Tips

10 Vegan Valentine’s Day Ideas for Blogging & Celebrating (or not)

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Love it or hate it, there are less than 24 hours to mentally prepare for another Valentine’s Day.

Whether you’re staying in with a mail order from Lagusta’s Luscious and Casablanca, off to a romantic dinner, attempting to say the phrase “Galentine’s Day” out loud, or making tots and deciding to conquer a few seasons of Game of Thrones, Valentine’s Day is about love and celebrating’ that special day with yourself, your loved ones, or your cat. In any case, we hope you spend the day in an enjoyable manner with only a smattering of pink confetti and a bit of thanks in your heart for the people you love.

Here are some ideas from all of us at Vida Vegan Headquarters on a variety of ways to make the evening special, and some topics to tackle blogging (whether you have a bit of spare time tomorrow, decide to Instagram dinner, or tackle writing about it all next week):

  1. Find those cookie cutters. Yes, you could easily make heart-shaped pancakes or a cake or even polenta/quinoa molds, but how about dinosaurs? Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?! Plus, it really gets you thinking about the past and future, so ring-a-ding-ding…or, just figure out how to make every single thing you eat that day heart-shaped.
    RSVP Cookie Cutters. Somewhere in the back of your drawer.
  2. Sneaky, sneaky. Does your significant other or bff(s) read your blog? Probably. Maybe (or maybe they say they do). Try posting about something TOTALLY different than what you actually have planned. Surprise, surprise.
  3. Go big and go garlic. Roasted garlic lasagna and garlic bread sounds lovely. It’s called intimacy, right?
  4. DIY V-Day Craft Ideas: Make your own science-y valentine, like these!  Subversive Cross Stitch is always there for you. Um…therapeutic pin cushion?
  5. You Time.Stay in, say screw it, and pop in (okay, stream) some cheesy ‘80s horror and actually pop some popcorn while you brush your cat’s hair. We know you have at least one cat.
  6. Date Night. Go on, go out to dinner at a vegan (or vegan-friendly) restaurant if you want to! Whether it’s a fancy date, take out, a dive bar, or a slice, you deserve it. 
  7. We Get You. Seriously, have dinner with your cat. Serve everything in wine glasses.
  8. Schadenfreude. Share your worst adolescent breakup story, that horrible Roxette song that was somehow “yours,” and recreate (veganize) the mall-food-court super deluxe cheese fries you shared on your first date.
  9. Your Soundtrack: Get down with your single self with Spotify’s ‘Singleton’ playlist. Or, if you’ve got a sweetie, annoy them with these Spotify love song playlists while makin’ dinner or makin’ out.
  10. Break Out the Candles. Any night’s an excuse for a lovely homemade, vegan meal for two (or three, or whatever’s your bag), V Day’s the big leagues. Here are some  romantic recipe ideas to get you inspired:
    1. Seitan & Waffles with Pomegranate Syrup via The PPK
    2. Shaved Brussels Sprout with Whole Grain Mustard Sauce via Vedge Restaurant
    3. Candle 79’s Vegan Paella via City Spoonful
    4. Allison Rivers Samson’s Double Cheese Lasagna via VegNews
    5. Portobello’s Cashew Cream Pizza via Serious Eats
    6. When in doubt, just beet it. via Pinterest
    7. Ancho Chocolate Pie via Vegan Secret Supper (Jess note: this book is mesmerizing!)
Ancho Chocolate Pie and Butternut Squash Ice Cream from Vegan Secret Supper. Image source: Alternatives Journal
Ancho Chocolate Pie and Butternut Squash Ice Cream from Vegan Secret Supper. Image source: Alternatives Journal

I know, one mere dessert recipe?! As if you don’t have something already up your sleeve.

Rest assured, #11 is an honorary mention (aka one big duh) for thematically-inclined bubbles, cocktails & mocktails, of course.

Enjoy your day, whatever you do, and feel free to share your ideas and plans in the comments!

Holiday Blogging Ideas!

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It’s that special time of year, where it seems like every other blog popping up on your reader is showing off the latest holiday gift guide. If not that, it’s talking about what cookies they love to make this holiday season, links of tried-and-true recipes in tow. These are both great ideas for seasonal blog posts, but there’s plenty more to talk about, and to make your own.

