Sometimes I make enough cupcakes, enough that I have to drive to work. With a staff potluck and a bake sale that I organized, this was the case this past week. Both events called for a special load of cupcakes. I opted for the nostalgic s’mores combination…

Graham cupcakes, aquafaba marshmallow fluff centers with a rich chocolate ganache topped with a vanilla buttercream then garnished with a graham cookie and torched marshmallow.
Biscoff are perfect substitutions for honey-free graham crackers, which are a little difficult to find.

The gorgeous finished product.

These babies went quickly at the bake sale. In total, me and my gang of 5th graders raised $414.50 for The Elephant Sanctuary in a little less than an hour and a half. (See more on the sale here.)

Then, with more marshmallows burning a hole in my pocket, s’mores pancakes for dinner.

Packed with mini-marshmallows from Dandies.

Ok, time for a marshmallow hiatus…

I recently had to write the yearbook letter for my graduating 5th grade class. Though I love to write, in general–mostly because I’m not that great at speaking but always have a lot to say–the prospect of translating the internal world… to words… with a deadline is very daunting. I work with one singular inspiration at a time, turning it into an accurate communicative sentiment. Then I have to walk away until I feel something enough to dispense another chunk. This takes a while. So I decided to write my students a poem. It was a surprisingly successful solution! And now I plan to do that more often… whenever I am lost for writing moxie, which I often am. Poetry will save me. Because it doesn’t have to make sense. So–here I go.

What holds you in a place doesn’t fit in your hand in utility, or steady your footing

It may be there briefly in passing but lingering in the periphery–the composition in endless slideshows

casting a white glow to the edges of various structures, smoothing them in the instance you might want to touch them.

But you don’t.

They seem to be for you, the shades you would hope to see melding peacefully, in defined buoyant puffs–chiaroscuro.

Under which–all, but hidden. Like wild animals watching the lesser wild pass amidst their unhoned, complicated instincts

New rules. For inaction. New ways. To do nothing.

You’re oxidizing on the shore of Industry City prior to a development boom.

You stare while it’s there, convinced that you can and will hold it all sharply and alive, still, after you walk away.

Like falling in love with the rush air in your lung sacs, because it was near or within the vicinity of this place.

Carrying pieces off like a dignified, well-intended looter. You have your reasons. Though unreasonable they are.

In the distance, from here, it looks as you would want it, each angle to your specs.

Like how you imagined

after you saw it.

Enhanced in recollection. All its caprices, rationalized, cited, checked and utilized for your needs. Tools we are, all.

For each other’s purposes. The loves we need.

It is almost shocking to learn the width of its wing span, the line of symmetry I may touch to trace

glanced upon transiently; feigning neutrality and civility, blinked away in sharp flutters like quavering speech

Rigged pipework by an unskilled apprentice who doesn’t close his mouth enough to ever learn.

They suspend in Earthen elements though covered in unearthen plastics,

coated in an inferior insulation, insultingly easy I penetrate.

But a pleasure

to surrender

to that which you cannot control.

Chemical equations, lunar cycles, mayflowering, the deep tucking away of winter

Excuses or explanations.

It’s out of our hands.

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Veggie dogs are more a vehicle for fixin’s. Even more so now as Citi Field now seem to have a new dog that is very, er, tasteless. Not exactly sure of what changed from previous years? Perhaps it is no longer from Yves Veggie Cuisine or maybe they changed their recipe? Either way, it’s not a really big deal. I just happy to be able to eat a vegan dog at my team’s ball park. Here is my dog along left field.

It was Syndagaard hair hat night, which meant, amusingly, there were a ton of men with long blonde, albeit plastic, locks flowing freely in the pre-rain breeze. Then later, lots of cheap, plastic blonde stray hairs floating around the field twinkling in the stadium lights. And speaking of flowing locks, Gsellman was pitching. Perhaps another hair hat day for him? With a beard connected to it? He’ll need some more K’s first.   

Then the storm clouds came over and began to soak us. After a rain delay, Mets would win the rather sloppy game. 

