Old Fort MacArthur Days - and My New Hobby!

on
Thursday, July 12, 2018
My get-up for the day, before my hair wilted and my makeup melted.
This past Sunday Alex and I went to Old Fort MacArthur Days at...you guessed it...Fort MacArthur.  the Fort is alllllll the way in San Pedro and every summer they have a living history event featuring different military activity across time and spanning many different cultures.  We saw military gatherings from Romans, to Vikings, to British Redcoats all the way to Vietnam soldiers.  And of course, my favorite period of history, WWII.  I don't come from a military background, I've never served, and don't really know a lot of people who have, but for some reason WWII military history has always been a big source of inspiration and something I've read a lot about.  That's even the whole reason why I got into one of my favorite shows, Outlander, in the first place.  In the first episode (and frequently throughout the first season) Claire is shown in the 1940s and we see her background as a combat nurse for the British army (though not in as much detail as I would have liked).

I'll back up just a bit -  A few weeks ago I stumbled upon some girls overseas who were in a living history / WWII reenacting group.  I loved their Instagram feeds and spend way more time that I would like to admit devouring everything.  On a whim, I decided to do a google search to see if there was anything like that in SoCal (spoiler: there are a LOT).  I stumbled upon the website for the California Historical Group and looked at a list of units to join.  I wrote to the 45th Field Hospital, and honestly did not expect a reply.  A few days later I received the warmest reply from the leader of the 45th, asking me to come meet them at the event at the Fort.  I instantly cleared my schedule to be able to go and check it out, and meet the gals.

45th Field Hospital equipment
WWII surgical instruments.
The event itself was incredible, and I had never seen anything like it.  The 45th Field Hospital encampment was set up right near the entrance and I met the gals before I did anything else.  Alex also came in the tent and met everyone (and I think they tried to recruit him as well...). Everyone was so warm and friendly, and I'm always so worried about meeting new people and being weird and awkward.  Everyone looked great and period appropriate (I'm a stickler for historical accuracy), and I was instantly excited to get started.  I'm pleased to say, I will be joining the unit for their next event, and purchased my insignia for my uniform yesterday! I'm on my way to becoming a member of the 45th. I also can't wait to share my journey with everyone, and also my trials and tribulations of being vegan in a WWII reenactment group...(which should be interesting). I also dropped by the WLA tent and learned to milk a cow (which was not a real cow, don't worry) and they also tried to recruit me.  It was very tempting...but I think my heart belongs to the nursing unit.

From the WLA (Women's Land Army) setup. So cute.

Further reading:
American Nightingale: The Story of Frances Slanger, Forgotten Heroine of Normandy
Reading this now, it's incredible.

And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II




From the WAC encampment. Didn't meet these girls - as you can see there's no one in there. Just missed 'em!
Alex (not period appropriate) in front of the beautiful view from the bluff.



Say, "Chicken Frito Pie!"

on
Thursday, June 28, 2018

 

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Chris Hardwick is Trash.

on
Wednesday, June 20, 2018

As most of you guys probably know (if you follow me on social media or have read this blog long), I was in an abusive relationship for 4 years while living in Kansas.  I speak about this fairly often, and always when something hits a little too close to home in the news, because I think it's important to remember that this sort of thing happens to all kinds of people.  I'm just about the last person anyone I know would think would put up with this kind of thing, and that's why it's so important that I talk about it.

I've been a fan of Chris Hardwick since his days on G4, and I even remember crushing on him at 10 years old when he was on Singled Out.  He seemed like a nice guy, like someone that I would really get along with, and he was into the same things that I was. What's not to like?  He's married to Lydia Hearst, who I'm also a fan of.  Lydia is beyond gorgeous, a big time horror fan, and a super cool chick.  Again, what's not to love?  So when Chloe Dykstra came out with claims that he was emotionally and sexually abusive to her for the duration of their 3 year relationship, I was shocked.  I was mostly shocked because I believed it immediately, despite being a Hardwick/Nerdist fan.

My ex in Kansas was charismatic and everyone loved him. He was eccentric and artsy and girls fawned all over him.  He was emotionally and physically abusive after 6 months, and continued for 4 whole years.  He isolated me from my family and my friends and convinced me to drop out of college and move to another state with him when I was just barely 20 years old, and he was 26.  I chose to go.  I chose to stay for 4 years.  I chose that because he made me believe there were no other choices.

Chloe Dykstra says that her abuse began weeks into their relationship, and this abusive continued and escalated for the duration.  She never said anything publicly because she thought people wouldn't believe her, and because people liked Hardwick enough to overlook it.  And while her post detailing the abuse was important, she was not wrong to be scared.  It took me a couple years of being away from the situation before I said anything about how bad it was.  I felt like I wasted a big chunk of my life, and there are still things that I feel that are related to that time (I continually ask people if they're mad at me, because they haven't said otherwise).

