The Cruelty Free Shop vegan snack haul

Shopping for vegan food can be a challenge in a small town.  Even though my local supermarket is bursting with fresh produce, plant milks, cereals and fruit, the one thing that is lacking is good junk food.  It can be extremely challenging to find snack foods and sweets that are vegan.  While there are a whole bunch of great “accidentally” vegan items on the shelves, it gets kind of tedious when you have to check every label to make sure that what you’re buying doesn’t contain any animal products.


A few weeks ago I visited The Cruelty Free Shop in Fitzroy, Melbourne and it was like falling down the rabbit hole.  It is a vegan supermarket that sells everything from snacks to meat and cheese substitutes, desserts, junk food, cosmetics, toiletries, sex supplies and even clothing.  It was so refreshing to be able to fill my cart with whatever took my fancy, and to be spared the tedium of label-checking.  I knew that every single item in that place was vegan and I went a teensy bit nuts buying delicious snacks and treats.



The Cruelty Free Shop also has a fantastic online store. I’ve shopped with them online as well and I loved the fast service and awesome range of products.


Here is a full list of the items mentioned in my video:

I had such a blast shopping at The Cruelty Free Shop and I can’t wait for my next visit.  There are so many rad things I’d love to stock up on the next time I’m in Melbourne.


What are your favourite vegan junk foods?  Do you have any questions about vegan shopping or cooking that you’d like me to cover in future posts?


Note: This is not a sponsored post.  Everything featured here was purchased with my own money and I was not compensated in any way.  I just love this store and the products they sell and am excited to share them with my readers.


Things I Love Thursday 22/6/2017

This past month has flown by.  Since the beginning of June, I took a little holiday from work, caught up with loads of friends and celebrated my 31st birthday.  There have been so many things that I’ve felt proud of and grateful for.

This week I love:

  • My friends.  I got so many messages of love and celebration on my birthday and each one brought an ear-to-ear smile to my face.
  • Michael Jackson.  David and I watched This Is It together and it was amazing.  I am a huge Michael Jackson fan and it breaks my heart that he didn’t get to perform his final masterpiece at least once.  I found the rehearsal footage breathtaking, and it’s hard to imagine what the final show would have been like.
  • Putting my cupcake hat on Rupert, David’s cat.  He purred like a maniac and wore the hat for a full half hour before he fell asleep and it toppled off his head.
  • Poking around vintage markets on chilly afternoons.
  • Bean burritos
  • Vegan vanilla cupcakes that look like they were pooped out by a unicorn.

Helloooo! Awesome birthday pin from my brother. #mrsdoubtfire #pins #birthday #geekery

A post shared by Vanessa Bowen (@nessbow64) on

  • My new Mrs Doubtfire pin from my brother.  I am slowly building quite a collection of cute enamel pins, and this is the newest addition to my hoard.
  • Watching the Top 1000 Songs of the 80’s countdown on Foxtel and taking bets on what would be number 1. ( I lost.  I voted Thriller, which was edged out by Living on a Prayer)
  • Kate Lister’s website Whores of Yore.  Kate is a sexual historian who explores the history of sexual practices, language and culture.  Her website is fascinating and funny as well as highly educational.
  • My new heated throw blanket.
  • Watching my cats wriggle on the floor after their dinner each night.
  • The smells of winter mornings: wood smoke, frost and wet grass
  • Booja Booja chocolate salted caramel truffles.  And also the name Booja Booja, which is really fun to say.
  • Skins.  Various friends over the years have urged me to watch this show and I’ve never listened.  Now that I’ve started, I can see why they thought I would love it.
  • The Time Traveller’s Wife.  I’m not usually into romance stories, but this one is so clever and thought-provoking.  Dr Who fans who enjoy the romance between The Doctor and River Song should give this book a whirl.
  • Gloves

What do you love this fine Thursday?

