Fashion

The Other Munch

Two restaurants named Munch in one month.

Wednesday was my birthday and I had a big day planned. I squeezed in a short treadmill run before heading over to Akasha Yoga in Crystal Lake for a massage with Jessica at Wild Roots Yoga & Bodyworks. The hour long Thai yoga massage was just what my tight hips needed. After the massage, I headed down to Oak Park to grab lunch and do some shopping. The vegetarian (mostly vegan, but some dairy cheese is offered) restaurant Munch is much better than the Woodstock restaurant of the same name. This was my second time to Munch and the food is decent. It’s no Chicago Diner or Native Foods, but they don’t try to serve you kalamata olives with Thai dressing. I ordered the “Beefy” Tostada Plate with vegan cheese. The “chorizo” seitan was tasty. The salsa was the wrong texture for me – too chunky, but it was fine without the salsa.

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The best thing about Vegetarian Munch is that it serves Temptation ice cream, which means milkshakes! I got the cookie dough shake to go and headed over to Amour de la Terre.

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Amour de la Terre is Chicago’s new vegan shoe store. They had a bunch of great brands, including a new one I had not heard of, Coral 8. Unfortunately, Coral 8’s shoes run a tad big, which is a problem when you wear a size 6, the smallest size they make. I had to say no to these beautiful driving moccasins but I did get some sparkly pumps, which at least have a t-strap to secure them.

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The shoes are not only vegan, but eco-friendly, too. No cheap plastic shoes a la Payless here. The owners are super nice and I am so happy that Chicago has something like this.

They also have a small selection of kids shoes. E and Little H have gone 11 months without wearing shoes, but Little H is almost walking and winter is coming, so it’s time to buy them some shoes. However, the one time I did buy them shoes, they were too small, so the twins need to be with me to try some on. Of course, that means another trip to Oak Park for more milkshakes and shoe shopping!

Vegan Christmas Gift Guide 2012

Looking for that perfect gift for your favorite vegan? Here are my suggestions for a very merry Christmas.

1. Cruelty-free shoes
Jeffrey Campbell has done a vegan-friendly and sustainable collaboration with Convert, some of which are available on Ebay, if you don’t like near Berkeley.

Wrapped flats in blue & metallic silver and metallic gold

Wrapped blue & metallic silver

Wrapped metallic gold

Red Heels, sadly not available in my size.

Gray Wedge

Olsen Haus is another great eco-friendly line of vegan shoes
Galactic Gray Wedge

Spirit heel in black, green and blue

Olsen Haus is offering 40% off all shoes with code PURELOVETOYOU. Valid through 12/16.

And finally, the Stella McCartney glitter pump, which I hope is not available in size 6 anymore because H bought the last one.

2. A Gunas Bag
Emma Mini in green

It is comes in a black satchel, which I also love, but it’s only available for pre-order.

Gunas is offering 30% off all bags through 12/30 with code FRIFAM30.

3. A Tofu Xpress – I have wanted one of these forever. I hate using lots of paper towels to drain tofu and towels don’t absorb as well.

4. Vaute Couture accessories and sweatshirts

Crochet bamboo headband

Swirl Cable Hat

Friends series tanks and sweatshirts

5. Eco-friendly socks to go with your vegan shoes: RockNSocks from Vshoen

6. Environmentally conscious & conflict-free diamond earrings from Diamond Nexus Labs

7. Sweatshop-free running clothes
Recycled Track Jacket and v-neck tee

Neck warmer and headband
Capris and tights

8. Vegan Leather Clothes

Peplum top and pencil skirt

9. Feather-free puffers

10. Vegan Cuts Snack box subscription

Vegan Cuts has lots of discounted vegan products from body care items to food to fashion. And they have their own gift guide.

11. Urban Decay makeup

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Neiman Marcus + Target

I started my Christmas shopping at Target & Neiman Marcus last weekend and, of course, I bought some stuff for the house. The quality level of the Neiman Marcus + Target collection is better than the typical Target designer collection, but the prices are a little higher, too.

