Tag Archives: cosmetics

My everyday styling routine

Today I’m going to take my readers (hey guys!) through my everyday styling routine and showcase some of my favourite vegan products.

Feel like you’re experiencing déja vu? You just might be. I did a post like this a little over a year ago, but that was before I was really confident with my photography skills and even had the know-how to actually set up portrait shots. My confidence in my skills has definitely changed drastically over the last year, but so has my makeup routine, so I thought I’d provide a more detailed and high-quality post into what my routine looks like most days!

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Minimalist Christmas gift ideas: Orange Christmas spice body scrub

christmas-spice

Here’s a great five-minute project that I created last weekend while I was a bit bored. I’m lucky enough to be one of those people who has a million spices in her cupboard, so this was pretty easy to come by. It’s also a great solution if you’re looking for a good gift idea that is budget-friendly, something for a vegan in your life or just something for that one impossible-to-buy-for person. Trust me, the older you get, the more people appreciate homemade gifts, and the best part of this is you don’t need to be some sort of professional blogging, DIY maven to actually succeed at this one.

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Vegan nighttime routine: My longtime go-tos

Night Routine

If you asked my partner, he’d probably tell you that my “nighttime routine” involves reluctantly washing my face and then falling asleep on the couch while watching a rerun of Rick and Morty/Brooklyn Nine-Nine/The Office/something equally silly. However, for the past year or so I’ve actually been trying harder to get a more definitive nighttime routine down because helping myself actually ease into sleep and relaxation makes it way easier for me to fall asleep. (more…)


What’s in my (vegan) bag: Ballet class edition

WIMB Ballet

If you’ve known me for five minutes, you probably know that I’m a dancer. I’ve been dancing since I was 11 years old and I’ve never really stopped. I also teach dance at a few different studios, which keeps me feeling so happy and connected to the art.

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New vegan personal/household products I’ve tried lately (including one that almost burned my eyelid off)

Big Shampoo

It’s been a busy start to spring in our apartment (which our friend Molly has affectionately nicknamed the “BJ Supermarket”). We’ve been more productive than ever with clean-ups, new organization systems and personal projects (like finally re-stringing my ancient hand-me-down guitar, or Jar’s continued work on his model train layout. His birthday gift to me can be getting it the f*%^ out of the way of the guest bed).

We’ve also still got big plans, like what we want to do with the balcony, how we want to hang the rest of our art, and how we want our bedroom to evolve, style-wise.

As I’ve eased myself into this new living situation (quite comfortably, I might say), I’ve also settled on products that I’m most comfortable with for doing work around the house, and also, well, work on me. I’ve reviewed a few of my favourite household and personal products before, but I thought I might give an update on some things that have worked out really well for me — and some that haven’t.

I want to state that I’m not strictly a naturalist (is that the right word?) when it comes to my products, even though most of these products you will find are considered “clean” and “chemical-free.” The fact is it’s just easier to find vegan products that also fall under this umbrella — and it’s also easier to track which ingredients were tested on or derived from animals this way.

Note: None of the following products are blog sponsors and no money or personal goods have been accepted in exchange for positive reviews.

Earthpaste natural toothpaste in Wintergreen

  • Price: $6.55
  • Where I bought it: The Big Carrot

I’ll admit I’m a sucker for something just because it seems different. Earthpaste certainly sells itself as different. This is a clay-based toothpaste with no fluoride or foaming agents. It’s the foaming agents thing that makes the biggest difference (again: while I’m not strictly anti-fluoride, since most vegan toothpastes are fluoride-free, I’ve lived without it for years). You won’t get that big foamy texture in your mouth, which definitely feels different. I’m normally one to shrug at this — less foam doesn’t mean you’re less clean. But unfortunately that results in a really thin, runny consistency in the paste. There’s something about the clay that also feels gritty, which I personally don’t like on my teeth. I can’t speak to its long-term success, but I just found no matter what it was difficult to make my mouth feel “clean” after.

Bottom line: Would probably not recommend this product, but it’s more about personal preference.

