Flashback Friday: Jackson Hole, Mountain Memories

I haven't been in the mood to do much of anything lately. I constantly feel lethargic and I'm touchier than usual, like I'm in a prolonged hibernation that I can't figure out how to wake from. It's supposed to snow again tomorrow (I mean, is this real life?!), and I am fairly certain that by now, I'm suffering from a severe case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. And maybe the rest of New York is, too, because people have been downright mean on the subways and in the streets this week. Y'all. I am just not built to deal with this weather. I'm a summer baby. I need warmth. And I need it now.

The easiest way to combat all of these emotions that I've been having, coupled with the agonizingly long winter, is to bust out my photo flash drive and look at images from past summer trips while dreaming of impending ones. My family and I are big into vacation planning, and we used to take a vacation each and every summer to a National Park - the last one was out to the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. My little brother had been working in the park for the summer, and we all flew out to visit him while hiking through the mountains, going to rodeos and cowboy bars, purchasing western boots and big ass hats aptly named "The Rancher." Memories from trips like these are what get me through the harsh winter seasons in New York.

Reminiscing with these pictures is helping (slowly but surely) to wake me from my winter hibernation with crazy levels of excitement, because in July, we'll be traipsing up to Crater Lake in Oregon for our latest family excursion. We used to do this every year, y'all. And Jackson Hole would've been in 2011, so four years have now passed without my fix of mountains, nature views, taking dusk drives to spot animals, setting up the timer on cameras for all-inclusive family jumping pics, and basically having the best time ever. So, yah, it's safe to say that Crater Lake is long overdue.

Trying my best to combat my current SAD (medical and emotional) state in the face of snowfall tomorrow, I wanted to share some Jackson Hole pictures from August of 2011. I hope they help anyone else who might also be having a hard time dealing with this dreadful, dreadful cold.

What's the best family vacation you've ever been on? Leave a comment below or e-mail me at hippieteaparty@gmail.com. I'd love to see any favorite pictures if you have them!


Delightful Discoveries: Studio Arhoj Ceramics

It's been a while since I shared some sick ceramics here on HTP - and I think that's a damn shame. A lot of the random social media handles I follow on instagram fall under three categories: jewelry, florists, and ceramics. It's my personal opinion (and I'm assuming yours, too, if you've liked any of our past posts on these guys) that there are way too many amazing artists in the ceramic world that go unnoticed. And one of my favorites to keep up with recently is Studio Arhoj.

Based in Copenhagen, Studio Arhoj is a Danish interior and design studio run by Anders Arhoj. Originally founded in Tokyo in 2006, Studio Arhoj "explores the relationship between Scandanavian simplicity and traditional Japanese culture." Their pieces are always thoughtfully creative and intensely playful, and yet also minimal. Pieces are crafted by hand, and through traditions like wheel-throwing and glaze construction, every single one of these decorative little knickknacks is completely unique. They're clearly crafted out of nothing but love, with the observance of color and the translation of personality coming through like a breath of fresh air.

Check out a handful of the ceramics below, all taken from Studio Arhoj's Instagram (@studioarhoj) and can also be seen on their website. In order to purchase, you'll have to check out the retailers section - but never fear! They're stocked 'round the world.

Who are your favorite brands to follow on Instagram? I'd love to hear your thoughts! E-mail via hippieteaparty@gmail.com, or leave a comment below, as always.


The Rabbit Food Diaries: Reinvigorating the Heart of the Home

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what would make my future self happy. Not necessarily in the materialistic sense of something like getting a new couch (although that would be really quite lovely, my futon breaks when you breathe on it), but moreso in the sense of figuring out how to seek peace and love within life's moments and experiences, even the unpredictable ones. Obviously, I've been more conscious of this in the past few months than I've ever been before, but the thing that's helped the most? Rediscovering the joy and fulfillment that I feel when I'm in my kitchen at home.

With that in mind, I'm happy to report that I'll be bringing you new recipes every Friday starting next week. I've been working diligently and trying out new flavors and foods (some I like, some I still don't like - blech) that are vegan, gluten-free, and totally TRFD-friendly. I know I've posted a few here and there, but as a rule, I don't enjoy sharing things here with y'all that I haven't 100% mastered. But, as I read through the e-mails you've sent me and the comments you've left, I recognize that there are a lot of ladies out there who aren't being supported in their dietary choices - whether or not it's for medical reasons or from a place of mindfulness. And that's a real tragedy to me.

