London Calling: let the Countdown Begin

I love, love, LOVE London. I'm so in love with this city that every time I'm there (last time I visited was in August...I didn't blog about it because it was for a top-secret project that didn't work out in the end) I feel elated even if it's raining, or every darn Starbucks is full, or I don't understand somebody's accent (it happens!).


Brand I Love: L'Erbolario

Today I went into an eco shop at Porta Genova, close to where I live in Milan, just to check out cruelty-free nail polishes. There weren't any (where the heck can you find these?), but I stumbled across one of my absolute favorites when it comes to cruelty-free beauty care: L'Erbolario. This is an Italian brand that specializes in natural, eco-friendly body, hair and face products that carry the Leaping Bunny stamp. This means, of course, that the products are cruelty-free and not tested on animals.

I bought an organic soap with shea butter and lily of the valley, which is so yummy. I love finding new soaps and I think I'm developing a soft spot for this one.

I also got a lip balm that smells of apple and mandarin, which is a weird combination, but it smells delicious and, as far as I can tell, really softens the lips.

These little things, buying lip balms and walking into eco shops, brighten up my day by more than a few notches. I love opening new beauty products, smelling them and trying them on. I adore getting obsessed with new scents and textures and making sweet-smelling, creamy and pretty new discoveries. This brand is one of my favorites because I get the feeling of serenity, nature and zen, like an oasis in the city when I browse through the shelves of the eco stores. If you just got into eco and cruelty-free beauty and are on the lookout for new and exciting brands to try, look no further than L'Erbolario.


Things I Love (and Things I Made): My Moodboard

I'm not a neat freak, but I live with one, which most of the time I'm thankful for. On the flip side, David's cleanliness has sort of made me messier. I don't know if it's a sign of rebellion or just that I've gotten lazier, but I can't be bothered with cleaning a lot of the time. This Sunday, though, as soon as we came back home from lunch at the in-laws', I took a look around the kitchen and said: "that's it. I can't live in this mess anymore."

It wasn't that messy. But I just had something come over me. Maybe I needed to clean out some negativity from my life. I'm not sure what it was, but I grabbed my eco-friendly, cruelty-free all-purpose cleaning fluid and went for it.

And when I was done, I sat down in my newly spick and span kitchen armed with scissors and a stack of magazines and made a moodboard. Because if you can't decorate your living space and leave your stamp all over it, what's the point of bothering to tidy up?


Things I Love Books: Marley and Me

I don't know about you, but I bawled my eyes out watching the movie Marley and Me. I mean, here I was at the cinema on a Saturday night, laughing at a funny comedy starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, whom I both love, plus the world's craziest dog. And then, out of the blue, almost half the movie is spent (SPOILER!!!) squeezing tears out of the movie-goers (and with me they've struck gold) when the dog gets old and has to be put away. I mean, why? We all know dogs die, but come on. I paid for a movie that the papers' weekend editions called "hilarious", not "you'll want to kill yourself, oh and remind me never to get a pet." This is why I've avoided reading John Grogan's bestseller until now.


The All-Star Lifestyle: Me and My Converse

I used to be a high heels girl. The higher, the better, the more difficult to walk in, the less comfortable, the more head-turning the better. I loved my super-heels and I walked miles in them.

When I deigned to step down it was usually a sign of spring. I slipped my tired feet into a pair of ballet flats, a key part of my summer uniform, and let them rest until the first winds of early September. Then it was back to heels again.

 But then something happened. Italy happened.

If I was still living in Sweden, I'd probably be walking around in boots now. If I was still living in LA, I'd never leave my ballet flats behind.

In Milan, though, there's something called the "mid-season", that brief yet glorious slice of time between March and May, between spring and summer, between freezing and scorching. That time of year when knee-high boots turn your feet into puddles of sweat and any open shoe makes you freeze your toes off. The season that was made for Converse.


Cooking in Heels: Veggie Mexican Dinner

Last time I cooked, I told you about my adventures with veganizing the all-American burger-and-fries dinner. Last weekend I travelled a bit more south of the USA and went to Mexico (culinarily speaking). I'd spent half my lunch break browsing vegetarian recipes online and I have to say most of them were ridiculously difficult (especially the "easy" ones). They all either took hours to make or required thirty-seven ingredients, some of them outlandish things like "vegan cheese" that no one this side of the Atlantic has access to. Quick note to US vegans preaching about how mind-bogglingly "simple" it is to go vegan: us Euros don't have a tenth of the the delicious veggie goodies that your enormous supermarkets host, so please give us a break.

