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So in my last Travel Tuesday, waaaay back in April, I was at the Sunshine Coast with the kids. It’s a tie between whether we spent more time at the beach or singing “Do You Want to Build a Snow Man?” A little ironic, I know.

Anyway, after the week was up, my boss took the kids back to Toowoomba and I went to do a little more traveling. I booked a trip with Sunset Safari and did a two day tour of Fraser Island, which was SO interesting. There are no roads on the island so people just drive big cars along the stretch of beach. This is actually ok because you can’t really swim at the beach because there aren’t shark nets around the island. Also, there are wild dingoes. So, everyone huddles around the fresh water rivers that flow out of the center of the island. This clearly worked for me. I mean, finally! Everyone was agreeing with me that going into the ocean would mean getting your leg chewed off. Finally!!

On Day 2, we hiked through the rainforest and then went swimming in a mineral lake which had the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Then we headed off the island and back to our respective cities. I went back to Brisbane where I expected to head back to Toowoomba but ended up taking an additional trip. More on that in the next Travel Tuesday. For now, Fraser Island highlights!

*As usual, click for larger images*

Day 1

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Fraser Island!

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Our giant bus.

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This is the Maheno shipwreck and hands down my favorite part of the tour. You are just driving along the beach and all of a sudden, there’s a ship wreck! I really enjoyed photographing it.

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shipwreck

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shipwreck. I have a million shots of the barnacles on the ship.

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shipwreck

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shipwreck

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some colored sand rocks. Unfortunately, you can’t see it super well, but the rocks were striped with different colored reds and browns

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Climb up to Indian Head. My only complaint on the trip was the constant change between hanging on the beach and hiking up mountains. It’s a sneaker sports, jk it’s a flip flop activity, jk again back on with the sneakers. As someone who loathes sand, this was my worst nightmare. Sand in the sneakers! I didn’t realize we were hiking this mountain, though, so ended up hiking it in my $5 Old Navy flip flops. I wouldn’t recommend it.

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The view from Indian Head. We didn’t see any turtles, dolphins or whales as advertised but the hike was still worth it!

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Wild Dingo at Eli Creek. The million and one signs tell you to Do Not Feed Dingoes!! And you know, don’t leave your baby unattempted.

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Eli Creek. It’s completely fresh water and is sort of like a natural lazy refer. People swim in it and hang out around the base of it like they would a beach. The water flows right our of here into the ocean

 

  Day 2

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Pine Valley Hike. It was very strange to be hiking through what felt like a forest and have palm trees and crystal clear water. You could definitely tell you were somewhere more tropical then New England!

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weird tree roots. You’ll see more of those later

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Lake Birrabeen

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The water and sand. It’s so clear!!

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Lake Birrabeen

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More trees with weird roots. Check out the close-up below

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yeap! Those are roots. I bet you can just imagine the nickname sthis tree is given!

Ok! That’s it for my Fraser Island tour. I spared you the 8 million barnacle pictures that I took and tried to focus on the highlights. Recipes to return later this week!

My new neighborhood <3

My new neighborhood <3

Hello everyone!

First off, thank you for those who have been continuing to check in here every once in a while. I can see that I have had a steady stream of people checking up on Wicked Vegan and that makes me so happy! I am sorry I haven’t been updating! But let me fill you in on what has been going on.

I won’t go into too many details about my Aussie travels. I love doing my Travel Tuesday posts so I hope to restart that tomorrow. I don’t have too many trips left but I feel like I should wrap up my travels.

I ended up leaving Australia at the beginning of July and flew into California to see my old roommate and friend, Ashley. I had never been to Cali so I thought this would be a great opportunity. Plus, you know, I was just REALLY dragging my feet on entering the real world. Like, REEEEALLY. Responsibilities and bills and moving and just…nah, I’ll pass! So, clearly, the best place to go when you are avoiding being a grown up is Disneyland. I was only in California for three and a half days and you can bet your ass I spent one of those in Disney! I’ll do a whole Cali update eventually but I can tell you that I ate more In and Out then should be allowed by law and I spent so long in Disney, over 14 hours, that I almost had to be dragged out of the park cause my feet hurt so bad. It was an awesome trip, clearly!