I look forward to bringing more food into all of our lives, because I think it's an important part of how people contribute to their self-fulfillment and happiness. The kitchen has always been the heart of the home for me - where the best smells are smelled and the greatest tastes are tasted. The place where people laugh and share stories over meals. The place where partners bond, friendships form, and families have communal memories. I have a life outside the kitchen, and I look forward to continuing to share that with y'all, too; but just because I live in New York doesn't mean I have to cave to the stereotype of the woman who uses her oven as storage.

Stay tuned for these Friday night recipes - and if you try any of them or have recommendations of what you'd like to see, please do let me know! I lurve getting e-mails, tweets, instagrams, and comments.


Fifty Shades of Green (Spring Dreaming)

Spring was here for a second, y'all. Just a millisecond, to tease me, and then it retreated back to where it came from. The sun was out, my coat was unzipped, and my scarf didn't need to be tied three times around my neck like a noose. I felt like it just might be possible that spring was here to stay. But, I was wrong, because it's 100% feeling like winter again. It's back to being bitterly cold - the kind of cold that makes everyone around you on the streets ruthless and angry. And I hate it. Every minute of it. So, I'm ignoring it.

And that was going really well until today when (... wait for it) I started to realize that I feel sick. You know the feeling - when your body needs a little bit more sleep than usual, and you think to yourself, "Oh, that's weird, my level of exhaustion is off the charts," before passing out at 9pm on a Monday night. Then, the next morning, you're a little sneezy. And then, that afternoon, your throat hurts ever-so-slightly. BOOM. It hits you - you're sick. I'm at that middle stage right now, and I'm consuming so many liquids and vitamins and juices that I'm hoping desperately to fend it off (whatever it is), but the sickness threat is definitely lingering.

Maybe my entire body is just in full revolt because of the cold weather returning.

In any case, let's think spring thoughts and send healthy vibes my way. Since I'm literally about to pass out as I write this, I wanted to share a few more images of greenery from my weekend with the parental units at The New York Botanical Garden. This also seemed appropriate given the amount of immunity-friendly green juices I've been drinking to keep my fluid-and-nutrient intake up. Spring, please come back, we all miss you - and I'm afraid people on the streets and subways might all kill each other soon with cold-induced rage.

How do you cope with lingering cold weather? Let us know via e-mail (hippieteaparty@gmail.com) or leave a comment below!


Five Things: Orchids at The New York Botanical Garden

For those of you who follow along on Instagram, you know that my parents are in town this weekend for a brief little reunion. Whenever they're in town, we always jam-pack the days full of activities - and one of our favorite things to do is to visit museums and see a few special exhibits. We went to the Met on Saturday, which was a ton of fun, but on Sunday, I persuaded them to travel all the way up to the Bronx for the New York Botanical Garden's Orchid Chandeliers exhibit. And, y'all. It's worth the trip, and then some. Orchids hang from every crevasse and corner of the enormous glass greenhouse rooms - a rainbow of blooms falling from the ceiling, clinging to the walls and coming up from the floors. They were draped over things, dripping down and brushing the tops of our heads and shoulders. It was really something else.


Beauty Bag: Multipurpose Beauty Balms

I am all about multitasking. I live for it. Some people hate it - there's an entire school of thought that humans should only focus on one thing at a time to maximize the attention and dedication given to the task. And sure, that might be a good practice for some; but that's definitely not the case for me. I thrive on the feeling like I'm getting as many things done as BeyoncĂ© does on any given day (even if I'm not really because she has like a million assistants). It's a little check list in my brain - and the more boxes I can check off, the better I feel by the end of the day. I'll often say to my friends with glee, "Oh, I got so many things done today!" 

When it comes to beauty products, too, there's nothing quite as awesome as discovering a cure-all. It's like winning the lottery (but with less money in your piggy bank, clearly). I mean, when I finally learned all the amazing properties of Coconut Oil, it was a treasure trove of fun. I could use it for anything! I bought a huge tub of it. It's enormous. It's already half empty. And while I do love it, there are certain beauty tasks that I don't want to use it for. So my bathroom cabinet is still full of creams, serums, lotions, and then some, for all the things that coconut oil is a little too oil-y for. Here, cue the entrance of the multipurpose balm.

