12 Aluminum Free Deodorants

by Chelle

Every three years or so I freak out and remember that there's some sort of link between antiperspirant and every terrible disease you've heard of, then I do the math and think well the past 14 years of use has probably already sealed my fate. But just to be safe, I switch to some all natural "deodorant" which never fails to leave me smelling like.. well someone who's not wearing deodorant.

This time, I reached out to the source of all knowledge, Instagram. You might laugh. But honestly, it's where I go for all my best advice. I know it's full of friends who are far more specialized in making healthy choices, doing their research, and reading Amazon reviews.

After receiving an overwhelmingly amount of very helpful feedback, I decided I'd save you the trouble of searching around the interwebs, and put all this helpful feedback in one place. I trust each of these women and would consult most of them before most major purchases, health decisions, supplements, elimination diets, and to get a glass of rosé (unfortunately, due to one of my elimination diet I'm currently not drinking, but you get the point.)

I'm not going to tell you which one I chose because each lady has already done all the background research, bought the duds, and ended up with one they love. Oh, and in case I haven't mentioned it already (I haven't) the reason this is helpful is because these aluminum-free deodorants will cost between $12-$15, so it's hard to do trial and error with so much on the line!

From Tori

I recently tried magnesium oil- you dilute it with water 50/50 and can add a drop of essential oil if you want.... The problem I haven't solved is that it burns if I use it after shaving - which in the summer is pretty often... I'm sure everyone responds to it differently so maybe it wouldn't bother you. But you should at least read about it!

From Allison: 

Soapwalla - I would use this again.


Stonegrass Farms Pit Paste - the last few weeks I've not liked it as much...not sure if it's the baking soda or chafing with the humidity or what. But I do like it overall. Plus mason jar container!


From Katie

Toms of Maine 


From Alex

We have tried them all and PiperWai wins! It is completely worth the price.


From Carlyn

I am late to this party, but I just bought  PiperWai this week, and it's seriously the best product out there.


From Lindsey

Meow Meow Tweet has an awesome deodorant cream. Their stick one didn't work as well, but I like the cream.


From Chelsea

I second the suggestion of Meow Mewo Tweet !! The baking soda free one with grapefruit is my favorite and the only thing that doesn't make me smell worse... It's cream in a jar, but I love it.


From Ashley

I use Lavanila Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla. I've tried so many, and it works best for me. Smells great. It's cheaper on Amazon.


From Cheryl

Try Native Deodorant


From Dana

Try Native Deodorant!


From B

Speick Natural is a German one, and it works amazingly well. Like... Nothing else works for me, and I've sunk so much money into deodorant. Plus it's a beautiful glass bottle.


From Emily

You should try Schmidt's  I've been using them for over a year and really like their products!


From Tracey

I love Primal Pit Paste! I've been using it for a couple of years and had no complaints!


From Laura

I love this kind. It smells good but not sickening. And it won't kill you! And it's made in Minneapolis. Herban Cowboy.


Update from Seattle - June was a bust.

by Chelle

Writing from Seattle it seems only right to be talking about the weather. We are midway through July and there was one sunny week in April. Since then it been rain and gray. Enough to make me want to move away.

But instead, I think of you walking the streets of New York, eyes masked with the type of sunglasses models use to go incognito, and then throw on my equally incognito-esque sunglasses and head out the door, pretending it’s summer. Of Course the days I wear jeans and a long sleeve shirt, it rises to above 80, while the days I wear my sandals it rains. 

I'll write you with a more upbeat post. It'll probably be in October. I'll talk about how lovely all the leaves are, and how nice it is to have cool decisive weather.  Indecisively and gloomily stuck between summer and fall. 


Your Seattle Chelle

Iceland for 24 Hours

by Chelle

Things to do in Iceland if you're doing a quick stopover

  1. Rent a car. We rented our car from the Herz at the airport and they were open at midnight when we landed. We drove around Reykjavik listening to Sigur Rós, which is one of Joel's favorite bands. It was so light out it felt like a waste to go to sleep. 
  2. First stop in the morning was the Blue Lagoon. TIP: before you leave on your trip, make sure to reserve a spot. If you wait till you arrive they might be full! We went at 9 am, which is when the lagoon opens, and it was pretty empty. We stayed for around 2 hours and it was just starting to get busy when we left. Another TIP: Don't get your hair wet. I did and it was pretty tangly and dry for a few days. They suggest putting conditioner in it and leaving it in when you go in, even so... tangles. It was better in a few day's though, so if you can't resist it works out just fine.  
  3. Then we drove around. It's beautiful. 

An Uptown Pilgrimage

by Brittany

A few days ago I was uptown near Central Park, I only ever go up that far for grimly dull doctor's appointments (there's an inordinate amount of offices up there.. I blame the inordinate amount of wealthy old people that exclusively live up there) or the Met. Being already up there, I decided to venture even further uptown to the very top of the Park where the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is. The building is quite spectacular... in a solitary splendor since there's really nothing else up there but moms and college students. It feels like a grotesquely (because of its out of place-ness) ornate island in a sea of elderly suburban buildings with very few people... because they all commute to lower manhattan by day. The apartment buildings aren't ugly, for the most part, just painfully bland. I'm sorry if I've misjudged the area... It was my first time there. And I only saw a few blocks.

