As I pack my suitcase for my New Year's vacation at my family's currently snowed-in house in Sweden, I can't help but let my mind drift to that inevitable subject: resolutions. Every year on the hazy final days of December, as we toss out the Christmas gift wrappers and finish the mulled wine, most of us dream away planning the new year, setting goals, making resolutions. Making promises to ourselves. Some of these promises dissipate into the January fog, melting off with all the holiday cheer. Others stay put, grow into dreams, plant the seed of motivation. Whether it's a gym membership or a passport and a suitcase, a new year's resolution holds power.

For 2012, I vowed to become a freelance writer, go vegan and move to London. It all went quite well: I quit my job on 15 June and pretty much converted to veganism on the spot. Both of these things brought challenges, motivation crises and tighter purse strings, but they ultimately made me a stronger, braver, more interesting person. And on the 4th of September, my plane to London lifted, carrying me into a new, head-over-heels life. I'll always remember this crazy, gutsy move as one of the best decisions I've ever made. 2012 was a dream-come-true year for me and even more proof that when I set my mind to something...sooner or later I will move there.


Cruelty-Free Beauty Review: Lily Lolo at CutECOsmetics

I remember when I was in fashion college and spent hours in the fantastic fashion library my school had. I always left with piles of books that made my arms ache for days from carrying them and my heart flutter with longing for the evening, so I could curl up in my room and flip through them, savouring every page. One of these books was VOGUE Beauty, where makeup mavens laid down gorgeousness commandments. I remember one particular rule: line your eyes with liquid liner, never kohl pencil. It was the first time I broke a beauty rule, and I haven't stopped since.


Coffee and Heels Closet: Little Red Riding Hood

Having a fashion blogger moment!

This little red coat was my Christmas present from David. It may come as a surprise that I only own one - yes, ONE - winter coat. Well, that's not entirely true. I just happened to leave the other one in Milan because I emotionally outgrew it - I actually feel like ten years ago when I'm wearing it, and not in a good way. So off we went on the hunt for another statement (read: not black) piece to see me through London winter.


Sunday Inspiration - Christmas Edition

Twinkly lights. Festive decorations. Hot chocolate. 

The scent of pine. Fluffy snow. Glossy present packages.

Hugs, smiles, laughter.

May your Christmas be filled with all of the above.


Gift-Giving (and Receiving) Dos and Don'ts

Ah, the art of Christmas gift shopping. As wonderfully exciting and Love Actually-esque the idea may be to stroll along the snowy streets (or, you know, Westfield Shopping Centre) laden with carrier bags overflowing with expertly wrapped, ribbon-decorated bundles of amazingness that will send the recipient's heart in a flutter of joy, the reality of festive gift-giving is often that we find ourselves on Christmas Eve with four identical Body Shop shower gel kits and no idea how to avoid Mum, your work colleague, your cousin and your boyfriend's sister finding out that their gift from you came from a take-four-pay-for-two deal.


New Year, New Job!

So yesterday...I got a job offer!

I've been applying for jobs for a while - London is so full of opportunities, and missing out on them to sit at Costa Coffee and wonder about my next paycheck seemed like a waste of chances. So I set out on a search for something that seemed interesting and flexible - something to combine with freelancing and at the same time provide me with opportunities to meet some people, since, in the words of Britney, "my loneliness is killing me." And after a number of interviews, I finally got an offer for a temporary position as a copywriter with a really cool online fashion boutique retailer!


Seven Women That I Want to Be

Alicia Silverstone

I don't only love her for the fabulous Aerosmith videos and Clueless - Alicia inspires me because she's dedicated her life to being kind and compassionate, and teaching others to do so! She inspired me to go vegan and is pretty much my role model. I love her website The Kind Life!


Cooking in Heels: The World's Best Vegan Rice Dish

The other week I decided to experiment with throwing together a few ingredients and so The World's Best Vegan Rice Dish was born. I figured it was criminal not to share such a discovery with the world.

Above, you see the ingredients: long grain rice (this time we had the cheap one from Tesco, but obviously brown rice is a million times better), a carrot, a tomato, some garlic and tomato sauce - and some no-meat meat! Mine is from Holland & Barrett, a British health-food store chain that's heaven on Earth!


