Food for Thought: Drea's vegan story

Thursday, April 30, 2015

First up is Drea - a vegan who lives in South Florida and fills her life with simple everyday pleasures one day at a time. Here is her awesome food story.

- A few words about who you are, what you do, where you live and what you are passionate about.

Well, I’m Drea. A new 30 year old (hello thirties! welcome!) I blog for a living - and I just finished putting together a cookbook late last year which will be out late summer. Hooray, hardest thing I've ever done! I’m passionate about simple and colorful living. My family and I live a really nice life - and we do it, well, simply.

- When, why and how have you decided to become a vegan?

I became vegetarian around 14 or so - but it wasn't until almost 10 years later that I finally became vegan. With the “farming” industry being so damn shady, it didn't make sense for me to still consume milk and eggs and think it was okay. Sure, if you’re lucky you can pick up healthy eggs or milk at your local farm and this can be delicious and humane, but boxed eggs and milk at a grocery store is rarely okay.

Every time I went to eat milk or cheese I just thought about poor crusty udders. (I’m gross, sorry). I picked up a box cleanse one day and went forward - no dairy, eggs, fried stuff, gluten, etc. After two weeks, I felt AMAZING. I slowly added back in gluten (gluten forever) and eventually fried stuff too, cause hell, chips are delicious. But I realized that a sick congested feeling and stomach ache was a consequence of dairy and it just made sense for me to stay away from it forever - for a multitude of reasons. It stuck. Almost ten years later, it was still one of the best decisions that I've made.


- What is a vegan diet/lifestyle? What are the food-groups/products you avoid? How do you substitute them?

So simply put, vegans don’t consume anything that is made of an animal or comes from an animal. Meat, eggs, butter, ghee, cheese, you name it, we avoid it. One thing I've personally started consuming again was honey - but many vegans don’t. We’re currently in the process of getting chickens for our home, so eggs might be a sometimes option - but chances are they will mostly be saved for my husband. I mostly want chickens for the composting perks and pest control addition to our garden. And they’re cute.

Meat is easy. We’re not a meat and sides kind of family. We like big abundant one pot bowls of food, so it's easy to just skip the meat all together and add in another protein (like beans). We use olive oil to cook. Or sometimes earth balance “butter” for some items. We skip eggs. We skip cheese - or if I’m really craving something like pizza, we make a cashew cheese. It’s easy and so healthy - and really good too.

- How does being a vegan fit into your everyday life? Your family, your energy level, your well-being, shopping for food/cosmetics, going out for dinners, traveling?

Easily really. Once you retrain your brain to realize that not every meal needs cheese on it to be delicious, you’re good. It’s pretty easy to eat vegan at home (read: really easy). With the expectation of a cereal or dry pasta we don’t really buy processed foods - so buying vegetables, legumes, and grains is pretty straight forward and always vegan. Going out to dinner is pretty easy too. Most places have vegan options these days and it’s not too difficult to vegan-ize something by requesting no cheese or oil instead of butter.

Cosmetics are easy too, just look for the bunny or V logo and you’re good. You can see my favorite products, hereTraveling isn't so bad either - pack snacks for the plane and just do some minimal research before you head anywhere.

And health wise? I feel wonderful. My blood levels are through the roof, I’m rarely sick, and my mood is much improved since nixing out dairy.

- How do you plan your meals as a family and cook at home since your husband, Alex is not vegan? How does Marlowe feel about being a vegan? 

It’s pretty easy. I mean, yes, Alex loves meat. That won't change, but it doesn't need to. We eat real food and it's delicious. At home we’re meat free and he has zero complaints. He still has cow's milk for his coffee or butter for his toast - things like that, but that's it. You can see my food section for more food we eat :) Marlowe thinks it's great! We’re very open with her about what she eats and what else she could eat, if she wanted. She’s perfectly fine being vegan - that being said, she’s excited for chickens and will probably be eating our eggs at home.

- What‘s your daily/weekly go-to meal plan? (Breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner)? Food basics that you swear by? 

For Marlowe we usually make mango oatmeal pudding for breakfast. Or cereal when we’re lazy. Alex and I opt for lattes, haha. For snacks, the kid averages out like, 10 million fruits a day. Lunch is our big meal. Alex works late afternoon/evenings, so we share a big lunch together. Pastas, rice bowls, summer rolls, pizza, whatever. For dinner, Marlowe and I usually have soup together. You can see more of Marlowe eats, here.