I first heard about multipurpose balms last year, and it seemed a little too good to be true. I pictured them as an intensely fancy Vaseline. What was the real selling point? But then, I read more about them. And I became more intrigued. They're the best at hydrating, but also great at so many other things. Let's talk about just a few of their uses, shall we? Makeup remover. Brow gel. Split-end rescue. Highlighter and gloss. Moisturizer. Cuticle cream. Stretch mark solver. Dry skin rehydrator. Flyaway tamer. Basically, balms are the duct tape of the beauty world. And here are the top three that I think we should all be using in this never-ending winter. Because, yes, it's still cold. And, yes, it snowed today. On the first day of Spring. Ugh.
1. Elemental Herbology Tree of Life Multipurpose Balm ($58). Using an exclusive extract from an algae found in France, this balm features major anti-oxidant properties that keep skin from drying out while nourishing, lifting, repairing, and firming. The other main ingredient that I'm super intrigued by is the Buriti "Tree of Life" Oil, which is a Brazilian red oil that reduces inflammation and can heal burns while also helping out with stretch marks. And, of course, the addition of Argan oil, which is super rich in Vitamin E, radically improves the elasticity of skin by targeting low moisture levels.

2. NYR Organic Wild Rose Beauty Balm ($70). Whenever a balm talks about being "multipurpose," you expect it to fall short in at least a few categories. Not here. Made across the pond in England, this little pot of loveliness is popularly used as a cleansing and exfoliant balm - which, for sensitive skin, is amazing at loosening clogged pores and nourishing without being too heavy. As you massage it in, you get to take in the herbal smell of the product which is actually quite relaxing, and at the end of the process, you'll have a gorgeous glow. It decongests your skin instantly, and is made out of 99% organic ingredients. Bonus: also sheer perfection as a night moisturizer.
3. Aerin Beauty Rose Balm ($58). As I think of a more traditional balm, I picture it looking, smelling, and feeling more like this version. Crafted from 350 plus rose petals, it's a harder balm that gives an amazing finish. I started with my lips since they get chapped so much in the cold weather, moved to using it as a nighttime moisturizer twice a week, and then started lathering it all over my cuticles and hands. It soothes irritation, it plumps up dehydrated skin, and acts as one of the best face highlighters I've ever worked with - once you're done applying your makeup, just tap a small amount along your cheekbones for a soft, romantic and feminine glow.

Have you ever used a balm? What did you think? Leave us a comment below or write to us at hippieteaparty@gmail.com!


Five Things: Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

If you don't already know, I think I should take a quick moment to let you know that I've given up television for the year (yes, the whole entire year - but I'm allowing myself Sundays as an occasional indulgence). This was something that started back in January; I was making resolutions for myself, and thinking about what I could change that would make me more productive. It's tricky trying to exfoliate your life as best you can to make room for the new things that you want to do - write more, listen more, learn more, travel more, love more. The easiest way to do that? I had to break up with my two stay-at-home boyfriends: Netflix and Hulu. Insert enormously sad emoji face here.

Last year, I spent a lot of my free time with these two streaming services. That alone doesn't make me an anomaly in the general population, I know - but I wasn't just watching movies and TV shows. No, no. I'm a documentary junkie. I had my queue lined up with documentary after documentary. When I say that, I mean it quite literally; all of my "suggested titled" were also documentaries. Nature documentaries were my main cup of tea, but the downward spiral of suggestions swallowed me whole as I got into social documentaries, political documentaries, criminal documentaries and then some. Before I knew it, almost every other sentence out of my mouth when I was talking with friends started with, "I watched this amazing documentary last night..." But not everyone was into it - no one else wanted to talk about the crazy documentary about sheep shearing that had no dialogue, and how amazing it was. Everyone just kind of looked at me like I was a touch insane. 

I learned quickly after I started to abstain from television that it's kind of creepy to be alone with no noise in the background. Some people find this reassuring, I know, but you have to remember that I've lived in New York for almost a decade now. No noise? It makes me get inside my head too much. I needed to find a way to be productive while I could simultaneously do my chores - laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. Luckily for me, this moment of change in my life was at the height of the Serial podcast mania. Podcasts, though? I wasn't entirely sold. So, I decided to give Serial a try - and my life hasn't been the same since.

Yanni Floros Drawing
Funny things happen when you stop watching television. And before I knew it, I went from documentary nerd to podcast fanatic. So, without boring you too terribly much, I wanted to suggest my top five favorite podcasts that I'm obsessed with at the moment. I wait for the subscriptions to update with as much anticipation (or more!) as I do when I'm waiting for a package to arrive in the mail. Basically, I view podcasts as my generation's NPR, and I don't hate it.

