While planting bulbs in the backyard, I encountered this lovely ladybug and slug who did not mind a photoshoot.  So I obliged.






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img_5815Yes, American football in London. It’s a thing. The NFL International Series started in 2007 to promote the game and its brand abroad. The American Bowl, preseason exhibitions games, were not doing enough. The International Series are games held in London during the regular season. I’ve known about them only because of confusion as to why football was airing so early sometimes. That and The Electrician is a devoted fan of football and I get to ask him a ton of questions about this fascinating subject.

img_5814The timing was just too perfect to pass up. After purchasing tickets on the global “StubHub” Viagogo, our tickets were delivered to our hotel.

img_5817The New York Giants would play the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium, somewhere in the middle of the quiet London suburb of Richmond. After a pint, we walked through the path to the stadium, usually a rugby grounds, to find about 90,000 American football fans, many from The States. It was easy to tell the difference between the Americans and the English folk. The Americans had on Giants gear; the English folk had on every other team jersey, a veritable rainbow of arbitrary NFL gear.

img_5828As if our time in London was not memorable enough, we discovered upon arrival at our seats that they were pretty much perfect. Two seats at the top of the stairs, no one in front of us, nothing but the concrete wall that made up the stadium entrance to the right of us, and a friendly English chap to the left of us.


picmonkey-collageYadda, yadda, yadda the Giants won and I had freshly made churros (from Los Churros Amigos, check the v-bomb on upper left), as well as several souvenir cups of good ol’ American Budweiser. It was a fantastic experience.

img_1358After the game and a long ride back to Central London, we took a taxi to Brixton. I was determined to try a version of vegan fish and chips while in London. Though my attempt to get the dish was thwarted at Dovetail and Dove Pub was closed and Coach & Horses was rumored to no longer have the dish (or any dish? I can’t remember), we headed to Vegbar. It’s an all-vegan eatery who’d reliably have my fish and chips. I even called to make sure.

dsc_0002Though “tofish” and chips implies the use of tofu, my preference to a processed science meat patty, I was a bit let down that this tofish was not tofu at all. It was that weird science meat, wrapped on one side with seaweed then beer-battered and deep-fried. Because anything beer-battered and deep-fried is delicious, this was, especially with a big gob of vegan tartar sauce. An inkling of disappointment lingered. But the “Hey, I’m eating vegan fish and chips in London!” was much more powerful.


London is tremendous. I look forward to returning to see more. But now, it’s back to reality.

It was a beautiful day in London. I had to step onto our balcony to see the bright blue.img_5740

We let her tell us which way to look.img_5752

A pretty litter…img_5755

followed by sushi off a conveyer belt. (YO! Sushi)img_5801

And the always-appreciated vegan options.picmonkey-collage

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After two days of walking about London, we bought an Oyster Card and went to the underground. Our room is just a couple of minutes from Baker Street station, of Baker Street (the song) fame, which plays eerily from some unknown source. The London Underground is a great system of transit that is very easy to navigate.  picmonkey-collage2

First stop of our day, my birthday, was Dovetail, a well-loved bar in Clerkenwell. What I love the most about London is how old it is, how many more centuries (compared to the USA) it has held people and events, and the idelible mark left by them. I can feel it. Anyways, I selected Dovetail as my first birthday stop because they boast vegan offerings, including a vegan fish and chips (tofu, not freaky frozen science meat). This dish is one of my biggest London goals. img_5685

As we were in a proper English pub, we partook in a paddle of beer. img_5679

Sadly, no tofu & chips today. It was a bit frustrating, however this big bowl of quinoa chili really was a great start to the day. Protein-packed, comforting and flavorful.

