Thursday, May 03, 2018

Woodland Sandals by JBU : Vegan Summertime Sandals!

It's a perfect match!!

These Woodland sandals are the last pair of vegan spring-summer shoes I'll be reviewing from Jambu this season, and they're perfect to come last in my line up of reviews because they are so nice for warm weather! 

These Woodland shoes, by JBU by Jambu, are great little summertime frolicking sandals.  I really appreciate that they're designed with several criss-crossing straps, in order to provide some stability, without looking clunky or excessively sporty. I mean, I love my Chacos as much as the next gal, but sometimes I don't want to look like I just walked home from the campfire. Ha ha! The navy blue material on these shoes is a sturdy faux suede (lined with equally sturdy and smooth faux leather). The flowery straps are elastic, so the shoes have a nice amount of stretch and give as you bop along. 

I've been wearing these shoes a lot lately, especially now that it's warming up here. I finally got around to taking some pictures when Mr. VE&T and I took our dogs for a walk down in Capitola, a cute little seaside city a few minutes from our house. As you'll see, it's officially springtime here, and everything is blooming! It's so beautiful. As soon as we got out of the car, we saw these delicate little purple and white flowers that perfectly matched the cute little flowers on the Woodland sandals. So cute. 


on the secret path

There's a secret little path you can take, and it goes right along the river front before the river meets the ocean. There are so many nice houses there with flowers everywhere. The dogs love this path because it's full of interesting smells (so they tell me!) and we love it because it's so beautiful.

The Woodland sandals are great for warm-weather antics, feeling summery, going to picnics, and having fun. There is a side strap by the outer ankle that secures the sandal to your liking. This is perfect for a comfortable day time shoe - but not as fully personalizable as some sandals that are purposefully designed for hiking or active outdoor wear. 

The soles are made partially with recycled materials (yeah!) and they have good traction and are sporty and functional, without feeling bulky or heavy. The insoles are made with memory foam and are really comfortable. If you have special foot needs (high arches, fallen arches, etc), these probably won't provide sufficient support for all-day touristy trekking or day hikes. But for the rest of our feet - I think you'll be happy with these summer sandals. 

bopping along! 


oh, hello!
it was chilly out, with only a bunch of seagulls on the beach that day.
Nary a tourist in sight! 

In my experience, the Woodland sandals are true to size - I wear a size 9, and these fit me perfectly in a size 9. They come in four colors: black, red, taupe, & navy blue. I picked navy blue, of course. They also come in sizes from 6 to 11, so (almost) everyone can enjoy them. Except for a few *unmentioned and beloved* women in my family who wear size 12 and 13. I am so lucky to be a size 9!

I really love that these sandals feel sporty and casual, as well as feminine and cute all at once! I've worn them with a skirt, with pants, with shorts, and with my usual professional wardrobe of yoga tights. They look cute with all those choices! They're not overtly glam with rhinestones or overly practical with 2-inch black straps either. Such a nice balance! I also feel like it has been hard over the years to find good vegan sandal options, beyond basic flip flops. I'm so glad that's finally changing! 


hip hip hooray! 

Jambu and its sub-brands JBU and JSport have so many great vegan shoes for women, and several of the vegan styles are also on sale right now! Some of the vegan styles are super sporty, others are more dressy, more feminine, dressy, practical... they have quite a range.

*Coupon to Save 20%!*
Use the coupon code VEGAN18 
to save 20% off any purchase at Jambu.com 
The coupon code is good through June 30th

If you're curious to see the other styles I've reviewed this season, I'll link to my posts below - or just head over to their site to see all your vegan shoe options! After over 17 years of veganism, it still feels like such a treat to have so many vegan shoes on the market. I'm so grateful! Let me know if you order any and which style you picked out!