There's a NaturaSì supermarket (NaturaSì is an Italian food chain specializing in all things vegetarian, organic and generally fabulous) in front of my gym that I sometimes glance at and really want to go into. One time, I actually ventured inside, only to nearly have a heart attack after a quick look at the price tags. 4,49 euro for three - three - tofu sausages? 3 euro for tea? Wow. As much as I'd love to be Gwyneth Paltrow and only eat super-organic, local and "clean" foods, my wallet politely disagrees.

This Friday, though, I went to NaturaSì with a plan: I was looking for "something to fill tortillas with". A clear, precise, nothing-can-shake-me plan. This led me to a new discovery that will from now on never leave my fridge: smoked tofu. I mean, how delicious is this stuff? You can make sandwiches with it, toss it in salads, veggie plates, anything. Thank you, NaturaSì.


I am Not a Photographer: Fragments of a Saturday

There are things that I know I'm good at, like writing, matching shoes to dresses and listening to friends rant about their jobs and boyfriends. Then there are some things that I'm hopeless at and I know I'll never get good no matter how hard I may try, like math, sewing, and any sport with a ball.

And then there are things that I'm not very good at, but that I'm willing to learn more about. Like cooking, playing the guitar and taking pictures.

Since my iPhone came into my life, I've discovered, among other things (like my love for culinary apps and an unhealthy obsession with The Outnet's styling app) a curious fact: I love taking pictures.

Capturing moments on film (and then play them up with Phonto or VintageCam before putting them on Instagram and watching the Likes drop in) really inspires me because of how it lets you create your own little memory of a particular moment. Even small things like a sunset can become epic in a truly special picture.

Here are some bits and pieces of my Saturday:


Things I Love: Versatile Blogger Award & New Blog Crushes

Recently I've been awarded a Versatile Blogger award by Linda at Letters To Daria (thanks Linda!). You should definitely visit Linda's blog - it's well-written and original. And I love the fact that all her posts are letters to the MTV cartoon character, Daria.

This award means I have to tell you seven things about myself.

I know you're thinking: deja-vu. And you're right, well, I tend to win awards often (just kidding). But as you know, I love to talk about myself, so here are 7 things:

1. I woke up ridiculously happy this morning. Then I remembered it's because I dreamed that I lived in New York.

2. I'd love to start meditating, but I have no freaking clue how to do it. Sitting there staring at the wall trying to "clear my mind" just makes me giggly.

3. My favorite Audrey Hepburn movie is Roman Holiday because I love Rome.

4. I want a puppy way more than I want a baby.
5. I desperately, hopelessly, trulymadlydeeply want to move back to California.

6. I'm thinking of abandoning my wedding plans and get married in Vegas or on a beach somewhere.

7. What not to cook if you invite me over for dinner? Mashed potatoes. I can't stand potatoes. I'll only eat them in the form of French fries.

Every once in a while, I renew my Bloglovin' list adding some new favorites. I love discovering new blogs because blogging is all about connecting and I love getting to know someone through their own words and pictures.The bloggers I'd love to share this award with (I hope you check all of them out because they're awesome):

This girl is so inspiring. She's an amazing writer. She's got beautiful style. And she's a cancer survivor.


Me and My Dessert: a Twisted Love Affair

Oh sugar, how I love thee.

While looking through my Instagram pictures, I found many of them were of sweets: cakes, chocolate, French toast, breakfasts...I'm a total sugar-aholic (no surprises there).
I've always been very fond of sweets. Since I was a kid, I've preferred sugary treats to salty ones, and it doesn't matter how full I am, there's always room for dessert.

While I've got virtually no other vices (I keep it to a one-drink maximum, am almost-vegan, have never smoked or done drugs, have cut down on my caffeine, and don't even shop a lot), I can't ever say no to a mouth-watering double-chocolate cake from California Bakery or a pistacchio-cream croissant for breakfast. Desserts are just too luxurious to pass up...and they make for awesome photo material:


GlossyBox - Cruelty-Free Beauty from Idea Toscana & Neve Cosmetics

I love the entire concept of the GlossyBox: what's more luxurious than receiving a pink little package full of beauty goodies? I can't wait for it to hit my mailbox every month.

I'm also so happy to see that the Italian GlossyBox is experimenting with cruelty-free labels. This month, I was thrilled to find three animal-friendly products in my box.

The black kohl pen is from Neve Cosmetics, an Italian all-vegan, eco-friendly brand that has lots of mineral foundations, blushes, eye shadows and kohl pencils in pretty shades. I love this pencil because it provides that seductive 50s-movie-star appeal - that lasts an entire cocktail party.

Among the surprises of the February box there was also the brand Idea Toscana with shampoo, body lotion and soap from the Prima Spremitura line. All-eco, paraben-free, and no animal testing. Some people say the scent is a bit strong, but I love it. I've brought the body lotion to the gym twice this week and it feels super-luxe to use it after showering, my skin feels soft and reinvigorated. Or is it just the post-Pilates glow?

