Capture every drop

a stainless steel kitchen sink drain detail
a stainless steel kitchen sink drain detail

As most of us are aware, water is a precious and dwindling resource. Although 70% of the earth is covered in water, less than 1% of all the water on earth is fresh water that we can actually use. Water is critical to our existence, and it’s lack makes all conditions worse for everyone. As our population grows, we require even more water to survive.

The purpose of this post is not to talk about all the efficient ways you can cut back on your water use, which is also important and everyone can take steps to reduce their personal use. Awhile ago, we transitioned our grass yard to mostly drought-resistant plants, reducing the need for a sprinkler system as well as avoiding a brown dried lawn in front of our home. Another bonus if that trees and plants help absorb carbon. Lately, we have added some plants that require watering- but also give us something in return: food. Grow food not lawns.

Neighbor's front yard is mostly full of fruit and vegetables. It looks amazing
Neighbor’s front yard is mostly full of fruit and vegetables. It looks amazing


This post is just a very simple, easy step we all can take to not waste our clean, fresh water without changing how you use water, and very little effort.

A few months ago we started keeping a 2 gallon container near the kitchen sink, into which we toss all the half-drunk glasses of water that would normally go down the drain, we also save the water that we use while waiting for the kitchen tap to get hot. It is amazing how much water we simply toss out. Or, maybe not so amazing when you think of the similar food waste conditions.

Put a pitcher by your sink, capture that clean water- use it to water your plants. You can have one in the bathroom as well. It will keep you from using (and paying for) more water, and reduces the waste involved in the treatment required to clean waste water.


This post was inspired by my climate-friendly gardening brother-in-law! Check out his PlantSync Facebook page for other gardening ideas to combat climate change. I’ve been enjoying his videos.






How do you get your protein?

20160627-ProteinChart-01Ah, the most common question asked, and most common concern for parents whose children want to go vegetarian or vegan.

I selected some of the foods we eat, this is by no means comprehensive! I want to reassure people that it is very possible to thrive on a vegan diet, and if your child wants to go vegetarian, they would be adding cheese, egg and other items.

For an average sedentary man, 56 grams of protein is the daily requirement, for women it is 46g.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that 10 to 30 percent of the calories a child over age 3 takes in should come from protein. On the average, this equates to 19 grams of protein daily for boys and girls aged 4 to 9 and 34 grams of protein per day for kids aged 9 to 13. As they reach adolescence, boys need more protein than girls. Between the ages 14 to 18, boys should get about 52 grams of protein daily, while girls need approximately 46 grams of protein per day.

I didn’t include a lot of fruit and veg on this chart, even though they do have protein, focusing on ones that have at least 5g. I also didn’t include some which are real powerhouses, but are more obscure- like amaranth. All of these items are easily found in our local grocery store (granted we live in Portland, OR so it is much more accessible for things such as tempeh, seitan, etc). I also didn’t include protein shakes, which are a really easy way to get a boost, and many athletes use them no matter what their diet.

Interestingly, while there is much concern about not eating enough protein, the truth is we may be eating too much protein. Especially teenage boys.

Let me know what you’d like to see included in this chart, or other illustrations that would be helpful! I think I have some space left, I plan to add pasta… and hummus instead of garbanzos. What is your favorite plant-based protein?






Best Chocolate cake!

This is more of a personal post… My son turned 12 last week, and part of the birthday tradition is that I make him a homemade cake. When he was little, I used to have fun creating themes for his parties around his interests at the time. I remember in somewhat chronological order: Thomas the Train, Pirates, Rockets, Star Wars Legos, Angry Birds, Minecraft and last year was Zelda. Last year as I sat pondering whether I had the time and skills to make a cool fondant Zelda shield cake or not, our cat caught one of my son’s pet parakeets. The bird lived, but the shield cake was replaced with an emergency vet visit. I made a more simple tri-force cake in the end I think.

Here are a few of the photos- as you will see, the cakes are made mostly with love not artistry. I wish I could find all my photos, taking photos on phones has really destroyed my photo collections, although the quality of the photos has improved.

Pirate hat cake!
Pirate hat cake!
Rocket ship!
Rocket ship!
R2D2, obviously...
R2D2, obviously…

This year, I am sad to say there was no theme. Although we briefly discussed Japanese anime. We are entering the teen years and I guess the cool thing to do is to play video games either together or just sitting in the same room on individual devices. It is kind of weird to watch, but the boys are happy.

