Cookies to indulge in.

28 Apr

Before I became a vegan, I was a total baking snob. I had recipes lined up for absolutely everything, and I’d be damned if they weren’t the best recipes. But it’s taken me awhile to build up my vegan arsenal, because while there are many wonderful recipes out there, there are also many so-so and terrible ones that make you swear all vegan food must be gross (it’s not.)

I had previously been tinkering with a chocolate chip cookie recipe from one of my favorites, and while I loved it, it wasn’t the be-all, end-all that I was looking for. Some days, a girl just wants one of those cookies that is so rich and decadent, you don’t need more than one (but you’ll probably have it anyway.)

So I set out to make my own. And you know what? They turned out exactly how I planned! Usually when I make a recipe it ends in a few heartbreak batches (see vegan macarons, which will be ready for publication at some point, I swear.)

Anyway, if you’d like to try baking a vegan chocolate chip cookie, and you like chewy on the edges, soft in the middle decadent, lovely bakery-style cookies, I do believe you’ll enjoy these.

(This photo is actually of previous cookies, but a certain someone ate up all the current batch before I had a chance to take a photo.)

2 sticks of Earth Balance butter substitute, softened (not melted!)
3.5/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/8 cups packed light-brown sugar
6 tablespoons of original Vegenaise (the canola oil version would work well, too)
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of oat flour (if you have rolled oats, you can simply put them in a food processor until they’re flour consistency, then measure out your one cup)
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
a block of dark chocolate, coarsely cut into large chunks OR Valrhona fevres, or large baking chunks. These cookies really work best with a high cocoa count, but semi-sweet is fine, too.

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together the white sugar, brown sugar, and Earth Balance. When combined well, add the Vegenaise. Mix in the vanilla, then the dry ingredients. Add flour one cup at a time, mixing between. Add chocolate, then scoop onto lightly greased or lined cookie sheet (I recommend NOT using a non-stick cookie sheet) and bake, about 15 minutes for average-sized cookies, closer to 20 for bakery-sized.


Brain dump 2.

26 Apr

I hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend, whether you celebrate or not! Mine was certainly hectic, and everyday life is a bit of a relief. I think today’s a wonderful day for a brain dump post!

1) I am currently enamored with the idea of an unfussy but still gorgeous fresh poppy bouquet for the wedding. This bride went to a farmer’s market the morning of and made her own! Ambitious.


2) I want to know how this girl manages to look cute and stylish in wellies. I love my black ones, but they always look and feel clunky somehow. And they’re the exact ones she’s wearing, but in black. If I was to attempt pairing them with a dress, it would look ridiculous. Height issue, maybe? Also, at the rate we’re going with rain on days when I have shoots planned, I feel like I’m in reschedule and stay glued to limbo. No fun!


3) Does anyone else read Dear Prudie as obsessively as I do? I adore her. I also wonder, time and again, why in the world I don’t subscribe to Slate considering one of my very favorite authors writes a column for them, and Dear Prudie writes for them. Alas, Vogue is my only current subscription. As my bank likes to inform me time and time again, I’m flat broke.

4) We got the official lease sent over, and I’m so excited to renew! It’s nice to have some stability for the next two years, and to allow myself to fully settle in without that looming “will I have to pack up everything I own for the seventhy zillionth year in a row?” feeling.

Je m’appelle…

22 Apr

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about names. Blog names, specifically.

When I started this blog, it was mainly as a way to keep up with some friends, gather inspiration, and vent. I had no idea that I’d be heading in a more creative direction, launching a little photography venture, and (honestly) keeping people interested in what I had to say.

So I just kind of named this site off the cuff, with something I thought sounded cute. But I’ve always been a little… eh… about Lincoln Park on a Lark. Also, we live one street over, so we’re technically in Lakeview, which doesn’t have the same ring to it. Regardless, while we’ll be here at least two more years, I feel like maybe attaching a neighborhood moniker to my blog is a commitment I’m just not ready to make… or keep.

How did you decide on your blog name? Any thoughts on a big rename?

What is a wedding ceremony?

21 Apr

(Olivia Leigh Photographie)

When we got engaged on that downright cold winter night a little over a year ago, giddy over the future and the present all at once, we talked about two things: standing in front of everyone we care deeply for and declaring our love for each other, and what our marriage would look like.

For me, it’s easy to focus on the marriage. We do it all the time, whether it’s talking about what our personal limits are for those hectic first years of working all the time, our goals, when we’ll be out of debt (I can hear the credit card companies laughing from here. and the federal government), if we’ll move, etc. Mostly there is wine involved with these talks. It’s good for nights like that.

But the ceremony is much tougher to talk about. Seems silly, doesn’t it? A little fifteen minute thing, where people will sit (or stand, because it seems silly to rent chairs for fifteen minutes which will probably be ten because I have Gilmore training in terms of quick dialogue) is this looming subject of what-ifs and buts.