Here at Vida Vegan Headquarters, we’ve put together a list of 15 holiday-themed blogging suggestions to inspire you to inspire others, this winter:

15 Ideas to Get You Blogging This Holiday Season

  1. Veganize family favorites and share the recipe and the memories.
  2. Homemade gifts ideas. That’s right, go get fabulously lost on the DIY Xmas Gifts-land that is Pinterest this morning.
  3. Holiday meal planning: the classics and the brave new dishes.
    Gooey vegan cardamom-cinnamon rolls, Vegan Eats & Treats
  4. Kindness. Spread the cheer & pay it forward.
  5. DIY decorating: Hello, Snowman fridge.
  6. Winter picnics with chocolate chip cookies and mugs of mulled cider or peppermint candy cane vodka-infused hot cocoa.
    The Vida Vegan Hot Toddy kit: cinnamon, star anise, Stash tea, dried lemon peel and raw sugar, ready for whiskey & hot water. Image via @janessapk
  7. Speaking of mugs…… ‘Tis the season for warm drinks.Winter picnics with chocolate chip cookies and mugs of mulled cider or peppermint candy cane vodka-infused hot cocoa.
  8. A new round-up of the  best soups in town.
  9. Tips on throwing a themed holiday party…Festivus, anyone?
  10. Wool-less winter looks.
    Vegan Rapunzel Braid Hooded Scarf via ShopCheni on Etsy
  11. Sharing New Year’s resolutions that will seriously  help the world: organize a sanctuary work party; join in the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale; vow to compost, etc.
  12. Vegan nog-off (or hot chocolate-off) It’s a tough job, but…
  13. Eco-wrapping. One more intense round of Pinterest to explore.
  14. Talk about your favorite nonprofits (Holiday season is also tax write-off season — find out who’s got fund-matching!)
  15. Life lessons: share your vegan-through-the-family-holidays survival guide.

Or….Screw the seasons! Keep doing what you do!

Got something great in the works? Instagram it in-progress, giving a nice behind-the-scenes, authentic look at what you’ve got in store. If you’ve been posting about the holidays, we’d love to read about it. Leave a comment with a link and share your plans in the comments!

Vegan Thanksgiving at Vida Vegan Headquarters: Feast Ideas & Portland Dining Options

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Like every other friend we talk to lately, we’ve got homemade holidays on the collective brain at Vida Vegan Headquarters, and brainstorming and recipe testing for our upcoming Holiday Hors D’oeuvres & How-Tos! (aka our holiday entertaining class & cocktail shindig) is only making it that much more difficult to contemplate meals without grated nutmeg and cranberry.

Here are some last-minute, vegan Thanksgiving recipes and ideas catching your friendly organizers’ eyes, and some from our own archives and memories, for the fast-approaching Thanksgiving….Thanksliving…..Thanksgivukkah…..Thursday eats, whatever you’d like to call it.

Image via documentingreality.com

Janessa’s favorite picks:

  • Chive Mashed Potatoes I’ve made this recipe from Tal Ronnen the past three years. The secret is the cashew cream that adds an unbelievably rich creaminess.

  • Green Bean Casserole This recipe from Susan at the excellent Fat Free Vegan blog is an excellent base for that Thanksgiving classic. I usually fatten it up by adding those awful & delicious canned fried onions and cooking with lots of wine.

  • Artisan Bread Grant Butler recently posted this recipe on Oregon Live. It’s so easy and turns out the most delicious golden loaves of bread I’ve seen.

  • Parsnip Ribbons Vegetarian Times published this recipe in its November issue. They’re simple, tasty, and add an elegant touch to your mashed potatoes. I omitted the paprika and added dried sage for an even more Thanksgiving-y flavor.

  • Lava Lamp The Lava Lamp is my favorite seasonal bubbly drink.

1 bottle sparkling wine

1-2 pomegranates’ worth of seeds

12 oz pomegranate juice

Pour bubbles into a tall champagne flute. Add half dozen to a dozen pomegranate seeds, and top with a splash of pomegranate juice. The seeds bounce up and down in the bubbles, creating a Lava Lamp-esque effect.*Makes 4-6 Lava Lamps.

Jess’ tried-and-true picks:

  • Bryanna Clark Grogan’s definitive vegan pumpkin pie

    • For a twist, I made a last minute,  straw-decorated, Thai Iced Tea version a couple of T-days ago that I just fell in love with (which can happen with pie, of course).

  • Pumpkin Cheddar Biscuits, Vegan Crunk via Panda with Cookie
  • My mom’s Sweet Potato Pie Casserole via New York Newsday. My late mother had a clipping of this recipe from the newspaper, and the aroma of it coming out of the oven is my oldest and fondest culinary memory.  Besides the mashed potatoes, it was the one dish at holiday gatherings I can actually remember eating, and looking forward to, year after year. (Coincidentally, I have bourbon infusing for this very flavor right now).

