veganmofo

Month of Memories: Opening VVC2011

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Photo credit: Kristina Sloggett
Photo credit: Kristina Sloggett

Starting off with a memory from long, long ago. It’s the opening greeting at the first Vida Vegan Con, in August 2011. Obviously, we didn’t shoot this; it’s from Kristina Sloggett’s coverage on Spabettie.

Jess had just finished talking and it was my turn, which meant a pretty big adjustment for the microphone. Of course the cord was wrapped around the stand too tight so it was difficult to raise for me…and awkwardness ensued. Newbie mistake! But like most of the newbie mistakes we made that first conference, we laughed our way through it, figured out how to prevent it from ever happening again, and with a little help—OK, a lot of help—we got the job done.

 

VeganMoFo. It’s our Time to Shine!

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It is upon us.

It’s VeganMoFo, when we make the Internet explode with vegan recipes, food porn, discoveries, kitchen tours, love letters to appliances…yeah, it can get weird.  The pledge we take to post every day for a month (at least Monday through Friday) energizes us, scares us, and and gets those creative juices flowing.

This year it’s happening in September, which means a little more light a little later in the evening, so you can more easily shoot your dinner. Thumbs. Up.

Are you in? Do you have a 30-day theme (like Janessa’s Bites From Abroad)? A day-of-the-week theme (don’t miss Thai Tuesdays from Jess)? Have you already been shooting and have a stash of drafts ready to go? Or do you just fly by the seat of your pants like me, letting the pressure fuel you into late-night ramblings about how much better organic cilantro is than conventional cilantro (it can make a HUGE difference), or an ode to the perfect frosting, with a texture so luxurious it licks you back?

If you haven’t signed up yet, via the official VeganMoFo page, step to! August 28 (tomorrow?!?!) is the deadline to get on the 2013 VeganMoFo BlogRoll. And while you’re picking up your official MoFo graphics, check out their advice on brainstorming and theming. Team MoFo (including a handful of your VVC pals) is there to help.

Team Vida is participating again…which makes it our third year in a row here at VVHQ. For 2011 we had a cocktail lounge theme, and in 2012 we were focused on blogging tech. This year we’re looking back at past Vida happenings, sharing photos and memories with you. And we’ll have some guest posts in there, from the greater Vida Vegan family. (Insert something about hugs here.) So go team. Let’s do it. You’re all #1.

Now go MoFo like a mofo.

Speaker Q&A: Kelly Peloza of Vegan Cookie Connoisseur

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Kelly Peloza and Gnocchi

Welcome back to our ongoing Vida Vegan Q & A series, where we discuss snazzy tricks, tips, vegan food and the future of blogging with speakers from our upcoming, one-day intensive Tech Seminar (tickets available here) in Seattle, WA and the now three-day conference this May in Portland. Today’s insight comes from 2011 & 2013 speaker, Kelly Peloza, of Vegan Cookie Connoisseur and Seitan Beats Your Meat. Back when I was in college, my part-time jobs included selling over-priced movie tickets and angrily scooping ice cream. Kelly, on the other hand, works on her degree in the arts by day, while developing her second cookbook, set to star vegan cocktail-inspired desserts, by night. Kelly rules.

Q & A with Kelly Peloza

Where do you see blogging going?
It’s crazy how just recently, vegan food blogging was just a hobby for most people, but now some bloggers are turning it into full-time jobs, publishing books, and there’s a whole conference dedicated to vegan bloggers! WordPress, Blogger, and other services have become far more intuitive and well-designed, so it’s almost effortless to get the bare essentials of a blog up and running. I can only imagine this will continue and bloggers will take their food writing even more seriously, creating better content, connections, and ideas to share.

What’s your favorite photo editor?
I use Lightroom, then add any finishing touches in Photoshop if necessary.

What blogging trends are you liking? Disliking?
I love how some bloggers bring unique elements to their blogs, like how Amey at Vegan Eats and Treats illustrates her posts and Hannah of BitterSweet posts her food-related knit and crochet projects. I’m not so sure about raw food or Instagram. Or Instagrams of raw food.

What blogs/websites do you read?
Vegansaurus is one of my favorites, plus the massive PPK MoFo feed! It’s fun finding new blogs to follow through Vegan MoFo.

What’s your go-to vegan meal in Seattle?
I loved Highline Bar, and Mighty-O donuts for breakfast!

In Portland?
It was all about the food carts! You can’t go wrong with Native Bowl and a macnocheetoh burrito(seriously, see here) from Homegrown Smoker.

Agreed!

Thanks, Kelly!

For more information on November 3rd’s Tech Seminar, visit here. For information on our return to Portland, OR in May 2013 (tickets are already for sale) read this. To check out Kelly’s first cookbook, The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, go here.

