My Vegan Bachelorette Weekend!
Hi friends! This post has taken me a lot longer to write than it probably should have, between my crippling anxiety that dealing with this particular event gave me and the fact that my wedding was Saturday. If you wanna see some sneak peeks from our gorgeous, perfect wedding (posts coming soon!), check out my instagram page + story. If you're interested in reading more about my anxiety attack and how I am learning, in an ongoing way, to deal with it, you can check out my recent post on both subjects here. If not, then I'm going to dive right into this post and focus on the good: because that's really how I'd prefer to remember it! It wasn't a perfect weekend, but it was pretty great, and I'm really lucky that I had people there that had my back.
The weekend kicked off in a caravan to Palm Springs and a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum to see the new Jeffrey Gibson installation in the sculpture gardens. Our ultimate goal that afternoon before our AirBNB check-in would be to visit Desert X, his other running installation just a mile from where we were staying in PS. The sculpture garden was really neat, and I particularly loved the amount of blown glass artwork they had - so cool to see!
After the museum we headed a little further into town to the Palm Greens Cafe, one of my favorite places to grab a meal whenever I'm in town. They have a great, super vegan-friendly breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu, plus a board full of fresh juices and smoothies that'll keep you cool in the hot desert weather. My favorite is their Pineapple Jalapeño Cucumber juice - it's sweet, spicy, and super refreshing. We met up with most of the rest of our group at the restaurant for lunch, and texted final grocery and alcohol orders to the stragglers meeting us at the house later. At this point I was getting super excited to see where we'd be staying and to finally head over to the Desert X exhibit. We headed to the AirBNB for check-in, and were a little surprised at how small it was; cute - totally! But also super much smaller than it looked in photos (isn't that always the case?) and a little dingier. But it would do the trick! It was a strange setup - like a house with most of the rooms combined, plus two attached in-law apartments. A strange structure that made for even weirder sleeping arrangements, but it had a pool and hot tub! Not even the semi-creepy on-property manager (yeah, that definitely wasn't in the listing) could kill the vibe.
We split into rooms, my sister and I splitting one of the larger and more personal in-law apartments, and then headed back to the outskirts of town towards Desert X. The exhibit is basically a large house made entirely of mirrors - and it is super cool! Only about half the group made the trip, but we all thought it was rad and made sure to get plenty of cool photos. I mean, we had to! It was incredible to be alone in an entire room of mirrors - which you might've seen behind the scene footage of if you're following my instagram stories. 😉
Since I want to be super transparent and honest with you guys, you should know that I was lucky enough to have some really great brand support the weekend through product donation from the following brands: Dandies, Eat Pastry, Harmless Harvest, YumEarth, Organic Gemini, Tater Tats, Larabar, Ozery, Juicero, Hippeas, NadaMoo and Utopia Farms. I want to give them all a HUGE shoutout for being involved and for sharing their products with us for the weekend. They kept us fed, hydrated, full and ready to party, and for that I am so thankful. I love and support ALL of these brands, and recommend their products for real: no paid advertisement needed!
The snacks made the weekend a freaking blast - and saved us a bunch of time and money. Our fridge was fully stocked - it was truly a thing of beauty. I wish I'd gotten a better picture, but the lighting info ur AirBNB was total crap - lots of shade to block out that hot desert sun. There's a picture of every product on here, but the Ozery + Juicero (in the bottom right of the first photo set) are unlabeled - though were maybe the most eaten products! 😝
We loved using Organic Gemini's tigernut-based protein for our morning smoothies along with some fresh fruit (especially those that indulged in alcohol the night before, haha!) and munching on Larabars all day long between meals to keep us full-time on healthy fats. The Harmless Harvest and Juicero kept us hydrated around the pool, and the Dandies, Eat Patsry, YumEarth and NadaMoo made delicious desserts! Most of the attendees had never tried Hippeas before and they were and instant hit at the party. Utopia Farms provided the medicated edibles - which was AWESOME for me because I don't really drink, and Tater Tats gave us the temporary tattoo entertainment!
