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My Nutritarian Diary: BBQ Soy Curl Salad in a Jar

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The web for all its glory and grandeur can be a very confusing place especially in the arena of diet advice. Today, to help lessen some of that Internet confusion, I want to talk fat with you as well as share my new favorite salad recipe.

Let’s start with general consensus out there that the percentage of calories we need in our daily intake from fat is 20-35% (some doctors and nutritionists who advocate a low-fat, plant-based diet even take that figure down to 10-15%). In addition, the general consensus out there is that we shouldn’t consume more than 10% of our calories a day from saturated fat, to help prevent cardiovascular disease and perhaps Type 2 diabetes.

To start breaking this down for you, I am going to examine the fat make-up of several foods and base my nutrition percentages on a 2,000-calorie diet, since that’s what our labels use. You would lesson or increase that figure depending on whether you wanted to lose weight or if you were more active.

First, let’s look at the fat make-up of several plant-based foods in no particular order. (I used caloriecount.about.com and the nutrition labels of the items I had on hand for these numbers.)

Food Total Fat Saturated Fat
24 Almonds (1 oz.) 22% 5%
1 TBSP Safflower Oil 22% 5%
½ Medium Avocado 20% 12%
12 Large Pitted Olives 12% 0%
1 TBSP Ground Flaxseed 3.5% 1.5%
1 TBSP Peanut Butter, Natural 12.5% 8%
Trader Joe’s High Protein Super Firm Organic Tofu (84g/1 Serving) 11% 5%
Butler Soy Curls (3/4 cup/1 Serving) 7% 0%

It’s easy to see that the saturated fats in this category of foods is significantly less than the total fat. Also, nuts, oil, and avocados are higher in fat, and probably should be eaten in smaller portions than I’ve listed above in order to prevent weight gain. And as much as many of us love peanut butter, it’s probably best to eat in teaspoon portions rather than tablespoon ones.

Next, let’s look up the fat make-up of several animal-based foods that are low in fat. (I used caloriecount.about.com for these numbers.)

Food Total Fat Saturated Fat
Egg (Cooked, Hard-Boiled) 7% 8%
Chicken Leg (Meat Only, No Skin) 4% 3%
½ Chicken Breast (Meat Only, No Skin) 5% 0%
4 oz. Lean Ground Turkey (93% Lean) 12% 12%
3 oz. Lean Hamburger (85% Lean) 20% 25%
1 oz. 2% Milk Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese 8% 15%
½ Fillet Salmon Atlantic, Wild 19% 10%
3 oz. Beef, Top Sirloin (Trimmed to ¼” Fat) 8% 10%

In general, this category of food has a higher saturated fat ratio than the plant-based category (white chicken breast and salmon the exceptions in this list), and that’s even when eating these foods in very small portions. While this family of foods may not be high in total fat, their saturated fat make-up along with the realization that in general portion sizes of these foods are rarely as small as listed above, you can see why limiting this source of food may be beneficial to your health.

To sum it up, at least for me, I have cut out of my diet most animal-based foods due to their saturated fat and cholesterol content. This choice has significantly lowered my cholesterol for the good.

In addition, I follow a lower-fat diet, only because I think I generally eat too much fat if I don’t watch it. With that said, I also believe I should eat good fats from plant-based sources such as nuts, seeds, avocados and so on. I think limiting vegetable oil intake is a must for me, as well, since I can reach the low end of my daily caloric intake based on a 2,000-calorie diet in one tablespoon of oil.

So, while it may not be 100% accurate to say we need to eat a strictly low-fat diet, it’s probably best if we eat a lower-fat diet than most of us currently do, since fat calories add up quickly.

If that speaks to you and you want to start eating less fat, here’s a great recipe I’ve incorporated into my diet recently that helps with that goal.

(Please understand I’m not a nutritionist and do realize everybody has different nutritional needs. Also, higher fat diets are good for those who are very active, so I would definitely encourage you to do your own research based on your own genetics and lifestyle.)

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BBQ Soy Curl Salad in a Jar

INGREDIENTS:
1½ cup of Butler Soy Curls*, reconstituted in warm water per package directions
¼ cup of BBQ Sauce
1 cup of sweet corn, defrosted if frozen
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
3 cups of salad greens
1 32-oz. mason jar
*You can buy these online at www.butlerfoods.com

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium pan, pour BBQ sauce over the soy curls, mix together and cook them over medium heat until lightly browned and pan-fried. Set aside to cool.