Green Beaver Cilantro and Mint Toothpaste

  • Price: $4.99
  • Where I bought it: Noah’s (King/Spadina)

Yep, somehow I found a cilantro toothpaste. I actually rushed out to buy a new toothpaste after I decided I couldn’t take another day of the Earthpaste. I was going to go back to my usual Kiss My Face brand, but that was about $3 more expensive, and… I mean, cilantro, y’all. I’ll admit this toothpaste probably isn’t for everyone. Cilantro is already an acquired taste (I used to hate it, now I have it in/on everything!) and it’s not the most common thing to find in a toothpaste, but is a really unique taste. It’s still not as foamy as a conventional toothpaste (it’s more creamy) but it at least isn’t super runny, and a little bit of toothpaste goes a way longer way. After this tube is out I’ll probably spend the extra bucks on one of my older preferred brands, but it’s been a good trip.

Bottom line: Would recommend this product to anyone who likes cilantro, but it’s by no means an amazing toothpaste.

ELF Illuminating Eye Cream

Remember a couple weeks ago when I said I was having “some eye issues” lately? I’d been waking up with a lot of eye secretions (sorry, I know that word is nasty) and even crust on my eye that was so bad I could barely open them some mornings. I also experienced a burn on the outer corner of my left eye. I eliminated all of my face products and makeup for a bit and slowly re-introduced them, and the ELF cream started to look like the suspect. I also took a look at the one-star reviews of the product online (I tend to avoid both five and one-star reviews since they usually exaggerate a lot on either side) and found a lot of people said the same thing! Stinging, burning, redness, eczema… yeah. Anyway, ELF responded to my complaints almost immediately and offered a refund, which I have to say really impressed me on their part. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m really publicly not recommending this product to anyone with even vaguely sensitive skin (my skin tends to fall under combination/normal and isn’t very sensitive).

Bottom line: Would absolutely not recommend this product regardless of skin type or needs.

Attitude Daily Shower cleaner in Citrus Zest

  • Price: $4.99
  • Where I bought it: The Big Carrot

Moving into an apartment can be tough — even if the building management cleans your tub prior, one big clean session can’t quite get everything off the surface. Combine that with us both being, well, basic human beings who shower every day, and me being a girl who likes her bath (and bath bombs) it was really hard to get ahead with the tub. Admittedly, most vegan bathroom products I’ve tried don’t have the same scrubbing power as non-vegan ones (although I hated using traditional cleansers like Vim anyway because of how they irritated my hands). Every time I’d give a good cleaning session (that would wear my shoulders and chest out as much as a good climb would) it felt like I never got the grime fully off, then after one shower it was dirty again. Anyway, we spontaneously decided to grab this stuff at the Carrot one day. Upon first use we gave it a super thorough scrubbing (that’s recommended for very dirty bathtubs. I’d like to think our bathtub wasn’t “very dirty,” but still, we wanted to see results) and we now use it after every shower. Woah! Major difference. No grit, no weird shady shit that I try to convince myself is a shadow, just a nice, clean shower (and the smell is barely-there, so you don’t have to worry about some overbearing artificial fragrance).

Lush BIG shampoo

  • Price: $27.95
  • Where I bought it: LUSH (Queen/Peter)

I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I no longer have to shampoo my hair every single day. In fact, I’m down to about 1-2 shampoos per week. This shampoo has proven to be the best possible formula for my hair — which is of the Flat ‘n’ Floppy variety. Most shampoos intended for volumizing tend to dry my hair out too much (my hair has oily roots but once you get down to ear level you start to see the dryness/damage), whereas this is a mild enough formula that it doesn’t leave my hair feeling totally parched. A little goes a long way with this shampoo in terms of lather, and the sea salt sensation is actually really cool.

Bottom line: would recommend this shampoo to anyone with a flat hair problem!

One last thing: I had a few lipstick reviews to add (I’m a total lipstick junkie), but I’ve decided to do a separate post on my favourite vegan lipsticks. You guys have to hold me to that, okay?


Spread the love: November edition

STL-November

Did you guys really think I’d forget about Spreading the Love? No way, bro! In fact, I’m super excited about everything on this list, so I want to just jump right in! But before I do, since I’ve gained a lot of new readers recently, I wanted to emphasize that none of the products or brands featured in STL are sponsored products or advertisers — just plain ol’ things I like!

