I'm heading off, on my way to the Texas State Veggie Fair in Dallas. If you're going and you happen to see me, say hi!!! I'll be the one with a bunch of obnoxious cute kids hanging onto me. And I'll try to catch up on my blog reading this weekend, too.
This isn't going to be applicable to many of you, but if you have a young girl or know someone who does, take a look at the rest of the post. (And sorry for two consecutive posts with my daughter modeling. I promise we'll move on to Kid A in the next post.)
I was really excited when one of my hometown best friends told me about a sewing initiative that she is working on. It is called Gingham Trundle, and it is helping to provide jobs for women in Africa.
Taken from Gingham Trundle's website:
Who we are: We started as a mother and daughter making clothes together. When a good friend (www.leastofthese.net) of the daughter donated sewing machines to a sewing collective in Africa, we all got an idea. Now, we bring Gingham Trundle to you. Fair trade: We employ fair trade principles in all of our purchasing. We pay above-market wages agreed upon by the women; we give no time frames (so no undue pressure); we put a portion of our profits back into the community through healthcare and economic programs; and we ensure safe working conditions and no child labor. We are too small to afford the free trade certification process, but we are working toward that goal.
I am offering this giveaway to help spread the word about this project. Right now, they are seeking to improve the development process (creating products that are high enough quality to sell - and verifying fabric content, etc. so they can be sold in the U.S.), and as they do this, they are offering free dresses in the hopes of building customers and gaining feedback. There are imperfections in this round of dresses. The women are selling the dresses in their communities. The end goal is to create sustainable, long-term jobs for these women. Great, right?
My 5 year old daughter helped me out by modeling the dresses. They are sized anywhere from 3T-5T, but this will kind of show you that they will fit a range. (I mean, my daughter still has 2T dresses in her closet that she wears as shirts. It's really hard for me - and her - to part with them, if you know what I mean.)
I wanted to show you the cute pocket on the back.
I believe this one is sized 4T. There are some faded spots on the material, but it fits very cute. (Read more about this and the dresses in general here.) My daughter has one like this that she is going to wear as a shirt. I think any girl from age 2 to a small 6 would fit.
The equivalent of a "little black dress," this one would go with so much and could be dressy or casual. I love it.
This one is sized 4T. It's very sweet. I would say it's a true 4T size, as she could wear it - but it's starting to get a little snug under the arms. I love the short-sleeved dress designs.
I will pick a winner for the 4 dresses on November 4, at 9 pm. Please just leave a comment telling me which dress you like the best. If you do not have a blog, comment as "Anonymous." Just make sure you leave an email address or way that I can get a hold of you.
If you would please share a link to this giveaway, I'll give you 2 extra entries. (Feel free to leave it all in one comment, however, to make it easier for you.) I am going to list this giveaway on my family blog and combine the entries.
Please check out Gingham Trundle's website to see more designs like this one above. Check out the reversible coats which are so cute and include a hidden doll in the pocket. You can request a FREE DRESS on their site, but you will just need to pay for shipping (flat rate $5.15).
Thanks for taking a look, and consider supporting Gingham Trundle in the future!
Have you had a chance to shop at Vegan Cuts? I have been browsing around for months, determined to make an order, so I was very excited when they asked if I wanted to participate with a review.
Vegan Cuts was co-founded by a vegan couple named John and Jill. They work with a team to find vegan products to sell at more affordable prices. They offer daily deals, the vegan version of groupon.
I was sent two necklaces designed by
Christy Robinson, an artist in Texas.
You can view more of Christy's jewelry (including rings and bracelets) on her website. Two of my favorites: here and here. (Oh, I keep seeing more that I like: this Ahimsa locket.) She can custom design something for you, as well.
These necklaces are made from recycled aluminum with a sterling silver chain. Also, the baggies are biodegradable, and the cards are made from recycled paper!
You know how I said I was excited about reviewing these products? Guess who was EVEN MORE excited to open the box and try them on?
