Huge Life Changes!

The day has come - I can finally tell you my "big secret" (those of you that follow me on Twitter have seen me obsessing over not being able to say anything for a while) and I'm actually a bit nervous as I write this.

So, here goes!


My First Month of Pseudo-Veganism

After I went freelance, I also decided to finally try being semi-vegan, after almost 20 years of being pescetarian and vegetarian.

I use the expressions "semi-vegan", "pseudo-vegan", "on the road to veganism" and so on - because I don't feel like calling myself completely vegan yet. If I'm at a friend's dinner party and she's been slaving over a cheesecake for three days, I'm going to have a taste. If I'm in a Chinese restaurant having soy noodles with veggies, I'm not going to ruin my meal by stopping to wonder if there's fish stock or traces of eggs anywhere near my precious vegetarian dinner. I know, I know, that this technically counts as cheating - but for now I prefer to take it one step at a time instead of going die-hard cold turkey.


Sale Shopping and Cruelty-Free Sunscreen

Forgive me father, for I have shopped. Again.

In my defence, most of my shopping is H&M, so my wallet shouldn't suffer too much. And this was actually an anniversary present from David (only the perfect boyfriend sends you shopping as an anniversary present! I guess, after five years, he's finally learned the way to my heart - a H&M gift certificate).

So, here it goes, the results of my latest escapade:

Glittery shorts, €19,90
Blue sparkly top, €7,95 (yes, really)
White top with bird print, €9,95 (I think)
Bracelet, €1

everything from H&M sale


Things I Love Books: I'm With the Band

Confession time: I wish I was a groupie.

Since I've embarked on the adventure of dating a musician, I have envied the women lucky enough to have lived in the golden era of the groupie - the sixties, seventies and a bit of the eighties. I wanted to be one of those joyously free, enviably gorgeous, luminous creatures that by no means lived in the shadow of their adored rock stars - they were stars in their very own right. Like Pamela Des Barres, the author of I'm With the Band - Confessions of a Groupie, one of the very best books I've ever read.


Dream Come True: Lush Launches Cruelty-Free Makeup!

I've always wanted this to happen...and now it finally has!

Lush, one of my absolute favorite cruelty-free beauty brands, has launched color cosmetics under the name of Emotional Brilliance. The colorful lipsticks, eyeliners and cream shadows - all cruelty free and vegan - all have meanings behind their unique shades. For instance, what about a bright red Power lipstick, a silver Success eyeliner or a golden Happiness eye shadow? I can't wait to try the 100% cruelty-free Eyes Right mascara and the berry-colored, dark Confident lip shade.


Happy Birthday Coffee and Heels!

One year ago today, I started Coffee and Heels.

I remember how excited I was. I had bought the domain, thought of a layout, made my boyfriend draw a header logo, written down an editorial calendar and - this was the most difficult thing I had to do, believe it or not - come up with a name (other options were From Sascha With Love, About a Girl and Sascha in Wonderland - and I'm not ashamed to say it). I waited until July 21st because I wanted my blog's birthday to be exactly one month after my own (silly, I know, but it made sense to me), then wrote the first post, made a Facebook page and announced the launch on Twitter. That was it: my new adventure had started.

It amazes me to see how this blog has changed over just a year. It has grown as I have grown and reflects some very important changes in my life over the past year.


Open Letter to SkinnyGossip.com Re: Kate Upton

Dear SkinnyGossip.com (and mysterious Skinny Gurl blogger),

my name is Sascha. I am a writer. I work with women's magazines and websites. You don't know who I am because I've never read your site before the Kate Upton post, and I doubt that I ever will again.

Let me get this straight. You are not pro-ana. You are "pro-skinny", meaning "preferring the skinny look but not at the cost of health". Okay. So far, so...weird, but that's your call. Personally, I wonder what exactly there is to prefer about having visible bones and what part of your "motivational" weight-loss posts (honestly, those just creep me out) that's supposed to be the healthy part. I'd also love to know how a blog focusing on health can contain labels like "fatties", "thunder thighs", and my favorite, "Starving Tips of the Day".

I understand that being born thin isn't always easy: just like you, I have to put up with people commenting on how thin I look - people that would never dream of saying the same thing to an overweight woman. And I agree that slim girls have taken tons of criticism lately - magazines claiming that "men prefer curvy" and fashion models born with thin bodies facing anorexia accusations.


