Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What I Ate: Independence Day Edition

I had a lovely and languid three-day weekend for the July 4th holiday, where all I did was watch movies, take naps and eat some decadent food!

Of course, I had to Halloweenize this holiday, so on July 4th proper I carved a melon-o-lantern out of a mini watermelon. Yep, I really do try to make every day Halloween! It was a lot of fun, easy to do (though I did bust out my pumpkin carving tools), and reminded me that Halloween is not that far away! Here is my patriotic and starry-eyed little creation:

Star-spangled melon-o-lantern cuz Halloween in July!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Restaurant Review: Timeless Coffee Roasters in Oakland, CA

Timeless Coffee 

On our road trip up to NorCal for vacation, we drove through the night so we could arrive at Timeless Coffee Roasters in Oakland, California for breakfast! It was my first time visiting Timeless, and even after a long night of driving, I was soooooo excited to finally try out this all-vegan cafe that serves up breakfast, baked goodies, and, of course, coffee!

Loved the interior of Timeless!

We arrived around 9am, and the place was packed, with a long line at the counter. That only gave us more time to ogle the pastries behind the counter (such cakes! such pastries! so many other goodies!) and admire the cute decor. Gah, if I lived in Oakland I would be here every day!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Watch Now on Netflix: Nightcrawler

One of 2014's underrated gems was Nightcrawler, a dark and gritty neo-noir film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a young hustler who gets sucked into the sordid but lucrative business of trolling the streets of Los Angeles to film fires, car crashes - and murder. It's not precisely horror, but its wickedly dark tone certainly caught my attention - and it is now available on Netflix streaming!

Here is the official synopsis:

Los Angeles denizen Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) survives by scavenging and petty theft. He stumbles into a new career as a cameraman and -- armed with a camcorder and police scanner -- begins nocturnal forays across the city in search of shocking and grisly crimes. When he catches the eye of a shopworn news director (Rene Russo) who welcomes the chance to raise her station's ratings, Louis goes to increasingly greater lengths to catch the "money shot."

The film was thrilling, especially set against the reflection of neon and flashing red and blue lights in LA's blood-soaked streets, Crime photography has always fascinated me, and the dark side of it the movie presented really drew me in. I also really dug the weird-o character Gyllenhaal played (he did such a phenomenal job in this role), who I actually started to sympathize with as the film went on, despite how he far he spiraled. And the quirky bits of dark humor his character injected into the film really made me like him even more! The social commentary aspect of the movie was also timely, especially when most people have access to film/photograph almost anything 24/7, not to mention our culture having an intense fascination with disasters and accidents that may lead to death.

I highly recommend you check out Nightcrawler, streaming on Netflix now, but also available on other places as well as on Amazon!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Food Review: Bit Baking Company Cookies

Bit Baking Company Cookies!

Is there anything better than a perfect vegan cookie? I think not! So when Bit Baking Company contacted me to review their vegan and gluten-free cookies, I couldn't say no! A delightful package arrived a few days later full to the brim with four different flavors from this Michigan-based company. Each of the cookies were wrapped individually and a good size, about the size of my palm.

Bit Baking Company Cookies I received - Cocoa Chocolate Chunk,
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk, Chocolate Chip, and Oatmeal Raisin!

The four flavors I received were Chocolate Chip, Cocoa Chocolate Chunk, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk, and Oatmeal Raisin. Since their website didn't have a full ingredient list at the time of this post, I took photos of the ingredients of the cookies I received (note: these ingredients may change, so always check with Bit Baking Company directly if you have any questions about their ingredients).

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dandies Pumpkin Marshmallows Coming this Fall

Dandies Pumpkin Marshmallows - coming fall 2015!
Photo courtesy of Chicago Vegan Foods' Instagram.

It's never too early to keep an eye out for pumpkin-flavored fall food items, and the rad Chicago Vegan Foods (makers of Dandies vegan marshmallows, Teese vegan cheese, and other fine vegan products) recently announced that they are unveiling new PUMPKIN Dandies marshmallows this upcoming autumn!

Via Chicago Vegan Foods' Instagram:

"Did you know we have pumpkin Dandies hitting the shelves this fall? We're so excited! Tell your favorite store about them."

Um, can't freaking wait for these!!! I was so, so stoked when I saw this post on their Instagram that it just about made my whole week! I can't wait to get my hands on these and makes some delicious, pumpkin Rice Crispie treats, preferably with the Pumpkin O's seasonal cereal from Trader Joe's! Or I could make some epic pumpkin hot chocolate with these! Yum!