Next up, a proper birthday cupcake from the famed Ms. Cupcake. The bakery is in Brixton, a bustling international locale. The bakery was London’s first entirely vegan bakery, as you can read on the shop’s storefront. img_5687

Ms. Cupcakes are yuge… and come in many amazing flavors. picmonkey-collage

I chose the black bottom, the red velvet, and the strawberry & cream (by recommendation).img_5691

And I ate one outside the shop, in the alley way of the Brixton food stalls, smell-ignoring the wafting stench of the fish monger’s daily selection.img_5702

Because it is my day, we headed to King’s Cross to tale a look at Vx, London’s first all-vegan store. img_5708


I got some goodies–strawberry and vanilla marshies and cold cuts for the sandwich I thought I could make for the New York football Giants game we will be attending in a couple of days. And stickers!picmonkey-collage3 After some R&R, we headed through Dorset Park to get to Primrose Hill which is the home of Manna, a 50-year old vegetarian restaurant. After viewing the menu stateside, I made my birthday dinner reservation, convinced I had found the best vegan restaurant to try in all of London. I think I hit the nail on the head!  dsc_0005

We started with the Mann Mezze, 3 appetizers to share: the arancini–breaded risotto croquettes stuffed with coconut oil pepper cheese, the courgette & corn fritters–served cashew sour cream, and the raw tacos–crisp lettuce leaf taco shells filled with sunflower seed chorizo, guacamole, carrot salsa & cashew sour cream. Each executed perfectly and so satisfying.img_5720

My main: bangers and mash–organic fennel and pumpkin seed sausages on a bed of parsnip & carrot mash served with cavalo nero (kale) on a red wine, leek & thyme jus… topped with three crispy onion rings. A beautiful and delicious dish that I just finished finally, as I typed this, lessening the take-away army in the fridge.dsc_0008

It was a delicious day, London!

We are in London for many reasons. One of them is as tourists, another, for me, is as a vegan travel blogger. These two purposes would make up day one of our stay. Though jet-lagged and robbed of hours to sleep by the time difference, we joined the masses on London’s busiest streets, finding familiar New York parallels.

Firstly, a reservation for vegan afternoon tea at La Suite West across from the Central Park-like Hyde Park. It was a tremendous feast, unrivaled by any match I’ve experienced. High Tea is a English thing, though it has been replicated in The States (Chicago’s posh Penisula Hotel‘s vegan High Tea has made it to my to-do list several times though I’m not sure they still do it.) I was pleased to learn that there were many places in England that offer elaborate food spreads of the all-vegan kind. In fact, Peta has a slightly out-dated post about 13 options. But even though the exchange rate is the best it’s been in decades, more than one afternoon tea sitting would be a pretty penny. I reserved La Suite West because of price and the fact that you did not have to first make a phone call to inquire and obtain a vegan menu; you could simply reserve your table for all-vegan afternoon tea.


The experience starts with finger sandwiches on soft breads. They were able to be gobbled up so easily. My favorite was the Scrambled Tofu ǀ Mustard Cress, so thankfully The Electrician gave me his. We both shied away from the Portobello Mushroom Pate ǀ Cashew Nut Butter. It was so mushroom-earthy, which I like when it is balanced with other flavors. This was all mushroom. The Lemon & Thyme Tahini ǀ Cucumber was pleasant. It had that pleasing crunch and look of the cucumber. My other favorite was the Roast Tomato ǀ Sunflower Seed Pesto–very flavorful few bites. I gave away my Avocado Chilli Mousse ǀ Rocket (which I learned meant arugula) because I knew much more food was coming.  img_5624

Next course was the warm house-made scones with coconut whip and the most delicious strawberries. They were subtly flavored and were not too dense. We took several of these back to the room as take-away. It’s just a lot of food. dsc_0008

Next and last, dessert. Can you believe how much food this is? Today’s chef selection of goodies were carrot cake balls, little lemon cakes piled high with beautiful icing and garnish, and brownie parfaits that were so decadent. I was so stuffed! We dug in a little and took the rest take-away. img_5630

We walked ten miles through the bustling streets of London on no sleep. We saw some pretty sites, fogged by the strong odor of cologne and cigarettes, before finally getting some sleep.  Here are some pictures:

Regent street is the world’s first shopping street. It even has its own website. I just like the buildings.dsc_0023

The iconic 4-facing clock “Big Ben,” part of the Palace of Westminster, is breath-taking and well-worth the tourist mob.dsc_0038



London Eye on the Thames riverimg_5655

And, to conclude these tourist offerings, a red phone booth.img_5662

2049000The Tennessee Border Show

12-2 p.m. on WKCR 89.9 fm, right after the Moonshine Show, is my favorite radio show.

