Monday, March 26, 2018

How to Survive Being Vegan While Traveling


Thrifted White Tee // Thrifted Pants //

My recent trip to Italy was the first time I traveled internationally being 100% vegan. Cheers to that! During my year abroad, I was still transitioning to veganism (read more about why I transitioned and how to transition to veganism). I would say that I was vegan for a majority of my time in Milan except when I went out to eat and when I traveled to other countries as it was difficult for me to find vegan options. However, I was determined this time around to do my best to be fully vegan! 

Before I get into the details about how I was able to be vegan, let's be real...I probably did end up eating some form of dairy unknowingly (i.e.: in fresh pasta) and am still convinced one of my dinners had anchovies in the sauce (my body told me so too). I want to be real with you all because when you travel, you can't control everything no matter how much you want to. All you can do is try your best. One of my favorite eco-bloggers, The Girl Gone Green, spoke to this point recently too!  

That being said, I want to share some tips that helped me stay vegan: 
  • Be prepared! I brought a jar of trail mix with me as well as some energy bars (I brought the wrappers back with me to recycle at Mom's Organic Market). These snacks came in handy while I was waiting in the airport and on the plane. I probably would've brought more with me, but I didn't have room in my backpack.
  • Look up farmer's markets in your destination. I already knew where the farmer's market was in Milan, but I looked one up as soon as I got to Cagliari. I stocked up on tons of fruits to munch on there. It's also really cool to go to farmer's markets because they're mostly visited by locals so you get a more in depth look at the culture and the produce is often very cheap!
  • Go to the grocery store. If you can't find a farmer's market or didn't pack snacks, find the nearest grocery store and stock up. Often when we travel, I think we forget that we can go grocery shopping and don't have to eat every meal out. Going to the grocery store is a perfectly viable option! I went to the grocery store in Milan the second day I was there for snacks and both days in Cagliari because I had difficulty finding vegan lunches and wanted to restock on snacks for the long plane ride home.
  • Translate "I'm vegan and can't eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy" in the local language. I didn't do this because I speak a little bit of Italian so I could explain to waiters that I was vegan. However, if you don't know the language, it is helpful to keep a translation on your phone and show the waiters so they understand. 
  • Use Happy Cow to find vegan restaurants. This website is life-saving for anyone who is vegan or vegetarian! You can look up vegan or vegetarian options in almost all major cities. 
  • Accept that you may unintentionally eat something non-vegan. As I said previously, I did my absolute best to eat fully vegan, however I'm pretty sure there was probably some egg in my pasta or anchovies in my sauce. At the end of the day, you ultimately have to eat and nourish your body. Just do your best! 
I hope these tips were helpful! Even if you're not vegan, you can still use these tips to stay healthy while you travel! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Newer Kat in MILAN (as a tourist this time!)


Previously Owned Jeans // Thrifted Sweatshirt 
Hat from Swap // 

It's been quite some time since I did one of these posts! Even though I studied abroad in Milan for a year, I went back this time as a tourist and I figured I'd create a guide of where I stayed, where I ate, and what I did. I already wrote a very general post about my favorite things to do in Milan and could write another super long post about Milan, but I'll try to limit it to what I specifically did on this trip and must-see places! Be sure to also check out my Milan vlog!

Where I Stayed: 
As always, I stayed in a hostel. I always opt for a hostel when I'm traveling solo because it's a great place to meet other solo travelers who are doing the same thing as you. There are a ton of misconceptions about hostels and I think people often fear them which shouldn't be the case. I'll do a video soon about why I love them! For this particular trip, I stayed in Ostello Bello right in the heart of Milan. I loved my stay because it was only a 10 minute walk from the Duomo, it offered free breakfast and dinner, had a garden on the roof, and it was a really social environment with a lot of activities (some hostels don't offer any activities like tours, etc.). The only downside is that it was a bit expensive at $50 a night for a bed in an 8 bed female dorm. Of all the cities and countries I've visited, this the MOST I've ever paid for a hostel. However, I think the amenities were well worth the cost! Lastly, I would recommend booking on Hostelworld which is where I always book my hostels!