- You're very passionate about natural living, what are a few of your favourite natural products that you make yourself?

My favorite trick that I can’t live without is using coconut oil as moisturizer. My other favorite trick is applecider vinegar for conditioner. We make our own elderberry syrup too.


- Any tips on how to make a healthy transition to veganism? 

My biggest advice is to remind yourself two things: do what you can, it doesn't have to be all or nothing and any step is a good step. I’d recommend slowly cutting out your vices. It’s hard in the beginning, but after about two weeks of fully detoxing, your body will feel better.

- And any other aspects of your vegan journey you’d like to share with us… 

Not all vegans are PETA fanatics :) You can be a happy loving vegan that feels better cause less harm :) Vegans can (and should) eat french fries when craving.

Thank you, Drea for sharing your story! xo

P.S: One change...
P.P.S: Vegan before 6pm?

(Photos by Drea and Hannah Mayo)

Food for Thought Series


Yippee! As I mentioned last Friday, today we're starting our second series on exPress-o this month. It's about everyone’s favourite topic – food! In today’s world of 1001 diets, tons of different lifestyles and new dietary trends being introduced on regular basis, I (and probably many of you, my sweet readers) have the hardest time keeping up. Am I right?

In recent years, I had my fair share of dietary struggles. So, to get to the bottom of it and find the best way for us to go forward, I asked a handful of truly amazing and very honest women to share their food story and tell us why they chose their particular path. They will tell us what it really means to be vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, fructose free, etc. and how to lead more of a holistic life overall.

The series is about getting to know different ways of eating depending on your health or beliefs. It’s about finding out the ins and outs of how different people eat, what their daily eating habits are and how their diet influences their everyday life.

There are many myths on different food lifestyles and I’m keen to learn from the people who live it. Honestly, you will be blown away by it all – I am! Hope this series will inspire you, give you answers, make you rethink your eating habits or at least clarify a few things.

The first story is coming up shorty!

P.S: Breakfating.
P.P.S: Foodie confessions.

(Photo via Modern Girls & Old Fashioned Men)

Swinging in Palazzo Serbelloni in Milan



Superb! Earlier this month all the visitors of the Palazzo Serbelloni ballroom in Milan were treated to a different type of viewing experience. Philippe Malouin created an interactive installation and placed it in this amazing spot in order to showcase different varieties of Caesar stones and let the visitors experience it for themselves.

So in essence, whoever fancied had this rare opportunity to admire the amazing space while swinging. Fun, isn't it?

P.S: Remember the 21 swings in Montreal?
P.P.S: Crossing Abby Road :)

(via fubiz)

Soak up the good vibes

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

And speaking of life's simple pleasures, here is something wonderful about drinking water that I started to do after reading Nicole's post.

She said:
Recently I learnt, that water absorbs words, emotions, music; everything.  If our bodies are made up of nearly 60% water, why wouldn't we want to be drinking up lovely thoughts? If you write on your bottles of water, apparently it will soak up the good vibes and transform the water into beautiful molecules. 

This has nothing to do with science (obliviously), but somehow simply the idea can cheer you up, really. Try it, you will see for yourself!

P.S: 10,000 hours.
P.P.S: The meaning of cacti, and our perfections.

(Photo by Nicole Valentine Don)

Dolce far niente bowl of goodness


Remember this scene from Eat Pray Love when Luca Spaghetti explains oh-so passionately the true meaning of dolce far niente? Well, years ago when I first read the book, I promised myself to be more in tune with the sweetness of doing nothing. I made a mission for myself to try incorporating those tiny little stolen moments into my days. I must admit I don't always manage, but when I do, my life is better for it.

So for the past few years, each spring when asparagus season is in its glorious best, I always enjoy a bowl of 'dolce far niente', all on my own - usually on those evenings when Balazs is working late and the flat is so quiet that you can hear a pin drop. Ah, those are the best evenings, ever!

