African-Inspired and Woman-Powered Crafts

Photo – Southern Journeys Collective

I wanted to repost this article on an interesting and worthwhile pursuit – a worker-owned social enterprise inspired by weaving, piece sewing and quilting traditions originating in the rich cultures of West Africa and rural African American communities in the US south. Enjoy reading about Southern Journeys Collective in this intervew with Lara Jealous, textile designer.

What inspired you to get involved with this project?

There is so much that inspired me and made me want to be part of this project!

I have a passion for crafts.  As a textile designer, I work with large companies, developing textiles and products all over the world.  I was thrilled to be asked to support the Southern Journeys Collective – a sustainable social enterprise that celebrates American textile traditions and empowers women artisans.

I first met the members of the Southern Journeys Collective during a trip to rural Georgia nearly two years ago.  We met in their communal sewing room and I was immediately inspired by their dedication to their craft, the historical references they draw from and their deep desire to share their sewing and quilting traditions with the next generation.

In addition, I come from a long line of women who sewed, quilted, crocheted and embroidered.  Sometimes all this making was due to necessity and sometimes it was because it was a way to express their creativity and love. Their creations are family heirlooms and treasures that link me to them and our family history.  When I talked and worked with the women in Southern Journeys, it was like sitting with someone from my family. Because of this, my connection to the project is very personal.  The more time I spent with the women who are part of Southern Journeys, the more touched I was by their sense of community,  friendship and mutual support.

Did any of the women have stories of their lives that particularly stood out?

The story of each woman is unique.  I find their perseverance and dedication, despite extreme challenges and obstacles, both admirable and humbling.

11218714_912001582169184_2599130554640094778_nHow does a purchase make a difference in their lives?

Southern Journeys Collective grew out of the work of the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative.  SRBWI facilitates rural women’s access to resources and community-centered economic development.  It empowers black women in 77 counties spanning some of the poorest and most remote communities throughout Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.  A purchase of a Southern Journeys product provides fair wage income to women with very limited earning opportunities.  In addition, Southern Journeys makes the textile traditions and its members’ stories seen, enjoyed and heard. This, in itself, makes a difference.

Their products are handmade from recycled natural fabrics including denim, cotton and silk as well as reused burlap coffee sacks, and hand dyed cotton.  The hand dyed fabrics are sourced from a women’s collective in Acessa, Ghana which in turn provides income and educational opportunity to local African women.

For more information, see the Facebook page, and to make a purchase, go to their website. Bags can also be purchased at ABC Carpet and Home in NYC and Global Exchange in Berkeley, CA.


October 23rd, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Lyfe in Los Angeles

lyfe3We just took a quick trip through the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, where I spent my first years of childhood. Of course I had to explore any new culinary options on the horizon and something that came up quickly using everyone’s friend Google was Lyfe Kitchen on Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana. Conveniently a few doors from Chipotle and Whole Foods, Lyfe hit the spot. They had comfortable seating, fresh juices with all the trendy nutritious things from kale to chia seeds, and inspirational quotes on the walls. My veggie scramble with tofu was good, though that and my friends’ meals all were small portions.

lyfeLyfe has a handful of restaurants across the country, and claim to be LEED-accredited, with low-voltage lights and chemical-free paint. And who wouldn’t appreciate the tabletops and chairs made from fully recycled materials? Eco-friendly is the way to go. The wall of herbs as you enter (pictured) is a feast for the eyes, too.

September 12th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Always Something for the Adventurous

Happy August. I have been delighted with the growing list of places in San Diego that are either entirely vegetarian or vegan or have separate menus or entrees for herbivorous meals.

A big breakfast fan, I eagerly made it to Gelato Vero Upstairs.  The food is all vegetarian and vegan and was uniquely delicious. I loved the “eggs”made of chickpea flour, the cashew cheese, and the pesto that accompanied my Chickpea Faux-Juevo Breakfast Burrini (that name should win an award). Their waffles looked AMAZING but I am on a low kick. The chef/manager Kirstin Green is a kindred spirit also into humanitarian efforts, leading a project in Ghana to establish an afterschool library and study center.

Cafe Gratitude, the restaurant known for dishes named with affirmations, has come to Little Italy! We loved the Awesome eggplant parmesan panini, and the place had a nice atmosphere, even when packed. Also new to Little Italy is Civico 1845, an Italian restaurant with a separate vegan menu I can’t wait to try. Pass, an Afghanistan restaurant in Hillcrest, is highly recommended for its peaceful setting and vegetarian platter with beautiful rices of different colors, okra, spinach, eggplant and other veggies, pictured.

