Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy ThanksLiving

Organic raw vegan pumpkin pie
Organic raw vegan thick sweet cashew cream
Happy ThanksLiving to each and every one of you observing this magnificent day! Here in the Keys we had a cool day full of blazing sunshine, and VERY brisk winds to clear the cobwebs from even the most hidden nook and cranny. The bay side was exceptionally windy and cool (right where I run), while the oceanside was calm and warm (perfect place to sit in a chair and have a beverage).

I had today "off" for the first time in ten years. I've been told that I'm "lucky," that I have the "most perfect" life, that I'm living the life some people want to live, and more. It startles me that people say those things, or think those things. Trust me, sacrifices have been made, there has been a price to pay, and it is not perfect. Despite the trade off  I'm right where I belong, doing what I should be doing. For now.

I thought about a lot of things today, but didn't do too much. I slept until 8am, caught up on newspapers from when I was gone, spent some time with the cats, and did some cleaning. I went for a run, made a couple phone calls, and took inventory of my kitchen to submit a bulk order to one of our suppliers later tonight.

Dinner was not quite an afterthought, but here it's just not a super decorated, big huge solid week of cooking, no not at all. I made an organic vegan (of course) raw pumpkin pie (from the Present Moment Cafe Cookbook, woot!) with my organic vegan sweet thick vanilla cashew cream. I tossed together a massaged kale salad, roasted some veggies, and plopped bagged organic vegan "dressing" into a pan with some olive oil and poof, instant dressing. I stirred up some organic vegan brown gravy, unwrapped a Field Roast en croute, roasted that, and then looked up a recipe for cranberry sauce. The magical PPK site again saved the day with their perfect 3-ingredient cranberry sauce.

Our table was simple, with a couple candles, and a beautiful piece of fossilized coral that Pop gave to me quite a while ago. I wanted something representing him on our table. When all was said and done, we two happy vegans sat down together, toasted with some (vegan) wine, and ate. Princess paced across the floor trying to figure out how to get onto the table, while Peri snoozed nearby.

My Facebook feed was littered with photos of carcasses and dead throughout the day, but on a bright spot, I know for a fact that there was more than 1 friend who specifically did not post photos of their dead things as a nod to my anguish. I have gratitude for that, although I'd be more thankful if they'd simply take it vegan, you know?

Essentially this was a perfect day here, whatever perfect is anymore. I had a pretty long list of things "to do," which did not get accomplished. Ask me if I care. No, I don't.

I have great abundance in my life, and yes it has come at a price. I have very few, if any, regrets, and for now that's a good place to be in. I hope that you had a blessed day no matter where you are, and whether you celebrate this American holiday. In this country, tomorrow is "Black Friday" which I do my best to avoid, and consider almost obscene. For me, tomorrow I work, I run, and I will again give thanks for the abundance in my life.

I hope you had a compassionate plate, and peace in your heart.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


So many of us are still adjusting to Pop having moved, including Pop himself. It seems like yesterday he was here, yet forever that he's moved. How's that all possible I have no idea, but it is what it is.

On relatively short notice, we had personal reasons to go up to mainland Florida. As long as we were headed up, we sort of figured, why not make a road trip to see Pop….. what's a few extra hundred miles between friends?

On a recent morning, I got up extra early and made a couple batches of muffins and some cookies for Pop, wrapped them individually (of course in my biodegradable compostable bags) for Pop's freezer, piled them into a large bakery box, then hastily tossed some mismatched semi-warm clothing into a case. Immediately after checkouts we headed up to the mainland for our personal business. After that was all said and done, Part B of the road trip began, off to see Pop.

Note: NO food was packed or prepared for ourselves on the road due to severe time constraints. This was unfortunate, and a VERY bad move.

After completing said personal business on the mainland, we got driving from Point A on the way to see Pop about 8:45pm that evening. Food was on our minds, as there had been VERY little of that for us the entire day. Being that it was so late, we could find nothing…. until we saw a Panera sign, YAY, or so we thought. Driving up to Panera at 9:06pm, the lock clicked on the door from the inside as they closed at 9pm. 


The road trip continued. Still no food.

We drove looking for anything open, anything at all, with no luck. Finally, we found a Winn Dixie. With 5 minutes to spare before they closed at 10pm we burst into the store like mad demons. We managed to grab some peanut butter, jelly, pitas and a bag of rice chips before they closed. As I sat in the back seat of the car hastily slathering peanut butter on a pita, doing my best not to drop jelly onto the carpeting, I actually considered shooting a video for you. Hunger won out, you got no video, but I got a PBJ pita.

We drove until 3am, crashed for a few hours at a hotel and then hit the road again.

We drove straight through for about another 8 hours (rain, rain, rain and more rain) with nothing but PJB pitas to sustain us. All we had on our minds was getting to Pop at a decent hour.

We arrived at his new location just before 5pm. We parked, grabbed the muffins and a couple other items we had brought for him from his house to surprise him, and made a beeline for his apartment. The door was open….. just like the Keys! I heard some laughter drifting out into the hallway, and then the familiar "come oooooooooo in!"

Poof, there he was!

Surrounded by his son, a grandson and his grandson's wife, we entered the apartment. I honestly thought I could hold my composure. I was wrong. Huge hugs were exchanged, and I just held him so tight. He did the same to me. Kisses. Kind words. Hug. Hug. Hug. Tears. Happy HAPPY tears.

He showed us around his new apartment. He has a nice full kitchen where his food is stashed, and his food is prepared. He has a huge closet, with his clothing labeled by day, and a couple warm sweaters tucked in. He has a full living room with a big TV so he can watch his usual programs despite his failing eyesight. He has a cute little alcove off his bedroom which he has set up just like his space in the Keys…. table, chairs, pencil cup & note pad, pictures of family, his little "golf man" all of which is next to 3 large windows overlooking a garden courtyard.