So, if you fancy a hearty, healthy, spring-perfect meal, here are the deets to make this happen in your home:

Steam a few baby asparagus and place them in a bowl together with a few fresh figs, slices of smoked salmon, your favourite fresh goat cheese, a dozen of Italian olives and 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs. I  also drizzle on top a dash of grape-seed oil mixed with one clove of freshly grated garlic. I usually eat it on its own, while sipping a glass of rosé, but a slice of crusty rosemary bread on the side might be a fitting addition. Enjoy!

P.S: One life to live.
P.P.S: How to have a great life full of simple pleasures.

(Photos by exPress-o)

Spring Girl Crush




Flowy, slouchy and beautifully loose dress + messy side braid + saucy lipstick colour + a floppy hat = comfortable, sassy and simply perfect spring uniform!

I've added a few A-line-care-free type of dresses to my closet recently and even though the weather is not quite perfect to wear them with bare legs, I've been living in them for the past few weeks. Now I just need to find one awesome hat!

What do you fancy wearing this spring?

P.S: Plus, this one and that one.
P.P.S: The art of simplicity.

(Photos by Barefoot Blonde)

Parenthood is about love, not genetics: Kevin's Story.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Today, I'm excited to share our 3rd adoption story - this time told by a dad. It's a story of two amazing people, Kevin and Sarah who flew all the way to China to bring home their little and utterly adorable 'lotus flower' named Julia.

- A few words about who you are, what you do, where you live and what you are passionate about.

We're Kevin and Sarah Brown from Nashville, TN. I'm a partner in a marketing agency by day and social entrepreneur on the side, and Sarah stays at home full-time after selling an online baby boutique that she ran for seven years. We're passionate adoption advocates, we love our lovely East Nashville neighborhood, and are National Park buffs.

- When, why and how did you decide on adoption?

After spending an irreplaceable eight years together married and years before that as best friends, in 2012 we finally started feeling ready. People always say 'You’re never ready for kids, just do it'. But we, for the longest time, were definitely un-ready and were soaking up every moment together as a party of two. In fact, there were many 'What if we just never had children?' conversations. Even once we knew it was time, oddly enough we still didn't feel that urge to get pregnant. For us, it was always more about the general concept of family and guiding a little soul as their own beautiful life story plays out.

About the same time, our worldview began to broaden and we started to develop a deeper appreciation for cultures other than our own. We became hungry to learn as much as we could about what else was out there. Then sitting at home in Nashville on random weekend nights watching films about refugees in Sierra Leone or the plight of young girls in China, our curiosity about the world turned to admiration and empathy for those with less.

Why adoption? We get this question a lot. Naturally. Adoption was already part of our lexicon, dating back to 2007 when we first tried to get pregnant. Although we were never faced with the decision, adoption was never off the table and was always in the back of our minds. Fast forward five years and we wish we could tell you about a “eureka!” moment where something clicked. Watching 'China’s Lost Girls' in 2012 was definitely a rallying point (where we learned of the heart-breaking situation of newborns there), but it’s still hard to pinpoint one single moment.

Our adoption journey started as a gradual development - a tiny little spark that worked its way into a blazing flame. Now, it’s hard to think about a time when we didn’t have this passion. And our conviction that adoption is how we will build our family covers us like a warm blanket.

We feel fortunate that adoption was a choice for us. For us, being parents is not synonymous with birthing children. Being parents means providing family, home, unconditional love, support, security, and spiritual guidance to our child. Our child just happens not to be made up of our DNA but of our hearts instead. There are so many children whose home is an orphanage and whose 'unconditional' ends at a very young age upon which the streets become their 'family'. There are an estimated 147 million orphans out there; roughly 2 million in China alone, and that number only represents the ones officially documented. Our hearts are filled with love enough to parent them all, and we count ourselves blessed that we are the parents of even just one. We might only be able to afford a few in our home, but we plan to keep plowing forward as long as we can.

- How did the process of adopting Julia feel? The paperwork, the resources you used, the timeline, the emotional rollercoaster, the wait, the uncertainty - everything and anything that can describe your journey.

We actually embraced and enjoyed the actual process. We tell people that it's your version of pregnancy, so soak it up. Sure, there's a lot of paperwork and it costs a lot of money, but it's a unique experience that you'll miss when it's gone.

