Momma Told Me: December 2016

Blog Archive

Experiencing SoCal VegFest And Expanding Horizons

#SoCalVegFest 2016
Momma Told Me: Don't think different, think broader.

If you'd asked me a few years ago if I'd like to go to something with 'VegFest' in the title I'd have laughed out loud and made a snarky remark about bacon covered veggies. And the truth is, that type of mentality runs rampant among the communities outside 'that way of life.' You know the communities, 'Veg Heads,' 'Tree Huggers,' ....'Vegans'- there's us and then there's them. If it sounds like an ugly way of thinking, it is.

But, really, a few bad apples (pun intended) have given an entire way of living a bad wrap. Vegetarians, vegans, and humanitarians all have this misguided rep for being over-zealous and judgemental when, in truth, those looking outside are casting stones just as far as them. As a foodie, I've long recognized this war but it wasn't until one of our close friends 'came out' as Vegan that I was forced to look at how I so harshly judged.
There are a lot of reasons I feel I will never be a Vegan.

Do I feel there is anything wrong with those who choose to be? Absolutely not? Could I see myself as a Vegetarian, or Pescatarian? Maybe. But what it really boils down to, is I would rather choose to expand my lifestyle to be more conscious, than flip a switch overnight and commit to an entire way of living I really know so little about.

And that is how I would up at SoCal VegFest the, second annual free admittance, massive weekend event which self professes it's specially organized to "engage curiosity and inspire consciousness in people of all ages." I really couldn't put it better myself.

Organized on the sunny Orange County College Campus what might be misunderstood as a Vegetarian or Vegan festival really was an enlightening experience. With hundreds of vendors, many food trucks and food minded vendors yes, from animal free hair care to holistic living and inspirational live music. Anyone walking in with an open mind would surely find themselves delighted beyond labels and lingo.
#SoCalVegFest Donut Friend Los Angeles, CA
Prime example- Vegan Donuts.

Local North Los Angeles boutique style donut shop, The Donuttery, was arguably one of the hottest Food exhibits at the event boasting a mostly Vegan menu of flavor twisting, from scratch, donuts, with names like PB&J and Cinnamon Roll. Many of their menu offerings are not just animal by-product free, but gluten and or dairy free as well, making them great for those with allergies, or just a conscious sweet tooth.

Even in the SoCal heat I insisted on toting a few of these delicious donuts through the event with us, and home for dessert that night. It was well worth the wait; forget their excluded ingredients, these were easily some of the best donuts, flavor and texture, I've ever had!
Of course I was all about the food- and the seemingly endless samples the vendors had to offer only gave me more reason to 'educate' myself on culinary alternatives and potential benefits to dietary changes- but there was plenty more going on than Earth friendly hippie brands peddling food.

Whether you were interested in aligning your chakras, sampling homemade incense, exploring natural fabric dyed and printed clothing, learning to play a new instrument, or wished to discuss methods of at-home-composting, there was something to intrigue everyone from the curious, to the life-long-devoted Earth conscious individual. We spotted families, pets (which technically weren't allowed because of the food), couples, fashion driven college students and grunged out high schoolers. And the vibe- it was electric.
As someone not necessarily looking to convert to Veganism, I was also accompanied by my Vegan friend. That somehow sounds wrong, when I type it, as if hes 'my Vegan friend'- when, in fact, he's introduced me to many like-minded people from his circles. But, still, I associate him with my 'tipping point,' my 'eyes wide open' factor. So nearly everything we actually sampled or bought was, in fact, Vegan, despite the fact that not all the vendors were Vegan friendly.

And if I am speaking Chinese- Vegan would indicate no animal sourced products were used, rather than no animal meat (Vegetarian), and Veganism can take many forms from mild (no milk, meat, fats) to extreme (no honey, animal labor, or even animal household pets). For our purpose my friendly Vegan friend is quite easy to talk to and will happily explain that every Vegan must find their own level of comfort as to what their lifestyle means, and what path they will live.

