How to Impress Your Vegan Valentine

10 Feb

How to Impress Your Vegan Valentine

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. This year don’t wait until the last minute to plan something special for your vegan sweetie. If you want to impress your vegan valentine, here’s some of my top picks on vegan friendly romantic date and gift ideas in the New York City area.

Date Ideas

Pure Food and Wine

Pure Food and Wine

Say you don’t like raw food? Pure Food & Wine will impress die-hard carnivores as well as vegans like me who usually like their food cooked. With their stellar cuisine, extensive wine list and candle-lit ambiance, it’s the perfect location to bring your valentine for a romantic dinner out.

Candle 79

Candle 79Photo: Mimi Giboin

A vegan fine dining establishment in the Upper East Side, Candle 79‘s creative dishes and numerous wine choices make this spot a must visit for a date night, valentine’s day or any day.

Blossom

Blossom NYC

One of my favorite restaurants in NYC, you can’t go wrong with Blossom. With four locations ranging from the West Village all the way up to the Upper East Side, not only is the food to die for, the ambiance is quiet and candle lit. The Chelsea location is in the most romantic turn-of the century building, and if you reserve your table in advance you may have a chance to get one of their private, blocked off tables for two in their window. I can’t think of a more romantic way to spend the evening than watching over the wintry NYC street scene while enjoying a romantic meal with your valentine.

Gift and Treat Ideas

Sweet & Sara
Sweet & Sara

Marshmallows are not very vegan friendly, which makes me sad. Luckily Sweet & Sara, based in Long Island City, figured out how to veganize them and they make a variety of marshmallow based treats, from s’mores to rice crispy treats! You can find them in various stores throughout the city, or can order them direct from their website.

Dunwell Donuts

Dunwell Donuts

Dunwell Donuts has some of the best donuts in the city, nevermind vegan donuts. With fancy pants flavors like Chai Tea and Creme Brule, these sweet treats will bring a smile to your valentine’s face, especially if you get him or her a dozen.

Babycakes

Babycakes Bakery
Photo by Rachel Heller

Does your vegan valentine have any food allergies? If so, thanks to Babycakes that’s no excuse why they shouldn’t be allowed to have a sweet valentine’s day treat! Babycakes Bakery on the Lower East Side offers gluten, dairy, egg and refined sugar-free cupcakes, cookies, donuts and even a Valentine’s Day Candy Gram. Oh, and their icing is to die for!

Vaute Couture Apparel and Accessories

Vaute Couture

Thinking of getting your vegan valentine some jewelry? Vaute Couture in Williamsburg offers necklaces, sunglasses, and tees fit for the animal activist in your life. This V Necklace is currently at the top of my valentine’s day wish list.

Whatever you decide to do for your vegan valentine this year, don’t forget… kisses are free!

Free Kisses Pit Bull

On another note, congratulations to Terry for winning the Anjolee Gemstone Pendant Giveaway!

Giveaway / Anjolee Jewelry CLOSED

3 Feb

In keeping with February’s Valentine’s Day spirit, today Anjolee Jewelry is giving one lucky Brooklyn Bliss reader a beautiful, minimal gemstone solitaire pendant.  It’s the perfect, classic piece to wear again and again.  The winner gets to choose either topaz, citrine, garnet or amethyst as their gemstone option.

If a diamond pendant more your thing, Anjolee makes them in that stone as well.  They also have some really beautiful custom jewelery worth checking out.  All their pieces would make beautiful Valentine’s Day gifts for that special someone in your life.

Anjolee

To enter to win, either comment, follow, or tweet via the instructions below.  Giveaway valid for US and Canadian residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends at 12:00 am on February 10th, 2014.

What’s In My Carry On Bag

27 Jan

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Today I figured I’d share with you quick what I pack in my carry on bag to keep me entertained and comfortable when I travel.  I’m currently all packed and ready to leave for South America tonight for work.  I’m pretty stoked!

