New to Me Music: Westing

Before we even dig into this post, I have to say that I love how bizarre the album cover is for Westing’s new EP, I Haven’t Been Feeling Myself. I saw it and immediately wanted to stream the album, which is awesome! I know I’m not supposed to judge books (or albums) by their covers, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve gone out of my way to buy certain things just because they looked good. I’ve also picked up a handful of albums in physical record stores just because the artwork intrigued me, and I’ve only been disappointed a few times.

Luckily, I like I Haven’t Been Feeling Myself as much as I like the artwork.

Released Friday, April 14, this EP is loud and angry, peppered by hard-hitting basslines, rough cymbals and gravely, intensely sad vocals. “My brain is skipping beats / when you’re not talking to me / I still believe in everything,” croons lead singer Matt Mascarenas on the opening track “Skipping Beats”.

The song starts the EP off strong, kicking off five tracks of equally sludgy post-hardcore rock.

It’s a big change from Westing’s initial incarnation as an acoustic side project, started by Mascarenas to keep his creative juices flowing. With I Haven’t Been Feeling Myself, the full band sound brings a new dynamism and energy to Mascarenas’ lyrics and performance. He tapped Brett Romnes (I Am the Avalanche) and Gary Cioni (Daytrader) to record this record in the fall of 2016, and the three of them sound fantastic on this album.

I imagine tracks from this EP — especially “With You”, which gets so soft on the bridge that it makes my chest constrict — would sound especially incredible live. I’m a big fan of blasting this kind of music at home when I’m angry and need some time to blow off steam, but I also love feeling the energy of a live show.

Westing honestly reminds me of bands like Story of the Year and A Day to Remember on this release. The sound brings me back, but also has its own uniqueness that makes it stand out. I love it.

You can check out I Haven’t Been Feeling Myself on Bandcamp and pay what you want to download the EP. For upcoming show dates, follow Westing on Facebook.

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Vegan Eats in Providence, Rhode Island

If I’m being honest, as much as I love cooking, I also love to eat out. It’s a bad habit, because it’s expensive, but there are some days when I just don’t want to cook or do the dishes or… anything, really. Luckily (or maybe unluckily, for my budget), there are tons of vegan restaurants in Providence, and even more with vegan options for yours truly.

Several people have asked me to post some of my vegan restaurant recommendations, so I’m finally doing that here!

These are in no particular order; I love all of these restaurants and frequent them as often as my budget allows. I highly recommend every single one on this list!

The Grange

166 Broadway, Providence RI 02903 | (401) 831-0600 | Sunday—Thursday, 9AM—10PM; Friday—Saturday, 9AM—11PM

love The Grange. They recently opened every day for brunch, which is the best thing ever, and they’re located right on Broadway which is super convenient! Their menu changes seasonally, but their tacos and pommes frites are staples that I have to try not to order every time I go in so that I can try new things! Recently I’ve been especially obsessed with their kim chi burrito, reuben sandwich, and chicken fried seitan & waffles plate. But basically everything I’ve ever eaten here has been amazing.

In addition, The Grange boasts a full bar and a built-in cafe where you can get food to go! They also offer a full range of coffee beverages, teas, sodas, juices and smoothies, and some truly incredible pastries. If you want delicious vegan fare and a rustic, cozy environment, definitely hit up The Grange.

Wildflour

Blackstone Place, 727 East Ave., Pawtucket, RI 02860 | (401) 475-4718 | Monday—Thursday, 7AM—9PM; Friday 7AM—10PM; Saturday 8AM—10PM; Sunday 8AM—9PM

Just looking at this picture of this apple tart and cinnamon coffee cake muffin is making my mouth water. I LOVE Wildflour.

Wildflour is actually in Pawtucket, not Providence, but it’s right up Blackstone Blvd. and not that far from the East Side, so I’m counting it on this list. (You can’t tell me what to do!) Wildflour is a vegan bakery, cafe and juice bar that offers some of the best smoothies I have ever had, as well as a constantly changing selection of baked goods that will blow your mind. I love every single tart, muffin, and cake I’ve ever had from this place, and I’m always torn on what to order because it all looks so delectable.