Having said all this- yes, that is Vegan funnel cake, and it is amazing. Up top: a plant based milk substitute we found even more creamy than the big name competitor, Silk. Look for MALK at a store near you soon!
#SoCalVegFest 2016 Vegan Sushi
Speaking of expanding horizons, Vegan Sushi is something I didn't think existed, let alone thought I would ever try- so I naturally jumped at the chance when we passed by a specialty food truck known for their imitation spicy tuna-less tuna. Believe it or not, the materials cost of manufacturing this sushi was not only less on the eco-impact bottom line, but the wallet as well. And the flavor? Impressively good. The puffed rice and crispy noodles on the exterior really brought the texture and flavors of the imitation tuna to life!
#SoCalVegFest PETA
Of course it wouldn't be SoCal VegFest without the PETA booth- a booth that pops up at a lot of festivals and events I frequent, but has always had me a bit timid to approach. PETA has a bad wrap for being a little extremist, and some of their representatives have questionable tactics for shock based messaging.
On this particular day I was actually accompanied by my friend, Aaron (you know, my 'Vegan friend') who actually just began working as a social media representative for the organization this month. He really helped show me the softer side of the organization, and how they worked hard to expand not only vision but perception through creative solutions- not just the traditional scare tactics they often get a bad wrap for. With representatives such as Aaron holing their face, I really find the organization is much more approachable for mainstream consumers such as myself.
Somewhere near the PETA booth were a few animal friendly accessory and fashion vendors. I, personally, don't find that Vegan fashion in the high end market is in my budget- with the gorgeous high-top leather alternatives calling my name ever so sweetly- but I definitely found a beautiful art in thinking outside traditional materials to create gorgeous clothing. The more I pondered how truly far one had to go to be genuinely Vegan kosher in the world of clothing, the more my head actually began to spin. So many animal by products are used in the industry, much like the case used to be with cosmetics.
SoCal Veg Fest also had an assortment of events being hosted throughout the weekend, much like you'd find at your local fair. A costume contest and cupcake contest were just a few of the highlights- The criteria for the cupcake contest being that they at minimum were Vegetarian friendly. These rules didn't seem to hinder creativity at all, though- the Little Shop of Horrors inspired cupcakes were a clear front runner in my book. I only wish I could've tasted them!
#SoCalVegFest Vegan Mushroom Potstickers
We wrapped our day with one last snack- Vegan Ginger Miso Portobello Potstickers (a pricey $18 plate, but oh so worth it as it was, wok'd in from of you.) And, of course, we stopped by Southern Fried Vegan for a plate of  Chicken-less Chicken and Waffles to take home for dinner. Man, if I lived in the Los Angeles area I could easily see myself spoiled on good Vegan eats!

Of course the moral of the day was really just an expansion of possibilities and a slightly different way of thinking. The social impact of our consumer and dietary consumption is one issue- but the mentality of skewing one's self towards am ore sustainable, and greater, future, really shines with appeal to me. I look forward to attending the event again next year, and will definitely keep my eyes out for similar events more local in the upcoming year! Now, tell me, what do you think you'd enjoy most about visiting an event like SoCal Veg Fest?

What Daughter Says: Expanding your mind doesn't require commitment, it just requires an open mind.

From Here To There: Lessons Learned In 6 Years of Blogging #BeginningOfME

This post was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The true secret to being a sucessful blogger is.....#BegginingofME #AD
Momma Told Me: You've come a long way, baby.

I call myself the anti-blogger.

It sounds much more rebellious than it is- honestly, it's a lot less anarchy and angst, as it is a lack of concern for 'best practices' and consumer preferences. Yes, consumer. Because I am the publisher and you are consuming my content, whether it's of the most mundane incidental topics, or intended to help get you to buy a brand of butter used in my latest recipe. Even in the absence of physical advertising, I am selling myself to you, the reader, asking for your time viewing my content in exchange for my time creating it. And, let's face it, there are MILLIONS of competing 'advertisers' out there.