I bought the Band of Outsiders cookie cutter set and used some of my Christmas sugar cookie dough to make the quirky cookies.
Cookie Cutters

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I also bought the Altuzarra cocktail shaker & glasses and the Tracy Reese dessert plates.

Shaker & glasses Dessert plates

The clothes were somewhat of a disappointment. I do like that the Target designer lines use cheaper material because that means it’s usually not silk or wool. But the women’s clothes were not very impressive – they looked cheap and were expensive. There were only two items that I really liked and the one jacket was actually 100% wool, so I didn’t buy it. The other was the Proenza Schouler sweatshirt. I ordered it online and then tried it on at the Target store. The sizing is pretty accurate. I wanted a roomier fit and the small was perfect.
Sweatshirt

The Oscar de la Renta bag, which was one of the few non-leather accessories, looks great online, but very cheap in person. The Tory Burch lunch accessories are cute. The Jason Wu ornaments are also very nice, but eek, $50 for 3 Christmas tree ornaments?! Overall, it’s a pretty decent collection.

Chicago Vegan Mania & Vaute Couture

Yesterday was the fourth annual Chicago Vegan Mania festival. This hugely popular event outgrew its space at Polaski Park fieldhouse and moved up to the Broadway Armory in Edgewater, which was extremely difficult for me to get to via public transportation, but well worth it. CVM has lots of delicious food, speakers, demonstrations, samples, and vegan companies selling their goods.

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I only got to see one chef demonstration, which was Kat Barry from Kat’s Hot Cakes. She made a super easy chocolate nut bark and pancakes. I was also able to catch Farmer Harold Brown, a former beef farmer, talk about the humane myth. Check that website out, please. There is some great information on so-called humane farming.

I was starving by the time I got to the food court. There were so many great restaurants represented, so it was really hard to decide. I finally settled on the dumplings from Urban Vegan, chana masala from Arya Bhavan, tofu rolls with peanut sauce from Native Foods (to use up my 2 final food coins) and mint chocolate ice cream from Robin’s Frozen Fantasy. Everything was good, but the hemp milk ice cream was phenomenal!

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The reason I was starving was because I worked the Vaute Couture booth until 2:00 p.m. It was a lot of fun to tell people about this amazing company, and show them some of the fabulous coats and tees it offers. Because it is pretty much impossible for me to go somewhere without baking, I made gingerbread coats in the shape of my three favorite coats from the new line: the Belden (also from last year, which I own and love!), the Lori and the Emily. Of course, I baked these before Leanne told me I would be working with Kelly Peloza, who literally wrote the book on vegan cookies. (I picked up her cookzine, Vegan Candyland; I was sold at “kit kat”).

The Belden

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The Lori (blue) and Emily (black, but was available in Eggplant, too):

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I pre-ordered the Wings coat this year, and I’m thinking about getting the James for H.

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I love coats; probably as much as I love shoes. Before going vegan, I didn’t think much about wool or down, but the more I learned about it, the more horrified I became. It is pretty gruesome. Switching to cotton sweaters was easy, but what about all my beautiful coats? While I continued to wear them until they needed to be replaced, I was worried about finding something that was both cute and warm. Enter Vaute Couture: a vegan, eco-friendly, American-made coat company with super cute dress coats. If you are in the market for a winter coat, I highly recommend Vaute Couture.

My Day in Cambridge

Fortunately, doctors have continuing medical education requirements and many of them in fun cities. H is attending one in Boston, so I tagged along. I had a great run by the Charles River and then met H for lunch. We went to Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge, which is what I wish the Olympic in Crystal Lake was. It’s 100% vegetarian and very vegan friendly. I ordered The Club sandwich: tofu, tempeh bacon, pesto, mayo and tomatoes on rye.

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I was so full after the huge meal, but I had to try something from the vegan bakery.

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I went with the Boston Creme Pie (to go).