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Then I spent a little bit of time in Connecticut, reconnecting with my family and old friends and getting used to the US again. Driving on the US-side of the road again? Still not used to it. Oh, and applying for jobs. Which was not fun.

A rare sighting of The Brother. He came to visit for our Christmas in July celebration and got cozy with my guitar

A rare sighting of The Brother. He came to visit for our Christmas in July celebration and got cozy with my guitar

Then, it was back to Boston. Way back in August of 2013, I had moved to a new apartment thinking ‘yeah! when I move back from Australia it’ll be a fresh start with fun new roomies!’ Except, then I stayed three months longer and my landlord skyrocketed the rent. So, instead it was, ‘Yeah! now I have to re-move all my stuff out that I sort of just moved into this place I never lived in’ and ‘yeah! driving a ginormous van around Boston’s tiny streets” and ‘good-bye all my furniture because it can’t fit into my tiny new place.’ It was a rough welcome back but I’m moving in with my longtime friend and former roommate so it worked out! We actually just spent the day attempting to rid our place of that standard apartment color. You know what I mean. The we-are-trying-to-be-cheerful-but-non-offensive yellow-y beige, mixed with grime from other residents. Not anymore, though! woohoo!!

oh yeah, the van was big AND it was raining while we were unloading. We were all just so cheery that day. Ha!

oh yeah, the van was big AND it was raining while we were packing. We were all just so cheery that day. Ha!

And in addition to the moving and getting settled in, I have been temping and working part time slinging coffee. SO, it’s been a very, very crazy month back BUT, I think I’m ready to get Wicked Vegan up and running again! I can’t promise I will be posting super regularly what with the juggling two part time gigs and job interviewing but I can tell you I have some fun recipes planned and a super awesome give away coming up! So stay tuned!! :)

Oh, and I also dogsat for this adorable nugget this month. Don’t you just want to cuddle him?? Ok, I think ending on a cute dog pic is really the best way to go. Fraser Island trip will be up tomorrow!

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Last week I was on fire! I had a breakfast, Travel Tuesday, Lunch and had  dessert plannd. That is what I want every week to look like!

But, then the house got a new router. And my Macbook HATES it. Like, with the fire of a thousand suns. I turn it on and it freezes after about a minute. We’ve rebooted the router, we’ve messed with my Macbook, I’ve sacrificed small children to the computer Gods but nothing works. Ironically, I can get free wifi at McDonalds though *groan*

So, to spare myself any unnecessary trips to Maccas (Aussie slang for McDonalds. They crack up when I try to pronounce it), I’m just going to go on a bit of a hiatus until things get worked out, which hopefully won’t be for too long.

If you have any recommendations on fixing issues with a Macbook and a Billion router, email me. If your suggestion works, I’ll shower you with an uncomfortable amount of gratitude.

Thank you for your patience and hopefully you will hear from me soon!

Erin

 

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This post is being written approximately three, two 1.5 hours before I want it to go live. Why you may ask? Well, because I had very important things going on this week. Things like:

1. Watch every vlogbrothers video ever created. Considering they have been creating videos for the past seven years, this is a giant project. It’s got me thinking that I could totally do that! I should create a series of vlog videos with my friends, after all, we all live in different areas- Boston, California, Australia, etc. We could all rotate in our contributions or just post randomly in reply to others. Then I realized, uh, nope. I know nothing about making vidoes, youtube and I’m crap at updating a blog so regular video updates would be awful. I’ll leave the blog updates to the Green’s and waste my time watching those. Win/win for me!

2. Reading 8 books at one time. No seriously, it’s like 8 books. I think I’ve acquired ADD and it’s running rampant. I’m reading teen, non-fiction, graphic novels, travel books, a book my friend, Melissa, wrote (YEAH!), and two I’ve already read! What is wrong with me? I don’t know.

3. Plan every trip I am ever going to take in the year 2014 and NOT book my ticket home. Because I am in denial. Hardcore.

and most importantly, 4. Lounging around in yoga pants all day because I hate all my clothes and have nothing to wear in the cooler weather that is descending.

so, yeah for procrastination and stuff. (My english teacher once told me to never use the word ‘stuff’ in a formal writing situation because ‘stuff should only appear in a turkey’. Does a blog count?)