Clockwise from Top Left Corner // LAPTOP Macbook Air // LAPTOP CASE Baggu // TABLET Apple iPad 2 // TABLET CASE Matt & Nat // PHONE iPhone 4S // HEADPHONES standard iPhone ones // SUNGLASSES JustFab (old) // WATER BOTTLE Rubbermaid // Advil (you never know when a headache will strike!) // PORTABLE CHARGER Newtrent // LIPSTICK & LIPGLOSS 100% Pure and Dex NYC // FUZZY SOCKS H&M // SUNGLASSES CASE filled with charging cables // EYEMASK & INFLATABLE PILLOW Mujii // WALLET (looks like a clutch) Target // CAMERA Panasonic Lumix // TOTE BAG Cornelia Guest Nicholas

Martin Scorsese is a Fran Lebowitz Fan and So am I

24 Jan

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On January 19th, Jim and I headed over to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for one of the most unique experiences I’ve participated in as of recent.  We were there to see Martin Scorsese interview Fran Lebowitz.

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Unless you’re living under a rock, I think most people around the world nowadays knows who Marty Scorsese is.  Believe it or not, Marty wasn’t the draw at this event, it was Fran.  If you’ve never heard of Fran Lebowitz and you are from New York, you are in for a treat.  I’ll leave summing up who she is to this on-point description from Wikipedia.
“Frances Ann “Fran” Lebowitz is an American author and public speaker. Lebowitz is known for her sardonic social commentary on American life as filtered through her New York City sensibilities.”

She’s mostly known for her public speaking skills, and she is absolutely hilarious.  If you are from New York City and want a good chuckle, try searching YouTube for any of her talks regarding NYU or Michael Bloomburg.  She’s so on point you’ll be falling out of your chair crying.

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There was no better person to interview her for the event than Scorsese, considering the two of them have been friends for so long they can’t even remember how they met.  In response to the question of how they met during the Q&A, the both of them, stumped, assumed they must have met at a party a long time ago.

Scorsese has also featured Fran in his films, including the HBO Documentary about her called Public Speaking, and most recently the Wolf of Wall Street where she played the judge.  Funny enough, she also had a recurring role on Law & Order as Judge Janice Goldberg, though she doesn’t describe herself as an actor.

Just listening to her discuss her experience on filming Wolf of Wall Street was one of my favorite parts of the evening.  For example, she described her first encounter with Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene they were shooting, and thought he was overrated because he kept missing his lines (per her cue card) and they kept having to re-shoot.  Ends up being his lines were noted as being an overdubbed narrative, so she was missing her lines and that’s why they had to keep re-shooting.  I’m not doing the story any justice, the way she told it was just too funny.

The discussion didn’t just include the movie, but subjects as varied from e-cigarettes to New York City’s new mayor, Bill De Blasio.  I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time!

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Even though I was pretty exhausted due to catching a flight home earlier that day from a work trip, I’m really glad Jim and I made the time to attend.  I’m going to try to make it a point to attend more events like this in the upcoming year.  It sure beats watching TV!

Oh, and I have to mention the Peter Jay Sharp building where this event was held had one of the most beautiful theaters I had seen in quite some time.  I mean, look at the detail on the ceiling!  Gorgeous.

To a Tee

22 Jan

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WHAT I’M WEARING // DRESS Alexander Wang T (via eBay) // SCARF Broadway Street Vendor // JACKET Gender Bias (thrifted) // BOOTS Jessica Simpson (via Amazon) // TIGHTS Calvin Klein (via Costco) // BAG Cornelia Guest

As mentioned earlier this week with my 5 Piece French Wardrobe Experiment, one of the pieces I wanted to purchase for this spring was a tee-shirt dress I could dress up or dress down, and that travels well.

Since the key element of the experiment is to buy less stuff and make them high quality, so I took to eBay to look for some designer duds. Prior to this dress, the only “real” designer piece I owned is a Dolce and Gabanna LBD I inherited from a friend. So I really had no idea of where to start. Normally when I think designer I think “not vegan”, but when it comes down to it that’s a really closed-minded way of thinking.

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After doing a lot of Pinteresting and other online research, I really love Alexander Wang’s aesthetic, so I started searching eBay for stuff in his line first to see what I came up with. Little did I know he has an entire line of basics called Alexander Wang T of which most of the pieces are all cotton, jersey, and other vegan-friendly materials. So I decided to search for dresses in that line. I somehow managed to find this one for get this, $45! I think it probably retailed new somewhere in the $150 range.

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I’ll tell you what, this fabric feels divine. It’s really soft, and stretches to your curves and feels like you’re not really wearing anything. It’s really, really comfortable. I can’t wait to wear this piece to death in the next year.