5 Fandom Friday: My favourite cupcakes

I’m an unapologetic cupcake fanatic.  Tiny cakes have held my heart since I was a wee little wisp of a thing scoffing them at birthday parties.  I went through a period of cupcakey bliss around 2008 when cupcakes were the dessert du jour.  And when macaroons knocked them off the top spot, I didn’t give a toss.  There’s nothing quite like folding back the crinkly paper case and taking a scrumptious first bite of soft, sweet cake.  Or eating them from the bottom-up so that you get a lovely mouthful of frosting to finish with.  Choosing five favourites is going to be hard, but here we go.


  1. Bacon cupcakes.

No joke, these are a real thing.  They are a super simple recipe but they always go down a treat.  I like to make them when I’m having friends stay because they make an impressive breakfast.  They’re filling, they’re tasty and they look way more complicated than they are.  Basically you use a rasher of bacon to line a cupcake tin.  Then you crack an egg into it, sprinkle the top with cheese and chives and bake.  Viola!  Delicious breakfast cupcake.


2. Red velvet cakes.

Red velvet is just so decadent and divine.  The rich rosy hue is utterly romantic and so sexy.  The fact that they usually come topped with rich cream cheese frosting is another reason why I can’t get enough red velvet.  The creamy-sweet-tangy flavour of cream cheese frosting is mouth-watering to say the least.  The best red velvet cakes I’ve ever had are at Little Cupcakes in Degraves Street in Melbourne.  That hidden eatery has an array of flavours, but the red velvet truly are superior.


3. Fairy cakes

Every year for her birthday my Nan used to make a batch of lighter-than-air sponge cakes.  She would take a sharp knife and slice a portion out of the centre of each cake, filling it with jam and cream.  The cut-out would then be fashioned into two fairy wings and perched charmingly atop the mountain of cream-cake goodness.  Fairy cakes are so pretty and fluffy and always bring a wash of delight when you glimpse a plate of them coming your way.


DSCF64094. Vanilla cupcakes

My vanilla cupcakes are legendary in my family.  Whenever we get together for a special event, I inevitably have somebody request that I make a batch of vanilla cakes to bring with me.  I’ve decorated them in every way imaginable: with demure pastel frosting and tiny sugar roses, with outlandish coloured sprinkles, dusted with edible glitter and done up to look like mushrooms.  But they always taste the same, sweet, simple and delightful.  So many people use the word “vanilla” as an insult, to mean “boring” or “mediocre”.  But my vanilla cupcakes are anything but.


5. Lumberjack cakes.

The chef at my favourite local cafe regularly churns out batches of lumberjack cakes, and they are the perfect thing to down with tea on a chilly Sunday afternoon.  Heaped with apple, coconut, dates and golden syrup, these morsels are sticky and comforting.


Do you have a favourite cupcake variety?  And do you believe that cupcakes are superior to macaroons?

Things I love Thursday 19/3/2015

Woo-hooo!  Yeah for Thursday!  Monday is a distant memory, the weekend is racing forward at an ever quickening pace and it’s time for a gratitude list.  What joy!


This week I love:

– Rewatching the film adaptations of Going Postal and The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett.


– Planning a trip to the city this weekend.  I’m going to catch up with a mate, go on a date and enjoy some fantastic food.  I can’t wait!


– Seeing results from three months of eating well.  At the beginning of this year I decided to make a real commitment to eating a more balanced diet with less processed foods.  I’ve actually stuck to it diligently, planning my meals each week and only rarely deviating from the set plan.  I’ve tried loads of new recipes and tasted foods that have never passed my lips before now.  I’m feeling less sluggish and I’m not hitting a wall around 3pm any more.  My skin and hair are looking pretty fantastic and I’ve lost a bit of weight.  I’m not as bloated around the middle and my thighs have toned up a bit.  Last week I tried on a pair of pants that were uncomfortably tight last year and now they are a perfect fit.  I’m really pleased with the way things are going and I want to try to keep up my good work.  I feel as though I’ve cultivated some really nurturing habits and I want to stick with it.