But that, my friends, is where I couldn't care less- I don't care whether I have 20 subscribers, or 20 million. Sure my sponsors do- but if I never got another sponsored opportunity to blog again, that would be fine with me. Just as long as my personal branding always remains genuine and in tact.
And, whether you intend to blog for profit, or fame, or simply to share with family across the country the progress of your growing family- it's the authenticity of your voice that truly sells your content. SEO, fancy photos, interactive widgets- they're all just tools to help market your voice to those who would naturally be drawn to it, but may not have otherwise had the tools to discover it.

With this in mind- let's step back in time for a brief moment.

On Monday, June 21, 2010 I sat down at my laptop with a kitten curled on my chest and a cup of coffee on my desk. I'd been married 8 months. A previously full time (3 jobs full time) working independent woman who'd been asked to leave her job and stay home in anticipation of the family she would never start. (But that is another story, a story strewn across the pages of this blog.)
I began writing my blog because I was lonely, lacking a challenge, and desperately wanted to be heard. For months I'd read others and found insight in their stories, recipes and general life anecdotes. I was fascinated by the sea of characters I'd come to know and love, characters as real in life as myself.

I began in 2010 as a review blog- yet another place in the Blogosphere dedicated to someone spouting their opinions and insight on a myriad of items they may or may not have ordinarily used, except for the fact it arrived on their doorstep. And in less than a month I registered my blog as a website, a domain, a 'dot com'.

At the time, paying my hosting fees and setting up a web address seemed like all I needed to do to feel 'legit'. I was proud of my accomplishment, which had taken a whopping 8 minutes, and felt I was just as entitled as any other to run my mouth on the most mundane of topics with really no expertise or qualifications. it was concise, it was to the point- this was a web address for a blog called Momma Told Me. Looking back, I wish I'd known to really focus on that instant, that moment, of defining my voice. A personal domain could have truly helped me stand out as the individual I was, and am.
Naturally, that's how Momma Told Me began- but that's not what Momma Told Me is today.

Where I started out as a bored housewife, in a failing marriage, with a point and shoot camera and a growing propensity for Crazy Cat Lady like behavior, my little space on the internet not only grew with skills and knowledge, but with me. When my marriage ended I re-focused my energy on myself, and who I was. I slowly stopped writing reviews and hosting giveaways, and soon began focusing on how I could share the parts of me that added value to my voice. (Want to learn a little more about me? Check out this post!)

My fellow bloggers would tell me how they'd taken this class, or invested in this new camera, and how it had elevated their content. I'd politely nod and listen, then return to my-point and shoot.

In fact, while my photography has come so very far in 6 years, and could without argument benefit from professional education or equipment,  I still, to this day, only shoot in natural light, with the same camera I've had going on 4 years now. Surely the first photos I took with that camera have come a long way to the photos I share on my site today- I have grown tremendously without buying in tot his or that. Why? Because I have always felt honing my voice, and sharing in my vision, and my style, is far more important that creating styled photos that look like a 5 million subscriber model-blogger.
At it's core, blogging is about growing with your audience, and giving them a bit of you that is real enough to bring your online character to life. While my very first post, to this day, has only 79 views, I have content with over 200k, and some social media with half a million shares. And yet, I still write an organic post here and there that only seems to reach a few hundred, or a thousand.

Do I spend time worrying about those posts? No- the people who click through on the less frilly, more raw, otherwise offering nothing but an opinion or story, content, those are my people. They're the people I really blog for. Those are the people who saw my last name change, Truffles the cat turn into #TrufflesTheTuxie, and the first photos when we brought Nora home.
Of course, I'm not saying the tens, or hundreds, of thousands of views on my recipe, hacks, or craft posts are any less important. I value each and every person who takes even a few moments of their busy day to see what I've created, or weigh in on my opinions. In an ideal would would my PINs for content I spend countless hours generating, hard earned money on supplies for, and painstaking time crammed in my little photo nook shooting be seen by every possible person who would find it of interest or use? Of course! But at the end of the day my blog is my voice, and I have a life outside my blog (gasp!) so it's all of the people who discover me, and keep returning, because they love the pieces of me I share, that really make blogging successful.
Domain.ME #BegginingofME #AD
Of course, as excited as I was to register my blog as a domain, those 6 years back, defining your voice by registering a domain is nothing to balk it. It is a big deal. If you are going to stress over a technical aspect of your blog, it should be the physical address people use to view it. After all, it's the first 'face' they put to you, right?