But I wasn't there for the building itself. It was a little pilgrimage to the grave of Madeleine L'Engle. She was the librarian at the cathedral for years and years. And is buried there along with her husband and possibly, in an unmarked grave in the churchyard, one of her dogs. I never actually read A Wrinkle in Time as a child, or now, for that matter. But her lesser known books were balm for my soul and have stood by me for years now... literally, I read them over and over. Certain Woman (I've raved about it on the blog several times) is one of the most beautiful, far reaching novels that incapsulate the writhing struggle of christianity, the arts, womanhood, manhood.... really, all the important things. Her books about teens and early twenty year olds are a large reason for why we (or I, Jesse has his own reasons) live in NYC! But she also writes about the islands of Puget Sound, a little town in Switzerland that you (Rachelle) and I spent time in, and many other places drawn from her varied life.

Her grave is an unassuming marble plaque, in the midst of a wall of plaques like patchwork, with her and her husband's names and dates. Lots of the plaques on the wall had hastily written notes,  with their jagged, torn edges, slid haphazardly into the cracks between. I wondered how many tightly folded notes were fallen out of sight by now. Her grave only had one note. I desperately wanted to read it but I resisted. I felt bad for not thinking to bring something... a little flower or something. I think it's weird and touristy to simply visit a grave. But that's what I was doing, Next time I'll plan ahead more. I started to walk away... the heels on my boots echoed throughout the entire cathedral, it was eery but I think I was the only one who noticed...when I suddenly realized that her husband had died in 1986 and she had not died till 2007. I had to go back with that knowledge cause I'm weirdly sentimental that way. She stood where I stood, for years, mourning her husband.

[unrelated photograph by Jesse of laundry, crooked art and a quiet evening]

sun breaks

by Chelle

Photo Credit: Ozzie

Photo Credit: Ozzie

crawling into clean sheets after a hot shower. late night shadows. piles of books I'm in the middle of and will take a year or two to finish. finishing a book. filling a book full of writing. doodling- instead of taking notes. drinking tea before bed. coffee in the morning. the idea of routine. checklists. crossed off checklists - but using a highlighter to cross them off so I can still read what they say. being able to drink - and enjoy - black coffee. going to the same spot where they know me. holding hands with the man. walking. not using an umbrella in the rain. rain boots. gold accents. sunshine. slow saturday mornings.  

P.S. Yesterday we broke the record for the most rain in a winter here.  


by Brittany

some things i like: orange segments warmed over gas flames, or candle flames. borrowed cats from homes you babysit in... or shops, or streets. hearing music from an open window. the boy who loiter outside waiting for just you. being able to see. french movies that make you sad. cutting hair over a bathroom sink. coffee on a fire escape. mascara rivers. hole-y sweaters. skin tight jeans. the way babies love black polished nails. a deconstructed kitchen. the olive at the bottom of my martini. the shadows my kitchen lamp and candles cast. a blank wall to catch those shadows. the church yard in the middle of wall street. the crispest, coldest white wine. being alone. being with him. having a together. the way the east river smells like Puget Sound. hearing the lapping of a tugboat's wake. tugboats. barges. sailing under bridges. orange subway benches. warm olives.  

Street Corners and Park Benches

by Brittany


Some New York-y things: Arms pulled straighter than you thought was ever possible as a non double jointed person (although, is beyond straight even straight even more?). Confusing the double bagged handles and dropping a bottle of whiskey on the street corner after grabbing the non-crucial handle. Then contemplating as you look in horror at the black plastic bag at your feet, a) whether or not that thud and gravity had ACTUALLY broken it and, when the smell of Very Old Barton (thankfully you'd decided on the cheaper bottle) wafted up to reach your nose b) what the odds were that the bag itself had broke and if it would hold up carrying lose glass and liquid on the subway. Until finally, all three seconds later the puddle appears around the bag (pronounced in a fiercely Washingtonian accent inside my head) and I move past my denial and grab the [crucial] handles and swing it into the garbage bin next to me. And the police car idling at the red light turns on his siren and I jump guiltily for some reason, then turn to retrace my steps because we have guests expecting whiskey. 

[Below: not the whiskey night]

Another New York-y thing: How people recreate park benches. Two girls swooped over to the rare empty bench (I myself was sharing mine with a variety of others) next to mine. In the space of a minute the bench was transformed from bits of wood and metal to bits of wood and metal that hosted a birthday party. A few shopping bags, a cupcake and a take out box of salad and chatter about evening plans... I think they even giggle-sang happy birthday for a brief bit. Another friend showed up and they all chattered about her haircut.

On the other side of me a business man had transformed his into his office... only took him, his suit and his cell phone. Oh! and his crossword puzzle. Ironically he was talking to his mom... but she definitely was led to believe he was at work. After that he had one of those baffling conversations with a fellow business man. It sounds like a chit chatty gossip session then suddenly ends with shocking formality as if he's just settled the most important deal of his life...all while doing a crossword on a park bench.