All in all, I have to disagree with those who complain about the GlossyBox. If they keep the cruelty-free products coming, they've got one happy customer right here.


Spring Shopping

Ah, spring wardrobe, where art thou?

Spring is coming and spring means new and fresh.

Lately I've been dreaming about someone (like those fashion experts on TV) breaking into my closet with a bin bag, a credit card and a mission: to get rid of all the stuff I don't like anymore (my personal theory is that you can "grow out" of clothes mentally, not just physically) and set me free, free like a bird, among the shops of London, Paris, Milan and New York to track down tons of shiny new spring looks.

 Sometimes you just feel like a change and that time has certainly come. Too bad I can barely afford to go shopping at the discount store.

A few recent bargain finds:

Striped sequinned tee and sunglasses, both H&M.

I love this t-shirt! If I'm ever in doubt on what to wear, I just throw on this with a pair of flared jeans. And the sunnies? I was dying for a new pair as most of mine have tragically broken (yes, even the Max Mara pair that cost over 200 euro).

Sneakers, Converse AllStars

I finally got them! My first AllStars since high school! And I love, love, love them. Too bad I have to wait before I wear them because it's pouring down outside.

All products are VEGAN

Pics from my Instagram


Dress-Up Dilemma: 30s Party

I can't say I love dress-up parties.

If I had tons and tons of money to spend on wigs, fake-fur stoles, and other crap I only wear once, then of course I would love costume parties. But unfortunately, I can't afford to go dress-up shopping every time someone decides to throw a theme bash.

That's not to say I don't enjoy dressing up. Last night, one of David's friends had a 30s party. When I first got the invitation, I thought I'd go for a Marlene Dietrich menswear look: white shirt, pinstriped vest, dress jacket and pants. And a hat. Only problem: I don't own any menswear-style pants, and ruining the whole look with my faux-leather leggings wasn't an option. So, out the window goes the menswear idea.

I was left with my super-structured old Zara dress, fake pearls and a pair of satin gloves from a costume store. And I must say, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out:

Photos taken in our kitchen (with my curls still intact) with me gazing wistfully at the recycling bag (which I've conveniently cropped out here). Very classy. Very Marlene.

Update: I also thought I had to show you how awesome David and his friends looked:


Cooking in Heels: Vegan American Dinner

I am so not a good cook.

Before meeting my fiancé, who kicks ass at cooking Italian food, I made pasta the straniero ("foreigner") way, adding the sauce from the jar directly into the plate (in case you didn't know, that is not the right way to do it). Fortunately, six years in Italy have taught me the basics of cooking, most of it taught to me by David. I can now make awesome pasta and I'm a wiz at veggies. My six months living in LA haven't gone to waste either, as I make a mean French Toast now.

But try transforming an American classic into a tasty vegan dish and it's a whole different ball game. I'm not entirely vegan, but I love veganizing my food whenever I can. Lately, David has shown interest in my new diet and the other week he actually asked me to cook him "something of yours". Okay, I said, what do you want to eat? Burgers, he replied without as much as the shadow of a doubt. So, burgers it was. Veggie burgers of course.

At the supermarket, I was faced with a typical Friday night problem: there weren't any hamburger buns left. So I grabbed the hot dog ones, hoping my man would be too hungry to notice. A jar of pickles and a whole lot of sunflower oil later, my masterpiece was complete:

Needless to say, my fiancé appreciated. Matter of fact, he liked it so much that yesterday he asked for the same dinner. It's becoming a Friday classic. See, vegan food doesn't have to be all lentils and tofu (although those are delicious too).


Miracle Product: I Provenzali Almond Oil

 As you know I'm always on a quest for cruelty-free beauty. Lately, I have discovered a product that I really love: almond oil by I Provenzali, one of the few Italian cruelty-free brands that can be found easily at pretty much any supermarket.


This product, which comes with a 100% purity certification and is one of the lucky few bearing the LAV (Italian's Anti-Vivisection coalition) cruelty-free label. It also has a Leaping Bunny label, and is, of course, vegan-friendly.
I decided to try it out because besides being extremely cheap at only 5,60 euro, almond oil is an excellent skin emollient and moisturizer, making dry skin silky and soft. I must say it hasn't disappointed: even my dinosaur feet (sorry, TMI?) have become as soft as a baby's. Ok, maybe not as soft as a baby's. But you get the point. My feet are soft.
I also love the scent! Anything with almonds in it has that delicate fragrance that's sweet without getting overwhelming. I use it after the shower, before bed, just before slipping on my PJs. Very cozy.


Find out more about I Provenzali and their organic beauty products here.