  1. I’ve sung the praises of Pacifica Coconut Kiss Lip Butter before (perhaps in my very first “things I’m loving lately” post) but this year I’m drifting back to more natural colours. Lip Butter in Shell is that really nice kind of muted pink, the classic “your lips but better” style that is really understated and goes with everything. The lip butter itself is super moisturizing but not goopy, and best of all, no fucking shimmer. No, seriously, why do lip balms and butters created for women in their 20s still have shimmer?!
  2. Sunflower seed butter. Okay, so I’m a girl who loves her PB. The problem? My editor, who sits right behind me, is allergic (she’s not allergic to tree nuts, but I’m still worried about cross contamination with almond butter). I’ve since come to actually really love sunbutter, and I find its taste really unique and salty (which is awesome for me. Sweet ‘n’ salty? Hell yeah). It’s actually playing a big part in my upcoming recipe, which may or may not be ice cream for breakfast and may or may not be cookies and cream flavoured.
  3. Can we talk about periods? Can we talk about my period? IT’S AWFUL, OKAY?! I’ve recently found out from my doctor that I probably have endometriosis which explains why things are SO AWFUL. But anyway, because of my issues with pain, menstrual cups have never worked for me, and I hate the idea of filling landfills with pads and tampons. I recently started using Thinx period underwear and it’s a way better solution. It feels a little different at first, but puts way less pressure on mah’ stuff. Best of all, Thinx is a totally trans-inclusive company and recently started a campaign to acknowledge trans men and other DFAB people who still get their periods (when I got my shipment they had just made some changes, so one of my pairs said “For women with periods” and another said “For people with periods” — it was awesome). Highly recommend for anyone who has aversions to a menstrual cup but wants a more eco-friendly option.
  4. Because I now have underwear dedicated to soaking up my vaginal castaways, I’ve decided to start hand-washing more. I don’t hand-wash everything (living in a small-ish apartment in the winter, drying is a pain in the ass, but carrying wet laundry down to the dryer 11 floors down is an even bigger pain in the ass) but I do hand-wash underwear and sometimes blouses. My personal favourite soap for hand-washing is Soak, and boy does a little bit go a long way with this thing. Bonus — if you can’t find Soak in stores (it was hard for me until I found it in a tiny shop on the Danforth) my pal Jordanna at House of Muses carries it in her shop)!
  5. Grishko vegan ballet shoes. Yup, they exist! The dance world is one of the hardest to find vegan accommodations for (jury’s still out on a quality tap shoe) but fortunately I’ve found a soft ballet shoe that is completely free of leather, silk and any animal products in the glue or dye. I found the pair I’m currently using through Big Tent Vegan, which details vegan ballet and pointe shoes in this informative posts.
  6. My Vegan Essentials package just came in and it included a product I’ve been wanting to try for ages: Choco No-nos. Needless to say, they did not disappoint. I’ve missed things like Smarties and M&Ms (note to my American followers: “Smarties” in the land of the North does not refer to those chalky sour hard candies — Rockets — but to a bite-sized, candy-coated chocolate candy that’s kind of like an M&M but not at all and I can’t explain it). The one thing about Choco No-nos is that because the dye is all natural, a lot of it is made from fruit juices and so there’s kind of a fruity taste to some of the dyes, but I actually like it that way.
  7. Cork “leather.” Okay, so I don’t actually own any products in this yet, but, you know, Christmas is coming and I need a new messenger bag. Hey guys? Guuuyyys? IT JUST LOOKS SO COOL.
  8. My new Pantone Universe credit and business card holder. I’ve officially abandoned my wallet (too bulky) and have switched to this, which is totally sleek and cool and fits anywhere (even a woman’s pant/jacket pocket, which is a total unicorn). Amazon doesn’t currently have the shade I bought in, but these make great stocking stuffers!
  9. When I first started working at my new office (in early May), I saw that there was a Kupfert & Kim coming to a nearby corner (Spadina and Richmond) “this spring.” Well, after many delays and glancing through the windows literally every day, it’s finally open! K&K has been around in Toronto for awhile but this is its first standalone, sit-down location (its other locations are sprinkled in various buildings throughout the Financial District). The food is amazing (naturally) and the staff is just great — super enthusiastic and kind. Bonus: K&K is also gluten-free, so if you’re avoiding gluten for whatever reason you’re covered! (My personal pick for lunch is the Oaxaca bowl).
  10. K’s NRG Bars. I have been known to wolf down an energy bar at the speed of light when put under the gun. It is, however, difficult to find one that isn’t date-based and wreaks havoc on my digestive system. These are fantastic for that gooey, sticky quality without dates! I can’t eat the cherry kind, but the original rocks my socks, and the chocolate coconut is *kiss* FUCKING AMAZING.

