Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Life's Little Pleasures

The Topic: Enjoying the vegan life with VN Associate Editor Jennifer Chen

The Dish: Recently, a good friend and I were lamenting how busy we are so we decided that instead of working like mad every day, we'd try doing something fun every day, however small. Sure, in any given day, you have 8 million things to do. So here's my simple list of fun activities I'm incorporating so that my life isn't all about work (even though working at VegNews is the best job ever). I'm hoping to inspire you to make your own list of amazing, inexpensive things to do right this very minute, you busy bee.

1) Farmers' market dinner date. Instead of a fancy dinner out, I decided to shop my farmers' market for a special dinner with my husband. I grabbed rainbow Swiss chard ($1.50) and found a pasta vendor who had several vegan pastas, including a Meyer lemon pasta ($7). Since my hubby loves lemon, I thought this would make the perfect meal. Topped with roasted garlic, fresh lemon juice, and olive oil, this was a farm-fresh meal that he loved. Lesson learned: the best romantic dinners can cost you close to nothing at all.

2) DIY beer garden. Another simple date idea? Pick up some beers (or wine, if that's your pleasure) and create your own beer garden. Brendan and I love beer gardens—what's better than sipping a brew outdoors in the sunshine? We picked up a six-pack of Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale ($7.99), a bag of Kettle Tia chips ($3.99), and made our own backyard beer garden. We brought out lawn chairs and enjoyed our brews with our pup laying at our feet. Check out our summer guide to 7 Vegan Beers or barnivore.com for all things vegan alcoholic. Lesson learned: a backyard is a beer garden in disguise.

3) At-home manicure. I am too cheap to go get my nails done so I like doing them at home. But as I mentioned to my friend, I was even getting too busy to do that. Tonight it ends! No more excuses. Beauty Without Cruelty just debuted some new nail polishes and I have the Mermaid nail color at home ($16.95). Yes, it's pricier than drugstore nail polish, but it is free of nasty chemicals that most nail polishes contain. Lesson learned: Spend money on what counts—chemical- and cruelty-free beauty!

4) Get your Groupon. This weekend, I got two vegan cinnamon buns for free and vegan brunch for two for $15. How? Groupon, my friends. Cinnaholic had a $5 for $10 for cinnamon buns and Souley Vegan had a $10 for $25 offer. So how did I get free Cinnaholic buns? Groupon credits! I referred a friend to another offer they had and I got a $10 credit. VN Editor-at-Large Laura Beck got me started on my Groupon addiction. VN Office Manager Lyndsay Orwig recommends coupon sites Living Social and Daily Gourmet as well. On Daily Gourmet, you can specify that you only want vegan offers! Lesson learned: Save a little, get a lot.

5) Read magazines. It's no surprise that I love magazines. Some of my favorites include VegNews, Time, New York, and Bust, among many others. But I've let my subscriptions pile up to the point where I'm several weeks behind on the news. Again, no more excuses. So at our DIY beer garden, I grabbed a pile of magazines and caught up. Lesson learned: Use what you have.

The Final Word: I'll be the first to admit that when I'm busy, I'm more likely to stick to my routine of vegging out in front of the TV, but by challenging myself to do things I actually enjoy without spending wads of cash, I'm a lot happier. So make your own list of fun, creative things to do so that your to-do list isn't just full of errands.


  1. i hope i'm not out of line here, but i have a twitter account where i try to alert my followers of the vegan deals around the country. http://twitter.com/vegandeals/
    (feel free to delete if it's not allowed. i'd understand)

  2. Hi! Thanks for sharing. If you take a look at the July+August issue of VegNews (hits newsstands July 1), you'll see a mention of @vegandeals in our A-to-Z Guide to Budget Vegan Living.

  3. When I'm not working I find myself obsessing about all the things I "should be doing." I think we all need to stop and think about how we can spend some time being happy instead of always feeling like we're busy! Last night, after dinner, I played a game with my kids instead of cleaning the kitchen. Now, the kitchen cleaning did occur, but by waiting until after the kids were in bed (and simply cutting out a few minutes of meaningless internet surfing) I had a really great time. And today, when I had a long lunch break in the class I'm taking, I decided to pull out my ipod and walk at a local park. It was found time and a great way to perk up my day and feel good. Thanks for the ideas!