Where I Ate: 
Eating was a little different for me this time around because this was the first time I'd traveled internationally being 100% vegan. While I was living in Milan last year, I was still transitioning to veganism so I usually cheated when I went out to eat. That being said, I had to make more of an effort this trip to find vegan food.

Here are all the places I ate:

  • Macha Cafe - the cutest little cafe with vegan options
  • Fancy Toast - delicious avocado toast and beet hummus 
  • Fruteiro do Brasil - yummy acai bowls and smoothies 
  • Temakihno - literally the BEST sushi ever and I crave it all the time 
  • Flower Burger - vegan burgers
  • Pizzaria Sibilla - one of my favorite local restaurants for Italian food 
  • Riva Reno - vegan gelato

I also recommend checking Happy Cow for all vegan/vegetarian listings when you travel!

What I Did: 
I didn't do as many touristy things in Milan since I had previously done those things. Instead, I spent some time walking around my favorite spots in the city including the Castle, Duomo, Brera, and Navigli.

If it's your first time in Milan I recommend seeing: 

1. Duomo (inside and the top + Mass if you can!)

2. Galleria (enjoy a coffee and people watch!)

3. Navigli Canals

4. Armani Museum 

5. 10 Corso Como 

6. Streets of Brera 

7. Sforza Castle 

8. Arco della Pace 

9. UniCredit Building (I'm at a viewpoint on top of a building close by the Unicredit Building in this photo)

What to Be Prepared For: 
Milan is a very diverse, metropolitan city so most people speak English. However, it would be culturally thoughtful to learn a few basic Italian phrases. As always, be careful of pickpocketers! 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my posts about Cagliari! <3 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Where to Buy Thrifted Clothing Online Featuring Swap.com

Thrifted Jacket from Swap // Thrifted Sincerely Jules Tee // 

I can't believe it's only been a week since I arrived back home from my trip to Milan and Cagliari. I feel like I've been back home forever. I'm already counting down the days until I'll be back (hopefully this summer)! For my trip, I packed almost all thrifted clothing which you see in this packing video. The main reason that I packed thrifted clothing is because I stopped shopping at fast fashion stores like H&M and Zara about 8 months ago due to the immense pollution they produce, the poor quality of their items which contribute to our "throwaway culture", and the troubling and unsafe working conditions they allow. If you're interested in learning more, check out this blog post where I talk about a must-see documentary revealing the truth of the fast fashion industry. 

That being said, I've had my fair share of thrifting the last few months. I usually go to Goodwill, but sometimes I honestly don't have the energy to sort through all the clothing there! That's where Swap comes in! Swap is the largest online consignment and thrift store and has TONS of options for every occasion. I love the ease of thrifting on Swap because I can easily sort by whatever I'm looking for in my size, something you obviously can't do at brick-and-mortar thrift shops. I also really like Swap because you can make returns for store credit which you usually can't do on other online platforms like Depop and Poshmark (I also shop on these platforms for thrifted clothing). If you are shopping at Swap, I recommend having something in mind, otherwise it can be a bit overwhelming with so many options! While I really like the platform, I will say that my one compliant would be the packaging which is not eco-friendly and can easily be improved. Anyway, aside from the jacket I'm wearing above, I just bought an entire spring haul on Swap today which I can't wait to show you guys! Happy shopping and let me know if you find any hidden gems! 

*Thank you to Swap for sponsoring this post!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

What's in My Zero Waste, Minimal Travel Backpack?


In a few hours, I'll be heading to the airport for my flight to Italy! I am SO excited!! My trip starts off in Milan where I'll be staying for 3 days. I studied abroad there for a year and can't wait to surprise my professors, get dinner with friends, and re-explore the city. After spending a few days in Milan, I'll be heading to Cagliari for the next 3 days to do some solo adventuring. In previous years when I went on a trip like this, I would've packed and checked an entire suitcase full of clothing that I wouldn't end up actually wearing, but felt the need to bring "just in case". Those days are LONG gone. Now, I'm more than happy to pack all of my essentials, toiletries, and clothing in just one backpack and purse. It's so much easier to carry especially since I'll be traveling alone. Another perk is that I don't have to pay for extra baggage fees to check a bag. If you're interested in seeing exactly what's in my zero waste, minimal backpack, watch the video above! If you don't have time to watch it, here's a breakdown of what I'm bringing: 

