Friday, July 31, 2009

The Zine Scene

I love zines, all sorts of zines on all sorts of subjects, so I was very excited to see so many created by the talented memebers of Vegan Etsy!

Being Vegan is Awesome by Bright Design:

Peace to All Creatures by Uber Duper Creations:

Cooking with Compassion by Uber Duper Creations:

Vegans are Easy Issues One and Two by Holistically Heather:

Anywhere I Lay My Head by Bright Design:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Time's up, pencils down. And now, the answers you've all been waiting for.

Well! As I'm sure all you faithful readers know, last week I challenged you all... with a challenge! Until midnight last night, I accepted answers to my vegan pop quiz. Everyone did wonderfully, and I hope learned something in the process. But what's the use of having knowledge if we don't share it? I say we bust it on out.

Question #1: The origin of "vegan". I think most everybody had to look this up, either for a name or a date or maybe even for the full story. And what is that full story? It goes like this. Around 1944, Elise Shrigley and Donald Watson were really irritated that people were running around calling themselves "vegetarians" and yet were still eating animal products. They decided that clearly there needed to be a different word for people who abstained entirely, and coined vegan - the beginning and end of vegetarianism. (Get it?) They also then founded the Vegan Society. They defined the word vegan like so:
The word "veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.
And there you go. Vegan in a nutshell.

Respondent Laura C., a spiritual reverend (!) from the Maryland area, also contributed this definition which also purports to have come from the founders of the Vegan Society:
The term "vegan" is derived from the Latin word vegetus, which means "full of life," which the founders hoped their system would be.
I'm supposing that anything with the "veg" root can have a similar explanation, and I like it. And then we have my friend Rosie's (completely made up) definition:
It's a medieval curse word meaning, "Goddammmit I stubbed my toe!" which over time came to mean, "Goddammit, stop killing the weebeasties!"
Shur, why not?

Question #2: The conundrum that is "non-dairy" soy cheese that still isn't vegan. What is that mysterious milk protein that the industry is just so hooked on? That's right kids, iiit's CASEIN! Casein is what makes dairy cheese do that funky stretchy elastic thing. This is apparently a desirable trait. So they isolate this protein and throw it into a soy cheese and expect it to act the same way that dairy cheese does. Does it? No. Does this really do anything but make this a stupid, non-vegan category of fake-healthy product? No. But you know, that's OK, foolish icky caseinfilled cheesemakers, we have Follow Your Heart and Teese, not to mention Tofutti for our cream cheese and sour cream needs. We need not your casein nonsense.

Question #3: They make shellac from WHAT now? Yes, it's bugs. You thought it was only silk that came from bugs, didn't you? Didn't know they're actually FEEDING YOU BUGS, did you. But they are, oh yes. Where? Well, mostly on candy. Why do we force feed our children the most terrible things? High fructose corn syrup, gelatin in the form of gummy candies and jello, and of course the bugs. Ah yes, but I must explain. You see, shellac is made from the secretions of the female lac bug. Now you're thinking, isn't shellac what they put on wood paneling and stuff? Yeah, that too. But it goes under another name: confectioner's glaze. Doesn't that sound sweet? Here's my favorite bit from the Wikipedia entry on the subject: "This coating may not be considered as Vegetarian as it may, and probably does, contain crushed insects. In the tablet manufacture trade, it is sometimes referred to as 'beetlejuice' for this reason." Simply charming!

Insects are used for many human purposes, above and beyond the making of fancy cloths and shiny candies. One of my Vegan Etsy team mates was kind enough to share this story with me of a firsthand experience:
I went to Mexico and visited a place where they made natural dyes -- one of which was carmine (another byproduct of a scale insect). The owner asked if I would like to see the insect they used, and being a lover of bugs, I couldn't say no. He dropped a tiny white bit of fluff in my hand. And as I was holding it and trying to figure it out, he abruptly smushed it into the palm of my hand with his thumb, leaving behind a smear of what looked to be mammalian blood. :*( This craftsperson used some kind of vegetable or fruit (wish I could remember what it was!) to clean their hands of all the dyes, and it sat in a big tub of water. As I was cleaning off my carmine blood with the soapy vegetable, I noticed a really cool Mexican roach (it was totally different from the creepy ones we get here) taking a mis-step and landing in the water. The craftsperson watched in horror as I scooped it out with my bare hands (it was a fairly sizable insect) and set it free.
Johanna, you're a braver soul than me.

