9.19.2016

Make It Good's fall/winter season and how I wiped out my budget

You know how in grade school you end up rotating through a number of best friends in succession? Things change, you outgrow each other or maybe you're just not as tight and you start hanging out with someone else because they just fit you better? I feel like I do that with brands. My new best friend has been Make It Good (previously it was Mary Meyer - I liked the bathing suit patterns this year but I just don't need butt cheek hanging out of the bathing suit bottoms). Make It Good has pulled out a few seasons where one or two pieces are just a really good (style) fit for me. 

This fall/winter, I got these two pieces. I believe this nubby ("pebble knit") sweater dress was in their last fall/winter season (as were the nubby cardigan and maybe the crew neck sweater too) but I couldn't pull the trigger and they sold out. Not this year! This dress on the left is exactly like the one I already have in gray from this year's spring/summer season but in a pattern. (They're still on their way so I don't have them quite yet.)


Since these are US-made and Make It Good tries to carefully source their textiles, they've got a solid price tag on them. It's all relative - people spend the same (and more) on brands that have no labor claims all the time, I guess. But yes, they're not cheap or very accessible. (Again, all relative, I guess.) I ended up wiping out my clothing allowance until around November by buying these. This budget glitch should be okay -- the only things I foresee needing are a better pair of wet and cold weather boots (walkable) and some more vegan and winter-appropriate socks. And frankly I can probably ask for socks for Xmas. (Yes, we're that kind of family. Xmas by request.)

Things I probably have enough of for this coming fall/winter:
- coats
- shirts, sweaters
- cardigans
- jeans/pants
- non-weather specific shoes
- scarves, hats, gloves

Not that you need to read this boring list -- but I need to post it to remind myself. Seriously, you have enough. Maybe do some laundry regularly and then you won't feel like you have no clothes, Myself.

9.03.2016

Too Much Lipstick

While my apparel purchases have remained somewhat in check, I noticed I thought nothing of picking up a new lip balm or lipstick pretty much constantly. I wear some form of lip stuff every day and so it felt justified. But now I have a bunch to get through before it's too old so I'm hereby calling myself out on this BS and making a commitment to using it up. 

It's not just the actual lip stuff I have green-guilt about, but they all have packaging - usually plastic packaging - that just gets tossed in recycling (whether it can actually be recycled, I have no idea). 

In semi-related news, someone posted this photo on Instagram (was it you?) and I originally thought it was eye makeup in Aquafresh toothpaste colors. Turns out it's the I-talian flag (represent!) but now I'm really obsessed about someone doing their makeup Aquafresh colors. That would be pretty much the best! 


8.29.2016

Vegan Food in Paris

We were supposed to be in Paris for an additional day but apparently both my boyfriend and I are horrible with time management and estimating how long it takes to get places (and leave the house) that we missed our first flight and had to fly out the next day. So, that was pretty cool. We missed dinner plans at Gentle Gourmet with our friends, who told us it was like average NYC vegan food and nothing to write home about. Though I have another friend who previously had a delicious dinner there so, your mileage may vary.

We are grateful that our friends were there the week before us (and we had a little overlap while they were still there) -- so we not only got to see them but also take all of their recommendations.


Le Potager du Marais - I could probably start and end on the appetizer: french onion soup with  bread and slabs of "cheese" on top. I mean. I literally had to stop typing to fondly reflect on that soup. We had one delicious and one just-okay entree followed by two chocolate-based desserts (they'd just run out of the creme brulee!) The hazelnut flour chocolate cake came out warm and was totally delicious. You need a reservation here, mostly likely. We managed to squeeze in with seating for 2 but just barely and at first we were told no. So, may the force be with you. If I was in Paris again, I'd eat here every single night. 








Vegan Folie's - You may know that, like most humans, I love dessert. So I made my boyfriend rush to Vegan Folie's before it closed on our way to Montemarte to see the sunset from the Sacre Coeur steps. The only thing they had left was cheesecake and a brownie, and I (usually) love cheesecake, so we got two slices - berry and I think hazelnut. I don't know if it was an off day or what but the slices reminded me of what health food stores in the '90s passed off as dessert. Like, a hunk of tofu in the blender with some sweetener and toppings. You can see from the photo that it looks more like raw tofu than a creamy cheesecake. I feel super American right now but I'd gladly take a freezer-case Daiya cheesecake over these. I rarely turn down dessert but I didn't even finish eating either slice. (From two different cheesecakes...so it's less likely it was a glitch in one cake.) We have friends who liked the cheesecake they got there the week earlier and there are plenty of happy vegans over at Happy Cow. However, I wish I had actually just purchased the Vego bar that my boyfriend jokingly suggested I buy when I couldn't decide which cheesecake flavors to get. Hopefully your experience there is different than mine!



