America: The Beautiful

America, the beautiful!

America- the beautiful.

America… the beautiful….

We’ve all heard this little jingle before, right? Right, Canada? I know you have.

Americans talk big about our country. We act like we are the Godfather of the Earth and every other nation bows to us and kisses our Floridian pinky finger.

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If that reference confuses you, notice how Florida at the bottom sticks out…. Yeah.

             36% of people in the US have passports, according to the State Department.

That leads me to believe at least 34% of Americans have traveled internationally… at least once. That’s not a huge amount, especially considering that it’s estimated that 76% of UK citizens have a passport, and this seems to be the standard number amongst citizens of other countries.

However, traveling abroad is a commitment. It’s a big step for many people. It can be a financial burden, it puts some people at risk for losing their jobs, and many people just can’t tolerate flying. So, as unfortunate as it is to know that at least 64% of Americans have never been outside the U.S., I would be a tad pretentious to claim or act as though this is shameful.

What I do find more shocking is that the average American has only been to 12 states. While it is true that some of the factors that keep people from flying abroad apply here, as well, I think there’s more to it. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t wanted to travel abroad. As in, not everyone cares about traveling everywhere in the world, but everyone has a dream destination in Europe or Asia or just wants to check out Antarctica. If asked where they want to see in the States, it seems people become less enthusiastic. Why is this?

Are mountains in Malaysia more beautiful than those in Montana? Is the trolley in Turkey more exciting than the one in Tennessee? I think we’ve convinced ourselves that something is more worthwhile if we have to travel 12 hours to see it. The more we can dream and invent a place, the more magical it must be. We romanticize.

I would like to erase this way of thinking! Traveling within the States can be just as

Exciting

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Can’t miss the fireworks in Disney, FL!

Surprising

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A must-have for every library in Boston, MA

and Beautiful

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A sunset in Ann Arbor, MI

as anywhere else you’re considering visiting.

You can find amazing eats in the most unexpected places! Vegan food isn’t always the easiest cuisine to find, but ask around enough, and you’ll usually find something. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to bring some backup food or snacks… just in case.

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Veggie Planet in Boston, Mass. was delicious!

I prefer the simpleton’s way of travel- through Couchsurfing, Megabus, and camping. It’s usually cheaper than hotels and airplanes. Unless, of course, you’re like me and disaster and chaos always find you. In which case, it can become pricey (i.e. phone smashing, bad housing, etc….) Never underestimate cost! Better to be prepared for an emergency or a personal freakout than not.

Money aside, you get to feel the culture and life when you stay with a resident and live like a local. Maybe you’ll have the luck I had in Chicago and find a host who KNOWS how to have a good time!

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A drink made for my by my host in Chicago, IL

There’s also camping! Although I’m by no means an expert at camping, this was a great option while doing a road trip through upstate, New York. Maybe do a test run with your tent if you’ve never used one before. They’re not difficult, but can be confusing.

Note in my photo below the tiny fire. Thanks to my travel buddy, we didn’t have to suffer in the cold. We had an inch of fire to heat us and light the way. If not for that darn rain….

Tip: Sweaters and rainy day amusement. Both, very important. 

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Those ‘scout’ skills came in handy in Upstate, NY

Be sure to bring your curiosity and enthusiasm for new things! Completely unexpectedly, on another trip with the same buddy, we came across a great music venue. We decided to go in and check out the music scene in Atlanta. That’s when we heard Yacht Rock Revue for the first time. Super fun show! We made this into a habit; discovering a Led Zeppelin tribute band, a heavy metal show, and several punk rock venues. Complete with dirt, disease, and lots of booze!

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Discovered Yacht Rock Revue in Atlanta, GA

You never know what you’ll come across….

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Dinosaur attack at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, AK

What I discovered was that many people are more kind, generous, and patient than I ever expected strangers to be. There were certainly times of exhaustion, fear, and homesickness, but it’s true that you never get the chance to live if you don’t go through the good and the bad! Not every experience was perfect or ideal, but with an open-mind and adventurous spirit, I have seen and done SO much!

Not only have the people been amazing, but I’ve also been to some fascinating and fun museums, discovered great music along the way, and met some really adorable animals!

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I met Roo in Knoxville, TN

You might come across an enthusiastic and stylish protester at a Martin Luther King Jr. Rally in Atlanta.

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I tried to read all his buttons, but the march must go on….

Plenty of cities in the United States are empty and ugly and uninteresting. That’s a fact… anywhere you go in the world. Taking the risk and seeing what satisfaction, beauty, and thrills you can find may awaken and enliven you, though.

Come check out America, Americans. America IS beautiful, and it’s waiting to be seen!

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In the meantime, get satisfied!

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Just a Letter

Some letters are personal and meaningful, others are empty and cold. Some change lives, others change little. One way or the other, letters are important. They have the ability to connect us with anyone! Whether it be a complete stranger in another country or a loved one in another county. The conversation between man, paper, and pen is irreplaceable and is not something that should be forgotten or left behind in the Dark Ages.

Last year I went on social media and asked that anyone who wanted a letter from me send me their home address or P.O. box. The response was incredible! So many people responded! Some I’ve known for years, some I’d only just met. They all were so excited to receive a personalized letter from me. I’m not a celebrity or a rising star. I’m not even an influential local figure! I am just a person with a paper and a pen. I doodled, I rambled…. I had a ball creating my little pieces of art and literature!

The idea originated when I received a letter from my grandmother. It was just a simple envelope with a simple note alongside a few dollars. The money was certainly nice, but that letter was by far the most incredible thing that I had found in my mailbox in years, if not ever. It was real. Touched by human hands and done with care and love. It carried a message that could be repeated as many times as I was willing to read it over and over and over again, even when she could not say them herself. In those few words, everything I needed from my grandmother was expressed and felt and given. She gave me a gift, and I cherish it.

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I wish my handwriting was as beautiful as hers

Not only did I receive my grandmother’s letter, but around this time I also started getting invitations regarding my brothers’ engagement parties, their fiancée’s bachelorette parties, their wedding invitations, the baby shower… not to mention ALL the ‘Thank You’ cards! Some of these were printed, some handwritten, but the gratitude and thoughtfulness expressed in them was felt and appreciated just the same. I held onto every single one because they had all touched me in different ways at different times in my life and their lives. They are a collection of special, beautiful moments.

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Don’t forget the holiday and birthday cards!

Once my little project kicked off and I began writing my 50+ handwritten cards, I was so excited to see what I would come up with next. What memories were brought back to me, and if I had no specific memories with this person, what would come to mind? It was an experiment and an experience! How could I make each letter different and unique? How could I keep myself excited about this? How could I get my wrist used to writing so much!? Admittedly, I did find myself with writer’s block and an aching wrist by the time I got to 15 letters. I kept going, though! I had made a promise to them and to myself that I would reach out. Even if they had forgotten or blown off my promise, knowing that it meant something to them, that they would be excited to see that letter kept me pushing on.

