I live in Toronto with my partner JC, our son, and 3 cats. I like technology, vegan food, travelling, and lots of other things. For more information about MeShell, JC, Emmie, Kes, or Marmie, visit our About page.

Things I Love Thursday – Cats, Having the Right Name on Envelopes, Zevia, etc.

I’ve been having a very good week this week. And probably last week too. It’s one of those weeks where things are going so great, and I felt so positive and optimistic, that I simultaneously felt myself bracing for something bad to happen. So, yesterday, something sort of bad did happen. Our newest rescue cat, Marmie, escaped from our front door. We’ve had Marmie in our house since sometime in October, before JC and I got married. Initially she was feral, initially we were just fostering her briefly for a friend, initially we weren’t sure if she would be sticking around. But at some point along the way, she warmed up to us, and we warmed up to her, so the arrangement became more permanent. So now, yesterday she escaped for the second time. And this time all blame was firmly planted on me, which might be worse than feeling mad at someone else. I hadn’t locked the door & the wind blew the door open, Marmie took her chance, and left before I could do anything. I spent at least an hour afterwards beating myself up over it. It was one of those terrible cycles of should haves and would haves that aren’t constructive at all, and it wasn’t going to bring Marmie back home to me. Once I realized it wasn’t a very constructive cycle and wasn’t going to solve anything, I shut it down and tried to spend the rest my day as normally as possible. On the bright…

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Tea Sparrow – Tea Delivery Service Review & Giveaway

I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee over the past few months. Like a lot (see: Coffee Monday). So when Tea Sparrow reached out and asked me if I wanted to try out their tea delivery service – I was really excited. I like tea, I have a collection of different types of tea in our pantry, and a cup of tea seems to be what I reach for during those twilight hours when I want something warm and comforting.  Let’s just call today tea Tuesday…. Tea Sparrow is a monthly mail based tea box, where you receive an assortment of herbal and caffeinated blends for around 35 – 40 cups of tea, depending on the tea, and your style. Tea Sparrow was founded in 2011 by three siblings, and is based out of Vancouver, BC, and spawned out of a love of tea (and a well designed, award winning tea set.) The idea of curated collections of items really appeals to me. I’m a novelty enthusiast – and while I love discovering things on my own –  having someone else that completely nerds out over flavours and aromas, sources, information, and to have people that are actually tea sommelliers pick their favourite teas and shipping them over to me is very exciting. (Please also see The Roasters Pack – if you’re also a coffee enthusiast like me.) When the Tea Sparrow box arrived I was really impressed with the packaging. The box is quite slim, with their cute logo on…

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Coffee Monday – The Remarkable Bean – Espresso

There is the first week of April gone – have we gone to any Indie Coffee Passport stops in that time? No. Maybe if I keep mentioning it online we will go, but no, we’ve been doing the usual wait for a really caffeinated last-minute  weekend of April. Over the past week we’ve been enjoying the coffee beans delivered with our weekly Mama Earth Organics order. Mama Earth teamed up with The Remarkable Bean, a coffee shop and roastery at 2242 Queen St. East that I had not been to before yesterday to deliver different roasts of fair trade organic coffees in whole bean or several different grinds, from regular grind, to french press, to espresso grind for their Espresso Roast. The Remarkable Bean is a family business which has been selling coffee since 1994 out of the Beaches in Toronto. They roast onsite and in public, and all of their coffee is small batch or micro-roasted daily, which is why the nice folks at Mama Earth Organic can deliver freshly roasted (within 2 days before delivery) coffee to my door. Since we have an espresso machine, I ordered 1/2lbs of Espresso Roast, and later regretted it. That is, I regretted that I didn’t order more. I loved this coffee, and all of its rich flavour notes. This is also their house espresso so if you happen to go in to get a fancy coffee beverage (or just a simple in house espresso), this is the roast you will likely…

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Craft Wedding Market – Yesterday!