Kate Upton is a gorgeous lady. With a perfect figure.


Be Here Now: The Andy Whitfield Story

I should thank my fiancé for this post, since he's the one who first turned me onto Spartacus and Andy's story. At first, I refused to watch it: I hate violence and can't stand the sight of any kind of blood, even the fake kind, so a gladiator show was as far from my TV scene as you could go. But then I caught the first episode of season 1 with David, just to check out all the hot men. And I was hooked. It's a beautifully made show. Every actor is amazing, the storyline is strong and unpredictable. Sure, there are violent battles, but I just look away during those (I know, I'm such a girl. But I really can't take it). Oh, and it's full of naked men. Constantly.

For those of you who don't know Andy's story: Andy Whitfield was a Welsh-Australian engineer living in Sydney with his wife, Vashti, and their kids. He got discovered by a modeling scout at age 30 and went on to make the switch into acting with the title role in Spartacus: Blood and Sand (watch it and fall in love!) in 2009. Unfortunately, Andy's success story was cut short by non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2010. He initially beat his cancer, but it came back stronger than before, and on September 11, 2011, Andy passed away, leaving behind not only a beautiful family and amazing memory of his incredible acting in Spartacus, but also a truly remarkable story of courage and living in the present.


Things I Love Music: Dixie Maxwell

We live in an era infected with bad music.

These days, if you're not a pert-bottomed teenage girl or someone that pert-bottomed teenage girls can crush on, you can forget about making it as a singer. Those of us who like to fill our days with a soundtrack either listen to old music or settle for whoever got voted off American Idol first (incidentally, those are always the best ones).  Exceptions apply (Lana Del Rey) but it's scary how few they are.
This is one of the reasons why I adore discovering new, awesome music, especially if it's somewhat unknown (when I found Collin McLoughlin, I was ecstatic for a week).

I discovered Dixie Maxwell when we started following each other on Instagram. Then I found her on Twitter today and thought, I want to listen to this girl's songs. And, well, she blew me away.

I'm generally not very into this type of music. Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I'm a rock-grunge chick with a side of soul. But Dixie's voice is just perfect and then there's that authentic feel to her songs that captures me. I had my fiancé listen to her too - as a musician he's really picky: he doesn't like anyone, ever, and has ridiculously high expectations (his standard of a "good singer" is Freddie Mercury...you get the picture). Of course, he loved her as well.

This is Dixie's own song, Love and Leaves, and I adore it:


A (Wannabe) Vegan's Woeful Breakfast Tales

I love breakfast.

I've never understood those scarily skinny girls with perfect hair and expensive bags that say, "oh, I don't eat breakfast. I just don't have the time."
I'd set my alarm an hour earlier, not do my hair or be half an hour late, but I'd never leave the house without a cup of coffee. Unless I'm leaving the house to have coffee.

Which brings me to today's topic: having breakfast outside of the safe haven of my kitchen. A very enjoyable experience here in Milan - if you are a happy omnivore. In this case, you've got myriads of cozy, adorable little breakfast places to choose from. You can take your pick from countless croissant fillings, cappuccino flavors (vanilla nutmeg, anyone?) and frothy coffee drinks. You can spend lazy hours lounging on a comfy couch with a delicious apple pie or brownie. Breakfast is good. Life is good.

My typical pre-vegan weekend breakfast: a croissant and an Italian cappuccino

Unless you are vegan.

Conversation between me and a Milan barman:

Me: do you make soy milk cappuccino?

Barman: what?

Me: or any other non-cow's milk?

Barman: Non cow? Like...without milk?

Me: yes, you know, like soy milk or almond milk. You see, I don't drink cow's milk.

Barman: ah, you're lactose intolerant. No, sorry. 



Sometimes I am so ashamed of the human race that it makes me cry. This is not a happy post, and just writing it brings tears to my eyes. But it has to be written, because everyone has to know.

Lennox, the beautiful seven-year-old pitbull type (not even a real pitbull; just a similar-looking type) was "put to sleep" (I hate that expression and am still debating with myself on whether to use the word murdered, which is what really happened. Killing is still killing, even if the authorities are doing it) yesterday by the Belfast City Council following a court order.