The first morning we woke up and everyone was a little hungover - except me - so I practiced a little yoga and made morning smoothies for the group. The rest of the day was the perfect pool day - lots of sun, drinking, poolside snacking, and floating around in fruit-shaped inflatables. I brought along a tie dye kit and we made rad, very nineties souvenirs take home. Turns out you can get a super easy, 30-dye kit with easy apply nozzles at Michaels for like $20. It was so worth it! The evening was a blur of games of Cards Against Humanity, late-night hot tubbing, and some serious dance sessions. We headed to bed late and got up early the next day for our 11 am check out. Everyone was sleepy, a little hungover, and tired of being in the sun.
Lots of long and loving goodbyes later, we were on the road home. I was exhausted from the weekend emotionally and physically, and was so ready to get home to see (my now HUSBAND!) Alex. We cruised back past the Cabazon Dinosaurs and home. Over - a great weekend. My tips? I've got a few!
And once it's all over, just remember - no matter how it goes - you are that much closer to marrying your partner and that part is so, so worth it. A snapshot of the crew below - thanks to all my friends for sharing my bachelorette weekend with me!
Vegan Oktoberfest 2015
Last weekend Alex and I were lucky enough to attend the 2nd Annual Los Angeles Vegan Oktoberfest! Last year when we went (you can read about that here) we had a very different experience. Not better, for sure. Last year the event was held in Santa Monica, basically on the strand, and was kind of a disaster. People had trouble parking, the event was really overcrowded and hot, and tickets were oversold so the fire marshall ended up capping the number of people allowed inside the gates and people who paid for tickets were getting turned away. A lot of people were mad about it, but I can understand the logistics of assuming it would be a relatively small event and being way overwhelmed. It was their first time! Plus, we got in and had a blast, so I hold no grudges. This year, we weren't sure exactly what to expect, but it ended up being a THOUSAND times better. The people behind Vegan Oktoberfest definitely heard last year's complaints and made an effort to prevent all of last years problems and prevent any new major issues. This year they moved the event to the much larger LA Center Studios in Downtown LA, which had tons of paid parking around to use and a much larger space capacity for people. Last year we waited in line for an hour to get in, but this time we strolled right in. There was a decent crowd when we got there, but not overwhelming. We showed up pretty early on in the event, but it never seemed to get overwhelmingly busy at any point this year. It was actually really nice to be able to stroll around with Alex and hear each other talk, and since the lines weren't very long we were able to spend more time hanging out and less time waiting in separate lines for food and beer.
Our first stop was to one of all-time faves, the Sage Truck! Sage has three locations plus the food truck, and they all serve up some of the yummiest vegan food EVER. We shared a pretzel with sriracha mayo + honey-free mustard and an order of the Chili Cheese Fries, and Alex used his first drink ticket to fill up his mug with his fave alcoholic ginger beer, Royal Jamaican. I don't really drink, so my mug was mostly empty, but Alex was able to try a few beers as we walked around. It was of course nice to see my home state of Maine represented with both Shipyard AND Seadog Brewing in attendance!
Our next food stop was at the Blode Kuh cheese booth. We're good friends with Doug + Maxie, the couple who runs the vegan cheese company, and we were so happy to catch up with them for a few minutes. They were selling an ah-maz-ing traditional Bavarian cheese platter with 3 different cheeses (including BEER CHEESE!), homemade brown bread + potato salad. I love eating little bits and being able to try smaller portions of more foods, so this plate was perfect for me. Plus, the gals at Blode Kuh wore traditional Dirndl dresses which was super cute and festive! There were at least 20 food vendors, and while we definitely didn't stop at every place, we definitely felt like we ate a TON. We tried to go to new places and get our very favorites rather than trying to squeeze something from every single place in.
Our last big savory food stop was at Broke Hungry Vegan's booth for a Seitan Bratwurst with housemade kraut and grilled onions. It was Alex's favorite stop and I was alllll about that kraut. They did an amazing job recreating a traditional sausage, and I love that they didn't shove it in a huge bun, you could really taste all the great flavor! Plus, I finally met Brittany, the face behind BHV, and she is totally rad.
