How to Have an Awesome *Vegan* Thanksgiving

For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a time of friends, family, and food.  For vegans like me, the food part can be a bit complicated—after all, the star of the meal is supposed to be a dead bird!

Nevertheless, with a little planning and preparation, vegans can enjoy Thanksgiving with the best of them.

Help with the cooking.

Don’t expect someone else to do all the work in accommodating you AND whoever else is coming for dinner.  Not hosting yourself?  Offer to prepare a veg-friendly side or meat alternative.  Sam at It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken has some awesome options, like these “8 Traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas Sides Made Vegan.”

It’s not that hard to replicate your favorite family recipe—almond milk and egg replacers and Earth Balance exist for a reason!  Many times, it’s the traditional methods that require these things, and a simple substitute is barely noticeable.

For the “meat and potatoes” portion of the feast, there are plenty of meat-free options available, if you want to substitute it (some people prefer to fill up on veggies and the like instead, and that’s totally okay too!):  check out Tofurky for everything from deli slices to Holiday roast!

 

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Be prepared for the comments.

And don’t let them bother you.  Dad, Aunt Martha, and Uncle Joe might not understand  your reasons for not partaking of the “normal” food.  You’ll likely hear “oh, just eat it!” a few times.  It’s okay.  Take a deep breath and eat your non-guilt.

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Remember the “True” Thanksgiving.

You know when Christmas comes to town and people get all huffy about commercialization and the true meaning of Christmas?  Do that for Thanksgiving.  There’s more to it than food and heading to Target two hours before they open.

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If you still need some inspiration, be sure to check out this AMAZING Vegan Thanksgiving rap!   Most importantly, remember that I’m thankful for you all 🙂

Monthly Goals Collab: November

Angela and Jazmine, of The Clutter Box and Fairy Lights & Dreams, respectively, came up with the brilliance of a Monthly Goal Collaboration, and I’m thrilled to be joining them and the other bloggers yet again this month!

An InLinkz Link-up

As you may have notice, my recent hiatus kept me MIA for October’s Monthly Intentions collab.  But if you think aaaaaaaall the way back to September, you can recall some of my goals for that month, and it’s easy enough to reflect on the two.  

So, looking back on September/October:

Some high points:

  • My classes have intertwined in some odd way, despite all being rather strange in their concepts (at least in comparison to my normal classwork).
  • Work has continued to go amazingly!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my bosses that even when everything else seems to fall apart, I’m bound to enjoy my day at work.
  • My birthday!  I turned 21 at the end of October.  Yep, legal alcohol consumption.  Nope, I haven’t had any since.
  • Halloween!!! My favorite holiday was highlighted with a costume party at my boss’s house.  If you follow TO&E on Instagram, you got to see a peek of my Elsa costume!

Needs improvement:  

  • My health wasn’t the best for these two months, topped off with a stretch of seemingly endless bronchitis.  Of course, this led to a lot of general unhappiness, which is hardly the best place to be.
  • Doing things.  Health issues and sadness don’t make for a very active Jules.  I haven’t been working out or participating in extracurriculars as much as I’d like, simply because I’m either too sick or outright lack the energy.  This includes the blog and friends, which hasn’t changed much since September, unfortunately!
  • Budgeting.  With some unexpected expenses appearing (hopefully with good news to come!), it’s been a struggle (especially at the sort of school where everyone seems to own three Mercedes).  Bills are very real.

So, without further ado:  goals for November.

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GOMO.

Eventbrite recently introduced me to the concept of GOMO, or Getting Out More Often, the rival of the infamous FOMO.  I’m planning to do a full post on this later in the month, but for now, know that I fully intend to leave the apartment, do things, and meet people.  First stop:  New York City with my best friend this past weekend.  Details to come!

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I can almost sense the blog’s melancholy.  This can’t be.  Social media, posting, and general engagement will be improved this month!