Soy Curls Collage

Layer the corn, cherry tomatoes, BBQ soy curls, and salad greens compactly (but not too compactly) in a 32-ounce mason jar, and place in refrigerator until ready to eat. (Probably should eat in a day or two.)

When ready to eat, pour salad fixings in a large bowl, dig in, and enjoy!

I find this salad tastes fine without a dressing, but feel free to add a dressing of your choice to it (keeping in mind the recommended fat calorie intake if you don’t use a fat-free dressing). If you are packing a mason jar, place the dressing at the very bottom.

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Adventures in Spokane, part Thirty: Welcome to the Summer of Why Not? The Sequel!

Today as I was flipping through old blog posts I came across one done last year around this time. It had been written right after I flipped through the Inlander Summer Guide and got myself all psyched up about awesome things I was going to do during the warm months.

Dollar movie nights at The Garland. Concerts with local bands at The Knitting Factory. Margaritas at every bar in town (okay that one wasn’t really in there but it probably should have been).

I sure had some wild and crazy plans for last summer. And reading about them today, well, started that glimmer in my brain that it might be time to make some wild and crazy plans once again.

I think I’d like to finish writing my novel. One of my novels. I’ve got several I’ve been working on over the years that I wrote awesome opens and a pretty good ends for, but never quite got around to fleshing out the middles. I think I’ll attempt to do that this summer.

Speaking of writing, I’m gonna attend some poetry readings and open mics this year. And gosh dang it, I’m gonna get myself up there to read at some point. Why not, right? What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll do a terrible job and everyone will boo me off stage and I’ll end up crying and cowering in a corner overwhelmed with shame and embarressment for the rest of the night? Wait, maybe I should have stopped that train of thought back at ‘why not?’.

Moving on.

I don’t hike enough. I hear there are some excellent trails around these parts. Maybe I’ll even take a weekend trip over to Mt Rainier and do some hiking around there. It sure looks pretty off in the distance when I’m playing in Seattle. Maybe it’s time to get up close and personal with it.

Maybe I’ll join a book club. Oh! Maybe I’ll start a book club! Maybe I’ll start a Fox28 book club! What do you think, folks? Do you want to get together and read with me? I’m sure we could find some awesomely trashy summer novels to get in to!

Have you heard of the Inland NW Ale Trail? I just found out about it the other day. I’m not the hugest fan of beer in the universe BUT I do so love a good challenge (speaking of, I think finishing the Tequila Challenge at Borracho is definitely on my Summer of Why Not list of activities). AND it seems like a great way to experience new things and go places around the area I’ve never been before.

Maybe I’ll join one of the Spokane Party Trolley “social mixer pub crawls.” Maybe I’ll book the whole Trolley for myself and some friends!

I bought a new bathing suit. This year I intend to get out and wear it! I’ll go to the pool. I’ll go to the lake. I’ll run around in the fountain in Riverfront Park with my awesome nephew (he’s five and told me I’m a fun grown-up so he’s currently my favorite person EVER). I’ll go to a slumber party with some of my lovely geeky friends because I was invited and I haven’t done a slumber party in years and I think I kind of miss them.

Why not, right?

Seriously, why not?

Why not learn archery and how to scuba dive and jump out of a plane and take a pottery class and paint while drinking wine and invade my cousin’s pool and play more video games and get a tan and get a new tattoo and do some charity work and ride a motorcycle and learn to make pastries from scratch or how to take better photographs or try my hand at gardening? Why not ride more bikes and take more long lunches and hear more local bands and watch more mindlessly entertaining movies?

Summer is coming. The sun is shining, the temperature is rising, and it’s time to experience all the coming months have to offer.

It’s the Summer of Why Not, The Sequel!

Let’s all go out and see just what kind of epic adventures we can get in to!

*Got a great idea for something to be experienced this summer? Leave it in the comments below!

My Nutritarian Diary: Fruity Quinoa Salad

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For today’s post, I decided to throw out into the world-wide web my very own recipe: Fruity Quinoa Salad. I haven’t done that yet on my blog, mainly because I still feel like a novice when it comes to making plant-based food. I love reading recipes and gleaning new ideas. I love making them and eating them, too, sometimes even adapting them to my own tastes. But to create a recipe from scratch? How do I know when it’s ready for the public? Does it taste good? Will people like it? Am I missing a key ingredient? And the worrisome questions go on and on.