1. Serial. If you haven't listened to Serial, you should. First of all, it's amazing to learn about how the court system can have so many loopholes. It's also just a must-hear of a story. And it's all true! I can't wait for the second season.
Best Suited For: Crime drama junkies. You know who you are.

2. Dear Sugar Radio. Originally an advice column, Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed (you probably know her as the woman who wrote Wild) dole out some really impressively empathetic advice to listeners who write in with universal problems.
Best Suited For: Those of us who have never picked up a self-help book but have always kind of wanted to.

3. The Moth. The only premise for this podcast is "True Stories Told Live," and it never fails to impress me with the narratives that people create from personal experiences they've been through. Some of them are hilarious, others are tear-jerkers, but all of them are so incredibly sincere.
Best Suited For: People intrigued by other people.

4. Stuff Mom Never Told You. This was the second podcast I ever started listening to, and I am fully, 100% in love with the hosts, Cristen and Caroline. They're insightful, they're witty, and they're probably the most relatable feminists I've ever had the pleasure to listen to. They go back in time, talking about the history of women's inequality within different topics each week.
Best Suited For: Soft-core feminists who have a thing for history.

5. Out Loud. A weekly conversation about different articles in the ever-famous New Yorker. This podcast is a new one in my rounds, but I'm already intrigued because of their interesting topics - nothing is off limits, from Ebola to Jane Austen, the rodeo to Spotify. A bit of everything for everyone, truly.
Best Suited For: Literary freaks. Lovers of in-depth articles and thorough research.

What about y'all? Have you ever listened to any podcasts that you like? Leave us a comment or e-mail us at hippieteaparty@gmail.com!


My Recipe Book: Pecan Pie for Pi Day (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

What?! You thought I was going to let Pi Day (3.14) come and go without making a pie? Just because I have to find a way around using my regular baking ingredients for The Rabbit Food Diaries, doesn't mean that I won't use every chance I get to bake. And today is absolutely no exception!

When I went to Georgia for Thanksgiving this past November, my grandma gave me an enormous bag full of the freshest batch of Georgia pecans. I brought them home to Brooklyn, and I've been waiting for the right occasion to bust them out in my favorite pie pretty much ever - the southern staple, the delicious, the famous Pecan Pie. Generally, my pie recipes include an amount of butter that should be illegal. They use baking flour and brown sugars and white sugars. They also tend to use alcohol - vodka in the crust, bourbon in the filling, etc. Obviously, with my new diet, I was going to have to alter a few things. And by a few things, I mean damn near everything.

Enter my database of vegan and gluten-free recipes courtesy of top food bloggers. Lo and behold, Deliciously Ella had the solution, as she so often does. I made a few alterations, but the pie turned out perfectly. It even looks like a normal, non-vegan, gluten-filled, alcoholic pie. Like I've said before, discovering all these new ways to cook with my limitations has been such a trip - I really recommend it to anyone and everyone who might be interested.

Pecan Pie (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
Recipe adapted from this Deliciously Ella perfection.

For the Crust:
- 1 Cup of Natural Almond Meal (I use Bob's Red Mill for almost all of my baking needs)
- 1/3 Cup of Coconut Flour
- 1/3 Cup of Tapioca Flour
- 1/3 Cup of Millet Flour
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup
- 1 Very Ripe Banana (mashed)
- 4 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil (melted)
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons of Cinnamon

For the Filling:
- 1 1/2 Cup of Pecans
- 3/4 Cup of Coconut Butter
- 1/4 Cup of Almond Butter
- 2 Very Ripe Bananas (mashed)
- 4 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup
- 1/4 Cup of Water

For the Topping:
- 1 1/2 Cup of Pecans
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Make the crust by combining the almond meal, coconut flour, tapioca flour, millet flour, maple syrup, banana, coconut oil, and cinnamon. I used my standing mixer for this because I'm obsessed with my standing mixer. It will form a sticky-ish mixture that's fairly thick.
3. Coat the bottom of your pie dish with coconut oil to prevent the pie from sticking.
4. Spread the crust mixture, creating your crust. I used my hands for this and tried to leave the crust uniformly about 1/4" thick.
5. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes.
6. I took a quick moment to put in pie weights on top of a layer of aluminum foil to prevent any air pockets from forming under the crust (this part is optional!).
7. Bake for another 10 minutes or so until the top of the outer rims of the crust is brown and hardened.
8. Start to create the filling by placing the pecans in a food processor for about a minute or so to crush them completely.
9. Add the coconut butter (I melted mine slightly in the oven first) as well as the almond butter and mix.
10. Add the maple syrup and bananas and mix until fully combined. As it's mixing, add in the water gradually. Keep the filling mixture in the fridge until the crust is ready.
11. The topping is next! Fully coat the pecans with maple syrup and cinnamon (I used my hands for this - sticky but quite thorough).
12. Bake for about 5 minutes at the same temperature (350 degrees F) or until they are crunchy and brown. The maple syrup will be a bit bubbly, and your house will smell amazing! No. Joke.
13. When the pie crust is done baking, place it aside and let it sit until cooled (I left mine for about 15 to 20 minutes).
14. Spread the filling across the pie crust evenly, and add the pecans onto the top. Let this sit for about an hour or more before feasting upon.