Question #4: Veganize it, and get those eggs outta here. Who doesn't love vegan baking? Trust me, when it's good, everyone loves vegan baking! And you don't even have to find already vegan recipes - you just have to learn to veganize it. When baking, there are plenty of options when it comes to replacing eggs. The type of recipe often determines what your best replacement option is. Cookies? Flaxseed meal and water all the way! It makes the cookies chewy and delightful. The secret there is to mix it in a vegetable chopper for a few minutes. For muffins and loaves, I like to use soy yogurt. And for some things like waffles, we find that Ener-G Egg Replacer really does work best. Other options include apple sauce and bananas, though go into it knowing that your end result will be a bit fruity. Sometimes this is a very good thing!

One respondent gave what I believe to be a home recipe for egg replacer, except without measurements: tapioca, potato starch, baking soda, xantham gum, water and oil. Perhaps she'll be so kind as to provide them? That'd be awesome, says I.

Everyone was in agreement on this one I think. Hooray for unanimity!

Question #5: The dangers for a vegan at an Indian restaurant. Everybody pretty much nailed this on the head the first time. Why? Because Indian food is awesome! And vegans can eat at pretty much any Indian restaurant as long as we know what to avoid. Some of the biggest culprits are ghee (clarified butter), paneer (a sort of soft white farmer's cheese) and raita (a cucumber yogurt sauce). There is also cream used in many dishes, but it's usually noted simply as cream so it's much easier to spot. If you're interested in making some vegan Indian food at home, this web page might entertain you as well as getting you started.

Yes, everyone came up with the same three or four answers - everyone, that is, except for my friend Thom. He came up with "eggs". And I was all, what the hell Indian food has eggs in it? And he was all, naan. And I was all, nuh uh. So then he sent me a recipe. Naan with eggs! I knew that it was sometimes (OK frequently) made with ghee, so it's pretty much off the list anyway. But eggs? That was a big surprise. Learn something new every day, I guess.

So there you have it. Questions answered and prizes won. Hopefully a good time had by all, and a thing or two learned. I certainly enjoyed reading all of your responses. A big thanks to everyone who participated - I hope you enjoy your prize packs! That is, as soon as I get them mailed. ;)

Until next Monday,

Melissa Bastian.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Member Interview-Sweet Fritsy

Todays interview is with Megan of Sweet Fritsy
How did you choose the name of your shop and how long have you been a member of

~Fritsy is actually a nickname that my fiance and I have called each other for years. I'm really not even sure how we came up with it, but we did, and it stuck! I thought it would be perfect for the name of my vegan sweets because it just sounds cute and fun, which is how I like to think of the sweets I make.

What kinds of items do you sell in your shop and what inspired you to start
creating them?

~I sell everything from cupcakes to mixed nuts, cookies to cake pops. I have a major sweet tooth and I really just enjoy creating little confections and goodies so I thought "Why not? I'm gonna sell this stuff!"

What are some of your favorite things about etsy?

I love the creativity that is in each and every shop on Etsy. You can't find this stuff at the mall. Things that are sold on Etsy whether it's clothing or crafts or food or jewelry, everything has a story.

Do you have any future plans for your shop?

Ah, the future. How I love to think of it! In the very near future I have tons of ideas for new items- I'm especially excited for Halloween this year- it's gonna be crazy! My long-term goal is to have a local shop that's open to the public and of course, quit my day job so I can focus 100% on Sweet Fritsy.

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?

Lately I'm obsessed with all things wedding. I'm getting married in a year so I'm always checking out wedding shops on Etsy looking for ideas. I also have a jewelry shopping addiction! Seriously. An addiction. Etsy jewelry sellers- you're killing me!

Do you have any animal companions?

I have a 5 lb., 4-year-old Yorkshire Terrier named Elly Mae. She's probably the reason my fiance and I haven't had a baby yet- she's enough! I love her so much. I actually have plans to open a vegan dog treat shop on Etsy called Sweet Melly (Melly is her nickname)!

Do you have any favorite vegan things, like books, websites, stores, etc.?

My favorite vegan things have to be my cookbooks- particularly Vegan With A Vengeance and Veganomicon. Those books taught me everything I know about vegan cooking and I have really good memories of reading them and trying out all the recipes with my fiance.

What are your favorite foods?

I'm obsessed with the Chickpea and Spinach curry from the book Vegan With A Vengeance, and Savory Shepherd's Pie with Shroom Gravy from our very own Hollistically Heather's cooking zine Vegans Are Easy. Also Chik-o-Stick and Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos!

