instant cheer up


One of my favorite websites.  This always cheers me up no matter what kind of a day I am having.  What can I say?  I love cute animals!


Native Foods

Happy Thanksgiving!!!  Let me tell you what I am thankful for:  A vegan place just opened in my town of Culver City, right at my bus stop (which I take at least once a week).  Native Foods Cafe is a UCLA staple that I heard about just days before I realized they closed the macrobiotic place and were putting in Native Foods.  I was psyched.  Days later I got to try it for the first time.  Not only is their food amazing, they make multiple varieties of their own seitan, have a huge menu and appeal to meat eater's as well, but they also have an awesome customer loyalty program.

You get a card and they swipe it every time you make a purchase.  You can log on to the website and check your points.  When you reach 200 points, $10 is automatically loaded on your card.  You also get a tip from Chef Tanya every time you make a purchase.  Sometimes you will get something better than a tip, such as 10% off or a free drink, something awesome like that.

New favorite place in Culver City.  Can't wait for my next meal here!!!


The best cure for a hangover?

Zico Coconut Water.  Now sold in Trader Joe's.  A hangover is not required in order to benefit from drinking coconut water.  This is great to drink before or after a workout, massage, or whenever you are parched and in need of extreme hydration.  I get a jolt of lasting energy after drinking a bottle. I have tried other brands in the past and never enjoyed them as I do Zico.  It's bottled in Hermosa Beach and it's new bottle is made from recycled material and can be fully recycled after use.  Zico has more potassium than a banana and it's the perfect natural way to hydrate.  They have three flavors, so if you just can't acquire the taste for pure coconut water, give the lima citron, pomberry, or piña tropicale a try.  So throw out those awful energy drinks full of high fructose corn syrup (America's #1 source of gmo's, by the way) and grab a few bottles of this magical juice.

I'm totally addicted.  Thank you Trader Joe's for carrying it now!  If you don't have TJ's near you, click here to see where else Zico is sold.

The grade:
Packaging:  A
Taste: (it is kind of acquired, you might not love it at first, but try try again) A
Environmentability: (not a word...yet) A+
Overall Score: A


discover money back

I love my discover card.  I get sooo much money back I kinda feel like I'm stealing.  The best part is that I usually use my money back to buy gift cards for people for birthdays/holidays.  You can get gift cards to major stores at a discount.  Example: you pay $20 for a $25 gift card, $40 for a $50 or sometimes they have $80 for $100 (I have bought this one from Sephora for myself in the past!)  Besides gift cards or money back, you can also give your cash back rewards to charity.  The only downside to Discover is that most local and/or small businesses don't accept Discover because they charge a lot of fees to the business.  But hey, you the consumer reaps the rewards of these high fees.  As said consumer, I give Discover card an A.


sephora booty

My newest sephora purchase arrived in the mail.  I LOVE sephora!  They are obsessed with giving free samples of amazing products.  Plus, I make my purchase through ebates and get money back.  I am really feeling the deals lately.


LA's best cupcakes.

If you go back to some of my posts from the beginning of the year and you check my yelp page, you will see that I am a cupcake connoisseur.  I have made it my goal to try all of the supposed best cupcake bakeries in LA.  A large task, but one I am willing to commit to.  Until now I have compared them all to Sprinkles and hadn't found any that were better overall.  Now I can compare every cupcake I taste to Frosted Cupcakery's cupcakes.  O-M-G!  I could not believe how incredibly delicious their cupcakes are.  I was lucky to purchase a groupon for 6 cupcakes for $9 (score!).

The original location is on the Belmont shore, but that is much to far for me (even for cupcakes).  Luckily they have a newer locations in Hollywood!  The store is cute with everything detailed nicely, all one of a kind.  The workers were super nice and patient in my decisions.  I mean, I could only get 6, so it took a minute to decide!!!  Here are the flavors I got (I shared with my husband so don't think I'm such a fatty)

1)  Royal White with nutella buttercream: first one I tried.  The most moist cake I've ever had in a cupcake.  The frosting was amazing, with half of a ferrero rocher in the the center (my favorite candy!) A+++
2) Red Velvet: not the best red velvet I've ever had.  Not as moist cake as the others. B-
3)  Chocolate with vanilla buttercream: Good.  Not as moist as the white cake, but I think that is common in chocolate cake.  I would say it is on par with Sprinkle's black and white. A
4)  Pumpkin: OMG, don't even get me started.  I am a pumpkin flavored anything fanatic.  This was an A+++
5) Carrot: Danny ate this one, I tried it and it was good, very spicy, but I've had better carrot cake. B+
6) Lemon with cream cheese frosting: equally as moist.  Amazingly scrumptious.  A+

Overall Grade: A+, this is my new fave cupcake bakery in LA.  Sorry Sprinkle's.