Gratitude

In the mindset of Thanksgiving, I’m going to make a conscious effort to be grateful for those good things in my life, especially when it’s hard to find them.  Family, cute dogs, cups of tea…these are the little things that make me happy.

#NoSpendNovember

“But Jules, you just said you spent the weekend in NYC….”  I know.  I allowed myself this day of retail therapy as it had been planned for months.  On a larger scale though, I’m purposefully cutting back this month—no spontaneous potato chips, no quick Starbucks run, no cute leggings just because they’re on sale.  Necessities.

So…here’s hoping the gals of this collab can keep my motivation high! Feel free to let me know if you have any tips!

“Thank you for the music….”

“So I say, ‘Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing; thanks for all the joy they’re bringing.  Who can live without it?’ I ask in all honesty, ‘What would life be?  Without a song or a dance, what are we?’ So I say, ‘thank you for the music, for giving it to me….'” -ABBA, Thank You For The Music

As you may know, here at TO&E, we really like music.  It serves as memory, as communication, as a conveyance of feeling.

Today’s a special day in my family, and as such it’s only right to celebrate with some music.

Today makes the birthday of two very special people in my life, my grandfather, featured here before, and his sister-in-law, my Aunt Barb.  Throughout my childhood, these were two of the most influential people in my life.

One influence was on my musical tastes.  In both cases, car rides proved decisive.  Pop would take me to softball games, doctors’ appointments, and on general errands with him and Nanny:  in the process, they introduced me to the oldies I now cherish.  Aunt Barb was my ride home from school throughout middle school, and deepened my love for a variety of artists, simply by bringing them along for the ride.

Here’s a few of the pieces that still make me think of them:

From Pop:

From Aunt Barb:

In honor of two great people and today, their shared birthday, I’d like to thank them for their music, for giving it to me.  Happy Birthday, Pop and Aunt Barb— I love and miss you both!

“Mental wounds not healing, who and what’s to blame?”

“Heirs of a cold war, that’s what we’ve become;  Inheriting troubles, I’m mentally numb. Crazy, I just cannot bear…. I’m living with something that just isn’t fair…. Mental wounds not healing, who and what’s to blame? I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train….” –Crazy Train, Ozzy Osbourne

Several doctor’s visits and countless hours in bed later, I’m still sick.

The diagnosis has changed from sinus infection to “just a cold” to “maybe pneumonia?” to upper respiratory infection more times than I can count.  Several prescriptions later, we’ve settled on the latter and I’m finally starting to feel like I might be starting to get better.

Luckily for me, the last few days coincided with what Gettysburg calls “Reading Days,” the closest thing we have to a “Fall Break” (Gettysburg doesn’t really like the concept of breaks), coinciding either right before or right after midterms.  For the first time in my student-hood, I decided to journey home for reading days (about half of the student body does so).  As much as I adore Gettysburg, months of sickness and fatigue, stress and homesickness led me to just want my mom and my puppy.

And that’s just what I got.

Cooper bonded with Sleepy Eevee.

Cooper bonded with Sleepy Eevee.

And got a Donut :) (I, of course, enjoyed an iced tea!)

And got a Donut 🙂 (I, of course, enjoyed an iced tea!)

Mom and Dad took care of me and put up with my late-night coughing fits <3

Mom and Dad took care of me and put up with my late-night coughing fits ❤

So I took them to my favourite place in the world.

So I took them to my favourite place in the world.

Dad and Rachel took to some artistic endeavors upon arriving in Gettysburg

Dad and Rachel took to some artistic endeavors upon arriving in Gettysburg

With awfully impressive results.

With awfully impressive results.

In short, this was probably the hardest time I have had coming back to school.

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“But you wouldn’t change anything….”