Is there anything else you would like to add or share?

My life has completely changed since starting Sweet Fritsy. I have so much fun creating my sweets- I genuinely enjoy doing this and I hope to be doing it for many years to come!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Welcome Broke Down Barn!

This week we have a new member to welcome, Broke Down Barn. When you have time be sure to check out their shop and heart them!

Monday, July 20, 2009

This is a test... A CONTEST!

But still, indeed, a test. That's right, pop quiz hot shot. Time to show us all what ya got. Here's how it goes.

Step one: send an email to me, Melissa Bastian, at with the correct answers to the following five questions.

Step two: POST A COMMENT on THIS blog entry letting me know that you've sent answers. You must do both of these things to qualify.

Now here's the really terrific part. Ready? EVERYONE who both responds correctly to all five questions *and* posts a comment here on this blog gets a prize!! What will that prize be? It's a surprise prize! Something from Bright - maybe a pin, maybe a zine, maybe a sticker, probably a little piece of Vegan Etsy swag - who knows. The point is, everyone's a winner. And who doesn't love winning? Heck, for that matter, who doesn't love snail mail?

Now, for the challenge. Some of these will be one word answers, and some may require a sentence or two. If you want to elaborate further, go for it! If I get any really exceptional answers I'll post them next week. You have until Sunday the 26th at 11:59 p.m. to email me with the correct responses.

Let the best everybodies win!

Question 1: What is the origin of the word "vegan"?

Question 2: What is the animal protein, usually derived from milk, that makes so many soy cheeses and other "non dairy" products not actually vegan?

Question 3: What non-vegan source is food-grade shellac frequently derived from?

Question 4: Name three possible substitutes for eggs when "veganizing" a baking recipe.

Question 5: As a vegan eating in a vegetarian Indian restaurant, name two common ingredients that you might be on the lookout for.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Todays interview is with Kala of Vegancraftastic

How did you choose the name of your shop and how long have you been a member of

The name of my shop comes from the name I chose for my blog years ago, I wanted a fun word that described me and Vegancraftastic just seemed perfect. My Etsy shop has been open since February of this year.

What kinds of items do you sell in your shop and what inspired you to start

creating them?

I have all sorts of crafty items in my shop but I have a semi-focus on accessories for other crafters: project bags, zippered pouches, stitch markers…I know when I’m creating, it’s fun to use cute tools and accessories so I set out to make those kinds of things.

What are some of your favorite things about etsy?

I love being able to shop on Etsy and support other makers, especially the vegan ones, the stuff you can find is so much cooler than what you can get at the mall!

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?

I’m a total crafting junkie: I knit, crochet, sew, embroider, paper craft…and I’m just starting to get into cross stitch. There are just so many cool things to learn out there, I can’t limit myself to one medium of expression. I also love baking (and I think my husband loves that I love baking).

Do you have any animal companions?

I wish! We can’t have any animal friends in our teeny apartment but I dream of having a place large enough for us to have a doggie.

How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?

I’ve been vegan for about 8 years and I did it in reverse, I started by cutting out all dairy and then I went vegan shortly after. It started when I became severely lactose intolerant and then when I stopped and really thought about the way I was eating and the harm and suffering that an omnivore’s lifestyle causes, I knew that going vegan was for me.

What are your favorite foods?

Mexican anything, especially if it’s spicy! I also have a crazy sweet tooth so cookies and cupcakes are definitely my friend.

Is there anything else you would like to add or share?

I’d just like to thank every one of the talented and hardworking members of the Vegan Etsy team for being awesome and positive examples of veganism and for welcoming me onto the team!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Welcome Little Pixie Shoppe

We have a new member this week: Little Pixie Shoppe! Please take the time to check out their shop and heart them!

Promoting your craft for the holidays, worldwide!

It is time to start thinking about advertising your shop for the holidays, and what a better way to do it than "It's All In The Bag"

What is all in the bag, you might ask. Well we take craft samples from crafters around the world, put them in handmade market totes, and sell them online, worldwide! When you send in your crafts, they are seen by people from the United States to Israel and in between. What is different about these sample bags, other than the reusable market totes that they come in? 100% of profits from each bag go to an animal sanctuary which is voted for, right here in this very blog!

When you send in samples to be in our bags, your ad will appear on our blog and website, along with a photo of your samples on our website- for the entire process of that bag from the time people start signing up until the last bag is sold!

How well do the bags sell? We sold over half of our first round of bags in the first few hours, and it didnt take very long for the bags to sell out completely!