Lennox's crime? Looking like a forbidden race considered "dangerous" (pure 100% bulls**t: dogs aren't dangerous, people are) by ignorant, simple-minded people. He was a bulldog-Labrador cross.


Five Reasons Why We're Lucky To Celebrate Five Years Together

Today is mine and David's five-year anniversary. Our first official date was July 10th, 2007, while working at a Tuscan beach resort. Back then, I thought that just like any of my other working-holiday romances, this would last all of five minutes.

Fast forward two years and I'm standing in my mom's kitchen, telling her about how this guitar-playing blonde Italian just might be the man of my life. Her answer was, "well, if he wants to put up with you for longer than a month, he's a keeper."


Coffee and Heels Summer Mix Tape

Note: this is not "summer songs in general". It's more of a Sascha-specific, "what I'm listening to right now" playlist. And it's not a "summer of 2012" mix tape, either.

So summer is here. The season of mosquitoes, ice coffee, feet sore from sandals and wedges and "where the heck is my bikini". Until now,  I've mostly been spending my summer...working. In coffee houses, libraries, parks, and my couch (where I'm lazily lounging as I write this). But as a Nothern native, I know all too well that this magical season is depressingly fleeting, so between a deadline and a Fitboxe class,  I've found some time to enjoy the scorching hot Milan summer.

I adore the freedom of light, floaty dresses, the dizzying feeling of going out at night without feeling cold and seeing those first subtle tan lines (I love tan lines! They're a true sign of summer). I love the first swim in a pool, but I also love laying in the grass at the park, looking up at a clear blue sky. I love dancing my butt off under the stars, not caring if anyone's watching, and walking home at sunrise with my shoes in my hand. Listening to one of these:

Guns n'Roses "Paradise City"


PETA Heroes Bash the Trollsens (and I'm On PETA's side, Duh)

I read this piece on Fashionista and didn't know if I should laugh at the "Trashley Trollsen" picture (which is the only way I'll be referring to this person from now on) or jump up and yell "Yeah! GO PETA! We will conquer all!" (sorry, I've been watching too many Spartacus reruns lately). I just love the way PETA takes a current event and transforms it into something that's shocking, outrageous, and often hilarious at the same time. All while taking a strong stand against animal cruelty.


Coffee and Heels Closet: What I Bought in Stockholm

...you didn't think I went home to Stockholm and didn't shop, did you?

One of the things I love about my hometown is that the shopping is out of this world. This is the city where you'll find top UK chains such as Oasis and Topshop, quirky US shops like Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, some of the best vintage in the world (Beyond Retro!), designers such as Hope, Filippa K and Altewai.Saome (not that I can afford those), all the non-leather shoes my vegan heart desires at Din Sko and at least two H&M even in the tiniest of suburbs.

Naturally, I like to take advantage of that.

With my new eco ways and broke-writer salary, I've been shopping much less. Much of my hard-earned money still goes into the pockets of my fellow Swedes at H&M. I know fast fashion's not the greenest way to go, and I promise I'll get better as soon as the cash flow becomes more of a flow than a tiny trickle. But everything I buy is vegan. Here are the results of my Stockholm shopping spree:

Bird-print dress, H&M (for only €14,95!!)
Nirvana t-shirt, H&M
Striped underwear, H&M
Black bag, Swedish chain Åhléns
Earrings, Snö of Sweden at Åhléns


Things I (sort of) Love Books: Green is the New Black

I just finished Green is the New Black: How to Save the World with Style by fashion journalist and Telegraph's style director Tamsin Blanchard. I bought a used copy from Amazon and couldn't wait to read it: it seemed like a stylish, conscious, compassionate guide to eco-chic living. And in part, it was.

This book offers tips on how to make your everyday style choices greener - and explains why it is important for all of us to work towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle, including our wardrobes. Tamsin covers topics such as jewelry, shoes and bags, sustainable style, and environmentally friendly vacations. At the end of the book you can find the Little Green Book, a really helpful directory of addresses, phone numbers and websites to some of the most interesting green companies. Famous faces such as Stella McCartney, Laura Bailey, and Anya Hindmarch have also lended their voices to this book, explaining their views on eco style. The foreword by Lily Cole is great and the artwork is beautiful (I can't find who it's by!).

...and this is what I love about it.