28 February 2016

vegan/cruelty-free makeup.

here's the first real lifestyle post! (sorry, gents. this one's not for you. unless you're into this kind of thing, which ... more power to ya!)

a lovely reader (hi, andrea!) asked what vegan & cruelty-free beauty products i use. i do try my best to use vegan & cruelty-free makeup ... so almost all of the products i use fall into one or both of those categories (except one, sadly).

here are my favorites!

face :

oxygenetix foundation (vegan & cruelty-free) 
i started using this when i had some dry skin issues a while back. it's super gentle & breathable & i've been using it ever since! i'll be using this product for a long time ... (also, sooooo many skin tone options to choose from.)

chella highlighter / concealer (cruelty-free)
i loooove this product. it's actually a highlighter, but i use it as a concealer. covers really well & is super easy to use.

benefit porefessional primer (no animal testing)
there's some question as to whether benefit is actually cruelty-free. but they appear to have updated their policy & website. while it doesn't specifically say cruelty-free, it does state that they do not test on animals. this primer is super legit ... i actually don't understand how it works so well.

*update on benefit cosmetics ... i reached out to the company & got a response from their customer service team. while they asked that i not share their e-mail on my site as they prefer to educate the consumer directly, the gist is that they don't test on animals. however, they do sells products in china, where the government requires testing done in state-run facilities. so there's that.

brows :

anastasia beverly hills brow pencil (cruelty-free) 
i'm super into my eyebrows & this is hands down the best brow pencil... i'm pretty sure i found this out on a beauty blog by a makeup artist, so we can trust that it's good stuff. judging by how much of mine is left, time to order more.

benefit brow gel (no animal testing)
see above re: benefit ... love this brow gel to hold the brows in place & provide just a bit of extra tint.

mascara & eyeliner :

urban decay (vegan & cruelty-free) - mascara & eyeliner
urban decay is probably one of the best companies when it comes to vegan & cruelty-free make up. all of their products are cruelty-free ... then they have a specific line of vegan items. it's super high-quality, too. so it's really a win win win. the ones i have are on the cruelty-free list, since they came in a kit i got as a gift... when these are up, vegan it is!

lips :

nars (cruelty-free)
i'm just going to go ahead & say it ... nars has the absolute best lipsticks & lip pencils. if you're looking for a great red that looks good on ev.er.y.bo.dy, go for dragon girl. something dark? volga. anything in between? trust me & just do it.

urban decay (vegan & cruelty-free) 
see above. love their naked lip glosses.


after doing some reading online, it seems like this is kind of a touchy subject... for example, the parent company of urban decay (l'oreal) is not cruelty-free, so some people say that makes urban decay not cruelty-free. (let me tell you, people get super amped up about it.)

in my opinion, you can do whatever you want to do. a favorite quote of mine is: "being vegan is about intention, not perfection." i don't know who said it, but it's the mantra i live by.

so go forth, pretty vegans! get yo' glam on.

23 February 2016

pizzeria da nella.

i know what you're thinking. "another pizza place?!" yes. another pizza place. this is chicago & i like pizza. deal with it!

anyway, pizzeria da nella in lincoln park isn't just any pizza place... they know what's up : "in chicago, deep dish pizza is king. however, there's still room for classic neapolitan pizza .... our wood-oven stove is operated by a naple's native whose passion for italian food is only matched by her experience with pizza." truer words have never been spoken.

here's what i had ...

mista salad :
mixed salad, cherry tomatoes, green & black olives, evoo & balsamic.
this is my favorite kind of salad. i mean, look at all those olives!!! it seems like it should be easily replicated at home ... but somehow, it's just never as good. maybe i need to try again.

marinara pizza:
tomatoes, garlic, oregano, olive oil & basil. 
my first thought when i saw this pizza was that it looked kind of sad. which it does. but DAMN, WAS IT GOOD. the more i think about it, the more it is moving up my list of favorite pizzas. 

pizzeria da nella is going to be in my rotation from now on due to the following reasons... 
1. it's super kid friendly in there. 
2. if we don't wanna leave the house, they deliver!! (what?!) 
3. it's delicious. 