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I spent the afternoon wandering around Cambridge. There is a vegan shoe store, Sudo, so obviously I had to check it out. You can find cheap shoes in the burbs that happen to be vegan, but there is no place like this. It was fun to see and touch the shoes I’ve Pinned. I bought a pair of Beyond Skin nude suede pumps. I walked from Porter Square to Harvard Square and stopped at Crema Cafe for a watermelon limeade, and Mint Julep, which sounds like a name for a boutique in Savannah, not Cambridge. Mint Julep has lots of cute dresses. I found a fun zigzag dress to wear Saturday night (and a wedding next weekend). It matches my new shoes.

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Missoni for Target

Second update: I won. PayPal ruled in my favor and I got my money back. I also got a gift card as an apology. Take that snotty customer service reps who said nothing could be done!

Update: I am boycotting Target. It took my money, lost my package (created a shipping label, but never gave the package to UPS) and a month and a half later wants to give me a gift card because I used PayPal. (I only used PayPal because the website crashed five times while I was placing an order. I entered my credit card number so many times I practically had it memorized. I saw PayPal as an opportunity to go through the checkout process faster). At checkout, it says that if the buyer returns any times, s/he will receive a gift card. I have been unable to speak to any reasonable person at Target who can comprehend this situation. I am not trying to return my order. The risk of loss does not transfer from a merchant to a buyer until the shipper receives the items. UPS never got the package & Target suffers the loss.

How can I return items I don’t have? Besides, I want these items! I placed an order for a specific jacket and vest, not whatever Target feels like substituting. Target is initiating the “return;” therefore, I should not have to take a gift card. Until Target gives me my money back, I am not shopping there.

It was pure madness at Target yesterday when it released the Missoni for Target line. The heavily advertised, zig-zag line ranged from womens dresses to kitchen glasses to carry-on suitcases. I woke up around 6:15 yesterday to check out the new line. There was one jacket I saw in the advertisement that I really wanted:

There were a couple dresses that I thought were cute (only one was in stock though) and I was going to get some towels for the guest bathroom. I was about ready to check out when the website crashed. The website was down for hours; I checked periodically on my iphone, on my way to Chicago. After delivering my documents to the Judge, I had about an hour and a half to kill before my train, so I decided to take the bus down to Target and see what they had there. Nothing. It was all gone! At 10:30 in the morning, there were no womens clothing items left. (The trip down there wasn’t a total waste. I stopped at Whole Foods for a Upton’s Natural pastrami sandwich and a Sweet & Sara peanut butter s’more). There were 2 ugly picture frames and some girls clothing and that was it. But then the website started working again, so I found the items I wanted and was in the process of checking out when it crashed again!

When I got home from Chicago, I was able to get on and check out. I got the jacket! I also bought a sweater shell and some tights.

After work, I went over to McHenry. I figured most people out here have never heard of Missoni, but even this store was picked through. There were a couple dresses I tried on, but neither of them were very flattering. The line runs big. I even tried on a poncho sweater from the girls section. It was cute & the XL fit perfectly, but honestly, where will I ever wear a poncho?I did buy a barrette, some hair pins, a pair of socks and tumblers. The McHenry store also had the luggage, which looked great. I just bought a new suitcase last year, so I didn’t need another. Of course, I could have been a jerk, bought it for $160 and put it on ebay for $300. I can’t decide which is worse: the people who bought everything up to put on ebay or the people who are actually buying Target candles for $80. Yes, it’s Missoni, but it’s still Target, people!

Some of the sweaters and the one button-down shirt at McHenry looked extremely cheap. But the sweater dresses and the poncho looked decent and there was a baby coat that was adorable! If I had a baby or was pregnant, I would have bought all the baby items. Hopefully, my jacket is just as nice.

Unfortunately, the ties and scarves were silk and the winter accessories were a wool blend. McHenry had a lovely blue winter scarf that I would have bought if it didn’t have wool in it. The sweaters and jackets that I looked at were all wool & silk-free.

Fall Fashion – Vaute Couture

Project Runway is in full swing with all its manufactured drama, but none of the designers can compete with Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart. While I don’t want to wish away summer, I am super excited about my new Vaute Couture coat.The look book came out yesterday and it’s full of cute coats and kittens.