  •  Chickpea Cutlets, The PPK. New classics. It’s no gravy, but I sure like these with a smokey BBQ sauce.

  • Cranberry Kir Royale, The Chew…because yes, I often watch The Chew, happened to soak fresh cranberries in cherry brandy and ginger the other day, and really, really want to make these this holiday season (or tomorrow).
  • Savoury Turkey Seitan Roast from Brian P. McCarthy via Everyday Dish. A few years ago, I slept through most of a Thanksgiving feast and having missed out, decided to make this baked seitan first thing the next day, and it was a brilliant, delicious decision.

    • And if you’re doing a classic Tofurky or seitan roast, I would like to recommend using sparkling apple cider or a hoppy beer, along with sliced garlic, shallots and fresh herbs, in that marinade. It’s where it’s at.
  • If you’re looking for something different or simply finger food-orientated, perhaps the first-ever documented Totsgiving can inspire.
Sweet Potato Pie….casserole

Michele’s cozy picks:

While I’m just as likely to make pizza or pasta, here are some more traditional holiday dishes:

Some of my favorites for which I’ve never had recipes are stuffin’ muffins (stuffing made in muffin tins), crispy baked chickpeas, roasted sweet potatoes, and any ol’ hunk of bread with roasted elephant garlic and parsley butter.

Vegan Thanksgiving in Portland & Beyond

And if you’re staying in, how about mixing things up and putting together a special Korean dolsot bibimap, Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian spread (from Vida Vegan Con alumnae Kittee Berns) or even picking up take-out from a vegan-friendly restaurant, grocery store or caterer open in your neighborhood? There’s often something extra fun about breaking tradition, and most importantly, creating your own.

Homemade Vegan Ethiopian Platter at Jess’, last Thanksgiving

If you’re in the Portland area like us, here are some suggestions:

The incredibly well-attended, 10th Annual NorthwestVeg Compassionate Thanksgiving Potluck is also happening on November 24th at Benson High School. Registration here.

Outside of Portland?

We’d love to hear about your own very special, traditional or otherwise, American Thanksgiving plans (or Canada’s earlier this year!) and tried and true recipes.

Do feel free to let us know of any other spots open in your neighborhood.

Happy Feasting!

Stay tuned for more from our Vida Vegan holiday guides & news on our holiday events.

holiday party revised

The early bird discount for our upcoming holiday celebration ends next week!

Eventbrite - Holiday Hors D'oeuvres & How-Tos

Dawn & Helen’s Very-Vegan Instagram Musts (Cat Ladies ‘R’ Us)

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One of @jdfunks’ roommates being such a cat.
A few months ago, our friends at VegNews issued a list of vegan Instagrammers they simply “can’t get enough of”, which naturally, inspired us to contemplate our own. Your friendly VVC organizers quickly scrolled through our own feeds and so many eye-catching, appetizing, adorable and quirky photos popped out at us. It’s no surprise that Instagram may undeniably be the social media medium of the moment, and that encouraged us to hand this notion over to our own social media mavens, Seattle vegan bloggers Helen Pitlick and Dawn Quinn, to get the list even more relevant. Trust us, they know what’s up.
social media dawn quinn helen pitlick vida vegan tech
Best.

Dawn and Helen are seriously super and super serious Vida Vegan alumnae, with a joint presentation on “Effective Social Media” already under their belt from this past fall’s first-ever  VVC Tech Seminar in Seattle. The lovely power duo is back again this upcoming weekend (!!) with “How to Use Social Media to Win (Vegan) Friends & Influence People”  on Sunday afternoon. From the sound of it, you’re in store for a lot of discussion – and time for questions – about social media tips, photography, relevancy, community, practices, promotional disclosure, popularity, balance, and more – so, stay tuned, listen up and ask those question!

Case in point: darling Eva VonSassipants of the @VidaVeganHQ household

We picked all of these people because they’re all real people (minus the cat, and not professional photogs) who take photos of their food, adorable pets, travels and vegan lifestyle in a way that’s relatable, sometimes funny and always super delicious-looking. We also have representation from raw-friendly and gluten-free pals. They’ve got good followings for good reason and are all super down to earth and cool. They make you want to be their friend with their pictures. - Dawn & Helen

Without further adieu, here are six vegan folks that Dawn and Helen dig on Instagram, and think you may, too:

@RyanPatey: Ryan frequently shares what he’s eating, from wraps to soups to restaurant experiences, which makes veganism seem really easy. Everything he eats looks delicious, but he’s certainly not a professional chef (in the best possible way!). He balances this out with his cat, shows, and other randomness. @food_and_cats: You just want to be Michelle’s friend. Her profile description says, g”uess what I mostly post about,” and while it’s true that her feed is largely devoted to the delicious meals she cooks up and the adorable Pekoe and Tetley, Michelle also gives insight into her life outside of veganism by posting pics of her partner, adventures, and the occasional PBR. @Amanda_eats_slc: Dog owner and feral cat whisperer of Salt Lake City, Amanda makes being vegan look easy. In addition to adorable animal pics, you’ll find healthy vegan lunches, highlights of veg-friendly SLC restaurants along with travels, friends and her vegan lifestyle. Her profile tagline of “will write for cat food and vodka” seems it up in the most endearing way. @Pjrvs: Paul is a vegan who makes things happen. A vegan cookbook author and designer, he’s made a name for himself in terms of being a successful guy. You want to follow him everywhere just to see what makes him tick. In addition to being awesome, Paul uncooks a lot of amazing raw (sometimes cooked) meals, adventures in the great outdoors and hangs with two adorable pet rats. Seriously, come for the gorgeous outdoor scenery and mouthwatering meals, and stay for the sweet rats. @Albert_Weskie: Move over, Maru — if you’re a fan of fluffy orange cats with sweet faces and a penchant for naps and mischief, follow Albert. (If not, you’re probably a horrible person — JK!). Albert may not be vegan, but we have it on good authority that his parents are. JL of @jlgoesvegan: JL is as lovely in real life as she is online, and her Instagram account showcases bits and pieces of her very vegan life: her speaking engagements, cooking for clients, exercising and of course the delicious, healthy meals she has dining out and at home. Expect a plethora of smoothies, colorful salads and some wine and treats thrown in for good measure.

What they like about Instagram:
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  • Makes anyone a better photographer
  • Hashtags are great potential for discovery and community

Their habitual hates:

  • Accounts that are all or predominantly selfies
  • People who share their Instagram photos on every social media account (!!)
To follow along with our two mavens, check out @hpilick and @veganmoxie

While we’re here, the ladies of Vida Vegan Headquarters (meaning @VidaVeganHQ, @janessapk and @jdfunks) would like to throw even more love to some of our favorite Instagram accounts (which comes with a bunch of duh’s, no doubt): @IsaChandra, @Lechousauvage, @Prfctpineapples@Lazysmurf, @animalkind@vegankitten, @lagusta@redhotvegan, @jayastafa and @inmypiesClearly, we’re enamored with vegan Austin!

Jess would also like to throw out a little public plea about her own Instagram pet peeve numero uno - Please, please, stop with the blatant screen-caps of your own blog posts and facebook updates  – it’s so not necessary (and frankly, an obnoxious overstep into marketing land on a casual medium)….We come for the vegan tacos and cats, pls!

Let’s spread the vegan inspiration!

Want to share your own Instragram account or a favorite? Leave a comment – and of course, hashtag ‘con happenings with #VVC2013 and #VidaVeganCon.

VVC 2013 Expert Corner

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expert

By now you’ve all seen the agenda, but we figured we might as well pack as much as possible into this weekend. To that end, in addition to all the classes and workshops and discussions, we netted some really fantastic talent together for an Expert Corner. They’ll be in the Kridel Ballroom, our home base for the conference. Stuff your brains with all their know-how!

Photography • Marika Collins & Kate Lewis
Two of the most exciting vegan photographers out there, Kate and Marika can school you on composition, lighting, editing, and even what all those buttons on your camera actually do.
Friday, 1:45-3:45 • Saturday, 3:15-5:00 • Sunday, 9:45-11:00

Nutrition • Ginny Messina
Ginny Messina’s been studying and writing about nutrition since you were in short pants. You can’t get more thorough, reliable advice.
Friday, 4:00-4:45

Marketing & Social Media • Helen Pitlick & Dawn Quinn
Dawn and Helen live and work in social media. These savvy ladies will get your online peripherals (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, whatever else was invented last night) in order.
Saturday, 9:30-10:45

Business • Nicole Sopko
As Vice President of Upton’s Naturals, Nicole Sopko is pivotal in its growth. She knows how a vegan company can succeed ethically. It’s possible!
Saturday, 11:00-12:00

Tech • Jason Das
Got a question about your blog or website? Ask web developer and designer Jason Das, founder and publisher of Super Vegan.
Saturday, 2:15-3:00

Business & Culinary Arts • Julie Hasson
Julie Hasson has decades in the food industry and has run her own food cart, written more than a handful of books, and is starting a line of baking mixes—pick her brain!
Sunday, 11:15-12:15

Vegan Pregnancy & Raising Vegan Kids • Sayward Rebhal
Having a kid? Thinking of maybe having a kid? Don’t miss this chance to sit down and chat with Sayward Reghal, an intelligent, open woman who’s been there and studied that.
Sunday, 1:45-2:30

The 2013 Vida Vegan Con BlogFeed is here…

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Let's read more!
…and welcome to vegan summer camp!