 A few more benches over a group of NYU students had their own world swirling around them. Another group met up with them. Everyone knew each other except for one guy and one girl from the respective groups. The girl jumped up and confidently shook the new guy's hand. He had been very much self satisfied but his manner ever so slightly taken aback at how unintimidated she was by his [self-supposed] good looks and demeanor. His afternoon snapped into focus as he realized he had just met the one. She, however, had not. 

And this brings me to the benches/buckets here in my own Chinatown. Cause we live here now. There's not much to say... This photo is pretty self explanatory... It doesn't capture the wads of cash that everyone hid as soon as a camera came out. Just tables and tables of men and women, mostly old but also young, gambling as if their lives depended on it. And I'm wondering now, if they did, in fact. It was just wonderful. My fellow It's Always Sunny fans would especially get a thrill from this particular park.  

Coffee Sodas

by Brittany in

So our newest sublet had an unfortunate AC situation... not a situation you want to find yourself in in New York in August. As of today it is mostly fixed, but upper 90s and full humidity is a very steep challenge for the lowly window unit. An upside to the new place is that a came with a soda stream. Now I wouldn't want one of my own (I'm very partial to certain Italian green glass bottles), but it has proved very nice for combatting the heat. We've been using it in Contretto spritzes and just to drink chilled, but I recently realized it could help me start my mornings without the added sweat of hot coffee. For our migrant summer I invested in a tiny little moka pot, which I love, I know it does not make the most sophisticated coffee but it brings very fond memories of Italy and France and makes a solidly respectable, albeit small, cup of coffee. Now I should mention that our freezer mysteriously cannot seem to freeze water in less than 72 hours. So our ice cubes are precious... simply stirring my hot coffee in ice was not an option (I know I could just make coldbrew but I stupidly told Jesse that we wouldn't want to haul around our burr grinder for the summer so variable grinds are not an option currently). That's where the soda comes in. 

How to: squirt honey into bottom of glass (I don't need to tell you exact amounts, guys, you're big kids and can figure it out for yourselves); pour coffee into glass; stir honey into it; stir about with one cube of ice (or two if you are so lucky to have a freezer that...freezes); fill rest with soda and one more cube. You're welcome. 

24 hours with B!

by Chelle

We're not very good at getting photos together when we happen to be in the same state at the same time! But Jesse snapped these gems outside of a great little bar in Tacoma, 1022


by Chelle


It's been really hot here. All summer. The sort of hot that normal people would call... well...summer. Unfortunately, the PNW isn't really equipped to handle anything above 85, and we've been around 90-95 enough times to justify buying an AC unit for our work. Joel and I have resisted getting one for the apartment. We draw the shades before we leave in the morning, turn up the fan, and when we come home in the evening, it's not totally unbearable. 

One of my favorite things about summer is Rosé. People get so excited that it's warm enough to drink rosé. They make plans to go and sip rosé at any of the local bars fancy enough to carry it, and we keep some stocked in the fridge, for those hot evenings when the shades just haven't quite kept the heat a bay. I get a thrill every time we find an Aix-en-Provence bottle at any store. I tell whoever the unfortunate clerk is ringing up the wine all about how I used to live in Aix, they humor me. But I still don't order in French at French restaurants. It's a matter of principal. 

Anyway I'm already starting to feel the panic that summer is ending. There was a thunderstorm on Friday. Joel and I made a list of things we want to do this fall, which includes a visit to NY to see you. And all I could think was - but summer just started. I need a one more camping trip, a bon fire or two, and some lazy days a Greenlake before I'm ready for sweaters, boots, and the usual line ups on the Starbucks fall beverage menu. I won't order any of them - but you know when that pumpkin spice latte hits, summer is gone. 

Summer Waning

by Brittany in , ,

There comes a time every summer when the rest of the world takes their well earned holidays, one realizes you can't remember what jeans and leather weather feels like, and forget about ever imagining wearing my beloved black beanie again. At this same time, for me, there comes a yearning for my own books (particularly An Everlasting Meal for some reason... probably linked to my next yearning), my own gluten free oven, pans and my little white tea cups, a worn kitchen table with mug rings and a half drunk bottle of wine and Jesse and whatever friends happen to swing by sitting there while I cook a sprawling, nibbler spread to feed us all. With plenty of minced herbs, ripe tomatoes, meatballs, sheep and goat cheeses tucked into whatever empty spaces there may be left. Olives. Buttery green ones, spicy blends that require cucumber chasers to cool the burn.... Any nomad will recognize these longings... these foods aren't even winter foods but summer is linked to strangers' homes for me... and using the least amount of dishes and gingerly using the stove and oven for fear of cross contamination and wedging my sparse grocery runs into an already packed refrigerator.

I probably mentioned before that my cousin Charles is coming to be our roommate... and he arrives in just six days!!! Communal living is kind of cool again right now, although our reasons are purely mercenary... well, also we love him. Alternate housing is in right now, but the two directions that manifests are 1. tiny house movement or 2. buy a giant house and fill it with friends. I fully admit I love both those concepts but find it funny that we are doing both... together. We're like, "Hey!!! let's rent a tiny little apartment and hey!!!! Charlie! Come live with us in said tiny little apartment! It'll be the BEST!"