DSCF8990– Vintage brooches.


– Preparing for my first ever craft fair.  I’m nervous but so excited.


– Fleetwood Mac


– Finally getting around to cleaning my shower.  Lemme tell you, I don’t clean my bathroom as often as I should and it was freakin’ gross in there.  But not anymore!  Now it’s sparkle-arkling!


– Doing yoga stretches in the tea room at work while I wait for the kettle to boil.


– Bright red nightgowns.



What do you love this week?


Things I Love Thursday 12/2/2015

I really needed a Things I Love Thursday post this week.  It’s been kinda rough going these last few days.  On Monday my family had to make the decision to have our sixteen-year-old cat, Cleo, put to sleep.  She was very unwell and it was definitely her time, but I still wasn’t ready to let her go.  In addition to that, I found out that my aunt is very unwell which was difficult news to process.  So in light of that, I am looking forward to writing about the little things that I’m happy about this week.  Sometimes it’s those little things that make the hugest difference.

This week I love:

– Taking time out to remember my old buddy Cleo.  She was such a scamp of a cat.  She loved sleeping in the most awkward places and her fur was as soft as spun silk.  She always had bits of leaves and grass stuck in her fur because she spent so much time in the garden.  She had the rumbliest purr and a sweet nature and I’m going to miss her to bits.

– Watching Friday 13th for the first time.  Oh my gosh, that movie was hilariously terrible.  Watching a young Kevin Bacon get impaled with an arrow was pretty cool, but I couldn’t get over the stupidity of the main actress.  At one point she spends about five minutes pulling every piece of furniture over to barricade the door of a room that has about a hundred windows.  She then proceeds to carefully pull the curtains over each of the many windows.  I know I certainly feel much safer when I’ve put a thin layer of fabric between myself and a serial killer!  It was escapism at it’s finest.  I can’t wait to check out the sequels.

– Looking forward to celebrating a solo Valentines Day.  I’m going to go out to breakfast, and then I’ve got a massage booked.  The evening will involve a cheese platter, some fresh fruit and a couple of awesome films.  I’ve got this single gal thing down pat!

– Catching up with my little cousins.  They’re over from Perth and I’m having an absolute blast with them.  They’re currently obsessed with bubbles and jigsaw puzzles, which is great because these are both things that I’m totally into.

– Designing and working on some geeky crochet projects for my etsy store. Stay tuned for more news on that front!

– Home made sushi rolls.  Yummo!

– Hot days that melt into cool nights.  It’s been chilly enough for a robe these past few mornings, but they days are still sweltering.

– Making an awesome cup of coffee without really trying.

– Bold stripes.

– Watching the cats play.

What do you love this week?

My Valentines Day 2014

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this Valentines Day was the best one I’ve had in a long time.  To tell the truth, I’d kind of been dreading spending the most couple-centric day of the year alone.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about managing grief and depression it’s to be prepared.  So I set about planning the most awesome Valentines Day I could imagine for myself.

And I am proud to say that it worked a treat.  There wasn’t a single moment during the day when I thought to myself “I really wish that I had a boyfriend”.  I was so absorbed in the fun me-time activities that I’d planned that I didn’t have time to lament my single status.  I had an amazing day and I feel quite proud of myself for making it so special for myself.

So, what did I get up to?  So glad you asked!

The night before I gave myself a Valentines-themed manicure, with little hearts on my thumbs.

When I woke up Mr Ringo was perched on the windowsill, watching the birds.  He immediately hopped over onto the bed for snuggles before it was time to get up for breakfast.

I’d fixed my favourite breakfast food, Bircher muesli.   I don’t make it very often because it requires a bit of forward planning and I’m not usually that organized when it comes to breakfast.  I topped it off with vanilla yogurt and fresh berries (hand-picked by me).

I accompanied my breakfast with a cup of Paris tea, which was a gift from the lovely Miss Fairchild.  I ate my breakfast slowly, savouring every mouthful while I read a glossy magazine.  Bliss.