I also forgave myself for days when I was less motivated. If all I could manage was a few sentences and a smiley face, that was fine. It’s not necessarily about the message, but the effort and thought. It wasn’t that I cared less over time, I simply found myself stuck. For some, my handwriting was very sloppy, but that’s normal.

Unfortunately, not everyone wrote me back or let me know how they felt about the letter. I like to think they were all received with joy. I know I did my part, and I felt good about it. On the other hand, many people did write back, and a couple continued to write back. Not to the point of being pen pals, but once every few months or on holidays I might receive a greeting. It’s not about reciprocation, though. Like everything in life, it’s about the joy of the experience; the good and the bad. In the end, it was worth it for the positive feedback and some photos I was sent on the holidays or invitations. It made me feel like part of their family, or at least a friend worth considering a friend, and not just a figure online or in someone’s cellular phonebook.

Processed with Snapseed.

Processed with Snapseed.

Even just a postcard from some far off country or state was really a thrill. It brought me into their life and their home, and I hope my letters gave them the same journey. Brief but bold. Short but stunning.

I think it’s time to start writing letters again!

If you’d like me to send you a personalized, handwritten letter, contact me with your address at:

SWEETTOOTHNOTHINGS@GMAIL.COM

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In the meantime, get satisfied!

A Bar for the People by the People

How to Open a Successful Bar

A month or so ago, a bar opened up in Jersey City, NJ called Pet Shop. It was popular immediately, everyone was talking about it. To be fair, there’s quite a commotion anytime a new spot opens up in sweet, little Jersey City…. Still, there was a strategy to the creation that has helped it make a splash upon opening. Here are the top 10 reasons I think it’s succeeding and going to continue to do so.

  1. Great location. The group of people involved in this project had the funding to grab up a great spot. It’s a couple blocks from the really HOT area of Grove Street, but not too close, as to not get lost in the sea of bars. Pet Shop stands out and holds its own. It’s also on a corner where no one can miss it. You immediately see its black exterior and contrasting string lights. unnamed
  2. Smart design. Speaking of the exterior, this is a great example of less is more. Black is seemingly simple, but it automatically leaves one curious. This look could be a dive bar or a high-end lounge. You have no way of knowing what’s inside, but you know you really want to take a peek in. Everyone wants to look inside the black abyss. Once you’re inside, you can enjoy the interior design!
  3. Welcoming atmosphere. This where they excel, as well. The place is not intimidating, but it’s not dirty. There are stickers on the “jukebox” bragging for local vandals, but they don’t have graffiti everywhere giving the place the feel of a drug den. You have the option to sit at the bar with some friendly tenders, in the sit-down area with tables and a couch, or outside on the benches. This means any number of people can be comfortable, whether you’re on a first date, a business meeting, or bringing the kids for a meal.
  4. Outdoor space. Not everyone has the privilege of finding a space with a backyard, of course. Keep in mind, though, that this is something to aim towards. A yard space, even a tiny one, has become more and more common. People really love it. It means they can get some fresh air but still be part of the event. Or the entire event can be outdoors on a nice day. This one is nicely surrounded by brick walls, so noise to the outside is kept to a minimum. unnamed-6
  5. More than a bar. A jukebox is a cool touch for that vintage, nostalgic vibe. It also brings in a few bucks and allows patrons to choose their favourite tunes. However, stepping it up is always good. For example, Pet Shop also offers a pinball table and a functioning photo booth. You take your photo and get the print out in moments with the bar’s name on it. Marketing and fun all combined into one! If there’s room for even more, even better. As long as everything is looked after and keeps working.
  6. Not your average food menu. What really excited and intrigued people about the opening of Pet Shop was that it was to be vegetarian/vegan-friendly bar. This was a unique and uncertain twist. Would the people want a healthy, veggie snack after drinking? The good news is, it doesn’t have to be healthy, but it can be. With options like Bombay fries and “Pulled Pork” sandwiches, most people don’t really miss their fried chicken and beef ramen. Those are just a couple of options from the Summer menu, anyway. We all anxiously await the Fall and Winter menu!unnamed-2

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    The Tres Pates. 3 bean-based spread on toast. 

  7. Interesting drink options. Getting rid of the old, reliable drinks is not an option, always have those handy. However, also throwing in something new that everyone wants to try is a must. Not Your Father’s Root Beer or Hell or High Watermelon are the drinks people are looking to try without committing to an entire 6-pack. Why not be the bar that offers those super hip drinks alongside an easy choice like Corona Light?unnamed-3
  8. No more sports bars. I like sports bars. I like the energy and excitement it creates. When people get together to eat nachos and scream at the television. However, we’ve got those. So, so many of those. What about a bar where people can sit and just look at each other and chat? Although, I do kind of like the idea of having one television in the corner for the lone drinkers, bored drinkers, and the drinkers who need somewhere to look during a bathroom break or pause in the conversation. Nothing wrong with a television, just use it in a unique way. Pet Shop always plays movies on their screen. No captions, no sound, just something to peek at now and then and maybe stir up a fun conversation.
  9. Know your audience. Jersey City is where the young professionals go after work in Manhattan. They’re trying to escape the high prices and the extremeness of everything. Being that escape is hard business, but it will pay off. If you’re looking to attract the classier or older crowd, know if that’s in your best interest, then know how you can do that. Maybe electronic music and sticky bar tops aren’t the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re looking to pull in the college kids, free chips and a dance space are probably good attributes, as long as local laws will allow dancing at your establishment. Yeah, there are laws about that.
  10. Research, network, and research some more. Laws and permits and ordinances are just the tip of the iceberg. If we’re talking about general attractiveness and desirability of your bar in order to maintain interest and keep people talking, you need to know what everyone else is doing right… or wrong. Get to know other bar owners; they’re better as allies than enemies. Support them and let them help support you. They’ll send people your way and do you good, as long as you return the deed. Speak kindly and generously of them. Get to know local companies, also. Get involved in the community, be willing (and excited) to go to fairs and give out merchandise and give out business cards. Have special deals, events, and themed nights. Have fun so your customers can have fun, and just maybe things will be a lot easier than you expect!
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    If you would like me to attend your event, review your product, or if you want to submit your food/travel review, contact me at:

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    In the meantime, get satisfied!

Fantastic Atlantic

When it came to my trip to Atlantic City, I had no idea what to expect. Extravagance and sleaziness? A bunch of old people in scooters and cargo shorts? Maybe all the college students of New Jersey gambling away their college savings?