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Jajaja is a new all-vegan eatery in Chinatown. Housed in an old bakery, with some great original features still intact, it’s beautiful, bright and airy. And it’s got a plant-based menu that fresh, healthful and flavorful. . no packaged products. Perfect for a finally seasonable Spring Day in New York City. 

First, libations. I got some matcha and coconut concoction–delicious with a heavy pour.  I would have more detail if they had their menus easily (electronically) accessible. I don’t like when restaurants use the dreaded book of faces or yelp to share basic information–and their website simply links elsewhere… or nowhere. 

Our appetizer, their specialty: Chile Relleno–a poblano stuffed with quinoa pilaf and dukkah, served room-temperature with a generous pour of nogada and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. It was delicious but could be a bit heartier and a bit richer. Perhaps a ground walnut “meat” mixed within pilaf? 

It was Tuesday, so I had a taco. I got the Chayote “Fish” tacos. The chayote was a perfect, battery crisp plant-based substitution. So delightful. A great taco, but with room for improvement–some cilantro, something other than a bed of raw cabbage, and a less tame salsa would have sent this taco over the moon.

Close-up on that Chayote. It looks like fish!

We wanted to walk so we did, deciding to hit the all-vegan deli and convenience store Orchard Grocer to split an after dinner sandwich. An after dinner sandwich? Gluttony. I also looked at the carrot lox that rages up the Instagram. 

I love vegan breakfast sandwiches. The Bowery: turmeric tofu, tempeh bacon, and Chao cheese on a potato roll.

A good sammy from a new vegan option on the Lower East Side.

Ok, I don’t make a big deal out of fast food… but White Castle now has two, yes two, vegan slider options. Vegan buns, separate grill–no worries. So I visited the White Castle in Lynbrook for lunch.   

Stepping into a White Castle is sociologically interesting. It is like stepping into a time warp. People you thought were long extinct, Ghost World style, are ordering their sacks of sliders. The new patty is a black bean patty. It was… a White Castle burger. But how cool that they are adding vegan options. 

Word on the street is that Wendy’s is also trying out a black bean patty in certain locations. The world is getting vegan-er everyday!

Though I don’t like pink on men because I am a confused jumble of progressive principles and old fashioned ideals that leave me mostly mourning the disappearance of real men, Lou Barlow can wear pink if he wants to. He can also describe his feelings vividly in song, sure. If he must…  [Sebadoh at the Bell House, Brooklyn]

Sunny with a chance of Cherry Blossom rain showers. Such gorgeous trees leave quite the pink mess. The onset of Spring and its flowering trees reminds me of Marilyn Monroe on the bike, a picture that I decided was pretty as a young girl. Though it may seem trivial as an adult, a little girl deciding what she thinks is pretty was very important, lest you be easily convinced by the ideas of ill-intended marketing campaigns.

The days are getting started earlier… and staying much longer. So now I get to watch the pink light show before my morning train. Summer is coming down fast, like helter skelter.

More requisite pictures of the backyard bulbs I planted, I’m realizing, rather haphazardly. These Lilac Wonder Tulips are kind of pink lemonade-ish. All the wind and cold weather have crumpled their delicate petals, but their bright yellow faces are intact.

I love these dirtbag pink tulips. They’re all rough around the edges. They’re called Huis Ten Bosch tulips, named after a residence of the Dutch Royal family. Are you also checking out the weeds surrounding all my flowers? After how slowly Spring started I am just giddy with any green growth. 

Though they’re slightly college band sing-along cheesepuff, I like The Lumineers’ songs about the ladies they love.  They’re is something nostalgic about the kind of women they describe, something “retro” about the emotional recklessness they seem content to enter into. An abandon that has been tucked down under a slew of modern day distractions. I am saying this because I am listening to Ophelia as I type this not really knowing what to say about yet another tulip picture I have decided to post. Except that this is a ketchup and mustard tulip.

And my new car, complete a vintage dashboard gal.  

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With spring definitively here, the bulbs I planted last September are starting to poke out their heads in the backyard… like these late daffodils with the complicated faces. 

