soy bacon

Kosher

Happy Hanukkah peeps! 

I’m actually a gentile myself, but the hospital I used to work at in NYC was a Jewish hospital, so I’m totally down with Judaism. 

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Lightlife’s Smart Bacon is both vegan and kosher, FYI.  Just sayin’

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It’s also salty as all hell, which is not great for blood pressure, but makes for one tasty a$$ dish.  Bad cardiac nurse.  Shhh…don’t tell on me. 

The idea for this dish came while I was home last weekend browsing through my mom’s Bon Appétit mag.  There was a bacon and brussel sprouts dish that caught my eye and I knew immediately I had to veganize it asap once back in LA. 

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In typical Elise fashion, I had already prepped roasted veggies and quinoa in anticipation of the work week. 

Also in typical Elise fashion, I made some changes to the recipe (ok, I basically revamped the entire dish). 

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Remember how I raved about how this restaurant cooked their quinoa?  Well, I finally tried my hand at stir frying the cute ‘lil grains to recreate the crunchy crispy texture. 

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After a bit of sizzling went down, I tossed in the roasted brussels

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Snap, crackle, pop. 

The bronzed bacon looks pretty beautiful, and that’s coming from someone who has zero interest in pig. 

At the very end I added the butternut squash and Bragg’s liquid aminos.

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All warmed up and plated (aka ready to be devoured).  I.Could.Die. 

Holy [bleep] this was good.  Pretty sure I could eat this same thing for all 8 days of Hanukkah. 

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In case you missed that, here’s a little zoom zoom action. 

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Lunch dessert gave me a boost and next thing I knew I was out the door.  I ran for 35 minutes – no idea how far I went.  It felt good though, and it’s the longest run I’ve done in a while (sad but true).  The fact is, my average daily mileage has dwindled now that I’m running outside (as opposed to running on a treadmill).  It’s way better, but makes me wonder about my stamina for potential future races.  While I’m not signed up for anything currently, I can’t help but feel like I’d probably need more preparation to get in shape.  Maybe not.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that previously I could’ve run 6-10 miles on any given day without thinking twice about it.  Now.  Well, I honestly can’t remember the last time I logged more than 4 miles.  Whatever. 

In any event, I came back, showered, and got ready for my first night shift. Thank you to everyone who left helpful tips, it was really nice to have insight from PM pros. 

I didn’t leave my man high and dry for the week, though. 

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I made a lasagna for Kyle to remember me by…haha.  Of course I’m kidding, but it is SO weird being on an opposite schedule as he is.  We don’t even see each other!

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I used TJ’s no boil noodles which were a welcome break from the usual lasagna noodles that you have to cook first.  These are definitely easier.  I haven’t talked to Kyle to see how it tasted, but there’s a big chunk missing, so I’m guessing he was ok with it.  😉

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For my packed eats, I brought along a couple slices of my favorite bread and other fiberrrrific snacks.

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Alvarado Street sprouted whole wheat bread…also known as God’s gift to carb lovers.  I feel ok using the Lord’s name in vain, given the fact that the bread is actually made with the essential ingredients as listed in Ezekiel Verse 4:9 in the Old Testament.  This post is getting awfully preachy.  Oy! 

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So yeah, given that my (unpictured) first dinner was a bowl of cereal, I packed a more complete and wholesome second dinner for work.

Baby carrots, 2 slices of Alvarado Street sprouted bread, and an apple all to go with vegan faux “tuna” salad

This bread literally keeps me held over for-eh-ver.  I had one slice with the “tuna” salad at midnight and wasn’t hungry again ‘til 4 am.  The second slice did the trick again and kept me sated until I was off work in the early morning. 

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I also had several tea bags on hand for various degrees of caffeination needs. 

How’d the night go?  Welllll…it was weird at first.  But, whatever.  I survived.  Although I’ve currently been awake for 28 hours and I’m not remotely tired AND I have 6 hours until my next night shift starts.  Not good my friends.  Not good. 

It may be due to this. 

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Venti soy misto with an extra espresso shot.

That’s a mouthful of a drink order.  Maybe I should sign off now and crawl into bed.  Goodnight?

Peas and Andrea

Reasons I love Portland:

1. Starbucks

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2. Gardens and greenery galore

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3.  Peas and Andrea!

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Obviously this was the highlight of my visit to Portland (aka the only reason we stopped on our drive up to Kyle’s parents’ house in WA).

You see, these ladies hold a very special place in my heart.  Care to Eat was actually the VERY FIRST food blog I read.  I fell in love with Erin and Andrea after just one post.  And then once I discovered the (since dissolved) blog of the sarcastic and witty Mama Pea, I knew I had to join the blog world…if for no other reason than to one day meet these people that I stalk on the internet know way too much about.

Mission accomplished.