Named after Hank Williams’ darling song of the same name, the show “focuses on the masters of country music from the latter-half of the twentieth century… Over the years, the show has established itself as a source for information about ‘real’ country music, where elsewhere, commercial country has had the effect of erasing the real music from the record.”

As a gal who has been about this country, driving for hours with no music but local “country” stations, I can attest to the current genre bearing no resemblance to the old masters. The Tennessee Border Show captures something that is long gone–a universal heartache from when all had bigger, deeper hearts.


Though I love the Northeast, love the deciduous trees; I love to see the snow-capped mountains of the West emerge from the plane window. Like Oregon’s welcoming committee: Mount St. Helens on the left and Mount Hood on the right. Not pictured but also pushing the East out of my mind, California’s Mount Shasta whose ghost-like looming presence on the I-5 crossing north into Oregon remains vivid in my memory. Ok, Oregon, what’s next?

Having been to Portland many times, I wanted to try some vegan option I may have looked over on other visits. As a truly and tremendously vegan friendly city, vegan options are living everywhere. Like the brunch I had at Pambiche. I had the Picadillo Comunista (Socialist Soy Hash), which, according to the menu, became a typical part of the contemporary Cuban diet due to meat shortages and food rationing. Owner Tía Miriam’s recipe is made with Bob’s Red Mill High Protein T.V.P., Iberian herbs and vegetables sautéed in an olive oil and sherry wine sofrito; served with fresh avocado, brown rice and super-ripe plantains.picmonkey-collage

Head to the South Waterfront to go by Tram! Take the Portland Aerial Tram for a roundtrip ride… because it’s a neat view–and only takes a few minutes. Plus, there’s the small strip of food carts next door, The Gantry Food Pod at Zidell Yards. There you can try one of three vegan waffle sandwiches at Smaaken Waffles, each made with coconut maple butter.dsc_0048

On a clear day… wait–this is the Pacific Northwest.dsc_0022



Take a quick drive to Salem to see the old Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health (formerly known as Oregon State Insane Asylum), which is now a museum. The hospital was the location of the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Like many asylums and old methodologies in treatments of mental illness, its history is rich and disturbing. Eventually, the building, long neglected and deemed unsafe, would eventually be reconstructed with a new mission–to tell the story of those who lived and worked there.picmonkey-collage2

Among the site’s highlights is the memorial display of thousands of unclaimed cremated remains. After running out of space, all remains in the hospital’s cemetery were exhumed in 1913. The exhumed unclaimed remains of patients were cremated… as were all unclaimed patients who passed away there from 1913 through 1971. These remains sat for decades at the hospital. And hundreds more were lost completely. dsc_0071

Recently, Oregon made a call to artists near and far to create a memorial that would serve as both a final resting place for some while still allowing families to seek and claim family members’ remains. This is the result.dsc_0052


What’s better than brunch? Real, live breakfast! On my last morning in Portland I stopped at Harlow… for several reasons. For one, it’s open early. Two, they can sub any egg dish with either smoky tempeh or seasoned jackfruit. (My Outlaw scramble with jackfruit had chipotle black bean chili, dark greens, spinach, guacamole, pepitas, scallions, cilantro & jalapeño cashew cheese, and was served with quinoa.) Three, they’ve got fresh pressed juice. (I got the Howler–pineapple ginger cucumber parsley kale spinach). Four, you order at the counter and then pick the best seat, eat and then go. Fresh, delicious.dsc_0164

