Category Archives: Reviews

Photo credit to Bar Bonbon website

Bar Bombón

133 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
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May is a busy month for me – having a birthday in May pretty much means you are used to your birthday thunder being stolen. I remember once being invited to two different weddings on my birthday one year (one being my uncle, the other being my grade school teacher.), as well as there being school graduations, Mother’s Day, and copious other birthdays. This year we celebrated Mother’s Day, my birthday, and my 4th wedding anniversary all in the same week. So when Jon told me one Saturday that he was taking me out for a surprise I really didn’t know what to expect. Turns out we were going out for a big birthday dinner with my sister and friends (apparently I am turning 30 this year and that’s a big deal)!

Jon got his parents to watch Wolfie as we got dressed up and got into the car. At this point I didn’t know yet that what was going on. I tried not to speculate since Jon has a poor history of keeping surprises (I’d already found a wrapped gift in the closet). I noticed we were getting off at the exit for the train so I start pulling out my PATCO card… and then we drive right past the station….

“We need to stop by your sister’s house. We split a gift for your birthday and she forgot to bring it into work so we’ll need to pick it up!”

That sounded plausible, so I thought no big deal. She also lives next to a different station so it made sense. As we start pulling to my sister’s house I see a car, one I’ve never seen. So I asked who’s car was that- or rather “Who the fuck did that shitty park job?!” Jon said that it MUST have been a friend of my niece’s – and at this point if I wasn’t sleep deprived I would of gotten suspicious. When we got inside I was surprised by Alexa and both my sisters! That shitty park job was Alexa!!! In her defense there wasn’t much she could of done, it’s just the shape of my sister’s driveway.

So we all got on the train and met up with my friend Justine in the city to eat at Bar Bombon. It is a Puerto Rican/latin tapas restaurant owned by Nicole Marquis. She worked at Vedge, and opened up Charlie Was A Sinner and HipCityVeg. There was a lot of hype when the restaurant opened and much has already changed. The restaurant moved from having a mix of burritos, arepas, and tacos to having more seasonal plates.

If you are thinking about coming to this place YOU MUST make a reservation. My goodness the place was packed! When you come in it is a little awkward as you immediately walk into the bar area. There is barely enough room to walk past the bar to the seating. There is also a few tables outside but it is next to alley, which isn’t terribly charming. But the inside is awesome and very warm.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: At first glance I noticed that I really liked the decor of this place. I don’t go out into Philly that often unless I’m with Jen, so I just love taking in the scenery of new restaurants and such. It was very crowded, but it was also a Saturday night around peak “let’s go out” hour – I guess I was just surprised because it was also pouring rain (I’ve been out of the city for too long and apparently forget that rain stops almost no one from going out and being away from their apartments). 

Overall I really enjoyed the food and drinks, they had an extensive list of cocktails that I did not partake in…unlike Jen I’m wary of liquor as opposed to beer because if I don’t like it, it’s not a pretty sight. This is a place that I would love to come back to and try more off of the menu.

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER
Avocado, green goddess, black bean puree, mirepoix
Alexa: One of the things I miss most as a vegetarian is good barbecue and food slathered in buffalo sauce. I love buffalo cauliflower for this very reason! Let me tell you – this taco DELIVERS. The cauliflower is slightly crisp and not soggy and the buffalo sauce isn’t overpowering. While I would say that everything we ate that night certainly tasted fresh I especially felt that way about everything in this dish. 

CUBANO CLUB
Blackend chick’n, smoked tempeh, avocado, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, grain mustard aioli
Jen: This was my favorite of the dinner and it was FILLING. This is one of those confusing tapas how big/small are the plates moments as this sandwich I think was a lot more food than the tacos. The club comes with a side of fries, which makes it pretty much a stand alone meal. The club was amazing! Definetly the chick’n and tempeh make it stand out as a unique sandwich from the original cubano sandwich. The smoked tempeh was tasty, and the pickles and aioli give just enough tang. If I were to go back with hubby, I might get this again with a vegetable plate and probably would have enough to eat (with cocktails too duh)

GUACAMOLE FRESCO & PICANTE
I know it is possible to mess up guacamole, but it happens to rarely. I liked the guac here. They let the avocados speak for themselves. You can pick it “fresco” or “picante.” The picante wasn’t insanely hot, but if you want a more traditional route, get fresco. They give a good amount of guac to chips. I was able to use some of the guac with my yuca fries. The chips were pretty nice too, and clearly fried on location.

MUSHROOM EMPANADAS
Leeks, currants, pickled plantains
I had really high expectations for these empanadas and was a little disappointed. Not to say they tasted bad, I just envisioned something different. The flavor was soft, and the plantains were served on the side. The empanadas were fried to perfection though.

REPOLLITOS FRITOS
Brussels sprouts, peanut, mango, lemon
Jen: My rushed meals at home mean I don’t eat enough veggies. So this night I was craving vegetables so Jon and I split the brussel sprouts. They were roasted to perfection with crispy leaves. There was a tasty peanut dipping sauce which was amazing. The annoying thing is that I tasted zero mango. I am guessing it was mainly in there as a sweetening agent?

Alexa: I love Brussels sprouts. Jen isn’t exaggerating when she said these were cooked to perfection, I probably could have had that whole plate as a meal for myself! To be fair, I didn’t know there was supposed to be any mango involved in the dish so I wasn’t as let down, but the oil used to cook the sprouts did have a sweetness to it. So maybe she’s not off on the “sweetening agent” idea!

SEITAN “AL PASTEUR”
Guacamole, onion, cilantro, pineapple
Alexa: I enjoyed this taco as well, but it wasn’t my favorite of the two that I tried. I enjoy spicier foods, so the buffalo cauliflower was a huge hit. The seitan was cooked well and had a lot of flavor that was brought out more by the onion and pineapple. I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a “meatier” dish. 

SPANISH FRIES
Roasted peppers and onions, cheese sauce
Jen: My sister seemed to be very concerned about what was in the cheese sauce. The wait staff was very hesitant to give any clue about what it was made of, but if I were to take a guess it was maybe a veggie based sauce? Whatever was in it ended up tasting great. The fries were thin and extra crispy. My only complaint is that it could of had more toppings.

Alexa: My only complaint was that these weren’t bottomless because…
a) potatoes are a gift on this green Earth
b) potatoes cut into thin pieces covered in sauce and veggies are also a gift.

YUCA FRITA
Maduro sauce
I strongly recommend getting these yuca fries. They are light and fluffy but crispy on the outside. If you like handcut french fries, you will love these. They come with a sauce that made me think of the “special sauce” that my parents would get in Southern Utah. It was just ketchup and mayo, but this sauce tasted like it had a paprika kick.

BETTER & BETTER
aged rum, mezcal blanco, falernum
DUMMY GUIDE: rum, tequila (or something like it), spiced syrup
Hubby got this drink first. I am guessing the mezcal blanco means it is similar to tequila. Mezcal is pretty much an open ended category for drinks made from any type of agave plant. So this ended up being a strong “manly” drink served in a low-ball/old fashioned glass. The drink was very robust and nicely spiced. I question the purpose of the mezcal? I couldn’t particularly pick up on any of it.

LA CLASICA
tequila blanco, orange liqueur, lime
This is a classic magarita- like a REAL one. No neon colors, no slushie ice, and all fresh ingredients. It was really refreshing and tasty. Personally I like less ice, but is perfect for people who don’t like strong drinks.

LA PREFERIDA
tequila blanco, beet, habanero, lime
This is a twist to a margarita. Alexa got this drink and it comes out looking pretty pink-red because of the beet juice in it. It had just enough habanero to give a wee little kick.

NO LOVE LOST
london dry gin, lavender, cucumber, thyme, lime
This was my sister’s favorite drink, so much so she got it twice! I can see why. I found it super refreshing and you could taste all the different components. They worked all so well with each other. I strongly suggest this to anyone, but particularly to people who don’t like strong drinks.

SMOKING DARTS
mezcal blanco, white rum, creme de violette, rose water
DUMMY GUIDE: a tequila like liquor, un-aged rum, sweet violet flavor liquor, rose water.
This was my drink of choice! I’ve been wanting to try creme de violette for some time but not many liquor stores sell the stuff. FYI it is creme because the sugar gives a creamy texture. It was really nice. It had nice floral notes but wasn’t over powering. You don’t taste much of the rum and mezcal but I think they helped prevent the drink from tasting too much like perfume.