But today, I stopped the questions and began a different dialogue. This Fruity Quinoa Salad may not be perfect. But it is beautiful-looking and very delicious. I, personally, love the way the Kalamata olives compliment the overall fruity taste of the salad (my husband does not and is why I made them optional), and I think you can add the raisins or not, depending on how sweet you want the salad to taste. And if you’re not entirely plant-based in your eating, I think a ¼ cup of feta cheese mixed in would taste absolutely delicious.

What I did do on purpose for me was keep this recipe oil free. But even that is flexible and up to you.

In the end, what this recipe lacks in absolutes, it certainly does not lack in flavor, flexibility, and health.

So, if you are feeling adventurous, why not give it a try!

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Fruity Quinoa Salad

SALAD INGREDIENTS:
• 1½ cups cooked tri-colored quinoa
• 1 cup Granny Smith apples, chopped in ½-inch cubes*
• ½ cup dried apricots, finely diced
• ⅓ cup toasted almond slivers
• ¼ cup raisins, optional
• ⅓ cup Greek Kalamata olives, chopped, optional
• salad greens for plating

*Lightly coat cubes with fresh squeezed lemon juice (or other preferred method) to prevent browning.

DRESSING INGREDIENTS:
• 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon grade B maple syrup*
• Up to 1 tablespoon of water (in case dressing needs to be diluted to your taste)

*Grade B maple syrup has more healthful minerals than its Grade A variety and is why I use it.

DIRECTIONS:
Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, combine the treated Granny Smith apple cubes, apricots, almonds, raisins (if using), and Greek Kalamata olives (if using). Add the quinoa and mix all the ingredients together.

In another small bowl, whisk together the Balsamic vinegar, mustard, ground ginger, and maple syrup. Taste, and dilute with a little water if necessary.

Poor dressing over the quinoa mix and coat evenly. Adjust seasonings to your desired taste.

Put salad greens on plates and top with the Fruity Quinoa Salad. And enjoy!

My Nutritarian Diary: Spaghetti Squash Primavera

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Something happened this week along my way to writing this blog post that I have to share with you. I had my annual physical and received some wonderful results in my blood work. As of this week, my total cholesterol was 162 (six years ago, it was 199 with a lot of dietary effort—but still eating chicken, eggs, cheese, and dairy) and my LDL was 107 (down from 146 six years ago).

As a little background, I went to an excellent nutritionist around the time of these higher cholesterol numbers. He helped me lose weight and get my cholesterol numbers in check (but still in a highish range). I learned a lot from him and was inspired to keep learning about nutrition. But over the last several years, my total cholesterol numbers have remained around 200, with and without dietary effort.

Six months ago, I was convinced that going mostly plant-based in my eating habits was the right path for me. And this week’s blood work results prove to me that I was correct. While my health is the main focus of this dietary change, an added bonus was that I have also lost about 10 pounds.

Don’t get me wrong, I still eat an occasional pizza or another indulgent meal or dessert, but those are treats now and not my way of life. I also know I need to add more exercise into my life, as well as lose about 10 or so more pounds. Perfection is not the goal for me, though. Improvement is. And this week’s encouragement did not come from the scale but from the results of my blood work.

We all have different aha moments when it comes to changes we should make in our lives. My hope for you is that with this little insight into my story, you may be inspired to make changes that will make you not only healthier, but feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally.

This wonderful recipe below is a great start toward that goal!

As shown in this image above, Spaghetti Squash Primavera can be served in a variety of ways.

As shown in this image above, Spaghetti Squash Primavera can be served in a variety of ways.

Spaghetti Squash Primavera
(From Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live Cookbook. Alterations I made are in italics below. I also removed the low-salt references that were in the original.)

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 medium spaghetti squash
• 1 ½ carrots, diagonally sliced
• ½ cup diagonally sliced celery
• 3 cloves garlic, minced (I added 1 more)
• 1 ½ cups shredded cabbage
• 1 small zucchini, chopped into small pieces
• 1 ½ cups cooked pinto beans or 1 (15-ounce) can of pinto beans (I used chickpeas)
• 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes (I used a can of organic diced tomatoes)
• ⅓ cup vegetable broth
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I used a little over 1 teaspoon of dried parsley)
• 1 cup pasta sauce
Salt, to taste
• Nutritarian “Parmesan”

DIRECTIONS:
“Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place both halves upside down on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, cook carrots and celery in 2 tablespoons of water (or vegetable broth) in a covered pan over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little more water (or vegetable broth) if needed. Add garlic, cabbage, and zucchini and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients, except for pasta sauce and ‘Parmesan’. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

When squash is done, remove from oven and using a fork, scrape spaghetti-like strands from squash into a bowl. Add pasta sauce and combine by mixing thoroughly.

