Wow, let’s see.

What’s been happening lately?

So much.

(Hopefully you’ll forgive me for having been out of touch once you read this!)

I started a new job at Emory! 

It is awesome. Wait, did you know I had an old job at Emory? Or did you still think I delivered the best produce in the city for Vegetable Husband? Oh my, let’s back up.

In July I got an outstanding offer to join the Development and Alumni Relations team at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School as a temporary Program Coordinator. My main man John referred me to a position that filled in for someone on maternity leave. I enjoyed working with a lovable group on all things alumni for a few months, but when maternity leave came to an end, so did my tenure in that office. I really grew to care about those folks, and totally teared up on my last day.

Thankfully, having built up a pretty decent work reputation, I was able to score another amazing job with yet another fantastic group of people. Seriously: Emory just keeps on giving. Now I find myself in the Office of Annual Giving (OAG) alongside a bunch of interesting, hard-working folks committed to furthering Emory’s wide-ranging philanthropic work. These are my people. ( <— Incidentally, I also maintain that website, and totally chose my own picture. Cuz of course!)

So what have I been doing? A hallmark of the Goizueta office was its strong alumni engagement, and so appropriately, I spent a lot of time doing alumni-facing tasks: creating and managing online event registration pages, providing day-of event support, crafting mass e-mails, working on the website, and managing our database of record. At OAG, I still do e-mail and website support, but I’m a lot more behind the scenes. If you don’t count the folks I work with, I haven’t seen an alum in months!

Securing this job is a pretty big deal for me, because it marks the first time in my adult life that I have some things a lot of folks my age take for granted, like: a desk. A place to come to every day. Predictable work. A predictable paycheck. Benefits. A sense of purpose. It’s really nice. I’m able to pay down student loans and start saving for next steps as I approach my thirties. Since I’ve never been here before, I’m extra thankful for the opportunity, and aim to do my best to keep people pleased.

So that’s the work front. What else?!

Nate and I just celebrated five years together!

Yep, November 30 marked our five year anniversary. Since we’ve already been on so many cool trips together this year, we decided to take it easy and keep it simple by heading down to Pensacola, Florida for a few days. Nate was inspired to suggest since the city houses the first of the Sluggo’s Vegetarian empire, and we’re huuuuge fans of the Chattanooga location. I owe you a blog post all about that soon, but just in case it isn’t forthcoming, here are a few of my favorite photos from our outdoor adventures (bog/swamp, forest, cemetery tour, beach, lagoon):

We’re also moving!

After two years in a beautiful house in East Atlanta – owned by a couple of the nicest folks you’d ever want to meet, and featuring the most well-equipped kitchen I’ve ever cooked in – we are moving to a slightly smaller place outside Decatur. (Send me an e-mail if you want my new address for letter writing or house-warming cards/gifts/love letters.) Our new place is also owned by sweet people, and it’s in great condition. (Think new flooring, custom lighting, and ceiling fans!) We are going to throw a gigantic house-warming in January, so stay tuned. I’m excited because it is proximate to an awesome bike trail that I’ll be able to take part of the way into work every day.

On that note, holy cow! Did you know?

I swapped my car for a bike!

Yep, as of this month, I am an official bike commuter. As soon as the bike gets out of a shop (part drama – story for another time), I’ll be swapping my daily 14 mile commute by car for bike. I am thrilled! I have been saving for nearly two years for this beauty. (You’ll see why when you visit this link for more info.) The new bike is an electric assist model with five modes: bike only, assist only, and three levels of assist (low, medium, high). When in leveled assist mode, the bike automatically responds with varying degrees of assistance based on the current terrain and resistance.

I’m using the bike to get started commuting seven miles one-way from East Atlanta. I have long yearned to be a bike commuter, but at my current level of fitness, I am not able to bike very far at all with Atlanta’s frequent and often steep hills. I’m using the electric bike to build strength and train to a point where I don’t have to use the assist very much. I’ve already gone on several long, hilly rides and they’ve been great.

If you’re someone who has a relatively short commute to work each day (under ten miles) and would like to chat about swapping your commute-by-car for one on a bike, please get in touch. This electric bicycle is a game-changer. Hills that used to seem completely insurmountable are now a breeze with just a little help from me. My first few rides were astonishing. I didn’t want to go home!