This “Spread the Love” was a lot more vegan-specific than most other ones I’ve done, but  I’m just really feelin’ like a vegan cheerleader these days. Perhaps it’s because the community at Reddit’s r/Vegan has got me so jazzed about it right now.

Just a few notes as well:

A few people have asked me on social media (following my tattoo post) for some info about my tattoo artist. I’ve been going to Darryl Wiebe in Kitchener for two years now and we have a great relationship. He’s done four pieces on me: the CBC logo, the Jack Layton quote, the Grigri and the ballerina. He’s a great guy and a wonderful artist, and I especially love his line-work. He actually recently opened his own shop with the equally talented, kind and amazing Anabela Fansher and can be found at Luz Marina Studios in Kitchener! You should also check him out on Instagram.

My two weeks without Starbucks and my month without buying clothes went fine-diddly-ine. I don’t really drink that much Starbucks anymore, but like I said, it wasn’t so much about breaking an addiction as it was finding more productive things to do with my time. I’ve found a few new lunchtime routines that I like way better. I was going to go two months without clothes, but with the seasonal change that seemed unwise. I’ve just started doing the seasonal change-over for my clothes and am currently evaluating what to donate. It’s a bit hard because I genuinely like all my clothes, I just have too much for one person, so I’ll let you know how that goes.

Also, my hair is back to brown, and thank goodness for that. I look/feel like myself again! Unfortunately I really, really have fried my hair from the experience, so I’m trying really hard to treat my hair’s dryness and frizz. Almond oil? Coconut oil? Whatever, man, throw it at me.

What are some of your best stocking stuffer and gift exchange ideas this season? What’s the one thing a friend could get you that would drive you wild? Let me know in the comments!


Seven favourite vegan lifestyle, household and beauty products

Products

One of the elements of vegan transitioning that seems the most difficult but is actually the easiest is trading in your personal products for a cruelty-free alternative.

It seems difficult for a few reasons:

  • They are, admittedly, a bit pricier (or at least have fewer cheap alternatives) than conventional products.
  • They’re harder to find.
  • Most people without a science background have no idea what is a vegan ingredient and what isn’t!
  • Even if you don’t see any animal ingredients, the companies may test on animals.
  • Animal testing policy is really difficult to figure out across the board. While some companies don’t test themselves, they may commission other companies to test their sourced ingredients on animals. A lot of companies, especially cosmetic companies, post this info on their web site (and some of these are incorrect — Wet n’ Wild lists its products with beeswax and lanolin as “vegan”), some you have to ask in an email.
  • Greenwashing is very much a thing. Plenty of conventional products realized several years ago that “natural” and “eco-friendly” products were a great moneymaker, so they threw on labels like “natural” and “eco” despite the products lacking any certifications such as organic or vegan certifications (vegan certifications, by the way, are not mandatory in most markets). Some even just change their packaging to look more green and natural.

Wow, that does seem hard when you look at it.

Here’s the good part: once you figure out what you like and what is best for you, all you have to do is buy it once your last one runs out. No worries about cooking all the time, figuring out what your body does or doesn’t like, enjoying the taste (please don’t eat your soap even if it’s organic).

A lot of products are very versatile, too — like, I love Dr. Bronner’s because I can use it as a soap/shampoo, but also because I can use it to wash my dishes or floors!