The holiday is special, first because its the holiday bag so people will be eagerly checking out all of the shops that send in samples, looking for holiday gifts. Secondly, we have an anonymous donor willing to match whatever we raise for the chosen holiday animal sanctuary!!! Which is very exciting and makes everything even more fun! We advertise on various websites, and I will be sending a couple of sample bags to different magazines, for reviews and possible press in print!
Read here what Starrlight Jewelry had to say about our bags!:

some of the benefits of submitting to these bags are:

1) reaching a target market you never though possible. While Vegans are Veggies are still a minority in this our numbers are growing.

2) Reviews on your product. For each round of sample bags there is a forum listing of each seller/ crafter who contributes to the bags. Everyone who purchases bags is welcome to leave a comment or review of the items they received from that seller.

3) Shop and product feature on the website blog - which has at the moment, 133 followers. The bags are also advertised by a large number of other sellers that contribute to the bags - myself included.

and more! My analytics account has shown a good deal of traffic to my shop from donating to the past (April) bags.
This is a wonderful advertisement opportunity for compassionate crafters.

Interested in what customers are saying about these crafty sample bags? check out our flawless etsy feedback!

Interested in finding out more about our crafty bags? Please check out our FAQ section on our website, you can also sign up right on our website with our simple sign up link!
Get in the bag, and get the word out there about your shop!! All while helping animals.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

we took a trip to the farmers market

yummmm...Of course since today is Thursday, also know as Farmers Market Day, it rained and poured all morning. Atleast this week it let up enough that we could go to the market and there were still people braving the weather to sell their wares! I even took the time to walk around and check out all of the handmade items this week, which I never usually remember to do. I get so excited about all my new yummy organic veggies, that I totally forget about the lonely crafters on the other side of the big open park! The 2 organic stands are next to each other, and I usually buy from both! One of them is where I get my csa, and I pop in there to get more of certain things and veggies that didnt come in my box this week....So, what exactly did I get this week? ALL ORGANIC ALL DELICIOUS!!!



a lot of basil, its pesto season, and we only have a few basil plants in our garden!

more snap peas, maybe this time jessi will get some since i cant eat lately (something is horribly wrong with my jaw!)

beets for the dogs

Still no tomatoes and no zucchini ready, I guess this cooky weather is really having an effect on the farms and blight is destroying our tomatoes! I am hoping things turn around soon, or we might not be canning for this winter..BUM BUM BUM

Monday, July 13, 2009

She gets too hungry for dinner at eight.

It's summertime! At least, that's what the calendar is telling me. The temperatures are telling another story entirely - here it is mid July, and we're still waking up to 65 degree days. Whatever though, at least it stopped raining. But what with it being summer, and what with us finally having a presentable apartment (with a real dining room no less), it's the perfect time to have a light and fun dinner party! Which is precisely what we did last Friday night.

When we moved in May, we actually only traveled about seven blocks. A short walk, then, for our (decidedly not vegan but very open) former neighbor to come see the new place. And would we think of inviting her over without treating her to some vegan vittles? Certainly not! I'll have to give my darling Jonathan all the credit for the menu - except for dessert, of course. I took care of that. But that doesn't surprise you a bit now does it?

We began with a mix of sugared pears, including anjou, red, and mystery pear number three, spiced with a bit of clove and lime juice. A nice light start, sweet but tart, refreshing and appetizing. Jon has a bit of a history of doing nice things with pears for us - during the winter, there's baking... Our dinner guest noted that when she makes pear pies she puts pepper in the crust, which I think could be quite appealing.

Next came the main part of the meal. A bit of starch and a bit of protein, one part hot and one part cold. On the hot side, we had a nice dish of potatoes and tofu seasoned with Italian herbs and dill. He began by pan frying chunks of well pressed tofu with caramelized red onion, and then simmered that with slices of white new potato in un-chicken broth. Jonathan's intention was to have sort of potato medallions, but... well, we got to chatting for a bit too long, and he'd left it on simmer. And so it ended up being almost a mash, with chunks of fried tofu and bits of onion mixed in. Not what he'd been aiming for, but still quite good.

