Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Visiting a Cat Cafe...

On nearly every list of pet loving cities, you will find my city - Austin, TX close to the top. Our affinity for animals is the reason that we are America's largest No Kill city. Throughout the downtown area alone, you can find dozens of pet-friendly parks, pet themed events taking place and even animal-themed artwork!

Last October, one more animal-friendly business, Blue Cat Cafe opened it's doors to cat and coffee lovers. In that time-frame, they have teamed up with the Austin Humane Society and offer up their cafe space to cats looking for homes. I had a moment to chat with owner Rebecca Gray, who delightfully shared that since their opening day, the Blue Cat Cafe has adopted out nearly 200 cats! 
Jazz, my personal cat and tote
bag model was adopted through
Austin Humane Society.
Order a Jazz tote here >>
Being a volunteer photographer for various rescues and an avid animal lover, I am always thrilled to visit and support other small businesses that support local charities and help promote our area's adoptable pets. In particular, the Austin Humane Society will always have a special place in my heart, as my two kitties, Jazz and Izze Belle, were both adopted from them. 

Today, I decided to take a little time away from the studio and visit Blue Cat Cafe for the first time (I know, I know... how did it take this long??). After stepping through the doors, I was greeted by a handful of curious cats. The cafe itself was fairly empty when I arrived, with 3 small groups of visitors, each playing with various cats and toys. The walls are covered in cat-themed artwork and shelving units that allow the cats to jump and climb to their furry little heart's content. In the middle of the cafe, a large man-made tree wrapped with rope (purrfect for climbing and scratching) stretches up to the ceiling, where cats can pass across the room on on a raised walkway designed specifically for them. If that's not enough, the cats have adorably designed beds to curl up in (my favorite being the hollowed out Macintosh), plenty of hiding spaces to retreat to if they are feeling overwhelmed and all the attention they could ever want from the many patrons visiting the cafe. Oh, and of course, a smaller sectioned off space hosts a handful of fuzzy little kittens who are currently available for adoption. I happily spent some time snuggling up with these charming babies who had just returned from their spay/neuter surgeries and were now waiting for their new families to find them.

I attempted to count the cats in my initial view, but every time I turned around, a new furry face would appear. My best guess was 15 - 20 cats reside at the cafe at any given time? While I don't know the exact number of cats, I can tell you that this place is certainly a great spot for any cat lover! The coffee is tasty, they offer an entirely Vegan menu (always a plus to a cruelty-free lifestyle supporter like myself) but the cats are definitely the real treat here! Next time, I will happily bring my laptop and stop in for a coffee and some kitty-themed work hours!

Want to visit the Blue Cat Cafe yourself? Stop by during their business hours at 1400 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78702. You definitely won't regret the visit! 


Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist
www.petstudioart.com

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Meet Rico, my latest custom cat portrait model.
Order a painting of your own kitty at www.petstudioart.com
Featured Adoptable Cat of the Week: Cadence
This lovely tabby girl came into the Williamson County Regional
Animal Shelter pregnant and scared. After being a wonderful mother
to her babies and seeing them all off to their new forever homes, this
sweet lady is now waiting for her chance to be taken care of. Cadence is
a calm girl, just over 1 year old and is very gentle. Come meet her at
the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter in Georgetown, TX.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Something So Simple Can Change the World for Shelter Dogs....

Each month, the Williamson County Regional Animal
Shelter posts their save rate statistics. Since 2010,
each month, more than 90% of the animals in
their care have found their happy endings. 
Working within the Animal Shelter system has brought both tears of happiness and sadness. Sadness because those animals are each amazing in their own way and seeing them pining for the loss of their former families, scared being locked in a kennel for the first time after living their lives on the streets or simply unknowing because they have grown up at the shelter since they were overlooked as a puppy. Of course, living in a city that cares so much for the animals has brought a tremendous amount of happiness as well. I have watched Austin transform from a city that killed nearly 50% of the animals at our city shelter to becoming one of the safest cities in the country for stray animals.

