Inspiration | Francis Ooi

One of the places I love to linger + read is the wonderfully curated Terrain Bulletin – a naturalists/nature lovers dream. I found my way to a feature of Singapore-based photographer Francis Ooi. Beckoned by the forest Ooi began to collect and eventually photograph specimens. What originally began as a desire to update his home led to his budding shop. His works eloquently showcase the intricate grown of each specimen & allows you to truly take in the marvel of nature. Visit his shop for prints & card or his blog is also a compendium of lush beauty

Interview | Kait Turshen of Bubble Girl Bakes

While browsing through Design*Sponge I came across a recipes for a Dirty Chai Bundt Cake that was completely allergen free and delicious. Kait was the talent behind the cake and I then found myself gazing through her recipes and touched by her story, similar to so many peoples who live with food allergies. Kait is a New York based baker & cook who creates delicious recipes that are devoid of common food allergens. She just released her line of Bubble Girl Bakes Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour – of course nowadays anyone can find “gluten free flours”  but many are made in shared facilities, however Bubble Girl Bakes is completely safe and follows strict procedures. What I admire most about Kait is her drive to make the most out of a difficult situation. Her spirit is bubbly, joyful, & and inspiring. Tomorrow she’ll share a autumn-themed recipe on my blog that uses her flour and is absolutely delicious. Today, I humbly share an interview with Kait on her path of discovery, recovery, and wellness
Visit Kait at her Website / Twitter / Instagram

Hello I am..
Kait Turshen, also known as Bubble Girl. I have thirty food allergies and I live in New York’s West Village where I write the blog BG Bakes, which is dedicated to providing gluten free, allergen free, vegan recipes. This month I am also launching BG Bakes Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour Mix which is not only free of gluten, but also free of major allergens and vegan.

How did you come across your path? What drove you?
The story goes like this: about two and a half years ago I uncovered that I had over twenty food allergies (now at thirty and counting); a discovery that unearthed why I had spent the majority of my adult life suffering from weight fluctuation, extreme fatigue, anxiety, depression, and never ending gastrointestinal issues. In light of my plethora of food allergies, my mother lovingly deemed that I should live in a Bubble and the nickname stuck. At the time of my food allergy revelation, I was unhappily working in the fashion industry. I had a successful career and worked for amazing brands, but lacked a passion for what I was doing day in and day out. So I started my blog to fill that void.

And it turned out I’m not the only Bubble person out there. In fact, over 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies; one in every thirteen children. But I realized there wasn’t much awareness surrounding the topic. And I also realized that I was very passionate about spreading food allergy word, so I fused my long time love of baking with raising food allergy awareness and BG Bakes was born.

What is your personal food-philosophy?

You are what you eat! My whole world changed for the better when I removed the dozens of foods I was allergic to from my diet. Not only did my body stop fighting itself every time I ingested a morsel of food, but my diet became healthier and cleaner by default. No more late night pizza or store-bought, corn-syrup packed candy; never again would I eat Chinese takeout or a frozen meal. I ate far less processed foods in general, as everything I came across that was processed contained soy, corn, or another allergen that would potentially send me to the hospital. So I was left to my own devices and had to start preparing my own meals; and with that came more awareness and consciousness of eating healthy. And most importantly, my new found cleaner, healthier, allergen free diet left me energized and upbeat. For the first time in my life, I felt healthy and happy both physically and mentally–something I’d never experienced before.

What projects are you working on?
This October I’m proud to announce the launch of my first of many flour mixes, BG Bakes Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour Mix. More mixes and a cookbook to follow! I hope to see BG Bakes flour mixes and beyond on grocery store shelves across the nation; to provide products that people can trust and enjoy. And I hope that by doing this, I’m making a difference in people’s lives who suffer from food allergies, even if its one cookie crumb at a time.

What is your “work” aka baking/cooking lifestyle like?
The beauty of it is that it’s different every day! Which is something I truly appreciate after spending a good eight years answering emails at a desk. One day I’m mixing flours and the next I’m baking cookies, frosting cakes, or ingredient sourcing. And of course blogging every step of the way.

For those of us who deal with allergies or just want live cleaner what are some tips?
Two important things here: you’re not alone and always be prepared. When I first uncovered my allergies, I was both embarrassed and terrified of eating out. Ordering a simple meal at a restaurant was a lengthy process that would leave my server confused and myself frightened that the long list of my allergens wouldn’t properly be communicated to the chef. I’ve since overcome that self-consciousness (I’m one of 15 million, after all!) and I’m always prepared. I hand a typed list of my allergies to my server now, that I request be passed along to the chef, just to ensure nothing is lost in translation from my table to the kitchen. I also never leave home without two Epi-Pen’s (always have a back-up) and two kinds of anti-histamines.