Classically speaking, I am not a prime candidate for either of the alternate housing trends. I am somewhat of a hoarder with a crush on minimalism. I recently saw a studio apartment tour that warmed my heart... most people keep walls blank, no rugs, no art, tiny leather couches but these ladies channeled a cozy little study feel and it was perfect! While I do love to keep things I also hate ugly things, passionately. So I can end up not having very many things because whenever something ugly finds it's way into my home I have this uncontrollable urge to take a sledge hammer to it, throw it out the window or tear it to shreds. My biggest collection trap is books but I have such specific taste in books I will pass up a copy of my absolute favorite book or one I've been dying to read simply because it's ugly or not quite soft and battered enough. I love the canvas-book-taped-spine look. 

The second reason these housing situations are not classically "me" is I get so so exhausted by people. But... I'm not your ordinary introvert (who is though??? all those introvert crazed lists going on about how we love one on one conversations? I'm like, "oh hell no!!! I will NOT be cornered in one of those! I may actually have to talk about something deep then.") I actually love having people over! And do you know what makes people feel weird? A couple inviting them over. Really... in this day and age that seems super formal and foreign and oddly, romantic? Apparently?

Part of it goes back to my whole hating ugly things... no offense everyone else, but I am very full of myself and really really love my own style. In fact, I've come up with a name for this problem... and I'm sure I've talked about this before because I'm very proud of it. Chronic Spatial Anxiety. Think about it, guys! Every time that I've mentioned this to a creative type person it's a face palm moment. It's so obviously a real thing. Chelle, I know you agree with me on this one. Anyways, I get incredibly uncomfortable at other people's homes. I just can't deal. But really the problem is probably less a made up psychological condition (Just kidding...it's real) and more the fact that I can't eat anything at people's homes because of my celiac disease so I either have to pack myself a little brown bag meal (which hostess' usually find incredibly insulting... I get it... It sucks when you just want to make someone welcome in your home and they refuse to eat the very food you've prepared. But I also get it, guys, if you need to bring your own food to my home... just no crumby gluten stuff... be smart about it!!) or I'm silently starving in a corner because lack of food renders me completely limp, uninteresting and conversation-less. 

Ok go back two paragraphs. Let's pick up that train of thought. I'm really hoping three people inviting friends over will feel less romantic and/or formal and the whole vision of the worn kitchen table, scattered tumblers of wine,  herb-y boiled eggs and buttery green olives will really come true. 

Random side note: a specific thing that triggers my chronic spatial anxiety is raised beds. I'm never happier than when I'm sleeping on a billowy white shrouded mattress directly on the ground. I actually get crazy nightmares any time a bed is raised. Maybe it has to do with classic childhood fears about things under beds but it even happens if there is no "under the bed" like the bed here at this sublet.

Fire Escape

by Brittany

There are flowers on the fire escape and I kept them alive until this week. I think that they will revive... they just look like we all feel in this mid 90s humidity. Dried out and yet limp. In the morning when the sun hits was probably the best time to sit out there and read. You can't really go out there this week except late at night... the humidity is a bit too sliceable for we two Pacific North-westerners. But late at night is really the best time to be out there... no one notices you up there... and below you is the new york night of every song. Literally, directly below us are two of the most famous LES music venues, Pianos and Cakeshop (they do serve cake) and Arlene's Grocery is around the corner. A few nights ago a Swedish singer was trying to drum up a crowd and took her show to the street. Regina Spektor sings about Delancey Street in her song That Time and Julian Casablancas has a song straight up about our actual street, Ludlow St. 

The other day I was watering the plants and suddenly wondered what would happen if I missed and poured the water between the bars. So I tried. And a lady cussed at me. But she may be the first person to notice me up there. Maybe it was just a cry for attention. It was fun.


by Chelle

Summer is for suntans. For strolling, sweating, sleeping, stretching, swimming. Summer is for big floppy sun hats, sun dresses, sailing. For sand between your toes. Summer is for sultry evenings sipping something cold,  soaking up the last rays of light as the heat finally starts to slip away. 

Prosecco and Strawberries

by Brittany

1. Fireworks that thrill the soul... and look kind of like the Battle of Britain. 2. summer rooftop, prosecco, strawberries, Jesse. 3. We kiss a lot. 

A Day In A Sublet

by Brittany in

Our current sublet is basically my dream apartment.... minus a mattress on the floor bed. Some days ... when I'm waiting for a package or for cat food to be delivered... I spend nearly the entire day at home. Because it's the ideal New York flat. Whatever you picture a New York Artist's studio looking like, this is it. 