In addition, Wildflour offers lunch options (including a vegan chili that I’ve heard rave reviews about) and packaged foods so that you can grab and go. It has outdoor seating when the weather is nice and day-old baked goodies to bring home, or to the office, or wherever. I love this place for breakfast and for when I’m craving a little something sweet!

Veggie Fun

123 Dorrance St, Providence RI 02903 | (401) 270-4700 | Monday—Thursday 11:30AM—10PM; Friday 11:30AM—11PM; Saturday 12PM—11pm; Sunday 12PM—10PM

Veggie Fun has all-vegan pan-Asian cuisine and literally everything on the menu is delicious. I have no criticism of this place whatsoever. The actual restaurant is intimate and cute, the service is great, and the food is always incredible. I love that this place offer pan-Asian cuisine that tastes and has the texture of the Asian takeout I used to love pre-veganism! My go-to favorite is the orange seitan, which is hot without making my eyes water, and I love the roll sampler appetizer. And they have edamame! And cocktails the size of my head.

In addition, Veggie Fun offers some truly spectacular deals with its daily lunch special! Plus, their dessert menu features things I didn’t know it was possible to veganize, like fried banana spring rolls and deep-fried soy ice cream. Yum.

Like No Udder

170 Ives St, Providence RI 02906 | (401) 419-8869 | Wednesday—Saturday, 1PM—9PM; Sunday 2PM—9PM *
* The events-based Betsy Loo food truck serves Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut — call to find out where she is, April through October!

Like No Udder opened its storefront last year, but the truck was around long before that. Since I moved to Providence, Like No Udder has been one of my absolute favorite things about the city. The truck is usually at Movies on the Block in the summer and offers a bunch of vegan snacks aside from ice cream, too! The milkshakes are heavenly and the candy and vegan jerky selection is A+.

The storefront is even better. Cute animal videos constantly play on the in-store TV and there’s a ton of flavor options, as well as soft serve, baked goodies, hard-to-find vegan foodstuffs, and more. On Free Cone Day last week, the store gave out cones to hundreds of people. The only stipulation to get one was that you had to bring a non-vegan friend to introduce them to the deliciousness! I love this place. So much.

Honorable Mentions

Truthfully, there are a ton of restaurants in Providence that are veg-friendly, even if they aren’t explicitly vegan or vegetarian. There are also a lot of great veg-friendly places throughout Rhode Island and the surrounding states. I just haven’t had the chance to visit all of them (or take pictures of the delicious food)!

So, these are some honorable mentions of places that offer vegan options but serve omnivores as well. Truth be told, I’m grouping them here partially because of that and partially because I don’t have photos of their food. I’m a chronic foodstagrammer, so keep an eye on my Instagram in case that changes!

You can also check out Rhode Island restaurant guides on The Friendly Fig, here and here. Enjoy!

Pizza J
967 Westminster St, Providence RI 02903 | (401) 632-0555 | Sunday—Thursday, 12PM—11PM; Friday—Saturday 12PM—12AM

Pizza J has the most incredible seitan wings I have ever had, as well as vegan sandwich options and delicious vegan pizza. They have a housemade vegan cheese that’s super melty and tons of veggie toppings, as well as vegan sausage! We’re big fans of veganizing the Strutter. We also almost always get an order of the garlic knot fries, sans cheese and aioli. This place is amazing. (And they deliver!)

Julian’s
318 Broadway, Providence RI 02909 | (401) 861-1770 | Brunch and Dinner hours available on their website

Julian’s is a Providence classic. They offer vegan breakfast and lunch options, as well as dinner and usually dessert! We love this place because there are so many dining options and the atmosphere is so fun. The vegan steak ‘n cheese wrap is amazing and I’ve never had a tofu scram as good as the ones I’ve ordered here. Their vegan benedict is also mouthwatering. And at dinner they offer a vegan appetizer plate! You can’t go wrong at Julian’s, especially if you’re trying to eat somewhere with an omnivore!

UMelt
129 Weybosset St, Providence RI 02903 | (401) 383-6732 | Monday—Friday, 10AM—10PM; Saturday, 11AM—10PM; Sunday, 11AM—9PM

I’m normally not a fan of Daiya cheese, but in grilled cheese, I love it. UMelt offers a veggie grilled cheese with sliced Daiya that is incredible. As far as I know, you can substitute vegan cheese and oil on any of their sandwiches, but the one with sauteed kale, onions and tomato jam on wheat is by far my fave. Call ahead to confirm they have vegan cheese before you go. I’ve ordered a handful of times online and had to get a refund because they had run out!