I personally volunteer for a rural shelter, the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter in Georgetown, TX, just north of Austin. Even after moving to South Austin earlier this year, I am dedicated to continuing my volunteer work with this shelter. I have also watched them transform from a typical county shelter to a No Kill open admission shelter. Open admission means that we take in any animal within our jurisdiction, regardless of the situation. This means we don't close our doors when we are full, we don't turn away strays and put them back out on the streets. We don't hide numbers or transfer animals to kill shelters to meet our quota. We step up and when the shelter kennels are full, we work with other local rescue organizations, we reach out to foster families and we host huge adoption events (like the Just One Day adoption event last month) to get the animals out of our shelter alive and healthy. Simply, we find them homes.

Unfortunately, it can take awhile for some animals to find homes, those are the animals we get to know and fall deeply in love with on a personal level. Of course, as much as every volunteer and staff member would like to, we can't simply take them all home ourselves. So, while they are in our care and waiting, we want to make their time comforting and make them feel as loved as we possibly can.

This video really struck me. What a beautiful sight to see - each shelter dog feeling comfort and finding a safe spot to call their own. It brought me to tears!


Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist
www.petstudioart.com

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Grace the Pit Bull was saved by a local rescue, Love-A-Bull.
Order your Grace Tote Bag for only $14.99 here >>

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

This Guy Sees a Foal stuck on a Bridge.. What a Hero!

Order your Inca the Hose
tote bag here >>
I am always in awe of the kindness of people. Sure, in animal rescue, sometimes we see the worst, but in so many cases, we see heroes like this guy stepping in to help animals in need. He obviously has a kind soul and this sweet little family is better off because he came across them in time to save this beautiful baby. 

After coming across this little foal who had obviously fallen between the slats of this bridge as he and his mother tried to cross, the situation wasn't looking good. This sweet baby could easily have broken a leg or worse. Luckily, this sweet stranger happened up on them and well, you can watch the rest.. 



Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist
www.petstudioart.com

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Monday, August 1, 2016

These Are My Babies Now...

Sometimes, you need a sweet video to chase away those Monday blues. This video has been circulating the web for a few years, but every single time I see it, it makes my heart swoon! 




Love animals? Order one of our adorable tote bags today and show off your furry and feathery love!
Whiskers the Cat Tote Bag.
$14.99 (Double-sided print featuring Whiskers, an adorable Tabby cat
saved by the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Six Cats in Bow Ties Looking for Homes...

It's hard to believe that any one of these adorable faces is still waiting to find a home of their own, but these dapper cats and kittens certainly don't want to be overlooked for even a moment longer. Each of these handsome gentlecats is looking for their forever home at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter in Georgetown, TX. Adopt your new best friend today!! 
Willie is a 2 month old, super cuddly and friendly kitten.
Nelson - you guessed it, is Willie's brother (get it - Willie Nelson) and would love to go to a home where he can play all day! 
William (no relation to Willie or Nelson) is a handsome 2 year old cat who came into the shelter with some health issues. Luckily, foster extraordinaire and my lovely friend, Sheryl took him in for a few weeks while he recovered. William is now ready for a home of his own. This handsome boy is a snuggle-fiend and enjoys the company of other cats. 
Shadow is one of the many little black kittens that sometimes get overlooked in shelters simply because an orange or more colorful patterned kitten may be sharing a kennel. Don't be fooled though, black kittens are the absolute best and in my experience (with my love-bug Jazz), they are the most loyal of all the colors! (Of course, there is no scientific evidence to back me up here). 
Jasper is another one of our adult male black cats that could use a home of his own. Jasper is one of those super confident cats that just need a safe and secure home to call his own. He isn't a huge lap-cat, but does seem to enjoy the company of humans and was thrilled to be brushed and loved on during his photo shoot. 
Twilight is another absolutely precious little black kitten looking for a home of his own. With our shelter exploding with kittens, this little guy is definitely in need of a loving home. 
If you are interested in fostering or adopting any of the cats at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter, visit their website at www.wilcopets.org. If you live too far but would like to help, you can also donate on their website or even better - look into your own local shelter or rescue organizations! Unfortunately, there are always cats and kittens in need of a loving home. Fortunately, there are amazing animal lovers out there that want to help! Go foster or adopt today and share your stories on my Facebook page

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist
www.petstudioart.com

Your cat can look this good too! Order a bow tie set from our Amazon shop here >>

Saturday, July 30, 2016

5 Hedgehogs you need to follow on Instagram

Order your very own Hedgehog tote!
click here .>>
Little prickly things are just fascinating, don't you think? Tiny cacti in pots, prickly pear margaritas and of course the best - Hedgehogs! From their tiny wiggly noses and teensy toes to their sharp, stabby fur that you are tempted to stroke as they mosey around in search of  a meal worm to snack on. Hedgehogs have become a popular pocket pet in recent years and it's really not hard to see why. 

