I’m back for good.

So, I haven’t posted in a while. I kind of went tumbling off track and I was mad because it wasn’t even the result of a craving or anything. I did really well for 2 days, and then on Saturday I caved for a new reason: social pressure. I had my first brush with it and failed the test.

I had a play date with one of my friends and her dogs while I was dogsitting for my other friend. Afterward, we decided to go get something to eat. She told me if I weren’t vegan she would take me to these awesome Spanish restaurants she knew about in Herndon…I was again STARVING, and I thought, “what the hell”. She is a very new friend, and in my opinion to make us go somewhere where I could get something vegan would’ve taken away from the experience. I knew it would be fun for her to show me these hidden gems and for us to eat yummy food together (she is a fat girl in a normal girl’s body at heart). Fat girls like me know that when two fat girls come together there is nothing like bonding over delicious meals. I opted for that outcome, and I’m still not sure if I regret it or not because it is very rare that I find people I like enough to hang out with and give up my hermit introvert time. It has been particularly rare here in Northern VA. But I do know that I don’t want to do it again.

Of course since I’d messed up the morning, I messed up the night, too. Got a bunch of packaged assorted baked goods like coffee cakes and twinkies for dinner (since I was still pretty full from our huge lunch). Next day I did really well all day until I met my mom for dinner during her layover at the airport and could literally not find one thing on the menu I could eat as a vegan. Thought “fuck it, I already fucked up yesterday” and got a cuban sandwich and fries. That wasn’t filling and later I got Taco Bell.

Since I ate after 12:05 AM that night, the next day I knew I would probably screw up (I wanted to be able to start officially that day and if I ate after 12:05 AM then in my mind I have already screwed up that day). I got mozzarella sticks and curly fries from Arby’s, and 2 Krispy Kreme donuts at lunch. Had a small thing of ice cream at dinner.

I’m not elaborating about all of these mess-ups because, unlike the first few last week, I was not in all of this turmoil over the decisions to veer off course. I kind of just fell into my old ways which are a lot less conflict-filled and to me a lot more boring.

Every time I ate non-vegan food, I did have the presence of mind to evaluate whether it was worth not being a vegan. Every time I thought it wasn’t. Especially when I remembered what I’d seen in Vegucated.

So I am now back on track and it feels more permanent. Again, I think this is because of the moral and philosophical reasoning behind what I’m doing.

Recent experiences:

-I got a vegan sub from Subway. I looked up the ingredients on their website first to be 100% sure everything was vegan. They have a link specifically intended for people with allergies, which I am finding seems to be the easier method to get people/businesses making your food to tell you the truth about what’s in them. I got a 6-inch veggie sub on italian bread, with avocado and oil & vinegar. I also got barbeque chips with it, which were vegan. It was decent, but I’ve never loved Subway in the first place, so I wasn’t expecting too much.

http://www.subway.com/Nutrition/Files/US_Allergen_chart.pdf

-I went to Starbucks the other day and realized when I went in that I wouldn’t have another chance to eat breakfast/lunch for a while, so I decided to ask the woman taking my drink order if she or anyone else happened to know if any of their baked good DIDN’T have eggs or dairy in them. She told me that was a good question and she wasn’t 100% sure but she thought they all did; she confirmed this with the other two people working with her. She said, “Why, allergies?” and I said “No actually, I recently became a vegan and I figured I’d check and see what I may be able to eat here now.”

To my surprise, all three of the employees were very interested in this. The woman said, “If you don’t mind me asking, what were your reasons for deciding to do that? Health reasons?” I told her no, actually, that my main motivation was animal rights and animal welfare related, but that weight loss and health benefits were a positive by-product. She said, “Oh, you’re going to get me going. That’d be why I would do it too” and the two other employees joined in, particularly interested in “how you got your protein”. I’m by no means an expert yet but realized that this flash-chance to plant the seeds in peoples’ minds was really a huge part of what this whole thing was all about. I rattled off as many sources as I could think of off-hand–tofu, tempeh, seitan, chickpeas, beans, legumes–I quoted a lot of informational sound-bites I’d heard before: “actually, you’d be surprised at the plethora of protein sources available to vegans; you really don’t need to eat meat for protein at all”. They seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say and even seemed to have looks of actual contemplation about the choice, like I told them something they hadn’t known and maybe that would start to soften their knee-jerk stances.