After enjoying a slice, I recommend putting in the fridge for storage for a few days. You can also freeze it, too, for longer if you'd like. But I doubt you'll need to, since it's so good. It'll be gone before you know it! Seriously, y'all. This one's a keeper.

Let us know if you try it! Leave a comment or e-mail us at hippieteaparty@gmail.com.


A Happy Home: Adding Flair With Antlers

I have a major thing for antlers. It's gotten to the point where I have to be constantly reminded not to buy another pair, because honestly, I have no wall space for them at the moment. I don't know how, why or when this obsession started, but I can trace one specific memory back to a family trip in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We'd all trekked out to visit my little brother, who had been working at Grand Teton National Park over the summer. And as we entered into town after we arrived, in the middle of the main square there sat an enormous archway, made completely out of antlers. The grandiosity of it, coupled with it's cowboy-bohemian flair grabbed my attention immediately - and from that point onwards, all I could think about was completing my home with the little something extra that only antlers could add.

Antlers are kind of inherently magical to me. Think about it: they're bone structures (bone!) that are grown as an extension of the skull in mammals like deer, elk, moose. They grow these perfectly symmetrical bone sculptures only to shed them annually. Their bodies put enormous effort into creating them, growing them from nothing but a bit of cartilage until they're finally able to be used as impressive battering rams for mating. And then, POP! Off they fall. The miracle that these animals have adapted throughout time to be able to grow antlers, and then again for them to fall off once they're impeding their survival - that's something so fascinating to me.

Really, I think the main thing that I love about antlers is how organic they make a room feel. No matter how modern and minimalist the furniture and decor is, once you throw a set of antlers on the wall or as a tabletop piece, the entire mood of the design changes. It's kind of remarkable how one aspect of a room can shift the interior so dramatically. In my apartment, I have an enormous set of naturally shed antlers that were a Christmas gift from my boyfriend. They are huge and perfect, and they sit on either side of a shelf holding cowboy boots and candles underneath a horseshoe. So, as you can tell, I went all out with the Jackson Hole thing. No regrets at all because when I'm sitting underneath them with a string of Christmas lights twinkling above me and a wool Pendleton blanket across my lap, nothing could make me happier.

I wanted to share a bit of antler inspiration to hopefully pique your interest as well as to fuel my own. 

Antlers and Art with Sheepskin-Covered Wire Chairs
Tabletop Rustic Antlers
White on White with Antlers and Wood
Antlers in the Kitchen
Antlers, Books, and Rugs, Be Still My Heart
Naturally Shed Antler Wall Hangings
Antlers Get Festive
Welcoming Entryway Antlers
If you've ever used antlers in your home or in an apartment, we want to see them! Send us a pic by tweeting at us @hippieteaparty or tagging us on Instagram with the same handle.


My Recipe Book: Sunday Morning Home Fries

My mother cooked for us almost every single night growing up. This was both awesome and frustrating (for us as well as for her, I'm sure) for a number of different reasons. First and foremost being that all three of the children had foods we would and wouldn't eat. But the one thing we could all agree on? Potatoes. We all loved potatoes in any form - mashed, roasted, baked, fried. Any way you could cook them, we wanted them.

Fast forward to my first semester of college, and my dorm was oh-so-conveniently located a few blocks away from a Waffle House - and can you guess what my favorite dish was? I actually still have cravings of those deliciously greasy, perfectly crisp hash browns coming off the skillet and directly onto my plate. I remember watching anxiously as the lady behind the counter (who looked, by the way, like the ideal diner lady - glasses, apron, and all) would slap the plate down in front of me, and I almost didn't want any other part of my meal. Just leave me alone with the hash browns, please.