Here are some things I like to keep around the house:

  • Lush Ultrabalm: every vegan (and most non-vegans) favourite go-to balm. Crusty elbows and feet? Ultrabalm. New tattoo? Ultrabalm. Removing extra-long-lasting eyeshadow? Ultrabalm. Dry hair ends? Ultrabalm. Marriage falling apart? Can’t help you there.
  • Dr. Bronner’s pure castile soap. You can get an unscented variety or one of its many mild fragrances, and can buy it in a range of sizes from a personal, shampoo-sized bottle to an actual fucking industrial jug. One store I live near also has bulk refillers for Dr. Bronner’s, so you can keep your same bottle. You can use Bronner’s for cleaning yourself or other things, like countertops and floors (for floors, dilute a little Dr. B’s and about 1/4 cup vinegar in warm water).
  • Re-usable glass or aluminium straws. I’ve started keeping a straw (and the brush that my straws came with) in my purse/pack at all times, because it’s just one more way to take a small (yes, small) chunk out of my carbon footprint (I’m also pretty obsessive about getting food in mugs/plates to stay rather than take-out, of course, the most eco-friendly thing you can do is just eat less take-out)! I use them at home too. The straws I use are from Glass Dharma. Oh, and I guess you could also just use crazy straws… and keep those with you wherever you go.
  • Speaking of things I keep in my bag, I’ve also officially become the type of vegan who carries her own hand soap so she doesn’t have to use the kind of soap provided in public bathrooms (this actually serves double duty because I find most soap in public bathrooms smells like medicine and I hate it). What I usually do is buy a small size of Lush’s shower gels (The Happy Hippy is my favourite for hands). I also keep hand sanitizer at my desk because I work in an office and germs are a thing that people care about, you know? A great cruelty-free brand is EveryOne, and I use its hand sanitizer gel in Peppermint+Citrus.
  • One great option for around the home that’s cruelty-free and creates way less waste is finding a reusable alternative to dryer sheets/fabric softener. I’ve been using these delightful hedgehogs by Kikkerland to help keep my clothes from clumping together. You should replace them when you notice the picks getting duller, but that takes a long time.
  • For candle addicts, soy wax candles are everywhere these days (but read the ingredients carefully because I have found some that mix soy and beeswax). One of my favourite brands is Paddywax Apothecary. I keep a large Rosemary & Thyme candle for the living room and a small Amber & Smoke for the bathroom. Not that I don’t always smell like a rose or anything. *sweats nervously*
  • Shoes are so tricky, especially “nice” shoes, but Will’s Vegan Shoes is a great resource for classic shoes of all styles that are no more expensive than their animal-derived counterparts.

Thanks for reading. It was really important to me that I share this post because this really can be one of the trickiest parts of going vegan — you have to think of things in a whole new way. I still make mistakes all the time! Last month I bought sea sponges for my period, being lead to believe by a sales person that they were plant life, but turns out sea sponges are actually sentient animals. I’ve also mistaken some products for vegan when in fact they’re tested on animals. No one expects anyone to be perfect, but making an effort is the best thing we can all do.

If you’re a new vegan, long-time vegan or a transitioning vegan, what’s been the hardest part for you? What are some of your favourite alternative products, and what are some things people might not know aren’t vegan-friendly?


My everyday (vegan) makeup look in five minutes or less!

vegan makeup

I’m so excited, you guys! I’ve been putting off doing a makeup post for a very long time — I always get really, really close and then scrap it. One of the biggest factors is waiting to get decent photos taken (the first draft contained a mirror selfie at the gym. OMG). The next factor is that, well, my look changes up a lot. I don’t wear makeup all the time (I like to give my skin room to breathe), but when I do wear makeup I like to have a lot of fun with it, and I’m always trying my hand at something new.

This look, however, is my “tried and true” look, a method I’ve been perfecting since high school. It might seem high-concept or like a lot of product at first, but I’ve actually managed to get my routine down to a pretty simple process.

One thing that has always inspired me was the book The Five-Minute Face by Carmindy. I read the book in high school and have spent the past decade following the philosophy of a simple, radiant look that doesn’t get too trendy.

Because I’m a full-time working gal, my products do go up on the price scale on occasion. Of course, there are also some great vegan makeup products in the low-end price range, many of which I use every day. I try to include alternatives for cheaper products when I have enough in-depth knowledge of the product, and I’m definitely open to suggestions!