Update: Signup is complete! Thanks for all who signed up – see you at the con and in the future!

The 2013 Vida Vegan Con BlogFeed has arrived!

Bookmark it, subscribe, or download the OPML file to import into your reader of choice right here.

We’ve made it public via Google Reader for ease (which will fortunately, exist until July, as Feedly does not offer publicizing bundles…yet!).

Get to know your fellow attendees and the speakers of the upcoming con, and most of all, enjoy!

P.S. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here. Please leave a comment below so we can add it quickly. Remember…This is totally opt-in and not required. We do ask that only registered attendees sign up (this is also open to sponsors and speaker blogs, of course), that all blogs are vegan in content, and that you’re comfortable seeing your website on a public feed.This won’t be a blogroll or contact list, it’ll simply be a feed of your latest posts to share.

Note: If you haven’t yet posted to your blog, you won’t be seeing it on our feed until you do, as it won’t be recognized by Google Reader just yet – so get working!

P.P. S. If you see any issues with your blog or someone else’s, simply email Vida Vegan Headquarters and we’ll take a look. Feeds can be a tricky business.

Check the 2013 Vida Vegan Con agenda right here.

Coming to Vida Vegan Con II? Join the 2013 Blogfeed.

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UPDATE: The 2013 Feed is live! If you’re attending and haven’t added your blog yet, please leave a comment when you do so we can update the feed ASAP. We will be removing signup on Sunday, May 19 so we can focus on the busy week ahead. 

Update: Signup is complete! Thanks for all who signed up – see you at the con and in the future!

 

With the end of Google Reader (and all the associated gasping and groaning that came with the news), comes the quick rise of Feedly, the official replacement for all your up-to-date blog reading. And with Vida Vegan Con II rapidly approaching, it’s time for even more to peruse.

So, we’re putting together a list of all Vida Vegan Con II blog feeds for ya—one big feed of excitement and plant-based creativity!

The 2013 VVC II Blogfeed.

Simply fill out this form with your URL feed information, and we’ll debut the list shortly. Stay tuned!

See you..next month!?!?! Artwork by J. Legume

We do ask that only registered attendees sign up (this is also open to sponsors and speaker blogs, of course), that all blogs are vegan in content, and that you’re comfortable seeing your website on a public feed.This won’t be a blogroll or contact list, it’ll simply be a feed of your latest posts to share.

Let’s get to know each other, shall we?

Thanks!

P.S. This is all you need to do.

Help Plan a Class this May: Tech for Effective Web Presence

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Image credit: clker.com – Please note this is not actually Jason Das

Jason Das, the co-founder of both SuperVegan and Vegan Drinks, is returning to Vida Vegan Con this May to share his expertise and thoughts in a few of our exciting panels and classes: Ethics Beyond the Plate, Vegan Invasion: Community Building, and Tech for Effective Web Presence. 

For this third class, Jason asked us if he could solicit some ideas on just what *you* would like to know more about.

This is your chance to design his class. It’ll be more than a mere general presentation with some handy tips—Jason wants to address your concerns!

Here are some topics being mulled around for the Tech-orientated class:

  • Intro to CSS
  • Responsive Web Design
  • Best SEO practices
  • Tumblr theming

So, what interests you? Let’s make the most of his versatile expertise and innovative planningit’s now in your hands!

If you’d like Jason to explore these, or other topics, simply tweet @floodfish or email him personally: jason@supervegan.com.

Be sure to check out the full agenda for Vida Vegan Con II here.

Q & A: Amey Mathews of Vegan Eats & Treats

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11It’s the return of our blogging Q & A! This time, we’re joined by the super talented and lovely Amey Mathews. We are so excited to have Amey return as a speaker for Vida Vegan Con 2013—whether you can make it or not, check out her blog, Vegan Eats & Treats. We love Amey for her positive, genuine attitude. She is smart as hell and is an endless font of adorable little drawings.

Where do you see blogging going?

It’s amazing how many blogs there are now—which is really great. When I first started blogging, there were just a small handful of vegan blogs. Today there are so many, that everyone can find a sense of community for exactly the way they enjoy eating and being vegan. There are all the PPK community blogs, all the raw date-ball blogs, the no-salt-oil-sugar blogs, vegan athlete blogs, and so on. Sometimes I’ll stumble onto a new blog that’s outside of my usual favorites, and find a whole sea of comments from other bloggers I’ve never discovered before… It’s pretty amazing.