What I got was everything and then some. Atlantic City has no particular type or crowd, it was everyone in one place! You definitely had your dirty and crooked folks, but they were alongside the young and naive and the old and debilitated. It was a free-for-all, and everyone was welcome! Some people even brought their kids and babies. That seemed a odd to me. What do the kids do all day? Aside from planning how to get alcohol, I guess….

Oh, and for the record, it’s true, there were no clocks and the alcohol was free. Yet, I didn’t see a single person passed out on the floor. Either AC has class, or is really good at sweeping up its deadbeats.

My friend and I had a room reserved at Harrah’s Resort and Casino for 2 days. We only planned to stay 2 days and a night, but we kept the room to avoid early checkout. Very much worth the extra cost.

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Harrah’s was a beautiful hotel! The room wasn’t overly ornate, but I am sure they are trying to keep people out of their rooms! Fair enough. The room was functional, either way. Plenty of space and lights, comfortable accommodations. That’s all I ask for in a room.

The rest of the space was quite shiny and exciting, so I definitely was ready to walk around. People were friendly and cheerful…. Though, I didn’t feel the excitement and thrill that I was expecting. There was no champagne flowing and glitzy cocktail dresses and screams of joy/dismay. Everyone at the tables looked quite serious.

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Note all the button-up checkered shirts. Looks like a bunch of computer guys took off for the weekend. They’re so used to sitting and staring at a computer screen that they don’t know what to do with themselves.

This trip made me rethink my camera choice. Using my iPhone 5c camera wasn’t really doing anything any favours. Most of the pictures are grainy, dark, and blurry. Sorry about that.

After some initial gambling and a couple free drinks, (I had me some champagne) we went to find food. The earliest reservation that we could get at the hotel’s Italian restaurant was for 10 PM. I guess that’s the Atlantic City life for ya! No problem, though, we had more casinos to see and wristbands to purchase. They were offering bracelets for $20 that would allow us into Harrah’sBorgata, and Golden Nugget. In just 4 hours we did a complete tour of these three, along with Trump’s Taj Mahal, (which is closing in October!) Caesar’s Palace, and Bally’s.

My friend and I agree that Golden Nugget sounded the most unpleasant. Neither of us liked that name, but their music was the best by far. Harrah’s Pool After Dark was the coolest, I think. It was beautiful and felt ritzy. The atmosphere and energy really pulled us in and got us excited. Not to mention, Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell made an appearance. After running into him and chatting with him throughout the day, I had no idea who he was until we went to the club and saw him signing autographs and all. Talk about big name celebrities!

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Upping my quality of life

We bounced around a bunch and felt out which spots we liked the most. We agreed to hang out at Golden Nugget and Harrah’s… after dinner, though. We were hungry by 10!

The Italian Cafe Martorano was not your typical, nor traditional Italian dinner experience. It was modern with a touch of the 20s. There were disco balls and the floor was checkered with shiny black and white. The waitstaff all wore newsboy caps with suspenders. Don’t ask me what this look was, but it was gorgeous!

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I cut off my friend’s head for the sake of privacy!

Even after waiting 4 hours for our reservation, we still were asked to wait at the bar. Now, that’s how you sell a drink! While my friend ordered a Moscow Mule, or a Sicilian Mule, as they called it, I tried something a little sweeter, a Sicilian Kiss.

Sicilian Kiss – Imperia vodka, monin mango syrup, monin blood orange syrup, fresh blood orange juice, lime juice, garnished with a blood orange wheel

They made and sold those real fast! These were both very tasty drinks. Although the prices weren’t insane, I still don’t recommend looking at numbers. Just enjoy.

When we were finally seated, we looked upon the menu and drooled a little bit. Having only eaten a few bites of a huge apple that afternoon, I was ready to mangiare!

Guess what? Atlantic City doesn’t do vegan. It’s not in their vocabulary and they don’t care if it’s your thing. They don’t.

We went with antipasti dishes:

Eggplant Stacked

lightly breaded fried eggplant, homemade mozzarella, marinated tomato topped with arugula finished with balsamic and DOC Parmigiano Reggiano cheese $22.00

Antipasto

Homemade mozzarella, prosciutto San Danielle and marinated cherry tomatoes $24.00

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Mozzie and tomat

He ate the cheese, I ate the tomato, and we shared the eggplant. We were fed. Kind of. We distracted ourselves on the dance floor. There was a DJ and a small area for dancing, so we boogied. The music was a remix of old party songs turned into electronic house music. It was really cool! The older and the younger people could appreciate their jams. Jam… boy, I could have gone for jam on toast at that point. Not to say our food wasn’t yummy, but neither of us were really full.

 

Fortunately, there was a little food spot on our way back to the room. We grabbed some buffalo wing pretzels and a cup of grapes. That hit the spot.

After feeding ourselves, I walked my pup. Oh, yeah! Dogs. They’re allowed. And mine happened to behave super well during this trip. I think she was so confused that she forgot how to bark. I can’t say all resorts in AC are dog-friendly, but I can definitely tell you that Harrah’s loves your dog as much as you do!

Once she was happy, we went to the boardwalk and then explored the clubs more.

In spite of some grey and cloudy weather with some drizzling, we walked and had fun. The boardwalk was very low-key and the lights were pretty. Reminded me of Coney Island back home, but quieter.

Finally, around 4 AM we decided it was time to stop bouncing. Enough bouncing, said we! We went back to the room and pretty much fell asleep in the doorway. It was amazing. I woke up around 8 AM and put myself together. My buddy waited until 11 AM to get up and figure out what planet we were on. Surprisingly, though, I was the most well-rested and energized I have been in a long, long time. I felt super clear-headed and fantastic! Still starving, though. That feeling wouldn’t go away. The good news is, we had a breakfast/lunch buffet right downstairs! We bolted in that direction.

The buffet was perfect… for non-vegans. Plenty of meat and eggs and all those things. There was a little fruit and veggie salad available, though. Some mini-bagels which were adorable. I wasn’t complaining. However, we probably would have done just as well having bought bagels and peanut butter and passing on the $20 buffet. But it was extremely meditative and added to the fancy feeling of the trip. Those are very important things to take advantage of while living the luxury life!

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Breakfast with a view

After breakfast, there was a little more depositing of money at the casino bank, and we headed home. Happy, relaxed, and really anxious for our next trip! Peace out, AC, don’t spend all your money in one place, now….

Click the ‘Follow’ button below to tune in for my next adventure

If you would like me to attend your event, review your product, or if you want to submit your food/travel review, contact me at:

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In the meantime, get satisfied!

Packing for the city… Atlantic City!

I’ve been to Israel and Ireland and India, but I’ve never made the 2-hour drive to Atlantic City. Why is that? I don’t gamble, I don’t drink much, and I don’t really like beaches, or New Jersey… that’s why.

But I am going to Atlantic City this weekend.