My other Jambu shoe reviews this season:
Nelly Wedge  by JBU
Joy Shoes by JSport


I am a brand ambassador for Jambu's vegan line of shoes, and so I receive these shoes in exchange for doing an honest review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own! Thank you Jambu! 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Mini-Retreat Treats: Spiced Dates (recipe) & Baci di Dama

Last weekend I taught a really fun yoga workshop: one of my All-Afternoon Mini-Retreats. I call it a "mini-retreat" because we have lots of time, and I get to teach many different components of yoga -- a good, long asana class, social time and a cookies & snack break, a talk on the Yoga Sutras (philosophy), and then ending with pranayama practice (breathing). It's such a special format and I just love teaching these workshops.
   
Not surprisingly, one of my favorite things about the whole workshop is the cookies & snacks break! I usually plan out which treats to make weeks before I've finalized any other details for the workshop. Ha ha. I love sharing vegan treats with other people! For the mini-retreat I always put a lot of thought into which treats to make. I know that people come to yoga to feel good and healthy, so I try to pick treats that aren't super heavy or wildly indulgent. I also prefer to come up with treats that are gluten-free, so that everyone can just enjoy and feel included. Lastly, I try to make one treat that is more on the fruity spectrum, and one that has chocolate. Because I know some people don't like chocolate, while other people (like me) don't actually acknowledge treats unless chocolate is involved. Ha ha!

poor student, unable to concentrate on yoga. dreaming of cookies! 




So, last weekend I made two special treats: Spiced Dates stuffed with Marmalade and Pistachios and Baci di Dama Cookies. Plus a bunch of organic mandarins from Trader Joe's! You can't go wrong with fruit! 



 
Spiced Dates stuffed with Marmalade & Pistachios
Makes 30 date halves

This recipe is inspired by the amazing stuffed dates that my friends Heidi and Amy made when they catered our wedding. I had never forgotten how delicious those dates were, but hadn't ever gotten around to recreating them. I asked them about those dates and got a good starting point. But then I couldn't leave well enough alone and started adding more stuff. I was also thinking about the warming spices in panforte, one of my favorite treats. I was super stoked at how well these turned out! 


15 Medjool Dates, cut in half, pits removed
1 cup raw pistachios
1/2 cup marmalade
2-4 Tbsp candied ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh lime zest
1/2 tsp fresh ginger
pinch cardamom
pinch white pepper

After halving and pitting the dates, mix together the remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add 1-2 tsp of mixture to the hollow pit of each date. Smoosh it in there a bit. Continue until all the dates are stuffed. If there is extra filling, you will just have to eat it with a spoon.





I also make special water - I usually look around online for fun ideas for fancy spa water. Everyone already knows about cucumber water... so I like to make something a little more. This time I made water with strawberries + cucumbers + fresh mint leaves + lime slices. It was great combo. Happily, there was a lot leftover, so we enjoyed it at home for the rest of the weekend. My mom found this big, beautiful water dispenser for me at a thrift store last year and I love it so much. It's perfect for occasions like this.






Baci di Dama Cookies

These little "hamburger cookies" are actually called "Baci di Dama," which means "Lady's Kisses" in Italian. I used a recipe from David Leibowitz : https://www.davidlebovitz.com/baci-di-dama-cookies-recipe/

The only changes I made to the original recipe:
Instead of roasting my own hazelnuts, I used the Roasted Oregon Hazelnuts from Trader Joe's. Man, those are seriously good hazelnuts. We can just plow our way through a bag of those in no time at all. Mmm. Hazelnuts are one of my favorites. 


And instead of using a dairy-based butter, I used Miyoko's Cultured Vegan Butter (also from Trader Joe's).

The dough is quite delicate, but the result is a delicate cookie! If you wanted to make the whole thing a little more durable, you could probably use regular flour instead of rice flour. But obviously, using rice flour also results in a gluten-free cookie. I found that I had better luck making small rolls with my dough, and just working with patience and feeling non-rushed as I went. These charming and delicate little cookies are so cute and feel silly and sophisticated all at once! They look like tiny little hamburger UFO's, all of which feels playful and fun... but once you pop them in your mouth, the flavors are delicate and grown-up -- not very sweet, nutty, and a little blast of dark chocolate. Such a fun cookie.