This fascinated me, both because random strangers at a Starbucks were interested enough to take the time to ask me about it as well as the obvious barely even surface level depth of information they all knew about veganism. I guess I have always known a tad more than the average person does about it because I’ve been interested in it for a while now and so done brief research. But most people don’t clarity on even those basic, intro-level facts about veganism that I’d learned. It made me realize that those three people must not know anybody else who were vegan, or else they wouldn’t need to be asking me about it. I doctored my iced coffee with the soy creamer from TJ’s I’d brought in my purse, and stopped to show them that they could even get creamer that tasted like real cream and was actually–in my experience–even better in iced coffee than regular creamer. They were interested in that, too, because they had wondered whether soy milk or cream tasted okay in coffee drinks. I told them I’d tried soy milk in in iced drink before and it was disgusting, but that soy creamer was different–that I couldn’t be vegan if I couldn’t have decent cream in my coffee. They told me to stop by and let them know how it was going, and I will!

Bottom line for me, though, is that Starbucks doesn’t offer any baked goods that are vegan-friendly. Lame. One of the guys put out a couple of types of fruit & nut bars that were vegan for me, and that was nice of him. But I’m not going to go to Starbucks and get a packaged granola-y bar. Oh well! As long as I can get my iced hazelnut coffee, I’m golden. I do wish that Starbucks provided soy creamer as well as regular creamer, but I know that’s a long-shot.

-The other night, after a long hike/swim with the dogs, my friend Karen and I decided to get dinner together. I suggested a restaurant by my house called “Cafesano” which is sort of a Mediterranean-themed place with brick oven pizzas, wraps, paninis, salads, dips with pita bread, pasta, etc. I’ve been going there with my family, Max, and a few friends for–God–years now. But I’ve never gone as a vegan, so I was anticipatory about what I’d be able to find. I did know that they had falafels so if all else failed I could get that over salad.

I had a few moments of thinking “fuck it, I’m getting the pizza I love” which has fresh mozzarella and fresh-shaved asiago cheese on it. But I knew I didn’t really want to do that, so I got a falafel wrap and we split an avocado dip with tortilla chips. It was yummy and filling and 100% a dinner I would’ve gotten (and probably did get) before I knew it was “vegan”.

What I found annoying, though, was that when I went up to order, I asked the woman taking our order if the pita had any milk or egg products in it. She had a completely clueless look on her face and said “Umm, I don’t know, best not to try it and assume yes!” I asked if there was anyone else back there who might know, and she said, “They’re all really busy…I’m not sure so you shouldn’t push it! There probably is some sort of egg or milk in it; it’s in everything else!”

………………………………

How annoying. Pita normally does NOT have milk in it, and definitely not egg, but I asked to make sure because of my experience at the Ithaca Farmer’s market (in which I was told the pita had milk powder). I looked at Karen to see what she thought, since she used to be a vegan and babysits for a vegan family. She told me she thought it was ok and that the family eats pita all the time. So I thought, you know what? I am never going to be able to know when I get food out 100% that these products are NOT in them. The most I can do is ask and use my best judgment. In this case, I highly doubted the pita had any milk in it since that is not typical of pita. In the case where I ordered Chinese food with my Aunt a couple of weeks ago, even though I was told the egg rolls and dumplings had no egg or milk, I should probably have used my judgment to figure out that they likely did. But if I never eat ANYTHING out without 110% certainty about the ingredient list, I won’t be able to eat anything anywhere, and I know I will get too frustrated and abandon ship.

It is striking to me to experience the utter lack of knowledge that most people in the restaurant/food industry (is that a thing?) have of simply what’s in the food they put out. Veganism is not a new thing, and apparently the movement is growing; it’s easier now than it ever has been to find  vegan options: http://blog.farmsanctuary.org/2013/06/postcard-from-the-road-were-on-a-roll/ . It’s still really not that straightforward, though. So far in my experience, the road is still very bumpy and full of lots of roadblocks. I feel like I am forging a trail and that’s not how I felt when I was a vegetarian–the path had been cleared for me long before I attempted to take it and so all of these confusing, ambiguous issues were never even something I had to worry about.