Trees are finally blooming. And so I stored my winter coats and sweaters away. 

I’ve gushed about tulips plenty, but how about the beauty of the tulips’ leaves–like pale green cozy cotton sheets that can tuck you in.

These are the Anemone Blanda Blue Shades blooming a bit earlier than expected.

More tulip porn.

As I basked in the backyard sun, so did this opossum, hanging about a neighbor’s “meth lab chic” shed. 

Just what he heck was this nocturnal animal doing up and at ’em? Not sure.

I finally went to Govinda’s for their lunch buffet after a Brooklyn errand. A great value and must-do for any vegetarian in the NYC area. But I probably should have must-done it two decades ago.

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Are you really productive on Sunday? I am. There is something about the last day (of the weekend, in this example) that pushes me to action. Of course this ‘Sunday urgency’ exists today, Friday, as it is my last day here in Paris, France. With a full day at my disposal, I hoped to fill this time with as much as possible. Mainly, beautiful things to look at. One of my favorite past times.

I started at Père Lachaise Cemetery. Now, I never had a goth phase, thank goodness, but I have always enjoyed old cemeteries a great deal. So this was a must on my site-seeing list. Rows and rows of mausoleums, patina, the attempt to accurately capture grief and display it in memoriam, these old ways of honoring the departed are far more cathartic than a simple chisel of a dove or the like on new fangled headstone. There were many versions of mourning women, like below, in Père Lachaise Cemetery. I was hunting them down through the winding streets of tombs. But since this was only stop one, I had to be mindful of… time. Cruel time. I supposed I didn’t want to spend the last day of my trip contemplating my mortality, even if my soul was in good company.

Like a very early crush of mine, Jim Morrison. I became kind of infatuated with Jim Morrison when I was like 12 or so. While other tweens were digging on Kirk Cameron or Jonathan Taylor Thomas, I loved the dead lead singer of The Doors. What that says about me, I don’t know. I can make some guesses, but I’d rather not deconstruct prepubescent rationale and the indelible mark it leaves on years that follow.  

Rest in Peace, Lizard King. Yes, I said Lizard King. And I can still recite the entirety of The Soft Parade in all its weird, drug-induced randomness. 

Houses for grief.

Men with beautiful women crying on their graves. 

This day was all about breathtaking stone work. From the mausoleums to below, the Arc de Triomphe. Commissioned by Napoleon after he had a military victory, this got me thinking. Is there anybody still creating these grandiose, perhaps ostentatious, displays of pride, patriotism, love, grief, zealousness, etc? Is there stone left for such endeavors or will they be constructed with plastics that leach endocrine disruptors that are Made in China? 

All snarkiness aside, this was a spectacular site. 

For scale. 

Paris is inundated with tourists right now. It was so difficult to go to The Louvre and not get some whackadoo with a selfie stick in your picture. And with a two hour wait just to get in the museum, I can only imagine what the situation would be near Mona Lisa. That’s if you can even get near her. Another time.

There are beautiful buildings everywhere. Kind of overwhelming.

Like here at the Le Palais Royal. Such a deep and rooted history these Old World cities have.

A quick stop for lunch at the all-vegan Cloud Cakes. This place was an absolute godsend. It’s by all the wonderful sights and it is top-notch vegan eats. 

First, a Buddha Bowl with a mix of cooked and raw veggies that hit every spot you need hit. I usually don’t go for bowls but this was the perfect, restorative lunch on a warm day of walking about. Inside, a mix of greens, sweet potato, broccoli, seasoned chick peas, avocado, quinoa, radishes, and a delicious creamy dressing. 

And a vegan croissant. Perfection.

Real layers. This is the best vegan croissant I ever did have.

And a tiramisu cupcake. I don’t mean to go nuts here, but I feel like this was the best vegan cupcake I’ve ever had at a bakery. I know, I know. Maybe the fact that I had walked 10 miles before this meal without breakfast can be playing into this proclamation. No, it was that good. 

And it truly was a tiramisu cupcake, soaked and everything.

They had other goodies too. 

