Photos and a Life Lesson

Somewhere on the New Jersey Turnpike driving back to Philly from New York after a BFF date in SoHo, I learned an important lesson about friendship. After a weekend doing the normal things that girlfriends do (coffee, photoshoots, Mexican food, margaritas, creepy dive bars, giggling, hot tubbing, more coffee, spontaneous mini road trips, shopping, "dude, I dare you to chug the rest of that beer," Thai food, sharing a slice of vegan red velvet cake, blaring Beyoncé in the car, philosophical conversation, laughter, talking about boys... normal, right?) I was struck with the realization that girlfriends are a sort of divine gift. I always took them for granted because I didn't want to deal with the drama. In high school and college, all of my friends were dudes. I had one girl friend. I ended up punching her in the face as hard as I could. Not a moment that I'm proud of but do you get it now? It wasn't until I was much, much older that I started making girlfriends. I'm glad that I waited because I've got some fantastic ones. Deb is one such fantastic girlfriend. Not to go all stereotypical-and-quoting-Sex-and-the-City on you, but we both came to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe Candace Bushnell was right when she said, “Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.” At this stage in my life, that is absolutely true, except I'm staying away from the male-type humans for a little while. Who needs 'em? And you know what? I'm completely fine with that. I feel like "single and happy" is the minority in the blogging world but I'm enjoying it quite a bit. Let's be honest. Having really good friends helps, especially when they're willing to stand on precarious rock formations and lay on the cold ground just for the sake of photographs.


Christmint Cocktail

Italian Christmases are no joke. They last an entire week and are filled with lots of family, food and, well, booze. It's all a cycle. Can't have family without food, and you certainly can't have food without vino and other assorted spirits. You can't drink alone or else you're an alcoholic, thus the family presence, and the circle of life repeats itself. Yesterday marked the unofficial beginning of Christmas. Yes indeed, we began our preparation for the feast of the seven fishes. We go hard. We start making Christmas Eve dinner a few days early. Also, Christmas Eve is almost a bigger deal than Christmas day. It also marked the official beginning of extended family members pushing traditional Italian cuisine on me and the beginning of me attempting to explain that my plant-based diet prevents me from partaking. They always respond with a look of disbelief of bewilderment. I know. Crazy me. 

While the family was stuffing the calamari (pronounced GAH-LA-MOD, which I know, it makes no sense but that's just what we do) they realized that a hard beverage would make the experience even better. I crossed my fingers and hoped that this combination would be a winning one. It was such a hit that I just HAD to take some photos to share it with you!

What you'll need:

 - 2oz Crème de Cacao
 - 2oz Crème de Menthe
 - Your choice of Half & Half or Creamer (Fellow vegans, I LOVE Coconut Milk Creamer.)
 - Dark Chocolate for garnish

You'll also need a shaker and ice. Begin by filling the shaker halfway with the ice and pour in the alcohol. Fill the shaker the rest of the way with your creamer and shake, shake, shake! Pour into a glass and shave dark chocolate over the top. If you want, you can add a candy cane for a little extra touch. 


M&C Wedding Video

Remember Mike and Cindy from their wedding preview last month?  Here's a little video of their day. Cindy wanted a little something to share with her family and friends in Brazil who couldn't be there. What do you think? It was so much fun to make!


Unicorns and Holly

Skip N' Whistle is wonderful for making these classy ugly sweater tees and even more wonderful for sending me one to style. I decided to style mine in the spirit of Jovie, my favorite sassy department store elf. I've been loving a high ponytail lately. It's low maintenance and high... ponytail. (I tried to be clever right there but it didn't really work.) December has slipped through my fingers in the most tragic of ways. My brain has been so fried that I wasn't even able to put two and two together to realize that Christmas is less than a week away. (I blame Thanksgivukkah for throwing me off.) I'm not kidding-- I spent the entire day telling people that I still have two more weeks to shop for Christmas presents. The worst part? Nobody even corrected me! I just happened to look up at my advent calendar and saw only a few spaces left and my jaw hit the floor. Whoops. I can tell you any local news that's occurring in the Philadelphia area but I can't tell you when Christmas is. Anywho, I digress. These ugly sweater tees. Seriously great. Go and grab one while you still can


insta lately

Life is very, very beautiful. Capture every moment you can.


ís prinsessur

It's been a snowy past few weeks here in the Northeast. I love it. Most people.... not so much. Maddy is one such person but doesn't she still look so lovely? Snow bunny or not, can you think of a lovelier afternoon than one spent gallivanting around in the woods like ice princesses? Of course no afternoon in a winter wonderland would be complete without some hot cocoa (with soy!) and Christmas movies, both of which we enjoyed with much gusto. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well!

e.m. (& Maddy Dove)

e.m.'s outfit: sweater/ Free People, skirt/ ModCloth, booties, chain, lace shirt, & flower crown/ H&M, tights/ Etsy, pearls/ vintage

maddy's outfit: sweater & boots/ F21, scarf & watch/ Cotton On

not another Christmas playlist

Confession. I made a Christmas playlist purely because of tradition and because I don't want to let you all down. Truth is, I haven't been much in the mood for Christmas lately. (I know. This is unprecedented for me.) Hanukkah came and went. It's been snowing since the weekend. The house is decked in red and green and yet, the spirit of Christmas eludes me. These past few months have been rough and I think this Christmas playlist reflects that. I'm going to apologize ahead of time: it's kind of a bummer. But you know what? It's okay. All of this soul-searching is painstakingly nudging me to rediscover the true reason for the season. As frustrating as the process is, how bad could the outcome possibly be?