Hank's Vegan Burger - Based on many recommendations, we made it to Hank's Vegan Burger. I liked everything we ordered - their fries, their burgers and the delicious toppings. I'm not usually a veggie burger fan because they so often run the risk of either being a hockey puck or a bland, falling apart grain-and-veggie patty but these were solid options that I'd be happy to have regularly! I am hungry just thinking about them. We ended up eating at a park (hence the chess table) because it was wicked hot that day and their upstairs seating was like a charming, collegial oven.




Un Monde Vegan - Vegan grocery shop in Paris! Since we had an Airbnb and were taking a train between Paris and Amsterdam, our plan was to get some breakfast stuff, a "picnic lunch" for the train and a picnic dinner by the canal where everyone hangs out one night. They had an entire wall and then some devoted to their vegan cheeses so I choose according to a Veg Society UK cheese tasting scorecard that I pulled up on my phone. (Go, Internet!) I liked all of the cheeses we got - No Muh, Sojami (the best!), Jay & Joy. The lunchmeat was fine. The Faux Gras reminded me of liverwurst - I think? - but I liked it! Especially paired with the No Muh classic on bread. (That mushroom tartine on the right ended up being pretty much my only sustenance when I got stuck at an airport hotel with no food options, overnight, awaiting my flight the next morning. That and ginger cookies. Yep, I ate ginger cookies with mushroom tartine with my travel spork - and I was happy to even have that.)




The chocolates I tried were all fine but the Vego was the clear winner. I think I'm losing my taste for the really sweet "milk" chocolate. Some of these are still in my apartment waiting to be opened, actually. (The Bonvita Rice Milk ones are gone already though - all 3 of them.)



Honorable mention - we were able to get plain soy yogurt at the regular local grocery! In the United States of America, we do not have this option. (We barely had it when WholeSoy was still in business but it definitely wasn't at my local grocery.) The Sojasun was a nice thing to be able to have! (Now we've started making our own soy yogurt in our Instant Pot Duo so hopefully I'll become less bitter about this over time.)



Brasserie Lola - Thanks to our friends, we also got to try this all-vegan brasserie. I got a Monte Cristo and it was totally suitable. This isn't fine dining but it is all vegan and it's totally serviceable!  The folks working there were super nice and there is outdoor seating available. 

That's it for Paris! We lost a day due to our tardiness so we didn't get to try as much as we would have liked but we did cover some ground. 

8.28.2016

Vegan Food in Amsterdam + VEGA-LIFE store

We managed to eat out less in Amsterdam than London and Paris, partly because my boyfriend was sick for a full day and I made us soup at the apartment and partly because Meatless District (which is the name of a restaurant), was only open for drinks and not dinner in the later evening when we showed up.


Vegabond - Vegabond is a small store with vegan food staples (a lot of shelf-stable stuff but also frozen items, including ice cream). They have a food counter as well, serving sandwiches, baked good and coffee. We got two sandwiches to go, both of which were pretty decent. They served them open-faced and layered with waxed paper in the little boxes below. The soy latte I got from there was dee-licious. I kind of wish we had gone back there, actually. It was super hot the day we visited and the place was roasting (no air conditioning) -- and we couldn't stay anyway as my Anne Frank House timed tickets were timed for right after we got our takeout from Vegabond.


The online store hours for Vegabond listed limited days but thankfully when we were in VEGA-LIFE and asking for food recommendations nearby, they let us know Vegabond was now open 7 days per week.



Golden Temple Vegetarian - We met up with my boyfriend's friend one night and they suggested this place. There were a bunch of vegan options and the menu was very...varied. I think it had pizza, Mexican, Indian, etc. There is a table on a platform in the window and there were two small dogs who kept hanging out on that platform with whoever was up there, which was pretty cute. The food was decent and they knew what "vegan" was, so that was helpfu. Also, look how cute they made the sorbet with those berries!