Tears, tears, happy tears.

His grandson has found the local library for him, and is bringing him his large print western books. His Bible is tucked by his bedside, and he has photos of the family through the space.

Tears, tears, happy tears.

We sat and talked. Then talked more, and more and more. We talked about the Keys, we talked about life up there. We talked about family, we talked about sports. We talked about food. We talked about his recipes, and he was tickled I'm veganized his baking recipes one by one (starting with his famous shoo fly pie, as you already know!) He wanted to know how his house was ("perfect Pop, it's just perfect" and yes, it really is). We talked about the ocean. We talked about the water, we talked about the sky. We talked about clothing, we talked about music. We talked about next year's birthday stickers (yes, he's doing them!), and talked about the chocolate cake I will make for his 106th birthday and promised to deliver.

Tears, tears, happy tears. I couldn't stop.

I asked if we were overstaying our welcome (he IS 105, and it was NOT early morning!) and he replied "NO WAY, are you KIDDING me?! All the way from BIG PINE KEY?!!!" 

We made a little list of things we want to send him to make it more like it was in the Keys for him (he likes a calendar on his table…. he is very religious so I asked about a particular cross on his wall "oh yes! I'd love that!"…) and I announced I'm putting him on a "baking schedule" so he will get a small box of my baked goods at least once a month that he can have as snacks, just like it was here ("oh, THANK YOU!")

He kept saying how thankful he was for us coming up to see him. Tears, tears, happy tears.

When I think about what feeds my soul, moments like that visit are what does it for me. 100% pure feeding of the soul.

I didn't take a single picture, not one. Honestly the visit was so full of raw emotion it wasn't really meant for photos, instead it was meant for memories. Memories accomplished.

We all knew we had to go. The time we spent with him were some VERY great hours. He was talkative, engaged fully, and happy. He misses the Keys, we talked about that too. I honestly think that it was hugely important for him to hear about the SO very many people who are asking about him, who miss him, and care dearly for him even though he's far away. That's a really long list, and we didn't miss anyone (hopefully) all the way to the cashier at Publix who asked me a couple weeks ago why I didn't have the "special order" I usually do for "the sweet man you shop for." We promised we'd be back to visit, and we mean it.

Part of me thinks that when I saw him getting on to the airplane in Key West it would be the last time I'd ever see him. He's 105, and hundreds of miles away… we run a business that doesn't really stop, and have no employees to speak of. There's not many opportunities to "run away from home" and do a spur of the moment road trip, no matter how badly we want to.

Universe brings what we need. Universe feeds our soul.

We kissed goodbye. We hugged mad crazy. I cried and told him how I didn't want to leave, but promised we'll be back. He knows its true, but he needed to hear it anyway.

Pop has a message for all of you out there who love him…. "thank you, I love you." His exact words.

The other happy vegan's parting words were "see you soon you rascal!" which Pop shot right back "I love you, you rascal!" and my parting words were simply "I love you."

Close your eyes. Can you see Pop in a vivid color golf shirt, with his trademark smile? Can you hear his voice "you rascal!!!!!" "keep on keeping on!" "I love you SO much!" I hear him. I see him. I hope you can too.

He's still adjusting, and needs more things to fill his days. Remember… here in the Keys, he had golf matches twice weekly, laundry day, his golf cart where he'd sit outside for hours every morning waving to passersby and talking with anyone who'd stop, and more. It's all still new for him, and 105 is a remarkable age to consider reinventing yourself, no?

Whatever the future holds, he knows we're still connected, and we know we're still connected. We're drained emotionally, sad, and strangely satisfied.

Mission accomplished, you rascal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nommy Nom Nom! JB Master Grill - Medford, NJ

Scroll down for video.

A month or so ago, while we were roaming around the not-yet frozen tundra up north, we cruised through Jersey a couple times. I think New Jersey gets far too bad a rap on what it's like. Jersey bashers fall into 2 categories in my opinion… 1) those who have never been there, and just make the jokes to fit in with others, and 2) people who actually do live there, but are unhappy for any reason other than living in Jersey. I cannot vouch for either, yet I can say I have lived there, and for a long time loved it. New Jersey has the shore (ahhhhhhhhh), mountains, lakes, farms (yup, they still exist), shopping (too much for me these days), rural towns, big cities and urban areas, theatre, galleries, vegan food trucks (Cinnamon Snail!), I could go on and on. I've got very few negative things to say about Jersey besides my opinion that it's just too crowded for me (where I used to live) and it gets too cold (same can be said about Northern Florida, don't take it personally Jersey peeps).  So, Viva New Jersey!

Now, about our time roaming around Jersey. I staked the Cinnamon Snail like crazy on line, but their schedule was always in NYC, and we weren't going that way. So, another trip ended with me saying "I've still never eating at Cinnamon Snail." Sigh. We found ourselves a little more Southern, and of course out popped the other happy vegan's fancy phone and the Happy Cow app. Up came JB Master Grill in Medford. This little restaurant is in a strip mall tucked in a town called Medford Lakes. I don't know much history about the area, I know there IS some history, I think it used to be a vacation town for people to escape the city of Philadelphia in the summertime. Not completely sure about that, but there's lakes, trees, and some really cute streets. Exceptionally close by are shopping areas galore, including food. We heading right over to JB Master Grill and checked them out. Happily, this is what we found!!!! Oh hell yeah, after feeding our faces, we made a take-out purchase large enough to get us all the way to South of the Border!

And, then there was the stop at South of the Border……

xo til next time!