After a streak of bad luck, I was not in the best state of mind when I left NY to return to Missouri for Thanksgiving. Not to mention, I also had a leg brace and 17 stitches in my knee after a tumble down a friend’s stairwell. Hobbling around the whole weekend didn’t boost my spirits much, until an overwhelming kind gesture from a furniture saleswoman completely shocked me. I fell in love with a couple large pieces of furniture for my new apartment in NYC and had no way to (easily) ship them. I was so bummed. Out of the kindness of her heart, the saleswoman offered to take care of the whole ordeal- packing, freight shipping, competitive pricing, etc. - just because she saw how much I loved the items. The fact that this stranger was going to such great lengths just to make me happy was exactly what I needed to get into the holiday spirit.
On my flight back to NY I was seated next to an unaccompanied minor- Cassidy. Poor thing had the entire trip to sit through with nothing to do. Reluctantly I helped her open a bag of m&ms the flight attendant gave her, adjust her seatbelt, turn on the AC, collect her trash and all other motherly duties. I knew this would ultimately lead to lengthy conversation, but I went for it anyway. Thinking about the kind woman in the furniture store I even asked Cassidy, “do you know how to play hangman?” So yes, I spent my 3 hour flight entertaining a 7 year old stranger instead of burying my head in December fashion magazines- because (despite my solid black attire) I am from Missouri, and that’s the Midwest way.
I’ve never been a big fan of animal prints. I always feel a little bit like a drag queen in them and prefer the look on my petite friends. But, as the animal print trend continues to gain momentum, I find the pattern creeping into my wardrobe by way of accessories and other accents. Although I leave the bold hues to seasoned animal print wearing girls, I have learned that neutral versions read less drag queen and more understated; they can even be worn in place of every day basics like black jeans. One of my fave denim brands, Paige (designed by fellow fit model turned designer and businesswoman), even has a fierce leopard jean that is tempting me- am I ready to take the plunge? Why not take a walk on the wild side?
Hi. My name is Brit. And I’m an addict. I started out as a casual user- dabbling here and there- but recently my habit has begun to negatively impact my life. I need a fix just to get my day off on the right foot. I am ashamed to admit… there are times I will drink TWO quad lattes a day (sometimes even before noon).
I really hate that I’ve become one of those coffee snobs that can tell the difference between largely mass produced coffee and delicious coffee coming from high quality beans that are evenly roasted in small batches. As a self-proclaimed coffee addict, you can understand my sheer bliss when I discovered Stumptown Coffee at a Red Hook Initiative charity event. Stumptown Coffee Roasters is known for hand picked beans, diligent roasting techniques and fair trading ethics.
At first glance, the set of Stumptown iced coffee looks like a pack of beer. The coffee is sold in four packs and packaged in amber glass bottles with bottle cap tops. It’s amazing the judgmental stares I get walking down the street drinking from this bottle at 7 AM. (The old-timey script on the label even gives it a little moonshine feel).
If the esthetics weren’t fun enough, the coffee RULES. It is so flavorful, full-bodied and sweet enough that there’s no need for (soy) milk or sugar. The secret? Stumptown brews the coffee cold instead of brewing it hot then chilling it- what a taste difference this makes. I may not be a fan of beer, but this is one cold brew I can’t get enough of.
I finally got a chance to catch the brilliant “Love, Loss and What I Wore” with a group of fabulous girlfriends. The Off-Broadway show features six women’s stream of life stories and the memorable clothing that narrated each event. Between stories of Prom dresses, decoding the contents of a handbag, and even closet cleanses after a major life trauma, “Love, Loss” is so touching it gets you thinking about your own history of important ensembles. One such memory in particular came to mind…
The first time my heart was truly broken was in high school. In an effort to temporarily lift my spirits, my mom took me to the mall (hey, this was the Midwest after all). See, I also had a party to go to that night and needed to look fantastic, which seemed completely impossible at the time. Then we walked by a store window and I saw it- a tight, white, cotton lycra, 3/4 length sleeved, deep v-neck t-shirt with glittering rhinestones splashed over one shoulder. I loved it, but I thought it was much too expensive for a top. My mother insisted on buying it for me explaining that in that shirt I would have the confidence to hold my head up high at the party and not worry about how I looked. “Hard times call for special clothes,” she said. I’ll never forget this, or that top that meant so much to me.
Of course, over the years, life problems have grown up and evolved with me but my mom’s wisdom and methodology remains valid. However, I no longer need to hide behind dazzling clothes when in crisis. In times of need, my mom now sends more meaningful mementos of strength, like the vintage pendant featuring a shield and the phrase “never despair.” I continually wear this treasure as it is the ultimate reminder that she is there for me and always has been in this great battle of love, loss and life.
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year- especially in the Northeast where a city girl can escape her big apple life and head to the country to lose herself in another kind of apple… one that comes from an orchard. I went with my best friend Brooke back to her hometown in Connecticut for a weekend of autumn activities. We played with her family dog, Max, in the leaves, picked and carved pumpkins, but most importantly- we ate our way through a major apple orchard. As most apple pickers can relate, Brooke and I ended up with more apples than any one person ever needs at a time. Our inner dialogue reasoned “But of course we needed this many! How else would we make all the pies, breads, muffins, pancakes and cider without them???” (I think Brooke even managed to cram 3 more fruits in her MJ Little Stam bag for safe measure). Oh the plans we had…
Luckily, my bestie is amazing in the kitchen and likes to help me hone my baking skills. Thanks to Brooke we managed to make a dent in our bushel of apples. She whipped up these two awesome vegan recipes to put our plethora of apples to good use.
Brooke’s Vegan Apple Crumble
2 t. cinnamon
• 1/8 t. nutmeg
• 1/8 t. allspice
• 1/16 t. cloves
• 1/2 c. brown sugar
• 1/2 c. oats
• 1/2 c. flour
• 1/2 c. brown sugar
• 1/4 t. baking powder
• 1/4 t. cinnamon
• 1/6 c. canola oil (or 1/2 of a 1/3 measuring cup)
• 1/2 t. vanilla
• 1/8 t. salt
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to about 375. Set apples aside and mix together remaining apple filling ingredients. Place the apples in a bread-loaf pan. Drizzle the entire apple filling mixture over the apples. In a separate bowl, mix together all ingredients for the crispy topping. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the apples. Cover with tin foil, then bake for 10 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes. Serve with soy or hemp ice cream for yummy apple crisp a la mode!
Brooke’s Vegan Mulled Apple Cider
• 8 cups apple cider (made from only apples- NO sugar added)
• 2 Tbsp maple syrup
• Tiny splash of vanilla extract
• 2-3 cinnamon sticks (she loves cinnamon and uses 3)
• 10 whole cloves
• Half an orange, quartered
DIRECTIONS: Mix all ingredients in a large pot. Heat mixture on the stove. Bring to a simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with cinnamon sticks and orange slices.