That's why my second biggest tip is to give your voice the most memorable, and accurate, depiction of yourself as you possibly can. Domain.ME is a premium domain provider that helps, really anyone, do that. Whether you're a small business just starting out or an aspiring blogger with a big voice and a passion to share. .ME's receive all the same benefits as a .COM and are in no way penalized by SEO, so you can add a little flair to your place on the web and really stand out with personal branding.

In fact, I've been thinking of a few domains I might try to register with Domain.ME that might really sum up who I am and what Momma Told Me is all about- For example, how awesome would it be to log onto MommaTold.ME to check out my daily adventures? If you had a personal domain ending in .ME, what would it be, and how would it sum you and your online presence up? Why not head on over to Domain.ME and see if it's available? The internet can seem like a crowded place- but as long as you stay true to your voice with originality, and candor, you'll find your audience!

What Daughter Says: Don't lose sight of yourself- stay true to your voice and you'll always find true success.

Kicking Holiday Heartburn + Split Pea Soup From Scratch Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ad #MakeHeartburnHistory #CollectiveBias
Rustic Split Pea Soup From Scratch Recipe- #MakeHeartburnHistory #AD
Momma Told Me: Taste the season to be jolly.

Don't judge- but for me, the holidays are all about food.

From January through October I exercise impressive self control when it comes to my at home, and even social eating. Don't get me wrong, I still love food during the rest of the year, but it's November and December I specifically reserve my splurging for. There are simply too many events, and seasonal specialties, I just can't turn down. And I may be shoveling every delicious homemade thing in sight onto my plate, or into my mouth, but that doesn't mean I'm not cultivating priceless memories at the same time. Because it wouldn't be the holidays without the seasonal flavors, and those flavors wouldn't tickle my tummy, and delight my inner child without all of the warm memories associated with them.
Protect yourself from your holiday self with Nexium® 24HR Capsules for frequent heartburn, at Walgreens. #MakeHeartburnHistory #AD
For example, ginger cookies remind me of the time I ate too many, gave myself a horrible tummy ache, and wound up with my head in my grandma's lap- her gently comforting caress of my hair, one Christmas Eve. The smell of molasses reminds me of the time my Uncle tried to smoke our holiday ham and we nearly wound up with the fire department at our Thanksgiving table. And coriander reminds me of that mysterious potato salad that would always wind up on my plate, whether I wanted it or not. Yes, food is one of the big reason's we get together- and it's the cornerstone of so many amazing memories and traditions. But for people like Jay, holiday cuisine can be a cruel mistress.
When we first met there was a slew of things Jay wouldn't eat- it not only dictated his food choices, but where we would go to eat for events such as dates. And, while there are many foods you may think of as triggers for heartburn, the ingredients and dishes which most greatly impact a frequent heartburn sufferer is as unique as the individual them-self. For example, Momma used to tell me to drink milk whenever heartburn would flair- but fatty foods such as milk and cheese actually increase Jay's discomfort, as they slow digestion and result in increased intestinal pressure.
When our first holiday season came around Jay began to make a fuss about sitting out family events- You can imagine the thoughts going through my head, I was certain it was all about me, and him not wanting to be around my family. As it turns out I was wrong. (Don't let him read that.) It soon came out that he didn't want to feel uncomfortable around all of the trigger foods he would inevitably want to eat. Frequent heartburn can truly sideline someone- and the holidays are no time to be feeling left out!