I would love to have met a few good friends already that I could meet for coffee or wander around a new street with or get up the nerve to actually enter one of those galleries that just have one person staring blankly out the window in art-filled solitude with (note: since writing this Jesse and I got up the nerve and had the loveliest morning last Saturday gallery hopping) . Or just to swing by to have a cup of coffee and a gluten free doughnut from Babycakes (Thank you Becky for telling me about it!!!) on my fire escape. Or to slyly get a bag of Bellocq tea from the coffee shop around the corner (it has some serious sanitation issues... and that's coming from someone who is unphased by gross things normally. But I figured out that if you order a cup of hot tea they keep the bag of loose leaf in it. Then you order a cup of ice to go.Then you get home and pour it into the ice and into another cup till it's chilled... don't forget to set the bag aside for your cup tomorrow. Boom.... a very complicated cup of iced tea for the rooftop and warm tea for tomorrow afternoon.) and drink ice tea and sunbathe and read silently together on the roof. Or someone to experiment with watching random French movies on Netflix with. Someone who likes to come to me mostly instead of me coming to them... cause that's just better for me. 

We were texting the other day, Chelle, and you summed that whole paragraph up in one sentence without even knowing I had written this the day before! You said,  <<It's nice to just be able to be and I miss being able to just be>>. So basically we both miss that. 

All my close friends are scattered around the Pacific Northwest with one notable one down in California. We are about as far away as we can be from each other so any time we see each other we don't get the chance to "just be" ... It's always a  grab coffee and a glimpse situation. 

Thankfully the most important friend just moves with me where ever I go... so the situation is not exactly dire and I was the one who deserted everyone else (except for you, Mia.... you moved first). 

We also have found a wonderful church that we think will be our home church here and have been welcomed in with open arms.... not literally... I don't like hugging... but I don't mind not feeling like everyone at the church resents us for showing our faces in their private club! So I'm very sure friends will come here soon. But all you West Coast friends, we miss you always!

Jesse and I have been discussing making friends and, contrary to popular thought, we have decided that it's actually easier to make friends as a married couple for many reasons. You have an automatic wingman who thinks you're the absolute best friend anyone could ever wish for (and, for those jerks who disagree with you, have someone to lick your wounds with... don't carry that metaphor too far). You can talk to either gender and not have them wonder if you are hitting on them. You have a safety net if you don't want the intensity of the one on one conversations. You have someone to hang out with for the times you get stood up (hey, it happens to the best of us). You don't seem so desperate...etc. Now most people get stuck on how you have to find other couple friends and what ifs like: what if the girls don't like each other (valid fear... very valid). But we have never limited ourselves to couple friends. In fact, most of our friends in Chicago were not couples... a perk of marrying young, you don't get lumped into the boring married stereotype as much. Also, we have very similar taste in people (It makes sense based on our mutual Meyers-Briggs results) so we nearly always agree on the couples we like. Sure, couple friends may never evolve into one on one friendships but that's fine by me, because one on one type friends that I actually get along with are very very rare. 

While we wait for new friendships to evolve I spend beautiful days like this one in my favorite company (except for Jesse) of myself! ... and cat (he and I are having a rough day... he won't give me any privacy in the bathroom or changing or doing yoga... he likes to bite my calf????... and when I take him for a walk he's such an ingrate. Cats, man. I mean, he has his moments and is pretty good company usually. Everyone has off day(s)). It's like last summer in LA... days and days can go by with me talking to no one but myself (...and cat) until Jesse gets home. And frankly, I'm a great conversationalist when I'm talking to me so I love it.

Also today I got to talk to a local barista and bond over our mutual dislike of Intellegensia coffee (sorry Chicago, but you have so many better options... Dark Matter, Metropolis... and, I haven't had it yet but cannot wait to try, Metric) and said barista gave me my coffee for free and made me sample his Japanese Iced Coffee... he may be winning me over but so far I think it's a blah trend. I like my iced coffee all velvet and chocolate (he thinks cold brew is just day old... we, oh so respectfully, disagreed with each other). I like that kind of friendship... I also met a lovely lady while walking the cat... she's an artist and has lived in LES for "hundreds of years" and knows everyone. She introduced me to a carnie that's lived here in LES for forever as well and works out at Coney Island and a young guy my age who she met while my back was turned at the laundromat.... sure, she's introducing me as Boris, but Boris definitely has less of a ditz connotation than my name so maybe it's ok!  

Meanwhile, I (we) plan and plot how to get you, Chelle, and all our other West Coasters to at least visit New York. We already succeeded in convincing Charles (my cousin) to move here... less than a month now!!!... though, frankly, he was ridiculously easy to convince! Where's the fun in that? Well the fun is him being our built in friend, I suppose!


Summer in the City | 4th of July Weekend

by Chelle

lhirondelle rouge

There are many things I love about Joel. One of them is how we spent 4th of July weekend. There had been grand plans of a road trip adventure. We'd ordered film for the instax (which means business), decided what to pack, and then the truck broke. 

Joel's first reactions was, "Let's have a staycation and enjoy all the things we love about Seattle, while no one is here." People tend to leave the city for the 4th of July. So that is what we did. And we didn't waste the instax! Not for a minute. Here are a few snapshots from the weekend: 


We spent Friday morning and afternoon lounging in the sun at Greenlake with Callie and Ben. Callie and I floated to the center of the lake on our trusty old $2 target inner tubes. 

lhirondelle rouge

Gina and Jeremiah joined the crew to see a movie (Inside Out, which you should see! You would love it!) and then we had dinner at Local 360. This is a fun place, all local, you know very Seattle! But the food is amazing! 

