Back in the USA

IMG_7932It’s been a little more than two weeks since we arrived back in the USA. We have spent the time reconnecting with family and friends, relaxing in nature, and trying to readjust to all of the little things that make the United States unique. The reality that we aren’t simply on vacation, soon to return to our home in Latvia, is starting to set in… not necessarily in a bad way; rather, in a time-to-move-on kind of way. We’ve recovered from our jetlag, and hearing English spoken all around us has started to feel familiar once again.  Continue reading →

Living on Plants in Riga

IMG_7834When M. and I made the decision to transition to a vegan lifestyle nearly two years ago, I was initially concerned that making such a huge change would be extremely challenging, particularly considering that we were living in Riga, Latvia, where meat and dairy make up the centerpieces (and sides) of most meals. I wasn’t sure quite where to begin, especially when it came to dining out, but it didn’t take long for us to figure out how to make fantastic plant-based meals, where to shop for vegan ingredients and other products, and which restaurants offer the best plant-based dining experiences. For a long while now, I’ve wanted to put together a little “being vegan in Riga” guide, and now – just days before our two years here come to an end – I finally feel that I have a strong enough grasp on the concept do it. Continue reading →

Daytime Date in Denmark

IMG_7455In our effort to maximize our remaining time living in northern Europe, we have tried to take little trips here and there to see a few more places before we move back to the U.S. for a while. At the end of May, we took advantage of an inexpensive flight to travel to Copenhagen for the day. At just under an hour, the flight was smooth and easy, and best of all, as we were traveling only for the day, we didn’t have to deal with any bags. Our little daytime date turned out to be one of the most fun days we’ve ever spent together. We discovered that Copenhagen, even on a chilly, cloudy day in May, is a gem of a city! Continue reading →

Under the Israeli Sun

“The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more, it is the history of earth and of heaven.” 

–  Benjamin Disraeli

IMG_7238If someone had told me a year ago, or even a month ago, that I would take a trip to Israel this spring, I’m not so sure I would have believed him. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to Israel; rather, the thought hadn’t ever really crossed my mind. As an Arab-American, I grew up surrounded by people who had such strong feelings about the politics and conflict – on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian situation – that my impression of the area had become marred by thoughts and images of unrest, violence, and even fear. Continue reading →

Eighty Days and Trying Not to Count

IMG_6925With spring finally upon us (though not without a snow shower here and there) and nearly four months since my last post, our remaining days in Latvia are numbered. Eighty days remain, to be exact… enough time, in the eyes of Jules Verne, to circumnavigate the world, but not nearly enough time for me to reach the point of feeling ready to leave this beautiful place that has come to feel like home. Having never truly had a place I’d consider home, at least in the sense of a hometown or a simple answer to the question “Where are you from?”, it holds great meaning that Riga – which I knew almost nothing about before M. was assigned to work here – has become such a place of comfort. Indeed, I will miss it. We’ll be heading back to the U.S. for about a year, and following that, on to Yekaterinburg, Russia, where many new and exciting adventures surely await.  Continue reading →

Homemade Vegan Pizza

img_6339When I made the decision to go vegan more than a year ago, I thought that truly delicious pizza – one of my favorite comfort foods – had suddenly become a thing of the past. I was willing to give it up, though, because I feel strongly in my convictions to maintain a vegan lifestyle; however, I was delighted to learn that I didn’t have to. After many months of tinkering around with different recipes and trials on our weekly pizza nights, I am proud to share with you what I think is a pretty tasty vegan pizza recipe. It possesses all of the comfort and flavor of a traditional pizza while being 100% compassionate toward animals and the environment and completely free of cholesterol.  Continue reading →