Latei - Upon arrival in Amsterdam we met up with one of my friends - a person I've known for years thanks to an old punk rock message board that's probably been gone for 15 years now. She had visited NYC throughout the years so we'd met in person previously but I hadn't seen her in a while. Sometimes the internet is pretty cool. Anyway, she recommended this coffee shop (a real coffee shop, not the "coffee shops" that are really hash places) right near our Airbnb in the Red Light District. It is terribly cute but I don't have any photos so you can visit this random blog I found for photos of Latei. When we first visited, I sat down at a table only to find a snoozing black cat on the chair next to me. I could not have planned the more perfect welcome to Amsterdam. They have soy milk and I think there were some vegan options for food. I got a few soy lattes during my stay there and I was never disappointed. 


Groceries! - Not only did we buy groceries so we'd have breakfast food in the apartment but I also had to go find soup ingredients the one night my boyfriend was sick because I couldn't find vegan soup for takeout in the area. We had been introduced to the Alpro brand of soy yogurts in Paris and were happy to find them in Amsterdam, too. (The "Nature" ones are plain soy yogurt and not nearly as sweet as all of the US brands. Get it together, USA.)

 


I had no idea how challenging it would be to read a lot of tiny ingredient labels in Dutch though - especially since I accidentally ended up at the Albert Heijn right before it was closing. I managed to find the word "vegan" on some cubed bouillon and a packet of mock meat (schnitzel!) as well as some very obviously vegan vegetables. 



We got a chance to visit VEGA-LIFE, the vegan store in Amsterdam. Not to be a jaded New Yorker, but there were only a few things that V-L had that I couldn't get in-person in NYC. (Mooshoes NYC has spoiled me properly!) They had a more robust Macbeth selection and way more Veg Shoe UK stock (for obvious reasons). Also available: cute satchels from a company I've now forgotten (not available in NYC), hand-painted tote bags (below) and a small section of personal care and pet products. They also had a bunch of brands that we have in NYC like Novacas, among others. So, I only had partial FOMO leaving there. I did get a Vego bar and a BWC "waterproof" mascara here. Man, that mascara has nothing on Lily Lolo mascara. 

I would definitely recommend stopping in here to see what they have -- the folks working there were super nice. For sure stock up on Vego bars, because they are god's gift to vegans (and supposedly fair trade!) and if you try to order them via Amazon state-side they're like $14 each. 




8.25.2016

Vegan Food in London

As promised a century ago, I'm writing about vegan food abroad! This first installment is what I ate in London. Talk about fond memories. We were in Paris, Amsterdam and London for about 2-3 days each.


Yorica! - I saw someone on Instagram post their Yorica delight and immediately put it on my list. Everything is vegan. I'm both sad and grateful that we don't have a Yorica! in the US since I don't need to eat soft serve daily and I probably would. Delicious flavors, delicious toppings, nice peeps. The ominvore we were with seemed to like it as well. Yorica! *fist pump*



Mildred's - This place has three locations. Apparently the Soho one has a constant crowd and we foolishly thought we'd get a table for 4 on a weekend night. (We went elsewhere.) But we did manage to eat some decent salads at the Mildred's in Kings Cross to help "detox" from the amount of sugar we consumed at Cookies and Scream (on an empty stomach, no less). Not everything here is vegan but it is vegetarian. 




Cookies and Scream - This is a stall in Camden Lock and when I realized it was just a little counter I was kind of bummed that we went out of our way for it. Boy howdy, was I wrong. Below you see an ice cream cookie sandwich (in the process of melting) and a "zombie" - a delicious brownie with a marshmallow baked inside, all warm and toasty. Their latte was fine but wasn't my thing, coffee-wise. I wanted to make sure I had enough room for sweets-for-breakfast and while not the most adult plan, I am glad I had the room for splitting all this. A+!



Cook Daily @ Box Park - I was actually full when we ended up in Shoreditch near Box Park so this wasn't even my meal, but my boyfriend's. That did not stop me from trying some, though. The tofu was delicious (this is the Coco Bowl).



VX aka Vegan Cross - I had no idea this place existed and thankfully someone Facebook mentioned VX and I eventually figured out that meant "Vegan Cross" thanks to Google. A quick peek at their Instagram showed delicious-looking pastries and from that alone, it was on my list. We got this delicious berry tart (below) and the vegan cheese toastie (on a bun). They did not have the Francine in stock that day or I would have been all over that. I also stocked up on Veggo bars, some random chocolate and a package of shelf-stable individual soy creamers so I could make it through my 8 hour flight back to NYC via Paris caffeinated-enough.