Essentials: 
Toiletries: 
Clothes: 
  • Almost all thrifted 
  • For more thrifted inspiration, check out my Etsy Shop 

 Ciao for now, and I'll catch ya in Italy! <3 

Friday, March 2, 2018

How I Became a Morning Person + Checklist for a Successful Morning

Old Sweatshirt // Thrifted Levi's Jeans, similar here and here // 
Hand-stitched Notebook (made of recycled fabric and paper) // 
Office: Desk Chair // Pink Faux Fur Rug // 

Over the last few weeks, I've been experimenting with a new morning routine in an attempt to achieve my New Year's resolutions of becoming a morning person and increasing my productivity as much as I can each day. 

First things first, I am NOT and never have been a morning person. I used to cringe at the thought of waking up earlier than 8 AM. Even the thought of waking up that early made me nauseous! I hated it so much that I would literally snooze my alarm for my 8:30 AM classes until the point where I would have to jump out of bed, throw some clothes on, and run to class. Aside from waking up for those early classes, I also dreaded waking up for 6 AM flights during my time abroad. Don't get me wrong, I was more than grateful to have the opportunity to travel, but I felt sick to my stomach having to wake up at 5 AM or earlier. 

Through this and other examples, I noticed that I could only wake up early when I was being motivated by an external force (work, travel, etc). So last semester, I did what any crazy person would do and I willingly accepted a babysitting job at 7:30 AM, Monday-Friday. I did this because I knew it was the only way that I would get out of bed earlier than I needed to for class. By taking this job, I started waking up at 7 AM every day, however I did so begrudgingly. 

I was determined to change this attitude starting in 2018 so again I did what any crazy person would do and I began setting my alarm for 6 AM, an hour earlier than I needed to get up for babysitting.I also started putting my phone on the other side of my bedroom so I had to physically get out to bed to turn off my alarm. I wasn't happy waking up even earlier than I needed to, but I pretended like I was until I slowly began to actually enjoy waking up that early. Yes, I can't even believe those words just came out of my mouth...I enjoy waking up at 6 AM. It's like that saying, you have to fake it until you make it. I faked it, and I made it. 

Aside from taking a job that required me to wake up early, I also started doing other things made waking up at 6 AM more enjoyable and allowed me to have a successful and more productive morning. These included the following: 


In conclusion, I am more than happy to call myself a morning person. I love getting up early because it allows me to start my day with a smile on my face and I now have so much extra time to do the things I love doing like writing, reading, and accomplishing my other New Year's resolutions. Do you like waking up early? If so, what are some things that have helped you wake up early and have a successful morning?

*Thank you to Visible Clothing for sponsoring this post! 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sneak Peak of My Office and What I'll Be Using It For

Thrifted Ban.do Tee // Previously Owned Jeans //

As I'm sure you've noticed, there have been a lot of additions associated with A Newer Kat in Town over the last few weeks. I've started writing my first eBook as well as officially launching my Youtube Channel. Aside from these additions, I have been keeping a few more secrets over the last few weeks including the reveal of my office and what I'll actually be using this office for. If you missed that I created an office over Christmas break, check out this post before reading further.

First things first, I am saving my official office reveal for a few more months as the finishing touches are not yet complete. I still have to refurnish some secondhand furniture and buy some plants. It only seems fitting that my vegan, earth-loving self should have some plants in my office, haha! The rest remains a secret. However, as you can see in the sneak peak pictures above, I have added a clothing rack (HINT, HINT) which brings me to my second point.

Upon graduating from Villanova University in May, I will be utilizing this office to blog full-time, write my eBook, create videos for my Youtube channel, and most importantly, run my secondhand Etsy shop! I will be launching my shop, With Love By A Newer Kat, at Villanova's Love the Skin You're In Fashion Show in less than one week from today! I have been curating and re-designing thrifted pieces for months and am so excited to launch this collection (I'm smiling so much writing this right now). The mission of With Love By A Newer Kat is to prove that secondhand fashion can be just as trendy and glamorous as fast fashion, without the harmful side effects of pollution, unsafe working conditions, and such. I want to continue to inspire individuals to treat what they wear with love, others with love, and the world with love. I can't wait for you all to continue to follow along on this crazy adventure, and thank you for always supporting my dreams!