I also treated myself to some gorgeous presents.  Although I have a lot of non-traditional values, I still like to get more traditional presents on Valentines Day.  To me, jewelry and lingerie are wonderful gifts for this romantic day.  So I treated myself to a little of each.

I like the idea of getting flowers for Valentines Day, but flowers wilt so quickly (especially in the Australian summer heat).  So instead I opted for a vintage brooch in the shape of a bouquet of roses.  These babies will be red and blooming for all time.

I also wanted to “put a ring on it” this Valentines Day.  I’ve spent the last five or so V-days anxiously hoping for an engagement ring, only to be disappointed.  So this year I decided that I’d buy myself a little bit of finger bling.  I went looking for vintage cocktail rings and in the end I found three that I loved.  So I bought them all. Sometimes, you gotta treat yo self.

All of my vintage jewelry came from Fayebella on Etsy.  I definitely recommend that you check out her store.  She’s got an amazing selection and her prices are crazy good.

I also treated myself to some gorgeous underthings from Katastrophic Designs.  These are all hand-made from organic cotton and they are so comfortable and super-cute.  They fit perfectly and look wonderful.

I had to go to work for the afternoon, but as soon as I got home I jumped on my yoga mat and treated my body to some restorative asanas.

Everything you need for restorative yoga: a mat, blocks, bolsters, a blanket and a kitty-cat.

Ahhh, bliss.

For dinner I ordered my favourite pizza (Harley’s Deluxe: ham, cheese, mushrooms and pineapple) and washed it down with a glass of icy-cold ginger beer.

Then I settled in with some knitting to watch two of my all-time favourite films: Clueless and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.

For dessert I had Granny Smith apple slices with salted caramel dipping sauce.  It was delicious.

So my Valentines Day was pretty darn amazing.

What did you do for Valentines Day?

Things I love Thursday 2/1/2014

It’s the first Things I Love Thursday post for this year!  Woo-hoo!  I’m feeling the love and I’m ready to get started on my list.

Mmmm-kay, here we go!

DSCF9056This week, I love:

– House guests.  Even though I love living on my own, it’s so nice to have a bit of company.

– Cheesy croissants.

– Having a huge, ruthless purge of my stuff. I started reading The 100 Things Project last week and I feel truly inspired.  Although I don’t think that I could ever live with just 100 possessions, I do think that I could stand to own a lot less stuff.  I’ve been taking a careful look at my shopping habits and cutting down needless spending.  I’m also having a huge clean-out of my things.  It feels so great to let go of stuff that I’ve been hanging onto for no good reason.

DSCF8879-Wearing pretty vintage underthings to bed.

– Filling in my new planner for this year.  I feel so organized and nerdy!

– The feeling of intense anticipation of what 2014 will hold for me.  There are so many possibilities and opportunities just waiting to take wing.  I’m very excited.

– Yoga, as usual.

DSCF8727-Picking up some amazing yarns on clearance at the Boxing Day sales.  I got some gorgeous colours and textures and I can’t wait to begin creating.

– The Office.  I started watching the U.S version a few weeks ago and I am so hooked it’s not even funny.  I had a couple of friends tell me I should give it a shot, but warned me that the first season is a bit of a drag.  They weren’t kidding.  But once I got onto season 2, it was all good.  If you haven’t seen it, or if you’ve been put off by season 1, I definitely recommend giving it another go.

– Going to Pizza Hut with my brother and ordering The Works.  Honestly, nothing has changed since I was a kid in the 90’s.  That place is like a time capsule.  The flavour of Mountain Dew on tap and cheese pizza made me feel as though I was seven years old again.

Cards against Humanity.  My brother got this game for Christmas and we played a round on Christmas night.  It was freakin’ hilarious.

-Watching my mum’s dog flip out over kangaroo jerky.  He loves that stuff!

Now it’s your turn.  Start the year off with a burst of positive energy and list all the things that you love this week.  Go ahead, you’ll love it…