 

I'm planning to teach another mini-retreat in July, so I guess I should start thinking about which treats to make next time! ha ha. Let me know if you try either of these treats! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Desert Getaway: Indian Wells

Last month, we took our annual road trip down to Palm Springs for the BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament. I'm not a tennis player, but thanks for Mr. VE&T, I am a pretty knowledgable tennis fan. Mr. VE&T is a life-long player and fan, and it's super fun to watch tennis together with him. During the normal course of our usual lives, we are quite busy and generally involved in many different pursuits. I always really look forward to this trip, and just enjoying so much time together. Even though I'm not always a road trip fan, I love this beautiful (and long!) drive down through California together. 

Road Trip! 

This year we stayed with a yoga student of mine, which was lovely. I prepared lots and lots of food ahead of time so that I wouldn't have to worry about wasting time looking for proper vegan food.


I made a big batch of Banana Chia Pudding with Caramelized Bananas and Coconut from Vegan Richa. I'd had my eye on this recipe for a long time and was happy for an "excuse" to finally make it! I think I doubled it - and ended up with about 6 servings: including one for the morning we left home, and I even got to leave one for our beloved housesitter. I topped each bowl with cashews, red walnuts, and shredded coconut. It was great to have such a healthy, filling and special breakfast all lined up and ready to go every morning. 


Miles and miles of almond trees in bloom.

Our drive down south was just so beautiful... from the sea, through rolling green hills, and into the rich agricultural land of California's Central Valley. We drove past miles and miles of almond trees in various stages of bloom - so gorgeous. 


OMG. Grapefruit Trees Galore!

Even though I have lime trees and orange trees in my own yard, grapefruit trees require a warmer climate and still feel very exotic to me. The neighborhood where we stayed with my student was filled with grapefruits. Amaze! While we were off watching tennis, our sweet host scampered around and picked about 6-7 grapefruits for me to bring home. You guys. They were SO GOOD - beautifully red inside, so sweet they were barely tart, just absolutely perfect. What a great gift to bring home after our trip! 


lunch fixin's

I also brought along lots of supplies to make lunch every day. There are actually several vegan food options inside the BNP Paripas Indian Wells grounds, but in previous years we've noticed that the lines can long, and the food can be expensive. I'd rather pack my own lunch, and the security at the grounds seems to have no objection to bringing in your own food. 

I love my special "tennis sandwich": whole wheat bread, mustard, avocado, tomato slices, baked tofu, and even some special Violife spicey Provolone that I had picked up at an all-vegan grocery store in Berkeley recently. Simple and satisfying! 


ready for a long day of tennis appreciation! 

Here's a day's worth of lunch and snacks - a sandwich, a primal strip, some veggies, some popcorn, an orange, and a Larabar. We often arrive early and spend the whole day watching tennis before setting out for a late dinner... you gotta be a real tennis fan to keep up with us! ha ha. And you need a lot of snacks to maintain a proper energetic fan appreciation level! 


two dorks

We are super careful about not getting too much sun when we're there. One year Mr. VE&T actually got sunstroke from too much sun, and that was no fun at all. So we wear sunscreen and cover our legs with light towels, and we even have these special wet towels that stay wet for a long time and slowly provide cooling effect as they dry off. They are really great! 


I am very chic.


My delicious tennis sandwich, with a Denis Shapovalov match. What a great afternoon! 
We really had a great time and tried to watch as many young up-and-comers as possible. What fun.

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Joshua Tree National Park

On our very last afternoon we decided "enough tennis!" and we scooted out for a late afternoon hike at Joshua Tree National Park. We went in the south entrance (Cottonwood) and took a 2-mile loop hike. Oh my goodness, it was sooooo beautiful. The sky was dark and stormy and it just made the whole thing so dramatic and amazing. 




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A Return Trip to Sam Cobb Date Farm! 


