I'm Addicted to Diet Soda

Even as I type those words, my heart rate is elevating.  I am full on addicted to Diet Soda and the idea of quitting feels overwhelming. I haven't been hiding the fact that I drink Diet Soda all these years.  When I was blogging about everything I ate, a can or bottle occasionally popped up in pictures.  Sometimes I would hear from readers (or actual people around me) - Seriously?!?  With everything you know about health/the food industry, how can you drink that stuff?

Diet Soda is my friend.  It helped me get over my binge eating disorder.  I use it, along with my after-meal candies (which I still eat, by the way) to signal my body it is time to stop.  When I first began blogging seven years ago, it was maybe a can a day.  But as food became more and more of a job, and I have less and less of a say over what I am able to consume, I feel the need to control things.  Somehow, it is a lot easier not to wolf down everything a chef would place in front of me if I am armed with a full glass of Diet Coke, with ice, and a straw.

So I begin hiding my addiction more and more.  I mean, not totally.  Abe knows about it, my friends and family know about it.  None of them judged me.  But I know it is a real issue when I felt like I can't go on vacation without stocking up on it first thing, or I need to carry a bottle with me everywhere I go.  I try to quit numerous times.  Replacing it with our SodaStream, doctoring it up with some lemon juice.  But that isn't sweet enough.  I try a lot of Zevia (one of the first products Christy Meyers and I ever blogged about) but that is so much more expensive. Regular Diet Soda is always on sale.  When you're drinking 4-5 cans a day, it adds up.

I formed a relationship with Health Ade Kombucha after I went to Vegan Beer Fest and made my little SCOBY video.  They offer to send me a case (FYI they are not sponsoring this post) and I accept.  Because I am thinking this might be a good opportunity to try quitting again.  Kombucha is even MORE expensive than Zevia, and it comes in less-portable/breakable glass bottles.

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Now with all these fun flavors sitting in my fridge, I feel like I have an army willing to do battle with me.  At least for a few weeks.  Wish me luck.


The ABC's of Buying New Furniture

Guest post by Los Angeles interior designer, Star Michael.

The time has come for us to buy new furniture.  Couch cushions are a mess, the bed frame is falling apart, IKEA furniture is reaching its expiration date.  I ask my friend Star Michael, who happens to be a talented interior designer, for some tips on how to make this transition smooth.

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Where's your favorite place (online or in LA) to shop for quality but affordable furniture?

Dekor LA - For midcentury modern and vintage finds as well as bitchin' reclaimed indoor swings. The owner Isabelle has a very good eye for the unique and tasteful and her shop feels warm and inviting  It's the perfect place to shop for that feeling of home.

West Elm - If you're on a budget, there's no sacrifice in style or quality here. I'm always happy when I leave a West Elm because it's the perfect place to find the items you can sprinkle into any room.  That might be a great pillow, a cool side table, a handsome floor lamp or a new set of bedding.  This place rocks, and the people who work there are cute happy hipsters.

ModCrib LA - The owners Michael and Ebee share a warehouse space that is full of everything you can imagine.  It leans heavily on the midcentury modern side.  Great Vintage finds here - often already refinished and reupholstered so you can buy and place easily.

Online - Both "Dot & Bo" and "Bryght" are great for modern furniture. "Ballard Designs" and "Wisteria" are great for traditional finds.

When do you recommend asking someone to custom-make something?

As a designer I make almost everything custom. But if you're doing it on your own, it's most helpful to go custom if you need to fit the furniture into an awkward space. Or if you discover something that is enormously expensive and want to have it made at a more affordable price.   Lastly, if you want to accent a room with a special fabric or pattern that you pick.

How do you get rid of old furniture?

When ridding old furniture, there are a few different options. You can try to sell it online on websites like Ebay or Chairish. You can donate it to a charity for tax credit, or you can leave it on the curb and schedule a "large item pickup" through your trash company. Their contact number would be found on the outside of your trash can.

Do you tip the furniture delivery people? If so, about how much?

If you're ordering furniture through a larger chain store like Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel, "in-home" or "white-glove" delivery costs are often built-in to your total in "surcharges," so it's not necessary to tip. However, if your furniture is coming via a dude with a delivery truck, tipping is necessary.  And the amount is at your discretion.

A Beautiful Pot of Cashew Chili

I'm having some girls over for dinner tonight but I started cooking last night. I was told to:

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This book is one of my favorites, A Beautiful Bowl of Soup by Paulette Mitchell - the recipe is for a Cashew Chili, which I switched up a little. Start by sautéing TJ's Mirepoix (onions/celery/carrots) and 2 chopped cloves of garlic in 2 TB Coconut Oil with one chopped bell pepper for 8 minutes...

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…then add a can of black beans, corn, tomato sauce, and whole tomatoes + juices (<---the big one).

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Spices - 2 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. dried basil, 1 tsp. dried marjoram, 1 bay leaf, S + P.

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Bring everything to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while.

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The part that makes it not your everyday vegan chili - 1 cup raw cashew pieces, and 1 cup Golden Raisins.

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I think I'm going to add those later when I reheat the soup…something in my gut is telling me don't let this sit in the fridge overnight.

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I did wind up eating my share of cashews, though - prepped a few other dishes, including a vegan cheese recipe I can't wait to share with you!

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