We were ready for sweet treats after so much delicious and filling savory food, so we hopped in line at Divine Dips for a small cone of their Rastaberry (raspberry) flavor. It went with the whole t-shirt theme AND tasted amazing and refreshing after a lot of heavy, fried foods. Next time I NEED to try that Maple Cardamom flavor...YUM!
We finished off the event with a slice of German chocolate cake (naturally) + maybe the best jelly-filled donut I've EVER had from Ridiculous Baking Company, and of course grabbed a few take-home donuts from Donut Friend, including my absolute fave the 'Custard Front Drive'. We had met up with tons of vegan blogging friends and eaten our respective weights in fried foods and ice cream, so we headed home about an hour before the event ended. I think overall this year was way more effectively planned and executed, and I hope that now that they've proven they can do it, more vendors will come back. We had a blast either way + can't wait for next year! Keep up with the latest news from Vegan Oktoberfest, including details on next year's event on Facebook, Instagram + at VeganOktoberfest.com!
Photos From Our Week
We've had a busy week and no time to tell you about all of the fun things we did. Instead, here are some photos to summarize what we've been up to this week.
A little Cindo de Mayo, a little family, a little Maddie.
You may notice that some of these photos were already on my instagram. Or not. But if you're interested in seeing the more personal, less photoshopped versions of some of these treats and more of my real life here in Maine, follow me: @amberstpeter.
Also, we have a real treat for you on Monday.
New recipe. And its one of my absolute favorites.
In the meantime, enjoy!
Yep, you betcha! That bubblegum-pink box is indeed a cupcake atm. That's right, it hand delivers fresh cupcakes directly to you after you swipe your atm or credit card.
Located outside of the (world?) famous Sprinkles Cupcakes on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, this little bit of technology is available for your cupcake cravings 24 hours a day.
Alex and I hung out in LA this weekend, and while there decided to collect as many vegan treats as we could. At least thats what I think we were doing, since by the end of the day I'd eaten three cupcakes from three separate establishments. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
The cupcake atm is located on the wall between the Sprinkles Cupcakery and the newest addition to the Sprinkles family, the Sprinkles Ice Cream shop. We have yet to visit the ice cream shop (they only have two sorbets-and I prefer cupcakes!), but we're old vets of Sprinkles Cupcakes. The Newport Beach location is one of the first places Alex took me when we started hanging out; we drove down every couple of months after that to get our fill. This was pre-vegan. Alex's favorite flavor was always red velvet, mine was coconut. We'd always end up buying at least 4 and eating them all before the night was over.
They were always perfectly moist and delicious, with a very lightly sweet frosting. Not overly sugary sweet, they always hit the spot.
We haven't been in a while, since being vegan limited our selection pretty severely. For a long time they didn't even offer a vegan cupcake. Now, they do.
After we found parking in one of the crowded structures nearby, we walked down to Sprinkles. It was surprisingly not busy for a summer afternoon, but it was a Monday, and it was 97 degrees outside.
We walked straight up to the cupcake atm to order. Being that it was so slow patron-wise, we probably could've walked right into the actual cupcakery and probably bought a dozen vegan cupcakes, but we came to experience the atm, and we weren't to be deterred.
You have to tap the screen to get things going; the screen responds by showing a complete list of all the cupcakes (including vegan, gluten-free, and dog friendly treats!), one at a time. There was at least a dozen before we hit the vegan option. They offer just one vegan cupcake: a red velvet with creamy white frosting.
Luckily for Alex, that's really all he wanted.
We bought one to share.
It cost $4, which is $.50 more than it would've been if we'd just paid inside, but we didn't mind.
The atm would be a great convenience on days when the 'real' Sprinkles has a line out the door and down the block, like it usually does on a sunny summer day. Its also kind of just fun to use.
It's constantly being reloaded, dispensing up to a thousand cupcakes a day, holding hundreds at any given time. But don't stress, the cupcakes are always baked fresh right next store, so you'll never end up with a crummy cupcake.
For which flavors Sprinkles is serving and when, click here.
For directions to the atm, click here.
If you live near LA, try it! It was neat and something you can always tell stories about later. Plus, Sprinkles makes a damn good cupcake, its worth the visit!
[And how cute is the edible sugar 'V' for vegan?]