Naked Lunch at MOM’s Organics

1631 Kings Highway North Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
more locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., & Virginia
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When Alexa came to visit the Little Wolfie I thought it would be a good idea to get out of the house. We went to try out Naked Lunch- a small cafe attached to the food market chain MOM’s Organics. I am here to gush about both places. I know I don’t talk about markets that often, but I am totally digging this one!

I was pretty skeptical at first, MOM’s opened up across from the Whole Foods in town. I thought “who the heck would shop at MOM’s over Whole Foods?” There are definetly pros and cons between the two. The biggest (only?) con about MOM’s is that they don’t have a barista bar. Womp womp! And clearly there are some brands that aren’t available at MOM’s that are at Whole Foods. But on the flip side there are MORE smaller brands and products at MOM’s organics (and actual sales!).

They sell local ice cream brand Little Baby’s. They always have one vegan flavor for sale.

I remember coming into Whole Foods years ago and finding everything so new and amazing. There were so many eco-friendly and exciting new vegan products. But as time went on, it seemed to be not-so-special. I don’t know if it is because I am older, or if they got rid of the more unique items, but coming to MOM’s reminded me of the early days of Whole Foods and being excited about grocery shopping. There is a huge section of bulk foods including pastas, grains, beans, and soaps. They sell tofu by the pound and roast their own coffee beans. They are really interested in reducing their carbon footprint. Don’t want to waste a bag each time you buy beans? They sell glass jars to fill up, and I am sure you can bring your own containers.

There are also lots of products for sale that aren’t food. I almost flipped that they sold cloth diapers- the first store I saw them being sold in! I even bought a reusable coffee filter from there and they do seasonal collections for recycling items. Recently there was a jeans drive. At the exit there is a recycling bin for many different types of non-traditional items – snack bags/plastic bags, brita filters, corks, and shoes.

Any my favorite is that near the registers there are free cups of water- right next to the bottled water. How nice!

As mentioned they have a little cafe named Naked Lunch. Alexa and I ate here. They offer on tap kombucha, which isn’t as tasty as the ones at Whole Foods or Heart Beet Kitchen. It is a smidge too sweet for me, so depending on your preference, you might like it more. But the price is MUCH cheaper than the other two locations, so it is totally worth it. They also have fresh juices, though we didn’t try any of them.

The area for eating is very small, but there appears to be a wifi area on the second floor of the store. I haven’t checked that out yet, so I can’t make any comments on how nice it is. But I would ask the staff about it if you want to take your time eating your lunch.

All food is organic and vegetarian and the options that are vegan are clearly marked. The portions are huge! Alexa and I both had food to bring home, and used it in meals for several more lunches. I can easily say it is worth the $10 (roughly) that we paid for our meals.

I got the Lin Bowl which had tofu, brown rice, carrots, seaweed, zucchini, and kimchi. It was super tasty and reminded me of fried rice. I ate maybe a quarter of it while there, and proceeded to use the rice in wraps for 4 different lunches. I wish it had just a little bit more tofu to rice. But that is my only complaint.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: I ordered the Jammed Yam: Sweet Potato topped with pineapple-quinoa stuffing, avocado, and garnished with cilantro and jalapeño-lime dressing…

I loved how refreshing this tasted. I don’t think I would ever think to put all of these items together in one dish but it definitely worked.

The only thing that’s tough with vegan dishes for me is that a lot of times the dishes can lean towards being mostly carbs depending on the grains and veggies. I track my food on an almost daily basis (it’s not as grueling as it sounds – I promise!) so this really helped me meet my carb intake with the quinoa and sweet potato. The jalapeño-lime dressing wasn’t too spicy but definitely added a good flavor to the dish that was nice.

Like Jen said, we had plenty to take home, so I used it as a side for almost three meals after we went here! 


If you read my earlier post, you know I am baking my way through the American Cake cookbook. If I can make a good vegan version, I’ll post it on the blog. If I fail, well, I will still talk about the history and how badly I failed. XD But I have good news- this cake was successful!

First lets talk about the history of this cake. Before getting the American Cake book I never knew how American molasses is. Sure it is used in European recipes, but it is used more often in the American colonies since it was so cheap. White sugar was reserved for the upper classes and special occasions. So most Americans bought molasses to sweeten their baked goods.

But there is another aspect of Americaness to molasses. Many Quaker residences boycotted sugar. The sugar industry relied on slave labor, and conditions were considerably worse than slaves in the thirteen colonies. Most slaves were literally worked to death (while in the United States we cruelly let our slaves live long enough to have children and enslave them.) This sugar boycott makes me think about how vegans boycott animal products, and sometimes products that have unethical standards, like chocolate and palm oil. I love learning about historical activism!

In that spirit I TRIED to make the cake palm oil free, but the a lot of the flavor depended on butter. So if you want to be like the colonial quakers, you can try out some palm oil free margarine (which in the states mean Miyoko’s Cultured Butter.) If anyone tries using their own homemade vegan butter, please tell me how the recipe turned out!

Now as usually I can never just make a recipe. No, I had to make this recipes “healthier.” How? Simply using blackstrap molasses instead of regular molasses. You may have heard that blackstrap molasses is much more pungent and it has more vitamins in it. In fact, there is a good amount of calcium in blackstrap. How does this happen? Pretty much molasses is the by product of refined sugar after being boiled a second time. Blackstrap molasses is the result from the third boiling. That means less sugar, and more nutritional goodies.

Although I wouldn’t say this is the most healthy snack, it definitely is helping you out nutritionally. One slice (an eighth of a cake) has almost half of calcium in your daily requirements and almost all of the copper you need! If you want to make it even MORE healthful you could use part whole wheat flour or sub with whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour. I used all purpose unbleached flour.

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I love cake! It was always my favorite dessert as a kid- next to ice cream (for obvious reasons?). I never quite could relate to friends who thought cake was lame. I always had homemade cakes for my birthday. My favorite part was the actual cake part, not the frosting. Having a good frosting is especially important, and something I always remember is my friends having really gross cakes and frosting (probably because they would get cheap sheet cakes with Crisco frosting. Yuck.). 

I also remember admiring The Cake Bible. Baking seemed fun and exciting. But as I got older, it seemed that the American baked goods scene was boring. It is dominated with desserts that are made to taste like other things (like french toast covered in crushed sugary cereals, PB&J flavored everything, birthday cake flavored cookies, etc) or cakes that look like other objects. Nothing compared to the creativity with edible ingredients found in The Cake Bible (hello meringue swans on a blueberry jam pond)

Then Jon and I started to watch The Great British Bake Off. I fell back in love. I loved learning about all the different cakes, pastries, and desserts. Even the savory dishes were fun, mostly when they didn’t involve meat. It got me wondering, what about America? Do we have distinctive desserts?

I heard about American Cake from the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class. I knew I needed that book. It combined so many things I loved, history and cakes. I also knew these cakes wouldn’t be vegan, so I would have to alter the recipes.

I originally was going to make this into a project for Vegan MOFO, but decided to post as I go along in the book. I won’t be making every single cake in the book. Some I am honestly not sure how to make vegan, or rather not sure how similar it would end up being to the original. For example there is an early colonial cheesecake that uses ricotta cheese. Do I bother trying to recreate that? Also there are three or four different pound cakes. Should I even bother? And don’t even get me started with angel food cake.

So follow me in my journey. I will either post about my adventures trying to make the cakes, and if possible, I will share my recipe. I naturally started with the first cake recipe, and one of my favorite types of cake- Gingerbread Cake. Hopefully, I will post it soon.


This year we haven’t watched as many horror films as hubs and I had hoped. I think this happens every year though. This year seems to be a little more realistic as to why we haven’t watched many films. Lots of driving, and lots of learning about baby stuff. So I will end the month of October with the last of the films we watched.

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Year: 2014
Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Rank: 9/10
Spooky Type: Vampire
Watch: Netflix + YouTube

Plot: In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire. –IMDB

Review: This is a hard movie to describe. It fits the horror genre since a vampire is in the plot, and there are some serious spooky vibes going on with this film. But in many ways this seemed more like a new wave feminist batman. The pacing is slow, erie, but never employs any shock or gore like most horror films. This sits between genres in a similar way Let the Right One In does. To say it isn’t a horror would be wrong… but to say it is would feel a little like a lie. 

