Fall 2014 Outfit #26 / Back to My Grunge Roots

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Okay, so I know I previously mentioned I was going to move away from doing outfit posts. Truth is, I've been so excited about how many outfits I've been able to create already out of my 40 piece Fall Maternity Capsule Wardrobe that I feel the need to start sharing some of my favorites.

Though this is actually the 26th unique outfit I've created out of my capsule, I've been wearing similar variations of this specific one because I just love both the sweater and jacket so much. I love them even more combined. Something about the way the buffalo plaid cascades and peeks out beneath the tough moto jacket just makes me feel so badass even with this baby bump.  It just seems effortlessly cool to me.

When planning my fall capsule the one pattern I wasn't sure why but I really wanted to add in was buffalo plaid. I've just always loved it. In junior high and high school (in the peak of the grunge filled 90's) I lived in quilted buffalo plaid flannels I stole from my father. Much to my mother's dismay, I'd even refuse to wear winter coats on the coldest days and instead insist of these beat up and tattered quilted flannels.  When I found this cascade cardigan version, I just knew I had to have it!  To me it looks like a more grown up version of those jackets my mother hated all those years.  I'm so glad I trusted my gut and just got it, I've been wearing it pretty much every weekend since I started this capsule.  Every time I wear it, it just feels very me.  It's really hard to explain.  I feel just as warm and comfortable wearing it as if I was wearing my 90's flannels all over again.

I guess in a way who we are and our personalities when we are younger before the daily grind sets in kind of reflects our true personalities when you think about it.  It's funny seeing these photos of me now, I really don't look all that different than my high school self. Ironically enough despite changing my hair every three months, as of now I even had the same haircut!  I think it's really funny now that I'm in my 30's it had to take me finding pieces that remind me of my 15 year old self to feel even more confident than I already was.

So if you're just dipping your toes into seasonal capsule wardrobe planning now, and are stumped on what to include, try remembering back at what your favorite pieces were in your high school years.  After identifying what that special piece was, try to find a contemporary item that reminds you of it.  Then buy it and prepare to feel like a rockstar every time you wear it.  Even if it's a grunge rockstar.  

Maternity Tank: ASOS
Buffalo Plaid Cascade Cardigan: Mudd for Kohl's (similar here)
Vegan Moto Jacket: Zara (similar here)
Jeans: Old Navy
Boots: Jessica Simpson (similar here)  

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Once A Month Freezer Cooking

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In less than two days, Jim and I turned all of this plus as ton of produce into 120 meals to stock our freezer with.

During my first trimester this past summer, I had a lot of difficulty eating.  My food aversions were so severe, it made it really difficult for me to know what I could stomach eating up until it was actually time to eat.  At the end of a work day, I usually love unwinding and making myself and Jim dinner, but even if I were to choose a recipe that day, by the time I got home that evening the recipe suddenly sounded revolting to me.  Pregnancy is a strange thing.

So how did I survive?  I ordered takeout, a LOT.  And it cost a small fortune.  Seamless owes me some stock in their company.

Having this quick, mandatory break from cooking also helped me evaluate a few things.  While I love cooking, I fear doing so in the evenings once the baby arrives just isn't going to be feasible anymore.  Most recipes I like to make take anywhere from 30-45 minutes to make, which under normal circumstances is fine.  But then you have to factor in cleanup as well as packaging lunch and a bunch of other chores before I can actually sit down at the end of the day.  When I sat down and did the math, if I continued doing this once the baby arrives I'll probably have an hour tops of quality time to spend with my child each evening after I get home from my 10 hour work days when they are older.

So I decided in order to curb my recent Seamless habit, as well as to create new habits that will allow me and Jim more time to spend as a family in the near future, that we would try our hand at once a month freezer cooking.

In order to make the entire process of cooking and freezing 15 meals in 2 days less intimidating, I decided to subscribe to Once A Month Meals' premium service.  For $16 a month, they allow you to mix and match menus and create your own.  Since I'm vegan and Jim is paleo, this worked perfect for us.  Using their system, I planned the following menu for us.  By doubling each of the recipes, we'd get over 120 servings which is more than plenty for the both of us for close to a month and a half.    