Security was tight at the next two sites, being that it is Good Friday. First, The Sainte-Chapelle. Breathtaking Gothic architecture, stunning stained glass. I literally had to catch my breath when I walk into the chapel. To see the light streaming in through these panes… 

Good Friday at Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. Great idea. This place was swarmed! There was mass going on and the longest line to receive the Eucharist I ever did see. It stretch out the door and around the block. Somehow I got in through a less popular entrance, not realizing mass was going on. 

More stunning stonework. I am running out of adjectives.

Communion.

What a house of worship.

After my 15 mile on foot, I headed back towards Bastille where my backpack was waiting. But first, a stop at Vegan Folie’s which, after Cloud Cakes, was perfunctory and solely for you, dear blog. But sure, I’ll get a little something.

I got this dome cake. 

It was okay. Nothing to write home about. 

They also had these long sandwiches that seem to be all the rage in Paris. The kind that Jerry Horne brings home to share with brother Benjamin in Twin Peaks.

Ok, last but not least as I am beat and losing the ability to formulate coherent sentences. This is my room service from the Hilton. It’s their own vegan option, listed on their room service menu as “Raw Vegan Salad.”  I was certainly not expecting such a beautiful dish to arrive. The blurry fruit salad was also wonderful.

Here it is, my final meal in Paris.

And because I really loved this big marzipan bar I bought at the airport in Amsterdam, I will put it here too. Two final surprises from two fascinating cities that hosted me this week. Goodbye, Europe!

After the world’s most perfect train ride, I was back in Paris again, finally learning how to take the Metro. I was also back in the room I stayed in days before. With Eiffel Tower views. Can you see it over there across the way from my balcony?

And what do you know, it was dinner time already. Luckily, there was no hustle and bustle involved in finding my next meal. I didn’t have to strap on my backpack. I didn’t have to screenshot each step of walking directions on my phone so as to not drain my battery. I had booked a reservation at the all-vegan Gentle Gourmet, a fancy pants eatery a block from my room. Coincidence? Er, no. I did that on purpose.  

Have you ever been disappointed with a meal that started with an Amuse-bouche? Me neither. This was some sort of gazpacho. White asparagus? Perhaps other light green to white vegetables puréed. 

My dish. Oh heaven help me. Allow me to do a reading from the Lush Green menu description: Seitan lacquered with a cherry juice reduction, fava bean mousseline, glazed mini vegetables, accompanied by a sauce made with wild garlic. Now, read that again but use the voice of the teacher in A Christmas Story when she reads Ralphie’s essay. Now, re-read this part: Seitan lacquered with a cherry juice reduction. Nothing? Ok, maybe it is just me. 

Let’s look at it this way. Rest assured, I was a member of the clean plate club in a matter of minutes. I tried to eat slowly, daintily, like a pouty French girl who didn’t want to eat very much. That lasted 4 seconds. Though I could have used a bit more seasoning on the playfully plated vegetables, this dish was so darn good.  

Of course I had to get dessert. I was in Paris and they have macarons! Vegan macarons in Paris. 

This one was peachy. Not the adjective, but the fruit. The vanilla one, OMG. I will have to stop by tomorrow to buy some for the road. 

After dinner, I wanted to see more of Paris. I walked to Vegan Folie’s, an all-vegan bakery that was… closed. Thanks for the misreporting, Yelp. What was I going to do anyway? Eat cupcakes after my dessert? Yes. Perhaps I will make it back tomorrow? Who knows. 

I saw some interesting Paris-y stuff along the way. Like this building displaying its EKG. 

And these beautiful flowers attacking this other building. But mostly, I was daunted by this tremendous city with its winding rues and constant motion. I feel like if I lived in this city all my life, I’d still not know my way around. 

This view helps showcase the maze. It’s from the top of Montparnasse Tower Panoramic Observation Deck. Because I am a total tourist. And because the sun was going down.

Though the view from the observation deck is 360 degrees, I was crushin’ on Iron Lady again. 

The pink breaks from the clouds was a subdued sunset, but was still quite beautiful. Goodnight, Paris. I will see you in the morning.