Most ceremonies are fairly easy to plan. In fact, most couples barely have to plan them. There’s a pastor or clergy person who sits down with the couple and says (in my head, since I’ve never had this talk) “this is how the ceremony will start, music, a little intro, my spiel, maybe a hymn, a prayer, your vows, the kiss, the introduction as man and wife. And it’ll be beautiful, and it’ll go off without a hitch, because that’s how I’ve been doing it for twenty-five years now.”

And that’s great, and I bet you can even personalize it many places, and if you believe it, I bet it’s a really powerful thing. But we don’t believe it, and it’s just not us.

And so, there will be no pastor or clergyman. There will be no prayer or hymn.

There will be vows. There will be an intro, and probably a poem. There will be the two of us, promising each other that this partnership will be life-long, and filled with joy, adventure, hardship, struggle, and love. And we’ll be starting off our married life on the premise of us, something that is not one bit a lie, because we used only our definition of marriage to get there.

The good thing about having this struggle of what to say and how to structure the ceremony is that it really made me dig around for what marriage is. Why do I want it so much? Why do I get so upset when I hear people say that the GLBT population can have “everything but the word marriage?” What does it mean? Of course, in a global span, the history of marriage is kind of a depressing thing. That’s what you get when you take an institution based on practicality and inheritance and culturally fine-tune it to be this many-headed monster that can be inspiringly genuine and beautiful or painfully expectation-ridden and artificial depending on where you look.

We ended up looking no further than Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall’s words in ruling on  “Goodridge Vs. Department of Health”

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations….Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.” It is a “social institution of the highest importance.”

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family…. Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.

That says perfectly what I never could, and because of that, it will open our ceremony. Sometimes, certain passages just ring so true that you can say nothing but “exactly. This.” For us, that is what marriage means, and we are proud of taking what can only be described as “the hard way” in terms of family expectations and traditions.

The toughest thing about this is those who think that we’re turning on how we were raised. That we’re saying it wasn’t good enough. I suppose that there are, on the surface, plenty of glaring differences. Between the drive towards city living, the veganism, the lack of desire for children, and the differences in religion and philosophy, it seems we’re completely different people sometimes. But I think what many people forget is that the stuff that makes us up is the same stuff that you aim for, too. How to work hard, how to love, how to help, how to laugh, and how to care, how to experience life. Different doesn’t have to be bad, and I hope that on our wedding day, our family will look past the absence of what a wedding is to them, and see what marriage means to us.

What this vegan eats, day four.

21 Apr

Day four already! Craziness. I can’t believe it’s going by so fast.

As always, we’re assuming cereal and coffee here!

From top:

homemade mushroom, carrot, snap-pea, corn, and cauliflower stir-fry with brown rice

orignial recipe baked beans (can from Whole Foods)

smoothie! they may be like dessert to me…

What this vegan eats, day three. (And some musings.)

20 Apr

Day three, aka yesterday, was also known as “the day where they shut the water off before nine and didn’t turn it on until after six thirty.” Of course, this and the resulting pile of dishes sitting in the sink, unwashable, meant we had to be a bit creative. So I guess right now this series could be more accurately called “what this vegan eats when she’s trying to make as few dishes as possible.”

As a side note, unless otherwise noted, I had cereal and coffee for breakfast. Just trust me on this one, at six in the morning I’m not in a place to whip up something fresh and amazing. That would be an alternate universe Anni, one who could function before coffee and wasn’t so effing cold every morning that she walked around in blankets. And no, our apartment is not to blame for this. I’m just a naturally cold person, I guess, because I have yet to travel anywhere where I woke up and thought “now that’s perfect.” Not even Orlando in July. And that’s saying something. But I digress… yesterday’s food, sans cereal and coffee, looked a little something like this:

Shown: Blueberry bliss smoothie  plus a lovely tupperware container of brown rice, black beans, and cheddar Daiya. 

Not shown: the slice of whole wheat bread with almond butter I had on a paper towel. It just looked a little too sad to photograph! Maybe when there’s a plate involved, I’ll feel better. 

The good news is, our water was supposed to be off again today, but when I got home at 2:00 it was on. I’m crossing my fingers this means they’re done with all the repairs, and we can finally get back to normal water as scheduled, with none of this no water pressure or no hot water crap.

What this vegan eats, day two.

19 Apr

I’m back and ready to go – and still excited – about my “what this vegan eats” series. Of course, I’ll be more excited when our awesome vintage pipes get their act together and stop needing work done because, guys, our sink looks like WWIII right now with nary a drop of water in sight. I’m considering heading over to World Market just to get some dishes to use in the interim.

Anyway, we did have water yesterday, so here’s what I ate!

From top:

Obligatory cereal, almond milk, and coffee

Toasted sourdough bread (one slice, cut in half) brushed with olive oil, topped with avocado and heirloom tomatoes

Grilled eggplant, zucchini, and asparagus 

Whole Foods mutli-grain veggie sushi, tofu spring rolls, and veggie egg rolls (Ross and I split these plates.) 

Glass of red wine, necessary for talking about Paris. 

This weekend and a photo shoot.