Some of the other goodies from Vegan Cuts that caught my eye: GF lavendar cake mixes, flavored caramels made with coconut milk, glass straws (I need some more.), Parmesan (made with almonds and cashews), and kale chips (less expensive than the ones I get at WF). You can even find a deal right now on vegan caviar. I'm also thinking about trying out November's Snack Box for $19.
There's no way I would have left NYC without heading to Williamsburg for DOUGHNUTS!!!
One thing I love about this place is the story behind it. Dan Dunbar and Christopher Hollowell (get it: DUN-bar and HolloWELL = DUNWELL) raised $15,000 to help open their store front. Watch this video for more about them. I'm just really into the idea of someone being inspired and brave enough to take on something like this. (I SO WANT to open a restaurant or business one day.) And then others rallying behind them in support!
Watch this video from their website. Before our trip (and after), I think my kids and I watched it no less than six times. We called Ryan in to watch it, too.
"Finally, the solution to all our problems..."
Anyway, I just thought it was fun advertisement.
The store is really cute, somewhere I would want to hang out all of the time. It's really easy to find, as well. Just take the L to the Montrose Avenue stop, and it's RIGHT THERE.
It's too easy to get there. If you know what I mean. We were staying in Chelsea (my new favorite area to stay) right by the 23rd street subway entrance, so we were one stop away from the L.
Each day, they rotate a variety from over 200 flavors. Check out all of the flavors. I'm talking Pecan Pie, Root Beer, Raspberry Pistachio, Maple Blueberry, Sliced Pear and Pumpkin Spice, etc.
Since this was my first time, however, I stuck with my old-time favorites. Chocolate Covered, Chocolate and Peanut Covered, and Glazed. (And my son also chose Raspberry.) They use fresh, organic ingredients.
Although it's hard to go against Glazed (I mean, soooo good.), the Chocolate PeanutCovered will probably always be my favorite because it evokes a memory of being the first kid to get up on Sunday mornings. I was an early riser back then, so I got to ride to Casey's General Store with my dad for a newspaper and Chocolate Peanut Covered Long Johns.
We only bought half a dozen on our first visit. I questioned Hollowell about how long the doughnuts would stay fresh. He suggested only a day or two. As my son and I were contemplating how many to order for our hotel room, the guy asked, "Is it just you two?"
My mind pondered quickly with panic,
"Tell the truth or not tell the truth?!
Tell the truth or not tell the truth?!"
"Yeah, it's just us."
"Oh, I would think half a dozen would be more than plenty."
Dang it. Now I had to choose between looking like the Vegan Dessert Pig that I am - or presenting myself normal and cool in front of this very cute, charming person. I agreed with him that 6 doughnuts would be plenty, we ate those 6 doughnuts within a few hours, headed back the next day hoping outfit and hairdo changes would throw him off...smiled at him when he commented that it was good to see us again...and scurried on our way with another DOZEN doughnuts to go.
You can even get a Doughnut Sundae!
I can tell you what I'm getting next time.
a Doughnut Sundae
I mean...there are just those places that can merit a visit to a city all on their own. Dunwell Doughnuts is one of those places for us. I'd travel to NYC, pick up a dozen or two, then come right home. To Arkansas. I would.
And if that's not enough to convince you, Dunwell's were chosen by The New York Daily News as the city's best doughnuts. Of all the doughnuts, not just the vegan ones.
On our second visit, they had started serving Lavendar Lemonade, an excellent addition. I can't speak on the other drinks such as coffee, "egg" creams, Italian Soda, etc. I think they also had vegan candybars when we were there.
They're open 7-7 on weekdays (closed Mondays!) and 8-7 on weekends. Free wi-fi. Cash only.
I'm disappointed that I went on this great trip with such great food and wasn't able to photograph it very well. A lot of my food pics are dark or out of focus.
I blame this guy.
One of my goals for this trip was to try at least THREE new places. (I ended up far surpassing my goal!) This was significant because I definitely have my favorite places to repeatedly revisit. I checked one off my list an hour or so after we exited Penn Station. My sister strongly suggested I check out Caravan of Dreams. It did not disappoint. This was our Seitan Nachos appetizer.