Speaker Q&A with John McDevitt of The Laziest Vegans

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In preparation for our upcoming Tech Seminar, we here at Vida Vegan HQ have been discussing blogging and the vegan internet non-stop (as usual), but with an even greater focus on the technical side of things; pondering just where we all see both long and short-form blogging evolving in the future. It’s a curious topic, to say the least. Since it’s so heavy on our minds, we reached out to our own experts, including speakers from November 3rd’s event and our 2013 roster*, to weigh in with their own thoughts on the state of blogging, technical insight, and their favorite Pacific Northwest vegan options. Of course.

First up, is the dedicated blogger who’s your go-to-guy for the latest on vegan snacks, and someone to ask for vegan survival thriving advice if you’re ever in Nebraska: 2011 & 2013 Vida Vegan Speaker John McDevitt of The Laziest Vegans in the World, where he’s currently featuring his thoughts on pumpkin spice coconut milk, and local vegan community hub, Vegan Omaha. John shares his honest thoughts on Tumblr, monetizing trends, the blogs he actually reads, and love for the vegan fishwich.

Q & A with John McDevitt

Where do you see blogging going?
I’m not a big fan of Tumblr, but it’s probably going more in that direction. Micro blogging or whatever is mobile friendly. I would probably blog more if Blogger had a decent app.

What’s your favorite photo editor?
I’m pretty boring, Picasa.

What blogging trends are you liking? Disliking?
I like that more people are getting into it. I dislike the ad/monetizing thing, it’s pretty annoying. If you get tens of thousands a views a month, ok, but most bloggers don’t. Has anyone ever clicked one of those ads? No.

What blogs/websites do you read? I don’t look at as many as I should. My favorite blogs are Post Punk Kitchen, Vegansaurus, Vegan Crunk, and The Gay Vegans.

What do you want to learn more about at the Tech Seminar?
How to monetize!?!?!?

In Portland?
Vita Fishwich

Thanks, John! Keeping it real.

Want to chime in with your own thoughts? Please do so below, or email us at VidaVeganConference [at] gmail.com

*full 2012 line up being disclosed soon!

Tech Q&A: WordPress.com v. WordPress.org

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What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? Which is better?

I don’t know if there’s a single “better” between the two, but there is probably a “better for you right now.”

The obvious plus for WordPress.com is that it’s a potentially free, user-friendly service. In less than an hour you can have a blog up and running. For $13 you can map to your own domain name (registered through WordPress or not)—no domain.wordpress.com. The drag-n-drop widgets make it pretty easy to add buttons, links, and social networking functions. It does, however, have its limitations, even if you upgrade for CSS design flexibility or video hosting. Also, WordPress.com, in exchange for this free to low-cost service, will run random ads on your blog. For $30 a year you can prevent this, but you are not allowed to run ads of your own.

WordPress.org is not as simple, right out of the gate. You’re on your own for hosting, so to get it started, you’ve got to know a little something about FTP uploading, databases, and the like…or know someone else who does. But once it’s all set up and you’ve chosen your theme (of which you have many more choices and are free to customize) and plug-ins, it pretty much acts like WordPress.com. With WordPress.org, you can install plug-ins for monetizing ads, stats analysis, and e-commerce.

What seems to make the leap to WordPress.org easier is a hosting service such as Bluehost. For $5-10 a month, you can choose WordPress scripting and it’ll take care of much of the nuts and bolts of it, making this pro option more accessible to the less tech savvy among us.

So what’s the tipping point? If you just feel a little penned in by the “.com,” and it’s worth upwards of $100 a year to you, then it might be time for “.org,” perhaps with the help of a hosting service or a super geeky friend. And if you get stuck or scared, WordPress has a huge support site and community.

Bottom line, don’t feel bad about taking your time. Plenty of respected bloggers use free blogs. Focus on your content and get to the flashy stuff when you can.

Have you got a tech question? Hit us up at VidaVeganConference [at] gmail [dot] com. We’ll dig up the answers!

Food Fun Friday: Vegan Doughnut Takeover

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A couple of years ago, coming to Portland meant picking up a vegan doughnut—from Voodoo, Acme, or Sweetpea, if you were lucky. But as we travel around, it’s clear that vegan doughnuts are making their way all over this crazy little country of ours.

On our trip to Chicago, we picked up these Fritz square doughnuts at New Wave Cafe in Logan Square. I love that you get to keep the hole!

In Seattle, of course, you’ve got Mighty-O. In San Francisco, there’s Pepple’s Organic Donuts. As often as I go to Las Vegas, I can never seem to get over to Ronald’s. Someday.

Over on the East Coast, New York folk have Babycakes and Dun-Well, and there’s Cinnamon Snail over in Jersey.

The Midwest is not left out of the game. Missouri has Brody’s Bakery. Michigan’s got Happy Mouth Vegan Treats. And the Donut Whole in Kansas has vegan options!

I know we didn’t get ‘em all. Do you have vegan doughnuts (or donuts) in your city? Let us know in the comments!

Tech Tips Roundup

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Whilst scouring the Internet for tech tips to share with y’all, we found so many great resources that we just felt we should highlight some. In the event you have NO questions at all and are perfectly happy with your blog, chances are you’ll still find some good ideas and be inspired to step it up.

