Me and my friend Lauren in High School, probably circa 1998. I'm finally back from Iceland! Truth is I have been for the past week or so but took some blog time off for the holiday. I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend. Jim and I had our usual low-key vegan "Thanksliving" celebration at our place. We stuffed our faces and watched movies all day. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, this Thanksgiving really helped me re-think what I'm thankful for. I am extremely fortunate to not have been directly affected by the storm, nor my family. My friend Lauren however was not as lucky. First, let me tell you a bit about Lauren. We met back in elementary school while at a Brownies event. We were six at the time. It went something like this: Me: "Cool shirt. I like palm trees." (she was wearing a tee-shirt with a palm tree on it). Lauren: "Thanks!" Me: "Want to be friends?" Lauren: "Sure." Our friendship continued on throughout all of elementary, middle and high-school. We even shared a locker in high-school since I only went there half day due to an art magnet program I was in so the school wouldn't assign me a locker. After high-school, I stayed in the States for college and she actually decided on a program in Europe being she was a foreign languages major. Despite being an ocean a part, we still continued to stay in touch. She soon after met her now husband, and the two of them lived in Denmark up until they got married. Not too long after the wedding, they purchased a home on the south shore of Long Island and moved back to the States. Their home unfortunately was totally devastated by Hurricane Sandy. It's currently uninhabitable, and at the current moment due to the extent of the damage it will probably cost less to knock down and rebuild than it would to repair it. They lost everything and are currently trying to pick up the pieces. I put together an online campaign to try to raise some money to help them with the overwhelming costs to rebuild their home. Considering it's Giving Tuesday, if you haven't given to a charity or cause just yet, please consider donating to help them. By donating to the Help the Norinders campaign, you have the satisfaction of knowing exactly where your donation is going, how its being used, and how it's impacting it's beneficiaries. Every little bit helps Lauren and her family, including their two young sons. In the event you are unable to donate, if you could please share this campaign with your friends and family it would be so appreciated. I also have a list of items that were destroyed in the storm that they are looking to replace. In the event you'd prefer to send them something on that list (which includes toys for their boys), please email me and I'll let you know what they are looking for and where to send it to. Thank you!
I don't usually post recipes, but I figured this was as good a time as any to share one of my favorites with you! Food bloggers are getting together today and posting their favorite comfort meal recipes in support of Hurricane Sandy Relief. The concept is to share a recipe that you find comforting and would bring to a friend or neighbor in crisis to raise their spirits. One of my favorite recipes is one I veganized from Real Simple Magazine quite a while ago that we include in our regular recipe rotation in our home. It's coconut creamy, comforting, quick, super easy and really yummy. If you haven't done so already, please donate to help with the Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts. Every little bit helps.
Coconut Rice with Winter Squash
- 3 cups rice- I like to use leftover rice or make it in advance of putting the recipe together.
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 block of firm tofu- I use the silken kind for a stir-fried egg-type texture.
- pinch of turmeric
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed*
- kosher salt
- 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- Prepare the rice according to the package directions.
- Meanwhile, place the squash in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Heat half the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Crumble the tofu, add it to the pan and cook, stirring, until it's lightly browned. Add the pinch of turmeric and mix to make the tofu yellow and give it a scrambled egg look. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil and the onion to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add the squash, rice, edamame, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring gently, until heated through and all the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Add the scallions and tofu, toss, and serve.