London Street Feast: Art Meets Music Meets Food Meets Christmas

One of the reasons why I love this city is because there's always lots more to discover. There's always something new around the corner and three months into living here, I still feel like a tourist. I guess that's part of the magic of London.

This weekend we went to see a friend play with his band at the London Street Feast and the Christmas event that's taking over this Hackney food market this month. I couldn't believe how cool this place was - it was like a secret little Christmassy underworld in there. If you like art, music, food or Christmas, this is your thing. If you just like mulled wine, it's still your thing.


End of an Era: Gossip Girl Says Goodbye

By now you probably know that I watch a few too many TV shows for my own good, but there are a few that become classics over time. Gossip Girl is a decadent guilty pleasure, like a double chocolate cake, and today it's time for the very last bite.

After six scandalous, outrageous and very stylish seasons, GG is offering up her final XOXO tonight in a dazzling double episode (my boyfriend has already been alerted that if he as much as speaks to me during this, it's off with his head) that is sure to be nothing but extraordinary. Whether you're a Blair or a Serena - I'm so a Serena - join me in a festive final-episode preparation.


Sunday Inspiration - 16 December

Yesterday I went to this supercool place, the London Street Feast (now, if I can just make my photos look decent, a post on it is coming up soon) - a friend of ours was playing there with his band. If you happen to be in London this month, you HAVE to go - promise me you'll go! I'll go with you if you want.

This place inspired me to give this week's batch of inspiration a cozy, wintry theme - enjoy!


A Love Letter to London

David and I first got the idea to move to London in late 2009.

I remember that I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of our living room in Stockholm, packing for an autumn trip to see David's family in Milan. My internship at Cosmopolitan had just ended and there was really nothing to keep me in Stockholm any longer (except for friends and family, who were used to me running off somewhere new every once in a while, sending happy postcards and coming to visit twice a year with little presents and big stories) and David wasn't keen on the idea of moving back to his hometown either. He had told me about an old dream of his: living in London. As a musician, he was longing to spread his wings in the city that gave us Queen and the Beatles, the city that still had that rare quality that is so elusive in music nowadays: soul.

"So why don't we do it?" I said. And there, on a living room floor, in October 2009, a dream was born.


Getting Back On the Scales

I finally got back on the scales - after almost seven years of proudly ignoring my weight.

Yesterday, after three months living in the UK, I finally registered with the NHS (for all of you not from the UK, the NHS is the National Health Service). About time, I know.

So, I show up at the clinic and expect it to take five minutes, so I can speed off and get started on a brand-new magazine piece. The lady behind the counter hands me a couple of forms and says, "okay, just fill these out and then go over there and get the machine to measure your height, weight and blood pressure."

I freeze. My height, blood pressure and my what?


Remixed (and fabulous!): Hedvig Opshaug

I've fallen in love with a blog (again).

You HAVE to check out The Northern Light by Norwegian model-slash-banker-slash math genius (yes, really) Hedvig Opshaug. She's drop-dead-amazing looking and ultra-stylish. I can't stop looking at this blog.


30 Before 30: Learning to Meditate

One of the things I've wanted to learn forever is meditation. I've always envied people that say things like, "Oh, I did this amazing cleansing meditation last night." They seemed so calm, centered and zen - I wanted to get in on that. Plus, all the articles about how good meditation is for you really sparked my curiosity. So, naturally, meditation was on my 30 before 30 list.

Trouble is, even after having read all the amazing meditation guides  out there, I still couldn't fully grasp the concept of "clearing out my mind". I couldn't stop thinking. I just couldn't do it.


Sunday Inspiration - 9 December

Guess what I'm doing right now? Watching Elf (well, technically I'm watching the Asda commercial - thanks Channel 4, but you know, it's actually quite a nice commercial), a Christmas movie I love, so I felt so full of cheer and merriness, I thought I'd post some inspiration pics! Enjoy!



Things I love about winter:

Vegan hot chocolate.

Christmas movies.

Big, chunky scarves and jumpers.

Christmas lights.

Really pretty yet cold-proof winter boots (leather-free of course)

Those rare sunny Saturdays. Like today.