Green Wine?

I don't like white wine.  At all.  But recently at a baby shower I was handed a glass of Vinho Verde, a Portuguese white wine with just a little bit of effervescence.  I don't turn down drinks that are handed to me, so I gave it a try.  It was so good!!!  I heard from another friend that they sell said green wine at Trader Joe's.  On my next weekend shopping trip I found it, and at only $3.99 a bottle, this stuff is one of my newest fave TJ's finds.

The Grade:
Taste: A
Price: A+
Packaging: A-
Overall: A


The new Blue

Remember Crispy M&M's, in the blue bag?  Well the blue bag is back and they call them pretzel M&M's, but it's basically the same thing.

If you are thinking of trying these because you absolutely LOVE chocolate covered pretzels, don't bother.  These taste nothing close to a chocolate covered pretzel.  If you were uber sad when the crispy M&M's went away (I think there were about 5 of us in the world...) then you will probably really like these because to me, the crunch, texture, and pretzel to chocolate ratio is the same as the crispies were.

The Grade:
Taste: B-
Packaging: B
Texture: A
Overall:  B+


kindle your imagination

I love my kindle.  My mom got it for my husband for graduation, but it was really for me since he doesn't read books as often!  This thing answers my prayers about how to be green but still read books.

I always hated the fact that I would buy a book and then what?  It sits on my shelf for years and years, or I give it away.  But still, the waste of paper!  Also the cost of books is a lot, and I'm sorry I have tried, but I am just not a fan of library books (they smell!)

So along comes the Kindle.  It's small, it's cute, it's electronic.  What's not to love?  The price has gone down significantly since my mom purchased it almost 2 years ago.  The book prices are so cheap and sometimes free (in the case of classics like Shakespeare).  And, best of all, no trees are harmed when you read your book.

I'm not anti-book, and this thing is not meant to replace coffee table books or textbooks.  This is for the pleasure readers, those of us who read novels and biographies for fun.  It also allows you to read newspapers, magazines, and blogs on it.  Another neat thing is you can highlight and make notes if you are reading for a book club or school or something.  I used these on my Kindle when I was reading for a book discussion.  It is easy to use and easy to find a page you have marked.

Another great thing about the Kindle is the no glare screen.  I have been reading at a pool in Vegas on a super sunny day with absolutely no problem. It's perfect for planes and any kind of travel.  Most recently I have read The Fountainhead on my Kindle.  Overall, my Kindle really made me start reading more and I absolutely love it!

The Grade:
usability: A
aesthetics: A
price: A-
Overall Score: A


Wurstküche: a sausage kitchen

As I write this, I'm still a little buzzed from my latest restaurant adventure.  A couple of friends invited my husband and I to this great little place on the edge of Little Tokyo and the Arts District called Wurstküche.  I have been looking for an excuse to go to this sausage and beer joint for awhile, so I couldn't turn it down!  "Wait Taryn, sausage...aren't you vegetarian????"  Well thanks for remembering, yes I am.  And don't worry, I did not need to waiver in my diet because Wurstküche offers three vegetarian sausages!!  It's so cool to be able to go to a German sausage and beer place and eat more than just fries.

check out the awesome barn doors, this place is an architect's delight.

This place is a great mix of hipsters and intellectuals, and least we forget the intellectual hipsters.  Seriously, everyone in this place is young and cool, but so not "LA."  I really felt like I was in a somewhat upscale dive bar in my alma mater of Columbia, Mo.

We took the bus over after work and knew we were there when we saw a line emerging from a brick wall.  It's set up so you stand in line and order your food and libations, then you walk to the back where all of the seating is located.  We were there at a decent time so almost immediately found a table for four.  Most of the tables are community style too, or small coffin shaped metal tables.  So cool.  The place is really an eclectically modern architect's dream, with the partially brick, partially frosted glass walls, long custom tables and overall innovative layout.

We had plenty of time to drink our beers and chat while waiting for our food to come, but not so long that we were like "ok, where the hell is our food?"  Our food came, oh, it looked amazing.  My friend Emily and I both had the Vegetarian Smoked Apple Sage with caramelized onions and sweet peppers, and our male counterparts had bratwurst and chicken/turkey sun dried tomato and mozzarella.  And of course the groot double dipped fries with curry ketchup.  Mmmmmm.....