Etsy by storm right now and featuring a ton of goods with proceeds going to Sandy Relief. Here's some of my favorites. Limited edition print by Yellow Heart Art $20 New Jersey State Outline Platter by Art Smith Studio $40 Handmade Slouchy Crocheted Beanie (various colors) by Cheloftheseaa $15 I Survived Hurricane Sandy 8x10 Eye Chart by CJ Prints $12.99 New Jersey (and New York, not shown) Personalized Location Pendant by Sprout1World $38 Handmade Customized New York or New Jersey Map Pendant Necklace by Cheloftheseaa $10 Rainbow Quatrefoil Bracelet by Small Blue Things $18 Hurricane Sandy Adopt Tee by rctees $23.00 Original Hurricane Sandy Relief Mixed Media Ink Drawing by Nicole Emond $75
A dark, downtown Manhattan. What a week. Immediately following Sandy on Tuesday last week, I was pretty optimistic. My 7 mile drive to work was really quick, and aside from a few downed trees there was not much damage between my neighborhood of Williamsburg and where my office is in Canarsie. A few of our employees had no power or issues with trees falling through windows there were dealing with, but more the most part everyone was fine and made it to work okay. Despite having no power, my friends in downtown Manhattan all kept in touch via Facebook when they were able to charge their cellphones, and everything seemed on the up and up. Sure, it was going to take the city a bit to get mass transit back up and running, as well as the power, but that was to be expected. So in my mind, I continued as if it was business as usual. Jim and I don't have live TV and tend to get most of our information on the internet. Since most of my friends are either in Williamsburg or downtown Manhattan, I knew besides not having power that everything for the most part was okay. It wasn't until we had the news on during lunch at work on Wednesday that I really saw what was actually going on in in the city and the absolute devastation of the Rockaways, Coney Island, Red Hook and most memorably Breezy Point. The Rockaway boardwalk, misplaced by the floodwaters from the beach to the streets of the neighborhood. A firefighter comes home to his home in Breezy Point to find it burned to the ground. After seeing the smoldering remains of that small community not minutes from where I go to the beach in the summer, I lost my shit. It took me every ounce of effort not to bawl my eyes out the rest of the day and make it through work and get home. Starting around Thursday, things got progressively worse. Now there was (and still is) a gas shortage and it affects everyone in the New York City area, including Long Island. Thank goodness Jim topped off my tank Sunday night and my car is very gas efficient. Traffic getting anywhere was (and still is) horrendous. My ride home from work, which usually takes me 20 minutes took me over 90, and it was due to gas lines blocking intersections along with congestion at what few mass transit lines were running. I tweeted this frustration without batting an eye as a selfish means to make myself feel better about this slight inconvenience. Gas lines form as gas is rationed here. Friday, I was a bit more optimistic. I took a different route to work which I sailed through easily, and immediately after work we met up with friends for drinks, which was extremely healing. Everyone, especially in our neighborhood has a certain sense of survivors guilt. Though we're right on the East River, for the most part our neighborhood was untouched. Getting to talk with friends about what we were seeing around us and in the media made me feel like I wasn't alone in this guilt. Feeling somewhat better Saturday morning, I made the big mistake of Googling how my hometown survived the storm. I grew up in a town called Massapequa on the south shore of Long Island. My parents moved further east right after I finished High School, and though they live literally directly on the water, since their home was new construction they accounted for high-tides and built their home up high and their home was totally unscathed. They lost about 20 feet of their backyard, but that's peanuts compared to what I then learned via Google, and coincidentally on Facebook that morning. What's left of a house in my hometown, not far from the house I grew up in. My hometown, specifically right where the house I grew up in is, was completely and utterly devastated. I finally broke down and unleashed a week's worth of pent-up tears, and it didn't help me feel any better. I suddenly felt horrendously guilty, especially about my tweet on Thursday bitching about the traffic. I at least had a house, and a car. How could I be so insensitive? Saturday was really the first chance many people had to start volunteering and putting together donations, and that's when I started seeing messages from old friends from high school, asking for clothing, food, cleanup materials, and more for their themselves, family and friends who have completely lost their homes. I was also seeing posts from other friends in the city biking down to the Rockaways to help with the cleanup. All I wanted to do was get in my car and drive down there and do what I could to help make the situation better. However with the gas shortage, this wasn't a possibility for me. After bawling my eyes out and wasting