Please note that while I only buy 100% vegan cosmetics myself, not all of my products purchased are from companies that ONLY make vegan products. I would love to be in this position one day, but I’ve chosen to go with options from companies that are most accessible.

I’ve also found that some companies who generally get a pass as “vegan” but do not reveal their full ingredient list or vegan lists have actually been less-than-truthful on the subject, therefore I only give my business to companies that actually provide the information upfront. Some companies also present their products as “vegan” but don’t consider products such as beeswax and lanolin to be non-vegan! (I’m looking at you, Wet ‘n’ Wild).

For vegan products I rely largely on sites like Logical Harmony and Vegan Makeup on Tumblr.

My “everyday” vegan makeup routine (and yes, it only takes 5 minutes)

Face

I’ve always had naturally pretty good skin, but like everyone, it has its picky elements. I tend to break out a lot between my eyebrows and on my chin, especially around my period, and I have extremely dark (purple-ish) under-eyes. But I have a lot of positive aspects to my skin too — I really like the tone of my skin and I feel like my cheeks have a nice natural glow. I generally don’t like my foundation to take away from that, I just like it to do a bit of evening out here and there. That’s why I just use a little lightweight primer to bring a nice, bright tone to my face. For spot-concealing I tend to use a heavier, more buildable concealer, and I apply it with a concealer brush. I’ve used the Kat Von D concealer for awhile now and it’s hands-down the best concealer I’ve ever used — both for under-eyes and blemishes! Despite being a full-coverage concealer, it’s never given my skin any problems or made my breakouts worse. Lastly, I set with a nice fine finishing powder, because I have a tendency toward shine, and it helps all my makeup blend better. Finally, I add some shimmery pink blush on top of my powder (I find powder dulls the shine of blush, so I put my blush on top for a more distinct glow). For a more glow-y blush I just swipe the colour on the very top of my cheekbones — I’m not gonna lie, I think it makes me look mega-cute when I smile.

Products

Eyes

Eyes are something I’ve gone back and forth on since I first started wearing makeup in high school. When I first got into makeup, all of my peers were going through the Avril Lavigne phase of really thick black eyeliner on top and bottom with very little fade and tons of thick black mascara. Somehow I could never quite master the look! Of course, being a dancer I’ve owned a lot of eyeshadow in my life (I won’t tell you how much of it was blue, but here’s a hint: a metric shit-tonne). I do like eyeshadow and tend to prefer it over eyeliner in more formal situations, but for an everyday look I find a single line of liquid liner pulls my look together really nicely. Just like I learned in The Five Minute Face, I dot a few lines along my lower lashes and then blend with a smudge brush (or you could use a Q-tip). I like to curl my lashes before applying a light coat of black mascara. I’m not Twiggy, so I don’t put any mascara at all on my lower lashes (anyone who can actually pull this off, let me know and I’ll buy you a Daiya Pizza). I also cannot emphasize enough how much effort I put into my eyebrows! I used to be self-conscious of my thick eyebrows when I was young (not to mention I apparently inherited the patented “Rody scowl” and constantly have a furrowed brow) and couldn’t wait to get them waxed off when I hit high school. Now, I love my mean eyebrows! I mostly fill them in tracing along the top of my brow, then lightly shade down from that line. I don’t do anything to altar or enhance the shape of my brow, just to enhance its current shape and colour!

Products

Lips

Okay, this is actually a simple one. For everyday wear, I don’t wear any lipgloss or lipstick — I find my lips look most glowing when they’re moisturized and healthy. Lip balm is probably the hardest vegan product to find — even “natural” companies don’t seem to prefer using cruelty-free candelilla wax to beeswax! Why oh why is it I can find soy candles but I can’t find soy-based lip balms? Anyway, two of my favourite vegan lip balms that you can actually find locally in Toronto are Hurraw! and Bare English. Hurraw is definitely more oily and has a glossier finish, while Bare English has a nice waxy feel. Both make tinted versions as well (I prefer Bare English’s tinted balm shades). They both come in an ever-increasing range of scents and flavours (Hurraw has 23 varieties!), but my all-time favourite will always be Hurraw’s lip balm in Root Beer. I’ve not really talked about my deep dark secret on this blog very much, but I’m a total root beer addict.