Monday, February 19, 2018

DIY Zero Waste Lotion

Thrifted Sweater // Previously Owned Jeans // 

I'm back with another zero waste, DIY recipe! Today, I'm going to explain why and how I make my DIY zero waste, vegan lotion. 

Why: About 6 months ago, I began to transition all of my beauty products to natural ones. This included my shampoo, conditioner, makeup, and lotion. I was shocked at the amount of toxic crap that is loaded in all of these big name products that people trust and use every day. These ingredients include diazolidinyl urea which has carcinogenic properties and causes dermatitis, parabens which possess estrogen-mimicking properties and have been associated with increased breast cancer, and fragrances which are not required to be clearly stated and can include harmful toxins which cause respiratory problems and endocrine disruption. These ingredients are common ingredients in your typical lotion products such as Bath and Body Works, Aveeno, and Cetaphil. For more information on these toxins and common products that include them, check out this article. On top of all of that, I could no longer justify buying these products as they come in plastic packaging and a majority of our plastic ends up in landfills and oceans further degrading our planet. 

How: Now that you're more aware of what's in your typical lotion products, it's time to make your own zero waste, vegan lotion! 

What You'll Need: 
Instructions: 
  1. Combine the coconut oil and shea butter into a blender. 
  2. Add vitamin E oil and essential oil. 
  3. Blend until you have a whipped consistency. 
  4. Transfer to a glass mason jar to avoid plastic usage. 
Notes: 
  • If the lotion begins to lose its whipped consistency, simply transfer to the fridge and it's good to go! This may happen if the weather is warm or you store the lotion in a warm room. 
  • You only need to use a fraction of this lotion as compared with traditional lotion.
  • If possible, try to buy the ingredients in bulk or a glass jar as glass supports a circular economy. 
I hope you found this recipe useful, and if you make it tag me or message me on Instagram

P.S. If you're a student at Villanova, be sure to stop by the DIY Lotion and Lipbalm Workshop tonight that I'll be hosting with the Sustainability Club on campus. We'll be making the lotion above and this chapstick. I hope to see you there! The event info is as follows: 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Knitting My First Chunky Knit Sweater with Wool and the Gang

DIY Chunky Knit Sweater // Thrifted Jeans 

Over Christmas break, I set out to accomplish many goals, one of which included knitting my first chunky knit sweater. To give you a little background, I taught myself how to knit when I was about ten-years-old (I guess I was ambitious back then too). However, I only successfully ever made one scarf using one basic stitch. Flash forward...I had been searching for a black chunky knit sweater at Goodwill for weeks, and couldn't find one I liked so I thought, "Why don't I just pick knitting back up and make one myself?" After spending hours researching yarn, learning new stitches, and knitting, my first chunky knit sweater was born! 

What Yarn I Used and Why: After researching various brands of yarn, I came across a company called Wool and the Gang. I really liked this company because its mission statement is to make yarn and unique fashion pieces that are produced sustainably. This won me over and I decided to buy the natural and biodegradable Wool and the Gang Crazy Sexy Wool. You can also buy knitting kits for beginners, and already made products. For yarn and kits, rather than buying directly from Wool and the Gang, I would recommend buying it at Joann's because you can use a coupon and get it for cheaper! 

How I Learned to Knit This Exact Sweater: As I mentioned, I had never knit a sweater prior to this one so I decided to look up a tutorial for "how to knit a chunky sweater" on Youtube. One of the first videos that popped up was actually a tutorial from Wool and the Gang which is the one I ended up using! It was really easy to follow, except for the fact that I'm a lefty and had to reverse all the stitches! 

How Long It Took Me: In total, I would estimate that this sweater took me about 2 weeks to make, knitting about 1-2 hours each day. The value I got from making this sweater far exceeded the time I spent knitting it. 

In conclusion, I am so happy with the final product and it's that much more meaningful to me than if I had purchased a generic one from a fast fashion company. What's your favorite DIY that you've made? 

Monday, January 29, 2018

How to Transition to Veganism

Thrifted Jeans // Old Sweater and Vest 

The two most common questions I get as a vegan are: 

1) "What do you eat?" 
2) "How did you transition to veganism?" 