-Last night, my aunt and I went to this AWESOME restaurant called “Busboys & Poets” in Shirlington right near her house. We’ve been going there for years but, again, this was my first time going as a vegan. I was WAY excited because this restaurant specializes in vegan and vegetarian cuisine. I’d say at least half their menu is vegan, but the dishes are meant for everybody–it’s not like they’re just some lame alternative to the real main events. I haven’t had so many options out somewhere since I started this, so I was like a kid in a candy shop.

I ended up settling on vegan nachos for my aunt and me to split, and a vegan pizza. Both had Daiya cheese, which I’d never heard of, but figured I was going to have to try eventually and what better time than now.

http://www.daiyafoods.com/

At first, I was borderline blown away by how good the nachos were. But after about 10 minutes of eating and talking I started to notice a strange flavor which was the cheese. Once I noticed it I couldn’t stop paying attention to the taste and comparing it to real cheese, and I grossed myself out. I had to stop eating because it was making me feel nauseous. My aunt–who is not a vegan but ended up making all vegan selections–thought it was good and thought I was being dramatic and ridiculous. I probably was let’s be real. But I LOVE, love, LOVE me some cheese on nachos and pizza. I just don’t know based on that experience if this whole fake cheese on nachos thing is going to work for me. But I am willing to give it another try.

Then my pizza came, and it looked fucking amazing. It was daiya “mozzarella” with green peppers, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, fake pepperoni, olive oil, garlic, and oregano.

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So good. It was a great mock pizza. That is to say, all of the ingredients and flavors came together to really resemble pizza.

My cousin-in-law–Kate–texted and asked me if it was as satisfying as real cheese. My answer: HELL no. I’m not going to be one of these health-nuts who lies to everybody and themselves and says “oh my god, I started eating healthy, and it was like, click! No cravings! I don’t even want junk food! I taste <insert previous food addiction here> and it grosses me out now!” There will NEVER be a day when I couldn’t crush a hot, saucy, melty, oozy extra extra cheese pizza dripping with grease and mouth-watering deliciousness. I know that. But is that worth this?

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Or this?

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For me, the answer is a resounding: No.

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Wish I’d watched “Vegucated” 3 days ago

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Last night I watched “Vegucated” with Erin while doing an indoor play date with the dogs since it was raining. Even though I knew all of the information presented in the documentary, I was still blown away. And I know that in terms of animal cruelty and suffering, the movie did not even show the worst of it.

Anybody reading this post necessarily has some interest in the topic of this blog or me. Therefore if you’re reading this, you should watch Vegucated, which can be found on Netflix and streams instantly. It’s pretty short. If you choose to continue to eat animal products at the same rate you currently do after seeing it, at least you’ll be doing it in full awareness. But one of the important messages from the movie to take away is, any reduction in consumption of animal products results in direct reduction of animal suffering and violence. So if  you can’t commit to standing up to the system and giving up participation in (and subsequently supporting of) it completely, you can at least take small steps.

Interesting fact from the movie: By switching to a vegetarian diet and lifestyle–vegetarian, not even veganyou will save the lives of 95 animals per year. This alone is rebuttal enough for any kind of inner debate or conflict philosophically or morally I have going on. I would love to know the estimate for a vegan lifestyle.

In other news, I got home with renewed verve for my cause to Max ordering another fucking pizza. Just shoot me, really. Chain pizza isn’t that good, but you know what they say about a bad blowjob…same goes for pizza if you ask me.