On the odd chance I feel like adding a bit of lip gloss, I always stick to ELF with their classic Super Glossy Lip Gloss in Pink Kiss. I don’t find beige works as a “nude” for me, since I have so many blue-ish pink tones to my skin, and despite looking bubble-gum in the tube, this gloss actually gives that “your lips but better!” shade everyone always aims for.


Spread the love: September edition

Spread the Love

One tradition I really do miss from the “old days” of my blog was my “things I’m loving lately” series. I always knew I’d keep the tradition alive, but I did re-name the series since every single lifestyle blog on the planet calls these posts “things I’m loving lately.”

I don’t want to sound silly or anything, but Urban Garlic really is all about love, you know? Love for yourself, love for animals, love of food and cooking (do I sound obnoxious? Don’t care!) So this is me spreading the love to some of my favourite things right now. Here goes:

  1. I’ve started using Ritual lately when I don’t pack a lunch. I work in a really busy, corporate-but-stylish area of Toronto (Adelaide and Spadina), meaning every restaurant (particularly those with vegan and/or healthy options) is packed at lunch time. Ritual is a really good way for me to speed up the process. Even my coffee orders go way faster now. For those who don’t know how it works, Ritual is an app (available for Android or iOS) that connects you with downtown Toronto restaurants. You place an order and pay for it on your credit card, and it’s available for pickup when you come in. It’s a great line-skipper! (Note: Ritual is still in beta, but if you know someone with the app, they can invite you. You can also access the app if your company has already been approved and you have an email address with the company).
  2. I finally worked up the courage to spend $600 on a blender and got a Vitamix. For how much I make that is blended, the purchase made a lot of sense and thus far I am in love with it. I love that it came with a straining bag, which I’ve been using to make some fresh juices lately.
  3. I’ve always used ground turmeric in a lot of recipes, but fresh tumeric really enhances anything that you like to give a bit of savoury tanginess to. The little roots kind of look like strange turds (yep, I went there).
  4. Buckwheat has become my go-to grain lately. I love blending buckwheat groats into porridge or into creamy sauces, grinding it into a flour or topping my smoothies with it. You’ll see a sweet buckwheat recipe coming to the blog in a few days, so stay tuned!
  5. After a year of being obsessed with Mac DeMarco (who is only my age, which is hard to believe) I’ve gone down that rabbit hole of finding new, trippy dream-pop artists and have come across the British musician King Krule. He’s a small-looking ginger Brit with a crazy-unique voice and some awesome, grungy, hip-hop influenced music that can’t really be placed on the genre spectrum (I’ve tried).
  6. My Tilt campaign recently finished for my e-book (and I’ve decided on a title/theme for it, too, which will be revealled in an upcoming post)! My experience with Tilt was amazing and I can’t wait to continue using it. It’s not just a crowd-funding platform, it’s actually also a really cool way to collect money for group things — like if you’re all going on a trip and you want a central platform to add the funds to, instead of worrying about collecting cash in person.
  7. I developed a love affair with Target when I went to Chicago this summer (I spent about $75 U.S. in the store!!) and bought a giant tub of Just Mayo. I’ve never experienced a more perfect mayonnaise. NEVER. For those with allergy concerns, the mayo is not only 100% vegan but is also free of soy and gluten, AND it’s proudly a non-GMO company if that’s a concern for you. I’m just hoping my container will last me until Jarrod and I go to New York for Christmas.
  8. Kaelyn Gray’s Tap Dance Tutorials have been a tremendous resource for me over the past three months. I’ve been using a lot of her techniques and combos to enhance my own kids’ lessons. If you’re a tap teacher or even just a tap dancer looking to get back into the groove and diversify your steps, I’d highly recommend these videos.
  9. This past spring, Logical Harmony released its vegan list of Kat Von D’s makeup line, and most of the brand is indeed vegan. I’m in love with pretty much everything, but my absolute favourite product is the Shade & Light contour kit. I love contour SO MUCH (WAY TOO MUCH) and use this whenever there’s some sort of special occasion or outing. It really makes my bone structure stand out.
  10. You know what the bread and butter (or, bread and Earth Balance) of this blog is garlic (my publisher, who started reading my blog, recently asked me, “What is it with you and garlic?!”) so naturally, last weekend, my partner and I went to the garlic festival. We weren’t too stoked about the festival in general, but we did walk away with our new favourite thing — a plate for grinding up garlic! It comes with a crazy little rubber tube for taking the garlic skin off, and you can honestly just mash the garlic into a fine puree right on the dish. Woot! We mixed a couple cloves of  pureed garlic in with a few tablespoons of Earth Balance and some dried parsley flakes and voila, we had a nice garlic butter for our toast!