Today, I'm going to be answering question #2 and will film a video soon about question number #1 on my Youtube channel! You're probably reading this post because you've personally asked me questions #1 and #2, you're curious about what veganism is, or you are are actually thinking about transitioning to veganism. Regardless, congrats on taking the first steps towards veganism! 

Before I delve into detail, I first wanted to say that veganism is more than just a diet fad; it is a lifestyle of living compassionately, taking care of our Earth, and fueling our bodies with the right food. Vegans do not eat any animal products which includes meat, fish, dairy, and honey. 

Okay, now that that's clear....let's get started! I made the decision to go vegan in January, 2017 which you can read more about in this blog post. I had been vegetarian for 5 years prior, took a year off, and felt so bloated and unhealthy that I knew I needed a change. For me, veganism was the answer to that change! When I first started transitioning, I spent the first 2-3 weeks focusing on cutting out meat and fish which was fairly easy for me since I was previously vegetarian for so long. After those first few weeks, I began to cut out all other animal products Monday-Friday, and would allow myself to eat dairy on the weekend. I did this for about 5 months until officially becoming fully vegan in June, 2017. I think my transition would have been faster than 6 months, however I was traveling a majority of that time so I wanted to try new foods and fully experience each culture. Regardless, I think the best way to transition to veganism is by gradually removing animal products from your diet. I say this because I think it's less overwhelming and more actionable. The transition may be different for everyone, but there are two important things to remember. Firstly, listen to your body and what it's telling you. For example, you may feel very hungry which may suggest that you need to eat more calories and protein. Secondly, remember the reason why you are going vegan whether it's for health, sustainability, or animal rights. It is especially important to remember this during times when you want to quit. In summary, transitioning to veganism is different for everyone, but with patience it can the one of the most rewarding decisions you'll ever make!

Additional Tips: 
  • For vegan recipes, I love using the book Isa Does It Again (the vegan banana muffins are my favorite) and am starting to try recipes from both of Ellen Fisher's E-books which I just bought! 
  • I love following two vegan blogs: Minimalist Baker and From My Bowl.
  • Whenever I crave something non-vegan, rather than caving in, I find a recipe for a vegan version of the food or go to a vegan restaurant which usually satisfies my craving. 
  • Sometimes it is difficult to eat out so it is helpful to plan ahead and ensure you can eat something other than french fries at the restaurant you're going to! 
  • Stay strong when people make poke fun at you...this will happen a lot! 
  • Have fun and experiment with new foods! 

If you have any other specific questions, I'd be happy to answer in the comments (: 

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Next Chapter of A Newer Kat in Town: An Introduction to My Youtube Channel

It is with a happy heart that I am sharing the next chapter of A Newer Kat in Town with you all! I have officially decided to launch a Youtube channel! I have so much I want to say about life, sustainability, traveling, and more that it only made sense to start a Youtube channel. I find that I receive the most engagement from all of my readers and followers on my Instagram Stories, so my plan is that this will be an extension of those. If you want to stay receive updates when I post a video, you can subscribe to my channel on my latest video by clicking the red subscribe button. I cannot wait for this next chapter, and thank you all for your continued support as always! Cheers to achieving dreams one after the other! <3 

Monday, January 15, 2018

DIY Zero Waste Chapstick

Thrifted Sweater // 

Yay for FINALLY getting this post up! As part of this zero waste journey, I am always trying new recipes for beauty products. I love making my own beauty products because I can eliminate the waste by buying the ingredients in bulk, I know exactly what's in my products, it's a lot cheaper, and I have so much fun doing it! For this post, I am going to show you how I make my zero waste chapstick. 