Joel had found a room for the two of us at a hotel with a pool, so the six of us headed back and lounged in the pool until late, then the others headed home. 

lhirondelle rouge

We woke up and headed out for breakfast at Odd Fellows. On the way we stopped at Cafe Senso  which is right by my old office. The owner was manning the shop as it was the 4th and he wanted his staff to have a fun day off. His name was Mario! He made us the best iced coffees and sent us on our way with warmed up pastries on the house. 

We've been getting brunch at Oddfellows a lot lately. Mainly because we get two things and split them and it's so yummy and cheap and gluten free! They were featuring a drink called Paradise Lost. Gin, Lillet, Grapefruit, and a housemade elixir. It was so yummy! 


So the weekend was lovely. And we avoided the large crowds and loud noises. On 4th of July evening ( I don't know what else to call it) we watched a movie with some friends, then dashed home to reassure Penny the cat that the world was not ending. She was, in fact, fine. She happily snuggled in Joel's arms and we watched the fire works from our window. So it was overall a lovely weekend, though plans went totally as we hadn't planned. Which they are prone to do. 

Capturing A Happy Day With A Week's Worth of Photos

by Brittany

So this entire week I've spent walking to and from the post office and chasing down mailmen.

Don't feel too bad for me. Babycakes Bakery was on the way and I discovered that they make Fair Scones... they don't call it that... in fact I've discovered that no one here, including my husband has ever had or heard of Fair Scones. Anyways, this is the best gluten free scone/biscuit I've ever not imagined could be even possible (If you think about that sentence it may make sense...I, however, have chosen not to think about it). Too many GF biscuit recipes end up weirdly sweet?? Do you guys know what I mean? Anyways, this one was perfectly salty and flaky but absolutely not crumbly and paired exquisitely with the best cherry preserve I have ever tasted. Plus they hand it to me on a perfect sized, malleable wax paper bag. Malleable packaging is actually a very important characteristic for a baked good to go... cause I was able to eat the gluten free scone while walking. My fellow celiacs understand how unheard of the ability to walk and eat is. 

When we moved here we had a very broad general idea of where we wanted to live... namely Lower Manhattan. We were also pretty sure we wanted to live in the Lower East Side. Now when people hear both these things they assume lots of things:

a. that we're rich or going to go broke. Reply: we are the opposite of rich... but we also are not broke. Cause we work. And Jesse is really good with budgeting. And we are creative ex-homeschooled kids who have been trained to entertain ourselves cheaply. My most expensive habit is thrifting. So...not very expensive. Our collective most expensive habit is coffee. Also not very expensive. And once my job starts finally, will be even cheaper. Jesse does not have any expensive habits. Well, actually about once every two years he finds something he loves and thinks about it for a year and uses his magical budgeting skills to get us things like out Fuji X100T.

b. that we like to party. LES (lower east side) is known for its amazing nightlife. Reply: we do love speakeasies and shows... but we stick to happy hours and frankly usually end up staying in or up on our rooftop with a bottle of wine... cause: Jesse's magic at budgeting. Also we love the LES because it's more affordable (no yuppies cause of it's partying repute), the streets are narrow, bustling and lined with fire escapes, and tenement buildings are cool. And we like the noise. And how it doesn't get sad and dead at night.

But we also knew that living in places gives you a much better feel for a place and is a better vantage point for a place's actual livability.  That's why we decided to sublet for the first month (it has become the whole summer because landlords are weird about renting places to kids whose jobs don't start till September (me).) We didn't want to just take the first apartment that appeared regardless of location and proximity to the places that we didn't yet frequent but would eventually. We have definitely fallen more in love with the LES but this week has made me realize that, like, every neighborhood, it has littler neighborhoods within it! I know, so cute! Like a Russian doll! 

This text that I sent to Jesse while sitting under one of those umbrellas right next to Man With Newspaper (that such a famous sounding title... I will sell you prints for many dollars if you want) pretty much sums up the whole of a frustrating (cause, lost package) and beautiful week in one happy burst:

<<It's just (I think) my favorite square in NYC. It's perfectly placed in between les and Chinatown. It's affordable. It has a library and a post office in spitting distance and my bakery and more coffee shops than I can count. A park with tons of sprinklers and concerts. A market in the park. People sit and read in the square and in the park. Hester is a beautiful word. You can look down the streets and see the civic center buildings which I adore. Oh and best of all the East Broadway subway stop has like five entrances on every corner you could possibly need it to be on. So perfect for winter or summer. Can I live here please?>>

Basically what I'm trying to say is I want a home where you step out the door on heart winds ... and Swedish clogs (that did eventually make their appearance and maybe partially responsible for the exuberance of this post... and lest you think my buying them nixes my earlier point about budgeting... they were bought with gift monies). 

Aforementioned East Broadway stop and gorgeous newsstand that I imagine Jesse and Man with Newspaper getting their respective periodicals at.