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Since this piece was only $45 and could be considered a basic, I may or may not give myself another item for one of my Spring 5. For now I’m going to include it and make that decision later. All in all, I’m beyond happy with this purchase and can’t wait to wear it in Brazil next week.

5 Piece French Wardrobe Experiment

20 Jan

5 Piece French Wardrobe Experiment

Since 2014 is the year for me to start minimalizing my life, one of the biggest projects I’ve been tasked with is my wardrobe. My closet is literally busting at the seams, and I’m lucky enough to have a walk-in in NYC. It’s gotten totally out of hand. I can’t even walk in it never mind find something to wear each day.

Back in 2011, I had done an experiment called the 30 for 30 challenge, and it really made me re-think what I wear. For 30 days, you only wear 30 pieces of clothing, shoes included. In the end, it was actually quite liberating. It takes a lot of the guess-work out of what to wear when you select only 30 pieces and are sure everything matches. I’d like to get back to that being it was so easy and effortless.

While I don’t necessarily want to do another 30 for 30, I was looking for more inspiration to streamline my wardrobe, and came across the 5 Piece French Wardrobe concept on Pinterest. It’s the strategy French women take to shopping and is how they stay effortlessly stylish and afford really high quality pieces. Here’s how it works:

Every season (i.e. 6 months, spring/summer and fall/winter) you only purchase 5 wardrobe pieces. So that’s 10 pieces total for the year.

  • Fabric quality is more important that quantity
  • Basics don’t count and are always allowed
  • Accessories don’t count, unless they are pricier than usual
  • Shoes DO count
  • Socks and underwear don’t count
  • Everything else counts

Your 10 pieces a year are chosen to follow trends and keep your wardrobe fresh and up to date. In order to do this effectively, you need to have a solid basic wardrobe foundation. I used to have a great one, but a lot of my pieces are on the older side and need replacing, so I’m currently working on that.

Here’s what’s considered a basic:

Tops

  • Black, grey and white tee shirts
  • Black, grey and white tank tops
  • White or cream blouse, silky/dressier texture preferred
  • White or light blue oxford shirt
  • Black dress
  • Black blazer
  • Neutral color cardigan
  • Neutral color sweater

Bottoms

  • Black trousers
  • Well fitting, dark denim jeans
  • Black skirt

Jackets

  • (Faux) Leather Jacket
  • Trench coat
  • Good quality, dressy winter coat

Shoes

  • Black pumps
  • Ankle boots
  • Summer sandals
  • Sneakers (like Converse)

Accessories

  • Gold or silver watch
  • Black (faux) leather bag

To start, since basics don’t count I’ve been working on upgrading a few of mine, including tees and tanks, getting myself some slim black trousers, and a new oxford shirt. All in all, my goal is to update my basics and reduce my current wardrobe to just 50 pieces, including shoes. From there, I’ll then shop for just the 5 pieces a season per the French strategy, trying to focus more on quality fabrics and materials than anything else.

I’m also starting to plan my Spring/Summer ’14 purchases now. Since I only get 5, I have to be really specific and know I’ll get a lot of wear out of them. Here’s what my list looks like so far:

5 Piece French Wardrobe Experiment

1 / Classic Trench Coat

I’ve been eyeing this Zara one on eBay. Though it’s a basic, I’m including it as one of my five since it’s pricier than what I’d usually spend on clothing.

5 Piece French Wardrobe Experiment

2 / A Black or Gray Jersey T-shirt Dress

I’ve always wanted one being it travels well and you can dress it up or down. Most “minimalist” styles are boxy which look horrible on me because of my curves. I’m excited I actually found and decided on this great, hip hugging Alexander Wang T one I scored on eBay.

Also, since this is technically a basic and I got a great deal on it, I may give myself an extra purchase for spring.

5 Piece French Wardrobe Experiment

3 / New Sandals That Follow a 2014 Trend

I hear plastic is a trend, so I may go with these from Melissa, though I’m still deciding.

5 Piece French Wardrobe Experiment

4 / Black Ankle Boots

I have a few but none with a mid-size heel that are plain, which I feel I’d get more use out of. I recently purchased these Jessica Simpson Ankle Boots from Amazon (which are all man-made materials) and have been wearing them non-stop. I adore them.

5 / To Be Determined

Not sure on my fifth yet, but it most likely will be new swimsuits being my current ones are several years old and pretty beat.