I was easily able to resist, though, with the images of horror and cruelty still flashing in the back of my mind from the movie. I actually just had smoothies for dinner last night and wasn’t even mad about it. Food yesterday:

Breakfast-

Coffee with 2 tbsp. soy creamer and 4 sugar packets

Arnold Palmer Lite Half & Half

Lunch-

Chipotle burrito (white rice, black beans, fajita veggies, corn salsa, tomato salsa, lettuce, guacamole) and a diet coke

Snack-

Italian ice-watermelon

Dinner-

Smoothie #1 (1 C. spinach, 10 carrots, 1 C. raspberries, 1 C. pineapple, 1 small banana, 1 1/2 C. almond milk)

Smoothie #2 (1 C. spinach, 1 C. mango sorbet, 1 C. coconut milk, 1/2 C. raspberries)

Calories: 1765

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Well, that’s over!

I messed up again. Bet anybody who knows me or reads this can figure out what it was!

That’s right, I HAD to get Ledo’s. HAD to know for sure I’d tried everything.

Well I did, and it was magnificent. It was the one indulgence I’ve succumbed to in the past 3 days during which I thought, “Yes, this might be worth it,”…but only until about half-way through, upon which I immediately remembered why it wasn’t worth it. And then felt gross, and then woke up multiple times in the night unable to sleep because of how thirsty I was.

So if I needed to learn the lesson then lesson learned. Back to reality now. Today I didn’t have any breakfast because I’d run out of muffins, so I had extra calories for lunch. I decided to see if I could veganize anything at Chipotle. And I could!

I got a burrito with white rice, black beans (the pinto are cooked in bacon so not vegan), fajita veggies (peppers and onions), roasted corn salsa, tomato salsa, and guacamole. It was so yummy! I’m glad to know that when traveling or on the road, as long as I can find a Chipotle, I’m good. It was 855 calories, so not exactly a light lunch, but a great choice in my opinion when out with coworkers, on a roadtrip, grabbing a quick dinner with friends, etc.

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Also saw this sign posted; weird.

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Can’t seem to find much info on it, except this:

http://consumerist.com/2013/03/01/chipotle-is-sorry-to-interrupt-its-regular-steak-programming-with-conventionally-raised-beef/

So that’s interesting, but what does “naturally raised” as opposed to “conventionally raised” even mean?

http://www.chipotle.com/en-us/fwi/animals/animals.aspx

Cool…..sounds like a bunch of lip service to appeal to a certain audience to me, but whatever. More details on their standards would be nice.

http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/the-naturally-raised-meat-you-eat-may-be-just-the-opposite.html

Yep…that’s what I thought.

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…..

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Ugh. I messed up again. I REALLY wasn’t going to…I came home and made a smoothie, had a longgg play group with Melchi, was hungry with only 250 calories left and got in my car to go give in and get something…but willpower overcame the craving and I went inside to finish the smoothie I’d made earlier and make another one. Someone had thrown it out and washed the blender.

So I put on my shoes and went to Taco Bell.

Once again, good, but nothing to write home about. Woke up DESPERATELY thirsty and my stomach is upset.

So that’s 2 strikes. Going to do my damndest to not fuck it up today. Still haven’t had pizza, but still feel like there’s no point.

While I am beyond disappointed in myself for succumbing to what amounts to weakness in my book, I do find it interesting and helpful to realize that giving in was not what I’d imagined it to be. In other words, I feel the fantasies about throwing in the towel and binging on these foods will not be as tempting in the future, because I’ve now done it and the experiences were surprisingly lackluster.

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p.s.

By the way, this is their pathetic response to my inquiry requesting clarification:

 

Dear Cary,

Thank you for contacting Weight Watchers with your inquiry. 

As a vegan, you can feel confident that the PointsPlus® program can help you lose weight.  Our emphasis on Weight Watchers® Power Foods and the fact that we’ve made fruits and most vegetables 0 PointsPlus values works especially well with vegetarian/vegan diets.  You’ll need to make yourself aware of your body’s nutritional needs, though. 

A well-planned diet can meet all those needs, but depending upon how restrictive your diet is, certain nutrients may be lacking. 

The My Plan menu tab contains a comprehensive collection of resources to familiarize Weight Watchers® Online subscribers with WeightWatchers360° and the PointsPlus® plan.

To learn more about the subscriber tools, hover your mouse over the My Plan button while logged into your Weight Watchers Online account. Under My Tools click “Tools How-Tos.” 