I wish the Craft Wedding Market was around a couple years ago when we were planning our wedding. There were several vendors with fun ideas, creative people, and best of all, a low key, nice gathering of people that might be planning a wedding, or interested in crafted goods and DIY. I won tickets courtesy of Food Forward, and brought JC along for the “fun” and treats and info. As I exited the Elevator at Bento Miso up to the 3rd floor, the first person I see is Marie Fitrion, who with her partner Daniel Holloway,  have created Urban Acorn Catering, a plant-based friendly catering company. They do a few events every month that are either totally plant-based or have decent options. Like their upcoming Evening Vegan Brunch, which sounds amazing and full of delicious options. We wandered around checking out the different vendors and creators, one thing I liked finding out about at this show was The Den, a DIY space with wedding & any ring workshops plus the workshop of several skilled jewelers. While I love the rings we ended up getting (from Brent & Jess) the idea of making your own ring together with your partner has some serious appeal. They also do parties and other events, so while I wont be making any wedding rings soon, it’s definitely a space I’m going to keep in mind. (I’ll have to find out if making jewelry for my stretched lobes is an option…) Black Oak Brewery was there showing off their vegan-friendly…

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Coffee Monday – Ethical Bean – Fairtrade Supermarket Options

First of all, if you’ve got an Indie Coffee Passport you still have until April 30th 2014 to use it. I’m especially happy to confirm this because we haven’t been out to a cafe this month (okay, I went to The Abbot alone, but I’m not sure that counts.) With our trip to California, and work, and everything else, a lovely urban coffee exploration just hasn’t happened. Last week we drank 12 ounces of Ethical Bean Coffee: Rocket Fuel French Roast. The beans are organic, fair trade, from Peru & Bolivia, and roasted in Canada. Ethical Bean Coffee is based our of Vancouver, BC, and this package promised “a strong dark roast, full of body, balance, and a cocoa-laced finish.” It also features a QR code you can use if you want to get a bit more information about when the coffee was brewed, where the beans were from, etc. Or alternately you can enter the number into their website and get the same info. So I did, and found that my particular package of coffee was roasted on January 30th, 2014. The one distinct benefit of mostly getting coffee from small producers is that we get the coffee almost always within a week of roasting. I’m not sure how long most supermarket coffee beans sit on the shelf before sale, this might still be exceptional – we bought it on March 16th, so it was on the shelf or in transit for a bit over a month. We bought…

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6th Annual Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake Off in Toronto

This weekend was the 6th Annual Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake Off, and it was bigger than ever. Every year I go, I have to think about the first one I went to at Harbourfront Community Center (the Third one.) I was so excited, since I had never been to a bake off before, let alone a vegan one at that point. These days, the idea that I only got ONE plate at my first one doesn’t even make sense, but I’ve learned my lesson. This year, the Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake Off was held at Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park. I liked that it got some of us east of Yonge Street for a few hours, and I really like that it was at a venue that was non-denominational and has actively tried to be accessible to people with varying levels of mobility and socioeconomic status, AND has been a great spot for local social and food justice events, meetings, and activities. In a moment of excellent pre-planning, JC and I brought along a blanket to sit on, and I purchased the maximum tickets allowed as early as possible before we even knew if we could go to the Bake Off or would be in the city. Either way, it’s a fun event, and we knew the money would be going to a good cause. We got to the venue early (we thought) but if there is anything I’ve learned – vegans like bake offs, and at around 1:30 there was…

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Farmers Market Finds – Heartnuts

I go to farmers’ markets once and a while and usually find something fun or interesting or new, or just have a really good conversation with a person at the market. It’s easy to see the same people every week, be they vendors, or fellow market shoppers – some of us have similar schedules. On Mondays I want to go the the Sorauren Farmers’ Market, sometimes I can’t make it between 3pm and 7pm, but I try, even in the winter (they’re indoors anyway) – I’ll head over, and grab a coffee and walk around with a mug in my hand. This week I went and saw something new to me, and I thought they were pretty neat. They were Heartnuts at the Forbes Wild Foods table. Ever since we were in Georgia, and I got to try local pecans and peanuts, I’ve been a bit obsessed with finding local Ontario nuts (har dee har har). A conversation with an employee at Good Catch made me realize that peanuts grow around here (which means fresh boiled peanuts could happen again…) But anyway, when I see pecans or walnut like things, it piques my interest and makes me pay attention. Especially when it’s from a known-to-me local forager like Forbes Wild Foods. So there they were. Heartnuts. And what’s a heartnut? Well… a heartnut is a hybrid of a butternut and walnut flavours, and is originally from Japan. It has a smooth and lovely flavour, like walnuts, but without any bitter qualities.…

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Laguna Beach – Southern California.

