Month: October 2014

Ten on Tuesday: new bookshelves and seasonal goodies


1. I finally had to give up on the trilogy I was reading this week because it was just dragging so badly, and also, the protagonist was really annoying. I hate to DNF a book but it’s always so good to move on to something better!

2. It’s been really rainy here all week, but that’s okay, because it’s a good excuse to snuggle under a blanket with the cats and read and drink tea.

3. I have a whole “bookshelf” now just for books from the library. It’s actually a driftwood bench that my mom made for me several years ago.

Bookshelf made from a bench

If you move the books you can see wood burnings of horses on the back of the seat. How cool is that?

Bookshelf made from a bench

4. I have a giveaway that I’ll be posting soon on the blog. And I’m already thinking about holiday giveaways.

5. I found a vegan pumpkin drink (for lattes) and chocolate peppermint drink at the store today. Yay for seasonal goodies!

6.  I get so impatient waiting for things to come in the mail. I have a new book on the way and I keep counting the days on the calendar until it will get here.

7. I think we need to have some apple pie today. Because it’s cold and autumn, of course.

8. They decided that we can dress up at work on Halloween nights, but OF COURSE I won’t be there that night. So typical.

9. Only a few more days until the Black Keys concert…so excited.

10. I got a pair of over-the-knee cognac-colored boots on vacation that I just love. I need to take outfit pics with them soon!


Music Monday: Shake It Off

Never thought I’d say it, but I can’t help liking Taylor’s new song, especially with such a fun video. When life throws crappy situations at you, the best thing to do really is to shake it off. Also, having fun dancing is a great way to improve your mood.

Side note: how amazing are all these dancers?

Side side note: I want Taylor’s cat shirt from the opening barre scene.

Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe (book review)

'Vegan Holiday Cooking from the Candle Cafe' (book review)(Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. However I was not compensated for writing this review and as always all opinions are my own.)

Vegan holiday cooking doesn’t have to be hard; it can be fun and tasty and please everyone at the table, meat-eaters and gourmands included! This book makes it simple. Crafted by the chefs at the trio of Candle eateries in New York City, this cookbook is divided up into ten menus: Super Bowl (or gametime recipes), Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, Passover, Easter, Cindo de Mayo, Fourth of July barbecue, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. At first glance covering so many different holidays throughout the year might seem a little odd: many cookbooks only focus on the traditional trifecta of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

However, there’s always been a big gap between the recipes available for non-vegan vs. vegan holiday cooking. I get a variety of magazines that feature seasonally-themed recipes and entertaining guides, and they’re seldom easy to adapt to a vegan table. Easter is all about eggs; Memorial Day and Fourth of July barbecues mean burgers; game time means cheesy nachos; and so on. This cookbook gives you recipes for those events and more.

Plus, lots of the recipes feature here would be great for everyday dinners and will impress even your non-vegan friends. Black bean tacos? Sweet fried dumplings? Roasted squash soup? All would be easy enough to whip up for a weeknight dinner yet look and feel fancy enough for a special occasion.

Lots of big, bright photos will make you hungry just flipping through this book. The recipes are laid out in an easy-to-follow format and the ingredient lists are largely made up of items that can be found at any well-stocked grocery store. (A few, like seitan or arrowroot powder, will require a trip to a natural health food store.)

This cookbook is a must for anyone who loves entertaining, whether you’re totally new to the world of vegan holiday cooking or are a seasoned pro. There are even seasonally appropriate cocktail recipes, and of course some cookie recipes for the Christmas cookie exchange! Yum!

Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe (hardcover, 176 pages), by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda. Published 2014 by Ten Speed Press. Genre: cooking, vegan food, entertaining. Five out of five stars.

Thought Questions, #190-#196

Wheat fields in sunlight

(photo by Nigel Lo via Unsplash)

#190: What will you never do? Wear fur.

#191: Excluding romantic relationships, who do you love? My family and my pets.

#192: What is your earliest childhood memory? Probably hiking in the forest near our home or loading up on books from the Bookmobile when it stopped at the park in our little town. The outdoors and reading–obviously two of my favorite things.

#193: What book has had the greatest influence on your life? The Art of Happiness. It’s really changed the way I look at everyday situations and setbacks.

#194: What three questions do you wish you knew the answers to? What happens after we die? (Everyone has a theory, but obviously no one can prove it for certain.) When will I die? What will the world look like over the next 100 years?

#195: What is the greatest peer pressure you’ve ever felt? Hmm. I avoid people in general and tend to only make friends with people whose viewpoints I respect, so I can’t say I’ve felt a lot of peer pressure in life. I guess I do get a lot of pushback for being a vegan. People seem determined to convert me to eating meat.