Norman's Coach & Horses - We made sure we got to a (vegetarian) pub to eat pub food. Is that silly? We did it anyway. I wasn't feeling well that day so I really had to rally to get there and eat some of this but I did it because it was important to me to eat vegan pub food in London. I believe this was the Shepherd's Pie and Fish & Chips with peas?  I don't remember. It was decent and I was happy to have eaten it, even if my cramps were trying to squash all of the joy in my life that day.


8.17.2016

Simka Sol cactus t-shirt dress

You can thank Melanie from Streets I Know for this one. As some of you may know, I've followed Streets I Know since inception (I think) and from that point on have basically used Melanie as my personal shopper. She knows. 

This Simka Sol dress (which is billed as a big tee/tunic/dress) was on my "things I want" list for a while but the purchase just never happened. Then, Melanie posted her dress to her Instagram account it looked roomy and comfortable so I finally got it. Also, it just helps to see someone who is not associating with the brand model the dress. (But it does really look just like the product pictures, so I'm giving full credit to Simka Sol on that one!)

Wills "footbed" sandals (for reals that's what they're called)

It's super comfy and I like the Simka Sol brand and their practices - I'm happy to have this as a summer and fall option. I'll probably layer it in winter, too, honestly. Black is for all seasons. 

I'm continuing to wear the same Po-em and Make it Good dresses all summer, mostly. When I'm not wearing cut-off denim shorts (like knee-length '90s style). It's at the point where I think I have to re-home all of my waisted dresses - I just can't deal with an hourglass type of deal any longer. Paper bag shape for me forever, thanks! 

8.01.2016

Paris, Amsterdam, London, Paris (too much Paris, seriously)

I just got back from vacation (almost 2 weeks across Paris > Amsterdam > London) and I walked a lot, saw a lot, ate a lot of vegan food and partook of Paris's free public natural sparkling water. This almost makes up for what a complete nightmare their Charles de Gaulle Airport is...but not quite. The entire airport is like every single circle of Hell combined and it trapped me in Paris for an extra day under undesirable circumstances. 

I packed pretty light since we'd have access to a washing machine mid-trip:
- 4 dresses -- 1 and 2, 3 and 4 (below, sweatshop)
- 2 babydoll tops -- gray jersey, black synthetic, both American Apparel
- 2 pair of black leggings -- one Maggie's Organics, 1 American Apparel
- 4 pair of shoes (we'd be walking a lot & had various weather) - 2 sandals, 1 sneaker, 1 oxford
- 2 necklaces - one DIY clay, the other wood/plastic indie designer (these are durable and travel well)
- 2 jackets - one pleather biker jacket; 1 cotton asymmetrical "blazer" of sweatshirt material


CLOTHES FOR TRAVEL:

This is my standard travel outfit - with a sports bra in case I need to sleep on the plane. If I'm wearing slip-on shoes or sandals, I bring socks for the plane. And a black scarf, always a black scarf. (And headphones.)






CLOTHES FOR THE TRIP:

I wore and re-wore most of the dresses across Paris, Amsterdam and London. They're all pretty casual and comfortable but look decent enough to pass as put together with a swipe of some red lipstick. And most importantly, I can eat a lot in them. 

This is the sweatshop dress with a built in slip, with the Insecta oxfords. 



And this is the least flattering camera-angle but I'm in front of the CAT BOAT in Amsterdam!  Also called Poezenboot, it's a cat sanctuary and adoption center on a barge on one of the canals. We played with some cute cats, gave them a donation and bought some logo gear and postcards to help support them. (This is the Make It Good dress.)



And here is me in a Po-em dress and Tevas in London after I said I'd stop wearing Tevas, but totally didn't! I accidentally wandered by Tatty Divine and tried on this whopper of a tiger necklace I've been admiring online for years and is one of the only items of theirs I really like. The necklace had a decent weight and placement and I didn't feel like it was wearing me...so after all this time I finally got it. I refuse to call it an "investment piece" -- it was just expensive but I love it, so there. (I made my boyfriend take this photo of me because I was too short for all the mirrors in the Tatty Divine store and couldn't tell what the necklace looked like on me.)



This Po-em dress is the only dress I got a bunch of pictures in I guess? Again, with Sauconys, the wooden necklace & a Baggu bag. This was in Paris. I made my boyfriend take my photo in front of not one but two pieces of cat street art. I felt like this was my cat lady civic duty.


And here are some trip photos - Paris!








Amsterdam!







London!










I'll do a separate entry about the food - I know it's helpful to me when vegans write about what they could eat while traveling and what's worth the effort so I'll try to do the same!