What changed the tune of my whistle? A friend offered me a trip there. I wasn’t busy this weekend, so I was like, “Let me check with my… uh… oh. Let’s go!”

The details have not been shared with me, but I know there’s a hotel where I can bring my dog and many clubs and restaurants from which to choose. That’s all I really need. Well, maybe a few other things, but that is on me to bring from home. You know- clothing and whatnot. That silly stuff.

In preparation for my journey, I did what any seasoned traveler would do…. Yep, without procrastination or hesitation I went to Rice Cream Shoppe in the West Village. I tried my first ever vegan rum raisin rice pudding with toasted coconut on top. Seems raisin-able.

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It’s a store I had passed a million times before, but I’d never gone in. Rice pudding was never really my thing. I don’t like eating something smooth and then dealing with unexpected chunks. It’s weird to me. Especially in the case of rice pudding where the chunks are little and slimy. But, being that it was apparently the week of doing things I didn’t really want to do, I decided to try the vegan dessert. Or, lunch in this case.

Rum raisin is not a flavour I’d had before, actually. You guessed it- it’s another thing with components I don’t necessarily want or need. Rum is nice, I like being a pirate. Rum and raisin, though? Pirates don’t do that. Today, this pirate did that. I’m a rebel pirate. That’s a double rebel.

Turns out, rum raisin tastes like vanilla. With raisins. And coconut if you ask for coconut on top, as I did. I was sticking with my Caribbean theme. It was a nice dessert. Not overindulgent or sickeningly sweet. It was tasty and refreshing. Left me with room for more food. That’s good or bad, depending on your goal.

Admittedly, the rice pudding confused me a bit, though. I needed to walk around a bit, take a breather, procrastinate on my packing… that sort of thing.

I was in Brooklyn…

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Then I took a bike ride in Jersey City to the waterfront. I waved at Manhattan.

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I did so much. Man, I was tired at this point. I took a nap.

Good nap. Good job, self. What to do with the rest of my evening…. OH, RIGHT! PACKING! Let’s do that.

Packing list for Friday, Friday night, and Saturday. Short, simple, and sweet. Now, I should keep in mind that it was a little chilly and rainy today. Still warm enough for shorts and dresses, but I may want to bring a sweater. Yes! Nicely done. Planning ahead with the weather. That’s something responsible travelers do.

Friday wear: Cute top and pants or shorts with sneakers

Pack: Super cool dress for Friday night. Like, so cool you might freeze the place. Maybe even heels to make everyone stop and stare when you enter a room. That’s another thing that actually happens in reality. All the time.

Also pack something comfortable for Saturday and the return trip.

Now I am thinking, “What do people do during the day in Atlantic City?”

Though, I guess the casinos don’t have clocks, right? I’ll never even know whether it’s day or night! Night is when you’re passed out on the floor from the free alcohol. Is that only in the movies? Maybe they DO have clocks and you DO have to pay for your drinks?? I don’t know what is real anymore!

All I know is, I’m probably not going to the beach. No bathing suit or any of that business necessary. I should just wear sweatpants and a bib since I’m really just going for fancy food. Vegan food in Atlantic City, you ask? No. Not so much. I can’t find any vegan restaurants in Atlantic City. That’s going to be interesting. Whatever I end up eating is going to be expensive, though. That much I know.

I’m still not packing, though. I’ve thought about what I should pack, but I’ve not even brought my bag up from storage in the basement. Ugh… I forgot I had to go downstairs and get it. This is so much work.

Here’s my packing list: toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, makeup, cellular device, and charger. This is a good start. Although, I’ll need these things in the morning, presumably, so let’s wait to pack those. And try not to forget them.

Now, let’s step it up. Undergarments, deodorant, socks, pair of sneakers (or sandals), pair of heels, and razor. For shaving… or shivving someone. To be determined.

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Final round. I got this. 2 tops, 1 pair of jeans, 1 skirt, 1 dress, and a sweater.

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Cute, girl, cute. You got all the matching happening and the style and the fun but flirty. That’s exactly what magazines suggest. Magazines know best.

Anything missing? Something’s missing. Something is always missing…. SHOOT! I nearly forgot pajamas! You ding dong, how could you? Sleep is the prerequisite for being awake and alive. These are such important things! Do not forget your “No one will see these anyway” jammies!

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Now you have all yo junk together. You’re set. Oh, and a cherry Blow Pop. Because.

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Is, “Mmmm…” a scientific explanation?

Then just shove all that beautiful and expensive clothing in a bright pink bag you got for free at Victoria’s Secret, and you’re off!

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Don’t no one get in my way, I’m ’bout to take over AC! Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it when I get back in a couple day!

Now, click the ‘Follow’ button below to tune in when I review something else!

If you would like me to attend your event, review your product, or submit your own review, send an email to:

sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

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If you’re curious about Rice Cream Shoppe, I’d give it 7/10 unicorn hugs.

Their website is: http://www.ricecreamshoppe.com/

In the meantime, get satisfied!

I was All Set at Sacred Chow

I ate food today.

Not impressed?

Well, what if I told you I ate food at a vegan restaurant for free today?

Bam. You’re intrigued.

Really- I did! Thanks to the Allset program I just downloaded on my phone. There was a promotion going on that if I promised to send them a review, they’d give me $15 free! Being that I like eating until my body registers for refugee status due to cruel conditions,  I felt this promotion could be of great benefit to me.

What is Allset? It’s actually kind of a neat idea…. But before you ask, and before I explain, I’ll make this clear: they didn’t pay me to say good things about them. They gave me free food because they’re a small company. They knew no one would download their new and totally random program, pay, and hope for the best. So they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Download, get $15 for free, and let them know how they’re doing. Sweet.

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The story on their website is kind of abstract and frootsy tootsy, so let me explain the program in dirty gurdy terms. Basically, you pick a restaurant at which you want to eat. The selection is a bit limited, but they do have a few vegan/vegetarian restaurants already! I emailed them to make sure before downloading it.

Once you have a restaurant in mind, you can book a reservation for either the same day or the next day. You pick a time. Now, that’s good enough for most people, but Allset does more than that! Once you picked your place, number of people, and time, you can even look at the menu, make selections, and yes, you can PAY! Tip, tax, and all. You go to the restaurant, get seated and fed nearly immediately, and feel VIP. Or you can pretend you’re dining and ditching. Really depends where you want to take this. As you can see, you’re ALL SET!

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*Music plays, crowd stands and applauses*

Keep in mind, as of now they only have New York City and SF Bay Area options. However, there is a clicky-doo that locates where places are in relation to you, so I assume they plan on expanding… if all goes well.

I won’t say this thing is perfect. I did find it a little confusing (that might just be me) to figure out what times were available and how to go through the menu options…. Overall, though, I found the program super straightforward. They also offer the option to join tables with other people, especially if you’re over 6 people. Plus, they have a deal that allows you to refer friends. With your own special little code, your friend gets $10 off and you get $10 off. That’s, like, $20!