These five Hedgies have taken adorable to the next level with their own Instagram accounts. From Calico, an adorable Hedgehog who goes out on adventures and snaps stunning photos to the Hedgehogs in Hats Instagram account where - you guessed it - a variety of adorable Hedgehogs dress up in their finest head wear, these adorable little creatures are sure to brighten up your Instagram feed. The tiny sombreros and birthday hats are almost too much to handle! 


@hedgehogmeeps seems to enjoy making new friends! 
@hedgehogswearinghats may be the best thing to hit the internet since cat videos. 
@pokeyozzie - Perhaps the most intellectual Hedgie I have ever seen! 
@mabel_the_hedgehog - look at how tiny she is in the grass. Too cute! 
@adventuresofcalico is full of color and absolutely stunning
photos of Calico the Hedgehog. 


Friday, July 29, 2016

The Piping Plovers...


Order your Piping Plover tote here >>
After arriving home from my studio today, I proudly proclaimed "I made a new Piping Plover tote design today" to which my husband replied with a very confused face. I immediately thought to myself, "How can anyone not know what a Piping Plover is?" Alas, my husband is probably in the majority of the world, as he informed me that most people are not quite as enthusiastic about sea birds as I am. 

Of course, this lead to a You Tube binge of all the Piping Plover videos I could find until I felt satisfied that Chris understood how adorable these little birds are. Pixar wouldn't have made their new short film (called Piper - it airs before Finding Dory) about a boring bird, right? 

Random Piping Plover Facts:
Piping Plovers feed on both freshwater and saltwater invertebrates that wash up on shore. You can often see these birds chasing the waves out to the ocean in hopes of finding a crunchy mollusk to dine on. Unfortunately, the overall population of Piping Plovers is rather low, with only a few thousand breeding pairs of Piping Plovers throughout the United States and southern Canada. Plovers breed nearly every year and hatch 3 - 4 eggs each season. They are equal opportunity birds and both the male and females of the couple will incubate the eggs for about a month until they hatch.  
So, are you now in love? If not, here is a video of a lovely mother and her adorable chicks!


Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art |  Owner | Artist
www.petstudioart.com

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pokemon Go Saves Lives!

There's a Clefairy on my shoulder! 

Growing up in the 90's, Pokemon was everything among my group of friends. Now, in 2016, as a 31 year old woman, I am ecstatic that I have an excuse to nerd-out over Pokemon Go. Happily, I spend my free time popping over to local parks to catch a few mystical creatures here and there. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same as I do and lately I have started to get a bit bummed out at the many negative comments regarding this game (mostly from the news stations that sensationalize events that barely relate to the game). I feel that most people who knock it simply have not yet tried the game or are too stubborn to admit that things they may not be into themselves are not all bad. Yes, there have been some reports of people losing all common sense to catch them all, but in the grand scheme of things, this game is adding a lot more good than bad into this world. 

Two nights ago, my husband and I walked over to a local park for our evening walk and now, we have added some Pokemon play into that routine. As we opened the app and headed onto the trail, we realized that dozens of couples and groups of friends were out doing the same. It wasn't long before the groups started interacting and sharing the locations of the wild Magmars and Squirtles. It sounds silly, but we had an amazing time talking with these neighbors who we may or may not see again. The game gave everyone in the park a sense of belonging and inclusion, isn't that one of the things everyone keeps saying we are missing this year? 


Little creatures are saved
after being abandoned in
a park in Houston. 
Of course, the walks and meeting neighbors is a great addition to our lives, but the game itself has helped save dozens of animals. Alongside the stories of people walking into trees, stories of people rescuing abandoned animals have been shared. I have seen and heard many stories of shelters embracing the trend and 'renting' out shelter dogs for Pokemon Go walks. 

