If pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is at the top of your agenda this year, booking a solo travel experience might be a good place to start. Friends weekends and romantic getaways are great—and, often, very necessary—but there’s something potentially life-changing about testing your own boundaries by exploring new places on your own.
“Solo travel makes you more outgoing, it requires you to engage with people you normally may not need to speak to, and can open your mind to all different types,” says Dr. Magdalena Swierczewski, the founder of ExplorerMD. “You also learn more about yourself, as you have time to observe, reflect and learn who you are and how you react to certain situations. Solo travel makes you feel strong.”
Where to start? Check out the full story on Glamour here.
Sometimes we all need a little expert advice. But if you’ve never made it to a sex therapist’s couch, chances are, you’ve probably wondered what kind of game-changing sexual healing, erm, wisdom is shared behind closed doors. Well, we unveiled the (lace, of course) curtain, to get top sex experts and docs to reveal the one piece of advice they wish everyone knew. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re gonna go flick the lights on (see tip #3!)…
Chocolate, roses, champagne, candlelit dinners pour deux. Pfffftttt. Single or taken, there are some vacations where we just want to banish any hints of romance and trade it for koozies, culture, and craziness with our flock of best friends.
But why stay at a cookie-cutter hotel when you can rent out one of these swoon-worthy abodes from airbnb? You’ll remember them for years to come and, when you tally up the final budget, you’ll probably save a few bucks along the way. Plus, treehouse living, anyone? All of these choices come loaded with cool extras, and are located in cities and towns around the world packed with fun breweries, live music, amazing park adventures and more. P.S. We’ll still take that chocolate and champagne, though.
Last week, I experienced one of the most magical days of my life. While road tripping with a friend to the Gulf Shores (a true beach town gem in Alabama), we played music full-blast, caught up on the year since we’d last seen each other, and ate way too much fried everything. The Wharf was like some kind of adult Disney World: a hybrid of Rodeo Drive chic with Charleston charm, complete with palm trees and a light-up ferris wheel. Snap. Hell, let’s pause and take a video too. We giddily slurped up oysters and vodka-sodas at the cozy waterfront bar. Snap. Snap. Later that night, we went to a Miranda Lambert concert that happened to be in town. Basically, 24 hours don’t get much more magical than this.
And don’t worry, I have 78 photos, 5 videos, 7 PBR-infused snapchat stories, and too many texts to prove it. I say this to illustrate that I, too, fall guilty to the throes of over-documenting epic nights. And, that’s OK: We all have a night (or eight) where we realized we spent so much time tethered to our phone that we forgot to, you know, experience it…
The past few months have proved themselves quite fun, with trips to Fort Lauderdale, erm, Lesterdale (Happy Bachelorette, dearest Shallon!), Park City (where the folks at Washington School House, dazzled me with an incredible vegan dinner, above), Boston, Portland (Maine, not the hipster-er one on the west coast), Bradley Beach, Washington (the one in Connecticut which you’ve never heard of), DC, Charleston and many more adventures spelunking around the grand ole USA.
I’ve taught healthy cooking classes to incredible kids with cancer at Camp Sunshine, seen way too many country music concerts (but sadly, not enough DMB shows) and sipped a bloody mary (or three) in pretty much every state I’ve visited.
Sadly, all this aforementioned spelunking and WORK (to quote Shallon “You’re the busiest unemployed person I know!”, and to quote my boyfriend “You’re self-employed, that’s awesome!” Que endless pile of work clothes, erm, pajamas slung over my couch) has left me with not much time to update this beloved blog.
I’ll get back to it. Or at least, I sure hope I will before the domain expires in December.