What I addressed when I sent feedback was my uncertainty regarding changes of plans. What if your reservation and order is set at 7, but a friend forgot about his lobotomy at 5? Oh, no! There’s no way he’ll be dressed and ready to eat artichoke hearts by 7!  Can you still get a refund and change your number of people!? Or, what if you get to the restaurant and realize you’re suddenly extremely allergic to the pasta and peanut potato pancake you ordered? Methinks all these things can be dealt with at the restaurant, though. As long as you didn’t order something that had to be made way ahead of time….

Now that we covered the technology portion of this post, let’s talk about food-eating. After all, I took more time eating than I did with the booking thing.

Sacred Chow is yet another vegan restaurant in the West Village. I don’t say “yet another” because I am sick of them, I say it because there are so many! I am emphasizing that fact. It is my pleasure to announce that there is *yet another* vegan establishment in the West Village of New York City in the United States of America on Earth.

I’m not really sure what vibe or theme they’re aiming for, exactly…. It’s kind of Asian, but they also serve tempeh reuben, French lentil meatloaf, and Mama’s ‘No-Soy’ Meatballs. I don’t know. I guess it’s just a place that serves food that people want to eat. What a concept.

As soon as I got to Sacred Chow, I knew everything was cool. How did I know this? Because the waiter kept saying, “cool.”

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He had no one idea what Allset was, but I explained, and he said he’d go look into it. In the meantime, “Sit anywhere”, he said, “…anywhere is cool.”

Cool.

I sat facing the door so I could admire the beautiful view of a building’s wall across from me. Fortunately, there was enough stuff hanging on the restaurant’s walls to keep me amused. What confused me amidst all the Western-themed hanging lamps and meditating cows was a neon sign advertising Cerveza. I kind of felt like I had climbed the Himalayas seeking nirvana and found Keanu Reeves instead. “Cool… dude.”

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After sitting for awhile, I began to wonder if the waiter was planning on returning. Was he going to let me know if my order was received and recognized and paid for or is this a test of my willingness to speak up for myself?

Well… I have lukewarm water in a nifty jar thing and there’s stuff on the walls. Maybe I’ll just wait.

And wait.

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That’s when it happened. See that curtain back there? A hand appeared! I swear- not even a wrist, just a hand swung around the curtain, balanced a small plate on the edge of the counter, and disappeared. DEMONS! But, hey, it’s my food! Yay!

The waiter brought my plate over without a word. Well, maybe I heard, “Coooooolllll” off in the distance.

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Not gonna lie- at this point, I totally forgot what I had ordered. Brown stuff with green things. Probably that. Now that I can look at the menu online, I see it’s the Thai Ginger BBQ Seitan with roasted kale. None of those things had I guessed correctly. I guessed maybe BBQ something, but that’s just what I assume everything is.

I liked it. I liked my seitan a lot. However, of course, I have some comments. The thing is, the plate was small, right? Here I am trying to cut up these long curls of kale and strips of seitan, but there’s no room to spread! The only thing that can possibly occur is splashing of oils and sauces. Not gonna lie- I was getting pretty sweaty and anxious cutting this stuff up. Smaller chunks, my friends, smaller bits and pieces. That’s the point of tapas, after all! Although, I did get one piece of seitan that the right size, and it was also a bit more firm. That piece was heavenly! The rest was more like purgatory- like, a nice, good one. But that chunka hunka was just the right texture. Fortunately, the sauce wasn’t overpowering. It wasn’t too sweet or too gloppy. The kale was cooked nicely, too.

Take note, whenever you have the chance to serve a slice of lime, do it! Do it! There is nothing I love more than the smell of lime on my hands after a meal. I could be covered in blood and beans and baby powder and still feel fresh and clean if my hands are bathed in lime juice.

I took my time eating my little tapas. I enjoyed the conversations around me and the people screaming in Spanish outside. It was like home. Next thing I knew, my food was done. That is, until the waiter came over to inform me that it was cool that I was done and cool that I was still waiting for something else.

What was that something else? A COOKIE!!!! I didn’t really have my hopes too high. As I mentioned before, cookies are… eh. Cookies seldom get a mention or a huzzah. They don’t make lists or make children popular. They’re just cookies. What I didn’t take into account was that this was a no-soy, sugar-free, gluten-free toasted macaroon cookie. And, oh, baby, was it ever!

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That is my cookie. A cookie with no other that can compete. SUGAR-FREE? But, how? It’s so yummy and “buttery” and ALL the coconut. They hadn’t even mentioned the raspberry coulis on top, but I am mentioning it. Hard.

Macaroon cookie, just kidnap me and forever be mine. It was a cool treat, not right out of the oven, but it didn’t feel old or frozen. It was soft and decadent and man, I could have eaten that cookie forever.

Before this cookie affair took place, I was pretty ready to give Sacred Chow 8/10 unicorn hugs, but I’m thinking this treat alone gives them…

10/10 unicorn hugs

Check out things you’re not eating:

Sacred Chow

If you’re interested in Allset: an app for reserving seats, ordering your food, and paying ahead of time:

https://allsetnow.com/

Click the ‘Follow’ button below to tune in when I review something else!

If you would like me to attend your event, review your food, or submit your own review, send an email to:

sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

https://www.instagram.com/sweettoothtravels/

In the meantime, get satisfied!

 

Try your best, but you don’t succeed

I always thought Indian was in my blood. As though I could turn water into lassi. I love the Hindi language, I loved my week in India, the Hindu beliefs, the culture… and most of all, I love Indian food. I’ll eat daal and dosa or palak and poori any day of the week!

Being so convinced that I was born to be a disciple of Brahma, I got it in my head that I would be a natural when it came to cooking Indian food. That makes complete and total sense. Not delusional at all.

This is when I decided to make one of my favourite Indian foods: samosas! These are triangular pastries filled with potato and spices, then fried (or baked.) Samosas are beloved for their flaky dough and soft and salty insides. They are also often served with various chutney options or tamarind paste. They can be filled with lentils, peas, corn, onion, or any vegetable you like. I kept it simple: I just wanted spicy potatoes. Most people have samosas as a side or appetizer. They also serve as a tasty little lunch, though!

On my hunt for the most perfect and easiest samosa recipe online I came across The Flaming Vegan. On this website, I found a recipe for vegan samosas. The author of this recipe, Neha Basrani believes that I can prepare these dumplings of delish in 10 minutes, and after cooking for 30 minutes have perfect little Indian knishes. Here’s her photo:

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Okay- cool! I’m totally down for perfect symmetry; golden tetrahedrons. Just show me the way, Neha!