Recipes for Both of Us:

  • Paleo Granola with Dried Strawberries
   

Recipes for Me:

  • Vegan Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
  • Carrot, Parsnip and Lentil Casserole
  • Creamy and Comforting Chickpea Pasta Casserole
  • Mujaddara (Lentils & Rice)
  • Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup
  • Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Chard Dal
  • Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash
   

Recipes for Jim:

  • Dijon Pork Breakfast Skillet
  • Creamy Cashew Chicken Soup with Kale
  • Paleo Chicken Salad with Apricots and Almonds
  • Green Chile Turkey Burgers
  • Lemon Rosemary Broiled Salmon
  • Crockpot Mongolian Beef
  • Paleo Eggplant Lasagna

The Once A Month Meals system is actually pretty neat because once you create your menu, it creates a master shopping list, prep list, cooking day instructions (with a checklist), recipe cards, thawing instructions and labels for you.  It recommends you do all of your shopping on one day, your prep work the next day, and then your final cooking day on the third day.

Jim and I planned ours so our shopping was done online through Instacart and delivered on Friday evening.  We did our prep work that night after the groceries arrived, and then did our cooking all day Saturday.  Working together as a team, our prep work took around 3 hours, and the actual cooking and packaging took us 9 hours.  Our groceries also cost us close to $150 less than if I shopped weekly, and we were getting over a month and a half of meals out of this plan.

IMG_5846.JPG Mission Control: Our apartment entry door is metal and we use magnets on it as a message board.  It was perfect to post all the recipes on.  As we finished one, we threw it out and continued until the door was clear.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset Mixing up a batch of Vegan Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

Probably one of my absolute favorite parts of the Once a Month Meals service if they provide packaging and freezing instructions including how many freezer bags and aluminum pans you'll need.  Their freezer labels are the BEST.  They include the reheating instructions and totally play to my OCD tenancies.  Look at how pretty the packaging looks!

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset My Slow Cooker Sweet Potato & Chard Dal just prior to storing in the freezer.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset I seriously cannot wait to dig into this home made granola.

Once A Month Meal's menus are seasonal and include seasonal produce.  Choosing seasonal ingredients is a great way to save on your overall grocery bill since items in season always cost less.  One recipe I made for myself that's perfect for fall and super easy is for Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash.

Here's the recipe so you can see how their website gives you instructions to freeze and then cook the meal later.    

Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves: 8

Ingredients

4 individual Squash, Acorn
2 cups Meat Substitute Crumbles
2 cups cook Quinoa
1.25 cups dice Onion
0.25 cups chop Parsley, Fresh
4 teaspoons mince Garlic, Cloves
0.50 teaspoons Paprika
1 cup Vegetable Broth/Stock
0.50 teaspoons Salt
0.50 teaspoons Black Pepper
4 tablespoons melt Margarine
   

Supplies Needed

Plastic Wrap
Baking Sheet
   

Containers Needed

2 Gallon Freezer Bags

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Cooking to Freeze Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.0 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cleaned squash cut side face down on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine meat substitute, quinoa, onion, parsley, garlic, paprika and broth. Mix lightly but well. Season with salt and black pepper. Remove squash from oven and brush with a bit of melted margarine. Divide veggie beef mixture evenly among the squash halves (about 1/2 cup per squash half); brush over stuffing with a bit more melted margarine. Cover in plastic wrap, divide among freezer bags, label and freeze.

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Serving Day Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.0 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until the squash is tender.

So far I've been absolutely loving our freezer meals!  Not only do Jim and I save a ton of time each evening now when we would have been cooking and cleaning up, but we now each have the freedom to choose what we want to eat that evening.  It's made the whole vegan living with a non-vegan thing much, much easier.

Have you every tried once a month freezer cooking?  If so what's your favorite recipe?

My Fall 2014 (Maternity) Capsule Wardrobe

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If you've been following along with me sporadically this past year, you'll know I had made the resolution to create a more minimalist wardrobe, and to do so I was trying out the French 5 Piece Wardrobe method.  Winter and Spring of this year, it worked great.

Then I got pregnant.

Over the summer, as I started to get bloated and my clothing tighter, I knew I wouldn't be able to survive on a sole 5 pieces for the upcoming Fall and Winter.  No freakin' way.  I was going to need all new basics in maternity versions.  Jeans, trousers, skirts, button down blouses.  Being I prefer really tailored, classic pieces, I just knew my current basics wardrobe just wouldn't work for me into my second trimester.