The story follows a young man Arash who is struggling to support his drug addicted Father. Work is hard to come by in his town, as it is a run down ghost town. He comes into a large amount of drugs after his Father’s dealer is killed. After dealing some drugs at a party, Arash runs into a strange girl on the street, starting a romance. Little does he know, this girl is going around town ridding it of men who take advantage of women.

This is only the second Iranian film I have seen. Awhile ago I watched the film The White Balloon, and loved it. This movie is directed by a female, which is rare for the horror genre, film in general, and I am sure for Iranian film as well. The movie relies heavily on it spectacular visuals, otherwise the story would be too slow moving. What I find interesting about the film is it’s borderline love affair with Western media, but it still feels very fantastical and foreign. Even though it feels like it could be an Iranian town, the whole film is shot in California. The main character listens to largely Western music, but Iranian pop is sprinkled throughout the film. This could be because the director Ana Lily Amirpour was born in England, but grew up in the United States.

And some people point out that maybe that is what the film is about. An Iranian women struggling to live in a world that isn’t part of her upbringing. The Girl is surrounded by drugs, sex, and female abuse, and she fights against it. The Girl wears a veil while out, but is it because it helps her stay hidden? Or is because she is a practicing Muslim?

Overall: Great for art house film lovers

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House

Also Known As: Hausu
Year: 1977
Directed by: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Haunted House
Watch: Hulu + YouTube Trailer

Plot: Oshare (Gorgeous) is excited about spending summer vacation with her father, until she finds out that his beautiful, freakishly serene girlfriend Ryouko would be going as well. Oshare decides she will be going to her aunt’s house in the country instead. She brings with her her friends from school – Fanta (who likes to take pictures, and daydreams a lot), KunFuu (who has very good reflexes), Gari/Prof (who is a major nerd), Sweet (who likes to clean), Mac (who eats a lot), and Melody (a musician). However, the girls are unaware that Oshare’s aunt is actually dead and the house is actually haunted. When they arrive at the house, crazy events take place and the girls disappear one by one while slowly discovering the secret behind all the madness –IMDB

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Review: Confession time- I didn’t actually watch this movie, at least this year. Alexa did. She texted me as she started to watch it, because it is something else. I could talk about the metaphors. I could talk about how “Japanese” it is to give people some context. But what really makes this movie shine is just how out there and unique it is. I can think of other films to recommend for any of the movies I reviewed on the blog, but not this one. House stands alone. Heck, I don’t think there is anything else directed by Obayashi that is anywhere as crazy as House.

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So what makes this movie so unique? Well, filming techniques are all over the place. Ranging from weird cuts, songs, melodramatic sets, green screened effect, stop motion animation, I mean everything. If it is a special effect at the time, Obayashi used it. And he used it to make some humorous ways to die. Death by piano? Check. Disembodies head biting your butt? Check. Clearly Obayashi had a sense a humor about the whole horror genre, and let’s be honest, maybe some drugs were involved.

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The end result is the most “gif-able” movie ever made. What I love about this film is that it is funny, it is suppose to be funny. And even though it is so light hearted and doesn’t take the spooky aspects seriously it still packs as much gore as any other horror film. There is no shortage of blood, missing girls, skeletons, and gore. You’ll probably still have no problem sleeping at night, but you have that safe “danger” that you get from say a Goosebumps episode.

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The movie falls between two camps. It is kitchy and gaudy, and really attracts the type of people who like movies like Troll 2. But unlike Troll 2, a floating head that bites your butt is suppose to be laughed at, so it isn’t really the type of film that is so awful that it is good. It is probably better to be describe it like a tragedy or melodrama. There is just so much drama going on that you accept this alternative universe for what it is. Any holes in the plot line, or flaws in the characters are easily dismissed. Possibly the closest thing to be out there is maybe The Rocky Horror Picture Show, only with crack.

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You might be questioning if this film is for you. I mean there is a painting of a cat spewing out blood. I remember being very unsure when I first started to watch it. I couldn’t quite make up my mind about what to think. I remember sensing my husband’s uncertainty when we saw it at The International House. But the further along you watch, it all begins to click as the girls move away from their everyday life to the haunted house. The surreal hell house becomes a character of it’s own, and you surrender all logic of film to Obayashi. Give it a chance. You’ll be happy you did.

Overall: Everyone needs to see this film

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Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

Year: 1962
Directed by: Robert Aldrich
Rank: 9/10
Spooky Type: Psycho-biddy
Watch: Amazon Rental + YouTube

Plot: In a tale that almost redefines sibling rivalry, faded actresses Blanche and ‘Baby’ Jane Hudson live together. Jane was by far the most famous when she performed with their father in vaudeville but as they got older, it was Blanche who became the finer actress, which Jane still resents. Blanche is now confined to a wheelchair and Jane is firmly in control. As time goes by, Jane exercises greater and greater control over her sister, intercepting her letters and ensuring that few if anyone from the outside has any contact with her. As Jane slowly loses her mind, she torments her sister going to ever greater extremes. –IMDB

Review: I remember watching this film when I was younger. I knew what the story was about, and I remember thinking the story seemed so obvious. But watching it again with my husband I thought it was much more chilling than I remembered. The movie floats right on that blurry line of psychological thriller and horror. So heads up, no spooky ghosts or supernatural things in this film.

The movie was based on the novel with the same title. The movie was so unique at the time, that it received an initial X rating in the UK. The movie was such a success that it created a new genre- Psycho-biddy. Stories that base their real life horror on mental instability of aging women. The genre has slowly faded away, mostly because society has been more forgiving on older women. But let’s face it, in the age of plastic surgery, women are constantly being told to never age.

I am hesitant to speak too much of the film since it is such a classic. And unlike newer horror films, you can still be spooked if you know the ending. If I accidentally give up the ending, it probably wouldn’t be so spooky. I do note, since this is a vegan blog, there is some animal deaths in the film. Nothing too graphic, especially when compared with the next film I am reviewing (The Witch) This is another great film for anyone who is a little bit of a scaredy cat. 

Overall: Classic film.

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The Witch

Year: 2015
Directed by: Robert Eggers
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Witches
Watch: Amazon Prime + YouTube

Plot: New England, 1630: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness, with five children. When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. ‘The Witch’ is a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own fears and anxieties, leaving them prey for an inescapable evil. –IMDB

Review: I’ve been obsessed lately with Stuff You Missed in History Class. Every year they try and do a bunch of Halloween themed episodes, usually revolving around witch hunts, ghost hauntings, or general mysteries. I guess because of this I was in the perfect mood to watch this film. That and I wanted to watch it last year in theaters but ran out of time. 

Just like A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, this film isn’t your typical horror film. This movie has a very slow pace, which is fitting for the story. The story takes place in 1630, with an exiled family. Life moves slowly. What I think Eggers does well is captures the mania that happened with settlers in the past. We constantly hear about how people in the past would blame ailments on witches, and it makes them seem dumb and irrational. But in reality is a great way to live in denial, or to have a scapegoat. Even today many people say their house is haunted and are convinced the thumping in the attic is a ghost, not a raccoon.

I pretty much loved everything about this film. The acting, direction, photography, editing sound, like I said everything. It is a refreshing breath of air for the horror genre since it has all the same editing, sound, color, and lighting techniques. There is much less of a big loud startling thump that makes you jump. But as mentioning since it doesn’t have these elements, I think many people might be dissapointed. If you approach the film as just another movie, you can fully apprieciate it.

And since this is a vegan blog, and this movie is about early settlers you can guess there will be some graphic imagery with animals. Let’s just put it this way- no major pain inflicted to animals but you will see blood.

Overall: Excellent ode to New England superstitions

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Young Frankenstein

Year: 1974
Directed by: Mel Brooks
Rank: 8/10
Spooky Type: Comedy
Watch: YouTube Trailer

Plot: An American grandson of the infamous scientist, struggling to prove that he is not as insane as people believe, is invited to Transylvania, where he discovers the process that reanimates a dead body. –IMDB

Review: Ever watched a trailer for a comedy, and thought “this trailer is pretty funny, I should see this movie!” Buuuut…. when you watched the movie you find out that all the really funny jokes were in the trailer, and therefore the movie was just boring? That’s what I felt with Young Frankenstein. I’ve seen it talked about on that “I Love the 70’s” mini series, and had clips played often from friends.