Chris Hardwick was lovable and "gentle" (to quote Adam Carolla, who wasn't in the home of these two people and has no idea what he's talking about).  People like Chris Hardwick and my ex are really good at making certain people see them in a certain light, and know how to be abusive without being seen as a person capable of abuse.  One reason why this story in particular hits really close to home, is because Chris Hardwick is seen as a kind of nerd-hero, and in recent years nerd culture has been horrible and toxic.  The nerds have taken over, and become the new jocks.  It's evident every time I talk about my love for LOTR and some idiot guy gets aggressive out of nowhere and quizzes me about every detail in every book. It's sad because he was supposed to be one of the good ones, but it turns out he's one of the worst.

Supposed texts have been released that show Dykstra asking Hardwick if they can work it out, and being emotional about their separation.  People are using this as "proof" that she wasn't abused, but this is complete bullshit (pardon my French...).  I can tell you first hand that when you finally get up the courage one way or another to get out of that situation, they still have a hold on you.  They still can make you believe that you are worthless and that no one else will want you. "But you've dropped out of school, your family won't want you back,  you have nowhere else to go."  Hardwick also moved on rather quickly, which is classic abusive behavior. "See, everyone wants me and you're all alone."  The manipulation that happens in a years-long abusive relationship is deep, and it doesn't just "go away" once you leave.  It has been happening for years, and it takes even longer to get over it and to realize that everything they told you was a lie.  You want them back, because they're so good at making you think they're right and you really won't be better off.

So why did she speak about it now?  When someone is "famous" and successful, speaking against them in any way brands you an "attention whore" and a host of other awful names that people want to call you.  My abuser was not famous, and I was still called these things (I sometimes still am if the right person reads my posts, and because I'm not afraid to talk about it anymore).  I made the age-old mistake of reading comments on her posts, and I was really disgusted by what I saw.  "Fame-whore," "liar,"  "I stand with Chris!"  What these people are really saying is "I believe that any woman is more capable of lying about abuse, than I believe any man would be abusive."

I believe women.  All women.  Even if we don't get along or if we've never spoken.  I believe you. Because no one wants to famous for being abused - that's not the kind of attention you want.   I know how hard it is to say anything about what you've been through, and how scared you are of not being taken seriously, or having your friends abandon you. I know how embarrassed you are of how you put up with someone like that for so long, and how low your self worth was.

I believe Chloe Dykstra, and Chris Hardwick can go to hell.

UPDATE:
This morning Hardwick's wife, Lydia Hearst, made a statement on Instagram that she supports her husband and that "the truth will always win."  I don't think it's right for her to comment on another woman's experience.  Hardwick might be a great, loving, doting husband to you and that's amazing that he was able to turn it around like that, and we should all be happy for you, but that does NOT mean that Chloe Dykstra had the same experience.  I have been harassed and called a liar by a new girlfriend of my abuser and it never made any sense to me.  If he's changed, I'm really happy for him and happy for your relationship, but that isn't my experience with this person.

Dykstra is not a liar just because she said something about your husband that makes you uncomfortable, Lydia Hearst.  And you can support your husband and love him despite the mistakes he has made in his past.  But you were not present for their relationship and you do not get to define another woman's experience.  Accountability is the key word here, and Hardwick has only deflected and said that Dykstra cheated on him and released text messages publicly "discrediting" her statement. I've had both of these things happen to me before.  It didn't make my abuse any less real and it didn't make it ok.

Simple Swaps for Reducing Plastic Waste NOW

on
Thursday, May 24, 2018

I'm sure you've heard by now that plastic is kind of an epidemic.  Everyone has been talking about it. I worked at LUSH Cosmetics back in 2013 and we had a campaign called "Take Back the Tap" which encourage the purchase of aluminum water bottles and filling them yourself, instead of buying water in plastic bottles.  It was then that I sort of invested a little more in keeping unnecessary plastic out of my life.


National Geographic has launched the "Planet or Plastic" initiative to commit to reducing plastic waste (click the link to take the pledge!).  The numbers are absolutely staggering.  Americans contribute millions of plastic bags, straws, and other items to the environment every year.  Where does this waste go? Most of it ends up in our oceans.  If you eat seafood, you are consuming tiny bits of plastic every single time you eat something that came from the ocean (another reason to not eat seafood ;P)  Zooey Deschanel paired with the initiative to help us all realize our impact on the planet.  It's getting out of control (and has been for a while) and I am really committed to making a difference.

In the past year, I have grown more passionate about significantly reducing my plastic consumption, and waste in general.  At first, it seemed impossible and really inconvenient.  I have to carry around a water bottle? I have to drink my drink at a restaurant with no straw? (I know... the horror, right?)  How could I LIVE THIS WAY.