On the cold side, we had a lovely pasta salad. If you've never made it, it's about the easiest dish in the world. First you cook some pasta - it can be elbows, or spirals, or pretty much any shape you want, though I wouldn't really suggest angel hair. :) Then you toss it with a bit of oil, and let it cool. Once it's room temperature or colder, you, well, make salad! Throw in some vinegar - balsamic or red wine are always nice choices. For ours, we started with multicolored spirals. Then we added red bell pepper, sliced black olives, chopped cucumber, and tomato. Next we spiced it up with lemon pepper (one of my favorite ingredients), celery salt, regular old black pepper and table salt, and a bit more of that good old standby, "Italian seasoning". It's best to let your salad set in the fridge for a few hours or even over night, but you certainly can eat it right away.

And oh yes, after all of that (well, after a little break) we managed to shove down some dessert as well. And what's the best dessert in the summertime? Ice cream! Jon and I do have an ice cream maker, but we've yet to bust it out this year. So we turned to the many fine purveyors of vegan frozen foodstuffs and got ourselves a nice range of goodies. And, I picked up some sugar cones. Personally, I feel that a nice fat scoop of ice cream in a classic sugar cone is a wonderful treat, satisfying on many levels. One scoop of coconut sorbet, one scoop of caramel cinnamon? Divine.

Our little party was a rocking success - we had a grand old time and it was a nice initiation for our new dining room. It's one of my favorite ways to show people how great vegan food can be, and I also just love entertaining. We hope that it is a foreshadowing of many vegan dinner parties to come!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Interview-Threaded Smiles

Todays interview is with Carla of Threaded Smiles

What is the name of your shop and where did it come from?

This name came from a few sources. I am not a big smiley person, I use thread for a lot of my work, and my boyfriend said some lyrics to an old song and together, while hanging out working on stuff and listening to some music, Threaded Smiles was born. I have been on Etsy for about 2 years, but didn’t start selling right away. My friend and I started as something fun to do and Etsy had this upcycling contest that we entered.

What kinds of items do you sell in your shop and what inspired you to start
creating them?

Well I am in the miscellaneous category. I started working with a friend on hoodies, patches, and cuffs for inspring people as a way of saying thanks. We ventured down different paths and I have worked on stationary, cards, clothing, and accessories for all sorts of people and companies. I started taking art classes when I was 5. I now switched my paintbrush for a needle and thread. I dream about things and write them down and out comes a design.

Do you donate to any charities?

I donate a portion of sales to Serenity Springs Animal Sanctuary and have donated to Spindletop American Pit Bull Terrier / American Staffordshire Terrier refuge in Houston, Texas.

What are some of your favorite things about etsy?

I like the fact that Etsy allows so many artists to join together and create subcommunities like all of us Vegan Etsians.

Do you sell your items outside of etsy, either online or in retail shops?

I do a lot of craft shows but mostly do screen printing work for bands, companies, and schools. I love having the creative freedom to do whatever and customers are totally into it.

Have you been featured anywhere?

I have been featured on Funky Finds, the 360 Magazine, and will soon be featured in a review for Latinos and Religious Art at Arizona State University.

Do you have any future plans for your shop?

I hope to introduce a children’s line and further push the wedding and special events products that I make such as invitations, tablecloths, and ties.

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?

I love art and music. I love being busy and always doing something. I enjoy going to local shows, hanging out with my kids, and spending time with the hunny. My family is a huge inspiration in my life.

Do you have any animal companions?

Oh yes, we have 4 rescued pups. Wag, our black lab, Gunnar and Quint our American Pit Bull Terriers, and Buttercup, our bulldog/boxer mix. We have a cat that hangs out name Buttercat and Boss the crab that wandered up to my front door one day.

Do you have any websites besides your shop that you would like to tell us

Well of course every shop that a member of VET has is a must visit. Also, Spiral Diner is the BEST eatery in Fort Worth/Dallas. So if you ever come out here, you HAVE to go there. And if you haven't heard of it yet

How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?

I have been Vegan for 10 years. I was vegetarian for 4 years prior to that, but decided, I love the animals and what is the point of doing things halfway? I decided that I wanted to live my life clean and pure and raise my kids the same. I wouldn’t change my lifestyle for anything; I think Veganism shows compassion, power, and intelligence all at the same time.

Do you have any favorite vegan things, like books, websites, stores, etc.?

I love the Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes cook book because all recipes are created Vegan and are to die for!

What are your favorite foods?

I love spinach and hummus and kiwi and lots of fruit! Oh and Jeremy makes the best vegan birthday cakes!

Is there anything else you would like to add or share?

I love all things vegan and all things handmade, so thanks for having Vegan Etsy!

I was walking in the park.... Treasury

Thank you to Kim of Midnight Rabbits and Veganessa for creating this team treasury!