What You'll Need: 
  • 2 Tablespoons of Soy Wax (Try to bulk plastic free)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil 
  • 10-15 Drops of Essential Oil of Your Choice (I used lavender because of its soothing properties, but my friends and family who tested it thought the smell was too strong. Instead you can try something sweeter like vanilla!)
Instructions: 
  1. Measure 2 tablespoons of soy wax and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil into a glass bowl. 
  2. Microwave in 15 second intervals until melted. 
  3. Add 10-15 drops of essential oil of your choice and stir.
  4. Pour into a small glass jar or leftover chapstick tube. 
  5. Place in refrigerator until hardened. 
And there you have it...a simple recipe for DIY chapstick! You can also use the soy wax and essential oils for DIY candles (blog post coming soon). Happy DIYing!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

How to Respond to "You've Changed a Lot"

Left Picture: Taken 3 week ago
Right Picture: Taken 5 years ago
Over the last few weeks, I've had many people tell me, "You've changed a lot". When I first started receiving this comment, I didn't know if I should interpret it positively or negatively. I knew in my heart that I had made positive changes to reflect my true self (which is always changing by the way). However, I was getting a lot of negative stares and facial expressions associated with this comment, whether these stares were a reaction to my fashion or sustainability choices, I'm not sure. Regardless, I've received this comment enough that I've finally formulated a simple, yet powerful response..."I sure hope I changed!". I say this because I sure as hell hope I changed after no longer spending hundreds of dollars to get my nails done, tan, and whiten my teeth, getting heartbroken one too many times, mourning the loss of my beloved brother, living in a foreign country for 9 months, traveling to a total of 20 plus countries (5 of these solo), and transitioning to veganism. To me, if you're not changing and growing, then you're not living. To expand on this topic, I recommend reading this article by The Minimalists.

If you ever receive this comment or a similar one, as long as the change you made is positive, reflects your true self, and makes the world a better place, then I encourage you to own it and say, "I sure hope I changed!"

Friday, January 12, 2018

Life Update - From Living in the Past to Saying "Yes"

Taken laying on the floor in my new office! (:
It's been a while since I wrote a life update on here. A lot has happened in my life, especially the last 30 days! Before I delve into these specific days, I wanted to rewind to the start of my fall semester in August. After a summer working long hours at S'well and being too busy to really think about abroad, I found myself utterly lost when I arrived back to Villanova University. I never fit into the culture at Villanova, as I find being surrounded by privilege to be absolutely appalling. However, to my dismay, I found that I not only didn't fit in as before, but I actually felt like I stood out. This could be because I wore clothes that stuck out in a sea of coral-colored Vineyard Vines pants and Bean Boots, or because I had picked up new ways of doing things while I was abroad. Regardless, I realized that I had to change my attitude and truly focus on what I wanted to make out of my last college year. This sounded easy on paper, however, I often found myself spending hours alone, dreaming of Milan and the friends I made there instead of making plans and living in the present. I even booked a flight to Milan my first day of classes! While there was nothing innately wrong with dreaming of Milan, there was something wrong with living in the past. A few weeks passed as I applied to jobs and interviewed at big fashion houses hoping this would ease my heartbreak with Milan. However, my dismay still continued. It's like I was searching for the next big thing, the thing that society and Villanova was guiding me towards, rather than what I knew to be true in my heart.

Flash forward to December 15, almost 30 days ago. I finished my last exam of the semester, turned down corporate interviews, and told myself I would spend the next 30 days only saying "YES" to opportunities that fueled my passions and dreams, allowed me to live in the present, and would allow me to one day be closer to the life I lived in Milan. Let me tell you...it's been some of the most challenging and rewarding 30 days of my life!

I...

  • envisioned an office in my house where I could blog, vlog, write, and inspire others
  • learned how to remove wallpaper (who knew water and softener could work magic?)
  • learned the difference between eggshell finish and semi-gloss paint
  • painted for over 80 hours
  • watched my office vision start coming to life (still in awe!!!!)
  • taught myself how to knit a sweater
  • read the most powerful books I've ever read - Minimalism and Everything That Remains
  • prioritized relationships by getting coffee with old and new friends
  • started writing my first book
  • witnessed my father turn 93-years-old (yes, you read that correctly)
  • minimized 3/4 of my wardrobe
  • questioned God and prayed (a lot)
  • had my heart skip a beat from someone who used to be a big part of my life
  • laughed like a little kid, the kind of laugh where your belly hurts
  • attempted to discern the feeling I get from traveling and the feeling of falling in love
  • decided I would no longer pursue anything that didn't make me 100% happy


Cheers to the last 30 days, and cheers to all that 2018 is going to bring!