My husband has been DYING to get me to watch it. “You gotta watch Young Frankenstein,” and I have found that if you tell me something is the best or that I HAVE to watch it, I tend to think it is overrated (like oh The Matrix.) But I felt bad for all the movies I was picking out, so I thought now would be the time to watch it. Sadly, I heard most of the great one liners already.

I should of liked the film. It was funny, and filmed perfectly in the style of the old horror films. But again, I heard so many of the jokes before. Plus I had the same issue as An American Warewolf in London with Young Frankenstein. The women were meh. I get the jokes and where they were coming from culturally. Older horror films always had that sexual tension between the leading male and some random woman. But it would of been nice to have a female character that went outside of stereotypes and been stronger.

Overall: Funny and great if you haven’t heard any of the jokes before


Unless you are just checking out my blog for the first time ever, you probably already know that I am pregnant. Actually, 8 months along at this point. And some people already know that most pregnant women aren’t suppose to have coffee- or rather they are only suppose to have so much caffeine. I am pretty sporadic about my coffee intake, but because I don’t have it all the time, I can accidentally guzzled too much in one day. And top it off, pregnant women have a harder time getting caffeine out of their system. I had a day or two where I accidentally drink too much caffeine and was rather jittery.

But I know many people like to drink less coffee, or can’t have any caffeine in their diet for medical reason. Because of these reasons, I was really happy to try out some coffee like products on the market. I tried to have the products in various styles to try and fill everyone’s coffee desires.

Two Quick Notes! I bought all these products on my own. So these are all my own opinions, though I never give my input about if the cost is worth it. Truthfully I like buying expensive coffee so I say all are worth the price. But if you are looking for cheap- go for the teeccino. My second note is that I don’t think caffeine is evil. I think out of most plant based stimulants caffeine is pretty awesome and safe (when in a natural state of coarse, you can overdose on the purified powdered stuff.) I am reviewing low caffeine or caffeine free products so no tea and yerba mate reviews. I also wanted the flavor to be in the same ball park but still be fairly easy to find in stores.

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Crio Bru

Website: Crio Bru.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Online Shop, & Store Locator
Style: Ghana Light Roast

What is it?: I’ve heard about this drink for awhile and have wanted to try it ever since I’ve heard of it. Pretty much the cacao bean is roasted in the same style as the coffee bean

Positives: It isn’t 100% caffeine free, which to me is a good thing. I like having a little bit of a caffeine kick, and it also provides a little bit of bitterness. It also never claims to taste like coffee so you can drink it with an open mind. But the cacao is easy to mix with coffee beans if you are trying to help wean yourself off of coffee grounds. Mixing the two also give a really awesome and unique flavor (think mocha)

Negatives: It is a little watery and pre-ground. The drink is thinner than normal brewed coffee, and I think it would help if the grinds were a little smaller. But you can’t do that since they are pre-ground.

How to Brew: I’ve tried this in many ways, pulled an espresso shot, french press, and drip. I have found the only way to drink this is by using a french press. The espresso was a watery mess, and the drip was alright but tended to have trouble filtering. The French Press will give the best full body flavor.

What it tastes like?: It tastes like a watered down mocha latte- kind-of. There is a distinct chocolate/cacao flavor going on, but you have some rich notes that give a subtle notes similar to coffee. This clearly doesn’t taste like coffee, it has a totally different flavor profile, but can fill the void of full body, bitter, hot beverages.

teeccino

Teeccino

Website: Teeccino.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Official Shop, & Store Locator
Style: French Roast, Mocha, Maya Chai

What is it?: A blend of various plants and herbs. The main ingredients being used are carob, chicory root, nuts, barley, dandelion root, and some nuts and dried fruit. There are many blends available in different packaging. There are some that are gluten free (without the barley), tea bags, loose for drip, and lots of accessories.

Positives: This is 100% caffeine free for anyone who wants it. The drink also comes in various different methods so you can either brew it at home, or have tea bags for on the go. There also many flavors which works well for anyone who might be a picky eater. This brand is also probably the most widely available coffee substitute as I found it at Whole Foods, Wegmans, and small mom-and-pop health food stores. 

Negatives: It is easy to mess up the brewing process. There have been times where I over brewed and had horrible tasting teeccino. Because of this, it isn’t so easy to mix the teeccino with coffee grounds if you are trying to get rid of caffein from your diet. The brew time is less than regular coffee, and you need much less grinds as well. I am also not a huge fan of their push for a caffeine lifestyle as they use very questionable spokes people sometimes.

How to Brew: I’ve tried many methods, and found my favorite is the tea bags and pulling espresso shots. The tea bags make it so you don’t add too much tea to the brew, and you want to use less than the average cup of coffee. Because of this strong flavor, it works perfectly for an espresso machine. I pulled a shot, added it to iced soy milk, and had a yummy latte, though it highlighted the flavors that aren’t as coffee-like.

What it tastes like?: This tastes the most like a cup of coffee. It doesn’t quite taste the same, but if you ever had a coffee-chicory root drink than you have a better idea what this stuff tastes like. It uses various grains and such that give a similar bitter flavor, but they use coffee flavorings which really give it that authentic flavor. Overall if I am craving coffee but don’t want the caffeine, this stuff is pretty satisfying. It is full bodied, full of flavor, and in some ways better than just drinking decaf coffee. Crazy? Maybe.

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Macaccino

Website: Macaccino.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Official Shop, & Store Locations
Style: Original Roasted Maca Blend

What is it?: These are blends of maca root that have been roasted to give a more coffee like flavor. Their original blend uses maca, cocoa, nutmeg, mesquite, and cinnamon, but they have two other blends. Their black reserve uses black, red, and yellow maca root along with beet powder. Their mint has a little dried peppermint leaf.

Positives: Super portable and quick to make. If you like instant coffee (ugh, so bad tasting) this is the coffee replacement for you. Just add hot water, stir, and add any creamers and sugar. Because of the powder form, it makes it easy to make other coffee flavored snacks like lattes, smoothies, and desserts. I also like how this brand promotes the use of other vegan products when making.

Negatives: It is a little gritty overall. I find that towards the end of the cup it gets a little too thick, which could be remedied by adding more hot water. Even when I make my macaccino latte, it still gets a little thick at the bottom.

How to Brew: There is pretty much only one way to “brew” and that is to dissolve the powder. You can use hot water or add mostly soy milk like I do. You can sub any recipe that uses espresso powder with this.

What it tastes like?: Just like the Crio Bru there is something very coffee like that comes from roasting the maca. But you most definitely can taste the maca flavor coming through. There is no way you could just sub the macaccino powder with just maca. As mentioned before, since it is a powder that is mixed with hot water, it does have some off the pitfalls as instant coffee does. But I would think more on par with Starbucks super finely ground instant coffee.


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I’ve been sitting on this post forever. I did a package swap with Jenny from Herbivore’s Heaven, back in early spring when I just got pregnant. You can read her review of the package I sent. I was carefully trying to pace myself with all the food, she sent so much! But then after awhile it became a wait game. I kept putting off making the nut roast because it involved turning an oven on during the hottest summer we’ve ever had. Then it became a wait game for the chocolate pudding. Truthfully I’ve never made any instant pudding in myself and the instructions aren’t in English. I’m a little scared to mess it up, but my plan is to just make pudding pops. But… my freezer is full of leftovers that are just for when the baby is born. 

So I finally decided to leave the pudding mix out of the review and just finally post this thing. So thanks Jenny for all the awesome foods! Hopefully we can do another package swap next year (the shipping to the Czech Republic is expensive unfortunately T__T) because this was tons of fun. I got to try some yummy new foods, and some I found is available in the USA. I love reading your blog (and getting this package) because it really shows how veganism is different in various parts of the world, showing that people aren’t loosing cultural identity by going vegan.

Now- to the reviews. It’s a LOOOOONG post.

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Bear Nibbles Yoyos

Oh boy, this gives me all the feels that American can’t compete. My husband loves bears. It is really easy, find some shirt with a bear on it- boom birthday gift done. We have bear prints, a bear growler, a stuffed toy bear, we even got a beer called bare bear. So when I saw these pure fruit yoyos with a cute bear on it, I already knew I would love it- and would have to share with my husband. I found that the graphic design was a lot more sophisticated than most American brands but the snack was even better than what I was use to. They are very similar to fruit rolls up, only the snack is thicker but thinner in the width, making it more like a gummy snack. It is a little hard to unroll, and you kind-of need to poke the middle and then unravel from the inside in (maybe giving it more of that yoyo sort of name). The snack also came with collectable cards, which are a little silly as an adult, but fun for kids. I got the apple and raspberry flavors, and I think overall liked the raspberry best.

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Crawnchies

I may have been a little hungry when I started to sort through my box, since I opened this up first. I love the packaging, it made me feel like I was eating some raw Pringles. What I really liked about these are that they were very light compared to other raw foods. The main ingredients were nuts, no they were actually vegetables, pumpkin and sweet potato. I liked the intense paprika flavor, not too salty or sweet. I liked the specs on the snack- the container was a total of 125 calories, almost 6 grams of fiber, 5 grams of fat (from flax seeds), and 4.5 grams of protein. The company is from the Czech Republic but the distribute in the UK, France, Netherland, and Belgium.

Flax Rolls with Berries

These are like fruit rolls ups but with flax seeds dehydrated right into it. I am not a big fan of these, like I am happily eating the whole box, but they remind me too much about why I don’t like animal crackers. See animal crackers are sweet, but too sweet to be crackers. But on the flip side they aren’t sweet enough to be a cookie. This in between state drive me nuts. That is how I feel about these flax rolls. The flax seeds really mellow out the sweetness, making wish this was more of a dessert. It is too bad they didn’t cut down on the flax seed and added more berries. But still overall tasty, and I would rather have these over the animal crackers.

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Hazelnoot Stroopwafels

I had high expectations for these, probably because I saw Eat Your Kimchi’s video on stroopwafels. Unfortunately this stroopwafel wasn’t like you saw in the video. The caramel-like center wasn’t gooey, but more like a commercial caramel, soft but mostly hard. Even though that is the case, I found these pretty tasty regardless. I like the hazelnut filling, and the overall treat wasn’t too sweet which I really appreciated. Looking for these? Apparently the company translates them to syrup waffles or hazelnut waffles, so I found a few sellers on Amazon.

Karobová

I ate this snack and thought “no big deal, just a date coconut roll.” Then when I looked online for the product apparently it is made from no date. Nope, just coconut, carob, a sugar syrup, and rice flour. I would never of guessed! It was pretty tasty and something I would probably eat again. Apparently the company does a whole range of different types of rolls made from nuts, grains, and dried fruit. Carob is often forgotten about or thought to just be a cheap chocolate substitute, but it can really shine when given the chance and this is a product where it shines.

Sušenky s rozinkami

Oh boy were these cookies an enigma. I took my first bite and thought “uck tastes like burnt sugar.” I blame some where pregnancy thing because I ate it again, and burnt sugar was still on my mind, but in a much more positive way. It tasted really complex and delicious. When looking up the cookies online I read the translated list of ingredients, and just couldn’t comprehend. It is made mostly just of flour, tamarind syrup, and raisins! WHAT?! I was thinking it was some burnt sugar gingerbread cookie. Never would of guessed. Definitely the tamarind syrup is the bulk of the flavor, making a really complex cookie.

Unicorn Nut Roast

I was a little nervous about baking this. I don’t use connivence foods often, nor do I make savory “loafs” or “roasts” often. Not much of a European foodie? Not sure. My but weird fear of easy food makes no sense, but one day I was craving a veggie dish and figured I probably needed something a little more to make it a meal, so busted out this baby. I recommend making it in fall or winter (not in 90°F weather. T__T) It was pretty easy to make, just boil water, sit, then pop in the oven for 45 minutes. The end result was a really yummy loaf that made me think of Thanksgiving and the holiday season. The mix comes from a small co-op in Manchester UK, so if you live there or are visiting, I would recommend grabbing this. It is shelf stable, and fairly hands off for a night where you have time, but don’t want to spend too much time in the actual kitchen.

Uszatki

Let me first state something, I live in New Jersey. I know you are all going “no shit Jen, like all the restaurants you review are in New Jersey.” But there are a lot of Italian bakeries in New Jersey (hello Cake Boss!) and I HATED them. I never like those nasty cookies that lacked flavor. I think it was my Czech and German blood screaming for gingerbread. What type of birthday cake do I want? GINGERBREAD! Favorite Christmas cookie? GINGERBREAD PEOPLE! So it comes as no surprise that I friggin LOVE these cookies. They are puffy gingerbread cookies that are covered in a thin glaze. There is a hint of mint, which gives an unusual twist to the normal gingerbread flavor. Best part? I CAN GET IT CHEAP OFF OF AMAZON! How I love you Poland for making these dreamy cookies!

Yes Chips Čočkové s chilli

I kind-of forgot that I still had these chips to eat, which is a bummer since I was going through a sugar overload at some point. I have to say these chips made me notice how much sugar is put into most American savory snacks. Or how little flavor our crackers or chips are when they have savory flavors added to them. These chips were kind-of a consistency between a cracker and a biscuit. I assume the chips are made from lentils (since the label has a picture of a chili pepper and lentils). My only complaint is that they weren’t chili peppery enough. Still, they were a nice savory snack.

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Almond Bar

I really enjoyed this bar. It made me think of Lara bars, only much better. I remember catching a bunch of workers complain that every single Lara bar tasted like cashews and dates, and they are kind-of right. They all taste similar since cashews and dates are the major ingredients. This bar really makes things different by using almond butter, giving a very specific almond butter flavor. The bar is a little sweeter than Lara bars since it has some brown rice syrup in it, and I am fine with that. I would totally eat this again.

Bite-Sized Pizza Crackers

I can’t quite remember what raw food I made awhile ago that tastes very similar to these but pizza flavored raw food isn’t anything new. Something about cashews, sun dried tomatoes, and lemon juice really make me think of pizza. I loved the crackers just by themselves, though a nut cheese on top would be equally great. I was so hungry that ate the whole package (354 calories, 16g carbs, 11g fiber, 11g protein) which was pretty satisfying. The best thing is that there is raw onions in the crackers but they don’t leave bad onion breath- a problem that I have with most raw foods.

Country Life Japonská směs

These were interesting. I’ve had Japanese snack mixes in the past so I was thrown off by these. Usually they are made with both wheat and rice, and this I think was made mostly from wheat, which made the snack a little more dense than normal. Overall I thought they were too sweet and not enough soy and seaweed flavors for my liking. The snack was good, my husband ate them all, but it didn’t have enough of the flavors that make them “Japanese.”

Country Life Granola

I make granola at home for my husband’s breakfast. Yup, he puts granola on his oatmeal, and since oats on oats seems a little intense I try to make his granola very nut, fruit, and buckwheat groat heavy. So it is nice to have “normal” granola for myself. This has been great to sprinkle on my acai bowls, and on my vegan “nice cream” bowls. The granola has a very light flavor, letting the sweetness come from wheat syrup and the dried fruit. This is perfect for dessert, when granola can easily be too sweet.

Goody Good Stuff: Sour Fruit Salad

Okay the flavor “sour fruit salad” might not be conjuring up the tastiest image. I mean I am thinking of some 50s canned fruit cocktail salad, but these were really tasty gummy snacks. Again, another dessert I haven’t had in a very long time. The snacks were pretty much perfect, they weren’t too sticky and didn’t get stuck in my teeth, and the flavor wasn’t nearly as sour as what I thought. It was more of a natural amount of sour, maybe the puckered cheeks level of sourness is an American sort of thing? It is actually really easy to find on amazon luckily.

Lewy Sierpowy

I think out of all the fruit and nut bars in this package, this one is my favorite. It is a Polish brand, the same one that made the Urwis jabłkowy below, so I am not 100% sure on the ingredients, but I can make out/guess that there are figs and goji berries. I love figs in raw foods, but most people prefer dates. Dates are all fine and dandy, but there is a certain tart and sweetness that you get from figs, oh and those yummy little seeds are yummy as well! I think what I like about this bar was how tart it was, not too sweet, and enough nuts to keep it very filling. The bar was bigger than most, making it great for when you are fairly hungry. Too bad it doesn’t seem easily available internationally.

