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  1. Thanks, me!

    July 12, 2014 by Danielle

    My father recently pointed out that I haven’t updated my blog in over a year. Crazy to realize seeing as a quick look over the past 6 years or whatever will reveal that I used to write daily, sometimes [obnoxiously] twice a day…so I spent a few hours going through some of those old posts, trying to drum up something to write about, hoping 21 year old Danielle could lend 28 year old Danielle a little creative intuition.. instead, I was floored and saddened. I was reading and I didn’t recognize these words or this girl – the confidence [borderline arrogance] she exuded, the carefree way in which she wrote, the genuine excitement to be alive. Even the negative days were filled with emotion, not the apathy or fatigue of adulthood. That was a month ago. Since then I have been fervently looking around for something, anything to get that spark back. I miss writing, I miss that girl, I miss feeling those … feelings. I have started and deleted a few posts since then, started crafting a few in my brain, tried thinking of a new series or a short story. Nothing.

    A few days ago I decided to cut alcohol out of my life. I keep vacillating between genuine excitement and renewed purpose (not unlike when I became vegan 6 years ago, almost to the day!) …and utter terror, uncertainty, emptiness. How will this decision affect my life and my marriage? Will I regret it? Am I weird? And most importantly, how am I going to survive … anything? So like any well-adjusted adult, I turned to several blogs of “people like me” to establish that sense of community and to re-affirm that I was doing was, in fact, “cool.” A few things I realized: 1) there is no reason I can’t be the person that motivates people or exudes “cool” and 2) all of those blogs were awesome and great and I was so happy these people were living life sober for x years and I can’t wait to be at that point…but no one talked about the early days. All of the new “firsts.” Doing life sober is doing life all over again to me. Will I be as funny? Will my friends be as interesting? Will my friends even stick around? How will people react to the sober person at a party?

    This morning as I was ruminating and obsessing on these exact fears, I realized what I had to do. I need to write about this! I need to do what I do best, and I need to stop simply living and start experiencing and fulfilling and creating and sharing. And what else have I ever used this blog for? I use it to chronicle not just “memories,” but truths. Things I might have otherwise forgotten, like the girl from 7 years ago. Experiences and emotions, trying new things and sharing them with the world. I also realized that drinking was a huge factor, a glaring difference in the life of me at 21 and me now. I wish for the sake of Johnny Depp and Edgar Allen Poe and other tortured poetic souls that I could live that glamorous life of a drunk, yet genius writer. Just smoking cigarettes and drinking bottles of white wine while smashing out my first memoir or something. But drinking generally left me tired, hungover, depressed, all around useless.. and/or too busy running around during the week catching up on the stuff I should’ve gotten done on the weekend, when I was too occupied with the the devil’s juice.

    It’s for all these reasons – my newfound non-drinking adventure, fear of the unknown and my recent writer’s block – that I’ve decided to share all these “firsts.” I don’t want to become a shut in; on the contrary, I am going to seek out [what I perceive to be] the experiences which will be the most uncomfortable, awkward and/or boring without alcohol, and see what comes of it. I’m talking everything from romantic date nights to sleazy dive bars to dance clubs to family reunions and everything in between. I want to not just survive, but enjoy and most importantly, share.

    I’ve never been one to fall for labels and cliches, and this new endeavor doesn’t quite jive with anyone else’s story or reasons for “going sober.” I am not in AA, I am not a recovering alcoholic, I am not “taking it one day at a time.” I’m just a person who is sick of being the source of her own misery and no longer has the desire to do so. So I guess finally found that new “cool” person to look up to, the one who has all the answers and helps me feel at ease and is actually really good looking: my younger, happier, thriving self. Stay tuned!!

  2. Vegan Swansboro

    May 19, 2013 by Danielle

    Ahhh… the “friendly city by the sea.” All this shopping, kayaking and yoga makes me hungrayyy. I’ve been living in this small town in the Southern Outer Banks of Eastern NC for almost 2 years, and I think I finally have a few good gems up my sleeve. Now that touristy season is picking up, I imagine there must be an older couple, looking toward the vegan lifestyle to improve their heart health – or, more likely, a moody, defiant 14-year old insisting she’s a vegan now – passing through town in the next few months. There are just a few options actually in town, but if you include the surrounding areas you’re sure to find a new favorite.