Here you can see her recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

For the pocket:

• 1 cup of all purpose flour

• Vegetable oil to fry the snack

For the filling:

• 3 large potatoes

• 1 tablespoon cilantro finely chopped

• 1 onion finely chopped

• 2 green chilies finely chopped

• 3 tablespoon oil

• ½ teaspoon turmeric

• ½ teaspoon red chili powder

• ½ teaspoon crushed garlic

• ½ teaspoon grated ginger

• Salt to taste

Incredibly, I had many of these ingredients! Sure, I had to substitute leek for onion. 2 green chilies for one large. Cayenne instead of chili powder. Whatever. You get the idea. I was mostly there.

Unlike my usual cooking adventures, I was ready this time. I was willing to make all the mess, use all the bowls, and do whatever necessary in order to have my samosas come out ready to serve to Buddha. Yeah, Buddhism- WHAT!

Maybe using my recipe sheet as a spoon and vegetable rest wasn’t the best way of doing things, but I had no fear at this point. I was ready to cumin, salt, and conquer.

METHOD:

STEP 1: In a medium sized bowl, mix the oil, salt, and flour together to form dough. The dough should not be too hard nor too soft.

STEP 2: Cover the bowl with a cloth for for at least twenty minutes and let it rest.

STEP 3: For the filling, first peel, boil , and mash the potatoes.

I have never in my life peeled, boiled, nor mashed potatoes. Turns out, this is fairly easy. One might even say it was fun! Not that I had a potato masher tool thing…. I just used my fork and stabbed the potatoes a lot once they were boiled and soft. Anger management complete!

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Go, Potato, it’s your boilday! Gonna pot ya like it’s your boilday!

I did a really good job at boiling and mashing my potatoes. Pretty sure I could do that for a living. Not to brag. #hireme

STEP 4: Heat some oil in a pan (approximately 3 tablespoons). Add ginger, garlic, onion, and green chilies. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture turns golden brown.

STEP 5: Now add mashed potatoes, cilantro, salt, turmeric, and chili powder. Saute the mixture for two more minutes.

STEP 6: Set mixture aside for five minutes to cool.

I was pretty good at this, too. I chopped up two types of chili peppers and added a bunch of spices and herbs and junk. Like, you’d be impressed if you knew how much I added. The cacophony of flavours would flip your lid. The tricky part was knowing when the potato mix was “browned”. Turmeric is kinda golden, it turns the taters brownish. I just kind of assumed that they were cooked when they were burning my fingers. That is, because I kept taking forkfuls of the mix and eating it. This is part of the recipe that was left out. Always taste what you’re cooking… multiple times.

Now, here’s when things start getting complicated. I’m still completely confused when it comes to the dough.

STEP 7: Take the dough and roll it into 5” flat ovals. Cut each of them into halves.

STEP 8: Take one half and roll it like a cone in your hand.

STEP 9: Put about a tablespoon of the filling into your cone. Then seal the third side with a moist finger (use oil or water) so that when you deep fry them, no oil will enter.

STEP 10: Repeat. 

STEP 11: Heat oil in a pan and deep fry the samosas. Serve them piping hot with dipping sauce of your choice, such as a chutney.

My dough wasn’t really cooperating. I really did use the amounts of oil and flour that are suggested here, but the dough was like bread crumbs. So, I added more oil. Then more flour. Then more oil. No matter what I did, the dough kept falling apart!

In this photo, things were looking okay. Maybe even promising. I took a big ball of my crumbles and squished them together. Then I made a triangle with my hands. I’m not sure what the logistics were supposed to be when it came to cutting and shaping, but I just kinda did what made sense to me.

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Apparently, what makes sense to me is nonsense. Everything just… wasn’t good.

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I don’t know how many samosas you’ve seen or eaten in your life, but I’ve had many. Many. Never in my life have I ever had a samosa that looked like this. My dough was just not having it. It was like, “Yo, it’s Saturday. It’s my day off, I’m not dealing with this.”

For my second trick I took pieces of dough and applied it like cement to the cracks. Not gonna say I’m a genius, but I’m pretty sure I’m thinking at Einstein level.

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Check that out! It almost looks like something! I continued this method due to the success I was having. Great success, let me tell you.

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I mean, how badly do you want to eat these samosas? They look just like the stuff you get at the restaurant, ammirite?

Put those suckers in the oven at 250 for 30 minutes…. Oh, yeah, I decided to bake them rather than fry them, ’cause I’m so health conscious and junk. This meant I had to totally guess time and temperature. Sounded good to me. Like they say: too much is better than too little! …right?

At this point, I had also decided these little guys were going to completely transform in the oven. Like, they were supposed to look like this, and then would change completely as they heated up.

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A little something I learned in the 90s

Presto! It worked!

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Wait… no… that’s not right. Let me try again.

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There we go. Levitating lunch.

Remember earlier when I told you that people loved samosa because of their flaky exterior? We missed the boat on that one, kids. My samosa dough wasn’t bad, but it was soft and fluffy. Like a cupcake samosa for your toothless friends.

Now, am I going to lie and tell you that my samosas came out looking like love dumplin’s? Yes.

Now you can try!

My attempt: 2/10 satars for appearance and likeness … but, 7/10 satars for flavour!

The recipe itself: 8/10 satars

If you would like me to try your recipe or product, or you would like to submit your own review, contact me at: sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

Also, be sure to check out my new Facebook page. It’ll be growing over the next few weeks! https://www.facebook.com/sweettooth.nothings

 

How to train your human

There must be a million websites, books, articles, and pamphlets about training dogs and cats and various pets… yet, the humans are the ones who need to be trained! Puppies may pee on your bed, but a puppy has never started a war. Nor do I don’t know any horses who have kidnapped children or set fire to anyone’s home.

To learn more about training humans, I took a trip to the Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City, NJ. I met with a few dogs and cats who have faced some real ugly mugged humans, and asked what their advice would be to young pets training their humans. I got some very useful responses. Listen closely, you might learn a thing or two.

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I entered the green door because entering through a window seemed inconvenient and messy. I didn’t want to disturb the spiders who had just sat down for breakfast.

Once I got inside, the secretary immediately directed me towards the stairs. She said that’s where I’d find the “Cattery”. They had way too many kittens! Apparently, some seriously untrained humans didn’t know to get their pets neutered/spayed. Considering that many vets and mobile vans will do the surgery for fairly cheap and sometimes free, this just sounds lazy to me. But let’s see what the cats have to say about that.

The first cat I met was this little one:

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Clearly, she doesn’t mess around. She is a strict reinforcer of the rules. I learned from her that you must train your human with directness, and you can’t be too gentle with them. A harsh tone may be required. She explained that you have to catch your human when he/she is very comfortable and sleepy. Once they are settled in and having a good time petting your fur, you leap on their head, and stick your butt in their face. This will remind the human that you’re either in need of being fixed, or a sign of appreciation for having you fixed. If this doesn’t work, steal their socks. Never harm your human, but sometimes other types of punishment are necessary.