Mango Fruit Bar

Man I can’t find ANYTHING about this bar. I think it is made by the British company Mark and Spencer. Though it kind of stinks that the English ingredients are covered by the Czech translation (oh well, it happens) but it appears to be made almost completely made out of fruit! Not 100% mango, but I think that might be a good thing. I tossed it in my purse to eat after getting my blood drawn, and it was great for making my wooziness go away (I don’t like the idea of getting my blood drawn…. the more I think about it, the more likely I will pass out XD) But I was not ready for how soft the bar ended up being since I am use to there being some nuts of something in the bar. Still yummy, but sweeter than I am use to.

Praline Protein Bar

I have been living on bars on the go. The flavor is pretty yummy, but a little too sweet for my personal taste. It is like most raw bars for flavor and texture. It is made mostly of hazelnuts and dates, which give it a flavor very different from say, Lara Bars. There is also some rice protein powder in there to boost the protein to fat ratio that you get from the nuts. My only complaint is that the nutritional guides for Czech Republic always gives the nutritional information for 100grams, making it really hard to figure how much protein and fats are in a bar. I normally don’t harp over these things, but I tend to like to know what is in my pre-portioned foods. Makes you appreciate how America does their nutritional guides. Although the Czech way does give you an idea of nutritional density, helping you pick more nutritious foods overall.

chocopie

Raw Chocolate Pie with Pink Himalayan Salt

Let me first say I am sad by the name of this, why pie? There is no crust, no circle, nothing that makes me think of pie. It’s okay to call yourself a chocolate bar- really. So that is what I will call it in my review. Now that’s out of the way, this bar is amazing! I followed the instructions and placed it in the fridge before eating. It was alright, but pretty tasty. I ate about half, and saved it for later. When I went for the second time I let the bar warm up a little bit and it was amazing. The trick is to let get warm and more a melt in your mouth feel without it melting in your hands. I love the chunks of salt and crunchy almond bits. I also adored the perfect little hint of lacuma powder in there. Next time I am in England (lol yeah like that will be anytime soon) I want to try all the different flavors.

Twinings Buttermint Tea

Jenny sent a few envelopes of these Twinings Buttermint Tea since it’s one of her favorite. It was perfect timing since it had a simple ingredients list- mint leaves. Although Twinings is a pretty famous tea brand that is found all around the world, it is a flavor that has a limited release and I have certainly never seen it in the US before. I drank it all, and now will keep my eyes peeled just incase they ship this flavor into the states.

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Urwis jabłkowy

Oh boy, Polish… a little harder to find information on since it has a few letters that aren’t part of the English alphabet. Haha. I am not sure fully what this is other than an apple flavored snack bar. It was really sweet, yummy, and I would totally eat it again. It was a little hard to open, which is only a problem if you get the bad case of the hangries. The bar is pretty low calorie- I think about 145 calories.

Vivani White Nougat Crisp

I think this is a German brand, but I remember seeing this on blogs based in England. I was pretty excited about this since it has been so long since I have had a good white chocolate bar. I am not a HUGE white chocolate fan, but it is rare to find it vegan, so I enjoy it when I get my hands on it. The bar was so super smooth and had so many flavors going on, which is great because an all white chocolate bar would fall flat. My only complaint is that I wish the bar wasn’t so sweet, this is a complaint I tend to have with almost all European chocolate bars though. Aside from that I would totally get his bar over and over again.


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An American Warewolf in London

Year: 1981
Directed by: John Landis
Rank: 6/10
Spooky Type: Werewolf/Comedy
Watch: YouTube Trailer

Plot: Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths. –IMDB

Review: Ugh. I hate when sexism ruins a film. This film is a classic since it mixes humor with horror, and it has some great special effects. Since humor is involved the gore and spooks are never taken too seriously. Nor does the film rely on them to push the story forwards. I could keep praising the film for the star qualities, but that is well documented. It is the reason why this movie is a classic.

BUUUUUTT….. the humor is totally dated. Yes, you can tell a white cis-gender man wrote this script. The main character David has a frat boy attitude. He talks to his travel companion only about having sex with women, is rude to the police and hospital staff, and tries to insult the Queen and Prince by calling them queer. Sure it was insult at the time, but hard to swallow when there is so many other problematic bits of the film.

The love interest, Nurse Alex is a total bimbo and has no personality. I feel bad for Jenny Agutter to have to play such a dull role. The whole time she is just there to build sexual tension with David. Actually it is more like David sexually harasses her during her job, and she reacts in the way that men fantasize about (aka the lady actually likes it.) Then as we moves the story forwards, David starts to believe he is a werewolf, and still Alex still finds David attractive. It is so unbelievable.

Which then makes me hate what could of been a very funny premise- the werewolf showdown in a porno. There were jokes poking fun at the superficial plots of a pornographic films. But by the time this comes into play I was over all the sexist crap. The whole film became a boys only club, assuming that only men love horror films. Yes, horror films were targeted for boys, and yes, I’ve seen probably much more sexist films that are much closer to softcore porn (usually made in the 70s.) But over the years some of these films have gotten a female following, probably because the horror featured in the film are based on the awful treatment to women, and perhaps most women find that relatable and genuinely horrific. As the horror genre evolves, there is a growing number of women who openly say they love the genre. This movie has little to offer a female audience.

Overall: Boo sexism. Yey humor and special effects.

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The Amityville Horror

Year: 1976
Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg
Rank: 7/10
Spooky Type: Haunted House
Watch: Hulu + YouTube Trailer

Plot: Newlyweds move into a large house where a mass murder was committed, and experience strange manifestations which drive them away. –IMDB

Review: I remember when this movie was being remade in 2005. I didn’t care about the movie, but I remember basic cable channels were flooded with specials all about the movie. The story is suppose to be based off of the book The Amityville Horror, which is suppose to be based off of true events. I’ve always find real life haunting stories interesting and much more chilling than movies. Do I believe they actually happened? No, but they still freak me out. This story always caught my interest more than normal because this house is in the town that my Grandmother lives in. I’ve actually talked about this before on the blog.

Since the story takes place in a town that’s I’ve been to I had a harder time to let my imagination go wild. As I was watching I kept feeling like it didn’t LOOK like Long Island, and I knew very well that the house wasn’t the original. Turns out the movie was filmed in Tom’s River New Jersey. Which doesn’t seem like a big deal, except for the water is drastically different set up, and the property in the movie is HUGE! I joked with my husband that the price of the house in the movie was a steal, and joked they could just divide up the property and pay for the house that way (the real Amityville House sold recently for almost one million dollars FYI)

Oh, and mild spoiler alert- there is something terribly humorous that the portal to hell is on Long Island. Anyone who had to drive into Long Island probably felt like they were driving further and further into hell.

So I haven’t actually talked about the movie much. I have to say it wasn’t bad, but it was a little underwhelming. Since the movie is suppose to be based off of a real event, the flow of the story isn’t the greatest. The movie ends kind-of anti-climatically. And being a little bit of a ghost/occult movie fan, something didn’t make sense. Why is everything oozing? Why the flies? There is no reason why George Lutz (the new homeowner) would look like serial killer Ronald DeFeo (the murderer of the previous owners) either. I think the odd pacing is probably because the movie wanted to keep with the series of events from the book. The movie even keeps a countdown of what day it is since the family moved in.

Historically this movie is pretty important to the horror genre. It is another case of a low budget horror film that became wildly popular. There is no doubt that Poltergeist‘s popularity was set up by this film. Since there are so many similarities between Poltergeist and The Amityville Horror, it adds to the underwhelming nature of the film. Compared to The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist is in hyperdrive. Overall, it wasn’t a bad movie, but it is fairly slow moving and a long movie (117 minutes- almost 2 hours.)

Overall: Recommended to old school horror fans

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The Babadook

Year: 2014
Directed by: Jennifer Kent
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Monster
Watch: Netflix + Trailer

Plot: Amelia, who lost her husband in a car crash on the way to give birth to Samuel, their only child, struggles to cope with her fate as a single mom. Samuel’s constant fear of monsters and violent reaction to overcome the fear doesn’t help her cause either, which makes her friends become distant. When things can not get any worse, they read a strange book in their house about the ‘Babadook’ monster that hides in the dark areas of their house. Even Amelia seems to feel the effect of Babadook and desperately tries in vain to destroy the book. The nightmarish experiences the two encounter form the rest of the story. –IMDB

Review: Funny thing is that people chuckle when Jon and I watched Rosemary’s Baby during the pregnancy. I’ve seen many reviews and such talking about how it is the horror that makes them want to never have a baby. But I would argue that The Babadook is much more horrifying for parents. Let’s start off with Samuel. He is a little boy who’s activity levels are through the roof. “Horrible little shit” is an accurate title for him, and this instantly let’s the audience sympathizes with Amelia, the overworked single mother. Samuel’s behavioral problems stem from the families grief for their father who died in a car accident while driving Amelia to the hospital to deliver Samuel.