Finding an eating approach that works is key to weight-loss success. The Weight Watchers food plans are designed to reach the objective of a healthy weight loss, but do so by empowering the person to make food choices in a way that suits his or her preferences and lifestyle.

All fruits are healthy. To emphasize this and to make the plan easier and more flexible, we have made all fruits zero PointsPlus® values. To do this, we factored fruit consumption into the new daily PointsPlus Target. We verified that people still lost weight in clinical studies. Yes, fruits have calories. But they are always a good choice, and often the best alternative for a snack. Just be sure to pay attention to how much you are eating—eat until you are satisfied.  

Fruits which have a PointsPlus value of zero include:

– Fresh fruit
– Fruit in its own juice, drained
– Frozen
– With Splenda

Which fruits have PointsPlus® values?    

– Dried
– Dehydrated
– Its own juice undrained
– With sugar or light syrup

We hope this information is helpful.

Sincerely,
Mary
Customer Service Associate
Weight Watchers International,  Inc.
New York, NY  U.S.A

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Defeated

Been avoiding writing this post, but as my friend Erin correctly put it, “I better blog about this” if I want to remain true to my original purpose of 100% honesty. I messed up yesterday. Relapse is the only word I can think of for it! Which sounds ridiculous.

When I found out about that stupid WW fine print on fruits and veggies, I knew it was a matter of time before I fell off the wagon. I have been trying very hard to manufacture the drive and dedication and intensity about this plan that so far in my life I’ve only been able to experience organically (i.e. desire to attract a certain boy, or boys in general…pathetic I know). One wrench in the wheel was really all it was going to take to derail me. I tried SO hard not to let it but when I woke up yesterday without a plan–after trying and trying to find some wording to make WW work or some other kind of detailed plan for vegans–I just felt the wind blow out of my sails. Didn’t help when I got to work and my 3 (out of 4) remaining muffins from TJ’s for breakfast had mold all over them after only a couple of days.

So by lunch I was starving and didn’t give a flying shit. Got Arby’s curly fries, was 99.5 % sure they count as vegan but was frustrated by the ambivalence–again–in research findings since they may or may not be fried in the same oil as meat. Cared even less than before I got them and got a BigMac and McFlurry from McD’s.

STILL not the binge it would’ve been in old days. But completely ruined everything obviously. It was good, but it definitely didn’t feel worth it at all. That was actually something really good to experience–even when I gave in after a pretty long while of not having any animal products or junk to speak of, it was just good, nothing to write home about and certainly not worth not being vegan.

But since I already ruined it I knew I was going to get Ledo’s for dinner. After Melchi’s play date Karen suggested we go to Noodles & Co. Despite Erin’s heartfelt pleas with me not to abandon my diet–even if I HAD ruined it over lunch–we ended up going anyway. Closed, so we made it even worse by going to Ckick-Fil-A.

Chick-Fil-A isn’t even a big temptation for me so it’s even stupider that I went. Especially because I knew in the back of my mind I would think I hadn’t REALLY fulfilled my binge-splurge because I hadn’t gotten a medium extra cheese pizza and 2 brownies from Ledo’s like I planned.

When I got home, my stomach felt disgusting and I had to go–EAR MUFFS FOR SQUEAMISH–diarrhea right away. I woke up in the middle of the night with the same sick, churning feeling in my stomach and had to go again.

I think this definitely indicates something about the sudden presence of animal products in my diet.

When I woke up I felt like, “Why did you do that? It didn’t even feel worth it.” Because I’m not gonna lie, almost every single night before this that I binged, I would feel bad about the prospect of it all day but when I sat down to bite into whatever the choice of the night was and it hit my taste buds and literally those feelings of actual ecstasy and comfort and pleasure rushed in, I would think to myself, “Is this worth it? Is this worth all that you go through?” and I would think, “Yes.” But once I was finished–full and box empty–I would think, “Okay gross. Don’t do it again, not worth it.”

It was a relief this time to feel it wasn’t worth it. BUT, I hadn’t had the pizza. So all day I have been obsessing about that. I know I want to get back on track but I feel anxious and frustrated that I went off track and didn’t even get the best thing.