It’s also a great investment from a financial standpoint, at least for my partner and me. We were paying at least $40 a week for my commute in gas. A monthly parking permit is an additional $60. Combine gas every week ($2080) with parking for a year ($720) = $2800. $2800 for one year of driving, with nothing to show for it, except a somewhat  more worn-out car and loads of emissions in the atmosphere. No fitness. No enjoying the birds singing in the morning. Yeah, I’ll probably get rained on some, but I’ll totally take it in exchange for the joy that biking gives me!

Atlanta Veg Fest was a great success!

For those who are wondering, Atlanta Veg Fest II was awesome. Much bigger than last year, we attracted around 3,000 folks from all of the world. Seriously: the first guests in the door had visited from Japan! From our humble beginnings last year at around a thousand, we feel confident that Atlanta is not only ready but happy to support a giant fully-vegan festival.

Like last year, I was in charge of our speaker rooms and all of their set-ups. Last year we had two food demos: this year we doubled to four. I really enjoyed running logistics and managing volunteers for our varied and fascinating line-up of internationally-known and loved speakers: Isa Moskowitz, Annie and Dan Shannon, Afya Ibomu, Victoria Moran, Fran Costigan, Bianca Phillips, Dr. Joe Esposito, and Christine Gurnik. I probably owe you a blog post about this, too, but these’ll have to do:

Bianca getting ready

Simply Seoul! Simply the best Korean buns and kimchi around.

Sweet friends Laura and Sean

Looking very tired with the fabulous Victoria Moran

Isa at her demo

Highlights of the fest: being told onstage, in front of a sea of people, what amazing stage presence I have – by the queen of stage presence herself, Ms. Victoria Moran! Also, being told I have incredible knife skills by the one and only Fran Costigan! I was very flattered/honored. I regret not getting a picture of myself with Fran, but the lighting was just too dark in her speaker room.

For more about Atlanta Veg Fest, you should check out Vic’s blog post: Vegfest 2013! and Bianca’s. Bianca’s Atlanta posts are also quite nice: one, two, and three.

Thanksgiving was delicious, too!

Nate and I celebrated a quiet Thanksgiving with our friends Amy, her partner Patch, and friend Datagrok. I made way too much food just the right amount of food: tofurkey with roasted organic vegetables, creamed onions for Nate, green bean casserole in homemade mushroom-bechamel, fordhook lima beans, cashew macaroni and cheese, cornbread sage stuffing with freshly-made cornbread, coconut corn souffle, sweet potato-pecan casserole, … what else?

The raw ingredients for a vegan feast… not too weird or unfamiliar, right?

Amy also brought at least five casseroles, so we were set.

The only thing I didn’t make was dessert, because my sweet penpal Danielle surprised me with a giant box of pumpkin snickerdoodles from Gonepie! From the website: Pumpkin snickerdoodles are a perfect blend of pumpkin and spices in a rich, grainfree cookie. They are tasty and satisfying without being over the top decadent. These cookies are truly addictive. You have been warned! Go here to get some. Thank you so much, Danielle. I have wanted to try Gonepie’s delights for a while now, and they were fantastic.

Amy is special to me because she is the director of the Georgia Rat Rescue!! The GRR is my favorite Georgia-based animal charity and one I contribute to frequently, both financially and as a short-term foster. Without Amy, there would be no GRR – so I try to do nice things for her as often as possible.

With Amy, Georgia Rat Rescue Director

Eleanor checking out her feast!

The GRR is run exclusively by passionate volunteers and we receive no state or foundation funding. If you have any spare change this December, it is my deepest wish that you’ll consider making a donation to GRR by visiting the main page and clicking the tiny Donate button on the right-hand side. We don’t waste a cent! Everything goes to the care and rehabilitation of these tiny furry friends. Please, please, please donate. If you’re thinking of giving me a Christmas present: donate. If you like me: donate. If you don’t like me but you love rats: donate. Donate, donate, donate. We need you. And thanks!!