For this birthday, I made this chocolate cake recipe from Minimalist Baker, and it was easy and delicious! The only thing I had to buy was some earth balance vegan butter in baking sticks.

Photo: Minimalist Baker
Photo: Minimalist Baker

I didn’t have quite enough coconut oil so I used half canola. I think I could have cut back on the oil a bit anyway. The cake itself was not too sweet, and the frosting was really delicious. This is one of those recipes no one would know it was vegan. My only mistake was starting to frost it while it was still a little warm and the center layer melted, so I didn’t put any frosting on the sides but piled the rest of it on top instead.

I only have one photo of it, because I didn’t think about artfully staging it until right as it was set on the table in front of excited boys.


After they ate all the sugar, we went to the park to burn it off. They were all armed with a variety of weapons found in our garage: one plastic light saber, two rubber swords, a Zelda Shield, 2 bouncy ball discs (that can be hurled at each other like frisbees or used to deflect like a shield), and one bamboo stick (yikes!).



During their battles, my teenage daughter and her younger friends spied on the boys wearing floppy hats, with newspapers in front of their faces. None of the boys even noticed them! Sorry girls, maybe later.




Vegan Food & Beer Fest


Last weekend was really busy with the Vegan Beer & Food Festival, and the Old McDonald’s Open House on Saturday, then brunch with friends on Sunday. It was very fun and I love having a lot going on. However, the morning before the festival as I went to the bank for $ for the festival, two stores for items needed for the Open House, picked up 30 pounds (total) of cherries and apples from a “fruit and veggie” guy from Eastern WA, and our local CSA for leafy greens- all before 10:30am, it seemed a bit energetic.

Vegan Beer Fest started in LA, and this is their second time coming to Portland. They have music, vegan booths selling items, many food and drink booths (some from LA, some local).

Last year I had been very interested in going to the Vegan Beer Fest, but didn’t end up going for a few reasons:

1) I couldn’t find anyone interested in going with me. I think because of the word “Vegan”. Really? It’s BEER- vegan or not, these are local great beers.

2) Tickets were $45-65 to get in, and that includes drinks but not food.

3) I don’t really like beer.

4) I don’t really like hipsters- and that seemed to be the majority of the crowd based on photos.

So, you can see why spending $45 to go alone but be surrounded with hipsters and drink mostly kombucha didn’t really appeal to me.

This year, I scored a half-price ticket early on, but then was invited by a printer friend who I work with to go as a VIP. Going early was really nice, since there weren’t lines at any of the food and drink booths. Except one: Herbivorous Butcher, a brother/sister team from Minneapolis was there. It was the one food booth I was really set on trying, and we decided to go there first. They have been wildly successful, based on the press I have read making their homemade vegan meats and cheeses. They had two items they were selling: one was a couple of deep-fried chicken pieces in mashed potatoes with gravy, inside a waffle cone ($11). I also ordered their Korean beef jerky ($5). The owners were there, and they were actually very cute, nice hipsters.


My friend has been vegetarian for over 20 years, so she has actually forgotten what meat tastes like. I don’t think this seitan meat was exactly like meat, but it was delicious with the crispy, spicy breading and textures. We barely finished that, it was a lot of food. I saved the jerky for later.


After that, well, I won’t go into each beer, cider and kombucha we tasted for now- mostly because I lost my list. Oregonic Tonic stood out for me in the kombucha. I tasted a lot of delicious beers and ciders. There were many fruity options, which worked well for me. And the fact that the glass was only 3 oz, was really nice. We were given 20 beer coupons to get in (the kombucha and coffees are free), apparently I only had 9 beers and ciders, so my  illustration is actually off by three drinks.


As for food, we split everything which really helped us be able to try more things. You can see everything we tried in the illustration.

My only regret is not being physically able to eat more- especially missing dessert. We left after only 3 hours, if we stayed longer, we could have eaten a lot more. There is only so much one can eat and drink in a few hours!


It was definitely worth going this year, especially being invited as a business vendor. And shout out to CCL Label, who does very high-quality digital labels at their local Oregon press. Otherwise, I still think I might go, but only with half-price tickets because of my small drinking capacity, and definitely with some friends to share the food.


June 10


The day before Vegan Beer and Food festival, I tried to keep it light. My daughter and I went out to the Farm to set up for their Open House and were gone from 10-4. By the time we got back, I was so hungry, I had to stop at our local Vietnamese tofu shop Bui’s on our way home. Love their salad rolls, lemngrass and green onion tofu. Nice people, and they will even make up fresh salad rolls on the spot if they run out. Summer goal: recreate their delicious salad rolls myself without messing up the rice wrappers.