Mix the vegetables, beans and herbs with the squash/pasta sauce mixture and serve on a bed of shredded romaine lettuce, if desired, or place back in the hollowed out squash bowls.

Sprinkle with nutritarian ‘Parmesan’ (recipe below)” (Joel Fuhrman).

Fuhrman’s nutritarian “Parmesan” is ½ cup nuts (pine, almonds, or cashews) and ½ cup nutritional yeast ground in a food processor. It stores in an airtight container in refrigerator indefinitely.

MY NOTES:
This meal is so versatile. You can eat it warmed in a bowl by itself. You can lightly heat it and serve it over a bed of lettuce with a ¼ cup of your favorite vegan sausage. Or you can eat it cold. Because the recipe uses squash “noodles” instead of pasta, they never bloat, which means it keeps well in the refrigerator.

Adventures in Spokane – Part TwentySeven: Where I Workout, Support Animals, and Geek Out

It’s too nice outside today to be inside reading a blog post. Go out and play in the sunshine. Come back later when you’re done. Enjoy it for all of us. I’ll wait.

*hums Girl from Impanema while waiting*

Back already? Cool.

Well last week was pretty quiet for me. I was still recovering from Sakuracon over Easter weekend (read all about it on the Mia Con vlog/blog page!) and not up to a lot of craziness. I think I’m getting old or something. I did manage to make it to the gym one whole time on Wednesday afternoon. Not super effective toward getting in great shape, I’m sure, but better than I’ve managed most of this year (and last, shame shame) so I’m proud of it.

I also got some time in at Borracho, where I was sad to see I’ve still got about 40 shots to do before I complete the tequila challenge. How did I get so behind? Where did I go so wrong? I had one shot while there (Vida – smooth with a smoky aftertaste) along with a tasty pork burrito liberally smothered in queso. I so love their queso. I could just eat spoonfuls of it, but that would probably not be healthy for me. Lame.

earlydrinksLate in the week I stopped by The Ref out in the Valley with my tequila frenemy for some evening drinks. They had their martinis on special so I was sure to try all of them that I saw listed. It was only three, calm down. I also tried a shot with a filthy name, the taste of coffee, and a dollop of whip cream on top. It was interesting. I think I might have liked it.

Friday night was the annual Reigning Cats and Dogs auction and chocolate festival held by SCRAPS and SCRAPS Hope Foundation out at the Spokane County Fairgrounds. As part of the Happy Tales team and someone who very whole-heartedly supports SCRAPS and helping animals, I was in attendance. I looked at auction items, ate tasty snacks, drank some wine, joked around with co-workers, and met some very cute animals looking for new homes (and if I had a fence on my yard I’d probably have gone home with one of those adorable furry creatures I tell you what). It was a great night and a great event full of great people who were pretty much throwing money at SCRAPS which was pretty great as well.

kateetriciaSaturday I jumped in the car with one of the Spokast Podcast boys and headed over to Seattle because why the heck not? Also, we had tickets to see Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer LIVE AND IN PERSON doing a showing of a Battlestar Galactica episode followed by a Q&A at Cinerama. It was part of fundraiser for Seattle Humane Society and the ladies were in the area for the annual Tulip Ride (also fundraising for Seattle Humane Society and Red Cross). As a very vocal and proud fangeek I must say the experience was AWESOME (awesome: adjective – slang definition, excellent or outstanding). Sitting in the second row I was only about 50 feet away from the ladies and could see them and clearly hear them (even without the microphones) in all their giggly, girly glory. It may have been a bit too close for viewing the BSG episode, however, as the screen was very large and I had to lean way back and the action made me a little sick. BUT IT WAS WORTH IT.

After the show we wandered down to Pike Place Market and took a stroll through the warren of shops. We found a delightful little used bookstore (Lionheart Books) where the proprietor refused to let me buy some of the campy looking science fiction books I wanted, but serenaded me and discussed Pablo Neruda with me to make up for it. We also hit up a shop with taxidermied bats, and another with giant Megaladon teeth. We couldn’t stay too long, unfortunately, but it was a fun little side trip anyway.

miasurprisedThat little out-of-town excursion wrapped up my week. I was too tired to do much of anything but lay about watching Netflix on Sunday. Sometimes you just gotta admit the laziness and revel in it.