Travel updates

Apart from our November Florida adventure, Nate and I also spent a week each in Portland and New York in October. Again, I owe you a real blog post, but just in case that isn’t forthcoming anytime soon, here’s a handful of photographic delights:

Portland: October 6 – October 12

Cat postcard purchased at Crafty Wonderland

Breakfast every morning at Prasad. Thanks, per diem!

At Bitch Media’s HQ! I am a loyal subscriber.

At Vita Cafe, a favorite.

Portland has some pretty amazing toy stores. I wanted this entire shelf of golden dragons, but I did not purchase a single one!

Max and Abigail

Adrienne and Max

Writing letters at Barista

Nate’s birthday fell the week were in Portland, so his pal Meg picked up a cake for him and delivered it to work!

Whiffies Pies: Best in the universe, hands down, no joke.

The scrumptiousness abounds: banana tempura, cherry compote, miso butterscotch, peanut brittle ice cream at Departure Restaurant & Lounge

Picnic of Veggie Grill at Hoyt Arboretum

Final meal at Sweetpea Baking Co

New York: October 20 – 26

The most magical place in the world.

Lagusta’s Luscious

Nate and tree ear fungus at Palace Dumplings in Wappingers Falls, NY

This is how close you can get to deer in Nate’s neighborhood.

But not for long.

RuStitchin‘ on the Metro North train bound for NYC

Lunch at HanGawi

At the Morgan

Nate treated John and me to a celebratory dinner at Kajitsu. As I mentioned above, sweet JP is the reason I got into Emory!

Waitin’ on the train in the depths of the city

Grand Central’s got my sign

French fries at the diner

Tea and lunch at Youko’s restaurant, Gomen Kudasai

Exploring historic Huguenot Street, New Paltz, NY

the beautiful wedding that brought us to New York in the first place

Pigging out with Mark and Maresa at the Rutherford Pancake House!

I mean, wouldja lookit this (totally vegan, of course) spread?!

This is the point in the blog post where I tell you that I spent an afternoon at Palisades Park’s King Spa. Yep, King is a traditional Korean spa, which means I spent much of my afternoon completely naked among mostly Korean (but quite a few Russian) ladies of all ages, shapes, and sizes. It was my first visit to a Korean spa and it was, as so many who have gone before me have said, completely transformative and body-positive in every way. Even if you feel consumed with anxiety in the locker room, it only takes a few moments to become aware of the obvious: nobody. cares. what you look like. Nobody. No one is looking at you, judging you, wondering about you. Especially recommended for anyone who has ever cursed her body for being too much or not enough of one thing or another. It’s liberating, it’s lovely, and best of all: it’s remarkably relaxing.

It will not be my last time at a Korean Spa. Thank you Maresa for being my guide!

Aba’s Falafel at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market. Best falafel in the world!

I could not resist grabbing a shot of this adorable Japanese couple leaving the farmers’ market.

Nate had a birthday!!

Wow, this was a minute ago, but it totally bears mentioning in this mega life update post. Nate celebrated his birthday with a fun D&D themed party and a glorious cake hand-made by co-owners Idalys and Howell at Atlanta’s amazing Dulce Vegan Bakery and Cafe. Our favorite person Vic DMed and did an outstanding job – seriously, could not have asked for a better storyteller. It’s definitely worth taking a moment to check out his re-cap of the day over at the blog: D&D B-Day for Nate!

Here are some of Vic’s pictures: 

the food

the cake

Us!

On the Horizon for Crack the Plates (the blog)

In the new year, I would like to make a renewed commitment to blogging here. Every week I get e-mails or meet people in person who tell me how much CrackthePlates.com and AtlantaVeganGuide.com have meant to them as they consider, investigate, transition into, or stay strong as vegans. I would like to honor that commitment by posting more consistently. Perhaps as I get moved into a new place and nail down my work routine, I will be able to carve out dedicate time to connect with my community here. You mean so much to me, and I deeply appreciate your support!

***

Ok, I think that probably covers everything from the last two months or so! Hope you have enjoyed catching up with me, and just in case we don’t see each other again here soon, I hope you have a very happy buncha holidays. See you in January at the housewarming!