When I then heard some clattering around, I realized that there were two sibling kittens down below who were chanting in unison, “If you don’t need us, at least you can feed us!”

The two kittens, Dory and her sibling (who wishes to remain anonymous) refused to say much more than this chant. The cat in the next cage over explained that these two had been abandoned at the shelter after months of barely being cared for in their previous home. “Quite frankly, I think they just snapped. Big catnip users, but I didn’t tell you that.”

Here the two take a break from chanting so they can receive a few scratches. They still love human interaction, but are much less trusting of humans.

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As I passed them a second time, I heard one whisper, “Sure, if I jump on her lap, she better pet me… that’s just my way of showing her my power. She can’t resist me.”

Before leaving the Cattery, my last stop was to greet Draco. He doesn’t talk much anymore, nor does he do much training. However, in his youth, he would often travel the streets teaching other kittens how to train their humans. He was a celebrity in the concrete jungle. These days, he prefers to sit in his cage and watch kittens and his old comrades be brought in and out. It is said that Draco once loved humans and felt every single one could be trained and turned good.

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I’ll never know what these amber eyes have seen, nor what smells that pink nose has smelled. But without a doubt, Draco has seen some of the worse types of humans. Legend has it that he once was homed by a very grumpy husband who had no interest in cats. Draco was able to soften this man’s heart and sit beside him during basketball games. This changed when he had to surrender Draco due to his wife’s pregnancy. When Draco saw that his beloved human man would not admit his sadness upon leaving him behind at the shelter, Draco was forever hardened. He has not given up on finding a home, but he isn’t the same cat he once was.

As I left the room, Draco’s eyes didn’t move, they stared forward; never letting go of the memory of the man who once loved him and betrayed him.

I was then anxious to go visit the dogs! Dogs are typically a softer, more forgiving type. I expected joy, forgiveness, and infinite optimism. However, what I found instead was desperation and unease.

Entering the dog room, everyone wanted to be heard. Every dog felt they had tips and advice on training that would solve all the human problems of the world.

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I didn’t know where to begin. That is, until I saw Bunny. It is not common to come across a Pharaoh Hound, particularly at the shelter. As you can see in the lower left corner of this picture, I discreetly took a photo of this beautiful friend. I quickly learned that approaching dogs in cages will lead to much barking, some growling, and noisy tails thumping against metal.

Bunny had no comments, though, he just wanted me to leave him be. That is, unless I was going to walk, feed, or home him. Being that I could not provide any of these things, I went on to the next speaker.

Seides is another resident of the Humane Society. She’s a self-labeled artist who believes in changing the world through music. She has a very different approach from the other dogs.

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Seides is a 4 year old lab/pit mix. She was brought in after being tied up in front of the shelter with her brother Beamer. Nowadays she paces back and forth in her cage and sings. She has a story to tell and she wants the world to hear it.

After hearing many sad tales like Seides’, I was quite relieved to finally talk with two fellas for whom life has been equally tough, but they keep a smile on and pep in their step. They are Nilsito and Richard.

Nilsito was excited when I came over to talk to him. He was engaged and anxious to meet me. At 9 years old, he is 60 lbs. He’s a heavyweight champ full of muscle and a big heart! Just as I thought he was going to share some wisdom, he chose instead to do this:

Nilsito 9 yr Pit Mastiff

Some dogs just never grow up!

Richard, on the other hand, at only 2 years old, was much more at ease. He seemed comfortable discussing the difficult issues with me. I got a feeling from Richard that he was an old soul who had seen and been through enough to have something to offer.

It turned out, I was right. Richard taught me a lot, even just by looking into his eyes. He told me about his puppy days, about his life on the streets, and how lacking a home taught him more about humans than one would expect. He feels humans are much like stray animals, but they’ve been given weapons and power. This leads them to do things that they think will protect themselves and their loved ones from being vulnerable. He explained that humans want love from dogs and cats, but don’t think about the bigger picture, the consequences, and all the requirements…. He was happy being stray, but a part of him will always seek a lifelong human companion. Its in the blood of every dog, he postulates, even the ones who growl. They’re also just trying to protect themselves in a scary world. However, with proper human training, each and every dog can find themselves in the perfect home.Never give up, he told me, never.

Richard Pit Lab - 2 yr

This response left me so stirred, that I felt it was a good time to leave. It was hard saying goodbye to all these incredible dogs and cats, but I had my own foster kittens to take home! I left the shelter with three month old kittens who had been abandoned on a boat! The pirate kittens are now safely in my home and await permanent homes. They are adventurous, lively, and very healthy. When I asked for any suggestions when it came to training humans, in unison they squeaked, “LOVE.”

For kittens, they sure are smart!

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All the dogs and cats in this post are available for adoption at the Liberty Humane Society in New Jersey. Please read about them and how to adopt/foster at: http://www.libertyhumane.org/     They are also always in need of volunteers!

Find out more about these lovely dogs at: DOGS

Learn more about these gorgeous cats at: CATS

 

A Vegan’s Dilemma

As a child, we are always warned to not take candy from strangers. Twenty years later, what if a stranger offers you free crickets? Not a situation most people must face, but I am not “most people”.

Coming out of the subway on Wall Street, I saw a Van Leeuwen ice cream truck (if you recall, I reviewed their ice cream a ways back: goo.gl/eX0Oe1)  I was highly intrigued. After all, do white collar workers really eat that much artisan ice cream?

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Hark! I smell a trap!

A woman in a red shirt came over to me, and with as little interest as a person could possibly muster, she told me that I looked confused. I corrected her. I was not confused, but merely curious. She didn’t care. She explained something to me about The Economist. This is a magazine that believes there will be 11 Billion people on Earth eventually; an amount that the Earth cannot sustain. Therefore, the best option for food at that point will be insects. Therein comes the bit: they will give me a free scoop of ice cream as long as I will have them serve it with crickets on top. Plus, if I sign up for a subscription of their fine apocalypse-forecasting magazine (for only $12 a month!) I will receive a red, leather notebook… for free!

Let’s see if I have this correct- if I, a vegan animal rights activist am willing to eat insects and buy a magazine, I will receive a leather book and ice cream… for free.

She had her little ice cream lady shake up her cricket jar in hopes of enticing me. Yep. They sure were crickets. They weren’t lying about that.

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Not one to ignore my spidey (or crickety?) senses, I scanned the menu, despite the discouraging sales pitch. As luck would have it, they did offer dairy-free peanut butter ice cream…. Okay, lady, let’s play.