The Purple Mint Vegetarian Bistro is another relaxing place to have some chow. This place opened recently on Mission Gorge. Some people say it’s great.

In other news, Moncai Vegan moved to 3531 Adams Avenue; more space is a good thing!

August 17th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Colombian Comida and Charms

Colombian brings back memories of my months in  South America years ago – delicious, warm arepas (corn cakes), and tropical nights in colonial Cartagena where green mangoes were sold on the street corner and salsa music blasted from the stores.

For a taste of Colombia in San Diego, go no further than Antojitos Colombianos in Logan Heights. The family-owned restaurant is on Imperial Avenue down the block from the upcoming Gilliam Family Community Garden and Park (more info) to be completed this Fall. Antojitos Colombianos staff fixes herbivores up with a delicious vegetarian plate of amazing empanadas (without cheese is also possible), fresh salsa, rice, beans, and cooked sweet plantain, a wonderful combination of flavors. They can also make cheeseless arepas for vegans.

11401387_969169786448684_4119538231794599607_nThe food is authentic and it would be hard to not enjoy the friendly, homey environment! Impressively, owner Javier Rodriguez recently attended the CA Small Business Day 2015 in Sacramento as Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s Small Business of the Year honoree. Why not try a culinary adventure in your own backyard?

July 8th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Knockout Kauai

unnamed2Having returned from a recent visit to Kauai, Hawaii, I am happy to share some news on the island’s healthy food scene.

As always, my favorite on the island is Postcards Cafe (visit the Facebook page), where I feast on “El Sombrero,” fresh organic green salads, and the famous chocolate silk pie, pictured. Did I mention my parents own it? Regardless, it tops my list for both the delicious dinners and the romantic, cozy atmosphere.

unnamed As for updates, Common Ground in Kilauea has closed their cafe. My food ventures were mostly in Kapaa on this vacation. I spent time at Papaya’s Natural Foods and in the same mall, noticed Tropical Dreams Ice Cream serving up vegan flavors. A new place on the scene is Cafe Nirvana, a small stand with Indian vegetarian food and a few little seating areas. Nearby is Shivalik Indian Cuisine where I enjoyed the vegetarian lunch special. Also in Kapaa, the cafe Java Kai sells falafel, salads, a bagel with hummus, and some pretty desserts. The vegan chai latte cupcake and gluten-free chocolate mint mousse squares looked tasty! Rainbow Living Foods is the place for superfood smoothies, wraps, salads and other healthy fare.

With Kauai’s beauty and healthy lifestyle, and thus food choices, it would be a shame for anyone to not visit.



June 8th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Trilogy Sanctuary Shines

unnamed3La Jolla can be proud of another jewel on the scene. Trilogy Sanctuary labels itself a healing arts center and a fully organic vegetarian cafe and juice bar. This business is one step ahead of many herbivorous places on the health consciousness scale by offering only soy- and gluten-free dining.

They also have yoga and aerial yoga which can be spotted on the rooftop terrace with ocean views! As part of a holistic approach “nourishing mind, body and spirit,” Trilogy Sanctuary even offers spiritual counseling!

unnaThe portobello tacos were quite tasty. I devoured my coconut milk ice cream with strawberries and cookie crumbles and was tempted by the wonderful-sounding smoothies. Get on down to Trilogy Sanctuary, and visit the Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy downstairs for some lovely healthy snacks, candles, or maybe a kombucha.


May 1st, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Let’s Educate Ourselves for Earth Day

NurtureNature370Drought and climate change are upon us. Let’s educate ourselves about pressing environmental issues as Earth Day approaches! April 19 marks the 25th anniversary of San Diego EarthWorks’ EarthFair – the biggest annual environmental festival and Earth Day in the world! With approximately 60,000 attendees, it’s not an event to miss. If you can’t handle the parking hassles at Balboa Park, arrive before 11 am or take advantage of the free shuttles, bike or public transit options.

Be there if you enjoy healthy food, free bands, organic T-shirts, alternative energy cars and hundreds of informative booths. This is definitely a child-friendly event too, with face painting, games, a garden program and even a children’s parade.

Click here for more information. You can also pick up the San Diego Earth Times newsletter around town (or download here).

April 7th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Healing Scents

essential_oilsWhile I heard that essential oils are only used by two percent of the U.S. population, the fragrant plant oils have long been utilized for their healing properties in various forms worldwide. The plant products can be used topically, internally, or aromatically (such as in a diffuser or spray).

Have you ever taken a whiff of lovely lavender (pictured – photo by Olga Miltsova/Shutterstock)? The purple plant is known for relaxation and sending one into a soft slumber. Simply place a few drops of essential oil on the skin! The scent also aids depression, anxiety, headaches and sprains. To relieve blood pressure, use some lavender essential oil in a diffuser, or apply to the feet. Lavender also helps with sunburn, insect bites, and rashes.