    Church St. Pub: Great for a quick lunch or a light dinner; to-go deli side, or bar area and outdoor seating with service. Serve Beer & Wine only. Get the veggie-in-a-wrap, hold the feta, add avocado, with housemade italian. Served grilled on a sundried tomato wrap, with potato chips & a pickle.

    Boro Cafe: They don’t offer soymilk, but do have a vegan wrap very similar to the one above – only difference is they offer hummus. No vegan in-house bakery items, but they do offer Liz Lovely vegan & gluten free cookies!

    Icehouse Waterfront: Shares a building with Boro as it is owned by the same people. I have a love-hate relationship here – they have certain “vegan” items on the menu but 1) the pita has honey in it (not vegan) and 2) one time I ordered something vegan and was told they didn’t have the ingredients for it because “no one ever orders the vegan stuff.” Aside from that I have had some OK meals here – the pasta primavera, hold the cheese, and the Asian noodle salad, hold the chicken. They used to offer falafel but it was really mushy and kind of greasy. Veggie burger is not vegan.

    White Oak Bistro: Pasta Primavera with red sauce is spot on! Focaccia is amazing, dipped in oil topped with herbs fresh from the garden out back.

    Trattoria Pizza: Get the Primavera or Bruschetta pizza, no cheese. House salad with the housemade balsamic vinaigrette (ask for no parmesan!) is awesome. Personally, I like to get take out from here, add my own Daiya and pop it in the oven for a few minutes. The bread is also very good, though I’m pretty sure it’s just square-shaped pizza dough. Yum.

    Bake Bottle & Brew: A really cute wine/beer/souvenir shop that has a small bar serving wine, beer, mixed drinks, coffee and ice cream. Point here is that they have soymilk for coffee, yay! And the owners are super friendly, so stop and have a seat on the balcony when you’re there. Also sell locally roasted coffee, wine and beer accessories, brewing supplies, recycled crafts & jewelry & vegan/gluten-free baking mixes. Side note – check out the free wine tasting every Friday, 6-8pm.

    New Bridge Organic market: Tiny satellite store of its bigger sister in Jacksonville (see below).

    Yana Mama’s: A small, wildly popular diner in the heart of downtown. Nearly nothing is vegan, but I highly encourage you to go in and enjoy a cup of black coffee (or some juice) & a plate of nice greasy, legit down-South homefries (they are fried in veggie oil). Just a super cool place and their gift shop next door is really cute, stuffed wall to wall with novelty paraphernalia.


    Fuzzy Peach: Another one of those trendy pay-by-the-pound FroYo places. This one always offers atleast 2 vegan options; most recently it was mango and watermelon sorbet. A variety of vegan toppings offered including nuts, Swedish Fish, licorice, Fruity Pebbles, Oreo crumbs, Ghiradelli dark chocolate sauce (yes I checked the ingredients) and more.


    The Ruddy Duck: A diamond in the rough, I tell ya! Get the house-made vegan burger – a yummy brown-rice based burger topped with lettuce & tomato on a roll..which looks and tastes like it is buttered but the server double checked and it is a butter substitute. French fries are cooked in their own non-meat/dairy fryer. The Carribbean coleslaw is a delicious coconut-milk based (yes, no mayo!) slaw with pineapple…soooo good & creamy.

    Circa 81 Tapas and Cocktaileria: God this place is awesome. Everyone who works there is so friendly and knowledgeable about what’s vegan or not. An extensive cocktail, wine and craft beer list. Don’t be shy, ask for the lunch menu even at dinner – there is a great mushroom ragout sandwich (hold the cheese). Other must-haves are their sweet potato fries, bibb salad (hold the cheese), black bean soup (no chorizo or sour cream topping!), house made potato chips, & potatoes brava (skip the aioli).

    The Old Siam: Beware – they have a “vegetarian menu” but almost everything has fish sauce in it! Many have egg as well. Some dishes can be made without, such as the Pad Thai and Pad see ew, so ask for either of those without fish sauce,  no egg & add tofu. I also love the fried tofu appetizer and house salad with peanut dressing.