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We met at Vita Cafe, a vegetarian/vegan (and child) friendly restaurant, and for the first time in my life I asked for kids menus.  Good thing Gigi and Lulu claimed the crayons because I was eyeing them, too.

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Also for the first time in my life, the menu was my second priority.  I was hardly paying attention to what I was going to order because of the great company!  Our poor waitress wasn’t very pleased, but she rolled with it.  With these cute faces staring up at you, how could you not?

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And let me just say, these girls know how to hold a pose until you are camera ready.

While they enjoyed their berry smoothies, I tried to keep my language G-rated as I chatted with the grown ups.

And then our meals arrived.  I ordered the SUPERGRAIN SALAD.

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It had black and white quinoa, tempeh bacon crumbles, red peppers, currants, pumpkin seeds and guacamole with carrot ginger dressing.

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After my salad at Blossoming Lotus, the bar was set pretty impossibly high, so I’ll try not to hold it up to such insane standards.  I don’t know that anything will top yesterday’s Green Goddess dinner.  This one was definitely good, though I could probably think of a few ways to improve it.  The dressing was pretty tasty, so I wish it hadn’t been served to me on the side, I like it when my salads come pre-tossed (provided they aren’t soggy from too much dressing).  Also, I take issue when big salads are served on plates so you can’t cut it or move anything without stuff falling off the plate.  Either give it to me in a bowl, pre-toss/cut everything, or serve it on a massive platter because I want it all, and I feel gypped when half ends up on the table around my plate.  There were also only a few bacon pieces (I actually think there were exactly three), which wasn’t quite enough for my liking.  And a little more avocado wouldn’t hurt either, if I’m being picky.

But aside from those few deets, the flavors were great.  The combo of the pumpkin seeds and the currants and quinoa was something I will definitely reproduce.  Tres yum.

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Kyle got the SEITAN CHEESE STEAK, which was sliced seitan with sautéed peppers, onions, mushrooms and real pepper jack cheese served on a baguette.

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It came with a house salad topped with the basil vinaigrette dressing (which he chose).

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It looked deceptively meat-like, and I think he really liked it too.

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I wish we didn’t have to get back on the road right after, but sadly, the I-5 waits for no man…and we still had 5 hours left until our final destination.

At least I had Gigi’s fine artwork to entertain me on the ride up north.  I really don’t want to get back in a car for a very long time.

Thank you everyone who made Portland restaurant recs!!  We are now in upstate Washington (slash Canada), but we will be doing the reverse drive in a few weeks so I will keep them all in mind.  And now I’m off to play with my (future) nieces.

Dinner at Blossom

As promised, here is a more thorough recap of the first dinner with my parents.

I like taking non-vegans to Blossom because the menu is impressive for vegans and non-vegans alike.  They have interesting dishes that showcase a variety of non-meat “proteins” including seitan, tempeh, and tofu, as well as a few raw options and yet they aren’t presented in an ostentatious way.  I love when restaurants have diversity in their menus without an air of arrogance about them.  Unassuming and delicious. 

It took no time for us all to find something on the menu that we couldn’t wait to try. 

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We started with the Black-eyed Pea Cake appetizer: a crispy cake of yukon gold potatoes and black eyed peas, served with chipotle aioli.  They were soft and warm on the inside with the perfect crispy top.  And even the tiniest drizzle of sauce made the bite pop in my mouth. 

Then my mom and I split the Butternut Squash soup

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I’ve had this before, so I knew exactly what to expect.  Delish.  The texture was thick but still light.  My favorite bites were the croutons soaked with soup.  Mmmm…

And since we were coming from The Plaza’s Oak Room & Bar we had to keep the wine flowing…

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After we finished our starters, my dad’s Field Greens salad arrived.  I’m pretty sure he thought this was going to be a small started salad.  Yeah, not so much…

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This salad had mixed greens tossed with candied walnuts, tofu croutons,
and grilled pears in a shallot vinaigrette. 
Clearly this salad was meant to be an entree, so my dad solicited our help with it…otherwise he wouldn’t have had room for his main course (no objections here!).

Finally it was time for my entree. 

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I love seitan!!  I ordered the Lemon Peppercorn Seitan served with sautéed spinach & a black olive-Yukon Gold potato cake, over truffle cream.  It was plate-licking good.  I was never a big fan of white creamy foods before I discovered I was lactose intolerant, but this “truffle cream” sauce was out-of-control tasty. 

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I literally cleaned my plate.  There was not an ounce of sauce left when I was done with it.

My mom ordered the (raw) Zucchini Linguini with almond pesto, cherry tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, kalamata olives, and v-parmesan cheese. 