Luxe Burger Bar
5 Memorial Blvd, Providence RI 02903 | (401) 621-5893 | Sunday—Thursday, 11:30AM—11PM; Friday—Saturday, 11:30AM—12AM

Luxe offers a housemade vegan veggie burger made with all kinds of goodies. It’s a little complicated to order it completely vegan — aside from skipping cheese and guacamole (they add sour cream to it), you also have to ask them not to toast the bun in butter (and double check which bun you’re ordering for egg content). But the staff is all super friendly and helpful, which is great. Just be sure to communicate food allergies/dietary needs and you’ll be sure to have an awesome, awesome burger!

Hudson Street Deli
68 Hudson St, Providence RI 02909 | (401) 228-8555 | Monday—Saturday, 6:30AM—5PM; Sunday, 9AM—4:30PM

Hudson Street Deli is tucked away in a quiet residential neighborhood, which makes it an ideal breakfast spot any time of year. You can build your own sandwich with a selection of vegan meats, cheeses, and condiments, as well as a bunch of yummy veggies. And you can pair it with a delicious coffee, tea, or other beverage! I’ve only been here once, but I loved the experience so much. I definitely plan to go more now that it’s warming up outside and I can swing through for a snack on my bike!

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Introducing: The TV Thing

 

Some of you may recall me linking to a monthly newsletter last summer. You may also recall a link to subscribe in the sidebar of this blog, something which has long since disappeared. But look! There’s a new subscribe button now!

What in the world?

The truth is, the original incarnation of that newsletter came out of a desire to engage more with content on this blog. I thought the way to do that was to send out supplementary content of stuff I was into but didn’t want to write full posts about.

I was wrong.

At its heart, The Verbal Thing doesn’t really have an identity beyond “personal blog” and that’s part of why I love it so much. There’s no pressure for it to be any one thing and I can write about things I love (or things I hate) with some understanding that I’m mostly yelling into the void and I’m okay with that. But if I’m sending a dedicated newsletter out to real subscribers every month, I need to send out something that has an identity.

So, I’m starting over. REBRANDING. All that fancy stuff.

Starting next week, I’ll be sending out a weekly newsletter: THE TV THING. It will focus on — you guessed it! — TV.

I’ve discovered, the more I write, that I’m most passionate when I talk about the shows I love. I’ve channeled some of that into a weekly series on “The 100” over on Rogues Portal, and a bi-weekly podcast with my partner about “The Magicians”, but I find myself wanting to talk about television more. I also find myself needing an excuse to dive into TV series the way I used to, and I think I’ve finally found it!

Starting next week, I’m going to immerse myself in one show at a time, doing one post a week about that show. I’ll write analysis, talk about different characters, make episode lists, make fanmixes (!), give you my favorite quotes, offer some commentary on pop culture references, and more. I’m really excited to get going on this project, so I hope you’ll all hop on for the ride!

If there’s a show you want me to feature, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or leave a comment on this post! I’d love suggestions for series I should check out!

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Mixtape: 27

Last night Reed spent about an hour before bed completing a music meme. The goal seemed simple: make a playlist featuring one song from every year you’ve been alive. Reed said, “that sounds like a challenge!” and proceeded to meet it with a cohesive mix of awesome music.

When I tried to tackle the challenge this afternoon, I went on… a journey. Given how broad my taste in music is (and how fiercely I love pop music), some of the choices I had to make were really difficult. And this mix definitely isn’t cohesive, but I kind of love it.

For the record, I was born on May 7, 1990. I’ll be 27 in a little over a month (wtf) and I definitely included a new release from 2017 on this mix, so there’s 28 songs total. It’s almost two hours long and probably says a lot about me. Also, did I mention this was hard as hell? God.