so much time making myself feel even worse surfing the internet, I without thinking put down my iPad, ran to my cabinets and started pulling stuff out. Canned soup, soaps, bottled water, candles, pet food, tissues, pillows, blankets, coats, toiletries. Jim and I usually stock up at Costco, so we had a lot of stuff we could give to people who need it way more than we do. All the stuff we donated. After putting together around 4 giant Ikea bags of donations, we looked up where we could drop them off and learned Roberta's in Bushwick was taking donations. We drove on over (it was a super short ride, so we used barely any gas) and got there just as a volunteer was filling their car to drive down to the Rockaways. I really commend the volunteers making these delivery trips considering the gas shortage. I hope to be able to do the same thing once gas is easier to find. Having a car in NYC is a luxury and I want to help, but for now the best I could do was clean out my closets and give what I could. It's starting to get really cold in NYC and I knew people needed those coats. Jim and I stayed to have lunch at Roberta's, and while we really enjoyed our meal it seemed so weird that we could easily enjoy this amazing meal while people not even 10 miles from us now are homeless. No matter how hard we'd try, the guilt kept coming back. That night I made us a home-made comfort meal (my favorite soup, recipe here), and we tried to relax and watch movies. I chose Happy on Netflix, which seems kind of cheesy but seemed appropriate at the time considering I wasn't very happy and wanted to change that. It actually helped tremendously. The documentary reminded me the path to happiness is not what we have, but how we handle and respond to issues, work as a community, and do what we love to do. This reminded me that I did do my part that morning, and I slept better that night knowing my old coats, pillows and blankets were keeping someone warm and allowing them to sleep comfortably that night. As I write this now, I realize Sandy's not going away any time soon. Life will not go back to the way it was before Sandy, ever. It's going to take us a long time to rebuild, and I can be a part of that in the coming weeks. I can't keep beating myself up over what I can't do now. I can instead look and think of what I can do to help moving forward. Day by day, week by week. Facebook has been pretty tough on me, because it's a mix of crisis, disaster messages and photos mixed with a bunch of bullshit from friends in family in other parts of the country on them being pissed their team lost the game. Usually on Monday's I usually try to do a fashion type tutorial post on this blog, but I felt it was more important to let everyone know things are not good over here. I'm not going to compare it to Katrina, because Katrina was worse but Sandy is not far behind it. New York and New Jersey need your help, and donating is the easiest way to do so. I created a fundraising page to raise funds for the American Red Cross to aid Sandy victims. Every little bit helps. If you can find it in your heart and wallet to help and donate, it would mean the world to me. And don't you worry about me, I really have nothing to be upset about now. I'm safe, my family is safe, and that's the most important thing. I'll eventually get used to this new reality and it will probably happen sooner rather than later. Image Credits: one | two | three | four | five |
Sorry for the brief blogging hiatus. I haven't been super inspired to blog lately, and on top of it I've been getting used to some new routines in both my work and personal life that's been eating up a lot of time. Jim and I spent majority of this past weekend either going to Halloween parties, or getting ready for Sandy. As I write this, I'm looking out my window at the beginning of it. Thankfully, since we recently just last year rode out Hurricane Irene, so we were no wear near as panicked for Sandy as we probably would have been had we not just dealt with a hurricane last year. That's not to say we're not taking Sandy seriously, we just know how to best prepare now and can do so in a calm manner. Saturday we did all our shopping and picked up everything we needed at the hardware store, including flashlights (we embarrassingly never owned any), candles, and materials to insulate and protect our air conditioners. We then did some crazy grocery shopping. I'm well stocked for probably two weeks worth of food, both perishable and non-perishable. Oh, and we also got some wine. What's a hurricane without some booze? So far the worst of what's to come is supposedly going to hit in about 2-3 hours. The flooding has been pretty extreme already. Luckily our block is one of the only blocks in our neighborhood that's not in a hurricane flood zone per the city, so we're safe and sound we're we are at. While hurricanes are scary and they suck, it is kind nice to have the day off from work. We shut down our entire operation just to be safe (my company's territory covers the entire Northeast, so all of our offices are getting hit). Fingers crossed everyone makes it through the night ok and we go back to somewhat of a normal life tomorrow. My thoughts are with all our fellow Northeasterners today. Good luck riding out Sandy!