Good hash browns - the greasy, shredded, Waffle House kind - are near impossible to find in New York. There are a handful of places here I've discovered, but as a whole, they're a rarity. I've had to adapt to this, and have now become somewhat addicted to home fries. Home fries, in case you're not clear on the difference - they're basically cubed potatoes that are oven-roasted, browned on the side and perfectly tender in the middle. They're not hash browns, but they'll do. They're also not exclusive to breakfast; they can be an ideal side to any dish, accompanying everything from roast chicken to omelets.

And (!) in accordance with The Rabbit Food Diaries, these tasty little babies are vegan and gluten-free. Which means you can munch happily and healthily!

Sunday Morning Home Fries (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
Recipe from yours truly. If you're looking for something you can do on the stove top, try this one from Minimalist Baker.

- 1 to 2 Potatoes (I used regular white potatoes, but I've also tried - and loved - red or Yukon gold)
- 2 Large Carrots
- 1 Small Red Onion
- 2 to 3 Cloves of Garlic
- Olive Oil (I tend to eyeball it, but you can use 2-ish Tablespoons)
- Pine Nuts
- Salt (I prefer Pink Himalayan)

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cube the potatoes into 1/2 inch squares. Slice the carrots into matchsticks. Slice the onion into half moons. Mince or slice the garlic - I tend to leave them sliced thinly because I like how brown and flavorful they get).
3. Place all the above ingredients, along with the pine nuts, in a large glass bowl and coat thoroughly with olive oil and salt. I like to use my hands to toss everything together; it's messy, I know, but it ensures everything gets good and coated.
4. Spread everything onto a cookie sheet. Make sure that the potatoes have their sides facing downwards onto the sheet, so they can crisp up and get a crunch. 
5. Place in oven and cook for 30 minutes, taking them out every 10 minutes or so to flip with a metal spatula to make sure nothing's getting burnt or sticking to the cookie sheet.
6. Serve hot and enjoy!

Do you like hash browns or home fries better? If you try the recipe, show us! You can tag us on Instagram (@hippieteaparty), leave a comment below, or even shoot us an e-mail at hippieteaparty@gmail.com. Happy Sunday, hippies!


The Rabbit Food Diaries: New Eating Habits and My Favorite Vegan Blogs

As many of you are aware from my chronicling of The Rabbit Food Diaries, I'm on a specific and highly regimented diet at the moment (click to re-cap if you've missed anything). It's a plant-based, whole foods plan that incorporates both gluten-free and vegan components - and it's been a strange and difficult road to go down for a butter-loving Southerner. This diet will be lasting 140 days, of which I'm only really done with about three weeks. Blah. While I might've gotten past a few of the cravings (fried chicken, pita bread, soft pretzels, bagels, cheese - and I'm sure more are on the way), I still have a lot to learn about eating right with the constraints that I've been given. And, as some of you might have noticed on my Instagram, I've been falling back in love with cooking because of it.

I discussed in my last post (which I've been told was a touch sad) that my friends and family try their best to be supportive, but often have questions and concerns. These can be frustrating to hear over and over, but what's been the most ridiculous to hear is being told how much weight I'm going to lose. If you've seen any of my pictures, then you know I'm not a big person to begin with. I'm 5'0" (on a good day) and I've always been active - making me the girl that everyone points out at a party to toss over a shoulder, or to squeal "you're so tiny" at before pointing out all of my tiny, baby features. Listen - I'm not bitter about being petite. I don't mind it at all. I really, really like being little. There are a lot of great things about being short and small - but the people who now assume that I don't eat (or eat very little) because I'm "dieting"? I frankly find that kind of hurtful.

So, here's the truth: I consume way more food now than I ever did in the past. It's a new development that's been bizarre, and I've had to re-calibrate what I buy at the grocery store each weekend because of this. And at the heart of it? Food blogs. I knew that the internet was going to be my friend when I started this journey - and not only because of the community that I would find by sharing it, but also because of the recipes that would be available to me out there on the interwebs. If this was all happening 10, even 20, years ago, I don't think that I'd be as successful as I am right now in making things like gluten-free and vegan bread here in my own Brooklyn kitchen. I've made lentil burgers and stir fry and cheese from cashews. Anything that I've eaten before, basically, I can eat again. I'm re-learning the fundamentals of cooking, baking, and feeding myself. And it's so liberating.

With all of these new discoveries, I have to give credit to the incredible bloggers out there who've changed my life with their innovations. I no longer feel overwhelmed when I go to the grocery - I feel empowered. I maybe halfway know what I'm doing now. When I read labels, I no longer look like a panic-stricken teary-eyed goon (or at least the employees have gotten used to it?). I like to think that now, I look like someone who's simply being mindful about what foods she puts into her body. And sometimes, when the grocery clerk doesn't know what an acorn squash is, I feel like giving her a recipe or two right then and there because DAMNIT they are amazing and should be celebrated!