#196: What’s the biggest lie you once believed was true? For years I told myself I’d never be able to juggle writing full-time while also working full-time, and still have a life. But with willpower and time management, I’m making it happen.


Beauty do or don’t: matching your lipstick to your dress

Beauty do or don’t? Megan Fox attended Ferrarri’s 60th anniversary gala last week with an interesting beauty/fashion combo: red lipstick that perfectly matched her red gown.


It used to be going matchy-matchy with your makeup and clothing was a bit of a faux pas, but lately celebrities have been rocking this look more often. Personally I think Megan looks great, but I wonder: is this a beauty do or don’t? Is this maybe something you can only pull off when you’re a Hollywood actress in full femme fatale mode at a red carpet event?


If you’re curious about the shade she’s wearing here: it’s Hourglass Femme Rouge Velvet Creme Lipstick in Icon [$30], but if you want a cheaper, vegan alternative, I would suggest Flower Beauty Kiss Stick High Shine Lip Color in Rose Bud [$6.98 at Walmart stores]. It’s a great classic red! Check out my review here or check out these three swatches and tell me: which one would be your “go-to” red?

Beauty do or don't: matching your lips to your dress? Consider these cruelty-free red lippies!

What do you think? Would you ever wear this look for a daytime/casual everyday event? What beauty do or don’t have you broken recently?

Book review: ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting’

(Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy [ARC] of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of writing an honest review. However I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

I'll Have What She's Having

I’ll Have What She’s Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting, by Rebecca Harrington (paperback, 176 pages). Expected publication date: January 6th, 2015. Four out of five stars.

Funny, witty, and fast-paced, I’ll Have What She’s Having chronicles the attempts of author Rebecca Harrington to emulate the diets of the stars, from Posh Spice to Beyonce to Elizabeth Taylor. Her attempts are by turns successful, tear-inducing and sometimes downright disgusting, but she writes about them all with a breezy humor that makes you laugh even when you’re wrinkling your nose.

Whether you’re a lover or a hater of celebrity diets, you’ll groan along with Rebecca and laugh out loud at her observations. Attempting to adhere to a potato-and-caviar dish apparently favored by Jackie Kennedy, she listens to one of Kennedy’s alleged favorite songs, “Limehouse Blues”, which she describes as sounding like “music that would play if you ever had a seizure in an amusement park”. Testing out recipes from Liz Taylor’s diet, she decides that plain veal is “disgusting, a bit like taking a cardboard box that has been left out in the sun, sprinkling it with lemon, and then eating it.”

It’s almost a shame to post this review now, given that the book won’t hit shelves for another three months (thanks NetGalley for the ARC!), but in the meantime you can all add it to your TBR piles and pre-order it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. My only complaint about this book is that it was honestly too short! I gobbled it down within a day and wanted more. Maybe a sequel will pop up in the future?

Thought Questions, #183-#189


Unsplash Dustin Scarpitti

(photo by Dustin Scarpitti via Unsplash)

#183: What do you see when you look into the future? Sadly, I see things getting a lot worse for the world if more people don’t start working for change–in the environment, in politics, etc. If you just sit back and let things go, they won’t stay neutral–they’ll slide downhill. Even small changes in your personal sphere can add up and make a difference, so don’t ever think that you can’t do enough because you’re “just one person”.

#184: What makes you angry?  Why? People who neglect or abuse animals. Like these assholes. I would never give one my kitties away for cash! They’re part of the family!

#185: What is the most valuable life lesson you learned from your parents? To budget carefully and never overstep your means. I know a lot of other twenty-somethings who are in trouble financially because they racked up credit card debt, or bought a too-expensive car because they were able to stretch to make the payments at the time and now with a cut in hours or wages they can’t make those payments. My Dad also really hammered into us the importance of “saving for a rainy day”, which has saved my butt countless times.

#186: What does love feel like? A blanket. Which sounds weird at first, but if you think about it, love makes you feel warm and safe and a bit soft, so I think it fits.

#187: What are your favorite simple pleasures? I’m sure you couldn’t possibly guess this, but…books and tea. Yep. Shocking, I know.

#188: If you could go back in time and tell a younger version of yourself one thing, what would you tell? To say “no” more. For years I struggled with being a people pleaser and as a result, I was often unhappy. Saying “no”–to a commitment you’d rather not make, a project you’d rather not take on, etc.–lets you take charge of your itinerary instead of being tossed around based on what other people want.

#189: What do you do to deliberately impress others? Hmm…I don’t like showing off, so I don’t know.