The movie is rich with metaphors and is filmed excellently. This is probably why the movie is loved by all critics. A quick search of “babadook reviews” will end up with many glowing reviews talking about the story and it’s great portrayal of grief with adults and children by using the metaphor of a monster destroying their lives.

What really strikes me about this film is that it falls into many tropes of the horror genre, the color scheme, skittery sounds, jump cuts, etc used in other horror films. But there is so many unique aspects of the film. For starters it is directed by a female director, which isn’t common for the film industry. It isn’t a normal monster story- in fact the monster is sort of blended with a ghost in it’s supernatural abilities. The end result is a truly haunting film that I would recommend to anyone who thinks that horror genre is dead.

Overall: Greatest modern horror film I’ve seen

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Rosemary’s Baby

Year: 1968
Directed by: Roman Polanski
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Occult
Watch: YouTube + Three Reason: Criterion Collection Preview

Plot: Horrifying and darkly comic, Rosemary’s Baby was Roman Polanski’s Hollywood debut. This wildly entertaining nightmare, faithfully adapted from Ira Levin’s best seller, stars a revelatory Mia Farrow as a young mother-to-be who grows increasingly suspicious that her overfriendly elderly neighbors (played by Sidney Blackmer and an Oscar-winning Ruth Gordon) and self-involved husband (John Cassavetes) are hatching a satanic plot against her and her baby. In the decades of occult cinema that Polanski’s ungodly masterpiece has spawned, it has never been outdone for sheer psychological terror. –Criterion Collection

Review: Okay, I am cheating just a little. I watched this over the summer, but I really love this film. I think it is one of the best prochoice films out there. Rosemary want to start a family and become a mother. But ever since she finds out that she is pregnant it seems everyone is controlling her decisions. She doesn’t take vitamins like everyone else, she takes special juices that her neighbor makes. Her doctor advises her to not read up on pregnancy- it would only worry her. She is quickly recommended to go a specific doctor. She is only a vessel to create this baby, and everyone makes sure everything is going according to plan.

I started to read the novel and it is scary how close Polanski keeps the script to the novel. Much of the dialogue is pulled from the novel. I dare say you could watch the movie and just skip reading the book, or vise-versa. That doesn’t mean Polanski doesn’t take a lot thought in how the film is shot. I love how he doesn’t pull many cheap editing techniques that make the viewer jump in their seats (IE abrupt cuts, going from low to loud sounds, etc) He lets the conspiracy unfold.

What makes this movie so scary is how relevant it still is with all the anti-abortion laws in the United States. White males are still telling women what they can and can not do with their bodies. Rape culture is still very prevalent, which probably contributes to many of the insane and ignorant reproductive laws. Nothing irks me more than John Cassavetes’ portrayal of Guy Woodhouse, Rosemary’s husband. World biggest scumbag. Funny thing is that I think John Cassavetes only plays skeezy guys.

Overall: One of the best horror films out there


summer-2016

What I am Currently Reading

The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology – This was a birthday gift from my Mother, yup, leave it to her to buy me a medical textbook (she is a neonatal nurse practitioner). I have already learned a lot of new things, and put some of my AP Biology terminology to use.

Rosemary’s Baby – I love the movie and thought now would be the time to read the book. Good news, my husband isn’t best friends with our older neighbors, so I think I am safe about not having a devil baby. 

What to Expect When You’re Expecting – Still working on this. Read up one month 7, and will start advancing to the delivery chapter to know what to expect. Yikes things are coming up soon.

What I’ve Read

Baby Bargains: Secrets to Saving 20% to 50%

I know this book is very baby centric. I was going to keep baby books separate from my reading lists, but I thought why not just plop it in here. It was like my own little Finnegan’s Wake– kind-of painful to read (so many strollers… so many baby seats… ugh and the mattresses!) I didn’t read it front to back, but read a major chunk of the book. It is pretty obvious what it is about- pretty much a published version of Consumer Reports. What I like about the book is that they give recommendations of what to look for in quality, which might not be so easy for new parents. Like what mattresses are the best? What should I be looking for in strollers? I certainly would of dismissed some of the recommendations they made before reading the book.

I also love that they help filter through the “must haves” and the “don’t needs.” While putting together the registry there were lots of recommended items to add such a baby walkers, DVDs, and too many different items of clothing. The book kind-of breaks down how many they suggest you buy which made me feel a little better to have a more realistic number. I didn’t want to come off as too greedy on my registry. 

Downside? You can research and research but sometimes it can be too hard to put all of the “best” in one registry. Many products are exclusives to some companies, which is partly why we registered at two different places. But it was nice to see some cheaper brands were recommended (hello Target!) It definitely helped discourage us from getting certain products. I was really jazzed about those smart phone monitors and the reviews were very “meh.” I am thinking the products will get better as they become more popular, but the reviews showed that they were inconsistent.

Overall I think this is a must have for any pregnant ladies. If a friend announces that their pregnant, this would be a great little congratulations gift, even if they aren’t “strapped for cash.” They do reviews for those super pricey items and will tell you the flaws and the perks, which companies have reliable products, and which crib companies get recalled the most.

A Bride’s Story, Vol. 1

I read good things about this series so I figured I would give it a try. Especially since I was checking it out from the library rather than actually buying it. I have some mixed feelings about it, but overall decided not to continue reading the series. It just didn’t really jive with me.

The story is about Amir Halgal, a 20 year old from a nomadic tribe who marries a 12 year old boy. The story takes place on the silk road, and talks about the cultural differences between Amir’s nomadic upbringing and her new husband’s, Karluk, farming family. The story centers around Amir’s blossoming relationship with Karluk and his family and teaches the reader about the lives in Central Asia.

Good Things: The art is amazing. A quick google search will show you tons of a pictures from the manga, and all the fine details. I also enjoyed the unusual setting. I do not know much about Central Asian tribes, but the story seems to be pretty accurate. The story isn’t just about Amir and Karluk, it is about the whole family. The idea of a 20-some year old woman marrying a young boy seems a little far fetched, but shows how poor Amir’s family probably was. 

Bad Things: I think overall I wasn’t so interested in the series since the story just wasn’t strong enough. The focus seemed to be on how different and exotic the lives are for the main characters rather than complicated family dynamics. Sure there are some small little stories for each chapter, but there just didn’t seem to be enough high stakes to draw the reader in. This is ultimately why I think I dropped the series. It is pretty long, and from what I can see from reviews, it evolves more to be able the family as a whole, but mostly focuses on the women. So I could see myself really liking the series over time, but I have too many other things I want to read first.

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

I saw this book on GrrFeisty and thought it looked interesting. The book centers around an American (actually it sounds more like Jewish New Yorker) who moves to France to marry a British man. They have kids and find there is a big cultural divide between the children in France and the children in England and United States. I was really interested in reading this book because I have even noticed differences between children in urban environments and suburbia within the United States. I even noticed a difference between the children in on the East Coast compared to the kids I met when staying in Utah with my parents.

The book is well researched but is overall littered with opinions and generalizations. I don’t mean this as a negative, just something a reader should be aware of. Apparently many readers found the book as an attack on American childrearing, which I didn’t take that way. I think there were many instances that the author openly criticized the French on how they bring up children.

So what makes the French different from Americans? Well, it seems the overall theme is that it is the parents duty to make sure that they balance their personal needs with their children’s. You might be thinking “duh” but the ideas are slightly different how we think about this idea in the United States. It is important for parents to have time to theirselves, like sending kids off a week or two at a time to be on school trips or with Grandparents (something I did when I was little but husband never did.) There is also a big stress to teach kids how to act in society, including manners, living within common schedules, not being loud in public, etc. And above all, it seemed that most French parents viewed it their responsibility to “teach” rather than “discipline.”

Then there was my favorite chapter- teaching kids to be diverse eaters. This is something I think is super important. It is the main thing that irks me about American society. Children are so picky and their choice in food stinks. Heck, there are also so many adults who keep their picky habits as adults. Sorry if you are full grown adult you shouldn’t be picking around the beans in a dish that a friend cooked for you. The book does not imply this is an easy thing to teach kids. I know I was a picky eater when I was little, but my mom was persistent and I learned to eat pretty much everything. It is also something I take to heart as an adult.