One (of many!) crazy things about international adoption is that - by the time you start the process - your child is already out there. So the day we began our adventure in January 2013 and met with the adoption agency, we walked into the meeting knowing our daughter was already a few months old, falling asleep some 13 hours ahead in her birth country of China. It took more than 15 months to meet her, but we knew she was with us (and vice versa), every step of the way.

We stayed connected to her via the sun and moon every morning and night. As night would fall, we knew she was awaking to a new day. And when we'd start a new day, we'd pray she would sleep soundly that night.

- When did you start sharing your plans with your family and friends? How did they react?

We told them pretty quickly after starting paperwork and began blogging soon thereafter. However, once we received and accepted Julia's referral in early December, we decided to wait until Christmas to surprise friends and family. It was an amazing experience getting to share the news in unique ways.

Our family knew for some time that we wanted to adopt. For some, it took a while to understand why we didn't want biological children. But fast forward to the process itself once they learned more about the orphan crisis around the world, and not one of them questioned our intentions at that point.

- How did the day of meeting Julia for the first time feel? What happened?

It's surreal and almost hard to put into words. After months of looking at her picture, you're suddenly standing in a Civil Affairs office in China and your 22-month old kid comes in (carried by an orphanage nanny). It was excruciating because we had to wait 5-10 minutes on the paperwork to arrive before we could even go to meet her. So there she was, 15 feet away from us in the same room, looking across the room, and we couldn't go to her. Then, like that, they call your name, the nanny handed Julia to Sarah, and within an hour we were back in our hotel room (just the three of us). Meeting her was indescribable, and she was so brave.

- After Julia  came home with you, was there an adjustment period or did you feel the connection with her right away? How was it for the rest of the family?

Even though there's a definite adjustment period with all adoption, Julia was a champ and for the most part internalized any of her grief. She was quiet at times and withheld eye contact from us for a couple of months, but there were lots of laughs and smiles from day one. We of course were connected with her immediately, and she accepted physical affection (even though we took it slow). It was about 6-9 months before she started to show physical affection back.

Like with most adoptions, they tell you to only allow the parents to hold the child for a while...which was extremely difficult on family. But they fell in love with her immediately too, and to this day have a special bond.

- How is life nowadays? (Has adopting been what you expected so far?)

It's amazing. We can't imagine life without her. We highly, highly recommend adoption (especially international). Our bond with Julia grows by the day, and you honestly forget quickly that your kid wasn't biological. We always say we don't think it's possible to love a being any more than we do.

- Do you have contact with the birth mother? Would you like to?

In China, you never do since all children are abandoned (because there's no legal way to give a child up for adoption).

- Are you planning on having more children in the future? 

Yes! We actually just started adoption #2 from Uganda! If all goes well, Julia will have a younger sister within a couple of years.

- And any other aspects of your journey you’d like to share with us...

It really is an incredible experience and China is an amazing country. There are so many of these children who need forever families, so we really urge folks to consider adding to their family via adoption. Fundraising makes it extremely doable for folks who otherwise might not be able to front the money, and you meet so many amazing folks along the way.

Thank you, Kevin and Sarah for sharing your beautiful story! xo

P.S: Also, Katie's and Larissa's beautiful stories.
P.P.S: Plus, my thoughts on the series.

(All photos by/via Kevin)

Outings





Last August, French artist Julien de Casabianaca went to visit Louvre where he discovered a bored-looking girl in the corner of a painting. His first impulse was to figure out a way to free her and give her a second life. So, he snapped a picture of the girl in the painting, printed it out, and pasted it on a building in Paris. After that, his friends started to do the same thing, and the project grew from there.

Nowadays, you can spot tons of outings from different museums all over the world from Paris, NYC to Barcelona and even Rome. It’s a way for people to bring those historical paintings to life on graffiti walls and give them a fresh start.

Ha, imagine walking by one of them and be captured by their unexpected beauty. That would be fun, wouldn't it?

P.S: Looking at art and guardians of Russian art.
P.P.S: Stay tuned for a new and beautiful adoption story.

(via Slate via My Modern Met)

Greek Yoghurt Cheese

Monday, April 27, 2015



Do you have a favourite cheese? My newest revelation is this homemade Greek yoghurt cheese. A few weeks ago, my friend Sofia made it and ever since then, we've been hooked!