The veggie sausage was really good, not sure if I would bother trying the others because I really enjoyed this one so much.  Don't even get me started on the curry ketchup.  Ketchup and Curry are two of my most favorite things.  Put them together and OMG!

The Grade:
Food: A
Drinks: A
Price: A-
Ambiance: A
People: A
Overall Score: A

the youth as we know it

That is the name of a great line of products by Bliss, which is one of my favorite brands.  I have tried a lot of Bliss products in the past, but this one takes the cake.

It is an age-defying face lotion which does everything it claims to do.  I know, I'm only 25, why am I worried about wrinkles and aging?  Well, as someone who will never go under the knife or needle for beauty, I want to keep the wrinkles at bay for as long as I can.  So as soon as I started noticing tiny fine lines on my forehead and eyes, I went to Sephora and scoured the aisles.  I ended up in the Bliss section as usual and despite the price tag ($79 for 1.7 oz) I made the purchase.  It was worth every penny.

Even though it is a small amount of product, it lasted me for nearly 4 months.  I only used it at night and used another cheaper Bliss day lotion during the day.  I regret that I have not purchased anymore, which is only due to lack of funds, but I intend to soon because of the dramatic results.

Not only did my fine lines disappear, but my occasional acne subsided, my skin had a beautiful dewy look and I always felt like it was glowing.  My makeup went on smoother and my skin felt flawless.  I really feel like this stuff is magic!

The product also smells great, which is important in a moisturizer.  It is super thick, which helps it last because you only need a tiny bit to cover your whole face and neck.

The Grade:
Does what it claims: A+
Scent: A+
Price: C-
Packaging: A+
Overall Grade: A-


Vegans unite!!!

Veg News is a great magazine which I highly recommend.  A girl from my high school is an editor, check out her blog Saavy Abby.  Anyway, I have checked out their website frequently since I found out about it from her working there, but I had yet to see the actual magazine (in fact, I actually thought it was only an online mag...)  But alas, I was in Sprout's checking out and there it was.  I had to pick it up, and I am glad I did, it is great! There is just something so different from reading articles online and holding the actual magazine.  I am a big magazine fan.  I may just have to subscribe to this one!

I am not vegan, but as a vegetarian I appreciate vegan food and if I had the patience in the kitchen and at the grocery stores I would love to cook only vegan.  That is where Veg News comes in.  They offer great articles and recipes to help you kick-start your vegan diet, or keep it going for long time vegans.  I am of the sort who likes to be a part time vegan, and I suggest everyone try to eat vegan at least once a week, it's so much better for the environment and your health.  Plus it can be really delicious if you make it right or go to the right restaurant.  Forget fake meat and salads, there is so much more to being vegan and Veg News tells us all about it.

P.S.  If you are in LA, you have to try Real Food Daily.  Their sea cakes are to die for!

Veg News, you get an A+!


Yes! Yes! Yes!

To cucumbers and carrots!

This brand is absolutely amazing, so glad I finally decided to give it a try.  You can usually find the brand in Target, but check out their website to find out where to find the products closest to you.  I have been using the Yes to Carrots conditioner for a few months now and it seems to never run out.  It is great, makes my hair smooth and does what conditioner should.  The best find though, is definitely the Yes to Cucumbers Shampoo.  I picked it up because it is green (I'm strangely attracted to anything green) and it is labeled to protect color treated hair.  Hey, my hair is color treated!!!  I was on the market for a new shampoo anyway, and at only about $8 for 16.9 oz I thought, why not?  After only 4 days of using this deliciously scented shampoo, my hair is completely manageable.  Prior to using it, I couldn't just blow dry and go.  In order for my hair to look half way decent I had to do a blow out with a round brush and sometimes use the flat iron.  But now I can take about 2 minutes to run the blow dryer over my hair and voila, it's gorgeous.  It is soft and smooth, but not weighed down.  It definitely has body that lasts throughout the day, and hopefully my expensive highlights and lowlights are being protected as it claims.

Also, it is worth noting that this is a paraben free product, all natural of course.  Also, the company has a non-profit organization the "Yes to Carrots Seed Fund" which helps make a difference through sustainable agriculture.  I will continue to support that by buying more Yes To products!  Check them out!

The Grade:
Scent: A+
Does what it claims: A
Packaging: A-
Usability: A+
Overall: A