Photo Credit Emily Blincoe

1990: “Personal Jesus” — Depeche Mode
1991: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” — Nirvana
1992: “Killing In the Name” — Rage Against the Machine
1993: “Heart-Shaped Box” — Nirvana
1994: “Basket Case” — Green Day
1995: “You Oughta Know” — Alanis Morissette
1996: “Criminal” — Fiona Apple
1997: “Semi-Charmed Life” — Third Eye Blind
1998: “What It’s Like” — Everlast
1999: “Scar Tissue” — Red Hot Chili Peppers
2000: “It Makes Me Ill” — *NSYNC
2001: “Fat Lip” — Sum 41
2002: “Sk8er Boi” — Avril Lavigne
2003: “Ocean Avenue” — Yellowcard
2004: “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too” — Say Anything
2005: “Dark Blue” — Jack’s Mannequin
2006: “Mama” — My Chemical Romance
2007: “Teddy Picker” — Arctic Monkeys
2008: “I Will Possess Your Heart” — Death Cab for Cutie
2009: “Photosynthesis” — Frank Turner
2010: “Underdog” — You Me At Six
2011: “You Da One” — Rihanna
2012: “Kiss You” — One Direction
2013: “The Phoenix” — Fall Out Boy
2014: “Carry Me” — Bombay Bicycle Club
2015: “The Plan (Fuck Jobs)” — The Front Bottoms
2016: “DVP” — PUP
2017: “Sleepover” — Hayley Kiyoko

Listen on Spotify here.

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Three years in Lil Rhody

Fox Point

March 11 marked my three-year anniversary living in Rhode Island. It’s hard to believe it’s been three years, especially when I stop to think about how much has happened. Since I moved here:

  • I’ve changed jobs and started looking into graduate school, including working my way through GRE prep and establishing where I want to go and what I want to study;
  • we adopted our cats, who will be three years old (!!!) this Christmas;
  • we’ve moved! from an (honestly shitty) apartment to the beautiful apartment we live in now (two years in June!);
  • I sold my car, got a bike and started walking, biking and busing everywhere;
  • I started seeing a therapist to deal with all of the crap that’s just hanging out in my head;
  • we got engaaaaaaaaged!!!!!;
  • and last, but definitely not least, I filed for bankruptcy after years of poor financial decision-making and started actively trying to save.

That’s a lot for someone who really doesn’t like change. Deciding to move to Rhode Island was, at the time, easy. It meant moving in with my partner, getting out of my parents’ house, and leaving New Hampshire (a state I loved, but didn’t fully appreciate until I went somewhere else). It felt like Real Adulting, something that didn’t fully kick me in the ass until a few months into my living here.

I wasn’t prepared. That became really apparent really fast, but I persisted. Now I feel like I’m in a pretty good place, generally.

Rhode Island is a really beautiful, really unique state with a lot to offer. It’s got tons of coastline, great bike paths, amazing food, and cool history. Living here has been a whirlwind and I’ve genuinely loved most of my time here, but it’s also been hard in ways I never could have predicted. Cost of living is high, the public transit system is often unreliable, and being without a car is increasingly difficult as Reed and I try to pursue more time out of the city.

I have no regrets about moving to Rhode Island, despite how rough parts of it have been (especially the whole first year). I think moving here really forced me to examine a lot of my shit and figure it out, which has been amazing. I’ve probably grown more in the last three years than I have for the rest of my adult life combined, just because life has dealt blow after blow and I’ve been forced to deal with those blows while also trying to maintain a sense of balance.

Three years really isn’t a long time, when you stop to think about it, but it feels like I’ve been here much longer than that.

My goals three years ago are different than my goals now.  And as I’ve changed, the world has changed. Everything has changed. Some of those changes are horrifying. I’m doing my best to grapple with those without getting too bogged down.

But one thing has remained constant: the support and love of my absolute favorite human, without whom I would never have moved here or pursued any of the other major changes I’ve made since.

People ask me all the time why I decided to move to Rhode Island, especially when they find out that I grew up in northern California and then went to college in New Hampshire. My answer is always, “my fiancé lives here.” And maybe that seems stupid or ridiculous to those people who ask, but in my opinion, it was a perfectly valid reason to stop driving up and down three states once a week to see the person I love. And it’s been really good for me.

In honor of three years in Lil Rhody, expect to see some upcoming posts with recommendations for what to do in this tiny state, including a vegan restaurant guide for Providence and some cool pics of the bike paths I’ve ridden — as well as some more posts this summer when I tackle more of them (hopefully with Reed!).

Want to see something specific? Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter!

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