By the way, drawing salad rolls is hard!

Food illustrations, and new website design coming soon!

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog, we had a lot going on with the end of the school year, and with work.

A new website design is launching soon, to make recipes easier to find, as well as my artwork.

Today I spent most of the day with my daughter out on at the farm where we volunteer. It was a beautiful day (with just a few bursts of rain), and the animals were so happy to be out enjoying grass, and roaming around the property.

The food illustrations keep coming and going, but I enjoy doing them and am relaunching them for the summer. It not only keeps a visual record for me on what I am eating, it hopefully gives other people ideas on what to eat. I’m making more of an effort this summer to eat healthier and less… well, after tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the 2nd annual Vegan Beer and Food Festival. Last year I didn’t end up going because it is actually quite expensive- $45 for a general admission ticket. I don’t usually drink beer, so that makes it even less of a good deal! Also, I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. I am not sure if it was because of the cost or that the word “vegan” is used.

This year, I was lucky enough to be invited as VIP. I’m kind of liking beer a bit, and I heard they have cider and wine too. Most of all, I want to try the great vendors. That will get a whole post.

If you want to follow my Instagram, I will be posting a lot of the food illustrations there. I love Instagram, my photos remind me of the things I love: animals, nature, kids and art.

Yesterday’s food highlight was the delicious vegan sushi from Sushi Love! So, so good…


The angry carnivore

Earlier this year I wrote about the angry vegan, a fairly well-known stereotype.

There are also angry “carnivores”. These are the people who have to make comments on vegan-friendly pages, just to provoke a reaction. They make jokes about vegans and mock them. And when I say mock, I don’t mean gently ribbing- I mean really horrible, awful comments with hashtags like:


To me, the need to retaliate or provoke indicates that a nerve has been touched, and the reason they are angry is because deep down they feel guilty or ashamed. If they were completely fine with what they were doing, they would just ignore vegans. Those who eat meat already have things exactly as it suits them- they can eat anything they want, at any restaurant. It has been accepted by society to be “normal” and it is legal.

In a way, it is like when heterosexual people are up in arms over gay marriage. Does it affect them getting married? How does it really impact their lives?

They will claim it is a moral or religious issue, ignoring the fact that they are really saying that there are some humans that cannot have equal rights.

There are a wide variety of people within the vegan and plant-based communities. Vegans may have started their journey for health reasons, environmental issues or because of the abject cruelty for animals. There are some awful vegans, for sure, but that applies to any group and religions. Some people become angry once they realize how lobbyists, advertising and corporations are hiding truths from the public. It is pretty natural to want to build awareness, after all, most people weren’t aware from childhood. In addition to false and hidden information, we are fighting against ingrained historical and cultural systems. They may have at one time served their place, but we are facing uncharted territory, a world with billions more people and dwindling resources.

I don’t know any people personally (thank goodness) who do NOT believe that their pet cat or dog doesn’t have a personality, and can feel pain and fear. Vegans just extend that concept towards a wider variety of animals.


I don’t feel angry about the little jokes, and won’t normally rise to take the bait of trolls. What the jokers don’t understand is that everyone has heard the joke about a million times, and it is pretty old. Post a photo of a cute piglet, cue these responses: “Mmm, bacon” “PETA: People eating tasty animals” “How do you know the vegan in the room? Don’t worry they’ll tell you”, “Plants have feelings too”, “If you love animals so much, why are you eating their food?” “Animals will go extinct if we don’t eat them”, “Animals will take over the world if we don’t eat them”.

(Those last two, cannot both be true obviously, and can sometimes be an actual question for people. As long as vegans can respectfully discuss this, an explanation on supply and demand breeding can occur.)

The backlash of the hard core meat lovers is real, it is big, and happening now. This article does a great job of going in-depth.

 Global Source:Harvesting the Biosphere: The Human Impact by Vaclav Smil

Global Source:Harvesting the Biosphere: The Human Impact by Vaclav Smil




As for me, I will keep drawing and doing what I can. I plan to focus on helping people with recipes, ideas, and awareness. Remaining positive more than preachy. And, unfortunately for the haters, we won’t shut up and go away. Because the animals, future generations, the oceans, the rain forests aren’t able to speak. We have to.