So I started searching the internet for solutions.  To my delight, I came across a blog called Un-Fancy by Caroline, a minimalist fashion blogger.  What Caroline does is every season (i.e. 3 months) she assembles a new "capsule" from basics already in her wardrobe collection as well as a few new pieces.  Her capsules are all just 37 pieces!  Yes,  you read that right.  37 pieces including shoes!  Everything else she has goes into storage.  She also doesn't shop once a capsule is put into place until it's time to shop for the next capsule three months later.

She offers a great Capsule Wardrobe Planner worksheet, so back in early September, I decided to give it a go.  I was going to create a capsule maternity wardrobe!  Her planner actually worked really, really well for me to figure out what I like to wear, what was practical for me, what I could use from what I already had, and what I could shop for.  It even helped me account for the percentage of clothing I should have for work vs. non-work life.  In less than two hours, I had a shopping list and was ready to shop!

I purchased everything for my capsule online from online retailers I shop from when not pregnant, who happen to have maternity lines.  The vast majority of the pieces came from Asos, closely followed by Old Navy.

I ended up with 40 pieces when all said and done as opposed to Caroline's 37. This is because I wanted to include plain black and white tees and tanks, so it bumped up my count a bit. It's still a heck of a lot less than previously and it's been so much easier getting dressed every day. I have yet to repeat an outfit since I started.

Without further ado, here's my Fall Maternity Capsule Wardrobe for 2014:

Click on the item for links on where to buy.  For older items that are no longer available, I linked to a similar piece.

Times Are A’Changin’

Ultrasound & What to Expect When You're Expecting

It's weird, I've been putting off writing this post forever.  Probably more because I've been embarrassed I haven't posted anything on this blog since May.  But it's been with good reason.

I'm pregnant!!

Yes, you read that right.  I'm currently a little over 4 months along.  The reason I've been MIA for the past several months is because I had the most awful, horrible case of morning sickness.  Not the type that makes you puke all the time thankfully.  But the kind that makes you nauseous 24-7 for weeks on end.  That on top of the hideous stench New York City takes on during the summer months pretty much forced me indoors for close to three months.  I couldn't even walk Portia.  Bless Jim, besides just taking care of me he also held down the household like a champ.  I couldn't have survived the duration without him.

So needless to say, we're super excited!  We had been wanting to have children for a while now, and it's still hard to believe by March of next year baby Feld will make his or her debut!

There is one, very solid benefit to me being out of commission for the last several months.  It gave me a lot of time to reflect on my life, both past, present and future.  A large part of what I've been reflecting on is how I spend my free time.  As you may or may not know, I work as an Executive and work anywhere between 50-60 hours a week.  I absolutely love my career, and have no plans of changing any of that when lil' Feld arrives.  With close to 11 hours of my day accounted for with work alone, once a baby enters the picture I need to be really smart with the rest of my free time.

This blog falls into the realm of "things that take up my free time".  Like I mentioned regarding my career, if I absolutely love doing something, I have zero issue with it eating into what little free time I have.  Crossfit is a great example of this for me.  I make the time because I love doing it.  This blog used to be that way for me, and what I began to realize is over the years I started posting less and less, until I arrived at this point.  Truth is I really love blogging.  So why has my passion for it fizzled so drastically?

The realization I came to is I'm a totally different person now than when I started this site in 2010.  It was the height of the street and personal style blogger era.  Back then, I didn't even have what I'd call my own personal style.  My wardrobe was boring and bland.  I had the same haircut for over 15 years.  I was in a sad state.  That's the primary reason I created this website.  Inspired by all the other style bloggers, I wanted my own space to publicly document what I wore and therefore make it easier to evaluate what worked and didn't work for me.  I also wanted to show people vegan style didn't have to be boho and boring.  In essence, I created Brooklyn Bliss for me in efforts to make myself a better version of myself.  All told, the site served it's purpose in that aspect.  I am extremely confident now with how I put myself together, and what my overall style aesthetic has become.  It's a fun bonus since I started blogging that readers have since started following me, and using my site as a resource on where and how to shop for stylish vegan goods.

Looking back, I now realize that maybe two or three years ago, right after I my 30th birthday when Jim and I started seriously discussing having a family, the blogs I was following started to change.  I usually try to only subscribe to around 10 feeds at a time, and now when you look at my feed there aren't any more personal style bloggers.  It's all been replaced instead by family and lifestyle bloggers.