Meanwhile, feel free to check out some of my other work here, here and here. More updates to come, but in the time being, thanks for all the great emails, pitches and story requests, folks. I’ll try not to be so delinquent in checking my Vegan When Sober account. But I’ve been keeping pretty busy writing fun, plant-based stories for other bigger corners to the internet for most of you to even probably notice I was gone 🙂
Nope, not your average meat and three or butter and cheese-loaded mac and cheese and cornbread-fest. Given my penchant for anything southern and involving glazed pecans, it’ll come as no surprise that my six-person culinary-cohort settled on a southern themed epicurean paradise. And this past Friday night (times two because I wrote it two weeks ago and forgot) was the culmination of my chef’s training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute: a three course vegan meal for 100 people.
Also of note, my amazing boyfriend who could subsist (ew did I just say amazing boyfriend? I hate people who wax poetic about that kind of stuff) on eggs and lean chicken breast alone with a wild aversion to all things plant-based, offered rave reviews of the bean and mushroom stout pot pie (even more miraculously, he hates both beans and mushrooms) and probably tried about five new vegetables in the appetizer alone.
After countless hours of chiffonading greens (because, hey, I can kind of do that now), supreming oranges (which, hey, I can also do) and arguing for spiralized beet “noodles” over roasted pickled beets, we managed to pull it all off. Behold, a few favorite photos from the feast.
Fear not, all 27 of you out there that actually read this. Alas, I’ve been knee deep in learning 982938 culinary phrases (braise, brunoise, boquet garni, broil, bake, batonnet, bernaise, who knew there was so much to learn in the “b” category alone?) and programming shall resume shortly.
So you got your knife kit, now what? Before you’re poached pear-ing and artichoking (or in my case, just choking because you have no idea what you’re doing…) here are a few key assets I wish I knew to buy before the first week of culinary school.
1. 6-Inch Ruler
It will come in handy more than you ever dreamed. No excuses. It’ll probably cost you 75 cents at a hardware store. Unless you’re me and go to a hardware store that doesn’t sell it, than head off in a blizzard to Michael’s, an art supply and crafts store that also doesn’t carry it, and finally wind up at Staples that sells a pack of 2 for $3, but you subsequently lose the first set without even using them, and have to trek back to buy another set. So let’s just say it ranges from 75 cents to $6 (and a whole lot of frustration). Pro-tip: Don’t ask your significant other if he has one you can borrow.
2. Duck Tape
Remember that aforementioned super-expensive knife kit? You don’t want to be the idiot who gets their knives stolen, or, even more likely, confuses it with the mayhem of 20 other knives floating around the kitchen from your classmates and then grabbing the one with the dull edge…right before the exam. I jazzed mine up with glittery looking tape, but any old tape will do.
3. Knife diorama kit
As if that $300 knife kit wasn’t enough, just suck it up and pay the $15 at your school’s front desk or online for one of those nifty kits. It comes with 3-D cut-outs of the widlly impossible cuts you still won’t understand how to accomplish (Tourné, anyone?). Your knife skills practical exam will be thanking you.
4. A lock
You’ll have more knives, hand towels, and pastry thing-a-ma-bobs than you know what to do with, which you’ll probably cry over if they go missing. Not to mention your cell and wallet. Do yourself a favor and show up with a lock on day one, ready to go.
5. Shoe Insoles
Remember those super expensive pairs of ugly clogs you bought? Couple that with the insane amount of hours you’ll be standing on your feet all day. Now: make those shoes worth it by spending the extra dollars on insoles so the comfort level goes from “Meh, why did I spend $90 on these” to “Kind of walking on air.”
Yes, you read that right. This is a (mostly) vegan blog and I’m reading a book called The Carnivore’s Manifesto: Eating Well, Eating Responsibly, and Eating Meat. Why? I can preach all I want (though I try not to) about the merits of eating a plant-based diet, but for the folks out there advocating eating from a sustainable, kinder food system that includes animal products, I think it’s worth hearing their side of the argument too.
The quote, simple, but moving, reflects the overall tone of the book and is worth repeating out loud a few times to let it sink in:
“If you grew as fast as a corporate chicken, you would weigh 349 pounds at age two. Congratulations, Pilgrim’s, Tyson, Perdue, Wayne Farms…”
If that doesn’t make you want to steer clear of factory farmed animals, I don’t know what will.