Things I’m Loving Lately: May Edition

May is finished! Woah! And that brings us to my favourite month: (wait for it) JUNE! (Weren’t expecting that, were you)?

Now, I could tell you that June is my favourite month because it’s the month of my birthday and you’d probably believe me, right? Well, as a matter of fact, even if I were born in, say, November (the WORST month) I bet June would be my favourite month. Why? C’mon, it’s obvious. Long days, warm weather (without that awful, pervasive heat-wave feel), sunshine, and the end of school!

Wait, it’s been about ten years since June meant “the end of school.” Oy, I feel old.

But still, I’m making a strong case for June, right?

Here are a few favourites I discovered or simply used a lot of in May. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

  1. Lush U.K.’s SunblockI was shocked to know that you can’t actually buy vegan sunscreen in Canada. Why? Because sunscreen sold in Canada MUST be tested on animals. How silly! I’m in California right now (like, RIGHT NOW!) and this little bar is saving my Irish ass.
  2. I actually bought a romper. I love myself for that.
  3. Kat Von D makeup has been one of those up-in-the-air brands that had murmurs and rumours about that it was vegan/cruelty-free, but there was no confirmation. Recently, Logical Harmony certified Kat Von D makeup as cruelty-free and listed their vegan products — almost all of them! I now own a KVD lipstick, concealer AND eyeliner, and I can’t wait to show off some of the interesting looks I’ve been creating.
  4. I’m not just loving my cat Benny “lately,” I’ve loved him forever, but lately I’ve been loving posting pictures and videos of him on Instagram. My cat is just so funny-looking I have to share him with the world (you should follow me! You’ll see some of my sister’s jerk cats there too).
  5. I want to give a special shout-out to my favourite climbing gym in the GTA, Climber’s Rock. I mean, that’s aside from my home gym (I will always love you, TCA). But Climber’s Rock, located in Burlington, is a fantastic gym to travel to from time to time! There are some great beginner routes and a few auto-belays, so you can work without a partner, two large boulder areas, plenty of high, challenging lead walls, and even a great yoga studio and fitness area.
  6. Another great space to shout out to is Hub 14, a creative arts space for local creators to rehearse, create content and even perform in. I’ve been rehearsing at Hub 14 lately. It’s located in the Queen and Bathurst area and feels so wonderfully private.
  7. How did I find Hub 14? Actually, that’s another thing I’m loving lately: Space Finder Toronto. This is a great, easy way to find a space to rehearse in — or have a meeting, or teach a lesson, or record a song. It’s easy to find and book space and sort by price too!
  8. I recently bought these jeans from GAP and they make my legs look fantastic.
  9. A few great articles I’ve read recently about the politics of food: A Plea for Culinary Modernism, which is critical of the way we romanticize the “old-fashioned” food and cooking styles, and The new religion: how an emphasis on “clean eating” has created a moral hierarchy for food. I will say that I disagree (or am just plain confused by) the latter’s views on veganism to an extent (it seems to believe that the only reason people are vegan is to feel “pure” themselves and leaves animal liberation out of the conversation entirely), but that said I think it is astute (and yes, harsh) and a strong point to compare food and the emphasis on “clean eating” to religion.
  10. One of my favourite vegans in the world, Evelyn aka NourishNotPunish (a fellow fructmal) has recently published a raw vegan cheesecake made. without. cashews. or. dates. I actually haven’t made this cheesecake yet, but I WILL! Because, uh, it’s summer time, and my birthday is coming up!

That’s it for this month’s link love and ravings! June will surely be full of a lot of adventures. I’ll make sure to post pics from California (if they even turn out alright) so you can see how this pale Irish-Canadian loser deals with the city of dreams.