Sara Perez and Matthew Teague are among the individuals who have shared their story* of rescuing 27 abandoned little creatures that they stumbled upon in a Houston park while playing Pokemon Go. After loading up the exhausted and sick animals, they reached out to a local Pokemon Go Facebook Group and have now found homes for a few of the rescued animals. 

Austin Animal Center's Pokeparty
(photo from AAC's Facebook)
Two weeks ago, the Austin Animal Center hosted a Pokemon Go Walk, inviting guests to visit the shelter, setting up lures at their Pokestops and offering discounted adoptions to those that snapped a photo of a pet with a Pokemon character. It was a successful day and even had a guest visitor join in on the fun. 

These stories are just a couple of the many, many great stories out there of people now being involved in walking dogs at their local  shelters or taking a moment to help a stray kitten while searching for Charmander (or, ironically, a Meowth).

While Pokemon may seem silly to some, it has added a lot of joy to many people's lives. With the stresses of this election season and the many terrible tragedies around the world, let's celebrate the good that is coming from this popular app. Celebrate the friendships that are being made and of course the many little lives that have been saved! 

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist
www.petstudioart.com 


As a silly joke, we started to make 'Adopt them All' Pokemon memes for our
adoptable pets at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter
*See story posted on The Dodo

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

When Your Horse Needs A Cuddle...

The bond between humans and animals can be incredible. This morning, I woke up to my sweet Holly pup snuggled up on my pillow, a rare thing for her as she usually likes her space. As soon as she saw my eyes open, I could hear and feel the flop, flop, flop of her tail happily hitting the bed, so excited that I was finally awake to play. This video reminded me of my silly girl's morning cuddles, just on a much, much larger scale! 



Order your Inca tote here >>
Share your love of horses off with our 'Inca the Horse' tote bag! Inca is a beautiful Quarter Horse who was saved after being abandoned on a farm when her former owners moved away. She was malnourished and barely able to stand when she was found. Luckily, a wonderful rescue took her in and she has now fully recovered. Inca enjoys long walks through the pasture and her best buddy is a handsome goat named Pepper. Each tote bag is hand-printed in our Austin, TX studio and every design you find on our website is 100% original artwork by Stephanie Conrad! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rescued Dog Takes His Love of Pizza to the Extreme....

Finn on the day he was rescued.
Photo from his Facebook page.
Pizza. It's just a happy word! It makes me think of the Ninja Turtles, late night dinners with friends and binge watching my favorite shows on the couch. Recently, we have started experimenting with different Vegan pizza recipes at home (try the Follow Your Heart brand vegan mozzarella - yum!). Of course, we try hard not to share with the pup, but occasionally, she will offer up those lovey puppy dog eyes and we just can't resist. Holly likes Pizza, especially when it comes from our plates, but Finn takes his love of pizza to a whole new level!


Finn was rescued after spending the majority of his life at the end of a heavy chain. He was one of 367 dogs rescued by the ASPCA during the largest dog fighting operation bust in the country. After being released to a rescue group called Plenty of Pit Bulls, Finn experienced love and care for the first time. Now, as you can see, he welcomes fun adventures and is making the best of life. 

We just love you Finn and can't wait to see more adorable videos as you continue on your new happy journey experiencing the best that life has to offer! 



Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Artist | Owner
www.petstudioart.com

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Painting Live on Facebook

It's rare that I put myself out there (although, I want to do it more often) and paint live on camera. Yesterday, I decided to do a little live session on Facebook to showcase one of my latest paintings that will be going out for an exhibit in a few months. This piece is full of color and whimsy, not exactly my typical style, but it was a fun experience to paint in front of a [digital] crowd!

To order a painting of your own pet, visit www.petstudioart.com



Monday, June 27, 2016

New Foster Babies!

As the last few weeks have moved past, my heart has slowly started to heal after losing my senior puppy, Cody last month. The pain is still very real in our house, as Holly still avoids Cody's favorite spots (although she does spend a good amount of time looking into 'his room' with a sad expression). It has been an emotional roller coaster, two months ago, we moved from our first little home into a beautiful new house. We are still settling in and at times, it feels like we are on vacation from our real lives due to all the major changes we have had happen this year.

After thinking about our loss and ways to honor Cody's memory, I made the decision today to bring home a new little litter of foster kittens. We chose an older litter, so they will be with us for about 4 weeks. We are absolutely in love and I know that this little family is going to help lift my spirits.

