- What do many moms want more than anything on their special day? My guess: you! If you can't afford to fly in for a face-to-face visit, make some time for a video chat (Skype is free and fantastic). She'll get to see your glowing face, and you can spend some quality time catching up. Word of warning: Video chats are even harder to end than phone calls. Schedule post-chat events accordingly.
- If you can make it home, there's always the classic gift of your chef-ly talents. Preparing a meal from scratch is always sweet, and plenty of delicious recipes are easy on the wallet, too. VegWeb has an amazing Mother's Day page full of ideas. I recommend the Best Ever French Toast.
- Cater to Mom's sweet tooth with the ridiculously decadent Sweet & Sara Marshmallow Variety Sampler. These aren't just vegan marshmallows—they're a party in your mouth. A gourmet treat, the sampler is also a steal at $6.25, and right now S&S is offering a 10-percent discount with the code "spring." You can also buy slightly imperfect sweets—but still highly tasty—at an even deeper discount.
- Vegan Etsy is a wonderful, time-sucking marketplace that's damn near guaranteed to have something Mom would like. With more than 2,000 vintage and handmade gifts, you can sort by price and keywords, making it a cinch to find the best buy. Whether it's these cute heart-shaped turquoise earrings ($5.25) or a Sailor Jerry-inspired soy wax candle ($6), you can score a one-of-a-kind bargain.
- If you want to splurge on your saintly mother but can't ignore your bargain-hunting nature, Vaute Couture is having an amazing sale right now. Its eco-friendly, high-quality, vegan winter coats are selling for 35–70 percent off the original prices. Sure, it's almost summer, but how impressed will Mom be that you're planning ahead? How grown up! And seriously, these coats are gorgeous and will last many winters, reminding her of your stylish and thoughtful self every time she wears it.
- Shameless promotion here, but did you know the VN store sells tons of delicious treats—including vegan peanut butter cups and candy bars—as well as our favorite veg books and merch? Oh, and shipping is always free, which is a big money-saver.
- I love Lush and all of its handmade, cruelty-free cosmetics. There are always new, fun products, and it has a laundry list of animal- and planet-friendly initiatives to its name. The latest offering includes the abolishment of paper gift-wrap in favor of its new Knot-Wrap. Using scarves made from either recycled materials or vintage fabric, all Lush stores will offer Knot-Wraps to secure purchases for pretty presentation. Reusable as everything from a jaunty ascot to a grocery bag, these scarves are pretty and functional, and can easily conceal the perfect Mother's Day gifts.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
- When rolling out tortillas, only roll on one side—no flipping!
- Don't be afraid to sprinkle the PB 'tillas with a little more flour when rolling. These will have a slightly different texture than The Original.
- You'll probably just want to make a double batch, because these will be gone in no time.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
The Dish: I love Urban Decay. I know it is an obvious choice for vegan makeup, but seriously—have you tried the products? None of their sparkly, shiny goods are tested on animals, and many are vegan, denoted by a cute little paw-print icon. A lot of companies can give you the runaround when it comes to the veg status of their lines, from vague statements about “finished products” to the indecipherable ingredients lists (look for a more in-depth post in the future about veg-friendly drugstore brands!). Urban is straight up, “Hey vegans, we love you.”
Because these products are a bigger investment than the $1 eyeliner of my early teens, there are a couple of considerations to get the most for your money. Urban’s online store features a special R.I.P. section, featuring discontinued items at discount prices. Currently, you can snag a snazzy lip pencil for $9 ($14 value). Sound like a lot? Sometimes price really does reflect quality, and my Urban goods, including a collection of beloved, shimmery, versatile eyeshadows, last months and months. They also don’t pull the midday disappearing act of their cheaper counterparts.
If you have other skincare shopping to do, Sephora stocks Urban Decay along with other vegan brands (such as Pacifica, whose Blood Orange Body Butter is only $5 right now!). Shopping online promises free product samples, but in store, you have the luxury of a makeover—depending on how you feel about sharing germs. Nearly every cosmetic in the store is available for testing (including Urban) either by your own hand or with the help of a sales associate. Grab a cotton swab, pick your favorite products, and get fancy before dinner and a movie—for free.
The Final Word: If Urban’s prices still seems too steep, don’t worry—the company has a 45-day money-back guarantee. Wear it a few days, see how you like it, and if you’re not wowed, return it. Sephora operates a similar policy, upholding a very pleasant, 30-day no-questions-asked rule. Opened or not, they’ll take care of you (speaking from personal experience). Goodbye, buyer’s remorse!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
- They’re cheap. Using the most basic baking ingredients, a double-batch helps feed a famished staff and is super affordable, clocking in at a couple bucks.
- They’re easy, using only five common pantry ingredients. If you never bake and don’t buy flour on the regular, stocking up won’t set you back much, and it promises future batches.
- They’re customizable. From the basic recipe, you can go anywhere with add-ins—sweet, savory, spiced—and it’s incredibly friendly to ingredient substitutions.
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and oil, and mix until just combined.
- With a 1/4-cup measuring cup, ice-cream scoop, or your clean hands, drop dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until bottoms are golden brown.