My old (wool) green coat was starting to look ragged, so I pre-ordered the emerald green Belden. Pre-orders were 50% off the first 24 hours and are now 45% off for the next week.

I also won some Neuarua boots on eBay. They are 2 seasons old (and $35! Love eBay’s Best Offer option) but there are still plenty of riding boots coming out this season.

Continuing this pretty on the outside theme, for dinner, we had some colorful pasta from World Market with roasted tomato sauce and Gardein Chick’n scallopini.

Moschino Flats & Cupcakes

My new favorite shoes:
Moschino + Kartell

They are surprisingly comfortable for (recycled) plastic shoes. I reluctantly agreed to see Thor with H on Saturday, but we had front (of the stadium seating part) & center seats where we could put our feet up on the railing. If I got bored, or I couldn’t handle watching Thor be an idiot, then I could just look down at my pretty shoes.

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Also on Saturday, I made gingerbread cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting. The lemon cream cheese frosting is so good! So that H could have enough for everyone at work, I made vanilla cupcakes with fresh strawberry buttercream frosting, half gluten-free. The gluten-free ones came out better when I used corn flour. They don’t taste like a cornbread muffin. They strawberry buttercream was a little difficult to get thick enough, yet still have a strong enough strawberry flavor.

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Gluten-free on the right. Not as fluffy, but still pretty decent.
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Gingerbread:
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Vegan in Vegas – Day 3

On Thursday, I was scheduled to run 5 miles. Coincidentally, Ronald’s Donuts was 2.5 miles from our hotel. I wore my Stella McCartney running pack and set off to this mecca of vegan donuts. I bought two donuts – a glazed for H and a chocolate topped creme-filled for me and stuffed them in my running pack and ran back to the hotel. Oh my goodness! These are amazing!

Our second hotel, Palms Place, was much closer, so on Saturday, we walked over for breakfast.  I had a lemon filled donut and H had another glazed and a chocolate-covered one.

For lunch we went to La Cave, a food and wine hideaway, and sat outside on the patio. I drank pinot noir and ate the Mixed Greens, Oven-roasted Tomatoes, Onions with Champagne Dressing and Fiery Artichoke, Roasted Pepper Flatbread. Both were quite tasty.

Thursday was our last day at Encore and H hung out in the casino and coffee shops while I went shopping at the Wynn and Encore shops. While most of the stores sell leather shoes, In Step at Encore sells Melissa shoes. I bought the Amazonas in black, which went better with my Vegas party dresses than the black work shoes I brought with me.

They also go well with the one-shoulder Alice + Olivia dress I was talked into buying at Mojitos Resort Wear at the Wynn (which sounds like an old ladies’ store, but has a great selection of designers).

After shopping, we went over to the Palms, which is so different than Encore, and not in a good way.  It was packed with college spring breakers who were drunk from the moment they got off the plane.  It was not our scene.  The Palms has several nightclubs, lounges, playboy bunnies and a poorly-rated Tex-Mex restaurant, but also has a premier French gourmet restaurant, Alizé. It offers a vegetarian tasting menu and I was able to order off of that (I couldn’t do another tasting menu).  I started with the Bouquet of Baby Greens, Caraway Cracker, and Tomatoes with a Balsamic Vinaigrette and for my entree I had the black pepper crusted tofu. I didn’t take any pictures, because I would have needed the flash and it didn’t seem appropriate in such a fancy restaurant. However, the view was the best part of the experience. It was incredible.

 

 

Spring Wedges

It will be a while before I stop wearing boots and starting showing some toe, but these are some of the shoes I’m lusting after now.

Cri de Coeur’s Emma Wedge in nude (or black):

Mink’s Chick Wedge.  I just discovered this brand, but apparently there is a limited production and the shoes sell out quickly.

I sneaked into Nine West after court one day and saw these nude Smooch wedges. I was happy to see that it was synthetic instead of patent leather.

Stella McCartney’s Patent Cork-Bottom Sandal

Beyond Skin’s Sunny Platform Sandal