I’ll be back in the next week or so (probably?) to talk about science fiction reboots, more trips to the gym, and mustache parties. To pass the time until I return why don’t you head out for some adventures of your own? If you’re lucky you just might see me bouncing around town while you’re out there (and if you can find me and say “hi” I’ll give you a prize)!

- Mia V.

 

This week’s Adventures in Spokane brought to you by:
Gold’s Gym
Borracho Tacos & Tequileria
The Ref Sports Bar
SCRAPS
Cinerama (Seattle)
Pike Place Market (Seattle)

10 Interesting Facts About Beagles

Beagles are one of the most beloved breeds of dog around the world. Snoopy, perhaps the world’s most famous dog, is a beagle. Here are some other interesting facts about beagles.

  • Beagles were originally bred as hunters, especially rabbits, so if you have small pets around, be careful if you get a beagle. He might think he’s doing you a favor by bringing you a pet hamster.
  • Beagles come in many colors, but mostly are of the tri-color variety: black, white, and tan. They are usually born black and white and they develop their tan fur as they get older.
  • Purebred beagles should always have a white tail or a white-tipped tail. This trait was bred into them by hunters to be able to see the dogs when their heads were to the ground pursuing a scent.
  • While the current Queen Elizabeth is know for her fondness of Corgis, Queen Elizabeth I was a beagle fan. Some portraits of her even included her dogs. King James I called her “his dear little beagle”.
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson had two beagles in the White House named Him and Her that he would famously (or infamously) hold up by the ears.
  • A “Beagle Brigade” was employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 1980s to sniff out airport luggage that contained food that could have pests that might be dangerous to crops. Their noses contain about 220 million smell receptors; humans have about 5 million.
  • Beagles are notorious overeaters. Their strong sense of smell enables them to find food no matter how carefully it’s stashed away. Get between a beagle and its food at your own risk. A regular amount of exercise is a must for beagles, or they will quickly become obese. Despite their penchant for food, they don’t drool like many other breeds.
  • Beagles were bred so their coats would repel water and not attract burrs or other plants while hunting. As a result, they are easy to groom and they don’t have a “dog smell”.
  • Because they were bred for hunting rabbits, beagles were often owned in packs to cover more ground. As a result, beagles seek out and enjoy the company of other dogs (and humans, if that’s the best they can find). For reasons undetermined, beagles tend to bond more strongly with women than men.
  • Beagles are well represented in our culture. Snoopy, from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip, is probably the best-known ambassador of the breed, but Odie, Garfield’s pal/nemesis in Jim Davis’s strip is also a beagle. Charles Darwin’s ship on his five-year nature voyage was called the HMS Beagle, an appropriate name for a seeking expedition. The beagle even appears in some of Shakespeare’s works, including Twelfth Night.

SOURCE – cesarsway.com
Read more: http://www.cesarsway.com/dogbehavior/basics/10-Interesting-Facts-About-Beagles#ixzz2zv2HWWDF

My Nutritarian Diary: Wheat Berry and Black Bean Salad

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Wheat berries meet my readers. Readers meet wheat berries.

Now that the introductions are over, let me tell you about this wonderful grain. I have discovered that its chewy texture and nutty flavor to be a perfect substitute for pasta in my cold salads and almost as easy to cook with just a longer cooking time. I have fallen head over heels in love with these little guys, and I am so excited to share one of my new favorite recipes that feature this grain prominently.

Let’s dig in a little about what makes this whole grain so special, aside from the fact it’s the source of our wheat flour. First, one serving (½ cup of cooked wheat berries) contains 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, which is about the same amount of protein and fiber as the now popular quinoa. With that said, the nutritional profile does vary some depending on type of wheat berries you use. For example, Lentz Spelt’s whole grain berries, a locally-grown brand I recently discovered at Rocket Market in Spokane, WA, has 8 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.

But that’s not it. They are also loaded with vitamins B1 or Thiamin, which helps convert carbohydrates into energy and is good for a healthy brain, nerve cells, and heart function; and B3 or Niacin, which keeps our skin and our nervous and digestive systems healthy (Source).

But where do you find them? As I mentioned above, I found mine at Rocket Market locally, but you can buy them in many varieties in the bulk sections of most health food stores or in mainstream grocery stores that sell healthy bulk items.

