Hi friends –
It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, but I haven’t forgotten about you! I’ve been travelling quite a bit, with a short weekend road-trip with friends to the historic town of Galena, Illinois followed by a quick jaunt to Ireland for work. While it has been a very fun couple of weeks, needless to say, it’s also been pretty exhausting so the blog had to take a back-seat for a while.
Galena, about a 4-hour drive away from Chicago, was absolutely beautiful. In 1856, it was one of the richest and most influential cities in Illinois thanks to its position as a major hub for Steamboats on the Upper Mississippi River. It’s wealthy history left it filled with nineteenth century mansions, and an adorable downtown area that is now filled with specialty shops.
While in Galena, we enjoyed plenty of shopping, strolling around and climbing the steps from downtown up into the hillside neighborhoods. I especially loved our delicious brunch at Otto’s Place and the live music and Irish dancing at The Irish Cottage.
I landed at County Clare airport in Shannon, Ireland, but stayed about 15 minutes away in downtown Limerick. Since Limerick is so walk-able, I was able to do a bit of sight-seeing and shopping outside of work hours.
I stocked up on teas and candy from the nearest Dunnes store and Eats of Eden natural foods store. I also had the pleasure of eating at The Grove Veggie Kitchen, a cozy vegetarian cafe that serves lunch each day until they run out of food – I arrived late when the food was nearly gone, but they happily cobbled together a plate of mixed salads and rice for me for just 6€. And I had a gorgeous Carrot, Cucumber & Kiwi Juice from Fitto Cafe.
Phew! That was all quite the whirlwind, and I’m happy to now be back to my usual routine and my regularly scheduled programming
Jazzy Vegetarian Classics Winner
First, up, I’m excited to announce the winner of my Jazzy Vegetarian Classics Cookbook giveaway: Congratulations to Deb Sawyer!
She also had some great tips to share along with her winning entry. I tried a mustard-maple-mayo combo on a recent salad, and it really hit the spot!
“Power to the Veg” Spring Fling Food Swap
It had been a while since I’ve participated in a Food Swap, so last month I decided to sign up for another round of the “Power to the Veg” Food Swap. The monthly P2TV Food Swaps are 100% Vegan, have a $20 suggested swap amount, and each have a monthly theme. April’s theme was “Spring Fling“.
What I Sent
I was assigned to send a box to Jena in New Jersey who declared a love of Herbal Teas, Dark Chocolate & Moroccan food. From getting to know Jena better, I learned that she too has a blog – Jenerous Helpings – which has truly heartfelt and thought-provoking material. I especially loved her recent post with gorgeous photos from her stay at the Watkins Glen Farm Sanctuary.
Here’s what I sent Jena:
- From my trip to India in March – 2 flavors of Savory Oats and a variety of teas including Basil Ginger and Basil-Ginger-Lemon-Green (note: Tulsi = Basil)
- Mi-Del Lemon Snaps – I haven’t tried these before, but Mi-Del makes my all-time-favorite Ginger Snaps, so I figured these Lemon Snaps must be amazing too!
- Surf Sweets Jelly Beans – A must for Easter
- Equal Exchange Organic & Fair-Trade Dark Chocolate with Fruit & Nuts – as a chocoholic, I simply had to include something chocolaty!
- Pomegranate Molasses – this sounded both Spring-like to me, as well as being from one of her favorite types of cuisine (Moroccan). My favorite way to use it is in Muhamarra dip.
- Newman’s Own Lite Italian – I know this is just at typical grocery store item, but it’s one of my favorite dressings. It’s zippy & lemony, which reminds me of Spring.
- Imagine’s Creamy Portobello Mushroom Soup – This is one of Mike’s favorite products. We always have to have some in our pantry.
- Veggie-Go’s Sweet Potato Pie Fruit and Veggie Strip – Not exactly a “Spring” item, but after receiving these myself in a swap a long time ago, I was so excited to see these in stock at my local Whole Foods.
- Kit’s Lemon Vanilla & Chia bar – An awesome new-ish (and spring-like) flavor of CLIF Kit’s bars.
And last but not least…
- A Carrot-Top shaped Fruit & Veggie Scrubber
- Tulip shaped cupcake/muffin liners
Here’s the whole package. So what do you say, how did I do?
What I Received
I was feeling pretty proud of the package I had put together to send out, but the package I received blew my efforts out of the water!
I was matched to receive a package from Zuzana in Pennsylvania, and what she sent was one of the most creative and thoughtful packages I’ve ever received:
- Sprouting Supplies – Mike and I have been so eager to try our hands at sprouting. Zuzana read our minds and sent us a Sprouting Jar Lid plus Bean Sprout seeds for me, and Catnip seeds for Maple.
- Homemade Cat Toys – these beautiful cat toys (made by Zuzana!) were the highlight of the box though. The felt & jingle-bell Beet & Carrot are a huge hit with our cat, and possibly even more-so with me 😀 I’m so impressed with her craftsmanship!
- YumEarth’s Sour Beans in a Bunny! – What’s even better than Jelly Beans? SOUR beans! I loved the fun bunny container too.
And that’s not even half of what I got. Do you see that cloth bundle, tied with a cookie cutter? There were even more surprises wrapped up inside!
- Haupia Hawaiian Coconut Pudding – Just-add-water Hawaiian Coconut Pudding – I cannot wait to try this! It’s such an unusual find.
- Chimes Mango Ginger Chews – These are SO good. Zuzana knew I loved the Orange Ginger Chews so she sent me the Mango chews to try – I can’t decide which flavor is better!
- Rosemary Sage Freekeh – I have been very curious to try this roasted green wheat and am looking forward to making this soon.
- Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars – These three bars (in Original, Strawberry, and Blueberry) were the first items to vanish from my goodie box.
- Salt & Pepper Somersaults – These are so addictive. Mike and I finished this huge bag in just one sitting! 😳
- Garlic Oil – this mini bottle has huge flavor. I’ve been using it as a finishing oil on some recent dishes including sauteed greens, and a pot of quinoa.
- Spring Mini & Muffin Cups plus Kitty-print Duck Tape
- Wheatgrass Seeds – also for sprouting for Maple. Our cat truly loves to eat her greens!
And here’s everything all together. Thank you so much, Zuzana, for such a thoughtful and generous package!
If you’re interested in signing up for a future swap, or simply want to chat with like-minded people, check out the Power to the Veg group on Facebook.
I’d love to hear from you!
Have you tried any of the products shown above?
What “Spring Fling” themed items would you have sent?