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I was SO excited for my mom to try a raw dish, and she loved it.  She has been a vegetarian for a majority of her life (even back when going veg wasn’t as accepted), so she’s had some experience with trying to get others on board with different dietary preferences.  I love my hippie parents, and how flexible they are with accommodating my veganism, but her willingness to try a raw dish just shows you how awesome she is.  She let me take home her leftovers too, which came in handy when I was making my work lunch for Monday.

Kyle ordered the Soy Bacon Cheeseburger with caramelized onions, soy cheese, soy bacon, mushrooms, lettuce and tomato with chipotle aioli.

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He cleared his plate, naturally. 

Like my mom, my dad was equally as adventurous with his order, and got the Moroccan Glazed Tempeh with glazed tempeh in an eggplant-chickpea stew with red bell peppers and sweet potato topped with a creamy fennel-black olive relish. 

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I had a bite, and I will most definitely order it next time.  Tastayyy.  My dad enjoyed it too, and it is gluten free if anyone is wondering. 

Even after all those starters and entrees, we still HAD to try their desserts.  Had to.  No ifs, ands, or buts.

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We grabbed the very last slice of this vegan double chocolate cake.  Holy YUM indeed. 

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We also had a trio of soy ice cream with chocolate, strawberry, and cookie dough.  I wasn’t overly impressed with these.  They were good, but I’ve had other vegan ice creams that were creamier and more “ice cream” like (such as coconut based frozen treats).

As usual, Blossom did not disappoint in providing a simply wonderful dinner that satisfied my vegan appetite as well as my non-vegan family’s.  I am so lucky this place is so close by.  I would go everyday if I could afford it.

The big five

Finally a day off of work [insert sigh of relief]!  And a Friday to boot (what an odd phrase).  Today was soopah busy and I was playing catch up all day long.  Naturally, I fueled myself with a large dose of caffeine to get my butt moving.

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I got 99 problems errands but a meal ‘aint one.

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After my first round of rain-filled errands my tummy was begging for more fruit.  You ask and you shall receive!

Later, I was craving the most bizarre (read highly processed) things for lunch.

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Bacon and cheese?  Errr…not quite.  LightLife’s Smart Bacon and Vegan Rella’s cheddar “cheese” on Dave’s Killer Bread seemed like an appropriate compromise. 

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This meal probably satisfied my sodium intake for the week, but what the hell, it was good and happened to be what I was in the mood for. 

I went to the gym between more errands, and managed to eke out 9 miles of cardio.  Nice work Elise.  Operation look-hot-in-a-wedding-dress is officially under way!

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After the gym I turned to a new friend named Jay Robb. 

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I know there was a phase when Mr. Robb was HUGE in the blog world (ahem, Ms. LovinMyTummy), so I’m a bit late to jump on the bandwagon, but I’m glad I did.  Don’t be tardy for the party, right?  Well, better late than never.

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Chocolate?  Check

Protein? Check

Tasty?  Check.  Check.

I added frozen banana slices, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, and a few drops of NuNaturals Stevia vanilla extractOhhhh sh!t this was good 🙂

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Pre-dinner snackage included apple slices and more VeganRella cheddar slices. 

I kept it light, since I didn’t wanna ruin my appetite for the most amazing anniversary dinner in the world (aka Pure Food & Wine).

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We had some Pinot to cheers 5 spectacular years together (and our –1 year wedding anniversary).

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To start, we split the Asparagus Sushi Rolls with Mirin Soaked Forest Mushrooms, avocado, red peppers, and scallions.  YUM!

Then for dinner, Kyle got the Thai Coconut Noodles in Galangal Red Coconut Currym which was made with mung bean shoots, heirloom carrot, saffron oil, and thai basil. 

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He said the sauce was great, but he liked my dish better.  Speaking of…

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I got the White Corn Tamales with Raw Cacao Mole with marinated mushrooms, salsa verde, and avocado.

Kind of an avocado themed night, huh?

These were SO amazing.  I practically scraped the insides clean with my tongue, after my fork had done it’s part.  It’s hard to see on the plate, but the sour cream concoction on the upper right was so freaking awesome.  The mole on the side was a bit too chocolate-y/bitter for my taste, but it was easy to avoid. 

Naturally, we couldn’t leave without dessert (as per VeggieGirl’s rules – or anyone who has ever tried Pure’s dessert).

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Are you kidding me!?!

Allow me to introduce the trio of Dark Chocolate Coated Indian Spiced Ice Cream Treats, which included a chocolate cardamom coconut ice cream cone, a pistachio gelato ice cream sandwich, and a chai tea creamsicle.  Holy YUM!  I tried each one, and each was better than the one before!! 

Kyle and I agreed the chai tea creamsicle (far right) was the best.

I have another big weekend ahead of me, including my (middle) sister visiting, The Upwelling concert, and the US Open.  Wahoo!!!

Drench our hair, but don’t dampen our spirits

You know how visitors make you a tourist in your own city?  Well, I had an absolute ball of a time in NYC while my baby sis, Marie, was in town.