I'm going to be referring to more blogs in the future, but for those hippies out there who are interested in learning more about The Rabbit Food Diaries, a vegan and / or gluten-free diet, and the recipes that I've been relying on in these first few weeks, check out the below five blogs for some amazingly inspirational dishes. I'd include pictures, but I really want you to click on the links and explore their sites on your own. I've also graciously provided some of the recipes I want to try next - I'm dying to get back to baking, so they're all sweets (#sorrynotsorry).


1. Vegan Richa. Richa has been one of my top favorite go-to's for easy AND for more involved dishes. I found her blog when I was searching desperately for vegan cheese because I didn't want to buy the soy-based product from the grocery store.
The one I want to try next? Vegan Almond Butter Blondies. Just look at them and tell me they don't look undyingly delicious. I dare you.

2. The First Mess. This is a new one that I just discovered, and I have been easing my way into. Everything on Laura's blog is vegan, as well as being seasonal.  
The one that I want to try next? Vegan and Gluten-Free Maple Doughnuts with Salted Almond-Butter Glaze, because it sounds like an explosion of taste in my mouth. Also, they look so artisinal and photogenic!

3. Deliciously Ella. Jeanette already knows that I'm quite literally obsessed with this blog (I spend my nights and weekends texting her as I try new recipes). Ella, like me, was introduced to eating a plant-based diet because of a medical condition, which drew me into her story as well as made me appreciate her recipes more.  
The one I want to try next? The Pecan Pie, duh. I'm from the South after all.

4. Oh She Glows. Angela's blog is meant to help people embrace a new plant-based diet without feeling like they're depriving themselves, and I think she's hit the nail on the head. The recipes she creates and the photos she takes will make you reconsider that store-bought candy for sure.  
The one I want to try next? The 3-Layer Almond Coconut Chocolate Bars, which look like they're bursting with flavor.

5. Allyson Kramer. Allyson is not only a blogger, but an award-winning cook book writer as well! Everything on her blog is vegan and gluten free - oh, and labeled with nut-free and soy-free labels, too - so it makes it easy to try anything and everything for me.  
The one I want to try next? The Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread, because I've always had a weakness for banana bread before TRFD. Oh, and also for chocolate. Of course.


What are your favorite food blogs? Any go-to vegan or gluten-free recipes I should try out? Leave a comment below or send me an e-mail at hippieteaparty@gmail.com.


Delightful Discoveries: A MANO's Clay Treasures

I'm curious: what do you do when you have a bad day? One of the top five things that make me feel infinitely better is discovering lovely little treasures on Etsy. It's a strange addiction - not necessarily one that makes a whole lot of sense for a girl living in a small Brooklyn apartment. It certainly ensures that my walls and shelves are all full of treasures, knick-knacks, and prints, sure, but generally nowadays my house is brimming with these sorts of pieces... so I try my best to refrain. And then you find a collection of whimsical glazed clay animals and you think, well, I can fit these in somewhere around here, right?

When I first came across A MANO, it was on Instagram (click the link to follow - do it now, do it NOW!). I was skirting around the rabbit hole of the search homepage looking for ceramics, trying not to trip over the edge and fall in too deep. And when I finally did, I didn't end up minding at all (because I always trip, and I never ever mind). This store was curated by a Minnesotan photographer named Louisa Podlich, who wanted to create a space where art lovers and artists could come together. A MANO translates to "by hand" in Spanish, which is incredibly suitable for the impressive array of work that comes from various artists housed in the collection. But the thing I love even more than all of the visual porn on their website? Duh, their Etsy shop.

A MANO's Etsy is full of all the things I love most in life: artistic trinkets and bric-a-brac that are ideal for adorning one's home, filling it with stories. There are tiny ring dishes, painted and glazed with care, whose only purpose is to sit on a nightstand collecting your daily jewelry. There are mini wall-hangings that serve as an adorable pop of color in any room. There are hand-crafted spoons, small in size but big in character. There are hand-painted baby spirit animal figurines, each with their own personality and cheerfulness. All of the pieces are a little wonky and uneven in shape, but for me it only seems to enhance the charm. To give you a better idea, here are some of my favorite pieces.