You may recall a post from two years ago when we first went to the Sam Cobb Date Farm. This year we stopped by again, on our way out of town, and stocked up on lots more dates! Mr. Cobb wasn't working that day, but we got to meet his wife Maxine, who was also wonderful. There are a lot of very fancy date farms in this area, with huge gift shops and major tourist infrastructure. But where's the fun in that? I'd rather support a small-scale family-farm operation like this. They have some cute signs along the road, helping you find your way. Once you get there, you can sample the varieties of dates that they have available... which you should definitely do! 

it's a date date!


Dates Dates Dates! 

As always, I stocked up on my very favorite date - the Black Gold Date, which is a variety that only Sam Cobb Farms grows. I love them so much - they're rich and chewy, smaller and not as moist as a medjool, but not too dry either and dense with chocolately rich flavor. Man, they are good! We also got a container of Mr VE&T's favorite - the Sahara date, which is much more dry with a lovely nutty flavor. And of course we also got a carton of Medjool dates, because they are a true classic and I just couldn't stop myself. 


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Brunch with Dan and Mike! 

Wonderful Dan! ~ look at those beautiful dishes!

I first met Dan (of the wonderful, thoughtful blog thegayvegans.com) at Vida Vegan Con and as soon as you meet Dan, you love Dan because Dan is the best. Dan and his also-wonderful husband Mike live in LA, and so we planned a morning friend date together. Their house is just right there on our way home! And their house is so beautiful and adorable. Dan made a big special breakfast - puffy pancakes, vegan sausages, hashbrowns (special treat!), OJ, coffee... what a wonderful time together. 

It was an absolute treat to see Dan, finally meet Mike in person (although I felt like I already knew him after reading Dan's blog for so many years), see their beautiful home, and meet all their fuzzy pals. I'm already looking forward to another (and hopefully longer) visit next year! 


Lily urgently needs all the snuggles in the whole world right NOW
and little Agnes (in the back) wants to get scritches while she chews on your hand. 
Such sweet softies!! 

Little Ludwig was still recovering from a dog attack (scary!), but he was absolutely sweet and adorable - such a good patient. Just a few days later, he was given the clean bill of health to get his cone off, so you can feel happy knowing that he is doing better now! What a sweetie pie! 

Dan & Mike & Lily & Agnes & Ludwig!


ha ha. my excellent photography skillz
too busy eating popcorn to be bothered! 

Dan has been doing some really interesting work interviewing different vegan and vegan-friendly companies about their policies on hiring trans people and has found some companies that he feels really great about supporting. One of the companies that he was telling us about is Angie's Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn - and then he generously procured a bag of it and gave it to us as a gift! That's because Dan and Mike really are the sweetest people ever. As we carried on with the next 6 hours of our drive (8 hours in total!), that poor bag of popcorn didn't stand a chance. Ha ha. Thanks again guys! When we got home, we noticed that our neighborhood grocery store has a huge display of Angie's popcorn... so I have already enjoyed another giant bag of tastiness!!


***

I also really want to thank all of you for the beautiful and heartfelt comments you left on my memorial post about Yummers Potatoes - both here and on Facebook. I read every single one, and they helped so much. I really miss Yummers, especially when it's sunny out and he's not there to enjoy the backyard with me, or when I eat asparagus and he doesn't materialize out of nowhere to demand some for himself. But his place in my heart is there forever. Thanks again, friends. It really meant a lot to me that so many of you took the time to read that post and leave comments for our heavy hearts. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Nelly Wedge Shoes by JBU: A Shoe Review!

Whoa Nelly! I love my new Nelly Shoes from JBU by Jambu Footwear. The Nellys are the newest pair of springtime shoes I've received from Jambu as a brand ambassador, and they are so fabulous. They're as comfortable as can be, chic, and fun - they've got it all! We've been having classic springtime weather here in Santa Cruz -- rain, followed by sun, followed by wind, followed by sun... Every time the sun comes out, I jump at the opportunity to get out of my rainboots and cozy socks, and put on some fancy fun shoes instead.