With a grin, I turned back to her and replied, “I’m not eating those creatures. But I do want dairy-free peanut butter ice cream. So, here’s what I will do: I will give the cricket ice cream to someone in need.  I will receive, in turn for my mitzvah a non-buggy ice cream… for free. Everyone will be happy.”

She insisted further that the ice cream is only free complete with bugs.

I persisted, informing her that I will not only hear out her spiel and continue to support the wonderful Van Leeuwen Ice Cream company, but I will also make sure the homeless man knows of the great magazine subscription deal they’re offering. All this for the tiny payment of an ice cream sans infestation. Quite the deal of the century.

She took a moment and looked over at her scooping friend. There was no line, no other customers, and no one within earshot who cared…. Within moments, I had two cups of dairy-free ice cream. One with extra protein (and legs) and one with nothing but a red spoon on top. I think this was a good negotiation.

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That is, until I remembered that I don’t eat Van Leeuwen ice cream because it crumbles and leaves me with an aftertaste. C’est la vie!

If you would like to invite me to review your establishment or to attend your event, please send me an email at:  sweettoothnothings@gmail.com 

Follow the adventure at: twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

To quit or not to quit?

“5 Reasons to Quit Your Job and Travel”

This was the first headline I saw when I opened the interwebs to Twitter today. I’ve seen a million blog titles like this, and my thought is always the same, “But… I don’t have a job.”

Most people have a job of some sort, but many people at my age and in my position in life don’t have a job. This means your family is either entirely paying your bills or helping you out a lot. Maybe you’re even living with them. In which case, it seems impossible to leave school, your side job, or caring for a loved one, and take up the travel life. After all, how will you even get to your first destination without $100 to your name?

This is why I’ve saved you the grief, disappointing reality check, and shame by creating a new list. This one is titled, “5 Reasons Not to Travel Right Now”

5. You have plenty of time. I am sure you hear this a lot, and you’re impatient, and feeling rebellious. You’re in your 20s or 30s and hearing, “Clean your room!” for the millionth time.You already have a list of things to pack and are researching how difficult it is to live on a mountain in a small van with a broken window. HELP.png

Maybe that is what you need, but maybe you’re idealizing it a tad. Even if you don’t LOVE the life you’re living, that doesn’t mean the nomads you read about are living the dream, either. Everything online is photoshopped, even travel adventures.

3853bbc7c85dabe4c3723df5f10b7cf5.jpgIf the article doesn’t mention the struggles, the nights of questioning life choices, and all the tears and fears, then you’re reading a lie. Traveling to a new country every month is great, but it’s not for everyone. Figure out what you’re seeking and why you want to run away before you start making these huge decisions.

4. Times is tough. If you’re in school still, you’re drowning. The things you want to do, the things you need to do, and the things you might not get around to doing seem to be all life is about. The moment you find an escape, you want to make a run for it!

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If you’re currently working towards something, you’re on a good path. You’re working your way towards something you’re either passionate about or that will give you a career. Not just a job for a month, but a career to which you can become dedicated and feel useful and productive. When it comes to travel work, nothing is certain. Money, housing, and even good company can be hard to find. And, then, once you’ve seen it all, and got that wanderlust satisfied, will you be able to return home? If so, what will you find there? Most likely, you’ll have to start from scratch, even if you decide to live in a foreign country. There are no quick solutions, no matter where you’re living or visiting, there are bills to pay and your life to maintain.

3. Adjusting is hard. Now, let’s say you’ve made the big leap. You’ve dropped out, quit, and said goodbye to everyone. You’re off to find… things! You can’t go to your local coffee shop, you can’t necessarily text your best friend at 3 AM, and you may not be able to speak the language with which you are most familiar and comfortable. Everything is different.

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This is a good thing in some cases. Being out of the safety net and living a bit dangerously is a great experience. It’s also a difficult reality once you’re deep into your new lifestyle. Taking a vacation in Disneyland for a week is not the same as moving to Bangkok for a year. You might face some obstacles that you simply did not expect to face. No one took a moment to warn you about something, and now you’re facing it alone. Maybe this is part of the struggle and adventure- maybe this is the wake up call you were seeking, but in that moment, it’s difficult and scary. Obstacles are not to be taken lightly, you never know when you might break. It might even be the moment you realize that the country you’re stuck in doesn’t sell your favourite beverage. Seems tiny, but convenience is not to be taken for granted.

2. People!! Ugh, traveling would be so much easier if it weren’t for other people, am I right? It is so hard leaving the people you know and love. What if someone gets sick while you’re gone? What if someone has a baby that you won’t get to meet? Geez, what if someone dies? Maybe you’ll miss that hug from someone who always knows just where and when to grab ya…. e69f200cfabab58f7eb0b8343abd9441.jpg

Even if you really feel there is no one at home who you will miss, there is something about seeing familiar faces that gives a person some warmth and joy. Are you prepared to have those faces come and go at a rapid pace? One day you’re meeting your soulmate in Korea, the next day you’re traveling to Bangladesh without them. The people for whom you care, the countries you fall in love with, and all the things you come to enjoy in one place won’t be coming with you once you move along. Everything is changed and replaced, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. You don’t know until the time comes and you’ve made a choice. Every choice has an uncertain outcome. The thrill may wear off, and you could be left feeling lonely and afraid, a feeling to which you may have to adjust sometimes.

1.The deeper reason. Most people know they want to travel and see the world, but not everyone leaves their lives behind and starts anew in a country they can barely pronounce. The question is: Why you? Why now? Problems will follow you, feelings will linger… you can’t run away from yourself.

Not everyone who travels hates their life, I think that’s a myth, but everyone is trying to escape something or find something. There’s nothing wrong with that! But, will you find the solution? If you’re just jumping around the world thinking that eventually the solution will fall upon you, then you may find yourself extremely depressed, even while riding a fishing boat around a beautiful island in the sun. Looking for solutions and answers is great, and doing so through travel is possibly one of the best ways to do it, but coping when the answer is not found can be hard. At the end of the journey it’s awful to feel as though you’ve wasted years of your life- that’s not the goal. Traveling should be fulfilling a dream; leaving behind the ordinary and predictable!

I didn’t write this to dissuade people from traveling, let me be clear about that. Even after considering all these cons, I still aim to travel the world, write, and be washed over by fantasy… once I graduate from school. However, I think there are many articles that make it seem as though travel is perfect, it’s perfect for everyone, and everyone should do it right away.

If you can’t do it right this moment or you’re not ready to do it- that’s okay! Don’t feel like you’re wasting your time or missing out on something. As is the case for me, when the time is right, you can make that choice. If it’s not for you, just follow other people’s adventures, travel when you can, and make the best of your life at home!

In the meantime, get satisfied!

If you would like to submit your own experiences or opinions on travel, or you would like me to write about any particular topic of interest, please contact me at: sweettoothnothings@gmail.com