Also, I was just looking at some old posts the other day and looking at how crappy my pictures were. Ha ha! There are a handful of bloggers like Hannah at BitterSweet, or Susan at Fat Free Vegan, or Allyson at Manifest Vegan, who take SUCH great pictures—I think they’ve really helped raise the bar for the rest of us. Even if you’re not gonna spend 30 minutes staging your picture (I gotta eat dinner, man!), you’re also not going to be satisfied with a yellowish picture with dirty dishes in the background.

One last thing, is how many bloggers are turning their blogs into cookbook deals. It’s amazing and exciting! I wish I could write recipes, but it’s really not my strong point. But if anyone needs little doodles for their cookbook, I’m here to help.

What’s your favorite photo editor?

I use ArcSoft Photo Studio if I want to actually cut and paste and combine my doodles and photos and all that, but usually I just use PhotoShop for simple things like brightness or color balance. The best is making dinner before dark so I can just use natural light, and not need a photo editor at all.

What blogging trends are you liking? Disliking?

Liking: Great photography—especially the folks who really take photography seriously. I love that blog writing is evolving into something much more focused and not just “I had some seitan and broccoli for dinner,” like it was in the old days of blogging. I’m LOVING all the mofo themes, and people who are doing a different theme every day for the whole week. It’s a cool idea even for non-mofo-season! In general, I love that the blog designs seem to be getting more attractive, more classy, and more appealing to look at. I love that Blogger—my old faithful blog host—has really improved its design options…and I LOVE that we can finally respond to individual comments on Blogger!

Disliking: my number-one blogging pet PEEVE is the whole weird giveaway thing that is going on. Kittee calls it “Like Gate,” which I think is hilarious. This is the situation where someone says “I”m giving away a free pizza coupon”…”but first you have to ‘like’ me on Facebook, and ‘like’ the company on Facebook, and tweet about this contest to everyone you went to kindergarten with, and leave 10 voicemail messages on your parents’ answering machine, and leave a comment for every single thing you do, so that I have 1,000,000 comments by the end of it!” It makes me grumpy, as you can tell. For me, it makes the blogosphere feel crass and corporate and pander-y, instead of having it feel like a community of friends who want to do something fun like have a giveaway for the fun of it. I feel that as vegan bloggers, we should be serving one another (our fellow vegans or aspiring vegans), and not serving the companies. I don’t mind product reviews or cookbook reviews, because I think that’s news everyone can use…but I think some discretion is needed. Changing the whole tone of your blog post into something with an advertising tone just so someone can win something worth $5 isn’t worth it to me.

What blogs/websites do you read?

I read so many blogs! I usually read anything in my blog crawl on the side of my blog. I love reading randomofo.com SO MUCH—I’ve marked so many new favorites this mofo season.  A few of my standby favorites are: ColdandSleepyCooks, Meet the Wikos, Cake Maker to the Stars, Tahini Too, Manifest Vegan, Julie Hasson… But gosh, the list goes on!

What’s your go-to vegan meal in Seattle?

I actually lived in Seattle, for 2½ years after I graduated college. Back then, I was just a vegetarian—not yet a vegan, and Seattle had only a couple of all-veg spots. But halfway through my Seattle stint, a beautiful veg spot called Carmelita opened up, quite near my house. I was a pretty poor youngster back then, working part time for minimum wage…so I only went to Carmelita once, when my aunt took me out for dinner. I haven’t been back to Seattle in years, but next time I go, I’d really like to go back to my old neighborhood and try out Carmelita again. For old time’s sake!

In Portland?

Oh Portland! I love Dovetail Bakery and Back to Eden most of all, because where I live (in Santa Cruz), no one is making delicious vegan baked goods. I usually load up, and come home with a huge supply that go straight to the freezer for the times when I want a baked treat and I don’t want to bake it myself. For proper nutrition, my two favorites are Native Bowl and Blossoming Lotus. I love the bowls at Native Bowl—so full of flavor and veggies and proteins…filling and fun! I also really love the food at Blossoming Lotus—so far I haven’t ever had a dud there. Once I got to go there for brunch, and that was totally amazeballs!

Live-blogging from the Vida Vegan Tech Seminar

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Hey guys!

We’re coming to you live from our Tech Seminar at the snazzy Seattle Public Library. We’ll be taking turns updating this throughout the day, so stay tuned!

Our first class is up RIGHT NOW, and the Nuts ‘N’ Bolts of a Webpage are being explained by Colin Barringer.