pizzeria da nella
1443 w. fullerton ave
chicago, il 60614

09 February 2016

valentine's day treat.

if you're like me, you love dessert ... also like me, you use any holiday as an opportunity to indulge. valentine's day + a valentine's day treat = perfection in my book.

so when the fine people at dandies (an all-natural marshmallow company from chicago! woo!) hit me up with a marshmallow-centric recipe idea, i was all about trying it. especially since it's relatively simple & we all know i'm no pro (yet!) in the kitchen. (although you wouldn't know it based on my incredible mise en place you'll see below.)


okay, here it is ...

heart-shaped crispy treat sandwiches
(recipe by chelsie jangord)

part 1
dandies classic crispy treats

1x 10 oz bag of dandies mini marshmallows or dandies marshmallows
5 cups crisp rice cereal (i used brown rice crisps from whole foods, because clearly that will make these healthier)
2 tablespoons vegan butter (i used earth balance)
2 tablespoons coconut oil

in a microwave-safe bowl, combine dandies, vegan butter & coconut oil. in 30 second intervals, with a quick stir between each, microwave until marshmallows are fully melted. mix in cereal & stir until evenly coated with marshmallow cream. 

on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, evenly spread the rice crispy mixture using a spatula or your hands (if you like to get messy). you want your treats to be about 1/2 inch thick. let cool. using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, begin cutting your treats. 

part 2

3 fresh strawberries, finely chopped
1/2 cup vegan butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

using a hand mixer or stand mixer, combine all ingredients & beat until you have fluffy frosting.

putting part 1 & part 2 together

frost one crispy treat & make a sandwich by pressing another crispy treat on top. you can roll the sides in vegan sprinkles or colored sugar crystals for extra jazziness. (pro tip : crush up pink & red jolly ranchers!)

so there you have it!! a fun, easy, tasty vegan valentine's day treat! this could also easily be used for basically any holiday if you just get different cookie cutters. i see some bunny treats in our near future ... enjoy!

08 February 2016

an update!

guys. being a mom is no joke. i mean, it's absolutely amazing. but somehow, i don't have the time (or energy) to dine out as frequently as i did in the past. (who would have thought?!)

that being said, i've decided to take this li'l blog in a kind of new direction ... LIFESTYLE! woot!

i'm going to start sharing some new content ... all vegan, of course. fashion, local events, news, etc. ... & maybe even a recipe (!) here or there.

in fact, i've got something special planned for this week featuring dandies marshmallows ... for my fave holiday ... valentine's day! so keep an eye out!!

here's how minnie celebrates v-day :
cutest puppy in the world.

oh! and if anyone has any recommendations or ideas for content you'd like to see ... just let me know!

until then ...

07 February 2016

bar siena.

being a top chef / fabio vivani / pizza fan, i had been wanting to try bar siena in the west loop for.ev.er. sooo ... when the final member of our girl crew was in town for the weekend (hi, melissa!), we decided it was the perfect spot for a #gno din.

about bar siena : "the two-story, 8,000 square foot spin-off concept offers a slightly smaller menu than siena tavern & rotates more frequently as it focuses on spanning various regions of italy. the menu also features a more expansive italian street food & pizza bar component." mmm.

here's what i had ...

medjool date & spiced walnut salad :
celery & escarole.
i absolutely loved this salad. it contains many of my favorite salad ingredients, especially celery, which often is not included in "nicer" salads. also, any salads that include dates are a-ok in my book. 

balsamic-glazed brussels sprouts :
haven't been that into brussels since they were a major turnoff while pregnant, but this version may have turned things around for me. awesome.

baked shishito peppers :
i mean .... can't go wrong with shishitos in my book.

tomato & heirloom basil pizza :
looks so lovely! tasted okay.
i think i was my fault for doing something so basic. it just needed more tomatoes for my liking. 

this one was tough for me, just because i wasn't obsessed with the pizza & i really really wanted to be. but the salad & sides were absolutely delicious! might have to pop buy for some shishitos & salad for lunch one day ...

bar siena
832 w. randolph st.
chicago, il 60607