Let me stop you (and my past self) right there.  It takes very little effort to reduce your plastic waste, and you will feel much better about yourself, your relationship with the environment, and your trips to the dumpster. Since I made the conscious decision to reduce my waste output (especially plastic), I have found my favorite replacements.  So see, I've done a lot of the work for you!  Here are some simple substitutions that you can make TODAY as in, RIGHT NOW, that won't complicate your life in any way!

Tips:

  • Be conscious of items that you buy that are marked "biodegradable." This does NOT necessarily mean that your biodegradable garbage bag will end up as one with the Earth. In fact, most of these end up in landfills, where things are unable to biodegrade as they are (under EPA regulations) deprived of sunlight and fresh air, which are both things required for biodegradation.  
  • Recycling? Awesome! but pay attention to the numbers on the items you are recycling. No. 1 and 2 can be recycled together, but No. 7 must be separated.  These numbers have to do with chemicals in the plastic and how they interact with each other when they are melted down to repurpose.




There are compostable bags that are available for just about everything - groceries, garbage, pet waste...you name it.  Green Home has a ton and they are made from cellulose, so they don't release any harmful gases into the environment when they decompose.

Metal Safety Razor


I just recently bought one of these and I love it.  You will never need to purchase another plastic disposable razor again, and you can recycle the used blades.

Shampoo/Conditioner Bar


Shampoos are plastic goldmines (plastic mines? whatever).  If your shampoo/conditioner comes in a plastic bottle, it might be time to swap!  My favorites are Seanik and BIG solid shampoo and conditioner bars from LUSH. Alex swears by Avo Co-Wash.

Makeup Pads


I use makeup pads twice a day for toner and makeup removers. That was twice a day that I was using a disposable makeup pad and tossing it into the trash.  I've made the switch, and use one of these a day and then wash them with the laundry on Sundays.

Reusable K-Cups


Dude.  I'm addicted to my Keurig. In order to avoid contributing so much plastic in the form of single use k-cups, and also just enjoying better coffee (k-cup coffee is not the greatest...) Switch to a reusable k-cup and your favorite brand of coffee.  You can pre-make these for the mornings if you get a set of reusables!

Solid Soap Bars


There is honestly no need to use a body wash that comes in a spectacularly labeled plastic bottle.  Bar soap works just as well.  I just a bar for my body in the shower, and one for my face at the sink.  You can keep them covered if you prefer.  My favorite is Sam's Natural soap in Oatmeal, and I got mine at Whole Foods without packaging!

Reusable "Paper Towels"


Be honest, how many paper towels do you use a day? Knock it off! Get these instead.  They're perfect for cleaning up spills, wiping your hands or dishes,  and cleaning off surfaces.  I honestly use them for everything.

Cloth Feminine Care Pads or THINX 

As a woman, I experience a monthly burden on the planet.  Not like, other people, the actual planet. Using single use pads and tampons (which usually come with plastic applicators and filled with chemicals) contributes a ton of waste and is completely unnecessary.  There are so many alternatives, including washable pads, THINX underwear, and cotton tampons with cardboard applicators.  Get it together, girls!  These washable pads from Lunapads are perfect.  The packaging is even biodegradable! Plus, you can get them at Target and that's always a good thing. THINX are also super cool, and even though I haven't tried them (yet) I've heard a bunch of good things.  Both of these options will also help you save money in the long run, because pads are expensive and marketed to you as a necessity.

Reusable straws


Keep one of these in your purse, car, pocket, whatever and never use another plastic straw again.  Straws are so unnecessary, and if you must use one then use a reusable one.  Plus, these straws from Pretty Candy Pin Company are friggin adorable and you'll want to show them off.  But you gotta hurry up because she frequently sells out!

And there you have it!!
My favorite super simple swaps for living a more environmentally conscious and waste-free life.  It's hard to change your lifestyle, I know (hello, I went vegan after a lifetime of eating meat!), but it's not impossible.  It's important to put in the work, but to also have supportive people around who believe in your efforts and to have faith in yourself that you're doing the right thing and helping out the world you live in.  If you have any suggestions for me as well, feel free to message me! You can email me at sara@tinywolfheart.com or hit me up on Instagram @tinywolfheart!!