These days I find following people's day to day lives and activities way more interesting than what someone is wearing.  Granted, many of these bloggers are still insanely stylish in every aspect of their lives (wardrobes, homes, etc), the key thing that draws me to each and every one I follow is that they've created lives totally unique to themselves that both they and their families are happy with.  I love following along with all the unique experiences and activities they have with their families, trips they take, meals they make, and more.  They are actually living life.  Sometimes I'd often feel like I'm wasting my life on television, the internet and worrying about what I'm going to wear or buy.  This is one of the big reasons I've been adopting a more minimalist mindset over the past year or so.

In realizing that, it now makes sense to me why I don't post as often these days.  I had created a space that's known specifically for (my) vegan fashion choices, and have for years felt obligated to stick to those topics.  I felt if I didn't have time to get good outfit photos outside, it's not worth me putting any post together.  But if my life no longer revolves around the subject of my blog, it's no wonder why I have been procrastinating on posting and keeping up with my social media.  Hell, it's difficult to come up with topics to write about if you're not engrossed in it's subject daily anymore!

Back a few weeks ago, I had actually mentioned to Jim I was thinking about shutting the site down.  His response really surprised me, considering at one point the amount of time I was spending on the blog was a sore subject between the two of us.  "Why shut it down now when you already have over 4 years invested in it?"  He's 100% right.  So I've decided if I'm going to keep the site, the site's going to have to learn to change along with me.  Even before coming up with new ideas on what I actually want to post about, I started working on a graphic re-design of the site and little by little hacking away at it.  This new design I feel is more "Current Corrie".  It's clean, minimalistic, with a hint of urban edge.  Much more so than my old pink-stenciled graffiti design.

My life is changing drastically within the next year.  So it's not so illogical to not think my blog shouldn't either if I still want to include it in my list of "things that take up my free time".  Does this mean I'll never post outfits?  Of course not. Just expect the format to be a bit different.  Instead of staged shots showing every element of my outfit, expect to see more shots of me out and actually doing things, but wearing an awesome outfit.  I always loved doing travel posts, restaurant reviews, and documenting day trips and things to do around my city.  Expect to still see those.  The big change I think will be to no longer expect formal outfit and shopping posts.  Granted, shopping posts about adorable baby outfits and gear I'm sure will make an appearance.  But I promise to keep it at a minimum.

One thing I for sure promise you is not to make this an over-the-top "Mommy" blog.  The way I view Brooklyn Bliss is simple, it's a blog about my own, blissful life in Brooklyn.  Being a new Mom will be a new aspect of my life, but not my entire life.  I really look forward to sharing these new changes in my life with you, and (hopefully) in the years to come.

P.S.- in case you are interested, here's the video Jim and I created and posted to our social media to announce our pregnancy to our friends and family.

Manhattan Special / Espresso Soda Float

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A few weeks ago while on my way home from Manhattan, I texted Jim and asked him if he wanted me to pick him up anything before I came home.

His response: "Swing by Anthony and Son's and get me a Manhattan Special".

I had no clue what the hell is a Manhattan Special was.  I thought it was a sandwich.

Ends up being it's this really amazing espresso soda carried at the Italian grocers in our neighborhood.  It's actually made and bottled in a small factory in our very neighborhood, only a few short blocks away from our apartment.

Jim explained this all to me and I stopped quick to pick some up for him.  Then I proceeded to drink half the bottle when I got home, it was so tasty!  It also was so caffeinated, it's made with real espresso after all.

"Oh my god, you know what this needs?!" my caffeinated self told him while buzzing around the apartment, finishing off the bottle.  "It totally needs ice cream!  This would make the best float ever!"

So the next time I picked up some Manhattan Special I also picked up a tub of my favorite vegan vanilla ice cream and made myself a float.  Easiest recipe ever.

First, buy yo'self some Manhattan Special.

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Then in a large glass, scoop two to three scoops of your favorite vanilla or chocolate ice cream.  Vegan or non-vegan ice creams all work here folks.  Then top off with the Manhattan Special.

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Just like a traditional float, you'll have to add the soda little by little to avoid it from spilling over.

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Once the glass if full and the ice cream has floated to the top, insert your straw, grab a spoon and enjoy!

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Have you ever had a Manhattan Special?