There’s of course more to be said, but let them “speak” for themselves as you give them a try in this wonderful recipe!

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Wheat Berry and Black Bean Salad
(Adapted from Robin Robertson’s One-Dish Vegan’s “Quinoa and Black Bean Salad” recipe)

SALAD INGREDIENTS:
• 3 cups of water
• 1 cup of wheat berries*
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 3 scallions, chopped
• 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
• 1 cup cucumber, seeded and chopped
• 1½ cups of cooked black beans or 1 (15.5-ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
• 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
• ½ cup kalamata olives, chopped
• ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, basil, or cilantro
• ½ cup toasted walnuts, optional
• Romaine lettuce leaves, to plate salad

*You could easily replace wheat berries with quinoa. Just cook 1 cup of quinoa according to its directions and use it instead.

DRESSING INGREDIENTS:
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1-2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice (or a citrus-flavored vinegar), use less if you like a subtler lemon/citrus flavor
• 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 teaspoon agave nectar
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• ⅛ teaspoon dried oregano
• ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
• ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Place the water, wheat berries, and ½ teaspoon of salt into a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer. Cooking time varies depending on the desired texture and the brand you are cooking. Generally, I prefer to cook mine for 45 minutes. Once cooked, remove from heat, drain, and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, place the scallions, carrot, black beans, tomatoes, olives, and parsley. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together.

Add the wheat berries and the dressing to the large bowl and mix well. Add the walnuts, if using. Also adjust the seasonings if needed.

Place desired amount on a plate of romaine lettuce, and serve.

Mia’s Con Blog, Emerald City Comicon Day 2

I set my alarm for 9am. I’m awake by 8. I hate my brain.

I want to attend a panel at 10:30 so I do my best to get showered, dressed, and out the door by a little after 10. I expect Saturday to be much busier than Friday. I am not disappointed. The first panel of the day in the main hall contains the entire roster of attending voice actors reading scenes from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. There is already a line waiting to get in the room when I arrive.

The panel is worth the wait in the line and the seats near the back of the room. Nancy Cartwright does Princess Leia in Bart Simpson’s voice. Bill Farmer gives us Darth Vader in a Snagglepuss drawl. Bill Salyers narrates as Rigby from The Regular Show. And I’m not sure what Andrea Libman is reading in Pinkie Pie’s voice (from My Little Pony) but it is so fast and high-pitched that I’m wondering if she was inhaling helium before the show.

After the panel my con buddy and I head down to the screening room for a showing of Transolar Galactica’s Origin episodes. Friday we tried to find the screening room with no luck, but after perusing the map for over an hour the night before I think I’ve finally figured out where it is. Several escalators, two sets of stairs, four floors, and a several thousand people later we manage to find it.

Transolar is made right here in good ol’ Spokane. It’s a fun mash-up of dozens of science fiction movies and shows and stereotypes. After a successful Kickstarter campaign to make a second season they’ve been on the road showing off all the swanky new things they can do with some financial backing going for them. The screening is great, the episodes look slick and professional, and I’d give the guys behind the series some high fives if I was into that kind of thing.

The next panel features Alan Tudyk of Firefly/Serenity and Dollhouse fame (he was in more stuff of course but I work for a Fox affiliate PLUS I was a huge Firefly fan, so I’m name-checking those shows). He is absolutely delightful. For every person that gets up the nerve to ask him a question in front of thousands of other fans, he pulls a random item out of a satchel and autographs it for them. Some get receipts, others get game demos, one person gets a half eaten bag of salty nuts. The last person to get up and ask a question is an adorable kid in a Wash costume who just wants to play dinosaurs with his hero. We all melt from the cuteness and cheer like crazy when he does.

After a trip around the model exhibit and past the Lego exhibit we attend another screening, this time for Manos: Hands of Felt. I helped Kickstart this project so am eager to see the final product. Watching one of the worst films ever made redone with the addition of puppets is totally worth however much I threw in on the Kickstarter (no particular recollection of how much that was and too lazy to look it up right now).

Back up to the main hall after Manos to see the second half of John de Lancie. He tells a funny story about being naked on the bridge of the Enterprise (Star Trek The Next Generation version) and an even funnier story about his secret trick for acting lovestruck in The Thorn Birds. After he is finished talking I sneak up as many rows as possible to get good seats for the next panel guest – Karl Urban.