Christmas songs.

Snow, at least a little.

Having an excuse to stay in and read Christmas at the Cupcake Café

Having an excuse to buy nice new winterwear.


Festive London: Winter Wonderland

If, like me, you're lucky enough to live in London, you have an entire month of merry, twinkly holiday atmosphere to look forward to - and it doesn't get any better than the all-out glitter, tinsel and mulled wine-fest that David and I visited last weekend: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.


How to...Make Your Wardrobe Cruelty-Free

I made the transition to cruelty-free fashion a little over a year ago. With that, I mean that I stopped buying wool and silk items. I hadn't bought any leather in a long time and fur has never been a part of my life. At the time, I was living in Milan and working in fashion, which made it both easier and harder to make the transition to cruelty-free. Harder because so many people seemed to think the only option in the world available for stylish footwear is leather. Easier because I acquired lots of knowledge about fashion and knew where to find the items to fit both my style and my beliefs.


Girl Crush: Kat Dennings

I love Kat Dennings - I think she's incredibly gorgeous. She has that old-school Hollywood movie star look, but she's also totally approachable and real, like she could be your best friend. And aren't we all girl-crushing on her character, Max, in 2 Broke Girls? I love Max - she's anti-stereotype in every single way you can think of, but at the same time she's refreshingly cool and down-to-earth. Every time I watch that show, I want to hang out with Max and Caroline - heck, I even want to work at their diner and make cupcakes with them!


I Want: Statement Necklaces

Lately, I've been way more of a bracelets-and-rings girl (I refuse to call it an "arm party", sorry), but now with all these big, chunky necklaces hitting more affordable shops than Marni and Mawi, it's hard not to get distracted by those huge, sparkly pieces of amazingness.

I'd love to wear one of these luxe, lavish necklaces paired effortlessly with the cool, charming nonchalance of a faux-leather jacket or a cozy winter coat, a pair of jeans, an oversize jumper and messy hair. Or, on a lazy Saturday, with a denim skirt and faux-leather leggings. And, of course, a big dose of confidence - these babies ain't no wallflowers.

Here's a bit of inspiration featuring the new super necklaces:


Sunday Inspiration - 2 December

This week, I'm inspired by random things: the light of a candle, a wedge heel, a guitar solo (yes, my boyfriend is a huge source of inspiration!), a cup of tea, a sunset, a lipstick shade. As 2012 comes to an end, let's laugh at the "end of the world" prophecies and get inspired by the tiny, beautiful miracles in everyday life.


Happy December!

One of my favourite months is finally here!

I adore December (my other favourite month is June, because that's when my birthday is) for millions of reasons: Christmas lights, vegan hot chocolate, Christmas songs, cozy scarves and snoods, the scent of Christmas trees, family, Christmas shopping, mulled wine, Christmas movies...okay, I admit it: although I'm not at all religious, I love the holidays! I think December has an atmosphere about it that's so unique - I always try to capture every joyful minute of this marvellous month, worried that it'll somehow slip through my fingers and leave room for dreary January and sleepy February way too early.


On Friendship

Today is the birthday of one of the best friends I've ever had.

The friendship was born back in 2006 when I lived in Florence. I had just broken up with my ex (the most painful, tearful, stuff-my-face-with-chocolate breakup I've ever been through) and my friends all called to check in. Now, my girlfriends are amazing in each and every way, but in that particular period of time, they were quite used to me calling and crying about a breakup every once in a while - let's just say I was pretty unlucky in love before I met David. So, their reaction was the standard "oh honey, I hope you're okay" but after the forty-fifth minute of me sobbing, they remembered they had a life and hung up the phone. That's when this guy showed up.


Coffee and Heels Wardrobe: Chilly Days

The temperatures are dropping and London's getting ready for winter.
So is my wardrobe! I'm happy to be bundling up in my huge, warm snoods and my black Zara military-style coat, which I love.

This ring is a gift from my sister - she has an amazing sense of style and every time I wear it I think of her.