Svetlana the Unicorn | SOLD, but more coming soon via Insta
Little Cactus Ring Dishes | $12 Each
Drake the Camel | $12
Mini Spotty Spoon | $10 Each
What have you found on Etsy that you love? Any special pieces you treasure? Leave a comment below or shoot us an e-mail at hippieteaparty@gmail.com.


The Rabbit Food Diaries: Social Impacts of New Diets

Well, I'm a little over two weeks in, and I'm already starting to notice the effects of The Rabbit Food Diaries in my life. Yes, my skin is clearer, and yes, my head is definitely screwed on a bit straighter. I don't get what used to be my afternoon crashes, and I no longer have issues going to bed at night or even waking up in the morning. Overall, I'm in pretty solid health as far as I can tell. The one thing that I am noticing, though, is the social impact of all of this in my life. Because I'm doing it for medical reasons, and not just for giggles, it makes me feel a lot more accountable for what I'm putting into my body day in and day out. It makes me want to stay on track. And, it's strange to have to even say this, but not everyone around me has been understanding of that.

There have been times over the past two or three weeks that I've gone out with friends - to drinks, to dinners, to lunches. Each time, I have to remind them about my new eating habits. And each time, I'm met with the same incredulity. The lines are always the same: Oh, I'd never be able to do that. No coffee?! No alcohol?! What kind of life are you leading! You're going to wither away into nothing. And after that, each time, I have to scour the menu for something - anything - that I can eat. I worked briefly in the food industry (a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away), and to watch someone sit at a table and not order anything - it gets you irritated. There are a lot of questions that run through your head. Little do they know - I want so badly (SO badly) to be able to eat every bit of buttery-cheesy-meaty fried goodness on their menu, and I would happily do so if this had been even a few months ago. But I can't now. And I won't.

So, along with everything that my body is going through, there also comes the awkward invitations from friends, along with probing questions and an inability to understand. Southern, down-home cooking restaurants are no longer my staple, and they've been traded in for vegan, gluten-free establishments - places which cater to people that eat like me. Whether or not this new tribe of people that I'm among is eating this way because they're hipsters, or whether they're just trying a new fad, or if they actually really need to avoid these foods (as per medical diagnosis and / or instruction like me), I don't know. All I know is that the company I keep in these select few places make me feel the most comfortable around food now, at least outside of my own kitchen. They don't judge me for chugging water by the gallon, they don't mind me asking 15-minutes worth of questions about what they put in the salad dressing, and they don't blink twice when I say those dreaded words: is this vegan? Instead, they just answer me. Human to human. 

Yes, I've changed. Yes, I can no longer eat the things I used to. But I never in a million years did I think it would've effected my relationships in the way that it has. Maybe it's just the people that I'd been choosing to hang out with. Maybe it's just how people sometimes are - they quickly want to reject the things that they don't understand, instead of being empathetic and listening to the story behind the salad. So I sat, for a long time, in a sad funk of emotions, thinking about whether or not this is going to effect me - and my friends - for the rest of my life. I thought, among other things: Will my friends abandon me? Will I constantly be forced into situations where I'm socially pressured to do something that I'm going to regret? Will I have to start over? My body might be on the mend, but my emotions were (and still sort of are) running high.

And then I realized something. I realized that just because someone might hold this against me, that doesn't necessarily mean I need to counterbalance that by holding it against them. If someone doesn't understand at first - that's not a good reason for me to push them away. Maybe it's better for everyone if I just continue to be who I am, let them gawk, and let them ask the questions that they want to ask. I think that we, as people, are inherently curious about the things we don't initially grasp the concept of. That's how we became who we are as a species. That's how I'm here today and haven't died yet of starvation. I've learned to cope with my new restrictions, in a different way of being curious in cooking and in resetting some of my old mental habits. It wasn't something I mentally switched on or off, it just happened as soon as the boundaries were there. I don't know, I'm just spouting thoughts and ideas here - I still have a long ways to go when it comes to the 140 days that's required of me. Maybe the social interactions will become less awkward as time inches ever forward.

These days, I miss fried chicken like an old boyfriend - he was bad for me, and I knew it. I prefer to remember the good times before the bad ones, so I can reminisce happily. But now that we've parted ways, would I ever go back? Will I ever go back? I'm not sure just yet. Ask me in a few more weeks. But for now, I'm kind of getting back to enjoying this life as I have it. After all, there's plenty of food in the fridge. No two loves are ever the same. I'll always have you, fried chicken, but now I'm on the search for my next favorite dish.

Blogging tips