Travel Diary / Brazil

Travel Diary / Brazil

P1050828.jpg My job is kinda awesome. This past February, I had to go to South America on a business trip.  The catch is, it was considered an "incentive" trip, which means the trip was more play than work.  I wish every day at work was like this!  I swear my job really is not usually this glamorous.  This trip was an exception. Our accommodations for the entire trip was on a small cruise ship that only had members associated with this incentive trip on it.  So it was super exclusive, and a fantastic way to get to network and get to know our colleagues in a more casual setting.  Being the ship is so small, the service was incredible.  Not to brag, but I had a butler and every morning he brought me these gluten-free, vegan buckwheat pancakes and tea for breakfast.  I had a hard time adjusting when I got home after being doted on like this for seven days. P1050879.jpg My room was also a suite,  with a balcony! P1050839.jpg Our ship departed from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, so we got to spend a few days there.  What an incredible city!  It had just as much hustle and bustle as New York does.  But the weather is way, way nicer.  Plus they had beaches.  Rio wins. We only really had a day and a night there, so I was pretty limited in what I could go do and experience.  My favorite was taking a cable car up to the top of Sugarloaf mountain.  The views at the top were spectacular! P1050843.jpg P1050847.jpg P1050864.jpg Here's the view without my goofy face blocking it. Isn't it spectacular?! Believe it or not the photo barely does it any justice. P1050871.jpg Later that evening we went as a group to see a samba show.  To be honest, the show was really awful.  I think we got stuck  in a tourist trap.  The caipirinha's were disgusting (I've had better ones in the States) but they did the job and made the show halfway enjoyable.  There was this one act that had this Michael Jackson wannabe who shook his head like he was epileptic.  He was the highlight of the show but for all the wrong reasons.  The costumes however were insane! P1050830.jpg After Rio we set sail for a quick stop in Paraty.  For that day's excursion I opted for a catamaran booze cruise that stopped at several lagoons where you could swim and go to the beach. Best day at work, ever. Paraty is very remote.  One of the locals told us due to the roads it would be over an 8 hour ride by bus back to Rio!  It's not very often you get to swim and enjoy the sun with such untouched beauty all around you.  It was the best way to spend the day and see the best sights Paraty had to offer. P1050880.jpg After swimming the day away and working hard, it was then time to head back to the ship and onto the next country on our journey. P1050881.jpg Stay tuned next week for my travel diary from the country with the best shopping on this trip: Uruguay!

French 5 Piece Wardrobe / Spring 2014 Update

French 5 Piece Wardrobe Spring 2014

My post earlier this year on my French 5 Piece Wardrobe experiment has gotten a lot of interest due to it going viral on Pinterest, so I figured I'd let everyone know how it's going so far.

I think I'm pretty well set for spring of 2014, though several of the items I got are basics so I may or may not replace it with another item if I come across something I absolutely love.

Here's my five so far for spring/summer:

  1. A pair of birkenstock like sandals.  Mine are from Zara and I love that they are a more minimal take on the trend.  I had said earlier I wanted a sandal that followed a trend and these were perfect.
  2. Two new bikini's (I'm counting these as one purchase).  My old ones were busted and I really needed new ones for this spring and summer.  I went with leopard and black so I can mix and mach them.
  3. A pair of leopard track pants.  I bought these while in South America this past February.  They were in the window and I just HAD to have them.  I haven't gotten to wear them just yet, but once it gets warmer out I'll be living in these.
  4. A new trench coat.  I've been wanting a classic style one for a long time, so I finally found this Zara one on eBay and bit the bullet.  This is a basic though so I won't limit myself and may replace it with something else.
  5. Plain, mid-heeled boots.  These were more of a winter purchase though I knew they'd get me into spring.  I've worn these almost daily since I got them in February.  They literally go with everything!  I may purchase a second pair just so I have them for one the current ones wear out.  These are also a basic, so I may not include these as part of my current 5 come summer.

I also followed through on my quest for a minimalist wardrobe, and succeeded to whittling down my closet to only 60 pieces.  I'm not joking.  My goal was 50 pieces but 60 is where I got to and I'm happy with that.  This number doesn't include PJ's, unmentionables or work out clothing but does include everything else.  To be honest I absolutely love my new closet.  It's way easier to get dressed in the morning having less choices believe it or not.  It's also made me be more creative with how I layer and pair what I have.