For a savory sandwich, you can feast on one of the cheese-stuffed concoctions at Vtopian Artisan Cheese Shop, right next store to Homegrown Smoker‘s deli. Or, lose the packaged cheese additions of Homegrown and add some Vtopian love! Next time I’ll do that. I grabbed myself a Tempeh Reuben from Vtopian, which was hearty and lovingly salty. A sweeter Thousand Islands dressing would have revved it up a bit more.  picmonkey-collage4picmonkey-collage5

Did someone say sweet? Eb & Bean has got vegan Magic Shell toppings for their vegan soft serve. I repeat, Eb & Bean has got vegan Magic Shell toppings for their vegan soft serve. Not just chocolate either. Mine is the “newtella.” They also have peanut butter Magic Shell. And they have coconut milk caramel. And they have great soft serve. I got the cashew-based chocolate peanut butter cup… with the newtella Magic Shell and Sift cookie dough. Can I say Magic Shell again? Magic Shell.picmonkey-collage3

Still have not satisfied your sweet treat craving? Head to Xurros + Xocolata for their fresh churros. You can get their standard cinnamon-sugary wonderfulness right out of the fryer–or their chocolate-covered, which is vegan. Their sauce “specials” usually include a vegan option. This time, a coconut cream dipping sauce.  Bring a Ouija Board and use the wooden piece they’re served ’em on as a planchette.dsc_0016

That’s all for now. Goodbye, West. Hello, brown expanse dotted with wind turbines.


I spent 12 hours in a sloth habitat in Oregon and learned so much about these fascinating animals. The habitat is part of Zoological Wildlife Conservation Center. They take in sloths who have lost their habitat due to logging or who have been orphaned. Below are my favorite pictures and a some sloth facts. 😍

Sloths are solitary animals. Besides mating, they hang out alone. Their physicality is aligned with their low-key, slow lifestyle–from their low metabolism, low-nutrient diet, their low-muscle mass. So it makes sense that they are also solitary. They can become very ill, and even die, from stress. Sloths needs drama-free livin’.

Sloths cannot digest sugar. Unable to be broken down, sugars can ferment and turn to alcohol inside the sloth’s digestive track. This can lead to alcohol poisoning and possibly death. Ok, my first two facts are related to how sloths can die. Perhaps this is because the Sloth Sleepover guide had the sloths’ safety in mind? They are sensitive buddies.dsc_0082

All of a sloth’s organs are positioned internally to allow for constant and complete inversion–eating, sleeping, mating, giving birth, everything! In the wild, they are susceptible to predators when they come off the tree balcony to go to the bathroom. They may only go potty once a month. dsc_0085

Sloths have very low body fat. And they can’t regulate their body temperature. The habitat was very hot! dsc_0107

I was happy that we needed to whisper in the habitat. They don’t like loud noises. Again, the stress response of a sloth has to be managed carefully. This is why it is not part of the ZWCC’s mission to introduce sloths back into the wild. The stress from the transition may prove to be fatal. dsc_0110

This little lady had a big itch on her belly. dsc_0113

These sloths were obsessed with the cucumber pieces we were feeding them. They enjoyed the crunchy texture.dsc_0126

This was the only male in the bunch. dsc_0149

Best use for an old milk crate.dsc_0157

“Who has got the cucumber?”img_5336

Special animal friendsimg_5334

They reminded me of vampires kind of. Cute vampires, like Kiefer Sutherland. img_5337

I’m cute.img_5335

After a while the sloths began to hook my cucumbered hand in for a swifter delivery. They were moving surprisingly fast!img_5351

Their hook-like nails allow them to hang without using any muscle.

Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt. What an amazing experience.img_5367

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The postcard that inspired the album’s artworkaeroplane

The album’s artworkaeroplane2

The dress I embroidered with gold trim and stars many moons ago, along with other suppliesimg_4767

I was so excited that the shoot was finally happening, I snapped a picture of my leg driving to Jacob Riis Beach, a spot I had scouted a couple of summers ago. Then, waiting for Max, the photographer, on the boardwalk.picmonkey-collage

Trying to lace up my legs inside the gusty winds.dsc_0023

Star Boy, practicingdsc_0005


Rejoice! We did it!

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