Five Reasons to Volunteer at PETA

Yesterday David and I started volunteering again!
One of the (few) things we've been miss about Milan is being able to volunteer at the shelter. That feeling of doing something good for the animals is irreplaceable...and we miss our doggies and kitties!
 Yesterday an opportunity to volunteer at PETA's London offices fell into my lap (or into my Twitter...I saw a tweet about Volunteer Night and contacted PETA about it) so naturally I dragged David there with me!


How To...Be a Freelance Writer

Since I started Coffee and Heels and since I started working as a freelance writer, I have received emails and comments asking me about my job and how to become a writer. First of all, I'd like to point out that I am in no way one of the glamorous, Carrie Bradshaw-esque writers who wear vintage dresses, live in gorgeously decorated little apartments and spend their time eating luxurious dinners in wonderful, trendy restaurants with their fabulous writer, designer and celebrity friends.

I'd absolutely love to become one of these people, but the reality is that I live in a flatshare, wear H&M and spend most of my days frantically trying to meet deadlines while sipping a soy latte at my local Costa Coffee. Nonetheless, keeping in mind that it's incredibly difficult to just manage survival with writing jobs only, without having to put in a few hours a week waiting tables or selling t-shirts, I think I'm doing okay at this whole writing thing.


Remixed: Hanneli Mustaparta

Model-turned-photographer-turned-blogger Hanneli is one of my biggest style inspirations. I adore her classic, feminine outfits that always have an interesting twist. Every time I see a photo of her I think, "I want to wear that!" (...then I remember I'm not a gorgeous, rich supermodel, but that's a different story).

 In my opinion, this outfit is one of Hanneli's greatest hits. The contrast between the refined elegance of the bag and the street-chic of the sneakers makes this look unique....and I love the skateboard!


Sunday Inspiration - 25 November

I'm becoming obsessed with these inspiration posts - this week, I started looking for pictures on Wednesday! I love looking at other blogs' inspiration posts. There's something so dreamy and indulgent about them, they're like a huge tray of beautiful red velvet cupcakes (vegan of course!) with yummy chocolate icing.  I think we all need some everyday escapism, so keep those inspiration pics coming!


Where We Live - A Photo Post

I've meant and promised to post photos of our first-ever London roomm ever since we moved here! The only reason why I haven't yet is because, well, it didn't look very presentable: guitars, wires, bags, shoes...and who am I kidding, it still looks like that! But today we'd tidied up a bit, so I thought I'd take advantage of the amazing light and snap a few pics!

this is a portrait of me that David drew when we had just met...and out Ikea pet that lights up in the dark!


Autumn in London Mix Tape

pic from my Instagram

As usual, this is not a "songs that are hot right now" list, neither is it a "what is universally London" playlist. It is simply what I, Sascha, am listening to right now in my autumn-in-my-favourite-city state of mind and living. 

These are the songs that take me through my day. These are the beats in my big, pink headphones as I walk down rainy London streets lined with heaps of beautiful, crisp yellow and orange autumn leaves. 

These are the tunes that lend me that spark of inspiration as I tap away on my computer, whether it's in my bedroom, at Starbucks in Tottenham Court Road or in my local Costa Coffee. 

This is music for walking, for running, for laughing and sometimes for crying. This is music for autumn sunsets and November rain.


Magnifi-Scent: Vanilla Body Mist from The Body Shop

When I was a little girl, I loved rummaging around in my mother's makeup (very unappreciated by her, but nonetheless irresistibly fun for me): opening all the pots, digging my little baby fingers deep into creamy blushes and smearing red lipstick all over my lips...I was a beauty junkie from age three and up! 

But the potion that fascinated me the most was the shiny, enticing bottle of Guerlain perfume. I don't remember the smell of it was much as my excitement in clicking it open and spritzing it all over myself. The mysterious allure of doing something forbidden and way too grown-up was almost too much excitement to bear.


Things I Love: Cookies and Scream in Camden

My fiancé works in Camden Town so I often find myself in the area, whether it's to see him, to shop or/and to find some wonderful vegan food. Case in point: the lovely, lovely dessert stand Cookies and Scream .

Everything in this tiny shop is vegan and gluten-free...and utterly, totally delicious.