Meet the babies (we have not yet named them)!



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Goodbye, my Love.

For the last 13 years, Cody, the sweetest, fluffy little terrier mix, has stood faithfully by my side. 

Last week, we said goodbye to my little senior guy. I picked up his ashes today, which was harder than I would have ever guessed it could be. Seeing the little brown box sitting in my passenger seat tore into me and opened the wound that has been sitting in my heart for the last few days even wider. Knowing that I will never see his big brown eyes or hear him letting out the teeniest woofs in his sleep is almost unbearable. 

As I look at his ashes, I think of the ways in which we are going to remember our little guy. We have decided to have a friend who blows glass create a glass bird bath and mix his ashes into the glass as it is made. He loved to chase the birds in our yard. I am either giving him a final resting place in the yard he loved or forever tormenting his soul with the many birds that will enjoy our garden. 


With as many pets as I have had in my life, I have never had to make the final decision for them. It is heartbreaking and guilt-inducing (yes, I know it was the best decision for him, but that doesn't make it any easier). The final moment, his final breath will forever be imprinted in my memory. His tiny little nose, his long nails that we could never get under control as they were far too long when we brought him in to live with us, his funny little mohawk that turned grey as he grew older...

We spent his last days enjoying ice cream, 
Taco Deli tacos and of course, lots of snuggles. After 13+ years together, it feels surreal to look down and not see him by my side. 

Rest in peace, sweet Cody. My heart has broken a million times this week. 




Thursday, May 5, 2016

Moving with Pets...

Why are all my toys in a box?? What's happening??
As we closed on our new home last month, my husband and I were beyond excited and looking forward to moving into our big beautiful new place. As we started packing, we worked hard to reassure our pets that things were going to be okay and that they too, should feel excited. Of course, our current house has been their home for the last 10 years, well 7 for Holly and we knew that the adjustment period would be difficult, especially for my sweet anxious girl. Holly came to us after being tossed (literally out of a truck) onto the side of a busy road in Georgetown, TX. Luckily for her, a sweet lady stopped and scooped her up, along with her littermates and brought them into a local shelter for care. Holly soon found her way to me and despite her sometimes crazy anxious behavior, we love her dearly. 

Our pets rely on us for leadership and knowing this, we began the process of adjusting them to their new home several weeks before we officially moved. Personally, I was mostly worried about my cats and spent hours researching moving ideas and tips from behavior specialists, reading blogs and prepping toys and beds with scents to ease their anxiety. I set up new cat scratchers around our current home two weeks prior to our move so the kitties could cover them in their scent and even toted the smelly old litterbox to the new home rather than purchasing a new one for the cats. Either my hard work paid off, or the cats just didn't care (I have a suspicion it was the latter), but the cats - to my surprise - adjusted immediately. We confined them to our master bathroom in the new house, but in a matter of 6 hours or so, they had managed to escape and were happily exploring the house. Stairs were a new concept to our little fluffies, so they have been especially excited to run up and down them during the day. 

"If we fits, we sits!"
The dogs, on the other hand, were a bit tougher and are still, even a week later, working to adjust to their new surroundings. They are slowly starting to feel at home, Cody, our senior guy has found his favorite little nook in my office and Holly is more than happy to stretch out on our bed. With time, I know our pups will find themselves very comfortable here. We are slowly working to introduce the pups to the new pool. Holly, I know, will one day love swimming. Cody, our senior guy, is avidly avoiding the pool, which makes me extremely happy. Unfortunately, over the next few weeks, he is going to be MAD as I introduce him to the pool to insure he knows how to find his way to the steps on the off-chance he falls in one day. (Don't worry, our pups are supervised when outside). 

As we have learned, moving with four pets can be a challenge, but never in a million years would I consider leaving my pets behind because of a move. They are our little furry family members. :-) 

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist
www.petstudioart.com 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Unicorns make wonderful pets!

Have you ever wondered what a shelter dog dreams of becoming? Well, we asked a few of them and guess what, they wanted to become a unicorn! 

.... okay fine, maybe they didn't actually tell us in so many words, but once we brought out the costumes, they were 100% game!