But actually, as I was writing this, my own patterns of twisted justifications just became clear for a second. I have given in and abandoned a diet and gotten a pizza from Ledo’s SO many times. Why would today be ANY different? It’s going to taste just as good–no better, no worse–than it always does. And then I will feel the same regret and self-hatred afterwards. Maybe some day, when I’ve lost the weight and if I decide not to stay vegan, I can indulge in that. But doing that tonight serves no purpose and gets me nowhere. So I am going to stay on track like I have been all day. Maybe this can be the first time in probably my whole life that I don’t let one day ruin the rest of the week, month, or even year for me.

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What a weekend

I was pretty disappointed with the vegan diet plan/weight loss plan selection at Barnes and Noble yesterday. I looked at every single book they had, and found a bunch of books meant to convince you to switch over to vegan, but not really any kind of long-term detailed plan (like Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach, Paelo, etc.) for vegans with the goal of weight loss.

By chance a B&N employee came to reshelf a few books near me and commented that one I was holding–“Forks Over Knives”–was really good. I told her of my dilemma, and she told me she was also a vegan and had experienced the same void. She then spent 10-15 minutes with me showing me all these great books about veganism, vegan cooking, transitioning to vegan, etc. When I win the lottery I’ll go buy them all, but for the time being I camped out in the diet aisle and perused my options. There were a few books–recommended by this woman and by “Forks Over Knives”–that had short-term (21 or 28 day) diet plans, which was cool but not really what I was looking for. But I still think they’d be great to have if you were interested in transitioning. There were some good cookbooks too that I’d like to have some day when I get more of a hold on this whole thing.

-“Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health”, edited by Gene Stone (this is a companion to the documentary “Forks Over Knives” and there’s also a companion cookbook to this book)

-“The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds” by Rip Esselstyn

-“21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health” by Neil D. Barnard

-“The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss” by John A. McDougall

-“Betty Goes Vegan: 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Family” by Dan and Annie Shannon

I also have Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet” which I think is a great book. Yesterday I ended up buying “Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes” because the author had been recommended to me by multiple other people, the recipes looked yummy and had complete nutrition facts included, and I’m gonna be real I really liked the cover…seemed like the cover of a book that a 25 year old girl going vegan could jive with.

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So as of now, I’m on no official “plan,” except good ol’ calorie counting. I need to figure out today exactly how many to aim for. When I lost 60 lbs over 7 months before under the guidance of a nutritionist, my number was 1750 and it never budged throughout the whole process. I’m thinking it should be higher now since I weight a lot more than I did last time, but not sure yet. Excited to pick a recipe from this cookcook and try it out this week. My goal to start is one recipe per week. Sounds ridiculous, but since I NEVER cook, that would actually be a ton of progress for me.

Last night I had to face another annoying challenge. Max came over and ordered a large pepperoni stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut (stuffed crust is like 1 of 10 foods I can almost never resist for some reason) and wings. I was like, “I can’t believe you’re ordering that right in front of me!” and “Are you for real gonna eat that right next to me?” and other versions of guilt-tripping for about an hour. But then it came, and it smelled delectable, and I didn’t eat any but I did hate my life. Once he scarfed it down like he always does and put that shit away, I realized I was sad not to have partaken but relieved not to feel how I always feel after…like a bloated, engorged tick lying in bed and letting the cheesy greesy fat fester while I drink glass after glass of soda or juice or whatever in thirsty desperation the rest of the night because of all the salt.

He’s a 6’8 thin man so he can eat what he wants. I should NOT be eating that with him. Period.

So I’m not feeling super accomplished and on a high from how great this is going, but I still haven’t completed ruined everything and I still haven’t broken the veganism (purposely anyway). I also found soy creamer at Trader Joe’s (found out the creamer I thought was vegan before actually wasn’t; “lactose free” doesn’t mean dairy free, it just means no lactose but possibly another milk derivative) that actually tastes like real cream. The biggest test was adding it to my new favorite order at Starbucks: venti iced coffee with hazelnut. I think it actually might be better than it is with regular cream! So that is my uplifting revelation of the weekend.

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