This was my entree: Seitan Taquitos.
pineapple, guacamole, chili d'arbol sauce, leafy greens
I was expecting more of a rolled up taquito, but it was tasty. I enjoyed the healthy feel to the meal plus the asparagus and citrus.
I'll definitely go back to Caravan of Dreams. I was tempted to try the raw dishes. And I'm certain there was live music, although I was a little tired and distracted to fully appreciate it. The downsides: it's pretty pricey, and it wasn't really kid-friendly. We sat outside so that part was fine, but inside it's a fairly cramped space. And it was REALLY dark. I highly prefer dim lighting; I mean, it's romantic - plusI just look better in dim lighting. But it was so dark (see dark pics above) I could barely see my food.
I spent a pretty penny at my #2 new spot: one lucky duck. We were able to walk there since we were staying in Chelsea. It's located inside the very cute Chelsea Market. I would have enjoyed a more leisure stroll through the market, but I'll tell you, my son was not a fan. Some smell within the market did not agree with him, and he was in a huge hurry to leave ASAP.
Back to our breakfast the first morning: I should have bought something more breakfast-y or filling like nuts or granola, but I couldn't bear buying something I could buy just anywhere. We each picked a juice/lemon-aid that was flavored with agave. I picked up this dish of macadamia "cheese." It was tasty but not really satisfying to eat plain for breakfast. I would have enjoyed it more on a salad. I liked our other three choices, which we shared at a nearby park.
Lemon Bar with almond, coconut crust
Chocolate Ganache Tart
with yummy cream
I don't remember what this was, but:
raw chocolate with cream filling is
generally going to equal good.
That night my son begged to go out for pizza. I had in mind a certain pizza place in Brooklyn for sometime that week, but I didn't feel like doing the whole subway thing that night. I tried to change his mind, and it's not like he's theboss. However, part of the point of this trip was to allow him to make a lot of decisions, a privilege not always allowed in a family of 6. So I found a place in the West Village - Slice, which earned the spot of New Place #3.
Fortunately, the pizza was more of the healthy & fresh variety. I liked the crust. I opted for kalamata olives and fresh arugula. They weren't kidding about it being fresh. I'm of the belief that lettuce makes anything better, and I was happy to eat my first green food of the day.
It wasn't crowded when we arrived but started filling up. The guys who worked there seemed very easygoing and friendly. I like the neighborhood, and there were parks nearby, which is a plus for us. They also offer gluten-free crust to those who are concerned. They also use other healthier options of ingredients, but I'm not going to talk about no longer living animals here so you can look for yourself if that's your thing.
That evening we were close enough to check out The High Line. It is a public park developed on an old elevated train track. It runs a good distance up western Manhattan, with several entrances. I thought it was nice with fun views of the city and water. There were quite a few people walking through since it was late evening.
The next day, guess who I got to meet? Some of you may have already read about it here. Maud from Food Feud joined us for lunch at Sacred Chow, which I certainly always believed was Sacred Cow when I apparently looked too quickly at it in print. So, Sacred Chow: New Place #4.
We both ordered Kale Caesar Salad withTofu Croutons. I wasn't being a copycat. I had already looked at the menu before we arrived and thought it sounded the best. The tofu had the chewiness you achieve from freezing it. The salad tasted like my favorite salad I eat regularly at home, so I obviously liked it. I have never used my favorite caesar dressing on straight kale, though, so this was inspiring to me.
In a less green move, my son
opted for the cheese "dog."
I got a pic of Maud and me together, but I won't post it since she's pretty private. I should, though, since she's super cool and cute and pleasant, and we enjoyed our meal together. Plus, it's nice for my son to hang out with someone with...wait for it...real tattoos. Not just the kind you apply with water. He pointed this out later. I'm pretty sure he was impressed. He also likes her because she wrote nice things about him. :) I appreciated the suggestion for a new place, and I was able to broaden my NYC restaurant scope. I'll see ya next time we're around, unless you're living on a commune in the Appalachians by then.