Meet the unicorns of the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter:

ELLIE
Ellie is an adorable little terrier mix. Based on our time together, I might guess that she has a little bull terrier in her. She is a gem of a dog, loving, happy and very well mannered. Ellie is about a year old, spayed and ready to go to her forever home.

HANNA
Hanna is just precious! This sweet 3 year old pit bull mix is just as charming as she is cute. By the end of our photo shoot, I was covered in sweet kisses and absolutely in love. Hanna was surrendered to our shelter after her former owner felt he could no longer care for her. She is reported to be great with cats and seems to love every person she meets! 

PRINCESS
Princess fits her name well. This little Diva is just over 1 year old and is very energetic! She loved all the attention she got today while having her photo shoot! Princess is looking for her prince charming and would love a family that can offer her long walks (they don't have to be on the beach) and plenty of snuggles! 

Of course, we always want our adoptable pets to find amazing families, and sometimes, it takes a crazy photo shoot to get them noticed. If you or someone you know is looking to adopt a magical dog of their own, please visit (or encourage a visit) your local shelter to find the perfect pet! If you live in the Austin, TX area and are interested in learning more about Ellie, Hanna or Princess, visit www.wilcopets.org to learn about adopting these charming pups!

Order a Unicorn Kitten tote!
This photo shoot would not have been complete without the amazing unicorn horns from Brooklyn Owl! Last month, I reached out to Annie (owner of Brooklyn Owl) to let her know that I had a unicorn photo shoot in mind and she was incredibly generous in gifting these amazing unicorn horns to help the pups get noticed and find their forever homes. We cannot wait to continue using them and to promote more unicorn pups in the future! Thank you Annie!!

If you would like to offer your pup the opportunity to become a unicorn, visit www.brooklynowl.com and order a horn of your own. Please be sure to let Annie know that Pet Studio Art referred you! 
Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art |  Owner | Artist
www.petstudioart.com

Pretty Girl was not so thrilled. 
Princess
Hanna
Of course, every photo shoot needs a few bloopers (or in Ellie's case poopers).

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

4 Meat-Free Party Recipes to Try Immediately!

As promised yesterday, I spent some time this morning deciding on my favorite Veggie recipes, but truthfully, Pinterest (see my boards) has made that nearly impossible with so m any amazing options out there. I definitely have a few go-to recipes for having friends over, so I thought I would make it a themed post and share my top 7 recipes for a friendly gathering.

My home is meat-free, which can present a challenge when having carnivorous friends stop by for a visit. I hope by now that they all know the options for dinner will be delicious, but I definitely remember a few flops in the past where I knew my friends would be enjoying a McDonalds stop on the way home. A true Veggie-Dinner Fail.

A few helpful tips:
  • Don't try to learn to cook amazing veggie meals quickly. It takes time to transition from cooking chicken to incorporating those same textures into a Veggie kitchen. Until 6 years ago, I lived on meat, so when it came to cooking, that's all I knew. 
  • Not everyone loves Tofu. It took me years to develop a taste for Tofu - why should I expect my friends to love it immediately? I try hard to cook the basics for friends and stick to the dishes they know and love already.
  • Vegan items are everywhere in the grocery store! From pasta sauces to some  Kraft dressings. It may take a little longer on your first trip, but once you find those staples, it's easy to keep a mental note and go back for more!  
  • Don't try to trick your friends and family into eating Meat-Free. It never works and they will just avoid coming by in the future. I don't want to be tricked into eating meat, so I don't think it's fair to trick friends into being Meat-Free. What I do offer is a quick rundown of what the meal will be and when in doubt, make a veggie pizza! 
SALSA
My favorite go-to friend dish is a homemade salsa. It's easy to make, tastes incredibly fresh and you can pair it with some Heidi-Ho Vegan Cheese dip as a tasty duo. You can serve salsa with chips or veggies - I like to dip carrots in salsa, so I always keep carrots around the house. 
  1. 4 medium sized tomatoes
  2. 1/4 cup diced sweet onion
  3. 1/8 cup chopped cilantro leaves
    Use less if you are not a cilantro fan
  4. 1/2 chopped jalepeno
  5. 1/4 red bell pepper chopped
  6. Juice from 1/2 lime
    Add the other 1/2 later if desired
  7. 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  8. 1 small garlic clove
Add everything except the tomatoes to your food processor, chop for a few moments, then add your tomatoes. Chop tomatoes until you have your desired constancy. I like a creamier salsa, so I leave mine in the food processor for a bit longer than most. Refrigerate for a few hours, then enjoy!