Sunday Inspiration - 18 November

I love this picture! I like how it represents happy, unabashed weirdness, whether it's being that not-quite-graceful girl in your ballet class or wearing a sparkly skirt and blue nail polish to the office. I think that every once in a while, everyone should dare to be wonderfully weird - it's oddly liberating. Go on, run in the pouring rain, sing in the shower, be the first girl out on the dancefloor - even if you're far from a great dancer -, have cake for breakfast or wear those ridiculously high, fabulously decadent shoes. Laugh a little too loud and too much. Don't be ashamed of crying at movies. Mismatch your clothes and chip your nail polish. This week, I celebrate quirkiness - my way of life.


Makeup Or No Makeup?

I stumbled across this picture of Emma Stone with no makeup on at Refinery29 a couple of months ago and was stunned by how gorgeous this girl truly is, even when not glammed up. Her face is perfect! But I also thought about makeup, why and how we choose to wear it, and above all, what happens when/if we are seen or photographed without it.

I hate, hate hate - oh how I hate them - those awful magazine pictures of makeup-free celebs with captions saying something catty and petty like "look! She's got pimples! She's got wrinkles! She has facial hair!" I think it's a bit pathetic that women actually need to put other - gorgeous - ladies down to feel better about their own pimples, wrinkles and facial hair. It doesn't make the celebs look more "human" - it makes them look like victims. And those magazine writers? They look like sad, insecure mean-girl bullies.

I used to hate having my picture taken with no makeup. Photos of a bare-faced, over-13 me pretty much only depict me on the beach - that's about the only time I'm not wearing anything except sunblock and moisturiser on my face! But is wearing makeup really a sign of insecurity? I don't think so.


Vegan Pancakes (or Death...) With Jared Leto

I love this man so, so much.

Jared Leto, you are a miracle.


It's Not That I Don't Want to Join The Gym

...no, really.

I can't wait to join a London gym: I love working out. I feel all restless and/or apathetic if I don't get my butt in movement every once in a while. Yoga is my medicine and pilates is my happy pill. But it turns out that as a new Londoner, joining a gym is way harder than the actual workouts.


A Weekend in Pictures

Just a couple of highlights from a weekend of sunshine that was swiftly exchanged for chilly air full of glistening rain drops. A weekend of long walks and good laughs. A weekend of coffee and vegan apple pie, of Queen songs and piles of magazines. A weekend of making moodboards and making pasta. A weekend of love, a weekend of London.


On Veganism and Eating Disorders

I've been reading a whole lot of things about beauty, weight, eating and working out in the past few days and I've had a couple of interesting conversations about it with friends and family, so I felt like sharing a story with you.

I may or may not have mentioned in this blog that I had eating disorders throughout my late teens and early twenties. I consider myself completely healthy now - here's how I got here.


Cruelty-Free Beauty Review: Montaigne Jeunesse Facial Mask

I don't even remember where I picked up these and they cost something like £1,50.

Montaigne Jeunesse is a cruelty-free and vegetarian-approved cosmetics brand that I have never tried before but was curious about. I tried on the mask on Sunday morning (in front of The X Factor!) and I very much liked the scent and the clean feeling as I rinsed it off.

Today my skin still feels fresh and clean, so I'm sticking with Montaigne for a while!

By the way - have I mentioned how much my skin has changed since I've been eating a mainly vegan diet? The dull grey shade that I affectionately referred to as "Milan grey" is gone and replaced by a healthier glow. I suspect eating carrots and lentils has more to do with it than moving to London! 

If you have any tips for cruelty-free beauty brands that I can get in London and that I haven't mentioned here yet, let me know!


Victoria's Secret and Distorted Reality

I'm a big fan of Victoria's Secret! I love their fashion show and I used them in my college thesis on beauty ideals, as they are one of the few brands to use happy, smiling, sexy women on their runways as opposed to the pouting, angry-faced size-00 teenage girls that high-fashion brands send out every Fashion Week.

But then, VS fell in love with Photoshop.


Happy November!

Like I said, I love November.

It's countdown to Christmas, it's cozy and you get to curl up in a café with a cup of tea and read a book (or, in my case, work on an article...). The only thing I dislike about this month is that now is when it really starts getting cold outside!