- Top with non-hydrogenated margarine, syrup, jam, peanut butter, gravy, or anything else that you could possibly put on bread. Devour!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The Topic: Don’t Fear the Cheaper: A Mission Adventure
The Dish: When the weekend arrives, I’m usually simultaneously caught by surprise and excited—Party! Shopping! Let’s do this, San Francisco! About four minutes pass before I realize that I have neither bank funds nor credit limit to live out my luxurious lifestyle—or do I? For just $25, a jam-packed day in the City by the Bay is not only possible, but it’s fun in a guilt-free sort of way. Here’s how the low-budget lifestyle played out in the city’s Mission District.
9am: With empty cabinets and a growling stomach, I went for the quickest, cheapest, and most filling meal I know—a Super Veggie Burrito from my local taqueria. Filled with black beans, rice, guacamole, lettuce, and salsa, all wrapped up in a whole-wheat tortilla, this $5.40 investment is equivalent to at least two meals, filling me up for the majority of the day. Oh, and it also comes with chips and salsa. I brought my own bottle of Tapatio, the world’s best and surprisingly cheap hot sauce, to add a little spice. No, 9am is not too early for a burrito—they open at 8am, after all. (Remaining budget: $19.60)
10am: Finally ready to move after my monster morning meal, it’s time to hop on the Muni train ($2) and head out to enjoy the sunshine. It might sound lame, but when the weather is gorgeous, just getting in some exercise walking and people watching is delightful—and free. I usually pass at least three buskers on my journey, from bucket-drumming percussionists to blues-playing guitarists. Or, you know, a man standing on his head on top of a pint glass, singing. The city has talent, that’s all I’m saying.
I headed toward the Mission, where a slew of second-hand stores were calling my name. While many stores use the moniker “vintage” instead of “thrift,” enabling them to charge $15 for a t-shirt that would be about $2.50 at an actual thrift store, there is a secret weapon: The sale rack. Yes, even in second-hand stores. Generally, there is a $1 or $5 rack, and a little digging can lead to treasure. A cute blazer, comfy tee, and $6 later, my inner consumerist felt satisfied. ($11.60)
2pm: I need hydration. Having already emptied my water bottle brought from home, I seek out the next best thing: coconut water. At a small stand on an unassuming street corner, I score a fresh young coconut for only $2.50, cracked open on the spot. Customers get to not only drink the super delicious water, but then have the coconut chopped open, enabling them to devour the coconut inside for the best afternoon pick-me-up ever. I’ve developed a serious addiction to this stuff, be it fresh or from a can. ($9.10)
2:30pm: A girl cannot live on coconut water and clothes alone. My true obsession lies in the smell of paper, binding, and dust—better known as used bookstores. (Are you sensing a trend in my cheap ways? Peruse the used!) I spent way too long in Dog Eared Books, and while I didn’t buy anything, reading from their eclectic collection might be my favorite way to spend an afternoon.
4:30pm: Ok, I’m bored with myself. By this time of the day, it’s socially acceptable to grab a happy-hour special with friends. I met up with good friend and VegWebmistress Laura Beck at The Attic to share a round of $3 Manhattans (don’t forget to tip, even on a budget!) and a little gossip. And being a dog-friendly establishment, I also got to enjoy the company of her rescued pit bull, Hazel. ($5.10)
6:30pm: With only a few dollars to my name and tired feet, it’s time to head home. Another $2 train ride gets me to my neighborhood, and I have just enough cash left for an order of brown rice ($1.50) from my local Chinese joint. Hey, it might not be the healthiest dinner, but I’m sure there are a few kale leaves somewhere in the fridge I can throw in. ($1.60)
The Final Word: With a dollar and some change to spare, I’m ready for an evening at home with my puppy and some Netflix (already paid for, WIN!). Thanks to cheap eats, used goods, great weather, and a little homework on the destination neighborhood, a day out doesn’t have to break the bank.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
The Topic: Living the good life, half price
The Dish: When I was little, my mom used to cut me a deal when it came to cutting coupons: For every penny-saver I snipped that was used, I pocketed the difference. Sure, it didn’t really save us any money on groceries, but Mom broke even and I walked away with a few dollars to my name (you can get a lot of banana Laffy Taffy for $5.) Today, I never manage to clip coupons, partly because I’m pressed for time and partly because finding relevant products is a rarity.
While I recommend keeping your eyes open while flipping through the Sunday paper (assuming, of course, you still read the paper), there’s another option for the city-bound and tech-inclined—Groupon, a website focused on daily deals offering around 50 percent off a huge range of goods and services, from restaurant gift certificates to discounted dance classes. San Francisco even had a deal recently where buyers received $50 worth of organic groceries for $25. If we were playing NBA Jam right now, that would certainly get a “Boomshakalaka!”
Currently, Groupon operates in 52 cities across the US and offers a handy request form to get your city on the map. There’s one deal a day, and a certain number of people have to buy in before it’s finalized, so passing the word along to your cash-strapped friends is encouraged. If you manage to wrangle some referrals, you can even earn account credit—real-live spendable dollars—and score more savings.
The Final Word: Registration is free, and it's a simple way to score a great bargain with minimal effort. Get registered, sign up for daily e-mail alerts, and embrace all that is Groupon.