18 Apr

As life tends to go, right after my second day of taking photos for my “what this vegan eats” series, I woke up with what I can only assume was either me running on empty after days of intense course load, trying to balance my social life with meeting clients, shooting, editing, and keeping up with life in general. So for two days straight, except for a would-be photo shoot rained out to a client meeting, I just laid around and did absolutely nothing (except some Human Development essay writing.)

And you know what? It felt good.

But it meant that all I really (could) eat was some whole wheat saltines, blueberry smoothies , and, on Sunday morning, a delicious cupcake that Ross brought me. I also was in no mood to photograph any of that, so I guess we’re making this a weekday thing that will resume tomorrow. Sorry guys!

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, I’d love it if you’d take a look at my last shoot with the beautiful Katie from Latte Love. Even though it was a little gross and overcast, we had lots of fun and I’m proud of how the photos turned out! It was so much fun getting to spend some time with Katie, and I hope we get to meet up next time she heads my way. A little teaser from the shoot:

What this vegan eats, day one.

15 Apr

I’m a little bit excited and a little bit scared to be taking on this series – for seven days straight, I’m documenting everything I eat and posting it here. This is fun because I get to share with you some of my favorite foods and talk a little about what to do in those not-so-easy situations, like going out to eat in the suburbs or holiday eating. I’d love to make this a little more interactive, so feel free to ask questions or make comments!

As an aside, you can assume lots of water is a given, and any cups of coffee pictured are probably safe to x3. Any other beverages will be documented.

Day One.

From top:

Barbara’s All Natural Oat Squares and unsweetened almond milk

Intelligentsia coffee

apple, peanut butter, oatmeal and dark chocolate chip “sandwich”

homemade black bean and zucchini veggie burger with avocado on top and pretzel bun

Big Star margarita

Big Star chips and guacamole (I only had a few.) 

The bedroom conundrum.

14 Apr

A few weeks ago, I showed you our gorgeous apartment. I neglected to include our bedroom in any of those photos, though. Why?

Mostly because we had a decorating budget when we moved in, and it went towards things like our first dining room table (yay!), a new couch (our old one wouldn’t fit up the stairs) and a bookshelf. Because really, hundreds of books stacked against a wall might look creative, but when you have a dog who runs the cat around for fun, they wouldn’t be stacked for long.

Since summer is coming up and we’re fairly certain we’ll be allowed to stay for only an extra $25-$35/month we’ve decided to tackle the bedroom and make it a better place to live once and for all. My issues with it are as follows:

1) It’s about 10×10, with a teeny closet and only one window.

2) Said window looks out onto a brick wall.

3) The paint color we chose to cover the dark brown (!) that was there when we moved in looked like a blush peach under the incandescent tester box at Lowe’s, but in our really, really, REALLY dimly lit room, it looks very pink.

Don’t believe me?

That photo was taken just before noon, when the sun is best in here, with all the lightbulbs on, adjusted white balance, an almost wide-open aperture, and a low shutter speed.

When we moved in, we were coming from a cushy 13×15 room with a normal-sized closet and room to walk around the bed. Being, well, us, we got all excited about the prospect of a new bed, and fell in love with this chunky wood bedframe from West Elm:


It looked gorgeous in the wide-open store, but it’s not so gorgeous when you stub your toe on that corner every single morning because you’re severely near-sighted and can’t clear the itty bitty corner where there’s maybe a foot of space between the radiator and the edge of the bed. Not that I know this from experience, or anything.

So what are we going to do about this?

Well, first and foremost: daylight bulbs. I know it’s not the same as sunlight, and I actually used to hate them. But I really hate how yellow incandescents are in there. I think the yellow tint is fine when you have real daylight to balance it out, but it just doesn’t work in an almost completely dark room.

And then, we’re putting a little money in it. If we’re going to live here for at least two more years, I think it’s worth it!

Chunky bed, goodbye. Hello canopy:


Plain white duvet that we’re too lazy to dress up when the room looks kind of crappy? You’ve been replaced. I don’t have a picture of the actual quilt, because I found it forgotten in the clearance corner of the store from who knows how many months (and markdowns, score!) ago. But my inspiration was this sheet set from Anthropologie:

Also, it needs to be said that we are not DIY people. Never has this been more obvious than when we tried to stain those $20 raw wood Ikea nightstands. We basically gave up on them, and have been using these pathetic excuses for nightstands for almost a year. They’re also really small, with sorry excuses for drawers. So, we’re looking forward to replacing them with a nightstand from Urban Outfitters and a dresser from Ikea:

and to top it off, we’re painting. This is going to be the toughest, because we don’t want a repeat of the shade looking good on the swatch, but not on the walls. We’ll paint little samples, of course, but would love any tips on finding the right shade off the bat. I’m also really terrible with finding inspiration colors and then not being able to match them to swatches well. So here is what we’re going for:



Side note: how freaking cute is that dog? Sunday would look just as cute in that room.

So, this transformation will take awhile to save up for and complete, but I’m looking forward to the process! I would love any tips from you renovation and design goddesses (I’m talking to you, Kelsey, AmandaKristin, and Nicole!)

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