That's why I make Nexium® 24HR Capsules 42ct a part of my holiday shopping list at Walgreens. It's an over-the-counter medication intended to treat frequent heartburn. Just one pill a day provides all-day, all-night protection from frequent heartburn – no matter what triggers it.* (*Nexium® 24HR may take 1-4 days for full effect. It is not immediate relief.) It's the perfect solution for anyone dreading holiday indulgence due to frequent heartburn, and it helps keep Jay by my side, and sipping egg nog all through the awkward social and family gatherings.
What's one of my biggest holiday indulgences? The holiday honey baked ham- you know the one- that sweet pork meat candy glazed with a golden sugar coating so aromatic you wish you could spritz your tree in it. (No, just me?)

Our family is big on the holiday ham tradition- we always make sure to order triple what we need to feed our guests and we still end up with minimal leftovers and a giant ham bone.Of course no matter how slick the family 'carver' thinks they are, there's still plenty of delicious ham flavor left on that bone, so I traditionally make a rustic split pea soup. It's kind of a holiday tradition.
Start by taking the bulk of the leftover meat off your ham bone with a paring knife. Reserve this meat, and any scraps/leftovers, diced, for the finishing touches at the end of your soup's creation.

Place a thick pad of butter in the bottom of an 8 quart pot and simmer your onion, celery, and carrots until they begin to turn soft, opaque, and slightly golden. Add some minced garlic and dried marjoram spice to really highlight the ham flavor you're about to introduce.
Add your ham hock/bone and the diced/trimmed ham to the pot and stir over medium heat just until sufficiently combined.
Next add your split peas and water, bringing the mixture to a simmer before lowering the heat and putting on a lid.
Rustic Split Pea Soup From Scratch Recipe- #MakeHeartburnHistory #AD
 Your soup won't look like much at this point, more of a vegetable stew, really, but shortly after adding the water savory aromas will begin to fill your kitchen thanks to the ham hock and marjoram.
You can't really over-cook your soup, aside from perhaps baking it to the bottom of your pot due to lack of stirring, so feel free to let it simmer until the ham is virtually melting off the bone.
Once your bone is clean, fish your hocks/bones from the soup carefully and smooth the mixture in a food processor a couple of cups at a time- I like to maintain a little texture, so I reserve 1-2 cups of the thicker soup as it is. Once processed, pour your blended coup back into the pot with the last of your reserved ham, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve this delicious rustic homemade split pea soup with a variety of toppings to garnish. Some of our family favorites include sour cream, bacon crumbles, bell peppers, cheddar cheese and fresh chives. Split pea soup, and all of the 'fixings' used to be a big trigger for Jay's frequent heartburn but Nexium® 24HR Capsules have changed the way his stomach greets seasonal cuisine.
Protect yourself from your holiday self with Nexium® 24HR Capsules for frequent heartburn, at Walgreens. #MakeHeartburnHistory #AD
Nexium® 24HR Capsules conveniently come in a 42ct at Walgreens, with 3 individual 14 day treatment bottles inside. In fact the actual bottles are small enough to keep in my purse, or toss in an overnight bag. And the capsules, themselves, are really easy to take, so Jay can get back to enjoying some holiday refreshments!
Protect yourself from your holiday self with Nexium® 24HR Capsules for frequent heartburn, at Walgreens. #MakeHeartburnHistory #AD
Okay, now that his Holiday Heartburn Face is gone, he might be enjoying those holiday refreshments a little too much. Jay said this was his 'I'm drinking something I'm not supposed too, but I'm not going to pay for it later' face.
But in all serious-ness, I was trying to capture a nice holiday photo for our holiday cards, and the excitement of eggnog apparently got the better of both of them. Like father, like dog? I'm okay with it though, I'd much rather have a heartburn free partner in crime to eat my way through the holidays with than a scrunchy faced grinch! Do you have a traditional holiday dish you look forward to each year?

What Daughter Says: Don't sideline yourself this holiday season, protect yourself from your holiday self with Nexium® 24HR Capsules for frequent heartburn.

Rustic Split Pea Soup From Scratch Recipe- #MakeHeartburnHistory #AD
Rustic Split Pea Soup
***Click here for the printable Rustic Split Pea Soup recipe.