 

Mighty-O Doughnuts: breakfast of technical champions.

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We’re may not be live-streaming, but we’ve got plenty of appropriate social media action to follow along with.

Check out:

@Vidavegancon on twitter
Hashtag #vidavegantech (for everything)

and

@VidaveganHQ on Instagram for up to the date peaks from our attendees, speakers and the organizers. 

Live learning & official seminar notebook

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First class: The Nuts ‘n’ Bolts of a Webpage with Colin Barringer

Next up: Blog Design in an Ever-changing Landscape.

Have a big question about one of our class topics? Tweet at us and we’ll try and throw it into a Q&A round.

See you guys on the flip-side!

SESSION TWO: BLOG DESIGN IN AN EVER-CHANGING DIGITAL LANDSCAPE, with Tim Maudlin…and Liz Miller via satellite!

Michele here, taking over for Jess. How do I feel after the first class? Well, when I see HTML and CSS code I’ll know much better what I’m looking at. Colin gave us a link to a page he put together with lots of great references for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Thanks for being smarter than us, Colin!

Our blog design team together in Seattle — thanks, technology!

So…as technology gets better, so must we. Back in the day, when the Internet was a baby, a boring-as-hell Website was still pretty awesome. Now we have to think about pissing people off if our site doesn’t look good on their iPad, phone, laptop, and giant televisions. This is where responsive design comes in. Check out Responsinator to see how yours (re)sizes up!

And now you’re back to thinking about how long it takes for your page to load. Sure, everyone’s browsers and machines at home are pretty fast now, but phones are still struggling to keep up with our demands. They’re moving fast, but don’t take the chance of using elements that aren’t supported or just take forever to load. If your page takes more than a couple of seconds—seriously, like TWO seconds—you’re gonna lose some people.

A word on choosing a hosting provider: Use free trials and cheap no-contract services to try stuff out. If you spend $5 for a month and can back out, then you really haven’t lost too much. And beware reviews. Read ‘em, sure, but a lot of them aren’t genuinely from customers. It’s often bought ink.

If you’re doing a lot of coding, check out YSlow for tips on how to speed up your loading.

Favorite sources for fonts? Font Squirrel and Google Web Fonts.

Annnd, Veggie Grill has started bringing in food, so that’s lunch!

SESSION THREE: PODCASTING ON A BUDGET, with Barb Troyer

Back from lunch, which Janessa selflessly volunteered to cover.

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Jess here, a formerly semi-regular podcaster, and it has been far too long since I’ve known what I’m doing.  Here’s what we’re learning from Barb Troyer with Podcasting on a Budget.  Barb hosts All Things Vegan, a community radio show based out of Bend, Oregon, and calls it her “labor of love”:

Ask me good questions, and I will throw you vegan candy – Barb Troyer

“If you have a community radio station, take advantage of it….that’s why I started the show…some unique content you won’t find at other stations” – Barb (who all the following quotes will be from).

Here’s the directory for public broadcasting organizations to find what’s available in your area. You can receive support from experts and local DJs who want to be involved, get involved with your community, hear yourself on the radio and be involved in a learning experience.

Pros:

  • Get information directly your local community and beyond (through syndication).
  • Support from an eclectic bunch of local DJs

When you’re on your own, with zero to no budget, pick up or find a cheap headset/mic combo, such as one you might use for gaming, or put together two separate pieces. Make a DIY pop screen with a nylon stocking to help your audio. Skype is free, and most people use it for radio interviews. Get to know audio editing software, like Audacity and Garage Band.

Sources & tools for little to modest budgets of DIY audio recording:

If you’re looking to save money, check out older versions of software.

Barb recently upgraded to a Blue Yeti microphone and is raving about it, but there are cheaper alternatives she’s spent time with – it’s all about reliability, and trial and error.

Similar to graphics, make sure you always save an uncompressed version of your audio file. You’ll lose quality, if not. With a PC, save it as a wave file and then save it as an MP3.

You want to hear if there’s feedback in the room. Are there other sounds? You do not want any other sound being picked up in the room.

“It’s like garbage in, garbage out”.

Check out student discounts on software, if applicable.

“Getting organized if half the battle….you have no idea how much time I spend on this show”.

You will spend time…..gathering content, being up to date with the news, and any scripts you can prepare in advance on top of ad-libbing.

Fun fact: As for her own notes, Barb now finds Evernote easier to utilize than Google docs.

More folks and the labor of love: “We have a common goal of educating the public….you want to get the information out there….talk to those people [other vegan podcasters]“.

Favorite vegan podcasts:

Get Prepared: What type of format do you want to have? What do you want to listen to?