Karl Urban makes jokes about tequila. He strolls around the stage in his leather jacket and speaks with his New Zealand accent and is absolutely, hysterically funny. He talks about Dredd and Almost Human and Lord of the Rings, and then tells about some epic pranks both Simon Pegg and Viggo Mortenson played on him while filming projects. I kind of want to run up and steal him and take him home with me. I doubt I’m the only one in the audience with this in mind.

Day two of the con definitely ends on a high note. I find out later on that while I was running around doing panels and screenings, my tiny/tall gal pal was getting autographs from Bill Salyers (voice actor from Mass Effect among other things), meeting Michael Dorn (Worf of Star Trek The Next Generation), and running into John de Lancie in the hallway. Turns out she had a pretty epic second day at the con as well.

*In addendum – Tasty Eats from Seattle:
Elephant and Castle: lunch Saturday afternoon; another place I stop at every time I’m in Seattle, very tasty curry chicken flatbread … thing
Dragonfish Asian Cafe: dinner Saturday night; amazing sushi as well as very tasty drinks, shared the Dragonfish roll (with unagi and tempura shrimp) as well as chicken potstickers and Dragon noodles, also had a frothy daquirie and a lemon-y something or other to drink

Mia’s Con Blog, Emerald City Comicon Day 1

I wake up at 6am. No one else in my group does. I spend the next four hours sighing dramatically, trying to fall back to sleep, playing on my phone, texting my sister who is having surgery this morning, and texting my mother because my sister is having surgery this morning.

Eventually there is movement from my fellow convention goers. Yay.

The con starts at 10am. We get there by noon. There is already a ridiculous amount of people swarming around the convention center doors. A man on one corner is yelling out that he has tickets to sell to this sold out event. On another corner a man is asking everyone that passes by if they have tickets to sell. Obviously these two men need to meet.

Inside is chaos, but it seems to be controlled chaos. People are EVERYWHERE. Riding up and down escalators, sitting at tables, running across the lobby to hug people they haven’t seen since the last con a year ago.

A Master Chief (from Halo) is posing on the first set of stairs as five different people take his picture. Over by the information booth a pair of Eva pilots (from Neon Genesis Evangelion) are arguing over something in their con program guide.

It’s an epic first few moments.

I spend the rest of the first day exclaiming excitedly over artwork in the exhibition hall, traveling up and down stairs and escalators looking for a screening room that refuses to be found, taking pictures of awesome costumes, standing in line for panels, and getting angry at my phone because it refuses to work properly in the convention center.

I also am there to witness Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura!) assist a man in proposing to his girlfriend. She is absolutely stunning and totally gracious and simply wonderful. She talks about Star Trek and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Neil deGrasse Tyson and the space program and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. I clap a lot during her panel.

I attend a panel with Kenichi Sonada (creator of Gunsmith Cats) and delight in how polite and soft spoken and quietly humorous his stories are. I kind of want to put him in my pocket and run off with him; similar to how I felt after seeing the director and art director of Vampire Hunter D a couple of years ago at a different convention.

I sneak into the second half Richard Dean Anderson’s panel, just in time to witness how jovial and charismatic he is. He says “I don’t know” several times in such a perfect Colonel Jack O’Neill (Stargate) tone of voice that I can’t help but laugh. Two guys dressed as Jack and Daniel from the show are sitting a few rows ahead of me. They look awesome and laugh at everything.

By the time the day is over I am exhausted and mentally overwhelmed and ready for some quiet time to process (that doesn’t exactly happen, FYI).

Friday ends with drinks, snacks, and Cards Against Humanity back at the hotel room. I won’t sully anyone’s innocent minds with some of the epic combinations that are played, but just leave you with the assurance that they are hilarious and, in some cases, incredibly disgusting. I am impressed by the mental levels my friends can sink to.

It has been an epic first day. I’m excited to see what Day 2 has in store for me.

*In addendum – Tasty Eats from Seattle:
Westin Lobby Bar: drinks Thursday evening; pricey but good – had something called a True Blood which was strong but also tasty
Pike Brewing Company: dinner Thursday night; excellent pulled pork sandwich (as always), also a tasty margarita-like beverage can’t quite remember the name of
PF Chang’s: lunch Friday afternoon; the sauce on their broccoli beef is amazing; the rice was pretty good as well
Panera Bread: dinner Friday night; why don’t we have one of these here in Spokane? why? had half a chicken panini and bowl of cheddar broccoli soup – they were delicious