I’m actually really glad I told myself I was posting this today because I was *this* close to having a bowl of granola for lunch but I knew I had to actually get up and photograph this sandwich. Plus, I can have cereal for dinner!

Nutty Basil Pesto
only slightly modified from FF Detox.com

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup Brazil nuts or macadamia nuts (I used Brazil)
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cups fresh basil
  • 1 cups fresh parsley
  • 2/3 cup cold pressed olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Big pinch of sea salt

Soak the seeds and nuts overnight to release the enzyme exhibitors. Process the parsley, basil and olive oil in a blender until chopped. Add the garlic, nuts, and seeds, salt and lemon juice and mix until the mixture is finely blended into a paste. Store in dark glass jars if possible. It freezes well also if needs be. Serve as a dip, a sauce or a spread. My favorite way to eat is:

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Grilled Mushroom and Avocado Sandwich
serves 1

  • Earth Balance or dairy friendly butter, divided
  • 5 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, mined
  • 2 slices of bread (I like homemade sour dough)
  • 1/4 avocado (mine were fresh off the tree from the Gold Coast. Thank you, Sharon!)
  • hummus of choice
  • Detox Pesto

Heat some Earth balance over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, give it a quick stir and add the sliced mushrooms. Sautee until golden.

To assemble to sandwich: Spread one slice of bread with hummus and the other with the detox pesto. Add the garlicky, sauteed mushrooms and the 1/4 of the avocado sliced. Smoosh sandwich together. Butter the outside of the sandwich and grill in a pan over medium-low heat (or use a panini maker if you’re fancy like that)

Serve immediately.

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There are 6.5 more years of vlog brother videos to watch; rereading Hazel and Gus’s story (with a side of thoughts of crying); LA trip planning to do; demon love stories to sort out and you know, maybe some showering happening. This is all very pressing and I must go sort it all out! I promise you, I do actually have real plans this weekend. I’m hoping they will even make it into Tuesday Travels. YEAH!

 

 

So, I did some more traveling. Finally! I went to the Sunshine Coast with the kids I nanny for and their mom over the kids’ April vacation. She had to work, the kids and I had no plans so we just hung around- beachside. It was fun. I didn’t do too much exploring down there because I didn’t have a car but I walked down to the Maroochydore Esplanade (they had starbucks and vegan fro-yo. Life made) and made it out to the Australian Zoo and Currimundi Beach.

Note: My camera had a terrible crash at Bundi beach back in December and it just hasn’t been the same since. Just a wee bit fuzzier then I like. I think I need a new lens :( :( Also, some of these are off an old Samsung phone. Moral of the story- These pictures aren’t the best but I’m trying not to obsess over them. Trying be the key word.

Beach time and Maroochydore Esplanade walk:

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I built a sandman! Think more Frozen “Do you want to build a snowman?!” and less Metallica

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Vegan lunch one day at Raw Energy. I ordered the Mexican Roll Up with no sour cream. Yum!

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and followed it up with some Soy Chocolate Fro-yo at Yogurt Land. I was SO happy about this.

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Australian Zoo:

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Perentie, Australia’s Largest Lizard

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AHH!! Crocodiles!!

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Cassowary

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and more koalas!

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Robert Irwin picking up a little croc. He’s only 10!

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Kangaroo just chillin’

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aww, cute baby giraffe…

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and baby tiger!

and, last for the Sunshine Coast, Currimundi Beach:

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Currimundi had beaches…

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…and a shallow lake area

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We saw this randomly at a little airport. I don’t know anything about planes but I know that I sort of love this one!

 

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If there is one thing I have learned in this whole nannying gig, it’s that children between the ages of 6 and 13 (and most likely older) are vultures when it comes to sweets. I tried to stealthily open a package of cookies the other day and I had three little heads pop up over the couch like meerkats. The bag of marshmallows I had sent from home? Hoovered down before I had four s’mores. Bag of chocolate chips left open? Went to make cookies and there’s one chip left. Literally, 1.

So it didn’t really surprise me that the mom of the house decided to limit the sugar the kids were getting after Easter. We’d noticed one of the kids was sensitive to sugar and the other two, well, cutting their intact certainly wouldn’t kill them!