I went out to pick some limes from our tree to share with my yoga students, and then all the pets came out for driveway time. We often do doggie training in the driveway, so everyone was very excited. Especially for everyone's all-time favorite trick: high fives! 

Jambu has a lot of great vegan shoes for women, including a bunch of super cute wedge shoes that are great for spring and summer time. (note: Jambu also makes a lot of shoes that aren't vegan, so be sure to check out their vegan shoes page, or double-check that the style you're grooving on is vegan. On their Jambu.com website, they have a vegan logo clearly indicated for the vegan styles).

Jambu makes so many different excellent wedge shoes and I always love their styling. Over the years I have had many different pairs of Jambu wedges and they have always been very comfortable for my feet. Since I teach yoga, I spent a lot of time barefoot, and I am also constantly taking my shoes on and off - before and after teaching. For years I pretty much only ever wore flip-flops! As a result, I really enjoy the opportunity to wear clothes and shoes that aren't for yoga! ha ha. 


"nice to meet you" is another favorite trick.
Mostly they are just manically trying to get more treats from me. ha ha.

These Nelly wedges feel so comfortable, and they also look cute and special. It's such treat to put on a more dressy shoe and feel a bit more fancy and still have my feet feel so comfortable and happy! I have a secret affection for wearing high-heeled shoes from time to time, but darned if they aren't uncomfortable and impractical. These Nellys (and honestly, all the wedges I've owned from Jambu) are a wonderful exception to the rule. There's a little rise under the ball of the foot, so the heel is not actually very elevated. The insoles are made with memory foam, which is super cozy and very satisfying to walk on. Every time I put them on, I get a little pep in my step! 



The day these shoes arrived, I opened the box, and put them on right away and set out for an afternoon with our house guests. They were immediately perfect! Love at first sight! Love at first stroll! 

We took our guests out for a trip to the beach, and then we strolled down to the end of the Santa Cruz wharf to see the sea lions. I didn't want to get sand in my beautiful new shoes, so I took them off at the beach... but while my friends were swimming (brrr!), I did a little photo shoot with my new Nelly shoe friends. The material on these shoes is all-vegan (obviously!), and is a nice quality faux leather, with snazzy patterns die cut through it. 

There's a velcro strap at the ankle, and as you can see in the bottom left picture, there is a cute little zip down the back of the heel, which helps get the shoe on and off more easily. There's a little faux suede flap on the inside that protects your heel from the zipper, so that's not noticeable at all once you have the shoes on your feet. 


Footie also wants to get in on the cuddle action. A few years ago I bought this bench and installed this little mini-patio in the front yard, as an Xmas present for Mr. VE&T. This has become a special spot for him and Footie. They like to sit out here and be quiet together. Footie lets me sit with him too, but Mr. VE&T is obviously his favorite person.

I hope you can see from these pictures of me playing with the pets just how easy and comfortable these Nelly shoes are to move in and walk in.  They feel great and since they also look so cute, I feel doubly great when I wear them. I've never had a shoe quite like these before - a dressy sandal! - and now I can't wait for more sunshine so I wear these all summer long. I especially love how these Nellys look with my capri jeans or with a skirt, so you can see the cute ankle styling. 


Ha ha, Footie sez "These shoes are cute, now give me a kitty treat!"
I love this all-business look on his face in this picture. 

As far as sizing goes, I found the Nelly shoes to be running a half-size on the large side. I ordered them first in size 9, which is my usual size, but that pair felt too big. When I got a second pair in 8.5, the fit was absolutely perfect. If you're unsure, I'd suggest trying the smaller size, or buying both sizes and returning the one that doesn't fit right. 


High Fives, Snoopy! 

20% off any purchase at Jambu.com

The folks at Jambu have given me a coupon code to share with you:
Use the code VEGAN18 to get 20% off any purchase at Jambu.com
*good until June 30th*