What inspires you?
My husband is my true source of inspiration. He left his prosperous, prestigious position at a law firm to pursue his dreams of making a difference in people’s lives through teaching meditation. I too wanted to make a difference in people’s lives; to help people transition into the new and foreign world of living and eating with food allergies; that no matter what food allergies you suffered from, there was still a way to satisfy your sweet tooth! I never would have had the courage to leave my career in fashion, to take this leap of faith, if it weren’t for him.

What are your kitchen necessities and wishes?
I would be lost without my KitchenAid. It’s one of my best friends and I’m not sure how I ever lived without one. My other bestie in the kitchen would be my food scale. Next on my bucket list is a hand blender. ‘Tis the soup season and a hand blender is the way to go for getting your soups smooth without the hassle and danger of transferring steaming liquids from pot to blender and back again.

There is a stigma that allergen-free foods can be “boring” or “tedious”- why is this incorrect?
I believe this stigma is a result of a lack of awareness around the subject. You can bake almost anything without eggs or dairy or wheat–or any other allergens for that matter. I do it every day. It’s just that a lot of people have never tried to do so until recently, thus leaving us Bubble people without a proper Thanksgiving pumpkin pie or birthday cake. It’s a matter of figuring out the science of what happens in your mixing bowl, being able to successfully replicate recipes by making a few simple substitutions. With food allergies on the rise, this stigma will certainly diffuse itself over time.

5 things that heal me

  • Meditation
  • family
  • massages (a guilty, frequent pleasure)
  • super dark chocolate (another guilty, frequent pleasure)
  • and of course baking!
People who discover they have a dietary allergy, sometimes feel confused and even angry at the consequences of not being able to eat as they once did, how did you deal with these issues, how can someone find motivation and acceptance with their path in life?

It was a very upsetting day when I uncovered my food allergies. My list was so long that initially I couldn’t keep track of them all. I was traumatized that I’d never again eat a slice of New York pizza or my mother’s legendary chocolate chip cookies. I was terrified to dine out. I was afraid that one wrong bite of something would send me straight to the emergency room–or worse. But as soon as I noticed the difference I felt physically, without ingesting those allergens on a daily basis, the animosities and fears quickly wore off. I realized that moping wasn’t going to get me anywhere, which I why I decided to turn my food allergies into something positive, to figure out a way for everyone, no matter what allergy, to enjoy a proper cookie again.

I can’t help but mention how stunning you are! What are your beauty tips/trusted products
You are too kind! Thank you for those gracious words. I drink tons of water and herbal tea to keep both myself and my skin hydrated. I also limit my intake of refined sugars–my skin freaks out if I go overboard on cupcakes and cookies (although I am human and indulge in sweet treats often). In terms of skincare, I love Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, even in the daytime. It’s an amazing skin hydrator. In terms of makeup, I stick with my trusted NARS and MAC go-to’s. And as for hair, I’m au natural. No hair dyes or products and I rarely blow it dry or put anything burning hot to it.

Favorite places to travel? 
I spend a week every summer in Glen Arbor, Michigan with my family. It’s a sleepy under-the-radar little lakeside resort town that couldn’t bring me more peace each year. While I’m in New York, I love to run with my dog through the West Village and alongside the West Side Highway. Being near the water in the sunshine makes you forget you’re in a city that never sleeps. It’s hard to pick a favorite restaurant in New York, but I love Sauce, Lil’ Frankie’s, and my go-to date night spot with my husband, Corsino. They’re all sweet and quaint and take my food allergies seriously.

Favorite blogs/books?
Design*Sponge and Spoon Fork Bacon are two of my favorite blogs. I love reading, so I have too many favorite books to count, but among them are Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy, The Godfather, and a classic from my younger years, Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume. I love books that make me cry.

What’s something that you’ve learned or that’s happened to you since starting BG Bakes?
I’ve learned that I’m not the only Bubble Girl out there and I’m truly glad to have company. I’ve received so many emails and comments thanking me for my recipes and it makes my day every time. My goal is to help people with food allergies realize that they can eat the foods they used to, and safely, at that–that it just takes a few substitutions and a pantry makeover. I want to help make people’s transition into eating with food allergies easier than mine was, to bring knowledge and awareness to this cause. If I’ve helped even just one person, then I’ve done my job.

Describe your ideal dinner
While I didn’t love my career in fashion, I made such wonderful friends. And now that I no longer work with them, I love having them over for dinner. While my New York apartment isn’t ideal for a sit down dinner, it’s really the company that matters. Rather than a dining room table, I have a great, big island in my kitchen. So my girlfriends and husband saddle up on the stools with my dog underfoot while I cook. It’s all very casual–and all very ideal in my dinner party book. Nothing about it is formal–ever.

Dream Vision board: describe your ideal day
My ideal day starts with my morning meditation followed by coffee while blogging and watching the Today show (I’m a huge multi-tasker); the rest of the day spent testing recipes in the kitchen, and ending with a home cooked meal and Homeland with my husband and dog. I wish Homeland was on every night. And a workout, massage, and chocolate in there somewhere, too.