Along with cookies and candy, cereal was actually on the list of things that was limited. As I mentioned above, I clearly can’t keep things around the house without the kids finding them so having a box of cereal hidden wasn’t going to happen! I’d have to wait until I dropped the kids off at school before coming back for breakfast and that would not fly. I have to have some coffee and food in me before I face they world or things get ugly!

So here is my fast, easy breakfast that gives me fuel without attracting a swarm of sugar-and-cereal-detoxing children. They take one look at it and run the other way. Yes please! More for me!!

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Coconut Chia Pudding
adapted from How Sweet Eats’ Coconut Cream Pie Chia Seed Pudding

serves 2-4. 

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk (I used the Aussie brand “Ayam Organic Light Coconut Crwm. It was “light” but it’s cream, not milk. Aussie coconut milk tends to be a lot thinner then the US kind).
1/4 cup chia seeds
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (I’d start with 1 TBSP and drizzle more on at the end if needed)
1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.5 teaspoon coconut extract
1 pinch of salt

optional toppings: granola (I use 1/4 cup), fruit, toasted coconut, coconut whipped cream, jam swirled in, graham crackers, etc.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond milk, coconut milk, maple syrup, coconut, vanilla bean paste, coconut extract and salt until combined. Add the chia seeds last and whisk until combined.  Divide into servings, cover and chill for about 2 hours or even overnight. When you are ready to eat, top with your toppings of choice and Enjoy!

You can also keep it in one bowl, cover and divide into servings when ready to eat. I find the individual servings easier though because I can grab it, top it, put the lid back on and go out the door. No need to pour or divide anything in the AM. But I’m literally the laziest person in the world in the mornings and want to do as little as possible.

Will keep in the fridge for a few days (I’ve never tried more then three days).

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So it took me a while to get on board with this whole chia pudding trend. The texture is so strange! I actually prefer the homemade variety to the Chia Pods in the stores. The kind in the store is too solid and jiggly!

This kind though is delicious, especially with fresh berries and granola to give it some crunch. It’s also fast in the mornings. I like fast! If you want it to be faster, throw the fruit on at night and get your granola ready in a separate container so all you have to do is dump the granola in. SO easy.

Do you have any other fast breakfast ideas for the morning? I could use some kid-friendly, low sugar ideas!

 

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My April vacation has come to an end and I’m back to the daily grind. I will get more into what I did in my Travel Tuesday spots but I spent about a week at the Sunshine Coast, two days on a tour of Fraser Island and 4 days on the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast was a surprise addition to my travels and I am so glad I seized the opportunity to go when it was presented. Sometimes the best things in life are the ones that aren’t planned!

Anyway, with all of my traveling I haven’t had a ton of opportunities to cook. I did have a chance to help out at Easter dinner on the Gold Coast, though. I spent dinner with one of my boss’s business partners, Sharon, who opened her home to me and made me feel like family. Her family was so welcoming!

On Easter, I was put on veggie duty and helped make some homemade salsa and this super yummy salad. I was surprised how much I loved it! The ingredients are so simple but it is just so delicious. The first thing I did when I got back to Toowoomba was make a big batch for myself.

Of course, my second attempt at this salad didn’t come out as good as the one I made at East. Apparently, searching Youtube for Taking Back Sunday music videos instead of stirring the pine nuts is a big no-no. So you know, I wouldn’t recommend doing that.

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White Bean and Tomato Salad

  • 1/2 c. pine nuts
  • 550g or about 3 cups of mixed tomatoes, sliced (I used 350g of mixed grape tomatoes and 200g of yellow perino tomatoes. I like the smaller tomatoes but any kind will work)
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. basil, thinly sliced
  • 1 can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
  • slightly less then 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Place pine nuts in a small skillet and heat over medium-low heat. Stir continuously until the pines nuts begin to turn golden. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine tomatoes, red onion, basil beans and toasted pine nuts.

Right before serving, add olive oil, salt and pepper to the tomato mix and tossed until well combined.

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I opted for the mixed grape tomatoes and the yellow perino because they tend to be sweeter and because they were just so gosh darn pretty! I mean, the deep red ones are practically purple so clearly I had to purchase them.

Plus, You tube distractions aside, this was such an easy dish to make. I love it because it comes together in minutes and it will last me a few days. It’s pretty and it comes together easily. What more could you ask for??

 

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