PIZZA
You absolutely cannot go wrong by serving pizza at a dinner party. It may not be the most elegant choice, but who doesn't love pizza? I will take a moment to brag on my pizza dough - it is incredibly easy and OMG so delicious. I sometimes turn my dough into breadsticks because it's so tasty on it's own. 

Dough Recipe
  1. 2 cups organic vegan all purpose flour 
    The vegan pizza I baked this weekend. 
  2. 1 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt (I love the flavor of the pink salt)
  3. 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  4. 1 tablespoon dried basil - chopped
  5. Mix dry ingredients, then add water 1/2 cup at a time until you have a nice firm dough - I usually end up using close to 1 cup water in the end, but it can vary based on your flour type. 
  6. Roll your dough out to your desired size - keep in mind it will shrink around and rise in the middle a small amount.
  7. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, turning around the 12 minute mark. Dough should be slightly crispy and thoroughly cooked when removed from oven.
Add your favorite toppings! I use Daiya vegan Mozzarella shreds and store bought vegan marinara sauce. While my crust is baking, I caramelize some sweet onion with vegan butter. Once my onions are caramelized, I add some bell peppers, pepperuccini and mushrooms to the mix and let them simmer with the onions until the crust is done, then arrange my toppings on top. Bake for another 12 - 15 minutes, with a 1 minute low broil at the end to crisp everything up. Serve and enjoy!

TACOS
I live in Austin, which may be known as the live music capital of the world, but we are also known for our amazing tacos! Every vegetarian can tell you that tacos quickly become a staple to our diets because of the versatility and how easy tacos are to make. I like to make my own tortillas at home, of course, you can browse for vegan tortilla options - it's a bit hard to find them in the average grocery store though. Plus, when making tortillas is this easy, who needs to buy them?

Tortilla recipe:
3 cups organic vegan all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (again, I use the Himalayan pink salt)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water

Mix ingredients until a nice firm dough appears, pull off golfball sized chucks. On a floured surface use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. You need to get them REALLY flat. 

Heat your pan to high - once pan is hot, toss on a tortilla. These cook fast - time can vary based on thickness, so turn them frequently. It usually takes around 1 minute per tortilla. Once the little brown warm spots appear, your tortillas are done! 

Toppings: 
Use some homemade salsa (see above), Avocado - lots of avocado, Caramelized onions and bell peppers, Beans - so many beans, Heidi-Ho creamy chia cheese is perfect for tacos
SPICY CAULIFLOWER BUFFALO BITES
These buffalo bites were among one of the first veggie recipes that made me feel like I really could give up meat for good. You can also make this recipe with chickpeas. Since I put my buffalo bites on top of a salad, the chickpeas work really well as a substitute. If you want to just enjoy the bites, I would stick with the cauliflower or sub for broccoli simply for the size and crunch. 

Recipe
Photo credit goodinnermom.com
  1. 1 large head of cauliflower cut into tiny trees
  2. 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  3. 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  4. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. 3/4 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
  7. 1 large ziploc bag
Mix cauliflower, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil together in the bag until all are thoroughly coated. Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan and bake at 450 for 15 minutes. 

In a large mixing bowl, add hot sauce and butter, heat for a few seconds in microwave to melt butter. After the cauliflower has baked for 15 minutes, add to the bowl of hot sauce and toss cauliflower until all florets are covered. Arrange in a single later again and bake for an additional 5 - 7 minutes. Serve with your favorite dressing!

An easy ranch dressing: 
1 cup Veganaise or Just Mayo (both Vegan)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 packet dry ranch
1/4 cup unflavored soy milk
Mix all ingredients together, adding more soy milk for a more liquid ranch. Enjoy!

Being meat-free does not just mean salad, salad, salad - although I do really enjoy salads and eat them often. Being meat-free has opened me up to eating things I would have never given a chance before. I love eggplant - I didn't even know what an eggplant was before going meat-free. I love cauliflower, also an alien vegetable throughout my young life. 

