of the things I want to sell at the market is pumpkin banana bread. Hopefully when deliberating the committee will take into account that they are actually quite different from one another. Perhaps some picture inclusions will be in order.

Other things I’m thinking of selling in my stall (which I had been planning to set up once a month from July through the market’s end in October, but am reassessing for August through October instead so I have more time to prepare and get a banner, etc) include pink lemonade cupcakes, probably a brownie of some sort (though I’m really not a good judge of the tastiness of a brownie, since I often have an aversion to chocolate in large doses), and I’m heavily leaning towards peanut butter cookies right now. That could just be due to my current proximity to the remains of my peanut butter-on-toast breakfast.

Pink L(emon)adies (with vanilla frosting)

After my rounds at the Farmers’ Market, I walked to a coffee shop for a latte (I swear I’m trying to quit – why is withdrawl so difficult??) and to indulge in reading Geri Halliwell’s first book, If Only, for a while.

As I was approaching the book store, I was considering going in for a look to see what’s new, maybe inhale that sweet, sweet new book smell, look at some journals and sigh with overflowing inspiration at what I could fill the pages with this time – but was very sad to find that none of that would be possible.

Like the Grilled Fromage (a decidedly cheesy restaurant that served something like 47 different kinds of grilled cheese, and had yellow curtains with holes in them designed to look like cheese that would have been heavenly to me when I was about 10 years old and still ate dairy) before it, The Book Shelf has closed. There’s a sign on the door thanking patrons for letting them be a part of their lives, and perhaps not unsurprisingly, a Canucks towel to show their support for the team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Now I guess we’ll have to get our book learnin’ from Wal-Mart, Save-On-Foods, Shoppers Drug Mart, and London Drugs in this town. Then again, those four places are probably a major factor as to why The Book Shelf was no longer viable, since all offer their own varying discounts on new releases, though none hold any kind of back-catalogue or ordering ability like The Book Shelf.

Yet another sad day for literacy, not unlike the music industry.

On the brighter side, I really enjoyed the hour or so I spent reading If Only for I think the fourth time now. I was getting sufficiently excited by its passages, as though I remember the overall arch of the book, some of the little things had slipped from my memory in the three or so years I think it’s been since I last read it, and others that I did remember just brought up a feeling of nostalgia from previous read-throughs. I was also thinking about how long it’s been since the book was written (1998-1999), and how much I loved – nay, love – the Spice Girls.

I listened to Geri’s Schizophonic album while I read, then again when I was able to freely sing along on my walk back to my car without upsetting any coffee fiends. I think I may well end up watching both Spice Girls: The Movie – which was the first I ever saw twice in theatres – and the special I have taped on VHS that I recently found when unpacking things I’d stored at my parents’ house called Geri that follows her after her departure from the group. I make no guarantees that I’ll be able to then stop myself from also watching the Spice Girls concert at Whembly Stadium that I also have on VHS, or Spice Girls in America: A Tour Story.

Maybe now that I’m reading Geri’s book again I’ll be able to hold myself back from reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love for the fifth summer in a row. I’m beginning to worry that if I don’t give it a rest at least for one full year I might start to recite the pages in my sleep.

Cherry Cherry

June 20, 2010

This eve I made Cherry Cobbler, though I must admit I’m still in the dark about what a cobbler is per se. I don’t think it turned out as it should. The recipe said to glob 4 even spoonings of the topping onto the cherries, but didn’t say to spread it out (and it was thick and not so cooperative). I assumed this meant it would somehow spread itself in the baking process, but I was wrong.

Regardless, it is still rather tasty, if a little thick in certain spots.

I went against convention and used fresh cherries instead of the called for frozen variety, as it was these very cherries that needed using and necessitated the recipe in the first place.

I found myself with murder-scene splotches of red adorning my countertop, hands and shirt. Mess that it made, I thoroughly enjoyed the process, as with the zeal of a child left alone with finger paints. I really like this cuisine renaissance I’ve given myself of late. I missed this part of my person.

(Originally posted on blog Bird-On-A-Wire on June 20th, 2010 – transferred here May 26, 2011)