The weather wasn’t too cooperative, but we made do. 

After our late Thursday night out on the town, we slept in a bit (well, it was sleeping in for me…Marie, not so much).  While Kyle was at work, Marie and I shopped it up in SoHo, then stopped for a mid-day snack at Dean & Deluca

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All the fresh, colorful produce just makes me so happy :)  I also did some flower shopping for me and my bridesmaids’ bouquets.  These are my favorites.  Thoughts?

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            Freesia.                  Star of Bethlehem.                    Lilies.

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            White Hydrangeas.                                         Calla Lilies.

Kyle joined up with us and then we all made our way to Whole Foods for a late lunch.

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I got in trouble taking these photos (I’m SUCH a rebel)!  But the sheer size of the prepared food section made me giddy, so I just had to capture it on film. 

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Up in hurrr: Spinach, broccoli, ginger-curried carrots (yum!!), bell pepper/edamame salad, massive blob of HUMM-daddy, quinoa cake (OMG, so good!!)

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I really need to figure out how to reproduce the above deliciousness.  The quinoa cake tasted like a veggie patty jam-packed with carrots, quinoa, spinach, and lord knows what else.  There may have been more oil than I care for (why does WF always do that?), but all I know is I didn’t want the meal to end.  T-t-t-tasty!

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I gulped down this blue green white tea.  It was nothing special, but tasted especially refreshing given the fact that it was 600 degrees outside (air conditioning may be one of the best inventions on the planet, btw).  Once my rehydration efforts were in check, we set back out.  Pretty sure we covered all of Manhattan on foot.  The proof is in the pudding my lighter wallet.

I passed some hot spots that I was way too full to consider stopping into (Liquiteria, Babycakes, Stogo, Bonobos).  I showed Marie where I work, then we headed west to Union Square to continue our shopping along Fifth Ave.

And then the rain storm hit.  [Insert sprint for shelter]

After drying off back home, we grubbed, showered, and blasted some tunes while getting ready for another night out.  Who knows WHY we bothered straightening our locks when the drizzle/humidity nearly guaranteed the inevitable afro? 

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Again with the double fisting!  Geez, Elise…

We got home late, and there was s’rrrious late night snack-age.  I wish it didn’t happen, but what can I say?  Drankface brings out snackface.  How much do you wish the phrase “if you don’t remember it, it didn’t happen” were true?!?

Whatever. 

Saturday morning afternoon, Kyle and I rolled out of bed to make a very necessary Starbucks run, while Marie continued her REM.  It seems as though we finally made our way out the door just in time for the thunder and lightning. 

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So it was a stormy and wet stroll through the park…but look how green and LUSH!  We couldn’t help but take a million and one photos.

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Marie played with the camera settings and this winning photo was born.  For lunch we stopped at Chop’t, a midtown salad joint. 

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I made a salad with asian flavored grilled tofu, jicima, avocado, mango, edamame, and carrots with dressing on the side.  Then they hacked away with the knives.  The blurrr is the chopping of the knives.

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They also threw some wheat tortillas on top which I ripped up and stirred into the salad.

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My only complaint about the salad was the ratio of lettuce to toppings.  Salad connoisseur that I am, I prefer several toppings in each and every bite, and there was WAY too much spinach in this.  But I guess that’s a pretty minimal issue to have in the grand scheme of things.

About twenty stores, thirty openings/closings of the umbrella, and one Starbucks trip later, we decided to see The Time Traveler’s Wife.  I was the only one of our trio who had read the book, so I grabbed several napkins on the way in.  Good thinkin’ for sure.  I’m not going to give anything else away – just know, I really liked it.

Dinner was a weather induced (aka SUPER lazy) meal.  We stopped at the local health food store on the way home for some prepared (vegan) eats.

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I made a burger piled high with (soy) bacon, Gary Null’s veggie burger, hummus, and sprouts on a whole wheat English Muffin. 

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I couldn’t deny myself a handful of baby carrots on the side, which CLEARLY took a plunge in the tub of hummus…as did the salt & pepper POP chips.  This flavor was not as good as the BBQ or the original, but still did it’s job got the hummus to my mouth.  😀

After dinner we hit up Metro Diner for a late night sundae. 

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Ok, it was actually just shared by Marie and Kyle.  That much dairy would likely reek havoc on my poor decrepit GI system.  But dayam did it look good!

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Quite a fun filled Friday/Saturday, huh?  Sunday was even better…just you wait!

 

FYI: The Upwelling hotties are releasing their cd “An American Stranger” TOMORROW, and they are having a show on 8/29 at the Mercury Lounge.  And in case you live under a rock, this is lilveggiepatch’s main squeeze we’re talking about here.  I’m definitely going to the release party next weekend, so I hope to see some other peeps there too!