For Bloggers By Bloggers published a list of blogging mistakes that make you look a bit the amateur, like leaving that meta widget in or not having share buttons.

Super intimidated by WordPress.org so you’re sticking with the limitations of WordPress.com? (Hey, that’s us!) WP Beginner is a fantastic resource for everything from themes to plug-ins. Tons of tutorials and current deals/coupon codes for savings on hosting and themes and such.

Daily Blogging Tips put together a list of 20 SEO terms you should know. (Pssst, that’s Search Engine Optimization, by the way.) If you’re blogging for the love of the feel of the keys, then never you mind this one, but if you’re at all interested in making sure others read that stuff you type, check it out.

Got Blogger questions? Spice Up Your Blog has a section just for you. They cover WordPress and general blog tips as well, you know, including a bunch of CSS info.

If you’re ready for a more professional-looking Twitter background, Bloggermint will point you in the right direction, whether you’re working with Adobe Illustrator or even PowerPoint. They’ve rounded up tutorials (including videos) and design basics.

So get to reading and get to work!

Speaker Spotlight Thursday: Dawn Quinn and Helen Pitlick

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For VVHQ’s first special speaker spotlight during Vegan MoFo, we thought we’d pick two ladies dear to our collective hearts.

Dawn Quinn of Vegan Moxie and Helen Pitlick of Vegtastic!, both hailing from the Seattle, WA area, are speaking at Vida Vegan’s first ever one-day seminar in Seattle this November, focusing on technical aspects of blogging (their specialty: social media, naturally) AND at Vida Vegan Con 2013 in Portland.

Dawn is an expert in social media, copy editing, and champagne cocktails; so naturally we love her and want her involved in whatever we do as much as possible. She’s also adorable and is starting the  MCDM program at University of Washington this fall, so she’s suuuper smart and stuff.

dawn-VVC

Dawn in the kitchen..

 

Helen is a social media maven; her tweets could make me want to attend a golfing conference with glee, which is saying a lot, considering golfing is like the boringest.

She has a Master of Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington, Instagrams a lot, and even has time to blog. She’s got the smarts and the drive, and we’re super thrilled to have her involved with Vida Vegan for two different events.

helen-VVC

Helen in the kitchen too!

For the One Day Tech Seminar on November 3 in Seattle, Helen and Dawn will be speaking on Next-Level Social Media:

How do you connect your blogging goals with social media? This intermediate-level session for people already active with Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks will explore the use of these tools to build community and craft your personal vs. blog identity. We’ll look at identifying and utilizing emerging social media platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest. We’ll also touch upon best practices for sharing content across these different platforms.

{Tickets available here}

For Vida Vegan Con in May 2013, you’ll have to stay tuned to the blog to find out what they’re speaking about (schedule coming soon!). Rest assured, everything these ladies do is wicked smart, organized, enthralling and educational.

We love Helen and Dawn, and heck, all of our speakers, and are super proud to have them involved with Vida Vegan.

Rock.

Seattle Funspot: Herkimer Coffee

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Coffee and a doughnut, how idyllic? In Seattle’s University District, right by Sidecar for Pigs Peace and Wayward Vegan Cafe, is Herkimer Coffee, an omni yet vegan-friendly coffee shop.

The doughnuts are from Mighty-O, and they absolutely do taste better fresh. We can get them packaged down here in Portland, and in the bakery case here and there, but you really have to eat one in its native land. And the coffee? Get a straight-up drip—just a splash of soy is all you need; no bitterness here! Of course, if you’re more of the latte type, you’ll be well taken care of too.

The atmosphere is cozy, clean and warm, and it wasn’t too hectic, at least when we were there. I noticed the barista knew most of the customers’ names—there was lots of friendly chit chat—but we weren’t made to feel like we didn’t belong. No pretension, just coffee.

Oh, and grab a bag o’ beans to go. Your cup might not turn out as good, but you could come close.

The VVC Cocktail Lounge: Hot & Spiked

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Yes, that’s an alcoholic beverage in my ultra-cheesy chipped mug. So it’s not very classy, but my name’s spelled right, and who doesn’t love rainbows? My chipped mug has stood by me for the past 30 years, and I always turn to it in times of need.

Alas, I am ill. Not horribly so, but I don’t want to do anything but watch marathons of hour-long dramas, curl up with a kitten, and drink hot stuff out of mugs. And while we all know old-timey cures are not the way to go today—see ya later, bloodletting, laudanum, and tapeworms—one I’m willing to give a shot is the warm cocktail.

Not having the energy or even desire to mull wine for an hour, I turned to my fall favorite, fresh apple cider. I sliced up a mandarin orange and added a few cloves and a couple of cinnamon sticks (sunken treasure!), warming the cider for maybe 10 minutes on very low heat. At the end I poured in one shot of brandy per 5-ounce serving of cider.

This could easily be made in a big batch for a group, maybe board-game night or an evening around a campfire…you know, something fun that normal, healthy people do.