Though we’re a long ways off from spring and summer, I’m starting to pick up a few items early being I’m headed to Brazil and Argentina later this month. In particular want to have the dress for this trip.

So that’s my wardrobe strategy for 2014. I’ll keep you posted how it’s working out.

A Day at Brooklyn Brewery

17 Jan

 

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Earlier this fall when Rebecca was in town to visit, her sister came to Brooklyn all the way from Boston to spend the day with us in Williamsburg.  We spent part of the morning shopping, but by the afternoon we were ready to grab a few drinks and catch up.

Everyone wanted to grab a beer, and even though it’s in my neighborhood I had never been to Brooklyn Brewery, so we decided to head there.  It ended up being a really fun afternoon.  You not only get to sample all their beers, but they also run tours every hour so you can see how the beers are made.

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After our tour, we were ready to drink!  While Brooklyn Brewery is vegan friendly, if you go there know not all their beers are vegan.  According to their website:

All of our beers are vegan friendly, with just a few exceptions: Brooklyn Local 2, Brooklyn BAMboozle, our past Brewmaster’s Reserve beers Buzz Bomb and The Concoction, Highline Elevated Wheat, and AMA Bionda, all of which contain honey. Our cask beers are filtered with the vegan-friendly Biofine Clear.

It still leaves plenty of beers to choose from!
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All in all it was totally worth me cheating and having gluten.  The beers were delicious, and totally worth the stop.  Also, though I didn’t see any while I was there I hear they are dog friendly.

Best Vegan Leather Pants Ever

15 Jan

Best Faux Leather Pants Ever.jpgWHAT I’M WEARING // SWEATER H&M // TANK TOP H&M (old) // VEGAN LEATHER PANTS American Apparel // BOOTS Jessica Simpson (via Amazon)

After trying brand after brand attempting to find the perfect pair of faux leather pants, in the end I wasn’t the one who found them.  Jim did.  He got me these for Christmas, and I’ve worn them three days in a row I love them so much.

Actually, I wore this exact outfit three days in a row.  It’s comfortable, so whatevs.

 

DIY 3 Ingredient Coffee Sugar Scrub

13 Jan

 

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I’ve been pretty obsessed with this DIY 3 ingredient coffee and sugar face scrub, and the best part is you make it yourself! My acupuncturist recommended it, and my skin really seems to love it.

Just mix equal parts ground coffee, sugar and coconut oil.  You can use either fresh or spent coffee grounds, it doesn’t really matter.  Mix it as you need it, or make a big batch and save it in a jar. I like to make mine every month or so and keep it in the shower.

Being coconut oil is the base of this scrub, it may solidify if the temperature dips below 70 degrees.  Now that it’s currently freezing in NYC, I just run my jar under some hot water for a minute or two and that does the trick.  Then it’s loose enough for me to scoop some out.

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This scrub is safe for both face and body. The caffeine in the coffee brings extra blood to the surface of your skin, which stimulates circulation and healing. The caffeine also makes it awesome for cellulite, being the extra blood plumps your skin and minimizes the dimpling.

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Lately I’ve been all about DIY skin and hair care products.  Do you have a recipe you love to use?  If so, please share it in the comments.  I’d love to try it!

Eden Vegan Cafe

10 Jan

Eden Cafe

Back in October when Jim and I were headed upstate to the Finger Lakes, we decided halfway on the trip we wanted to stop and grab lunch.

The halfway point of the trip was Scranton PA, so while Jim drove I took to my iPhone to start searching for options.  Anytime I travel, I love to search Yelp to find new places to eat.  If there’s a vegan establishment, I always try to stop there to try it out.  Lucky for us, Eden was located right in town a short 5 minutes from the highway, so we stopped in to grab a quick bite.

Eden Cafe

All in all, the menu was pretty extensive!  I had a hard time deciding.  I eventually decided to go on a gluten bender and get a burger, complete with soy “bacon” and cheese, topped with vegan chilli and a side of mashed potatoes (yay carbs!!).  Jim took the sensible route and built his own salad.

And of course I HAD to have a soda.  And a cookie.  I was on vacation after all.

Eden Cafe

Eden Cafe

Eden Cafe

The food was pretty damn delicious and well worth the stop.  Here’s hoping my travels take me past Scranton again sometime soon so I can stop back.  Yum.

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