What are you most looking forward to making with these pumpkin marshmallows?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Watch Now on Netflix: Animal (2014)

There are some pretty mediocre and downright awful films on Netflix, and to be honest Animal (2014) looked like it would fall somewhere in between those categories. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining this horror flick turned out to be, despite its generic sounding name/synopsis.

Here is the set-up for this creature feature:

"When plans for a weekend vacation hit a dead end, a group of close-knit friends find themselves stranded in unfamiliar territory, pursued by a menacing, blood thirsty predator."

This film won't win any awards for originality, but it was a surprisingly fun way to kill 80 minutes. While the characters start out as typical horror movie stereotypes, I liked that they tried to develop them so they stood out from one another and how they were mostly all likable (well, with one notable exception). The creature design was also really well-done and looked realistic, as did the gore and bloody special FX. For a low-budget horror flick that was produced by the Chiller Network, it also looked pretty sleek, with some great direction/production. It is set almost entirely at nighttime in a forest, so I appreciated that the lighting was spot-on so that all the action happening was crystal-clear. The storyline also had a few twists and turns that kept me engaged the whole running time of the movie.

If you are looking for some fun, mindless entertainment, Animal is a nifty little creature feature that pairs delightfully with some beers and pizza. You can find it streaming on Netflix now!

It's also available for purchase on Amazon!

Monday, May 11, 2015

What I Ate - April/May 2015

I've been a little stressed at work lately, so I haven't had a chance to post much. I wanted to remedy that, but since my life has pretty much been work, eat, sleep, repeat, I haven't had much to write about. However, inspired by Vegan Crunk's "Stuff I Ate" posts, I figured I could at least share some of the better things I've eaten in the past couple weeks. I love drooling over everyone's vegan food posts, so I thought this would be a fun, quick, and visual way to showcase some finger-lickin' vegan food I've eaten recently! Note: Most of these have been posted previously on my Instagram, in case you already follow me there and are thinking these look a tad familiar!

 My version of Frito pie! I made this with Trader Joe's Corn Dippers (though Fritos are "accidentally" vegan), black and refried beans, Follow Your Heart's Cheddar Vegan Gourmet Shreds (my new fave vegan cheese shreds!), crispy cabbage, red salsa and hot sauce. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Recipe: Castagnaccio or Tuscan Chestnut Flour Cake

Tuscan Castagnaccio or Chestnut Flour Cake

Next in my series of veganizing traditional Tuscan food, I want to share with you a recipe for a rustic peasant cake called castagnaccio (otherwise known as migliaccio in some regions of Italy). This is a slightly sweet, slightly savory flat chestnut flour cake. It uses only simple, seasonal ingredients to create a distinct, unique dish!

My Babbo (Italian for daddy) showed me how to make castagnaccio, and got me hooked on this treat! He remembers eating it growing up in Fiesole, Italy, though outside of Tuscany he doesn't think it is very well-known. It's such a traditional taste of Tuscany that I wanted to share it with you! Below you'll find the recipe my dad handed down to me, which was handed down to him from his mother, my Italian Nonna.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Day at Death Salon Getty Villa: From Ancient Necropolis to LA's Metropolis

This past Sunday, April 26th, I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Death Salon held at The Getty Villa in Malibu, California, whose broad focus was "From Ancient Necropolis to LA's Metropolis". The Death Salon is curated in part by The Order of the Good Death, who helps put on these events in different locations around the world. This time they partnered with J. Paul Getty Museum and The Getty Villa to bring Los Angeles a view of death that the ancient Etruscans, Romans, and Greeks held, plus touching on some local LA death-centric topics. But wait, you might be asking yourself...just what is a Death Salon? The Death Salon website explains, "In the spirit of the eighteenth-century salon – informal gatherings of intellectuals – Death Salon encourages conversations on mortality and mourning and their resonating effects on our culture and history."

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Halfway to Halloween + Walpurgisnacht

It's April 30, ghouls and boils, which means it is officially HALFWAY TO HALLOWEEN!!

Only 6 months to go!

Please excuse me while I squeal...SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Witch by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

Tonight also marks Walpurgis Night, or Walpurgisnacht, aka Witches' Night!

From Wikipedia:

"Walpurgis Night is the English translation of Walpurgisnacht, one of the German names for the night of 30 April, so called because it is the eve of the feast day of Saint Walpurga, an 8th-century abbess in Germany. In German folklore Walpurgisnacht, also called Hexennacht (literally "Witches' Night"), is believed to be the night of a witches' meeting on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, a range of wooded hills in central Germany between the rivers Weser and Elbe."

Stay spooky and better start getting your Halloween plans in order!
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