Aforementioned East Broadway stop and gorgeous newsstand that I imagine Jesse and Man with Newspaper getting their respective periodicals at.

The civic center buildings in the background make my heart pitter patter and I can pretend I live in Rome when I see them.

The civic center buildings in the background make my heart pitter patter and I can pretend I live in Rome when I see them.

This section of town seems mostly unsullied by gentrification... no, this is Manhattan we are talking about... but it does seem to have gentrified more gracefully than many other neighborhoods (I'm looking at you Brooklyn). For example, there's what I assumed was a ghost sign for a Hosiery Shop that I stared at for a while cause it was beautiful then I realized that it actually still sold hosiery. I mean, that's the dream in a place!!!

So if any of our readers happen to know of a two bedroom, pre war apartment somewhere between Allen, Essex, Grand and Broadway.... let me know. Seriously.   

On a completely unrelated note... I recommend you check out the instagram feed My People Back Then, Chelle. It's a Danish (I think?) woman that I follow's feed of old family pictures. Recording amazing 70s style (including clogs just like mine!), and an epic (I do not use that word lightly) road trip from Denmark to Yugoslavia. I mean.... that last place doesn't even exist anymore! 


How to eat gluten free when traveling in France, and a Crepe Recipe

by Chelle in ,

We have a very special blog post for you today! One day I posted a gluten free picture on instagram. Several minutes later someone from france commented on the post. I did what we all do, and did a little instagram stalking! I discovered Céline. She has been blogging about how to live a gluten free lifestyle in France since 2012. She focuses on using fresh, seasonal ingredients. She also believes you shouldn't have to break the bank to eat healthily. 

Having lived in France in 2008, and not discovering our allergies until a year or two later (or until last year for me), I was so excited to hear about gluten free options in France. I thought I  wouldn't be able to eat anything when I next visited, but after talking to Céline discovered that there are more and more gluten free options become more readily available in France. She's put together some tips on how to eat gluten free when traveling in France! These are so helpful! She also shared some delicious gluten free crepe recipes! 

Visiter her blog here! Follow her on Instagram here! 

1. When traveling in France what tips do you have for someone who is gluten Free

France is a little behind on America in terms of gluten-free products, but luckily French cuisine tends to use quite a lot of simple and fresh produce such as meat or fish and fresh vegetables, so it is not too difficult to find gluten-free dishes. 

To ask if something is gluten-free : "Est-ce que ce plat est sans gluten ? " (is this dish gluten-free ?) Before you head off traveling, you can download the French coeliac card . This card informs your waiters that you have a sever allergy to gluten and must avoid it. 

All over France, in cities, you can find gluten-free products quite easily: in the health food stores such as Naturalia and Biocoop, or in the health food section in supermarkets such as Monoprix

In Paris, a lot of gluten-free cafés have opened recently. You can find them all on my google map of gluten-free places in the world :) Some of them also sell GF products, such as Chambelland or Helmut Newcake. The Maison du sans gluten is also a small boutique with great gluten-free products such a bread, cereal, biscuits, flour mixes. 

2. Where is your favorite place to eat gluten free food (restaurant). 

In Alsace, where I live, I love the restaurant Piano 2, just up my street. The waiters are knowledgeable about gluten and allergies in general, and I've never been disappointed by any of their meals. Delicious! They serve a great pesto risotto, and amazing meat dishes with two sides of your choice. It can be fresh seasonal vegetables with olive oil, sauteed potatoes with a little garlic, roquette & cherry tomato salad...For desert, the best place to go to is Bistrot & Chocolat, a trendy café that serves vegetarian/vegan/gluten or dairy free food. Chocolate fondant, buckwheat crêpes, gratins...they are really working on many new gluten-free dishes these days. 

My family lives in Paris so I go there quite often. I haven't yet got around to trying all of the new cafés, but I really enjoyed my meal at My Free Kitchen, where all the food is gluten and dairy free. I had a lovely leek quiche, chicken hachis parmentier (shepherd's pie) and a giant apple cinnamon muffin with an amazing crumble on top! Just a few minutes' walk from there are the famous Café PinsonNOUS & Noglu. A great neighbourhood to stay in when traveling! :)

But the best address you just cannot miss is definitely Chambelland, the recently opened bakery that all of Paris - if not France! - is talking about. Their specialty, the "pain de sucre" ("sugar bread") is to die for. Try the chocolate and orange blossom pain de sucre", it is heavenly! 



My recipe

These crêpes are delicious with either a good chocolate spread, coconut sugar or your favorite jam. I used my dad's recipe from my childhood, which is initially full of gluten! I've tried several versions of this recipe, here they are : 

☆ 165 g brown rice flour
☆ 85 g corn or potatoe starch
☆ 50 cl almond milk
☆ 3 eggs

☆ 2 tablespoon oil 

☆ 2 tablespoons brown sugar (not necessary, it is nice if you like to eat the crêpes plain)

Mix all of the ingredients, heat your skillet (medium heat) and start making the crêpes! 