The best part is it's made of only three ingredients - Greek yoghurt, salt and olive oil. Yup, it's that easy and it almost tastes like fresh goat cheese - creamy, rich and incredibly fulfilling. Here is the recipe. Enjoy!

P.S: Goat cheese grape balls and cheese with a coffee twist.
P.P.S: The perfect pair :)

(Photos by Taste Love &Nourish)

A Nifty (Natural) Trick To Spring-Ready Skin


Do yo use homemade face masks? In the last couple of weeks I have developed this Sunday night ritual of an egg white + honey face mask followed by a lazy long bath - sort of an indulgent treat to round up the week. It's the most simple recipe, but really effective. I just love how a plain egg white mixed with a dash of honey can make my skin feel so glowy, tight, fresh and ready to face the week. (Full how to here).

What's your favourite go-to homemade mask mix?

P.S: And this springtime detox bath is amazing as well!
P.P.S: Having trouble sleeping? Try this.

(Recipe and photos by The Chriselle Factor

Traveling The World, Together






Swoon! Finnish-Norwegian couple Samuel and Hildegunn met in Hawaii, got engaged in Paris and got married in Normandy. Nowadays, because of Samuel’s job, they travel the globe snapping photos of the most beautiful spots they stumble upon. Since Mondays are made for daydreaming, go on, get lost in their dreamy feed.

Where would you like to be today? (Me, here).

P.S: Tell the world anything, and around the world in 38 weddings.
P.P.S: One girl's emotional world journey.

(via Bored Panda)

Mother + Daughter Giveaway Winners


Drum rolls, please!
The winner of Edor's Mother's Day giveaway is Sara and her mom. Congrats to both!

P.S: Thank you all for playing...

Cheers to a splendid weekend

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cheers to the weekend! I've been craving a slice of homemade cake with some kind of zesty frosting all week long, so tonight I'm going to make one myself! And speaking of food, next week, I'm starting a new food/dietary series on exPress-o that I'm super excited to share! More details on Thursday:). Besides that, tomorrow we're planning to get ourselves lost in the city and just wander around - the goal is to find a new great cafe to try out. What are your plans for the next two days? Have fun and I will see you back here on Monday morning! Fancy going down the internet-rabbit-hole? Enjoy!

There are only 3 more days left to enter our gorgeous mother + daughter Edor jewelry GIVEAWAY! (Psst: you can win two of your favourite pieces).

Being nice is good for you.

What a talent!

The art of being apart.

Raw, chocolaty and scrumptious...

Fancy ditching your car?

Why breakfast cake is amazing.

Mindfulness is the 'it' cure for depression.

Ha! Did you know that you can hard boil an egg is a steamer?

A beautiful keychain that you can make yourself.

Behind the door...

Should I have a baby or establish my career first?

Giggle...

Having hard time falling asleep? This might help:)

One lovely home on wheels.

Fancy making pancakes this weekend? Try those...

A few nifty ways to worry less.

Smiling lamb :)

The best beauty products for grey hair.

And fancy a blast from the past?
- Three years ago today.
- Two years ago today.
- One year ago today.

P.S: How about a bit of chit-chat? Join me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and even Pinterest.

(Photo of the view from 17th by Nic)

This Week's Gems


Can't get enough of this ikat check dress. Pretty, isn't it?...

How gorgeous is this necklace?...

Comfortable and sassy - ideal tops for spring!...

Logo perfection. What a stunning design...

Ah, this linen apron is made for long, sunny and lazy spring baking days in the kitchen :)...

Those hikers are made for long sunny days around the city...

Ha! This natural toothpaste sounds amazing!...

Oh my goodness, I so need this 'Camp' stationary set  - what a summer gem!...

Great little jacket to keep you warm during the cool-ish spring nights...

Love...

The mix of floral goodness with the undertone of amber, sandalwood and vanilla...

This lace top makes me swoon...

Genius, a tote and a backpack in one!...

Being a tomboy at its best!...

Adorable...

Wow! Two stunners...

So pretty!...

Happy Friday, dears! What caught your eye this week? Any great finds or buys?

P.S: Fancy more gems?
P.P.S: Speaking of all things sassy, don't miss our mother + daughter Edor jewelry GIVEAWAY this week!
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