It was the day JC was leaving to go back to Toronto, one day before me, and we had spent most of our days at ExpoWest, and some of the time vegetating in the sunshine or in our air conditioned, but otherwise sparse, hmotel room. We woke up and wanted to do something, to explore whatever it is that Southern California has going for it (which is lots of lovely things.) So we started our day by going to Laguna Beach. It was one of those days where we wanted to do something, but kept finding other things we wanted to do. We thought of going into Los Angeles for brunch (at Flore.) Or here. Or there. The beach won. We went, and it was so sunny and amazing, we took off our shoes/sandals and walked down the beach with our feet in the sand. Let me tell you something… the water wasn’t warm. But I just had to put my feet in it. And take a video. Then I did something I said I’d never do. I posted a video to Instagram. And yes, these are my feet. (with Butter nail lacquer in His/Her Royal Highness Purple.) In my defense, my usual spot to post videos (Vine) wasn’t letting me upload anything, so after the second “failed upload” message, I popped open instagram and saved a memory of sunny beaches and waves lapping at my feet. I look at this video now that I’m back in Toronto and it makes…

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Awesome Vegan Stuff We Saw At ExpoWest – Part Three – Non-Dairy Cheese & Other Products

I’m surprised and also not surprised how much I have to say about my first visit to ExpoWest. I never expected to have so many posts on one event, but there are genuinely a lot of interesting products releasing new or new-to-me ideas. Part one focused on the vegan meats & other alternatives Part two focused mostly on milks and frozen desserts. This is part three, focused on the Non-Dairy Cheese Co’s, the Not Butters, and the Miscellaneous non-dairy products we were into at the show. Non Dairy Cheeses TEESE It’s still mostly a mystery why I can’t find Teese in Canada other than to order it online, but I suppose a huge reason is the widespread success of Daiya (and the fact that Daiya is a Canadian company.) Teese was one of the first vegan cheeses I ever ate on a pizza, so I have a fondness for their mozzarella, especially if it’s grated and melted a little. There was nothing new being shown off over at the Teese Booth, but it always feels new to me, especially since I still think of them as part of “Chicago SoyDairy” where their name is as of at least 2012 actually “Chicago Vegan Foods“. They’ve got a couple of cheesy sauces (Nacho sauce, and creamy chedder sauce) that sound delicious, and we’re kind of kicking ourselves for not just buying a case of the stuff at the show. Heck, even as we were walking away, JC turned to me and said… we should have just ordered…

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Awesome Vegan Stuff We Saw At ExpoWest – Part Two – Not Dairy Milks

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post on the awesome stuff we tried at ExpoWest last week. Yesterday I covered a few of the Not Meat & Other Alternative products, There were lots to choose from for that category, and also lots to choose from in the Non-Dairy Dairy-like products as well. Here are some of the non-dairy milks or alternative products that we saw at ExpoWest last week. There will be another non-dairy ExpoWest finds post up tomorrow. There was a lot of wonderful stuff, and I haven’t even touched on all of it. Yogurt There were a couple of non-dairy yogurts I tried at the Expo that I liked, but there were two that I just loved. Coyo Coconut based Yogurt “Alternative” Coyo has been around for a few years in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, but launched on Friday March 7th, 2014 in the USA (on the first day of ExpoWest). I had the mango variety and it was phenomenal. Coyo seems coconut cream based, with the familiar tanginess of yogurt. It comes in a few different varieties other than mango, they also have natural, mixed berry, and chocolate. I’ve asked on Twitter when/if they’ll be in Canada, but I guess I’ll just be patient. WholeSoy & Co It was nice to see WholeSoy & Co at ExpoWest. I’m sure you’ve heard about their factory problems. Shortly after they entered the Canadian market a year or so ago, trouble hit them and they stopped being able…

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