Try something new this week and if you give any of my go-to recipes a try, let me know what you think!

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist
www.petstudioart.com

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Monday, April 11, 2016

PETA Talks About the D..

PETA talks about the D, but fails to recognize that they are the real dicks here. 

I don't eat or harm animals, but I also don't support PETA. I have a huge problem with misreporting and hype just to promote an agenda.

PETA claims that eating chicken can
make your kid's dick small. 
PETA is an organization that has murdered thousands of animals in their Virginia 'shelter' (in fact, the numbers reported each year regularly show that they kill 78% - 95% of the domestic pets they get their hands on). 

Their latest shock ad claims that eating chicken while pregnant directly correlates with the penis size of your child. I had a laughing WTF moment when I first saw this and immediately thought it was an article from The Onion. When I realized that this was indeed a real article by the crazies who run the PETA marketing, I had to look into it a little more. The study in which PETA obtained their information is incredibly boring, but if you would like to read it for yourself, see here. Basically, what it comes down to is this: the study found that with a huge intake of phthalates, which are chemicals found in paint - and also chicken skin, some penises had a girth decrease of 0.0003cm and a length decrease of 0.059cm. Pretty irrelevant to me, and is an especially ridiculous reach because the study doesn't even mention poultry. Plus, the last time I checked, we measure the D in inches not centimeters. If you are worried about a fraction of a cm, I think there is a different issue going on in your bedroom.
Does size matter? 

In 2012, I personally fostered and adopted out more animals than an organization that took in close to $30 million in donations. Something is definitely wrong there. 

PETA has been caught dumping the bodies of healthy animals - including a mother cat and her kittens and healthy puppies (my heart breaks every time I think of it). Some of these animals were identified by a Veterinarian's office as animals that PETA picked up and promised to find loving homes for. It was discovered soon after that PETA employees had murdered (although, they will call it euthanized) those animals in their van and dumped the bodies before they ever arrived to the shelter. These animals were never input into their system, therefore their statistics were not accounted for. How many more animals were silently murdered in a van by this so-called 'animal rights' organization? 

Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA has been quoted as saying, "The animals… got the gift of euthanasia, and to them it was the best gift they’ve ever had. How dare you pretend to help animals and turn your back on those who want an exit from an uncaring world!" 


In October of 2014, PETA employees were caught on camera luring a little girl's pet Chihuahua (named Maya) from her front porch. Maya was a healthy, friendly dog and they killed her less than 24 hours later. 

PETA claims they euthanize animals because they are unwanted - I guarantee Maya's owners wanted her - in fact, they sued PETA later because of the trauma the whole ordeal caused their family. I can also guarantee that finding a home for a 6 month old Dalmatian puppy (one of the animals that was tossed in the dumpster) would not be hard at all. These two dogs are just examples of the countless, wonderful animals PETA has killed. 


What can you do? Don't support PETA - it's as simple as that. Don't fall for the lies. Don't join in and sing their praises because they 'Do so much good for promoting Veganism and stopping the slaughter of farm animals". Do that yourself by choosing to eat meat-free yourself and encourage your friends to do the same. Send your donations and offer your support to small, local rescues and shelters. Support organizations like Farm Sanctuary, who promote a Vegan lifestyle, but back it up by saving the lives of animals. If you don't know where to start - I am happy to offer some suggestions on amazing charities that could use some love!  So, is it okay to eat chicken? I don't think so. I am a firm believer that you can live a happy life without harming animals for food. I love chickens, they are beautiful, intelligent little creatures that do not deserve to die for a meal. I do hate liars, though, and feel that compassion for animals is a choice that one should make because they care for other beings on this earth, not because they are bullied by fear. I have many friends that eat meat and that is their choice. I do love when people have an open mind and heart and choose Tofu protein over Chicken. Tomorrow, I will share some of my favorite meat-free recipes in hopes that my meat-eating supporters will choose a veggie meal this week! No bullying, just delicious, tasty plant-based food!


Stephanie Conrad

Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist www.petstudioart.com Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Learn more at www.whypetaeuthanizes.org
No chickens were harmed in the making of
our Chicken tote - in fact, Rachel, the chicken
featured was a rescued hen who lives her life
with a lovely flock of her own!
Order your Rachel the Chicken tote here >>