My other version: beer crêpes

You can replace the almond milk by half dairy-free milk + half gluten-free beer (crêpes with beer is a French tradition from the North of France, where my family is from: 

My other version: chestnut crêpes

You can replace the flours by  165 g brown rice flour + 85 g chestnut flour

Museum Goers

by Brittany in

Metropolitan Museum of Art | Paul Cezanne | Card Players 5

Metropolitan Museum of Art | Paul Cezanne | Card Players 5

I am very self referential when it comes to art... I have visited the Met several times since moving here. Did you know it's actually free? They list $25 on a sign but that's just a suggested donation... I know, they think a lot of themselves. I heard, though, that you should legally never feel like you have to pay anything there. It is a vast, vast place so I've decided to take it very slowly and never feel like I have to see a certain amount of rooms or anything. So I just wander and listen to music (Regina Spektor, last time: Rowboats was particularly on point). Some rooms just bore me to tears (sculptures, I'm referring to you) so I speed through them till I get to my current favorites.

Lately the very glimpse of a Cezanne triggers wave after wave of throat-catching nostalgia. He somehow managed to capture countless scenes that I also have impressed on my mind... like, exactly. And not just the views of Mont Sainte Victoire (ugh.... such a miserable hike... remember how Jamie and Josh deserted me with the Quebecois boys who didn't speak a word of English and we somehow ended up on the total other side of the mountain?? I'm pretty sure that was yet another instance of me breaking our hitch hiking rule... due to the bus being on the total other side and the sun having set)... but also the Gulf of Marseille, the solitary angular houses surrounded by scraggly olive trees and yellow soil, and even his still lifes... they sum up the frozen-in-time-broken-only-by-the-lazy-buzzing-of-an-overgrown-fly feel of an endlessly warm afternoon that is so unique to the South of France.

Ok so do you remember the movie (500) Days of Summer? A lot of people have forgotten it/give it a bad rap now but I still completely adore it. There's this beautiful scene where she first brings Tom to her apartment and he actually grasps the fact that showing someone where you live is showing a bit of your soul... it's very intimate. Anyways, she has a black bowler hat on a shelf with a granny smith apple balanced on top.... a nod to the painting by Rene Magritte. I believe she also has a print of a Cezanne. 

Walking around art museums always makes me fantasize about being rich enough to simply have a small Van Gogh on my wall... I am very aware that that will never happen. That's why most countries have fascinatingly beautiful vast buildings filled with art that their citizens can wander in at will. It's an amazing thing actually.

Some people sketch. I always feel like they are the truest form of museum goer. 

Some people wander aimlessly, ignoring some (often the most famous paintings or all sculptures, in my case, I just can't get into them. Maybe in a few years.) and staring randomly for minute after minute at a row of pipes in the background of some painting (can you tell this is my type of museum goer?).

Some people feel the need to pontificate to their bored fellow museum goers about the mind behind that particular shade of beige on the corner of that particular rock in that particular foreground. This type gets nasty glares from me. I hate them. And their thoughts.

Some people treat it like their afternoon exercise break (and maybe it is). I actually appreciate this type immensely because when you think about it, a brisk walk around the Met is sheer genius. So much better then a boring run through Central Park or a treadmill or ... worst of all... a mall. Plus they don't get in the way of my staring at pipes.  

Some people zip around photographing every single painting. Now this type I find hilarious... because I did that once... when I first visited the National Gallery in London when I was twelve. Only to realize when I got home these photos that I'd blown my entire disposable camera on were soul-less. They lacked everything that make real paintings alive and dance and failed to jog my memory because I'd neglected to take a picture of the artists' names, too. But some of this type of goer have really perfected the art of photographing every painting. Perhaps it's because of nearly limitless memory cards or iPhone storage. Whatever the reason, these dedicated people take painstaking photos alternating between the information plaque and the painting. I hope no one ever tells them that many museums now have online catalogues with that exact information, because they are one of my favorite things to see at museums. 

Frederic Bazille | The Artist's Studio, Rue Visconti, Paris | 1867 | VMFA

Frederic Bazille | The Artist's Studio, Rue Visconti, Paris | 1867 | VMFA

I am also (and still) the type to wander around with a camera... but now instead of mindless cataloguing, I prefer to take photos of the mindless cataloguers (photo credit above: Jesse) or the sketchers. And here and there when I see a really lovely painting I photograph it. So I can a) show you and b) so I can reproduce the painting in 3D in my very own home. Which is where I've been trying to get to with this rambling piece of writing all along. That row of pipes! I gave Jesse a beautiful meerschaum pipe for our first Christmas together and since then pipe giving has become a bit of a tradition so we have a few by now. And will only get more. So I plan on a pipe rack in our next apartment. And only you, readers of the blog, will know what it's a reference to (the Cezanne above). I love the concept of decor being a reference to--a nod to--great pieces of art that I will never afford (nor would I necessarily actually want to, cause private art collectors are kind of selfish, right? denying all of us hilarious museum goers).  Basically, paintings are the pinterest of the past... and probably should be of the present, too.

I already had a nearly entirely black room (my kitchen) in Chicago but this painting (to the right) has inspired me to re-create this entire little nook.... preferably with the stove for heat as well.