“Like any great love, it keeps you guessing; like any real love, it’s ever-changing; like any true love, it drives you crazy, but you wouldn’t change anything, anything, anything…. Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you, welcome to New York, welcome to New York….” –Welcome to New York, Taylor Swift

I’ll be the first to admit that Taylor Swift’s music has gone downhill as of late.  I wouldn’t call myself a fan of this particular number, but I understand the concept behind it, because I completely agree when it comes to NYC.

Luckily for me, I’ve been there quite a few times on various endeavors.  Last year, I returned with a friend from the NY area, toured some hot spots, and began anxiously awaiting December 2015, when I could return again on the annual college-run trip.

Fast-forward to late September, and I’m quite literally a wreck— leaving one job after a terrifying police-involving situation, getting used to piles of new pills, barely eating or sleeping, and just generally in a state of malaise, not to mention the constant buildup of schoolwork.

One of my best friends, who’d worked side-by-side with me at the Bookstore all summer, took me aside at the peak of it all and asked “Are you sure you don’t want to go on this New York City trip this weekend?”

In addition to “my” trip in December, the school has an autumn trip to see a Broadway show.  Though the bus-only tickets were significantly cheaper than the bus + theatre ones, I hadn’t had the additional funds at the time of their sale to go— in my current state, I was hardly in a state to be reminded of that.

Sam, my friend, wasn’t trying to break my heart after all.  Instead, he’d acquired an extra ticket, and, knowing my fascination and familiarity with the city, claimed it on the off chance I’d be up for it, as a way to cheer me up.

Believe it or not, his Best Friend of the Year award points get even more impressive as the story goes on....

Believe it or not, his Best Friend of the Year award points get even more impressive as the story goes on….

After I anal retentively planned our jam-packed trip by the minute, we headed off on a long, long bus ride, fueled with coffee, almond granola, and each other’s company.

Despite my usual Lincoln Tunnel panic attack and Sam’s newbie fascination with quite literally every building we passed from Jersey on, we made it to Penn Station.

From there, we stopped by Carlo’s Bakery, of the TV show Cake Boss.  Though I couldn’t eat anything (not a single dairy-less option, unfortunately!), I was able to warm up with some more coffee and enjoy the atmosphere.

Though it's flagship shop is in Hoboken, the 8th Avenue bakery is all the cakes with half the crowd!

Though it’s flagship shop is in Hoboken, the 8th Avenue bakery is all the cakes with half the crowd!

From there, it was toy store heaven— Disney, Toys R Us, and Nintendo World, where Sam nearly bought out their entire stock of Pokemon plush.  I came home with a Sleepy Eevee, one of my childhood favourites, and, of course, a new Perry for the collection (this one talks!!!).

We cut through toys to Rockefeller Centre— saddening without it’s usual tree and festivities.  My elation quickly returned, though, when we hit my absolute favourite spot in the city.

Fifth Avenue... Businesspeople, the wealthy, and Jules, obsessing over sparkly things.

Fifth Avenue… Businesspeople, the wealthy, and Jules, obsessing over sparkly things.

When we’d been planning, Sam asked me “What’s the cheapest thing at Tiffany’s?”  Far too acquainted with their catalogue, I quickly rattled off some highlights— a $125 pendant, a $75 pen…. Of course, I quoted Breakfast at Tiffany’s:  “A sterling silver telephone dialer…. at 6.75, including federal tax.”

“I could buy something for you and something for my mom,” he said thoughtfully as we drove from shop to shop, planning the perfect city-worthy outfits.  I shushed him, considering his contemplation to be absolute nonsense.

I’d found him the perfect necklace for his Mom, and as we strolled the third floor (after undoubtedly convincing the second floor lovelies that we were in fact a couple, as I showed him the exact rings I plan to have come my engagement [to Prince Harry], I couldn’t help but look around myself.

I have to admit— I looked pretty amazing on this trip;  at least good enough for the employees to bother greeting me and whatnot.  It’s a truly amazing feeling, to be greeted by a Tiffany’s employee— “nothing very bad could happen to you there….