After living with the new 60 piece wardrobe for the past few months I think I may have a need for more loose, breezy summer dresses.  Most of what I have are bodycon which is the last thing I want to wear when it's hot out.  So I may replace my trench or boots in this round-up with two new dresses.  I have time to decide on them though.  I also think I may start looking for some delicate, minimalist jewelry pieces.  Luckily jewelry and accessories doesn't count on this method so that should tide me over on my shopping fixes.

All in all so far this method has really made me reconsider how I shop.  I'm much more mindful of my purchases.  Since I only get 5 every 6 months, I need to be sure what I get will go with everything in my closet.  So it's eliminated impulse purchases.  Because of this I've also been able to splurge on more expensive, higher quality items because I'm not impulsively shopping all the time.  I love it!

Stay tuned for my French 5 Piece Wardrobe summer update in the next few months.  I'll keep you posted on where I'm at.

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Brunch at The Butcher’s Daughter

IMG_5485.jpg This weekend I met some friends at the Butcher's Daughter in the Lower East Side to catch up and have some brunch.  The place had been on all of our "must try but my husband won't go" lists so we figured it was the perfect choice for a girl's outing. IMG_5481.jpg IMG_5487.jpg While The Butcher's Daughter is by their own definition a vegetarian establishment, it's fully dairy-free and has lots of  vegan and gluten-free options. According to their website:

The Butcher’s Daughter is a new juice bar, cafe and “vegetable slaughter house”.

As a human race, it is becoming more and more obvious that our diet – and the way we eat – is changing: Meat is moving off center-stage and the spotlight is turning to fresh fruits and vegetables. At The Butcher’s Daughter, we treat fruits and vegetables as a butcher would meat: We chop, fillet and carve fresh produce into heathy vegetarian dishes and press them into pretty juices. ...We take pride in our daily-changing menu, which is 100% vegetarian and non-dairy. Most of our menu items are vegan and gluten-free, and we can always prepare substitutions for most dietary restrictions.  
We couldn't have had a better day weather wise to try it. The temperature actually hit 80 that day and sidewalk seating was available, making it my first sidewalk cafe meal of the spring and summer season.  Spring is finally officially here!   IMG_5488.jpg The menu had so many items I could actually have!  It was like heaven for me. IMG_5495.jpg To drink I settled on their Strawberry Blond juice spritzer.  It had strawberry and blood orange juices paired with basil and topped off with soda.  It was so refreshing and I'm probably going to try to concoct a copycat version at home. IMG_5497.jpg As my entrée, I had no choice but to try their Spicy Kale Caesar Salad.  A friend of mine on Instagram posted a photo of it the day prior and it looked so delicious it was all I could think about until I arrived at the restaurant that day.  The kale was dressed with a creamy vegan caesar dressing and topped with croutons, avocado, almond parmesan, and the most amazing crispy shallots ever.  I'm kind of obsessed with crispy shallots now, I want to put them on everything! IMG_5501.jpg Not shown but equally yummy was a side of their gluten-free toast and cashew cheddar cheese.  I'm counting the days until I can head back and try some additional items on the menu. Have you ever been to the Butcher's Daughter?  If so what was your favorite dish?  I need some ideas to try for next time I go!

Win an Eco-Friendly Birkin Inspired Bag from The Underground Chic / Closed

The Underground Chic Ginny Bag- Giveaway   The Hermès Birkin bag is one of the most iconic bags in fashion. Named after actress Jane Birkin, each one is handmade and in limited production. Because of the scarcity, they range in price from $7,500 to over $150,000! That's not the only issue with Birkins, they're also almost exclusively made up of exotic animal skins. Calf leather, ostrich, crocodile and lizard are just a few of the varieties them come in. Even if they were more affordable, they are by no means a compassionate choice when it comes to choosing a handbag.   The Underground Chic Ginny Bag- Giveaway   If you'd prefer your Birkin to be less expensive and made of vegan, eco-friendly, recycled plastic bottles then check out The Underground Chic.   The Underground Chic Ginny Bag- Giveaway   At first glance, Underground Chic bags look like real leather with metal hardware; however upon closer examination, you will see that their 100% RPET handbags have a crisp, trompe l'oeil image of a Birkin printed on the bag.  It may trick your eye, but it'll please your wallet since their bags retail between $28 - $119.   The Underground Chic Ginny Bag- Giveaway   Today The Underground Chic is giving away a cobalt blue Ginny bag valued at $119 to one lucky Brooklyn Bliss reader.   To enter to win, either comment, follow, pin or tweet via the instructions below. Giveaway valid for US residents only.   a Rafflecopter giveaway   Financial compensation was not received for this post.  A sample product was gifted from The Underground Chic.