Update: the winner is Carrie from Texas! French Meadow Bakery Bread is giving away a lunch kit to one of my readers. The lunch kit includes: a lunch bag, sandwich box, and water bottle - plus a coupon for a free product (up to $9.99)! I really love French Meadow Bakery. I'm not just saying that!
This is my favorite bread:
Flax and Sunflower Seed
It's vegan, organic, and yeast-free!
I like so many of the other breads, etc., too. We eat the hemp bread, the sprouted breads, and the sprouted bagels a lot. They carry gluten-free and Kosher Parve options.
To enter, visit the contest tab on their facebook page. That way, you are not only eligible to win my prize, you will be entered to win over there, as well. They are asking you to upload a picture of you or your child heading back to school, in whatever capacity that is. If you don't have a current photo, a past one will do. A bonus entry is given if the photo contains a French Meadow Bakery product.
All you have to do is email me a screen shot of your entry to that contest. (Are you like me and had no idea how to take a screen shot? My husband showed me in two seconds, by pressing two buttons on our computer...good to know!)
EMAIL your entry (or questions) to:
changchang 75 @gmail.com (remove the spaces!).
That's all you've got to do!
But act fast, because the contest ends tomorrow night (the 30th) at 5:00 p.m.!!! I'm getting this out late, so your chances are probably very good.
Enter over on facebook,
then email me your screenshot.
When I found out the dates of our NYC trip, I looked on an event calendar to see if anything fun was going on. We were just in luck! The Veggie Pride Parade was taking place the Sunday after our Saturday night arrival. I read that costumes were welcome - and might be rewarded! So an hour before we were leaving for the train station in Little Rock, I was hot gluing felt together for my costume.
I had given my 7 year old a few costume ideas, and he picked a baking/chef theme for the three of us.
He was a Vegan Chef...
and Baby Brother was his little Sous Chef.
I was a Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie.
One side of our sign:
Eat vegan cookies and help save the world!
The other side:
VEGAN COOKIE - one small step for mankind!
I'm not impressed with my sign making abilities here, but we were in such a rush. And I just never have pretty sign handwriting! We arrived at the parade site early, thinking surely there would be a store nearby to buy poster board. It was not that easy. (Why is it easier in small town Arkansas to locate poster board than in Manhattan?) We asked cops, we asked everyone, and finally had to hop a cab to hit the nearest Staples.
Scenes from the parade:
This was a really great experience for my son because I know he feels isolated at times as a vegan. None of his friends are vegan, and it causes him to want to experience and participate in what his friends are participating in, ya know? But he looked around in amazement, "Do you think all of these people are vegan?!" With all of the chanting and cheering, I think it felt rather spectacular to him.
Sometime after the parade, which culminated at Union Square, everyone in costume was called up on stage.
From the beginning, I did not know how my son was going to react to all of this. You'd have to know the little fella. He's so self-conscious. And he's way "too cool" for a lot of things in life. (For example, we were on a field trip to the post office the other day, and his older brother raised his hand a few times to ask questions. He was mortified by this and kept hissing at him to stop asking questions, even though they asked if anyone had any questions.)
But he was taking his role here so seriously! He had the Veggie Pride! :) I was giggling inside, watching him. I loved it.
I think everyone who was in costume won some sort of prize.
We earned the 4th prize: a $50 gift certificate to Peacefood Cafe! I was ecstatic!
After the parade, we bought cold drinks and ducked into Barnes and Noble for a bit to read books and cool off while we were waiting for the costume competition. Once back outside, we mingled around all of the tables and listened to some speakers.
When we were ready to head back to our hotel, I promised him ice cream. We stopped into the Whole Foods at Union Square and were disappointed there weren't any individual ice cream bars for sale. We asked a very nice employee if they had any, and he was so sweet that he came out of the back with two wrapped bars from an opened box that couldn't be sold. My son was thrilled.
Fun day! Thank you to everyone who organized the parade (especially Pamela Rice, author of 101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian) and to Peacefood Cafe (review to come) for our yummy meal. Whether anyone in NYC was drawn into the veggie lifestyle that day, you helped open the eyes of a sweet little guy from Arkansas.