In the process, I came across a gorgeous ring I’d been admiring on the site.  Sam’s prompting earlier to try on the $14,000 engagement ring came to mind.  Surely, even my extreme klutziness couldn’t deter me from trying on the significantly cheaper engraved sterling silver band?

Sam joined me at the counter after making his purchase and agreed.  I gave the clerk my ring size— a six, if my future husband happens to be reading this— and he handed me the display, conveniently the same size (if that isn’t a sign from the Gods, I’m not sure what is).

“I could get it for you,” Sam insisted.  We bickered like the old married couple we essentially are, but I gave in eventually.  It was practically blackmail, with the sparkling silver circlet on my hand and the employee watching it shine with adoration.  I was soon handed a bag housing a blue box in which my brand-new ring shined.  If I hadn’t already had their address engrained in my mind, I’d know it now, as it sparkles on my hand almost always.

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From there, we went to Central Park, Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, and an amazing vegan cafe called VLife.

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I navigated the city quite successfully, introduced one of my favourite people to one of my favourite places, and received a piece of jewelry from the place where I’m happiest in the world.  Overall, a successful trip!

Best friends forever, obviously!

Best friends forever, obviously!

“How do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?”

“Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are gone, but in my mind I know they will still live on and on.  But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?  It isn’t easy, but I’ll try….” –To Sir, With Love

I’m not a fan of the modern American school system, by any means.  Regardless, certain teachers, coaches, directors, etc.  have had a tremendous impact on my life, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.

These men and women have taught me that it’s perfectly okay to do your own thing.  That nobody is special enough to be entitled to everything, no matter what they may think.  That perspective changes everything.  That no matter how much the real world sucks, you can hang in there.  That you can’t take everything at face value.  That it’s okay to be loud.  That Audrey, Seinfeld, and tea can fix nearly anything.  That normality is highly overrated.  And their respective subjects, of course.  These amazing, inspirational people don’t get half as much appreciation as they should.

I’m bound to miss a few, but here goes nothing:

Thank you, Professors Titus, Booz, Martin, Piniak, Carmichael, Brown, Isherwood, Foster, Krysiek.  Thank you, Mrs. Derck, Mrs. Ulsh, Mrs. Yuengling, Mrs. Hale, Miss Jones, Miss Mogish, Mr. C., Mr. and Mrs. Grabusky, Mr. Snyder, Mr. Soister, Mrs. Yuengel, Miss Shane, Miss Nichol, Mrs. Lantz, Mrs. Laubenstine, Mrs. Weston, Mr. Yashinsky, Mrs. Dautrich, Mrs. Luckenbill, Mr. and Mrs. Moyer, Mr. Siket, Mrs. Huegel, Mr. Sabol, and Mrs. Advensky (plus an honorable mention to Miss Tretter!).

Thank you, Miss Hoppes, Mr. and Mrs. Dietz, Mrs. Cappella, Mr. Evans, Mr. Kahl, and Mr. Sanders.

Thank you, Ms. Moran, Miss Savage, Mrs. Slovick, and all of those nameless faces left in my hazy memories of elementary school.

Thank you, Pete, Jared, and the many amazing CWI historians.

Thank you, Dr. Yashechak and the wonderful Schuylkill County historians.

Upon hearing my majors/minors, many people ask, “Oh, so you want to teach?”  I may not, but I have the utmost respect for those who do.  Thank you all.

“Thank you, thank you, silence….”

“Thank you, India, thank you, terror, thank you, disillusionment, thank you, frailty, thank you, consequence, thank you, thank you, silence….” -Alanis Morissette, Thank You

Thanks to a throbbing headache (thank you, curtain rod, for hitting me over the head) and some super intense pain meds, today’s post is going to be short.

Thank you, readers.  Thank you to those who’ve been here since the beginning and those who’ve recently jumped aboard, those who comment on every post and those who appreciate in silence.  You’re all wonderful.