The Easiest Way to Pack Your Lunch

Bentgo Bento Box My office for work is located in a food dead zone. Located in the middle of a huge warehouse district in South Brooklyn,  the closest place to grab a bite to eat is Wendy's down the street.  Besides that, there's pretty much zero other options besides an occasional Dunkin Donuts and traditional Brooklyn pizza shops.  Nothing is healthy, and being vegan only further complicates things. We also have no onsite vending machines of any kind.  Or coffee makers.  The closest things we get to either is what we lovingly refer to as the "roach coach", otherwise known as the coffee truck.  It arrives without fail at 10 am every day to serve bitterly burnt coffee and bags of chips so tiny they'd barely satiate a child.  As a result, I've been more or less forced to learn to get really efficient at brown-bagging my lunch. My solution to make packing both my lunch and snacks a breeze?  The bento.   Bentgo Bento Box Bentos are single portion, home cooked meals which are common in Japanese cuisine.  They're packed into tiny boxes and feature a healthy, well-rounded meal meant to be eaten at room temperature. When I first learned about bentos, I purchased some traditional Japanese ones from a Japanese vendor.  The size of the box is supposed to correspond to the number of calories you should eat at your meal.  While this method is a great way to execute portion control, I had a few issues with these style boxes:
  1. They work best for traditional Japanese foods.  Rice, a protein (meat or fish usually) and some cooked or pickled vegetables usually round out traditional bentos.  Only issue with this is I'm American and don't make Japanese style food all the time.  It was difficult to fit sandwiches and other types of cuisine into these boxes.
  2. I don't always like to eat room temperature food,  And not all Japanese bentos are microwave safe.
  3. No room for snacks.  I'm gone all day, and needed a bit more space for at least two sets of snacks.
  4. No place to keep utensils.  On Japanese boxes, if there is a space built in it's almost always for chopsticks.  That then takes me back to bullet point #1.
  5. They aren't leak proof.  A traditional Japanese bento has sauces packed separately.  While the containers they use for them are super adorable, they're a pain to clean.  Plus I'm lazy.  I needed something I could pour a sauce on and not have the box leak.
Bentgo Bento Box After trying several different types of boxes over the years, I finally found my favorite one.  It's called the Bentgo and it's available on Amazon.  It solves all the issues I had with my previous boxes including:
  • It's a larger size, which is more appropriate for American portions but still small enough you can toss it in your purse or tote bag.
  • It's microwave safe.
  • Top box has space for two snacks.
  • Standard utensils are included and built into the leak-proof packaging.
They also come in adorable colors, and are inexpensive!  If you're interested in purchasing a Bentgo you can get them here. Bentgo Bento Box Now that I found the perfect vessel to pack my meals for the day, the actual packing part is a breeze.  All I do is either pack dinner leftovers or a sandwich in the main container, and my pre-planned snack options for the week in the divided one.  I usually try to keep my snacks to a sweet one for the morning with my coffee, and savory for the afternoon. Here's some examples:

Lunch Options

  • Leftover pasta
  • Leftover curry, stir fry or other ethnic foods and a grain, like rice or quinoa
  • Leftover stews (soups or anything too liquidy doesn't work in this container)
  • A sandwich
  • A salad (pasta and grain salads work great in bentos!)
  • Clean-out the fridge leftovers (like shown below, pesto shells, lemon tofu and green beans)

Snack Options

  • Fresh fruit and nuts
  • Hummus and cut veggies or crackers
  • Rice cakes with toppings like almond butter and jam, or guac and radishes
  • Baked goods like banana bread or muffins
The possibilities are only limited to your imagination. Bentgo Bento Box Packing my bento each night and eating it the next day always makes me smile.  They make your food seem so much prettier and appealing.  Sure beats a sad looking sandwich in a ziplock. Do you brown-bag it to work each day? This post is not sponsored by Bentgo.  I just really like their product.
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