An hour is a fairly standard length of time for a podcast. You will find out what your station requirements are if you’re on a station, if not, you can really do whatever you like. Consider breaking up the podcast into segments, if it’s super long.

Edit out the lip smacks!

“Remind yourself, this is supposed to be fun.”

“You’ll be amazed that you are not as articulate as you thought you were.”

You don’t need to write your RSS Feed from scratch. Itunes will tell you exactly what you need to submit your feed there. If you use WordPress, it creates one automatically.

Find out who’s downloading with Feedburner. Get to know your audience and community.

So inspiring! Get talking.

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SESSION FOUR: SHOOTING, EDITING & INTEGRATING VIDEO, with Angel Barclay

Tag-teamin’, liveblogstreamin’. (That’s a thing, right?) Michele here again, for what is the most intimidating subject for me: video. But Angel’s gonna show us how easy it is.

Angel Barclay making video easy

So, yeah, it’s not has hard or expensive as you’d think it would be.

A point-n-shoot camera can do the job. Your phone can do the job. Don’t have a tripod? A nice, sturdy pile of books can do the job. There are free editing programs and hosting sites that can help you get the job done.

A drawback of some cameras: crap microphones. You can supplement with a separate microphone.

Angel’s first tip: “Resist the urge to pan.” Unless you’re super sure of your sturdy hand it can just make people sick. If you are panning, shoot a little longer than you’d like to use; the first and last bits are gonna be extra wobbly.

Camera quality: “Quality versus quantity issue.” Since memory cards are getting so cheap, just go for it and get the biggest ones you can so you can use the best/highest settings. Delete the bad clips—it can be tough if you get attached to pieces, but you’ve just got to do it or you end up with a giant collection of memory cards.

Transitions? Like so many things, less is more. Not only will transitions cost you editing time, but they are also taxing to the viewer. You might be really excited, if you’re starting out, about all the cool stuff you can do. “Pace yourself.”

Templates are a neat cheat for an easily polished look. Angel uses iMovie; file types are not an issue, and everything is easily customized. She showed us a video she made with a photo album theme—it could be cool for a little montage in the middle of a longer video.

Time for a quick break, then Next-Level Social Media time!

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SESSION FIVE: NEXT-LEVEL SOCIAL MEDIA, with Helen Pitlick & Dawn Quinn

Step One: Figure out your goal—why do you blog? Why do you want to expand your readership? As with any project, starting with a goal is going to give you focus.

And be genuine. If you’re just trying to get more followers on <insert network here>, it’s going to be suuuuper obvious.

Connecting with others: As Helen says, if you tell someone you like their shirt and they say nothing, walking away, that’s pretty rude, right? Reply always. Also, share others’ stuff. If you think it’s relevant information, your followers are going to want to know it. Dawn says a good ratio is 1:7; for every post about your own stuff, share seven others’.

Steer clear of autofeeds. Sure, you can share Instagram on Twitter, or tweet the same subjects on Facebook, but use the social networks the best way for each one. There’s a reason they’re separate networks; why would someone want to follow you on all of them if you’re posting the exact same post everywhere?

Brand v. Person: If you want to stay sort of private, using your blog title as your handle on the social networks is the way to go. If you’re trying to really sell yourself, like to get a cookbook deal, you might want to use your name. (Also, personal can give you a little more wiggle room as far as politics/other interests.) There’s no “right” way, but it’s something you should put some thought into. Try to keep consistent with your handles across networks, for simplicity and repetition/familiarity.

Tagging #veganfoodshare on Instagram is a great way to get noticed; they pick out users who’ve tagged them to highlight on their feed. Looking for new folks to follow? Check out their feed.

Pinterest is just so dern popular. Not necessarily a social network like Twitter or Facebook, but you can still build relationships/community through repinning. Having a Pinterest button on your blog posts is helpful because you can get a huge spike in views if the right person pins it. If you have a Pinterest account, share a board on one of your other social networks every now and then. (Again, not all the time!) Note: This is highly visual. The better your photos the more you’ll get pinned!

Just because a new network pops up, you do not have to join it. Think about your audience and your content. Focus on the ones that fit what you do. Remember, you’re coming up with original content for all of them, so best to be really good at a few of them than half-ass all of them. Stay current, though, so you know when the next big thing is coming and can figure out early on what would work for you.

What’s growing? Not just Pinterest and Instagram, but <surprise!> LinkedIn. Especially if you’re looking to work on projects or guest-blog for others, it’s becoming a more relevant network.

What to take away: There’s no one perfect strategy for all. You just need to do some research, try out some stuff, and find your groove.