I loved the book except for the body shame-y beginning. There was a lot of talk about how Americans view pregnancy as a time to binge on food. And it depends. Historically speaking doctors would actually discourage as much weight gain as possible. But slowly doctors figured out that women who gained more weight were more likely to have healthier babies. So now we have the recommendations of 25-30 lbs of weight gain. Now, some people view pregnancy as a way to indulge, but doctors seem to stress on eating well. It makes sense, but when my pregnancy app is flooding with daily articles about learning to skip dessert, increase my protein (but don’t forget those grains!), tips on how to gain weight, and even tips on how to slow weight gain it is overwhelming. I get what the author’s point is about keeping “thin.” In the United States parents put their bodies and lives second. I hear many stories of people who become very out of shape after having kids and only take up exercise again 10 years afterwards. We need to take care of ourselves. But in some parts Druckerman implies that France has great prenatal care, giving validity to all the French women who drink and try and stay thin while pregnant. The large infant deaths in United States (compared to France) probably has less to do with prenatal care and more with infant care. In fact France has GREAT care for children that is provided by the government for various income brackets. Man was I green with envy reading it.

I think this is a great book for anyone who might feel a little weird about American kid culture. I think trying to adopt some of the styles of French parenting styles can work in an American environment. I think the negative parts of French culture can be balanced with the good parts of American culture. Can you enjoy this book without having kids? Probably. Though I think you might have a deeper appreciation for it if you are expecting or planning to eventually have kids.

**Also note- I write American, but Druckerman does talk about English speaking countries, implying many child rearing techniques are found in England AND the USA, and possibly Australia and Canada.

Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America

After all the babies and marriage books, I read this- a true crime non-fiction book about a woman who chopped a man up into pieces. Nice balance right? I am not a huge true crime fan. I enjoy a good True Crime story, especially one that is creepy or full of corruption. But I don’t actively seek them out. I found out about this book after listening to the author on the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class.

The book takes place in Philadelphia 1887, a headless, limbless torso is found in a river. The police force has a hard time telling if the body is of a light colored black man or a dark toned white man. This leads to a lot media speculation over the race of the body, and puts the dead body on the police force’s priority list. The police identify the body and narrow their search down to two suspects- Hannah Mary Tabbs, a black woman, and George Wilson, a half white half black man. 

Author Kali Nicole Gross focuses the story on the facts and explaining the racial views of society. She paints a great picture of why story was so sensationalized during the time, most were from where the body was found and the race of the victim and culprits. She is thorough to talk about the politics of the police force, and why corruption in the government might of swayed the decision of the court. She does this without making the book seem dry, which is pretty hard. But most of all she avoids doing too much speculation, only giving her opinion about who actually committed the crime.

If you live or lived in Philadelphia you will be happy to read this book. I enjoyed reading how the different areas changed over time. There are maps in the book showing all the road and alley ways, most of which are now gone. There are labels showing all the different wards, which are never referred to in modern Philadelphia. As some point I think it would be fun to take a walk around the city hitting all the different important locations in the book.

I am trying to keep this review short since I don’t want to give away too much of the details. Going in with a pretty blank slate will really make the read much more interesting.


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It is no secret I really like Terry Hope Romero and Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Sometimes I feel like the vegan world is crammed with feel good Californians, so having some snarky New Yorkers with killer food makes me happy. Since Terry and Isa both started to write their own cookbooks, it has always been interesting to see how each person cooks. Romero seems to write about specific topics- whether it is a specific world cuisine, salads, or in this case- protein.

Photos

There isn’t a photo for every recipe, but then again, do we need that? Answer- probably not. I mean we don’t need to see what a smoothie bowl looks like more than once. But the photos that are in the book are beautiful and fun. Instead of JUST featuring the recipe, the photographer arranges the recipe as if it is just being arranged in the kitchen.

The photographer worked with Terry Hope Romero for her sister book Salad Samurai and for Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s book Isa Does It. As I praised with Isa Does It, the photos look as if you walked into a working kitchen, but somehow with the perfect lighting and the perfect amount of mess. Although the photos are clearly staged, it does give the recipes a sense of approachability that encourages people to make them everyday.

Set-up

Romero takes a quick approach, giving you an introduction and some protein basics. This is probably a good thing since she uses protein powders in so many of the recipes. She talks about the basic different powders and why she chooses to use one in a certain recipe and not another. I am a little disappointed that she doesn’t include soy protein isolate, or at least explain why she doesn’t like it. It use to be THE protein for vegans.

She then touches base for other common ingredients she uses and talks about some cooking basics. Most people can skip this section but if you never cooked brown rice before? Well Romero has you covered so you don’t have to pause that podcast to google “how to cook brown rice.” Heck I even used her coconut bacon recipe in that section.

Recipe categories? I liked how she divided them up: Unstoppable Smoothie Bowls and Granola; Stealthy Protein Pancakes, Waffles, and Much Much More; The Protein Bakery Basket; Super Toast: Savory and Sweet; Protein-Packed Patties and Burgers; Better Than Ever Burger Bowls; Grain and Noodles Bowls; and finally Sweet Treats.

Writing

As with all Terry Hope Romero’s book, I am always impressed with her writing. It is always open and very relatable. She more or less mocks the pseudo-enlightened statements that are the so common ever since M.F.K. Fisher. She also has no visible typos or issues with the recipes- oh wait except for one. Her chickpea eggplant hemp veggieballs have no hemp in them. It bothers me endlessly. But truthfully, this is the least amount of issues I’ve seen in a cookbook where there is always one or two ingredients out of place or letters missing.

Overview

It seems there is a divide in the vegan world over this cookbook. A lot of vegans complain that it feeds into the “protein complex” that America has. Which is sad because Terry Hope Romero addresses this in the introduction. She, for the most part, wrote this book for weight lifting vegans. And I have to say, I think this is super helpful. I know Alexa would love this book since she is a big crossfitter, and is a flexitarian. She would like to avoid dairy and eggs, but when you are surrounded by a world that loves the paleo diet, it is hard to learn about vegan protein. This book would be perfect for her. Terry’s recipes recommends cheap protein powder, aka not to use Vega (though some recipes need that, like the smoothie bowls)

What I also love about this book is that there are lots of tips to save your recipes. Many people don’t live with their significant other, or eat the same thing as each other. So I hear lots of vegans say that they can’t make a full recipe because it will go to waste. Romero gives lots of notes on which recipes you can double and freeze. This has been nice for me since I am expecting so I am stocking my freezer up for sleep deprived post baby me. 

Right now, protein isn’t on my list of things to pay attention to. I’ve been getting what I need, and probably should be eating more whole grains (as a pregnant lady that is) But once I deliver I probably going to dive into this cookbook. I find that this has lots of recipes that are very warming, and don’t use as much fresh produce. So testing out these recipes while I have my CSA is a little bit of a struggle.

Otherwise I love this book. I will be using it a bunch in the future. If anyone is a vegan weight lifter, even with light weights, they will probably want to pick up this book. Terry Hope Romero uses protein powder, yes, but I think she varies the types making it friendly for lots of vegans. I am still a little sad she ignore soy protein, but hey, she likes to use tofu so that’s okay.

Wanna Skip the Protein Powder?

As mentioned above, some of the biggest critizism has been how much the recipes use protein powders. I have to point out a few things if people want to save some cash. One tip would be to skip the hemp protein powder and only get the rice and pea protein powders. I got NOW protein, which isn’t the best for smoothies, but works well with these recipes. You can get most of the rice and pea proteins for $6-10 per pound depending on the size you buy. I super recommend getting these for the baked goods and burgers as the protein powders help with binding (think of eggs and how their proteins work in traditional baked goods)

Wanna skip protein powders overall? Well, some of the recipes aren’t going to be high in protein, but you can do almost everything in the first chapter with the smoothies bowls. But there is almost always a non-protein powder recipe in each chapter. Quick way to find them is to look at the savory recipes over sweet. So you want to check out the end of Stealthy Protein Pancakes, Waffles, and Much Much More, and almost all recipes are protein powder free in Super Toast: Savory and Sweet and Grain and Noodles Bowls.

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