First Snow

Few things make me happier than a good snow. As soon as I see those little flurries start floating down from up yonder, I pull on my boots and run outside. The pup loves it too. We're just two of a kind, prancing around in the powder without a care in the world. 


Thanksgiving with Art in the Age

The people over at Art in the Age are much more classy than the industry standard of class. They came up with some spectacular Thanksgiving recipes and I couldn't not share them with you. (Like my double-negative there? Trying to keep you on your toes.) I'm kind of a jerk for posting all of these recipes so late (depending on how my night goes, I may be sharing even more tomorrow... whoops?) but who says that their goodness should be limited to one day a year? I say, "nay." I say "let the Pilgrim's Punch flow freely whenever it so wishes."

Pilgrim's Punch

What you'll need:
 - 1 bottle SAGE
 - 1/2 cup Cointreau 
 - 1 bottle sparkling wine 
 - 1 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice 
 - 1 1/4 cup simple syrup (1:1) 
 - 3 cups club soda 
 - 6 lemons, cut into quarter-wheels 
 - 3 limes, cut into wheels 
 - 1 pint fresh raspberries 
 - 1 pint fresh cranberries 
 - 1 pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes Ice block

Combine all the fruit in a large punch bowl. Add the gin, juice, syrups,. Refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours. Just before serving, add the sparkling wine, club soda and an ice block.

Spodee Vinaigrette

What you'll need:
 - 2 cups Spodee wine 
 - 3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar 
 - 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard 
 - 1 Cup Olive Oil 
 - Dash Salt Dash Pepper

Combine Spodee wine, vinegar and mustard in mixing bowl. Whisk in the olive oil slowly and season with salt and pepper. Can be stored in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Thank you folks at Art in the Age for being so much cooler than me and for sharing your deliciousness with the world. I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


*Photos and recipes courtesy of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Roasted Grapefruit

I know that foregoing the pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving seems sort of blasphemous because it's supposed to be the one day a year when you indulge in everything and blah blah blah but if you're like me and doing well on your diet, working out, and losing weight, there's absolutely nothing wrong with finding a healthy alternative. Baked fruit is a favorite of mine. It's an easy way to trick yourself into thinking you're eating something sugary and sweet because it is sugary and sweet but without (most of) the guilt.

What you'll need:
 - 1 Grapefruit
 - Brown Sugar & Sugar in the Raw
 - Any mix of nuts and/or dried fruit you'd like to add.

Preheat the oven to 350. Segment the grapefruit by cutting an asterisk into it and then cutting around the edges. This helps the sugar to distribute evenly while it melts. Sprinkle a generous amount of brown sugar and sugar in the raw on the top. When the oven is ready, roast the grapefruit. Cooking times may vary, begin with 20 minutes and check back often. I like the top of mine to be a little burnt. When it seems to be baked to your liking, take it out and sprinkle some nuts on top for a little added protein. I added raw almonds, walnuts and dried blueberries. Serve hot. Yum yum yum!


some tunes for you

Sun Song, Laura Veirs (Warp & Weft) - Everything about this song is perfect in my book. It's captivating. Ethereal. It's also pretty catchy-- I've been finding myself singing it at the most unexpected times. The words seem to mesh flawlessly with the melody and the little details are all in the perfect places. I've been listening to it on repeat because I've felt so stressed out lately and it does a good job of diffusing the anxiety. Give it a listen, you'll more than likely feel the same. 


Hearty Vegan Italian Wedding Soup

vegan, Thanksgiving, soup, recipe,
It would seem as if soup season is upon us. I think that soup may be what draws me to the cold weather more than anything else. Who doesn't love it? There is a soup for anyone and everyone. This is hopefully the first of many soups I'll be making between now and springtime. One of my weird perpetual cravings is Italian Wedding Soup. (I know, right?) This one is my remedy for that, except it's slightly more hearty. It'll definitely be a staple for me in these upcoming cold months.

What you'll need: (Makes four generous servings)
 - 1 Carton of Vegetable Stock
 - 1/2lb of Baby Red Potatoes
 - 1/4 Onion
 - 2 Sprigs of Rosemary
 - 3 Large Handfuls of Greens (I used Escarole, Baby Spinach, and Swiss Chard)
 - Olive Oil, Salt, Crushed Red Pepper, and Garlic

Begin by pouring the entire carton of vegetable stock along with two cups of water into a pot and boil. Add a dash of salt and rosemary. While the water is boiling, prep the vegetables. Cut the potatoes in half and the onion into small slices. When the water comes to a boil, add the potatoes. Leave the water at a boil. Take 1/4 of the package of vegan sausage patties and roll them into small meatball-like spheres.

While the potatoes are boiling, coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil. Add the onion, crushed red pepper, and as much or as little garlic as you'd like. (I like a LOT.) Once the oil is heated, sauté the greens. Cooking time for them can vary. Once they are tender, (usually should take no more than 10 minutes) transfer them to the broth and reduce to a simmer. Keep the pot covered for this part. In the same pan, brown the "sausage." Once again, cooking times may vary. Just wait for them to be evenly browned. Once they're brown, add them to the soup as well. Simmer uncovered for an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

vegan, italian, wedding, soup, recipe, thanksgiving,
Relatively easy to complete, no? Perfect after-church lunch to whip up during a football game on a chilly Sunday afternoon. Could even be a great vegan addition to the Thanksgiving table this year. It's sure to be a hit among herbivores and carnivores alike.