    Mykonos: Meditierreanean place. Falafel sandwich served with either fries or greek salad (ask for no feta). Pretty standard fare but good for a quick cheap lunch.

    Garden Gate Cafe: Good place to stop for breakfast if you’re OK with carbs carbs carbs – think hashbrowns, fruit salad and toast/a bagel with peanut butter or jelly. For lunch they have a rotating menu of cold salads sold by the pound, which are often vegan by nature (pasta, olive, black bean, etc). Offer soymilk but it kind of curdled in my iced coffee (usually due to the acidity of the coffee).

    Panera: Mediterranean veggie sandwich on sourdough, hold the feta and add extra hummus. Get it with a black bean or garden veggie soup in a bread bowl and prepare to leave STUFFED! Also offer soymilk for coffee.

    Starbucks: Offer soymilk for coffees and many locations have vegan snacks – popcorn, gluten free/vegan cookies, fruit snacks, sometimes even a vegan hummus or Asian tofu/noodle plate.


    Tandoori Bites: Indian Restaurant, amazing lunch buffet everyday from 11-3pm which is more than half vegetarian dishes! All staff is knowledgeable and eager to accommodate. Naan has butter on it, but simply ask for it with oil instead and they’d be more than happy to make it. Chana Masala (chickpeas in a spiced tomato base), Bainghan Bhartha (eggplant) are must-try entrees, and the Gobi manchurian (spicy fried cauliflower) and vegetarian samosas are our favorite appetizers. Attention vegan n00bs: stay away from anything “Korma” or “Paneer” as those mean cream and cheese, respectively. Also steer clear of the light green dipping sauce; it is yogurt-based.

    Wasabi/Osaka/Sake: all standard sushi places which offer sweet potato rolls, avocado rolls, edamame, miso soup, agedashi tofu (skip the benito fish flakes!!) etc. Biggest differences are that Wasabi has a tofu teriyaki dish and awesome vegetable gyoza, though I’m pretty positive their house dressing has mayo in it; Sake has a tempura pumpkin roll (OMG); and Osaka has a “Japanese spaghetti” noodle dish which is vegan.

    Marrakesh: Mediterranean restaurant with a great atmosphere. Sit in the lounge side if you can! Falafel, mujadara, fattoush salad, babaganouj, hummus and fried cauliflower are all awesome. Baklava has honey in it. Full bar too!

    Old Siam: A sister to the other one in Morehead (see above). Only difference is this one does not have outdoor seating.

    Forkful: Subway-style fast food place offering wraps, salads, rice or pasta dishes with good, wholesome add-ons. Staff is very knowledgeable on what’s vegan and what’s not, and alot of stuff is clearly marked! All wraps are vegan except the honey wheat. Offer lemon-basil tofu, guacamole, salsa, black beans, veggies and more. All wraps come with Stacy’s pita chips, housemade hummus or salsa & a drink for $9. When I was there they also had vegan black bean & minestrone soups.

    Red Robin: Has vegan boca burgers! The sesame bun is vegan. I get it “simple” with sauteed onions and mushrooms, guacamole added, ask for no butter on the bun (still unsure if it is real butter). Most places cook fries separate from other non-vegan items, but ask to be sure. They microwave the boca burger which means it’s not cooked on the same grill as beef, however sometimes it’s a little over-cooked at the edges. They sprinkle it with their Red Robin seasoning which is a nice touch. This location also offers hummus, a side of seasoned black beans & soft-baked pretzels, all of which are vegan.

    New Bridge Organic Market: Cute little all natural grocery in downtown J-ville. Plenty of vegan snacks, bulk items, frozen meals and prepared sandwiches. Kinda pricey but has the essentials, can’t complain! Also has a much smaller satellite store in Swansboro.

    Starbucks: see Morehead city location, above.

    Buffalo Wild Wings: Virtually nothing is vegan here as they fry their fries in LARD. However, if dragged here by your family or boyfriend or friends, make them drive, fill up on draft beer & get the soft-baked pretzel dipped in regular mustard (the one it comes with has honey). They also have celery and carrot sticks for your enjoyment.