Also, note that I have added a section to the site called "Environmental and Zero Waste" (check the navbar!) and I will be posting  a lot more tips like this!


xo
Sara

Back to Basics: Tomato Basil Garlic Pasta Sauce

on
Thursday, May 17, 2018


So among the things I've started buying less of is pasta sauce.  I've posted about my efforts to go "back to basics" and become more well rounded as a cook.  It's fine and dandy if you can whip up a fancy shmancy meal for a few guests, but if you don't understand the basics of cooking and the basics of developing a palate,  you'll be lost outside of your go-to recipes.  Learning how to make your owns sauces, broths, and other staples will also save you money.  I don't buy vegetable broth anymore.  I also don't buy as much pasta sauce (sometimes I'm tired, sue me).  Another perk is that you aren't getting the added sugar and sodium that is packed in pasta sauce.  Sauce in a jar is mostly awful for you, but I have found a few local brands that are pretty good for when I don't feel like boiling tomatoes.  Making your owns sauces, broths, and other basics is less wasteful as well.  You avoid the packaging from store bought, and you can toss all your old veggies that are about to turn in a pot for broth.  One of my goals right now is to reduce my waste by a LOT, and keeping glass jars full of sauces and broths is one way that I've found I can reduce the amount of trips I take to the garbage chute.

Photo courtesy of Monsieur Marcel
On Sundays Alex and I go to the LA Farmer's Market.  This is where we buy our produce for the week, get a chance to be outside, and form a relationship with our food.  The food that I make with the produce from the farmer's market is noticeably better than with produce from the grocery store (even from Whole Foods, it ain't that great).  My favorite places at the farmer's market are the produce stands of course, but also the Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market. Here, I get a lot of handmade pasta and specialty salts and spices.  They also have a fantastic wine selection (thought their bottles can get pricey pretty fast).  They have a lot of great housemate sauces here that are a really good alternative to making things yourself.  But this past weekend, I topped their pasta with a sauce of my own choosing.


I love experimenting with making my own sauces.  There's not a lot you can do to screw them up, honestly.  And as I always say, don't be afraid! It takes a LOT of trial and error to make your own sauce recipes, and find some creative ways to make it yours.  Here's one that I created on the fly last Sunday:


Ingredients
4-5 medium tomatoes
1 medium shallot, diced
3 or 4 garlic cloves, (this is garlic sauce after all, so don't be stingy) diced
Olive oil
handful of basil, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (sometimes I use himalayan sea salt, some times I use smokey black salt)

Fill a pot with enough water to cover the tomatoes, and salt.  Bring to a boil and add in the tomatoes.  Boil until the skin starts to peel off, then drain, rinse with cold water and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.  Peel off the skins, and slice them in half.  Spoon out the seeds and insides, only the outer flesh should be left.

Transfer these into a food processor, as well as the rest of the ingredients.  Add in the olive oil slowly, so that you don't oversaturate.  Puree until smooth, or to your desired texture (I like my sauce to be as pureed as possible, but I know some people who enjoy a chunkier sauce). Mix in with your fav pasta (picture here with Capricci). I also paired mine with some grilled broccolini and mushrooms with black truffle olive oil and for dessert, grilled peaches with olive oil and paprika.  It was one of the best meals I've ever had.


Et Voila! You have made pasta sauce!
It's great to make a ton of it and store it for later use.  You can even freeze it!
It's so good and super simple.
Let me know some of your experiments, I'd love to post them on my instagram!

Vegan in Vegas

on
Friday, May 4, 2018

Last weekend Alex and I took a much needed short holiday to Las Vegas with my sister and brother-in-law.  I had just had a 6 day work week setting up a show at the gallery, and needed to unwind.  We left on Saturday night after my opening, and made the 4 hour drive into Sin City.  I hadn't been in years, and this was honestly the most fun I had (my last trip was a total bust and not really any fun at all, so this was a nice do-over).  I've been to Vegas on 3 separate occasions, and the first two were a blast, but something about this trip made it so much better. Maybe it was the company, or maybe it was because I'm older and enjoy different things, who knows. Or maybe it was because I have a newly acquired taste for different food, and it was kind of an adventure.  I thought that being vegan in Vegas would be a little bit of a challenge, but HOLY CRAP the food is amazing!! And really couldn't be easier to find.

On Sunday morning we ate at the Modern Vegan, a brand new place that just opened up. They have a huge menu and I was a little overwhelmed, but I think we made the right choices.  That day we hit up one of those psycho pool parties that's basically like Dionysian madness set to a contemporary remixed soundtrack.  I was completely out of my element (Sundays are apparently hip hop day, and while I recognized a couple songs I had no idea what was going on most of the time) but it was actually a lot of fun being immersed in a subculture I am in no way a part of.  Also, when you have a couple drinks by a pool you tend to just have fun regardless.  That night, we went to the Wynn, which was GORGEOUS and had dinner at Lakeside. Every restaurant inside the Wynn (including room service) has a vegan menu, which you'll read more about later.  This was probably the highlight of the trip.  The Wynn is colorful and cute and really creates an atmosphere, and every single restaurant is elaborately decorated and themed...and you know how I love a good theme.  In our Vegas last day haze, we made our way to Nacho Daddy at the Miracle Mile Shops on our way out, and did a little shopping.  I sasn't expecting a ton of vegan options...but they delivered and then some.  And it was all delicious.

Anyway, here are the details. And don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't find good vegan food in Vegas.