One piece of health/life advice?
As my father always told me from the time I could remember. “Go hard or go home.”

Autumn Necessities 2013

autumn essentials
autumn essentials

Where to begin! This post has been a long time coming but finally compiled. A glorious treats of autumnal necessities. Today is a beautiful overcast day with a heavy chance of rain so I’m already wearing long socks, boots and sipping on some roobois tea.

Kinfolk Vol. 9 | I have had this issue since september but I have been so busy with school I only got the chance to read another wonderful compilation (as always) devoted to the weekend and as usual, beautiful photography!

Chocolita Raw “chocolate” | I love chocolate, but lately I have been trying to find alternatives and craved some raw chocolate, and came across Chocolita’s brand. This chocolate is raw, vegan, and uses fairly traded organic cacao. I purchased Lemon and Pine Pollen and Blueberry Lotus. I love this
raw chocolate, Lemon & Pine Pollen is reminiscent of white chocolate, heavenly and buttery. Blueberry lotus is fragrant and you definitely get blueberry flavor without losing a dark chocolate taste. Would I purchase these again? Yes!

Fawn Lily Botanica* – c/o Organic Chai Spice Artisan Soap  I don’t even know where to begin, I have long admired this shop for sticking to its methods of organic, ethically widharvested handmade products. The Chai soap is so fragrant! I initially wondered whether I would approve since chai is a distinct scent but this soap nails it perfectly & authentically: extra bonus: its made with sustainable palm oil.  Organic Botanical Delight Facial Steam It may (still) be slightly sunny here but the weather has gotten noticeably drier (and windy) which has been taking its toll on my skin and health (post on that coming soon) so I picked this facial steam to try out, very floral featuring organic chamomile, lavender, rose and other petals facia steams are used to moisturize, and given the ingredients used they can detoxify, stimulate or relax. Personally I have been dealing with a lot of allergies, congestion and dry skin so I am excited to treat my skin and respiratory system to this steam tea! If you have never done a facial steam I highly recommend watching some videos like <a href="http://[youtube]”>this one or this one by Shiva to acquaint yourself. Have you ever tried a facial beauty steam?

*All of Fawn Lily Botanica’s creations are handmade in small batches from medicinal and organic ingredients derived from plants, and contain no harsh chemicals, additives, fragrances, colorants, preservatives

Wildwood Hot Apple Cider Blend | Another gift from Hannah that are i super excited to try out, I have made apple cider in the past but mostly used ground spices, these are the spices in full featuring the best of autumn: star anise, cinnamon, clove etc. I really need to go get some cider to mull!

La Papierre | Owl & Moon Stationary is so sweet for writing to penpals. The sets are up to you but the envelopes are made with 30% post consumer waste, i was really please with the quality of this seller

Elysium Apothecary Beeswax Candles | I love beeswax candles more than anything, now that its Autumn the weather is dwidling down and I cannot wait to light candles, drink tea and wear wool socks. Please note beeswax candles are available as a made-to-order so just message the shop to purchase some

Colorganics Lip Tint in Earth | Whenever I order a lip tint online I always have two worries. That the color will not be as strong, or that the color will be radically different than what i initially expected. That was not the case with this lip tint, its definitely a tint, but a strong one. I’m kind of obsessed with lip tints/color and this one is filled with moisturizing goodness like hemp seed, castor and beeswax. The color I chose is a deep true brown/red.

John Masters Organics Rose Foaming Face Wash | This is actually a little sample from my friend Hannah, but I have to say I enjoy that it contains no harsh chemicals, its gluten free and contains rose damascus. I will keep using the sample and see if I will purchase the full size as a staple, I am keeping my fingers crossed for the perfect cleanser!

Wigwam® Cypress socks | Sold at Madewell these are cozy grey cotton/nylon blend socks that are made in the US and I can’t get enough. 

“Autumn mornings: sunshine and crisp air, birds and calmness.”

I want the birds to land on my shoulders, sing their songs to me. I want to walk underneath an endless canopy of trees. I long for rain, quietly waiting for its autumnal arrival. Although lately, I have been greeted by cool, grey haze of overcast light. Dewy as I smile stretching to greet the beauty of a windy morning. Leaves have started to turn and change color, the winds have returned to envelope us and the days will seem more enchanted.

I have several things in mind: to make a home-cooked meal from a different country once a week, to write to my penpals on a weekly basis as well, attempt to travel more (which hasn’t been easy to come by lately!), Plan a get together whether it be family and/or friends once a month

fawn work in progress
morning l i g h t
from cassie
from cassie

i. breakfast rituals & library books
ii. work in progress
ii. forest traipsing
iv. morning rituals, jasmine tea w/ jasmine jelly
v. forests
vi. written words
vii. mountains
vii. gifts from my darling Cassie