Another essential oil to write home about is peppermint. You may associate it with toothpaste, but it offers much more than breath freshener. Peppermint soothes headaches, nausea, stress, nasal congestion, bronchitis, hot flashes . . .and the list goes on.

It seems essential oils offers viable alternatives to the more traditional medicines we take liberally for pain, illnesses and emotional difficulties. Chemical-free, essential oils can also be used for cleaning the home! They can be ordered online, via distributors, or found in natural food stores; quality varies. For general information, see the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.

March 16th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Veggie News in San Diego


Cheery Sol Cal Cafe

Happily, San Diego’s restaurants are becoming more veggie-friendly, and people are excitedly checking out new options for plant-based dining. Check out the very active and helpful San Diego Vegans group on Facebook for more updates!

In downtown San Diego, try the newish Sol Cal Cafe for organic and fresh foods and juices. The Raw Pesto Kelp Noodle Pasta was definitely tasty, and my friends enjoyed the enormous Loaded Baked Sweet Potato! Trilogy Sanctuary in La Jolla is another new kid on the block I have yet to try. I finally made it to the cozy spot with yummy vegan and gluten-free pizza:  Red House Pizza in University Heights. Nearby, Plumeria Vegetarian Restaurant has expanded their space and it’s hard to stay away from the amazing Satay (grilled skewers with mock chicken and peanut sauce).

Cafe Gratitude, an organic, vegan favorite in LA, San Francisco and other areas will open a location soon in Little Italy, and Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market plans to build a veggie restaurant and juice bar when they expand.

Last but not least, San Diego Veg Festival is back for the third year, sharing speakers and exhibitors and offering health-conscious items for sale. Check it out on April 5 in Point Loma.

Please leave a comment if you know of any other San Diego news for the veggie crowd.


February 20th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Marveling at Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato


Pyramids of Mexico City

Venturing through Mexico is definitely doable, though it takes research and resourcefulness, especially as a vegan. Efforts are needed to avoid lard, chicken stock, and other animal ingredients while also dodging stomach issues that may arise from local unbottled water or produce that has not been cooked or disinfected. Speaking Spanish helps with asking wait staff questions, though there are no guarantees.

In enormous Mexico City, I was mainly fueled by beans, avocados, and steamed vegetables. In charming Coyoacan, the area in which Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived, I had a tasty grilled vegetable meal at Anselma Parilla Mexicana, with a broad view of the surrounding plaza and fountain. We soaked up other sights too, walking down Avenida Madero in the historic center and climbing the incredible ancient Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán, said to be the third largest pyramid in the world.


Guanajuato Views

We were captivated by the colonial towns San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato, which offered some decent vegan options. From Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende was about three hours by bus, and worth the ride for its gorgeous scenery filled with churches, plazas, and a European feel. Via Organica at Calle Margarito Ledezma 2 was our mainstay, a peaceful environment with many expatriate clients, an organic garden, a natural foods store, and a pretty upstairs patio. I enjoyed their tamales, soup, salads, and green juices. La Media Naranja at Hidalgo 83 is a small and bright spot that prepares a yummy “Mexican Eggs without Eggs” breakfast of spinach, beans, potatoes and pico de gallo, and nutritious juices with ingredients like beet, ginger, and celery. They serve falafel for lunch too. Nectar, at Correo #43, which had fish but was otherwise a vegetarian spot, was a refreshing change with a more gourmet touch. In a relaxing outdoor patio, we could choose quinoa, teff, and millet cereals with almond milk, a vegan meatball sandwich, or zucchini soup infused with lemongrass tea, among other unique vegan and gluten-free options.



Guanajuato was about a four hour bus ride from Mexico City. I was completely enticed by the steep alleys filled with colorful buildings and tranquil vibe. There were tours of mines, and creepy museums filled with mummies and torture devices used by the Holy Inquisition. Habibti Falafel at Sostenes Rocha 18 was a small funky restaurant that became a favorite, dishing up delicious falafel, hummus, grape leaves, and salads. Mandala, 32B Calle Sangre de Cristo, served flavorful Indian food in a cheery environment. They also had vegan brownies! Midi Bistro, in South of France style at Calle San Jose #4, had an appealing minestrone soup and couscous along with live music and art.

For more nutritionally-balanced trips, I suggest staying somewhere with a kitchen that enables you to prepare your own meals, and remembering that the joys of travel outweigh the lack of culinary variety.

Photos by Paige Newman, 2014

January 15th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »